Saturday, January 30, 2016

Look At Me Standing Here On My Own Again

Yer actual Peter Capaldi has made his first journey with the UN Refugee Agency, to witness some of the front-line work the charity is doing in the Middle East. The UNHCR, a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees, is currently helping some of the six hundred and thirty thousand Syrian refugees living in Jordan. The charity took Peter to meet some of the people displaced by the civil war in Syria and to see some of the work being done to support them. A short film of the actor's experience in the region has been released, along with pictures from the visit. More content from the trip will be released over the next few weeks, including a virtual reality experience.
Since it was announced last week that The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) will be stepping down as Doctor Who showrunner (in about a years time after the next series has been made and broadcast), fans have been clamouring to know what The Doctor himself makes of this forthcoming regime change. Speaking to Radio Times, yer actual Peter Capaldi his very self said it would be 'very exciting' to see what The Moffat's replacement, Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall, does with the show. 'I think Chris is a wonderful writer, so that's the exciting thing about Doctor Who - I don't really know what he's going to do with it. It's going to be different and he'll take it in a direction that is his. And that'll be very exciting. That's the lovely thing about Doctor Who, it keeps changing. Steven's been fabulous but it will be very exciting to see what Chris does.' And, whichever new direction the series does go in, Capaldi adds that playing the Time Lord will always keep him on his toes. 'It's always a challenge. I don't take it lightly, it's always hard trying to figure out how to do it. But that's a delightful challenge.' As to whether Peter himself will also be leaving at the end of the next series, a few newspapers appear to have been trawling various Interweb forums for rumours and have begun predicting that he will. Mind you, one of the papers making these claims was the Daily Mirra - whose record on the comings and goings on Doctor Who is risibly awful - so that suggests, for the moment anyway, such suggestions should probably be taken with a vat of salt. Although, obviously, the fact that the Mirra very definitely didn't get this story - or, possibly, non-story - through phone-hacking (oh no, very hot water) could be regarded as progress. As far as this blogger is concerned, Keith Telly Topping really would not be surprised if Peter was to leave along with Steven at the end of series ten - three series per Doctor seems to be becoming the normal these days. But, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is happy to wait for confirmation of this from a 'source' a hell of a lot of trustworthy than the Daily Mirra.
EastEnders (7.03 million viewers) and Silent Witness (5.69m) were kings of the overnight ratings jungle on Monday as BBC1 continued its dominance of the start of the week. Even the night's Panorama special Putin's Secret Riches attracted a higher-than-usual overnight of 2.9m. Later, The Tracey Ullman's Show was watched by 1.8m from 10.45pm. The best ITV could manage in reply, outside of soaps, were Griff's Great Britain (3.2 million viewers) and Benidorm (four million). Monday is also, of course, BBC2's big night of the week and, even without Only Connect which ended its most recent series last week, the latest University Challenge quarter final (3.10 million for St John's Oxford's narrow victory over St Catharine's Cambridge) and Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking (2.93m) bringing in bumper figures for the channel. Either side of those highlights, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip attracted 1.54m whilst, at 9pm, Immortal Egypt With Joann Fletcher had an audience of 1.1m. On Channel Four, How To Lose Weight Well was seen by 1.42m, the channel's highest-rated programme of the evening, just beating the overnight figure brought in by The Undateables (1.39m). At 10pm, Crashing lived up to its name, being watched by but four hundred and eighteen thousand. Ice Road Truckers kicked-off the night for Channel Five with six hundred thousand viewers, followed by Celebrity Big Brother (2.18m) at 9pm and eight hundred and ninety three thousand for a terrific episode of Gotham an hour later. Natural World: The Himalayas drew four hundred and forty one thousand on BBC4, followed by Nature's Wonderlands: Islands Of Evolution (five hundred and fifty one thousand) and The Fish Market: Inside Billingsgate (four hundred and fifty two thousand).

BBC2 enjoyed yet another really good night on Tuesday, with the return of Winterwatch at 8pm drawing three million overnight punters, whilst The Real Marigold Hotel was also watched by an excellent three million audience at 9pm - well ahead of ITV's disastrous flop Saved which drew a mere third of that audience (1.01 million viewers) in the same slot. On BBC1 at the same time, Silent Witness maintained its usual slot-winning malarkey with another audience slightly in excess of six million viewers at 9pm. An hour earlier, Sugar Free Farm was seen by 3.3m on ITV. Given ITV's recent horrific ratings on Tuesday nights, that actually could be considered something of a triumph. Celebrity Big Brother continued to attract a multitude of numskull glakes - 2.38m - to Channel Five.

Samantha Cameron's - entirely unsuspicious - victory on BBC1's The Great Sport Relief Bake Off drew an audience of 4.6 million overnight viewers on Wednesday. Despite the extensive coverage that the Prime Minister's wife's appearance generated, it was no match for the long-running ITV drama Midsomer Murders which appears to have gained a new lease of life this currently series. While Cameron's baking battle against Jason Manford, goalkeeper David Calamity James and EastEnders actor Maddy Hill drew an audience share of twenty per cent at 8.30pm, it was beaten by the ITV crime series, which achieved an audience of 4.81 million and a twenty three per cent share between of the available audience between 8pm and 10pm. The Great Sport Relief Bake Off near enough doubled the audience it inherited from Dickensian, which scored 2.4 million at 8pm. On BBC2, Winterwatch continued to pulled in impressive numbers, 2.1m watching its second episode at 8pm, followed by Trust Me, I'm A Doctor with 1.6m an hour later. On Channel Four, Mary Portas Secret Shopper had an audience of 1.3m and Twenty Four Hours In A&E attracted 1.5m an hour later at 9pm. Bodyshockers had nine hundred and twenty thousand viewers at 10pm. GPs Behind Closed Doors was watched by 1.1m on Channel Five whilst Ten Thousand BC was seen by six hundred thousand.
As usual Death In Paradise dominated Thursday evening's overnight ratings outside of soaps with an audience of 6.01m at 9pm. Speaking of soaps, EastEnders pulled in a very decent 6.76m at 7:30pm, but oddly only 5.56m for its second episode of the night at 8:30pm. Sandwiched in between the two episodes, the latest episode of Dickensian could only managed 2.29m. On ITV, Birds Of A Feather's recent momentum was well and truly halted by facing EastEnders, the extremely tired and unfunny sitcom posting a mere 3.21m. The drama Jericho continued to struggle with an overnight audience of but 2.27m at 9pm. On BBC2, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip was watched by 1.61m, The Story Of China by 1.34m and Winterwatch was seen by 2.70m from 8pm, despite the absence of a reportedly very poorly Chris Packham from the night's episode. Location, Location, Location attracted 1.90m to Channel Four at 8pm, whilst The Restoration Man drew 1.40m at 9pm and First Dates had 1.03m at 10pm. Channel Five's Ben Fogle's New Lives In The Wild brought in six hundred and seventy two thousand followed by Britain's Bloody Crown (six hundred and thirty nine thousand) and Celebrity Big Brother (a truly depressing 2.38m at 9pm). Traffic Cops was watched by six hundred and thirty eight thousand on the soon-to-be-kicked-online BBC3 at 8pm. On Sky Arts, the much-trailed The Nightmare Worlds Of HG Wells attracted fifty three thousand punters, slightly up on the slot average for the channel.

'Pop music was frowned upon at Stowe. Along with happiness and heterosexuality!' It was genuinely difficult to sort out what the best bit of the final episode of Brian Pern: Forty Five Years Of Prog & Roll was, so many were its highlights. The latest series of the Simon Day-Rhys Thomas spoof, if you will, rockumentary came to an end with a reunion gig for the 'classic' Thotch line-up, organised with typical skill (and loads of dishonesty) by Michael Kitchen's slippery manager, John Farrow. The only way he can get Brian and the rest of the guys back together is by pretending that Paul Whitehouse's Pat Quid has dementia!
Thereafter, it was just one brilliant gag after another: There was Noddy Holder's appearance on Pat Quid's Fishing With Rock Stars, Big Basil Steel (the excellent Alan Ford) and his memories of Thotch's breakthrough gig: 'Jethro Tull were originally top of the bill. Well, I wasn't fuckin' havin' that. I grabbed that Ian Anderson by the throat, I said "piss orf 'ome, or I'll shove that flute so far up yer shitpipe you'll be farting 'Greensleeves' till Christmas." So 'ee did!' Then a fantastically angry Martin Freeman was asked to read the audio book of Brian's autobiography in a Welsh accent with predictable results, Denis Lawson turned up playing Thotch's bass-player and Simon Callow was deliciously so far over-the-top he was down-the-other-side as their mad-as-toast Syd Barrett-like former percussionist who invaded the stage at the reunion dressed at Henry VIII! Also, we had something of a To The Manor Born reunion with Peter Bowles and Angela Thorne as Brian's parents and Farrow criticising Tony Pebblé's theme tune for Mr Tumble's Special Day Out! Plus, the revelation that Brian played The Gravis in Frontis and the wonderful final sequence - ripped-off shot-for-shot from the end of The Long Good Friday - and featuring good old Peter Gabriel's be now annual self-deprecating appearance. One sincerely hopes Brian survives being held at gunpoint by Peter Gabriel for a fourth series.
Friday evening's viewing was dominated by the 4.9m viewers to BBC1 for Match of The Day Live watching The Scum beat Derby County 3-1 to progress into next round of the FA Cup. Prior to that The ONE Show attracted 4.19m. The lack of its usual opposition, EastEnders, helped The Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV to its biggest overnight audience in some time, 3.79m. Mr Selfridge followed with 3.1m at 9pm. It was another strong Friday night for BBC2, with Mastermind being watched by 1.58m at 8pm, What To Buy & Why by 1.43m, the final episode of Winterwatch (and Chris Packham thankfully recovered from his nasty dose of shits the night before) by 1.93m and Qi by 1.1m. The Last Leg returned to Channel Four at 10pm for a special watched by 1.12m. It rounded off a decent night for C4 in which Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was seen by 1.16m and Jamie & Jimmy Friday Night Fiasco by 1.17m. Celebrity Big Brother's latest pair of eviction shows pulled in 2.38m and 2.14m respectively. Between the two Lip Sync Battle continued with 1.26m. On BBc3, a broadcast of Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland attracted five hundred and forty two thousand whilst on Sky 1, Stan Lee's Lucky Man had three hundred and fifty nine thousand overnight viewers.

Highlight of Friday's - excellent - episode of Qi, Monster Mash, was From The North favourite Sara Pascoe's reply to Stephen Fry's question about why Great White Sharks bite people: 'It's to keep themselves in the news!'
Almost as good was Stephen reading out a lengthy list of unusual - and recently named - species of mushroom that included 'foetid parachute', 'pink disco', 'greasy bracket', 'white brain', 'fragrant funnel' and 'cinammon jelly baby'. 'These are all bands that've had a John Peel sessions' suggested Josh Widdecombe.
Incidentally, did anyone else note the BBC continuity announcer mentioning before the programme started that the episode was 'filmed last year' and wonder why? After all, all Qi episodes are recorded several months in advance of broadcast. Presumably, it was in case anyone was surprised by one of Phill Jupitas's suggested daft mushroom names, 'Alan Rickman's fridge gunk', the late Mister Rickman, of course, being still very much alive then this episode was filmed last June. Quite why the BBC felt they needed to do this when it should have been perfectly obvious to all but the most brain-damaged of morons, or the victims of cruel medical experiments, is another question entirely. I mean, come on, viewers are not idiots. Oh, hang on ...

The X-Files​ was always going to be one of the biggest TV hits of the year, but its impressive ratings in the US may have been even better than FOX themselves predicted. The second episode of the revived SF classic starring David Duchovny and From The North favourite Gillian Anderson brought in 9.6 million overnight viewers and a more than decent score in the coveted eighteen to forty nine demographic. Earlier this month, FOX chairman Gary Newman said that the network would 'absolutely' do a second new mini-series of the drama if they can make everyone's schedules line-up, according to Deadline. It remains to be seen whether the show can keep up the high ratings for its full six-episode series, but if it can stay anywhere even close to that figure, the chances of a renewal look likely. The X-Files's return on Sunday 24 January attracted a massive 13.5 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. FOX won the eighteen to forty nine demographic overall, thanks to NFC Championship coverage delivering a whopping 40.69m punters at 7pm.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping received preview discs of the first two episodes of The X Files earlier this week and enjoyed them very much. The first episode, My Struggle written by series creator Chris Carter, suffered from having to set up the premise and - sort of - explain what the original series was all about to latecomers, but it managed to do all that and tell a story of its own quite adequately. This blogger has never been a great fan of Carter's dialogue, particularly when he has his characters as it were 'speechify' (which, in The X Files, they do quite often) but he's always been great at plot and this episode was no exception. Plus, it was terrific to see Duchovny and Gillian back together again. Duchovny's attitude towards The X Files has fluctuated over the years and in the period shortly before his leaving in 2000, there's little doubt that he was, effectively, phoning it it. But, here, he seems to have come to terms with the fact that whatever he does, he's going to be Fox Mulder for the rest of his career and, seemingly, made the best of it. The second episode, Founder's Mutation by series regular James Wong, was terrific - proper old-school X Files which got the balance between humour and horror spot on. So, a promising start and Keith Telly Topping is really looking forward to the third episode, Mulder & Sculley Meet The Were-Monster to be broadcast in the US next week and written by his blogger's own favourite X Files' writer, the great Darin Morgan.
The company set up by Jeremy Clarkson made a profit of half a million pounds last year despite his departure from Top Gear. Which seems to have really annoyed some Middle Class hippy Communists of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star if this piece of sneering garbage is anything to go by.
Although the next series of W1A is some way off, fans are being sustained by frequent examples of 'real W1A' such as the recent unveiling of BBC3's daft new logo and an incident last week at Channel Four's media conference on diversity. The keynote speech delivered by Jessica Hynes - PR consultant Siobhan Sharpe in the BBC satire - was, according to some shite of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star, 'disrupted by an impromptu press conference given at the rear of the room by Tony Hall, who was sheepishly trying to explain to hacks why he had reduced diversity in his top executive team (by the restructuring that entailed Kim Shillinglaw's exit), and why ending the BBC2 controller post did not mean the demise or humbling of the channel.' Channel Four's spin doctors, the Gruniad alleges, 'ushered Hall to the foyer while Hynes, not in character, warned the audience: "Our cultural muscles are being atrophied in a semi-conscious, flabby mainstream."' Whatever that means.
Jon Cassar, a former producer on 24, is reportedly asking fans of the series to give its forthcoming reboot a chance. The high-octane, tool-stiffeningly violent espionage thriller is returning to FOX as 24: Legacy, but with Straight Outta Compton and The Walking Dead's Corey Hawkins replacing Kiefer Sutherland as lead. Which, as this blogger previously noted, is a bit like remaking Jaws without the shark. Cassar, who won an EMMY for directing 24 in 2006, tweeted fans to ask them to support 24: Legacy in spite of his own - and Sutherland's - absence. "' urge all of you to give 24: Legacy a chance. Don't dismiss it yet.' Emphasis on the 'yet' there, on could suggest. 'Its a new chapter. Its okay to love Jack Bauer and still try something new,' he tweeted. Yeah, that's gonna happen.
'I've come to put some order into this place,' were Piers Morgan's first words when he took up a permanent three-day-a-week hosting slot on ITV's Good Morning Britain. Press reports - completely without any agenda, of course - have since suggested that the sacked former Daily Mirra editor has 'put wind in the show's sails', with The Huffington Post claiming this week that Morgan's arrival has boosted viewing figures to 'over the seven hundred thousand mark.' The reality is that not much has changed in relation to Good Morning Britain's ratings. Since Morgan's début on 23 November, Good Morning Britain has averaged six hundred thousand viewers per episode, which was almost identical to the show's figures over the same period in 2014-15. The BBC's Breakfast, meanwhile, has continued to plough along with a steady 1.5m audience since Morgan's arrival at ITV. On a related theme, regarding ITV News At Ten it has been billed as the 'battle of the bongs' and there have certainly been some barbs exchanged between the BBC and ITV over their respective 10pm bulletins. Reports on the tussle have consistently claimed that ITV News At Ten has gained half-a-million viewers since Tom Bradby became anchor on 12 October. However, since Bradby's arrival, ITV News At Ten has averaged 1.97m viewers in the three months to Friday 15 January. This was flat year-on-year, but up three hundred thousand viewers on the previous quarter, which covered the summer months – a traditionally quieter time for television viewing.
The first episode of ITV's flop fantasy drama Jekyll & Hyde was broadcast 'too early' to be suitable for young children, media watchdog Ofcom has ruled. Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - found that several scenes in the first episode, broadcast at 18:30 on 25 October last year, 'were likely to frighten and disturb younger children. And make them shit in their own pants. Probably. I suppose we should all thank God that Ofcom didn't exist in the 1960s and 70s when Doctor Who doing that to seven year olds on a weekly basis. ITV had argued that it had 'warned' viewers about the content and that most of the violence depicted was 'fantastical.' It's only a pity that they didn't chose to warn viewers that Jekyll & Hyde was, also, rubbish. Although, it didn't take viewers long to find out if the ratings figures were anything to go by. But Ofcom disagreed, describing the violent scenes as 'dark and menacing.' The media watchdog received more than five hundred whinges from members of the public with nothing better to do with their time about the episode. It noted that six scenes in particular were a cause for concern - a man being attacked in a street as the programme opened, a girl trapped under a truck with Mister Hyde leaning over her, another scene featuring a monster called The Harbinger, a fight in an alley, a nightclub fight and a family attacked in their home at night. ITV said that the street attack was 'stylised and non-realistic throughout' and the truck scene was 'brief and limited' and 'editorially justified.' The broadcaster also argued that The Harbinger scene 'was not unsuitable for children', the alley fight was shot in a 'stylised and non-realistic manner' and the family death scene was 'suitably limited.' It added that the nightclub fight scene was 'highly unrealistic.' But, while Ofcom recognised the programme as a whole did contain elements of fantasy, 'the scenes of fantasy noted above depicted relatively realistic and brutal acts of violence.' It also noted five of the six scenes highlighted were broadcast between 6:30 and 7pm. While it 'took on board' ITV's point that the audience might have had some idea of the tone and content given the well-known novel on which the series was based - no shit? - 'viewers may not have expected this programme to contain violent and scary scenes and in the first thirty minutes.' To which one can only conclude that if viewers didn't expect this then their need to get themselves a new brain because the one they have is, clearly, full of shat. It also dismissed ITV's defence that it was 'unlikely that many children, particularly young children would be preparing for bed at this time.' Ofcom also stated that it 'did not consider the pre-broadcast warning in this case was adequate.' The watchdog acknowledged the 'programme's content was not so strong that, with the appropriate scheduling, it could not be broadcast pre-watershed.' But it 'would have exceeded the expectations of viewers, and in particular parents and carers, at this time and on this channel' and ruled that ITV had breached a rule stating 'children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.' Another programme found to be in breach of Ofcom rules was the BBC's The ONE Show, after eleven people whinged about a joke made by the comedian Jimmy Carr broadcast on 4 November. Carr said: 'I tried to write the shortest joke possible, so I wrote a two-word joke, which was: "Dwarf shortage." Just so I could pack more jokes into the show.' He added: 'If you're a dwarf and you're offended by that: Grow up!' Which is, admittedly, bit cruel but, actually, not unfunny. Towards the end of the programme, just before 8pm, presenter Matt Baker grovelled: 'Listen, just a quick word to say that if anything that Jimmy has let slip tonight was a little bit close to the mark maybe, but we're sorry.' The BBC said 'while The ONE Show production team takes a particular view on the tone they would like to adhere to and feels this joke was inappropriate in light of that, the BBC does not believe that it amounted to a breach of the code.' Ofcom - just to repeat, a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - rules state that: 'In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context. Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity.' Ofcom said: 'In our view, it would have been clear to the audience - and a substantial level of offence would have been likely to have been caused - by Jimmy Carr combining his initial joke ("Dwarf shortage") with his follow-up statement ("If you're a dwarf and you're offended by that: Grow up!") in order to derive humour from people with the medical condition of dwarfism.' In light of the incident with Carr, the BBC said it had amended the letter guests are asked to sign prior to appearing on The ONE Show to include the following line: 'Jokes made at the expense of minorities are likely to cause offence, so please save them for other arenas.' Meanwhile, the watchdog also decided it would not investigate viewer complaints about Channel Five's Celebrity Big Brother. Ofcom received four hundred and eighteen complaints relating to comments about sexuality made by Winston McKenzie during the programme's launch show on 5 January. In his entry video, McKenzie said that he would 'cope with a homosexual in the house' by 'standing against a brick wall all the time.' Comments which are, in this blogger's opinion, about a thousand times more offensive than those made by Jimmy Carr and, not even tempered by the fact that they were supposed to be said in jest. Ofcom claimed that it 'assessed' the comments but decided they 'did not warrant' an investigation. 'We are satisfied that Channel Five broadcast clear and appropriate warnings about the potentially offensive content,' it added.
Yer actual Matt Smith is to take on the role of avant-garde photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in a forthcoming film. The former Doctor Who star will be directed by the award-winning Ondi Timoner in the biopic, entitled Mapplethorpe, according to Deadline. Zosia Mamet, known for the HBO comedy-drama Girls, has been cast to play rock goddess Patti Smith, Mapplethorpe's one-time lover. Mapplethorpe became famous with his shocking sexual images of New York. He was very much a documenter of life throughout the 1970s and 1980s and his instrument of choice was for a long time a Polaroid instant camera, rather than a sophisticated multi-lens alternative. In an interview in 1988 with the publication Artnews, Mapplethorpe said of his work: 'I don't like that particular word "shocking." I'm looking for the unexpected. I'm looking for things I've never seen before.' Director Timoner, who is also a screenwriter, has twice won awards at the Sundance festival for independent film with her documentaries Dig! and We Live In Public. She tweeted that she wanted to make the film for the anniversary of Mapplethorpe's death, linking to Hollywood's story about Smith and Mamet taking starring roles. 'We'll honour Mapplethorpe on the twenty fifth year of his death by bringing him to life on screen,' she said. She also told Deadline: 'After several years of developing this script and searching across the globe for the perfect talent to embody the rich and layered roles of visionary artists Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, I am ecstatic to have found Matt Smith and Zosia Mamet. They will bring indelible passion, raw humanity and authenticity to this timeless, inspiring story.' Mapplethorpe died from AIDS in 1989, aged forty two. An HBO documentary about his life called Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures made its première at Sundance this week. Smudger his very self will next be seen on the big screen in comedy-horror Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, opposite Lily James, Jack Huston and Sam Riley, which opens in the UK on 11 February. He is also making the much-anticipated Netflix series The Crown, which sees him playing Prince Philip with Claire Foy as the Queen.
Idris Elba is teaming up with BBC3 for a series of short films to appear on the channel when it moves online. The Luther actor's production company, Green Door Pictures, will collaborate with BBC3 on the films from new writers. Established names will work alongside new actors for the series. BBC3 controller Damian Kavanagh vowed that the channel, which goes online next month to the joy of millions, would be 'bold, British and creative.' He has a budget of thirty million smackers a year for 'creative ideas', he said at an event to launch the new-look channel. Elba said: 'I'm looking forward to working with BBC3 and giving new writers and actors a chance to show what they can do.' Kavanagh added that the short films, made in conjunction with BBC Drama in-house, would be set in London, featuring 'chance encounters between two people.' New programmes for the channel also include Clique, focusing on two friends starting university in Edinburgh, magic show Life Hacks with Ben Hart and Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared which tells the true story of the disappearance of a teenager two decades ago. BBC3 programmes including Stacey Dooley Investigates and Life & Death Row will still be available when the switchover happens on 16 February. Kavanagh said: 'We're reinventing our offer for young people and this is just the start. We will be bold, we will be British and we will be creative.' The channel is introducing two new formats for online - The Daily Drop, home to a stream of daily content, and The Best Of, bringing together original long-form programmes and new content, including short films. BBC Director General Tony Hall said: 'We are the first broadcaster in the world to work out what it's going to be like in this on-demand world. This is new and let's be clear, it's also risky, but risky in the way it should be risky because if we don't take risks, who's going to?' He applauded BBC3 for making programmes that 'provoke such strong reactions' and emphasised the importance of finding new talent. 'I want people to look back on the new BBC3 as being the place that spotted the next James Corden, the next Aidan Turner, the next Sheridan Smith,' he said. Switchover night will include the first episode of Cuckoo, the first film from the new series of Life & Death Row and Live From The BBC, featuring 'new British comedians.' Although, if they're anything like the majority of 'comedians' BBC3 has been forcing down the public's throat for the last decade, they'll be about as funny as a dose of gonorrhoea.
Midsomer Murders' Neil Dudgeon has said that the idea that the BBC should not make popular entertainment programmes is 'cretinous in the extreme.' Yep, that's about the size of it. The star of ITV's long-running drama series and his family are avid watchers of Strictly Come Dancing, and he said the show is 'brilliant.' Dudgeon, who has played John Barnaby since 2011, was referring to comments made by the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, in relation to the pending BBC charter review. He told Radio Times that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale 'said the BBC shouldn't make popular programmes and chase viewers. But who would have known that a programme about ballroom dancing would end up being one of the most popular shows on the telly?' He added: 'The idea that the BBC shouldn't attempt these things is cretinous in the extreme.'
People over seventy five may be asked to give up their free TV licence or make a voluntary contribution to it, under plans being considered by the BBC. The corporation must absorb the loss of six hundred and fifty million smackers worth of licences for over-seventy fives from 2020 as part of a funding deal agreed with ministers last year. A report on ways to appeal for voluntary contributions is due in 2016. The BBC has refused to comment on suggestions that celebrities might front a publicity campaign. The Times - who, obviously, had no agenda to push in this particular case whatsoever - reported that such a campaign could be run by 'personalities such as Sir Michael Parkinson and actress Dame Helen Mirren.' Historically, the government has met the cost of free licence fees for over-seventy fives, transferring the money to the BBC annually. Indeed, it was a previous - Labour - government who introduced the schemed in the 1990s. In 2013-14 the total bill for the government was six hundred and eight million knicker, which amounted to about a fifth of the BBC's annual budget. The corporation's responsibility for the free licences - something which they never asked for - will be phased in from 2018-19, with the full liability met by the BBC from 2020-21. At the time of the announcement in July, the BBC claimed that it was the 'right deal in difficult economic circumstances.' One or two people even believed them. In return, the government agreed the corporation could ask for voluntary payments from those who currently receive free licences. Ministers also agreed that the BBC could look into ways of closing the 'iPlayer loophole', which at present means that if people only watch catch-up TV and do not watch any live TV, they do not need a licence. The BBC has said, though, that there is 'no proposal' to make people pay to watch catch-up TV on iPlayer on top of the licence fee. Labour peer Dame Joan Bakewell - formerly a government-appointed champion of the elderly - told BBC London that the licence fee represented 'enormous value for money' for pensioners, adding that those who had the means to pay should do so. But she said that the BBC should not be in a situation where it had to ask in the first place. 'The government pulled a fast one recently because what they did was this transgress from one enterprise, which is government policy about [cutting] welfare, into the BBC's licence fee - which is a completely original and outrageous undertaking.' Roger Laughton, a former BBC and ITV executive, agreed the BBC was 'between a rock and a hard place.' But Dot Gibson, general secretary of National Pensioners, warned the corporation against using celebrities to try to persuade ordinary pensioners to give up their free licence. 'Many older, vulnerable people might be taken in by this when they should be protected,' she said. 'The government needs to take back responsibility for the free TV licence or we're going to see it cut by stealth and then eventually removed altogether.' Interestingly, that comment - which this blogger entirely agrees with - has been either misquoted or ignored entirely in most of the coverage of this story in national newspaper which, on again, obviously have no - sick - agenda. Oh no. The BBC confirmed that Frontier Economics, a consultancy led by former cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell, would report back within months on the best approach to asking people for contributions. It said it would then 'look at the best way forward, including whether to run a campaign.'

Sir David Attenborough has said he is 'always fearful' for the future of the BBC. The veteran naturalist was speaking during a visit to the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicester, which was championed by his late brother, Richard. He described the national broadcaster as 'vulnerable' and said that people take it for granted 'sometimes too often.' Attenborough, who celebrates his ninetieth birthday in May, said: 'The whole of the world of the media is changing in such a profound way, the way people see images, the way people hear talk, and the BBC has to change to match that. But at the same time, the fundamental founding principles of the BBC about providing a platform for as many views and aspects that the community has remains powerful and extremely valuable. You only really appreciate that when you go overseas and you look at it with the eyes of people from across oceans who look at the BBC as a beacon for thought and civilisation and we take it for granted in this country, sometimes too often.' He added: 'The BBC is a very vulnerable organisation, as well as being a very valuable one. And if you work at the BBC and care for the BBC, there is no moment when you shouldn't sink back and say "Oh well, we're fine, nobody is going to damage us and you're quite wrong."' Attenborough returned to the place of his childhood in the East Midlands city to officially open the new £1.5m gallery extension to the arts centre at the University of Leicester. The renowned broadcaster also spoke of his concerns for the future of the planet. He said: 'We have overrun it and we don't know what we are doing. We have already planted seeds for the future which are ineradicable. The temperatures are going to increase whatever we do. At the moment the question is whether, in fact, we can keep them down to a level which won't be disastrous. We are doing what we can but the problem is gigantic.' Speaking about the prospect of countries co-operating to find a solution, he said: 'Many people say it's an impossible ask. But unless we make some positive concession or some response to that task, we are in for serious trouble.' He also said that scepticism about climate change was 'bad thinking.' He said: 'If it's so overwhelming, why do people deny it? The answer is for a lot of people the acceptance of climate change is very difficult for them because it may make a difference to their income or their business. It may damage their business, it may make them want to try and do things that will cost money, so it's more convenient to say "no, I don't believe it." But to anyone who, as it were, doesn't have a vested interest I would have thought that the scientific evidence is beyond doubt.'

Good news for fans of political drama House Of Cards - the show, starring Kevin Spacey, is being renewed for a fifth season.

ABC is delving into the Watergate scandal for a potential limited event series. The series from RFK and Angriest Man In Brooklyn producer Robert M Cooper will not retell the seismic political event from the perspective of disgraced US president Richard Nixon. Instead, the television series is being adapted from the 2014 memoir by Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean - who served prison time for his involvement in the infamous cover-up. Writer Jon Maas explores Dean's relationship with the president and his involvement in the Watergate break-ins and subsequent cover-up conspiracy. Dean ultimately pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and became a key witness for federal investigators. The series, should it make it to screen, would be far from the first dramatisation of Watergate - with the most famous being Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's Academy Award-winning All the President's Men.
Convicted sex offender Max Clifford has claimed in the high court that the former royal butler Paul Burrell 'lied' in his evidence over a fifty thousand quid privacy claim. On Monday, Clifford also denied himself telling 'a pack of lies' and claimed that he was innocent of the sex offences for which he is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. He has previously described Burrell's fifty grand claim for 'breach of confidence and misuse of private information' as 'an affront to common sense.' Burrell claims that he hired Clifford in 2001 to 'limit bad press coverage' about him but, rather than stopping the stories, the publicist passed on material to the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. Clifford's case is that the 'agreement' was for him to sell information on Burrell to a newspaper. Burrell told Deputy Judge Richard Spearman that the fax which Clifford sent to then Scum of the World editor, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, in November 2002 was 'a very personal, intimate and private documentation' of details about Burrell's life with the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the late Princess Diana which was not in the public domain. 'I worried about putting that down on paper and I worried if I was trusting the right person with that information,' he said. He rejected a claim by Steven Barrett, counsel for Clifford, that the information about the butler's fall downstairs, the help given him by the Queen and gifts she had given his family, was 'not very exciting.' 'At that time it would have been very interesting to any tabloid.' Barrett claimed: 'Is it entirely possible that your anger and hurt feelings have arisen because this story just didn't sell?' Burrell replied: 'Absolutely not.' Clifford claims that Burrell 'authorised' him to send the fax as 'a pitch' but the former butler says that he hired the PR man to limit bad press coverage about him and any agreement between them was terminated before the fax was sent – the day after Burrell was acquitted at the Old Bailey of stealing items belonging to Princess Diana. Referring to Clifford, Burrell said 'This is a man who I trusted and was betrayed by.' Burrell said that after the trial, he sold his story to the Daily Mirra for three hundred thousand knicker as he had been 'viciously' attacked by the media and wished to give his defence which was not heard in court. He was also offered one million smackers 'to tell all' about his time in the royal household but decided not to. After he met Clifford in April 2002, Burrell sent Clifford a letter – which was later faxed to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks – in response to the PR man saying that he needed to know more about him. 'He said I had to trust him with my innermost secrets because all his clients did that and he locked their secrets up in his safe. He said that as my agent he would need to know my secrets so that he could defend me,' Burrell claimed, adding: 'The letter that I sent was a matter of trust. I thought to myself "everyone trusts him", he had a reputation as the number one PR agent at that time, he was everyone's "go to man."' He said that Clifford 'went ballistic' when Burrell terminated their relationship shortly afterwards because his counsel in the criminal trial said that it could not continue. A year after the fax was sent, Burrell published his book A Royal Duty - plenty of copies of which are still extremely available in Poundland - but did not feel this gave Clifford some form of retrospective justification. 'I am outraged and deeply upset by his actions. I trusted him. I find it difficult to explain just how low I was at that time. It was the most challenging time of my life and I have never felt so vulnerable, so to know that someone I trusted breached my trust in that way, for commercial gain, is sickening. At the time, I felt I had to trust someone, I obviously trusted the wrong person,' he said. In his evidence, Clifford said that Burrell was 'never a PR client' but came to him for one reason – to sell 'a sensational story' about his time in royal service. The letter, which contained a 'very very watered-down' version of what Burrell said he wanted to reveal, was sent to him on the understanding that Clifford would use it to 'broker a deal' for the sale. By sending the fax, he was following Burrell's instructions, Clifford claimed. After he sent it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, whose paper was the highest potential bidder, the money offered was a lot less than the four or five hundred thousand knicker that Burrell allegedly wanted. At that point, Clifford said he gave up as he did not have the time or inclination to waste on a story which was 'very weak' and not worth much. 'And, it remained in confidence. Nothing he said to me appeared in the News of the World,' Clifford said. Challenged by Burrell's counsel, William Bennett, that his evidence was 'nothing more than a pack of lies', Clifford said: 'It's one hundred per cent true and Paul Burrell knows it which is why he can't look me in the eyes now.' Clifford, who maintains his innocence over the sex offences for which he was given some serious bird - well, he would, wouldn't he? - and says that he is appealing against his conviction, denied that he was prepared to lie not only to Burrell but also to the court. 'No, it's Paul Burrell who has lied to this court, not me. Look at his face,' he said. At the close of his evidence, the judge qualified the normal courtesy granted to witnesses, saying: 'For obvious reasons I am not going to say you are free to go.' Unless he meant free to go back to jail, obviously. The hearing was adjourned.
Three weeks after his death, David Bowie has twelve CDs in the UK top forty, equalling a record set by Elvis Presley in 1977. The Grand Dame's swansong, Blackstar, spent a third week at number one, with Best Of Bowie, Hunky Dory, Nothing Has Changes and The Fall & Rise Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars all in the top ten. Bowie's other CDs in the top forty include "Heroes" (twenty eight), Diamond Dogs (thirty), Station To Station (thirty two) and Scary Monsters (thirty six).
Meanwhile, media reports suggest that David Bowie left an estate valued at about seventy million quid, according to his will which has been filed in New York. Half will go to his widow, Iman, along with the home they shared in New York. The rest is shared between his son and daughter. It was also revealed that Bowie had requested that his ashes be scattered in Bali in a Buddhist ritual. The will was filed in a Manhattan court on Friday under Bowie's legal name, David Robert Jones. His personal assistant, Corinne Schwab, was left two million dollars and another one million went to a former nanny, Marion Skene. David's son, the film director Duncan Jones and daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, both received twenty five per cent of the estate. Alexandria was also left a home in upstate New York. In the will, written in 2004, Bowie asked that he be cremated in Bali but if that was 'not practical', then his ashes be scattered there anyway 'in accordance with the Buddhist rituals.' David's body was cremated on 12 January in New Jersey, according to a death certificate filed with the will.

Crayyyyyyg Dayyyyyyvid has, finally, made his peace with being lampooned - brilliantly - on the sketch show Bo' Selecta! Leigh Francis first rose to public prominence after mercilessly parodying Crayyyyyyyg Dayyyyyyyvid on TV while wearing an oversized mask and sporting a kestrel. Discussing his move to Miami on The Jonathan Ross Show, Crayyyyyyg Dayyyyyyyvid claimed that he didn't go to the US to escape Bo' Selecta! One or two people even believed him.
This blogger is indebted to his old mucka Scunthrope Steve for the following thought for the day: 'Nothing says "Classy" more than a photograph of Rita Ora sans kecks, looking as if she's just about to engage with a hotel room door stop.' Well, we've all done it, be fair.
Heavy snow has fallen in parts of Scotlandand Northern Engand, just hours after Storm Gertrude brought a day of high winds and rain. Up to six inches of snow was forecast for some places above three hundred metres after cold air swept in on Friday evening. The Met Office has issued amber 'be prepared' warnings for snow and high winds for areas North of the central belt until 6pm on Saturday. A yellow 'be aware' warning is in force for the whole of Scotland. A red 'be very fucking aware' warning is expected to follow. South of the border yellow warnings for snow wind and ice have been issued for North East and North West England, while similar warnings are in place for the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber. And, given the battering that Stately Telly Topping Manor is currently taking from the wind lashing in from the North, it can be long before the roof comes off. The snow followed a day of disruption due to high winds brought by Storm Gertrude, with a gust of one hundred and five miles per hour recorded in Shetland. The weather led to schools being shut, power cuts, bridges closing and delays across Scotland's transport network.

The actor Abe Vigoda, who played a doomed Mafia soldier in the first two The Godfather movies, has died aged ninety four. His family said that he died peacefully in his sleep. Vigoda played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Don Vito Corleone, who plots to take over the family after The Don's death by killing his son, Michael. The role made Abe recognisable to millions and led to many more roles, including as detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series Barney Miller. His most memorable line in The Godfather comes just before his character is taken to his death, when he tells the family adviser, Tom Hagen: 'Tell Mikey it was only business. I always liked him.' Before the Godfather movies, Vigoda had worked in relative obscurity in TV and on the New York theatre circuit. Vigoda began acting while in his teens, working with the American Theatre Wing. His career as a professional actor began in 1947. He gained acting notability in the 1960s with his work in Broadway productions, including Marat/Sade (1967), The Man In The Glass Booth (1968), Inquest (1970) and Tough To Get Help (1972). According to Francis Ford Coppola's commentary on The Godfather DVD, Abe landed the role of Tessio in an 'open call' audition, in which actors who did not have agents could come in. Many of his later roles were as gangsters, but in Barney Miller he became much-loved in the comedy role - Phil Fish known for his world-weary demeanour and persistent haemorrhoids. In 1977 his character got his own spin-off series, focusing on the character's domestic life. Abe also appeared in films such as Cannonball Run II, Look Who's Talking and North. Towards the end of his life, Abe often appeared on Internet lists of living celebrities believed to have died and he played along with this on TV chat show appearances. In 1982 People magazine mistakenly referred to Abe as being dead. At the time, Vigoda, then aged sixty, was alive and well and performing in a stage play in Calgary. He took the mistake with good humour, posing for a photograph published in Variety in which he was sitting up in a coffin, holding up the erroneous issue of People. The same mistake was made in 1987 when a reporter for the local television station WWOR, Channel Nine in Secaucus, mistakenly referred to him as 'the late Abe Vigoda.' Abe became the subject of many running gags pertaining to such mistaken - and premature - reports of his death. In 1997, Vigoda appeared in the film Good Burger as the character Otis, a restaurant cook. Several jokes were made about his advanced age, including his character saying 'I should've died years ago.' That same year he was reportedly shopping at Bloomingdale's in Manhattan when the salesman remarked, 'You look like Abe Vigoda. But you can't be Abe Vigoda because he's dead.' Abe, reportedly, assured the man that he was, indeed, Abe Vigoda but he was definitely not dead. 'I've checked,' he added. A Late Night With David Letterman sketch showed Letterman trying to summon up Vigoda's ghost, but Abe walked on set and declared, 'I'm not dead yet, you pinhead!' In May 2001, a website was mounted with only one purpose: to report whether Vigoda was alive or otherwise. Abe was married to Beatrice Schy from February 1968, until her death in 1992. They had one daughter, Carol. He is survived by his daughter, two grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Paul Kantner, a founding member and singer-guitarist of rock band The Jefferson Airplane, has died aged seventy four. His death was confirmed by publicist and former girlfriend Cynthia Bowman, who said that Paul died of multiple organ failure and septic shock. Although the band was fronted by vocalists Grace Slick and Marty Balin, Kantner was considered a driving force. With songs like 'Somebody To Love' and 'Volunteers', the San Francisco group helped pioneer the psychedelic sound. They formed in 1965 when folk singer Balin decided to create a rock group in response to The Be-Atles-led British Invasion. Kantner, a college drop out who was already a familiar face on the San Francisco beatnik circuit, was the first person Balin approached. 'He was the first guy I picked for the band and he was the first guy who taught me how to roll a joint,' Balin wrote on Facebook after learning Kantner's death. 'And although I know he liked to play the devil's advocate, I am sure he has earned his wings now.' The band quickly attracted a local following - and when fledgling promoter Bill Graham opened his legendary Fillmore Auditorium, Jefferson Airplane served as the first headliner. Signed to RCA Records for the then-princely sum of twenty five thousand dollars, the band scored five gold LP in the US, including 1967's hugely influential Surrealistic Pillow and 1968's Crown Of Creation in their first run of success. Their first hit single, 'White Rabbit' combined the story of Alice In Wonderland with euphemistic lyrics suggesting the experience of a drug trip; but later songs adopted the political stance of the hippie movement, with 1969's 'We Can Be Together' declaring: 'We are obscene, lawless, hideous, dangerous, dirty, violent and young but we should be together.' The band advocated psychedelic drugs, rebellion, fucking in the streets and a communal lifestyle, operating out of an eccentric house near Haight-Ashbury. Its members supported various political and social causes, passed out LSD at concerts and played at both the Monterey and Woodstock festivals - where the band's set was scheduled for Saturday evening but wound up taking place at eight o'clock the following morning after The Grateful Dead and The Who played for nine fucking hours each. Their badges and bumper stickers' read "The Jefferson Airplane Loves You' - but their idealism took a knock at The Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont free festival, where a group of Hells Angels, who had been hired as security, killed a spectator and beat Balin unconscious with pool cues when he tried to get them to chill the fuck out. The group began to fragment soon after, with Kantner releasing a well-received solo LP, Blows Against the Empire and other members forming the blues-rock band Hot Tuna. Kantner rejoined Balin and Slick, who was by then his wife, in 1974 under the name Jefferson Starship. They continued to have success until the 1980s, against a backdrop of litigation with an old manager and former band members. The guitarist left in 1984, saying 'the band became more mundane and not quite as challenging and not quite as much of a thing to be proud.' He then took legal action against the remaining members, forcing them to truncate their name to Starship. Kantner reformed and toured with various versions of Airplane, Starship and his own KBC band in the 1990s and 2000s. 'Our condolences go out to the friends, family and fans of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane on the news of his passing,' members of The Doors wrote on their Facebook page. Although, not Jim Morrison, obviously. He was busy completing his shift at the Swansea bread production factory at which he's worked since 1971. The Recording Academy, which is due to award Jefferson Airplane a lifetime achievement Grammy this year, mourned Kantner as 'a true icon" of the 1960s music scene in a statement. Kantner is survived by three children; sons Gareth and Alexander and daughter China, a former MTV presenter.

Singer-songwriter Colin Vearncombe, who performed under the name Black, has died at the age of fifty three, two weeks after being injured in a car crash. The Liverpudlian singer, whose 1987 single 'Wonderful Life' was a top ten hit in Britain and around Europe, suffered head injuries in the crash in Ireland on 10 January and was subsequently placed in an induced coma. He died on Tuesday, his publicist said. Colin's wife, Camilla, said that she was 'deeply grateful' to medical staff who had cared for him. The father-of-three, who was in intensive care at Cork University Hospital, 'died peacefully' with his family at his side 'who were singing him on his way', a statement said. 'Colin received the best possible care from the expert and highly professional staff there and we are deeply grateful for everything they did,' his wife and three sons said in a statement. Fellow Liverpool musician Pete Wylie paid tribute to his friend on Twitter, saying the news was 'so very sad. I want to send all the love I can muster to Colin's parents, brother and partner and to all who loved him and who he loved too,' Pete wrote. 'I could still sing the very first song Colin recorded with me in the WAH! studio. I remember it that clearly. And that voice!' Born in Liverpool in 1962, Vearncombe had his first top ten hit with the single 'Sweetest Smile' in June 1987 when he was twenty five years old. His second hit, the even more memorable 'Wonderful Life', which he had previously two years ealier to little fanfare, made the top ten in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy. However, despite having found fame, Vearncombe later said 'the pop star life' was not as he had imagined it. 'I was frustrated by how few of the people in the music world I respected. Maybe I just didn't go to the right clubs. I've never been a great schmoozer or networker and the idea of setting out to meet a certain type of people is anathema to me,' he said. 'It was two years of disappointment - I didn't have any wild sex, I'm not a druggie, so I was just digging a hole for myself.' 'Wonderful Life' has since been used in numerous advertisements and films and has been covered - really badly - by artists including Tina Cousins and Katie Melua. But as Colin's recent collaborator Calum MacColl commented: 'I think he got to the point where he really resented being Colin 'Wonderful Life' Vearncombe and he wanted people to listen to some of his other stuff and the breadth and the darkness.' Indeed, as MacColl pointed out, 'Wonderful Life' itself is a very deceptive song. Superficially celebratory, 'it's actually a very, very dark song. There's a darkness and a twist to what Colin does.' Vearncombe himself was well aware that his work did not lend itself to glib labelling. 'I'm a marketing man's nightmare, because I don’t sit comfortably in a genre and that makes it harder to sell me,' he once said. One of three sons of Sylvia and Alan, Vearncombe went to Prescot Grammar School, then Liverpool University for an art foundation course. He first aspired to become a musician when he saw Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock. He made his first appearance on record with the 1981 single 'Human Features', released on the independent Rox Records label. He explained that he called himself Black instead of using his own name because 'I think no one would have ever remembered me. People just look at that number of letters and it makes them go dyslexic.' 'Human Features' caught the attention of Pete Fulwell, manager of Pete Wylie, and with his help a second single, 'More Than The Sun,' appeared on the Wonderful World Of ... label. Black, now comprising Vearncombe and David Dix, toured with the Thompson Twins and The mighty Wah! and, in 1984 signed to WEA Records. However, after releasing 'Hey Presto' and a new re-recording of 'More Than The Sun', the label dropped them. In 1985 Colin released the first version of 'Wonderful Life' on the independent Ugly Man label. It barely scraped into the Top Seventy Five, but caught the ear of Chris Briggs at A&M Records, who signed Black to a two-LP deal. Colin later reflected on his two big hits. 'It's another of life's rich ironies that because my first marriage fucked up in a very big way, I ended up writing a couple of songs that were the most successful I've ever written.' The Wonderful Life LP sold more than one-and-a-half million copies and reached number three on the UK chart. However, the follow-ups Comedy (1988) and Black (1991) failed to repeat its success, despite some critical acclaim and Black and A&M parted company. Vearncombe retreated to the Normandy countryside with the producer Mike Hedges to record Are We Having Fun Yet?, which he released on his own Nero Schwarz label in 1993. It sold well in Europe, but was largely ignored in the UK. It was six years before his next CD, The Accused, which he released under his own name following a period of introspection and reassessment ('I was depressed without realising I was,' as he put it). It was the start of a burst of creativity which brought the CDs Abbey Road Live (1999), Water On Snow (2000) and Live At The Bassline (2001), recorded in Johannesburg with South African musicians. The double CD Smoke Up Close (2002) contained a batch of songs he had recorded in sparse, one-take performances. In 2003 he moved to Schull in West Cork with his second wife, Camilla Griehsel, a Swedish singer whom he had met in the late 1980s and with whom he had three sons. Griehsel said of Vearncombe that 'he was romantic, kind and gentle and I'd never felt so loved by anyone.' After a period of working on poetry and painting, which produced the illustrated volume I Am Not the Same Person (2012), last year, he returned to his original stage name for a crowd-funded CD, Blind Faith, which received positive reviews. He has also published poetry and staged exhibitions of his paintings in Ireland. His publicist said there would be a private funeral, as well as a memorial service for him in Liverpool 'as we know there are many, many people who will want to celebrate Colin's life and work.' Colin is survived by Camilla and their sons, Max, Marius and Milan.

It's fairly obviously, therefore, what today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day will be, dear blog reader.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

And In The Darkest Night. I'll Keep You Safe, Alright

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) is to step down from his showrunning malarkey on Doctor Who after the next series, the BBC has confirmed. Steven's last series is currently being written, will be filmed during 2016 and will be broadcast in the spring of 2017 following a Christmas special, after which Steven will be replaced in the role of executive producer by Broadchurch and Torchwood writer Chris Chibnall. Who, in about eighteen months time, will be The Special People's new favourite online punchbag. So, that'll be fun ... if you enjoy watching people exploding with impotent and pointless fury because someone has committed the dreadful crime of 'producing a TV show in a way I don't like.' From various comments that he's made in recent months, it appears that yer man Moffat has been actively looking to move on from his current role for about a year-and-a-half but had previously been prevented from doing so, seemingly by the BBC's wish to have their preferred choice for a replacement signed up to the production. Chibnall's ongoing commitments to ITV with Broadchurch had made that impossible, until now. Steven, of course, took over the reins on Doctor Who in 2010 at the beginning of series five of the BBC's long-running family SF drama from Big Rusty Davies. And, in this blogger's opinion, he has done a ruddy fantastic job in the five years since producing five full series and a number of specials the vast, overwhelming majority of which this blogger has thoroughly enjoyed and, in fact, thought were great. BBC1's controller, Charlotte Moore, said that yer man Moffat was an 'absolute genius.' In a statement, the BBC noted that Steven had been responsible for introducing the eleventh and twelfth Doctors - yer actual Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi his very self - as well as two companions in Karen Gillan and Jenna Coleman. Which is a bit of a slap in the mush of poor old Arthur Darvill but, otherwise, factually accurate. 'I have decided to schedule Steven's big finale series in Spring 2017 to bring the nation together for what will be a huge event on the channel. 2016 is spoilt with national moments including the Euros and Olympics and I want to hold something big back for 2017 - I promise it will be worth the wait!' Steven said that it took 'a lot of gin and tonic' to talk Chibnall into taking up his new position. 'I am beyond delighted that one of the true stars of British television drama will be taking the Time Lord even further into the future,' he added. 'At the start of season eleven, Chris Chibnall will become the new showrunner of Doctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip.' (Of course, he won't be, or anything even remotely like it, he'll continue to run Sherlock - the next series of which is to enter production shortly - and, presumably, do 'other stuff' as well!) Chibnall described Doctor Who as 'the ultimate BBC programme - bold, unique, vastly entertaining, and adored all around the world.' He added: 'So it's a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama. I've loved Doctor Who since I was four years old and I'm relishing the thought of working with the exceptional team at BBC Wales to create new characters, creatures and worlds for the Doctor to explore.' Moore thanked Steven 'for everything he has given Doctor Who.' And, presumably, for putting up with all the shit that's been thrown in his direction by a small fraction of overgrown school bullies in their thirties and silly little mouthy pillocks with access to the Interweb. This blogger very much included in that collective, obviously. She said: 'I've loved working with him, he is an absolute genius and has brought fans all over the world such joy. I will be very sad to see him leave the show but I can't wait to see what he will deliver in his last-ever series next year with a brand new companion.' Steven talked about his feelings on leaving the show: '[It] feels odd to be talking about leaving when I'm just starting work on the scripts for season ten, but the fact is my timey-wimey is running out. While Chris is doing his last run of Broadchurch, I'll be finishing up on the best job in the universe and keeping the TARDIS warm for him.'

Steven Moffat (OBE) has also extended a hearty thanks to fans of Doctor Who for their support. In a message posted on his wife and producing partner Sue Vertue's Twitter account, Steven indicated that whilst the end is in sight, the moment has been prepared for, as it were. 'Steven thanks you all for your lovely comments and reminds you he's got a whole season to go yet,' Vertue wrote. Steven himself quit Twitter a few years ago after being frequently ambushed and ignorantly insulted by a contingent of gobshite arsehole scum with an agenda whose own contribution to society is yet to be fully established. But, it won't be very much.
Of course, some people are simply never satisfied - one or two national newspapers - specifically the Daily Mirra - have picked up on the fact that some Doctor Who fans are 'outraged' that 2016 will see but one new Doctor Who episode broadcast before the next full series is shown the following year. Ironically, many of these planks appear to be amongst those who have been most vocal in their very public dislike of Steven Moffat's tenure. So, in other words, they've previously said that they didn't want any Steven Moffat Doctor Who but, when told that they've got their wish for the next eleven months, they're annoyed about it. You just can't please some people, can you?
       Here's one further thought for you all to slip into your toaster and see if it pops up brown. Much was made in certain sections of the media last year concerning Doctor Who's 'ratings drop' - which,in reality, was from an average weekly audience of between seven and eight million in 2014 to an average weekly audience of between six and seven million in 2015. Events of the last two days have concluded with the BBC publicly committing to the popular long-running family SF drama two series in advance. Before the first of those two series has even started filming. That fact alone puts most of the more hysterical 'oh no, the sky is falling' worries expressed in some fandom circles last autumn into a rather sharp perspective I'd've said.
Once again, the best comedy moment on TV this week came from BBC4's breathtakingly funny Brian Pern: Forty Five Years In Prog & Roll. In the latest episode, aside from some brilliant mickey-taking out of Peter Gabriel's career (as per usual) and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours period, the best bit - by miles - was Christopher Eccleston reprising his role as Luke Dunmore who produced Brian's legendarily awful Madchester LP, Get Real Quick (featuring the hit single 'Maraca Man'). 'Brian was,and is, London, and the world was realising, at the time, that London was dead and Manchester was where it was happening. It was electric up here, it was like being on Venus or Mars. Or ... one of the other planets in The Milky Pass.' Luke was then asked if Brian had a big influence on 1990s indie music: 'Undoubtedly. They'd never admit it but, without Brian, there'd be no Oasis, no Blur, no Mondays, no Top Loader, no Ocean Colour Scene, no BDI, no Shed Seven. He's got a fuckin' lot to answer for!'
Silent Witness was the highest-rated overnight programme across all channels (excluding soaps) on Monday evening. The long-running BBC1 crime drama had an audience of 5.8 million overnight viewers. Opposite that on ITV, Benidorm was watched by 4.4m. Meanwhile, the second episode of Tracey Ullman's Show continued to perform well for BBC1 with 2.4m punters at 10.45pm in a slot where the average overnight audience over the last year has been 1.8m. On BBC2, the very impressive team from Peterhouse, Cambridge managed to overcome York College in a close-run quarter final episode of University Challenge, watched by 3.03 million viewers. After that, Only Connect's final - in which The String Section team defeated The Wayfarers - was watched by an audience of 2.53m. How To Lose Weight Well appealed to 1.87m on Channel Four, followed by The Undateables with 1.67m. On Channel Five, the latest episode of sick Victorian freak show Celebrity Big Brother had 2.04m and the return for a new series of the excellent US import Gotham was watched by seven hundred and thirty two thousand viewers.
On Tuesday evening, Silent Witness remained Queen of the Overnights, the second episode of the latest two-parter bringing in an audience of 5.96 million to BBC1. That even beat the figures for EastEnders earlier in the evening (5.29m). At 8pm, another popular long-running drama, Holby City, drew 4.60m. Soaps aside, ITV had another dreadful Tuesday night, with Trawlermen Tales being watched by a mere 1.94m at 8pm and then Saved managing a shockingly poor 1.03m an hour later. To put that figure into some context, all four of the other terrestrial channels had more viewers during the slot. On BBC2, the evening began with Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (1.65m), followed by Victorian Bakers (2.26m at 8pm), Barely Legal Grafters (1.66m at 9pm) and the start of a new series of Phone Shop Idol (five hundred and forty thousand in a slot where the average is eight hundred thousand plus). Channel Four's evening schedule was consistent, Tricks Of The Restaurant Trade attracting 1.29m, Travel Man: Forty Eight Hours In ... Copenhagen being seen by 1.22m and the much-trailed The Jihadis Next Door having an audience of 1.16m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Bargain Loving Brits In The Sun pulled in 1.10m punters, followed by Celebrity Big Brother (2.25m), then The Secret Life Of The Family with seven hundred and nineteen thousand. On BBC4, a repeat of the documentary Alex Higgins: The People's Champion was watched by three hundred and fifty three thousand viewers. The Queen's Castle in the 9pm slot, had seven hundred and ten thousand, after which The Crusades attracted three hundred and eighty thousand.

ITV's coverage of the National Television Awards attracted its lowest overnight audience in eight years, with fewer than 5.5 million tuning in to see Strictly Come Dancing beat The X Factor to the best talent show prize. The awards ceremony, presented by Dermot O'Dreary and broadcast live from the O2 arena, attracted 5.47 million viewers and a twenty five per cent share of total television viewing between 7.30pm and 10pm on Wednesday. This was the event's lowest overnight rating since 2008, the last awards presented by O'Dreary's predecessor, Sir Trevor McDonald, which pulled in 5.3 million viewers. The audience for this year's ceremony, which faced competition from BBC1's live coverage of the third round FA Cup replay between Leicester City and Stottingtot Hotshots, was well down on the 6.6 million who tuned in for the 2015 event. Match Of The Day drew an average audience of 3.9 million between 7.30pm and 10pm, as Spurs won the tie, 2-0. Earlier in the evening, The ONE Show had 3.73m. On BBC2, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip attracted 1.62m, Trust Me, I'm A Doctor was watched by 2.29m, The Town That Took On The Taxman was seen by 1.65m and Russell Howard's Good News had seven hundred and twenty thousand viewers. Channel Four's evening highlights included Mary Portas: Secret Shopper (nine hundred and seventy thousand), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (1.37m) and Bodyshockers: Nips, Tucks & Tattoos (eight hundred and twenty thousand). On Channel Five, Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords began the evening at 7pm with six hundred and forty thousand. After that, GPs Behind Closed Doors was watched by eight hundred and twelve thousand, Celebrity Big Brother was gawped at by 1.75m glakes whilst Ten Thousand BC: Two Tribes returned for a second series with six hundred and nineteen thousand viewers. On BBC4, Empire Of The Tsars: Romanov Russia With Lucy Worsley was watched by eight hundred and thirteen thousand, The Queen's Castle by four hundred and fifty one thousand and The Trains That Time Forgot: Britain's Lost Railway Journeys by two hundred and forty nine thousand. The much-trailed The Comic Strip Presents ... Red Top had an audience of one hundred and twenty seven thousand viewers on G.O.L.D.
BBC1's Death In Paradise continued to pull in impressive strong overnight figures on Thursday with an audience of 6.11 million viewers for its latest episode. This, in spite of the fact that its two lead-in shows - Dickensian and Room 101 - also continue to under-perform alarmingly (drawing audiences of 2.42m and 2.59m respectively). Against Death In Paradise, ITV's Jericho once again crashed and burned, being watched by a mere 2.49 million punters. Meanwhile, worthless, unfunny waste-of-space shite Birds Of A Feather attracted 4.08 million planks of the first order to ITV from 8.30pm. All of whom should have been sodding-well ashamed of themselves. This blogger felt it necessary to resign from the human race in protest but, I don't think it did much good. On BBC2, The Story Of China had a quietly impressive 1.50m viewers at 9pm. Channel Four's The Restoration Man also drew 1.5m in the same slot whilst the perfectly obscene Date My Mum was watched by eight hundred and sixty eight thousand daft glakes at 10pm. On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother also continues to attract depressingly decent figures - 2.35m for its latest episode. And, Ten Thousand BC carries on struggling with seven hundred and twenty thousand. The stand-out multichannel performer was Traffic Cops which was watched by seven hundred and fifty two thousand on BBC3 at 8pm.

EastEnders was the most-watched overnight programme on Friday evening with a audience of 6.43m from 8pm on BBC1. At nine o'clock, the second episode of series three of Shetland drew 4.15m. ITV's once massively-popular Mr Selfridge continued to shed viewers with an overnight of 2.98m at 9pm. On BBC2, Mastermind was watched by 2.15m, What To Buy And Why attracted 1.76m, Britain's Trillion Pound Island interested 1.68m and Qi had an audience of 1.32m at 10pm. Channel Four's scheduled were topped by the latest episode of Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown which was watched by 1.75m viewers at 9pm, followed by First Dates with an audience of 1.13m an hour later. The first of two evening episodes of Celebrity Big Brother - as if one, or even none, isn't quite enough - was seen by 2.42m people with nothing better to do with their time. Lip Sync Battle found itself in the middle of a Celebrity Big Brother sandwich at 10pm, being viewed by 1.38m. The evening's second dose of Celebrity Big Brother had an audience of two million punters.

The most-watched overnight show of Saturday night was, once again, The Voice on BBC1 with 6.63m, although the audience figures for the talent show's final series before its move ITV next year remain considerably down on previous years. Earlier, Pointless Celebrities continued to pull in impressive numbers - five million - which The Getaway Car promptly squandered as a lead-in, it being watched by a mere 3.61m overnight viewers, down four hundred thousand on the previous week's opening episode. And, for those who may be interested in this blogger's view on the woefully lowest-common-denominator cross between Top Gear and Total Wipeout, it's really not very good. I mean, it's no Don't Scare The Hare, but BBC1 on a Saturday night should be showing something with a bit more imagination than this tripe. After The Voice, Casualty was watched by 5.08m. BBC1's evening ended with Match Of The Day - featuring the latest of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' calamitous and cowardly surrender-before-kick-off fiascoes against The Watford Gap - and a higher-than-usual overnight of 4.10m. On BBC2, the terrestrial premier of the acclaimed movie War Horse was seen by 1.88m. Qi XL had an audience of nine hundred and ninety thousand. ITV's night was steady-and-unspectacular, Ninja Warrior attracting 4.05m, woeful, worthless Take Me Out being watched by 3.11m people with shite for brains and The Jonathan Ross Show being roundly thrashed by Match Of The Day with a mere 2.07m. On Channel Five, Football League Tonight had five hundred and sixty thousand whilst the latest episode of sick Victorian freak show for crass attention whores desperate to get their face on TV, Celebrity Big Brother brought in 1.59m. On BBC4 The Young Montalbano was the most watched show on multichannels, with six hundred and fifty thousand.

The latest episode of Qi XL included another of the best TV comedy moments of the week. Matt Lucas - making his second appearance of the current, M, series - made a reference to keeping Mini-Milks in his freezer next to his onion rings. This seemed to take yer actual Stephen Fry by surprise as The World's Brainiest Man Bar None (®™) claimed not to know what Mini-Milks are. 'It's what you get if your mum won't buy you a Magnum,' explained Lucas before asking what sort of ice cream and/or lollies Stephen had a preference for. 'I used to like Mivis ... when I was a boy,' Stephen replied with mock firmness. 'Now I'm an adult, I eat olives and I eat cheese. I want to live in the Middle Ages now, because they seemed to have grown-up food!'
BBC1 enjoyed a truly impressive Sunday evening, as a special from David Attenborough and the Still Open All Hours series finale helped to lift the channel's primetime average to 6.6m overnight viewers across the entire evening. Attenborough's enduring appeal to viewers of all ages was demonstrated as Attenborough & The Giant Dinosaur was watched by an overnight audience of 7.5m on BBC1, with a peaked of 8.5m. Still Open All Hours was watched by 7.42m. Also during the evening, Countryfile drew 5.5m whilst Call the Midwife was, yet again, the best performer of the night's line-up with 7.78m and War & Peace continued with 5.23m. By contrast, it was another rotten Sunday night for ITV, where drama flop of the year so far, Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands, plunged to a risibly low 1.46m at 7pm. Endeavour's series finale was watched by a lower-than-usual 3.66m viewers - a great pity, that, as it was actually a terrific episode - and, at 10pm, The Day Hitler Died could only manage eight hundred and forty one thousand viewers. On BBC2, Dragons' Den was watched by 2.24m from 8pm, the much-trailed James May's Cars Of The People attracted 1.77m at 9pm and Blood Diamond had an audience of seven hundred and sixty two thousand at 10pm. On Channel Four, the final episode of Walking The Himalayas was watched by 1.7m. After that, the latest episode of Deutschland Eighty Three drew six hundred and nineteen thousand and Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was seen by six hundred and eighty two thousand. Channel Five's evening began with a bumper audience for the movie Labyrinth - featuring the late David Bowie, of course - which had 1.7m. Following that, The Wedding Planner attracted eight hundred and ninety thousand. Celebrity Big Brother was gawped at by 2.44m and Celebrity Botched-Up Bodies by nine hundred thousand viewers. Whether Channel Five's scheduled in future will feature Celebrity Arses Go Wild, Celebrity Quim Shockers and so on is, as yet unknown. Although, this blogger having said that has probably given some worthless plank at Channel Five all manner of notions in this regard. On BBC3, a repeat of Saturday's The Voice drew five hundred and twenty thousand, the movie Die Hard With A Vengeance was watched by eight hundred and ninety three thousand and an episode of Family Guy had five hundred and eighty eight thousand. On ITV 2, Skyfall drew six hundred and thirty three thousand.

The final and consolidated numbers for the Top Twenty Four programmes, for week-ending Sunday 17 January 2016 are as follows:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun - 9.88m
2 Silent Witness - Mon BBC1 - 8.51m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.48m
4 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.17m
5 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 8.11m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.62m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.27m
8 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 7.20m
9 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 7.03m
10 War & Peace - Sun BBC1 - 6.57m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.36m
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 6.18m
13 Shetland - Fri BBc1 - 6.12m
14 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.77m
15 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 5.52m
16 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.22m
17 Midsomer Murders - Wed ITV - 5.17*
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 5.00m
19 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.95m
20 Benidorm - Fri ITV - 4.74m*
21 Birds Of A Feather - Fri ITV - 4.69m*
22 Endeavour - Sun ITV - 4.64*
23 The Getaway Car - Sat BBC1 - 4.53m
24 David Bowie: Sound & Vision - Mon BBC1 - 4.47m
These consolidated figures include viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via computers. Those ITV programmes marked "*" indicates that they do not include HD viewers. Disappointing final figures continue for several ITV dramas, including Mr Selfridge (3.77m) and Jerico (3.41m) whilst the third episode of Beowulf again didn't even register an audience large enough to make it into ITV's top thirty programmes. On BBC2, University Challenge drew an audience of 3.13m. Trust Me, I'm A Doctor had 3.01m viewers, followed by Only Connect (2.70m), Victorian Bakers (2.69m), Mastermind (1.94m), Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (1.78m), Stargazing Live (1.77m), Dad's Army (1.75m), Qi (1.73m) and World's Sneakiest Animals (1.70m). The Stargazing Special: Live Spacewalk attracted 1.66m viewers. Location, Location, Location was Channel Four's top-rated broadcast of the week (2.52m), followed by How To Lose Weight Well (2.44m), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.37m) and Walking The Himalayas (2.34m). Celebrity Big Brother dominated Channel Five's week (Tuesday's episode was the highest-rated with 2.84m. Depressing, isn't it?) Sky Sports 1's Live For Super Sunday and The Scum's victory over the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws was watched by 1.95m punters, the largest audience for a multichannel broadcast during the week. Sky Sports 2's coverage of Live Test Cricket and England's third test victory against South Africa was watched by four hundred and forty four thousand. Gillette Soccer Saturday was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast, as usual, with six hundred and fifty thousand punters. ITV2's broadcast of Hotel Transylvania attracted seven hundred and forty nine thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated broadcast with 1.01m. Foyle's War (nine hundred and fifty three thousand) and Lewis (five hundred and ninety four thousand) also continued to pull in decent audiences for the channel. A repeat episode of Benidorm headed ITV4's top ten (three hundred and fifty seven thousand). The Young Montalbano on BBC4 drew an audience of nine hundred and eighteen thousand. Empire Of The Tsars: Romanov Russia With Lucy Worsley was watched by eight hundred and twenty two thousand (whilst the Sunday repeat of the same episode had six hundred and three thousand), whilst The Queen's Castle was seen by seven hundred and one thousand and Music Moguls; Masters Of Pop was also watched by six hundred and three thousand. Don't Tell The Bride (six hundred and fifty thousand) topped BBC3's top-ten list. Sky 1's most watched programme was awful, laughless horrorshow (and drag) A League Of Their Own watched by nine hundred and forty thousand numskulls. Hawaii Five-0 drew nine hundred and twenty six thousand and, another of the channel's horrifying home-grown products, Stella was watched by eight hundred and forty eight thousand people who really need to find something else to occupy their time. Sky Atlantic's weekly list was topped by Blue Bloods (three hundred and seventy six thousand). On Sky Living, Blindspot was watched by nine hundred and ten thousand and Greys Anatomy by four hundred and forty thousand. Sky Arts' Occupied had one hundred and sixty thousand whilst David Bowie: A Reality Tour was seen by eighty four thousand, Discovering David Bowie by seventy one thousand and David Bowie: Blackstar by sixty eight thousand. 5USA's broadcast Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was watched by three hundred and eighty four thousand viewers and NCIS by three hundred and fifty five thousand. NCIS also featured in the top tens of FOX - the second episode of series thirteen's British début attracting 1.07m - and the Universal Channel - on which Major Crimes drew an audience of two hundred and seventeen thousand. CBS Action's weekly-list was topped by Bad Girls with one hundred and fifteen thousand. On Dave, Live Boxing: David Haye Versus Mark De Mori was the channel's highest-rated programme with 1.35m. That was followed by Top Gear (three hundred and eighty six thousand), American Pickers (three hundred and forty one thousand), Have I Got A Bit More news For You (three hundred and thirty four thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and four thousand). Drama's New Tricks was watched by four hundred and seventy nine thousand and Deadline Gallipoli by three hundred and ninety one thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and fifty thousand). Watch's broadcast of Code Black was seen by two hundred and thirty three thousand. Yesterday's Sounds Of The Sixties had an audience of two hundred and twenty five thousand viewers. Secrets Of Britain drew two hundred and eighteen thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was watched by four hundred and fifty four thousand punters. Fast N' Loud had three hundred and forty two thousand. On Discovery History, Lost Temple Of The Gods topped the weekly-list with audience of thirty two thousand viewers. Word War II In Colour, The Man Who Cracked The Nazi Code, Seven Ages of Britain and Time Team were all watched by twenty five thousand. On Discovery Science, Mythbusters was seen by thirty four thousand punters. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme were Fast N' Loud (forty thousand) and Wheeler Dealers (thirty six thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had one hundred and sixty nine thousand viewers and Drugs Inc (one hundred and two thousand). A Crime To Remember was ID's largest audience of the week (eighty two thousand). The First Forty Eight topped CI's top ten (forty four thousand). Eden's Wild Ones was seen by thirty one thousand. GOLD's top ten was headed by Porridge (one hundred and fifty nine thousand) and Blackadder II (one hundred and fifty six thousand). Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (three hundred and thirty six thousand). On ITV Encore, Downton Abbey was watched by ninety four thousand viewers. True Drama's Taggart had twenty six thousand. The Avengers was watched by twenty four thousand. Your TV's Ghostly Encounters had seventy nine thousand viewers. On More4, Come Dine With Me was watched by five hundred and fifty thousand.

In an age where there is a greater spotlight on equal gender pay than ever before, you'd think a TV show known for its iconic male and female team would set an example. Apparently not - as From The North fave Gillian Anderson has revealed that she was initially offered just half of what co-star David Duchovny was paid for The X-Files​ revival. 'I'm surprised that more [interviewers] haven't brought that up because it's the truth,' Anderson told The Daily Beast website. 'Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it's important that it gets heard and voiced. It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly. I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it.' It's even more shocking to this blogger given the relative states of both Anderson and Duchovny's careers at the time the revival was first mooted. Anderson was among the forerunners of securing equal pay for male and female stars in the 1990s, having initially received much less that her co-star. 'I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick,' Gillian said of the FOX network. 'Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough of a change just to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn't deal with actually seeing them walk side by side. I have such a knee-jerk reaction to that stuff, a very short tolerance for that shit​. I don't know how long it lasted or if it changed because I eventually said, "Fuck no!" I don't remember somebody saying, "Okay, now you get to walk alongside him." But I imagine it had more to do with my intolerance and spunk than it being an allowance that was made.' But Anderson was amazed that the same situation occurred when negotiating pay in 2015. 'Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, "I can't believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane." And my response always was, "That was then, this is now." And then it happened again! I don't even know what to say about it.'
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch cuts a stern and moody figure in the first-look teaser of the BBC's The Hollow Crown: The Wars Of The Roses​. The ambitious three-part series is a follow-up to 2012's series, and will be adaptations of Henry VI: Parts I​-III and Richard III​​. Don't get too attached to him, girls, he gets extremely killed by Henry Tulip at the end whilst looking for his horse.
The final series of ITV's Downton Abbey won best drama for the fourth time in five years at the 2016 National Television Awards on Wednesday night. Hugh Bonneville thanked the over-rated drama's creator, Lord Snooty, for 'giving us wonderful lines to say.' And, for being the most appalling snob in the universe, obviously, that goes without saying. BBC drama Doctor Foster deservedly collected two awards - best new drama and best drama performance for its star, the wonderful Suranne Jones. The heavily pregnant actress joked that she was missing an antenatal class to attend the ceremony and pick up her award. 'If anyone wants to send me tips on how to give birth that would be useful,' she said as she collected the prize, thanking the drama's writer, Mike Bartlett, for creating 'a complex character.' I think, Suranne, the trick is to push as hard as you can. A mine of useful information, this blog. Anyway, EastEnders was also a double award winner. It beat rivals Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks to receive the award for the best serial drama. Danny Dyer also received the best serial drama performance prize for a second consecutive year for his role as Mick Carter. 'I'm so honoured to be part of such a sublime and depressing programme that is EastEnders,' he said while collecting his award. Overall the BBC won eight of the sixteen awards with ITV picking up six and Channel Four but one. Wor geet canny Anthony McPartlin and/or Declan Donnelly were named best TV presenter for the fifteenth consecutive year. 'It's getting a bit mental now,' McPartlin said. That's certainly one word for it. Little Dec added: 'People ask us does it get boring or old - of course it doesn't. If anything our gratitude has grown over the years as you never know when you're going to get it again.' Next year, probably. The Great British Bake Off was named best challenge show for a second consecutive year. Collecting the award, Paul Hollywood said that the last series was 'the best year we've ever had - the bakers were the best.' Peter Kay's Car Share beat Benidorm, Birds Of A Feather and Not Going Out to win best comedy. Kay dedicated the award to he well-known Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Connolly himself was presented with the Special Recognition Award at the ceremony in honour of his fifty-year career. Other winners included The X Factor winner-turned actor Shayne Ward, who was voted best newcomer for his role as Aidan Connor in Coronation Street. Strictly Come Dancing won best talent show, with This Morning named best live magazine programme. The best factual entertainment award went to Gogglebox, The Chase won best daytime show and the US sitcom The Big Bang Theory won best international programme. A new award was also created this year - the impact award for best TV moment. It went to Aidan Turner for his torso-revealing turn as Ross Poldark in the Cornish-set BBC drama series Poldark.
As noted, on Wednesday, ITV's This Morning clinched the best live magazine show title from a hotly contested category, which included The ONE Show, BBC Breakfast and Loose Women. Come Thursday morning, the next episode opening with the unedifying sight of Phillip Schofield's face on Holly Willoughby's bum. This, is what passes for entertainment, apparently.
Game Of Thrones - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping has finally got up to date with thanks to Sky's wall-to-wall repeats and now starts to see why everyone else on the planet has been making such a fuss about it for the last five years - and Transparent led the winners of the TV categories at the Producers Guild of America Awards 2016 on Saturday, both picking up awards for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television in the Drama and Comedy categories respectively. This year's Best Long-Form programme went to Fargo, with How To Get Away with Murder's Shonda Rhimes receiving the honorary Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television. The Twenty Seventh annual PGA Awards ceremony took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, hosted by Jane Lynch, and also saw The Big Short take home the top title in its movie categories.
Yer actual David Tennant his very self is to host a live TV celebration of William Shakespeare to mark the four hundredth anniversary of The Bard's death. The former Doctor Who actor and national heartthrob will be joined in Stratford-upon-Avon by Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen. 'It's a variety bill and the plays are a huge part of that,' Tennant said. 'We've got some of the biggest classical actors around.' Shakespeare Live! will be broadcast on BBC2 on 23 April. Tennant, who played an acclaimed title role in Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008, is currently starring in the RSC's Richard II at London's Barbican. Unveiling details of the live broadcast at the launch the BBC's Shakespeare Festival on Thursday, Tennant said: 'We have opera, we have ballet, we have hip-hop - all celebrating Shakespeare and what he's done for our cultural heritage.' The live tribute from the RSC theatre in Stratford coincides with Shakespeare's birthday weekend. It will also feature Joseph Fiennes - who played the lead in the film Shakespeare In Love - the English National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet and rapper Akala (no me neither), founder of the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company. The BBC Shakespeare Festival is billed as 'the most far-reaching celebration of Shakespeare's work ever broadcast.' BBC Director General Tony Hall said that it aimed 'to make Shakespeare irresistible to everybody.' Other festival highlights, some of them previously announced, include The Hollow Crown: The Wars Of The Roses starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Keeley Hawes, Sophie Okonedo, Hugh Bonneville and Sir Michael Gambon, A Midsummer Night's Dream adapted by Russell Davies his very self and featuring Matt Lucas, Maxine Peake, John Hannah, Elaine Page, Richard Wilson and Bernard Cribbins, the world première of a new work by Carol Ann Duffy as part of a Radio3 residency in Stratford-upon-Avon from 22-24 April, Radio3 dramas include The Wolf In The Water, by Naomi Alderman, which imagines what became of Shylock's daughter Jessica from The Merchant Of Venice and an adaptation of King Lear, starring Ian McDiarmid. Radio 4 will broadcast a new production of Julius Caesar featuring Tim Piggott-Smith. There's also Upstart Crow, a previously announced BBC2 comedy written by Ben Elton, starring David Mitchell as Shakespeare, Liza Tarbuck as his wife and Harry Enfield as his father. Let's hope it's a bit better - and funnier - than anything Ben had been involved in since, ooo, about 1990. Cunk On Shakespeare will be a half-hour special featuring the character of Philomena Cunk (played by creator Diane Morgan). A special episode of Horrible Histories will be broadcast on CBBC, looking at the Bard's early life with Tom Stourton playing Shakespeare. BBC1's Countryfile will investigate the landscapes that inspired Shakespeare's greatest works. Gyles Brandreth will track down the UK's only living William Shakespeares for The ONE Show whilst Best Bottoms In The Land will follow the RSC's quest to put on A Midsummer Night's Dream using a mixture of professional and amateur actors from around Britain. The BBC1 daytime drama Doctors will apparently feature storylines 'inspired by a Shakespearean sonnet.' The festival sees the BBC in partnership with a number of arts organisations, such as the RSC.

The BBC has announced a significant executive shake-up in their management structure, with the controller of BBC1, yer actual Charlotte Moore her very self, now becoming controller of TV channels and iPlayer. This means that Moore will become the creative, editorial and strategic lead for BBC1, BBC2, BBC4 and BBC iPlayer. 'A united vision across the portfolio will encourage greater ambition and diversity of output, more creative freedom and quicker decision-making,' Moore claimed. 'I'm passionate about the BBC and committed to making this a place where the best creatives want to work, and having the right teams working together is key.' She will continue to sit on the TV board and report to acting Director of Television Mark Linsey. Linsey said: 'Charlotte is an outstanding leader and has done a brilliant job making BBC1 both distinctive and popular. This role will allow her to take a view across channels to drive distinctiveness, quality and risk-taking even further, whilst offering a single point of contact for programme-makers and ensuring audiences get the best programmes, however and wherever they choose to watch.' Moore will continue in her leadership of BBC1 and will manage the heads of iPlayer, Daytime and BBC4 and the new editor of BBC2. She will take up her new responsibilities from 25 January. Kim Shillinglaw has left the BBC as part of the changes and the post of controller of BBC2 and BBC4 will be closed. Channel executive at BBC2 and BBC4 Adam Barker will be acting editor of BBC2 while a new editor is recruited. Shillinglaw said: 'I wish the BBC, Mark and Charlotte every success with the many changes BBC TV needs to make. I've loved modernising BBC2 and BBC4 over the last two years but when you don't get the big job it's time to move on. And I'm looking forward to another big challenge.' Linsey added: 'Kim has led BBC2 and BBC4 with great creativity, bringing viewers an amazing range of programmes including edgy documentaries like Meet The Ukippers, innovative comedy in Boy Meets Girl, ambitious TV experiments like Are Our Kids Tough Enough?, Chinese School and distinctive treats like The Dresser, as well as re-energising factual entertainment and drawing younger audiences with The Real Marigold Hotel, Phone Shop Idol, Hell Week and Let's Play Darts. 'She has modernised BBC2's identity, winning awards for the channel's use of social media and the revamp of on-air and refreshed the schedule with Monday's clever quiz hour, box-set factual and comedy double-bills back at 9pm, whilst creating new commercial funding models in factual entertainment and natural history. She has been an outstanding leader of BBC2 and BBC4 and I will be very sorry to see her go, but am incredibly grateful for her contribution.'
Former BBC2 controller, Janice Hadlow, has become the latest high-profile executive to leave the corporation. Hadlow, who has held specially-created post of 'Controller of Special Projects' since 2014, has worked at the BBC for the best part of thirty years. The BBC said that it is not looking to replace Hadlow. She is the latest in a string of executives to leave in quick succession including Kim Shillinglaw, Danny Cohen, and former creative director executive, Alan Yentob. The departure of Hadlow means that the BBC has saved almost a million smackers in salaries of departed executives. Enough to make half-a-dozen of episodes of EastEnders. 'I have had a wonderful career at the BBC, where I have been lucky enough to work with very talented people on a host of exciting programmes,' said Hadlow. 'I was pleased to be able to see my final project, Civilisations, through a period of development to the point where it is about to begin filming. It is always hard to say goodbye, but this feels the right moment for me to take my leave. I wish it, and all the colleagues with whom I have so enjoyed working, the very best of luck for the future.' While controller of BBC2, a post she held from 2008 to 2014, she was responsible for hits including The Great British Bake Off, The Fall and Line Of Duty.

Former Top Gear presenter James May has been vocal in his support for new host Chris Evans, saying that the BBC has been 'harsh' on him by recently celebrating the show's history. 'I was surprised they showed lots of Top Gear compilations over Christmas,' May told Radio Times. 'Just as he's trying to launch his version of the programme, the BBC is saying: "Look how brilliant it was before."' May is, of course, joining the show's former hosts Jezza Clarkson and Richard Hammond for their new Amazon Prime motoring show, which will be Top Gear's direct rival. But there is no animosity between them and Evans, he claimed. 'I'd like to see Chris's Top Gear do well,' May said. 'It's a ballsy call to continue it. I wouldn't want to be the one presenting it when we'd just finished, but there must be a way of reinventing it. We always said it would survive beyond us.' May also poured cold water on suggestions in the press that Top Gear was floundering and may not be ready in time. 'I think the stories about Chris's version being in trouble might be an elaborate hoax, before it explodes onto our screens in brilliance,' he said. Evans's reboot has been the subject of a number of trouble-making articles in both the tabloids and broadsheets over the last couple of weeks. Like this one from the good old reliable Middle Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star, for instance.
​Sky Atlantic has confirmed that it will broadcast the new revival of ​Twin Peaks. The channel will also sow the new Damian Lewis drama ​Billions ​as part of a deal which sees Sky Atlantic become the exclusive home of Showtime programming in the UK. The deal - which also includes ​Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy​ - will see Atlantic continue to broadcast new seasons of ​Ray Donovan ​and ​The Affair​. Sky customers will also have on-demand access to the US cable channel's back catalogue, including Californication, Dexter and Nurse Jackie. ​The deal, however, does not include new episodes of ​Homeland​, which will continue to be shown on Channel Four in the UK.
Stephen Fry his very self has stepped down from the board of Norwich City, taking on an ambassadorial role at the club instead. However, the soon-to-be-former Qi host's seat on the board wasn't empty for long; taking over from him is Thomas Smith, a former civil servant and the nephew of Delia Smith, Norwich's joint majority shareholder. Stephen said: 'My five years in the role have been an honour and a privilege beyond almost anything I can remember. I wish I could take credit for ushering the club up from League One to the Premiership during that time on the Board. Actually, I'm going to. It was all me. It can't have been a coincidence.' Newly appointed chairman Ed Balls also had praise for Fry, saying that 'the huge affection in which he is held by the public at home and abroad has definitely enabled him to help raise the profile of Norwich City.' The former shadow chancellor took on his Norwich City role last month, saying at the time that it had been his dream to play football for the club, but his new appointment was the next best thing.
American astronomers say that they have 'strong evidence' there is a ninth planet in our Solar System orbiting far beyond Pluto. The team, from the California Institute of Technology, has no direct observations to confirm its presence yet. Rather, the scientists make the claim based on the way other far-flung objects have been observed to move. But, if proven, the putative planet would have ten times the mass of Earth. The Caltech astronomers have a vague idea where it ought to be on the sky, and their work is sure to fire a campaign to try to track it down. And name it Mondas, obviously. 'There are many telescopes on the Earth that actually have a chance of being able to find it,' said Doctor Mike Brown. 'And I'm really hoping that as we announce this, people start a worldwide search to go find this ninth planet.' The group's calculations suggest the object orbits twenty times farther from the Sun on average than does the eighth - and currently outermost - planet, Neptune, which moves about 4.5 billion kilometres from the Sun. But, unlike the near-circular paths traced by the main planets, this object would be in a highly elliptical trajectory, taking between ten thousand and twenty thousand years to complete one full orbit around the Sun. The Caltech group has analysed the movements of objects in a band of far-off icy material known as The Kuiper Belt. It is in this band that Pluto resides. The scientists say they see 'distinct alignments' among some members of The Kuiper Belt - and in particular two of its larger objects known as Sedna and 2012 VP113. These alignments, they argue, are 'best explained' by the existence of a hitherto unidentified large planet. 'The most distant objects all swing out in one direction in a very strange way that shouldn't happen and we realised the only way we could get them to swing in one direction is if there is a massive planet, also very distant in the Solar System, keeping them in place while they all go around the Sun,' explained Brown. 'I went from trying very hard to be sceptical that what we were talking about was true, to suddenly thinking, "this might actually be true."' The idea that there might be a so-called 'Planet X' moving in the distant reaches of the Solar System has been debated for more than a hundred years. It has fallen in and out of vogue. What makes this claim a little more interesting is the lead author behind it. Doctor Brown specialises in finding far-flung objects and it was his discovery of two thousand kilometre-wide Eris in The Kuiper Belt in 2005 that led to the - controversial and, frankly, wrong - demotion of Pluto from full planet status a year later. At that stage, Pluto was thought to be slightly smaller than Eris, but is now known to be a little bit bigger. Others who model the outer Solar System have been claiming for some years that the range of sizes seen in the objects so far identified in The Kuiper Belt suggest another planet, perhaps the size of Earth or Mars, could be a distinct possibility. But, there is sure to be strong scepticism until a confirmed telescopic observation is made. Brown and Konstantin Batygin report their work in the latest issue of the Astronomical Journal.

The release of the next Star Wars film has been delayed until the end of 2017, Disney has announced. Star Wars: Episode VIII was due to go on global release in May 2017 but instead will not be released until six months later. It will follow The Force Awakens, which is still showing and has become the biggest-grossing film in US history. In the five weeks since its release, it has earned over six hundred million smackers in the US and $1.88bn globally. Disney did not say why the film had been delayed until 15 December 2017, but there had been speculation that the script was currently being rewritten. Production is set to begin next month at Pinewood. The new release date means it could come up against another long-awaited blockbuster, Avatar 2, which is also set for Christmas 2017 but could be further delayed. Despite the news concerning the postponement, Star Wars fans have the consolation of the spin-off Rogue One, which is due out in December this year. The film, starring Felicity Jones, is set in the Star Wars universe, but with new characters. Disney will be releasing the fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean movie in May 2017 in the slot that would have been occupied by Episode VIII. Daisy Ridley, who stars as Rey in the revived Star Wars franchise, will also be teaming up with director JJ Abrams at the Oscar Wilde awards on 25 February. Ridley is to be honoured at the ceremony as she has Irish ancestry. She also shot the final scene of The Force Awakens with co-star Mark Hamill on Skellig Michael, off the West coast of Ireland. Abrams hosts the event, which has been held at his Bad Robot production company in Santa Monica in recent years.
All four members of ABBA reunited on Wednesday for the first time in seven years for the opening of a new restaurant in Stockholm. Based on the Greek taverna featured in the - horrifically awful - ABBA-themed film Mamma Mia!, the restaurant is the brainchild of Bjorn Ulvaeus. Bjorn was joined by his old bandmates Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad for the opening night, but the foursome - last pictured together in 2008 - once again ruled out any musical reunion. Asked if they would ever perform together again, Ulvaeus told the BBC News website: 'I don't think so, no. And I expect the others have answered the same thing to that question. I hope so - otherwise there will be headlines tomorrow.'
In a new interview with NME, Coldplay's Will Champion has revealed that the late David Bowie once turned down the awful middle-of-the-road rockers' request for a collaboration. The band had written a song with a multi-part harmony and envisioned Bowie as one of the voices. When Chris Martin wrote to David asking him to participate, the response was definitive: 'It's not a very good song, is it?' All of which proves that David Bowie had heard every single Coldplay record and concluded that one statement covered a multitude of sins.
A duo that Bowie did collaborate with - brilliantly, on 1996's 'Hallo Spaceboy' was, of course, The Pet Shop Boys who have, this week, announced a new CD to be released in April with the excellent title Super.
Here's proof, dear blog reader, that some people really are effing daft planks. 'Let's start an Internet petition about a subject that most people couldn't give a frigging stuff about - to be sent to whom, exactly, and threatening what, exactly if they (whoever they are) don't do what we want, we're not really sure yet - instead of just, you know, not buying the record when (or if) it comes out.' This blogger genuinely despairs of humanity and sometimes longs for the blissful blackness of eternal night. And, of course, it later appeared that the poor chap being petitioned was never planning on doing what he was being petitioned about anyway and that it was all a load of tabloid lies. What a surprise. One imagines that those who signed this utterly worthless petition will now be claiming this as 'a victory.' It's probably just as well that the Interweb didn't exist in 1973. One imagines it would have been full of outraged Pink Floyd, The Who and Pretty Things fans demanding - demanding - that this orange-haired freak of a pop singer with his audience of fourteen year old schoolgirls stop, instantly, desecrating 'See Emily Play', 'I Can't Explain' et al on his Pins-Up nonsense.
Meanwhile this blogger urges you, dear blog reader to check out this piece which yer man Bowie wrote for Vanity Fair in 2013 on his twenty five favourite records. Fascinating for Bowiephiles, vinyl junkies and social historians alike. Because, of, course, he was a dee-jay,he was what he played.
Dale Griffin, the former rummer with Mott The Hoople, has died aged sixty seven. The band, who made eight LPs during their five-and-a-half year existence - most of the really good - reformed to mark their fortieth anniversary in 2009 - but Griffin was too ill to take part. He did appear in BBC4's superb 2013 documentary The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople which featured contributions from all of the original members. Dale died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, said Peter Purnell from record label Angel Air records. He called Griffin 'one of the nicest, friendly and talented men I have ever known. All he ever wanted was for his beloved Mott The Hoople to reform and it was his determination that achieved that very feat in 2009 but, sadly, by then he was too ill to perform at the five sold-out dates - though he did join the band for encores.' Born in Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, the drummer - nicknamed Buffin - played in a number of local bands, appearing on two singles in 1966 by Yemm & The Yemen before forming Silence with singer Stan Tippens, keyboard player Verden Allen, guitarist Mick Ralphs and bassist Pete Overend Watts in the late 1960s. They got a record contract in early 1969 and went to London to record under the legendary producer Guy Stevens, who renamed the band Mott The Hoople after a 1967 novel by Willard Manus. Tippens was soon replaced by the perfect frontman, Ian Hunter but, although they built up a cult following (a raucous gig at the Royal Albert Hall led to the venue banning rock acts), they struggled to sell records and were on the verge of breaking up in 1972, until one of biggest fans David Bowie stepped in and persuaded them to stay together, placing them under the care of his manager Tony De Fries. He first offered them the song 'Suffragette City' - which they turned down - and then wrote the anthemic 'All The Young Dudes' instead. Mott's definitive version of the song reached number three in the UK charts and also made the top forty in America, giving the band a new lease of life. Later they produced in-house hits such as 'Honaloochie Boogie', the twenty four carat classic 'All The Way From Memphis', the forty eight carat masterpiece 'Roll Away The Stone' and 'The Golden Age Of Rock'n'Roll'. But the group disintegrated in 1974 when Hunter, suffering from physical exhaustion, cancelled their entire European tour. When rumours then spread that he was making a solo LP with Bowie's former guitarist Mick Ronson, it led to an irrevocable rift. Griffin, Watts and Morgan Fisher continued to play and record under the name Mott, but split up two years later. During the 1980s, Griffin and Watts formed a production company and produced LPs for Hanoi Rocks and The Cult and Department S's hit single 'Is Vic There?' Griffin then joined the BBC and engineered many sessions for John Peel's Radio 1 show from 1981 to 1994, including working with Pulp, The Smiths, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease just as the Mott The Hoople reunion was about to begin. His parts were played by his friend, The Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, although he joined the band on stage for encores during their five-night stint at the Hammersmith Apollo. Dale is survived by his long term partner Jean Smith.
Thus, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, a tasty slice of yer actual Mott.