Monday, October 24, 2016

Lovely Boys

Jimmy Perry, the creator of one of TV's most popular comedy series, Dad's Army, has died at the age of ninety three. His twenty five-year partnership with the late David Croft also produced It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-De-Hi and the far less successful You Rang M'Lord? Much of Jimmy's writing was based on his own, varied, work and military experiences which included a spell as a Butlin's Redcoat. He also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the music hall era, something he used to good effect when he wrote and presented the BBC series Turns (1982 to 1989), which chronicled performances by many of his variety heroes of the 1930s and 1940s.
Jimmy was born in September 1923 in Barnes. His fascination for the world of showbusiness came at an early age and, while still at school in Hammersmith, he had his sights set on becoming a comedian or an actor. His antique dealer father dismissed such notions as the daydreaming of 'a stupid boy.' When war broke out in 1939 Jimmy was too young for active service so he signed up in his local Home Guard unit (then still known as the Local Defence Force volunteers). It was an experience on which he would later draw when he conceived Dad's Army, basing many of the characters he created on soldiers that he met in the ranks. He was called up in 1941 and, a year later, sent to Burma where he became part of a Royal Artillery concert party, set up to entertain the front line troops. He eventually reached the rank of sergeant. After the war Jimmy began training as an actor at RADA - where he was a contemporary of Warren Mitchell, Lionel Jeffries and Dorothy Tutin - subsidising his studies with spells as a Redcoat at various Butlin's holiday camps. He worked for Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop company at the Theatre Royal, Statford East and, for many years, he ran the Palace Theatre at Watford as part of a small repertory company which produced a different show each week. Among the aspiring performers who appeared there was Ruth Llewellyn who would later become Ruth Madoc whom Jimmy was able to cast in Hi-De-Hi. Apart from an appearance in a 1955 BBC adaptation of AP Herbert's The Water Gipies, however, Jimmy struggled to make the breakthrough into television. In 1967, around the time that he was cast in a small role in the sitcom Beggar My Neighbour, at his agent Ann Callender's suggestion he began working on an idea for his own sitcom about the Home Guard which he called The Fighting Tigers. Jimmy showed his script to Beggar My Neighbour's producer, David Croft - completely co-incidentally, his agent's husband - who liked it and took it to the BBC's head of comedy, Michael Mills. Many within the BBC had reservations that the comedy might be seen - by people with an agenda - to be poking fun at the those who had served in a war which only ended twenty three years previously. But, Mills was a vocal champion of the format and, despite protestations from some of his superiors, commissioned a full series. Mills, however, changed the title to Dad's Army, renamed some of the characters and altered the location to a fictional Kent seaside town, Walmington-on-Sea. Jimmy had envisaged playing the spiv, Joe Walker, himself but Croft, who was drafted in not only to produce the show but also to help Jimmy with the scripts, advised against it and the part went instead to James Beck. (Jimmy did, however, make an appearance in an early episode of the series playing the Max Miller-like entertainer Charlie Cheeseman.)
Many of Perry's characters in Dad's Army were taken from real life. One elderly soldier of his acquaintance recalled serving under General Kitchener and constantly advised his young charges that the enemy 'don't like it up 'em.' He, obviously,  became the inspiration for Corporal Jack Jones. Private Pike was - largely - based on Jimmy himself, who recalled his mother's anxiety over her teenage son being out at night in the cold, defending the country. 'She didn't go so far as making me wear a scarf,' Jimmy later recalled. 'But she came pretty near.'
The first episode of Dad's Army was broadcast on 31 July 1968, with a total of eighty episodes appearing over the following nine years (as well as a moderately successful film adaptation in 1971). Since then, it has rarely been off the screen thanks to a constant series of repeats. Dad's Army is based, at heart, on a single class joke which Huw Weldon, when he first met the cast, reportedly failed to get. He assumed that John Le Mesurier had been cast as Captain Mainwaring and Arthur Lowe as Sergeant Wilson. The central conflict in the show - and, as a consequence, much of the comedy within it - is that of a lower middle-class bank manager with Napoleonic delusions of grandeur who finds himself commanding a man from the upper classes. The other central issue in the show is summed up by a line of dialogue from an early episode: 'The machine guns could have a clear field of fire from here to Timothy White's if it wasn't for that woman in the telephone box.' We laughed with Mainwaring's men because of the obvious contradictions between warfare and 'Little England' cliches. However, in 1940, those contradictions were utterly real. As Alan Coren said in a glowing review in The Times: 'In 1940, Clive Dunn might well ... have been the only thing standing between us and Dachau.' Michael Mills had defended the fledgling series against internal claims of bad taste and, the show's almost immediate popularity with viewers proved that, again, his instincts were correct. We can't laugh at the Walmington-on-Sea platoon because, not only is their situation truly desperate, but, also in the best tradition of Fred Karno and the lowly soldiers of Henry V, they're simply doing the best they can. Tom Hutchinson summed this up when he called the show 'a sweetly comic celebration of the British amateur'. Last Christmas, speaking ahead of a broadcast of a - very impressive - comedy drama about the creation of the comedy, We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story, Jimmy explained how the sitcom almost never made it to the screen. An initial report from the BBC's market research team compiled during development included negative feedback, but he and David Croft kept this from BBC management. 'The report came into David's office - and it wasn't very good. It wasn't damning but it was very lukewarm. I said, "What are you going to do about this?" [Croft] said, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. It goes in there." And, he put it at the bottom of the pile in his in-tray. As far as I know, it'll still be there when they're pulling the place down!' As well as co-writing the scripts, Jimmy also wrote the lyrics for the famous theme song, 'Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler?', which he persuaded one of his music hall idols, Bud Flanagan, to perform. It proved to be Flangan's last recording before his death just a few weeks after the first series of Dad's Army had been broadcast. The song won a 1971 Ivor Novello Award. 'Of all the cultural success stories of the late 1960s,' noted the historian Dominic Sandbrook, 'Dad's Army was not only one of the most unexpected, but one of the most enduring.'
Croft and Perry created something of a rep company with many of the actors who would subsequently star in their later series having had small guest roles on Dad's Army. In 1969 Perry went solo to write The Gnomes Of Dulwich, a sitcom which satirised the Common Market. Starring Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd as concrete gnomes threatened by their plastic European counterparts, the show ran for one series of six episodes. Post-Brexit, it's probably due a remake. During the same period Jimmy also created the - frankly, dreadful - ITV comedy Lollipop Loves Mr Mole (with Hugh Lloyd and Peggy Mount). Dad's Army was still appearing regularly when Perry and Croft decided to draw, again, on aspects of their wartime experiences, their time in the Far East, for It Ain't Half Hot Mum. The comedy centred on an army concert party whose duty was to entertain front-line troops ('the boys to entertain you,' the theme song noted). The first episode was broadcast in January 1974 and the series ran for seven years (fifty six episodes). Although it never achieved the lasting appeal of Dad's Army it was still massively popular in its day. 'People complain that the language was homophobic and it was, but it was exactly how people spoke. And I should know – I was in a Royal Artillery concert party that travelled around India,' Jimmy told the Gruniad Morning Star in 2003. 'We had a Sergeant Major who hated us. He'd say: "No man who puts on make-up and ponces about on a stage is normal – what are you?" "We're a bunch of poofs!" we'd reply. And those experiences are ones that enabled me to write It Ain't Half Hot, Mum.' But, he denied that the programme was racist, saying that it was perceived as such 'because of ignorance.' He claimed: 'It's not the British Asians who call the show racist. They called – and still call – it "our programme." It was BBC executives who'd never been to India who thought it was racist.'
In 1979 Perry again went out on his own to write the - now virtually forgotten - ITV sitcom, Room Service. Together with a later effort without Croft, High Street Blues (1989, co-written with Robin Carr), Room Service is widely considered to be a contender for 'the worst British sitcom ever made.'
Perhaps chastened by the experience, the following year saw Perry and Croft back together again for Hi-De-Hi, based on Jimmy and David's post-war experiences working at Butlin's. Set in 1959 and 1960 at the dilapidated (and fictional) Crimpton-on-Sea holiday camp owned by the tight-fisted Billy Butlin-like Joe Maplin, the series ran for eight years - fifty eight episodes - and collected a BAFTA in 1984 for Best Comedy Series (to go with the one the duo won thirteen years earlier for Dad's Army). Jimmy again wrote the theme tune, 'Holiday Rock' performed by Paul Shane. Perry's final collaboration with David Croft came with You Rang M'Lord?, which turned out to be their least successful effort. Once again Jimmy based the idea on reality, this time the experiences of his grandfather who had been a butler in a Belgrave Square household during the 1920s. Unusually for a sitcom, the episodes were fifty minutes in length and featured high production values. Despite this, it was not well received by critics, although it ran for a respectable four series and twenty six episodes (though one suspects that was largely on the strength of Croft and Perry's previous triumphs rather than any great qualities of You Rang M'Lord? itself).
Croft and Perry bounced ideas off one another and wrote together for a period of over thirty years. They contrasted in both primary function and temperament, Croft - an industry veteran - was tough in negotiation with executives whilst Jimmy was coiffured and urbane, rather in the style of Sergeant Wilson. He guarded his privacy jealously and was rarely photographed. In 2003 Jimmy and David received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards and the duo became OBEs in 1978. The release of a film remake of Dad's Army in 2016 divided fans of the series - this blogger thought it was a right load of old shite, for example - but Jimmy gave it his blessing by attending the premiere in London. In his memoir, A Stupid Boy (published in 2002), Jimmy chronicled some of the real-life individuals on which he had based the likes of Captain Mainwaring, Corporal Jones, Gladys Pugh and the fearsome Sergeant Major Williams. While Croft - who died in 2011 - brought his experience as a producer and director it was Jimmy's great observational skills which peopled their work with such memorable characters. BBC Comedy Commissioner Shane Allen, speaking on behalf of the BBC, says: 'Jimmy Perry is a Goliath of British comedy writing. He was behind some of the longest running and most loved sitcoms on British television spanning the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His work will be enjoyed and appreciated for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his friends and loved ones at this sad time.' In 1953, Jimmy married the actress Gilda Neeltje, the sister of Diane Holland (whom he also cast in Hi-De-Hi). Jimmy is survived by his partner, the costume designer Mary Husband.
Black Mirror is currently terrifying viewers across the globe and it seems hat yer actual Charlie Brooker could have been doing the same to a Saturday prime-time audience. The writer and broadcaster has revealed that he was asked to submit ideas for Doctor Who by the BBC. 'I was approached for Doctor Who and I just didn't have time. It was really annoying. I was busy and they haven't asked me again since. It was a bit like the Home Office asking you to do something,' Brooker told the Independent. Asked how easy it was to get a TV show made these days, he also joked that since there's now platforms like Amazon, 'Tesco will probably be making fucking TV shows soon.' As for what's next for Charlie after Black Mirror's fourth series, which he's currently writing, he said that he is keen to do more 'goofy comedy stuff' like his Sky comedy A Touch Of Cloth and, most excitingly, potentially seasonal specials of Black Mirror. 'I wouldn't mind doing a Hallow'een one. I've been thinking about that. One of the reasons we shot Playtest up in the running order is because we knew Hallow'een was coming and we thought it was perfect for that,' he explained.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Eight programmes, week-ending Sunday 16 October 2016:-
1 The Great British Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 13.26m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.21m
3 The Missing - Wed BBC1 - 7.83
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.79m
5 The Apprentice - Thurs BBC1 - 7.40m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.12m
7 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 7.04m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.96m
9 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 6.82m
10 Poldark - Sun BBC1 - 6.14m
11= Cold Feet - Mon ITV - 6.12m
11= Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.12m
13= Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 -5.54m
13= Tutankhamun - Sun ITV - 5.54m
15 World Cup Qualifier: Slovenia Versus England - Tues ITV - 5.52m
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.37m
17 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.94m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.84m
19 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.77m
20 Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 4.71m
21 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.62m
22 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.43m
23 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.36m
24 The Crystal Maze Z-List Celebrity Special - Sun C4 - 4.31m
25 Still Game - Fri BBC1 - 4.19m
26 Ambulance - Tues BBC1 - 4.04m
27 Would I Live To You? - Fri BBC - 3.99m
28 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 3.88m
These consolidated figures include all viewers who watched programmes live and on catch-up during the seven days after initial broadcast, but do not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Don't blame this blogger, he doesn't make the rules. Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday night results episode attracted 9.86 million punters. For once The X Factor's programme on the same evening out-performed the Saturday night episode, which had but 6.63 million. The only other ITV shows to score a final and consolidated audience of more than three million were Paranoid (3.42 million), The Level (3.26 million) and ITV News (3.17 million). On BBC2, the latest episode of The Fall drew 3.06 million whilst The Victorian Slum opened with 3.01 million viewers and University Challenge was watched by 2.96 million. The Greatest Tomb On Earth: Secrets Of Ancient China was seen by 2.89 million, The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice ... Of Greed by 2.84 million and From The North favourite Only Connect by 2.84 million (Monday being, once again, Beeb2's biggest night of the week by a distance). Gardeners' World drew 2.47 million whilst Wild West: America's Great Frontier had 2.07 million, Mastermind, two million exactly and The Apprentice: You're Fired!, 1.96 million viewers. Nature's Weirdest Events was watched by 1.94 million. The third episode of the hideous, rotten and wretchedly unfunny Morgana Robinson's The Agency attracted an audience of somewhat less than 1.14 million punters and, for the second week running, didn't make BBC2's top thirty list for the week. The Crystal Maze Z-List Celebrity Special and Gogglebox aside, Channel Four's next highest-rated broadcast of the week was the final episode of National Treasure (3.70 million), followed by Grand Designs (2.35 million) and The Last Leg With Adam Hills (2.33 million). Hunted was seen by 2.08 million viewers, whilst Child Genius Versus Z-List Celebrities had 1.82 million, Location, Location, Location, 1.79 million, Derren Brown: Miracle, 1.78 million and George Clarke's Amazing Spaces, 1.75 million. Britain's Ancient Tracks With Tony Robinson was seen by 1.31 million viewers whilst That Awful Keith Woman's Nasty Hidden Villages attracted 1.21 million punters and the third episode of Damned had 1.08 million. Channel Five's top performer was, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! - with 1.94 million - ahead of The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door (1.52 million), The Yorkshire Vet (1.50 million), Extraordinary People: The Boy With No Brain (1.41 million punters) and Raw Recruits: Squaddies At Sixteen (1.36 million). After those three weeks recently where they didn't bother to send their figures in, the Sky Sports channels were at it again this time. No figures are, therefore, available for Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Or, indeed, for Sky Sports News HQ, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Mix. They obviously had something far more important to do with their time than count the punters they had during the week in question. Come on, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, get your people sorted out, matey. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (six hundred and ninety eight thousand viewers). Lewis was seen by six hundred and eighty nine thousand, Doc Martin by five hundred and sixty six thousand and the movie Carry On Don't Lose Your Head by four hundred and eighty two thousand. Coverage of Live International Football: The Netherlands Versus France (which the French won thanks to Paul Pogba's late winner) headed ITV4's weekly list with six hundred and ninety three thousand viewers whilst the classic 1960s James Bond movies Goldfinger and Thunderball attracted three hundred and nineteen thousand and three hundred and thirteen thousand respectively. Benidorm had two hundred and fifty nine thousand. Once again ITV2's most-watched broadcast was that disgraceful and worthless steaming shower of rancid diarrhoea Celebrity Juice (watched by a truly sad 1.63 million people, every single one of whom should be bloody well ashamed to show their faces in public after viewing so much as a second of this odious, smug nonsense). Family Guy drew five hundred and eighty seven thousand viewers. The Xtra Factor Results had five hundred and thirteen thousand viewers. Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with seventy thousand viewers, ahead of Downton Abbey which had fifty five thousand and DCI Banks (fifty two thousand). BBC4's list was topped by a repeat of Big Hits: Top Of The Pops 1964 To 1975 with six hundred and seventy six thousand viewers, followed by The Great Butterfly Adventure: Africa To Britain (six hundred and seven thousand), the movie The Keeper Of Lost Causes (five hundred and eighty five thousand), The Incredible Human Journey (five hundred and eight thousand) and The Story Of Skinhead With Don Letts (four hundred and ninety thousand). Timeshift: Full Throttle - The Glory Days Of British Motorbikes drew four hundred and eighty five thousand and Horizon, four hundred and fifty seven thousand. Railways: The Making Of A Nation was watched by four hundred and forty nine thousand, Great Barrier Reef, four hundred and twenty nine thousand and Britain's Lost Masterpieces, four hundred and thirteen thousand. Like the Sky Sports channels, Sky1's weekly top-ten was also missing in action. Which, at least means that the latest episode of utterly  unfunny, full-of-its-own-importance spew A League Of Their Own's figures are unavailable and, therefore, cannot make this blogger angry as they usually do every week. Sky Atlantic's list was topped by the second episode of Westworld (1.49 million). The much-trailed Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle Divorce was seen by four hundred and twenty three thousand and Last Night With John Oliver by one hundred and thirty five thousand. The latest Game Of Thrones repeat was watched by one hundred and fourteen thousand. On Sky Living, Chicago Fire drew five hundred and four thousand, Nashville had two hundred and eighty seven thousand, The Biggest Loser USA, one hundred and sixty six thousand and Criminal Minds, one hundred and eighteen thousand viewers. Sky Arts' Landscape Artist Of The Year had one hundred and sixty nine thousand viewers - more than double the usual slot average - whilst Discovering Film was seen by seventy nine thousand. 5USA's Chicago PD was watched by six hundred and thirty three thousand viewers. NCIS: Los Angeles attracted six hundred and twenty two thousand, Castle, three hundred and seventy six thousand, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour, three hundred and forty nine thousand and NCIS, two hundred and ninety one thousand. NCIS also topped CBS Action's list (one hundred and fifteen thousand, one of nine episodes of the popular crime drama in the channel's top-ten list) and featured in the top-tens of FOX (one hundred and fifteen thousand) and The Universal Channel (eighty two thousand). FOX's most watched programmes were American Horror Story (four hundred and forty five thousand), Family Guy (one hundred and seventy three thousand), American Dad! (one hundred and twenty five thousand) and Talking Dead (one hundred and one thousand). The Universal Channel's list was headed by Major Crimes with three hundred and eight thousand, Private Eyes (two hundred and forty seven thousand) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (two hundred and thirty seven thousand. On Dave, the eleventh series of the cult favourite Red Dwarf continued with 1.10 million viewers. Taskmaster was - inexplicably - the second highest-rated programme with eight hundred and sixty five thousand punters. No, this blogger has no idea why either. That was followed by the opening episode of the laughless sitcom Zapped (six hundred and seven thousand), Dara O Briain's Go Eight Bit (four hundred and fifty six thousand), the Top Gear Botswana Special (three hundred and seven thousand) and Qi XL (two hundred and seventy eight thousand). The latest episode of Drama's repeat run of New Tricks was watched by four hundred and eighty four thousand viewers. Rebus - one of the Ken Stott ones rather than the, less impressive, John Hannah episodes - had four hundred and forty eight thousand, followed by Death In Paradise (three hundred and eighty five thousand viewers), Murdoch Mysteries (three hundred and seventy four thousand), Father Brown (three hundred and fifty seven thousand) and Silent Witness (three hundred and forty four thousand). Alibi's highest-rated programme was Rizzoli & Isles (four hundred and forty eight thousand), followed by Crossing Lines (two hundred and eighty three thousand), Rosewood (two hundred and sixty five thousand) and Death In Paradise (one hundred and fifty four thousand). On The Sony Channel, Saving Hope was watched by sixty three thousand, the movie Die Hard by fifty eight thousand and Hustle by forty four thousand. Yesterday's Open All Hours repeat run was seen by two hundred and eighty nine thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Fast 'N Loud's latest series continued with two hundred and thirty thousand viewers. Last Alaskans drew one hundred and nineteen thousand whilst Gold Rush - featuring its usual parade of large, beardy shouting men - was seen by one hundred and nine thousand, Taking Fire by one hundred and eight thousand and Gold Divers by ninety nine thousand. Discovery History's Greatest Tank Battle topped the weekly-list with thirty six thousand viewers. Al Murray's Road To Berlin had twenty four thousand and The Rise Of The Nazi Party, twenty three thousand. On Discovery Science, How It's Made was seen by fifty six thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was, as usual, the cult favourite Wheeler Dealers (fifty thousand viewers). Indeed, eight of the top ten programmes of the week on the channel were episodes of the car renovation show. The only programmes not to feature Mike and Edd were episodes of Chasing Classic Cars (twenty four thousand) and Iron Resurrection (twenty one thousand). National Geographic's list was headed by Air Crash Investigation which had one hundred and sixty four thousand viewers and Wicked Tuna (eighty one thousand). Facing Saddam was watched by sixty five thousand. The History Channel's top-ten list was headed by Barbarians Rising (one hundred and sixty one thousand). Ice Road Truckers was seen by one hundred and forty nine thousand and Mountain Men attracted an audience of one hundred and twenty one thousand. On Military History, Ancient Aliens was watched by thirty seven thousand as was UFO Files. Swamp Murders, Dateline With Tamzin Outhwaite and Evil Online were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (with fifty eight thousand viewers, fifty eight thousand and forty seven thousand murder-lovers respectively). Wouldn't it be, like, totally mental if the fifty seven thousand punters that watched Swamp Murders were exactly the same fifty seven thousand checking out Tamzin Ouhwaite and her - frankly rather bizarre - format? But, it's unlikely. Robbie Coltrane's Critical Evidence, Homicide Hunter and The Jail: Sixty Days In headed CI's list (one hundred and seven thousand, sixty eight thousand and fifty three thousand respectively). Crimes That Shook Britain drew forty nine thousand. GOLD's repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys drew three hundred and thirty thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and twenty three thousand). Your TV's National Enquirer Investigates drew seventy two thousand. On More4, My Floating Home was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and twenty three thousand. Homes By The Sea attracted three hundred and seventy five thousand punters, Hitler: The Rise & Fall, three hundred and fifty six thousand, Twenty Four Hours In A&E, three hundred and forty one thousand and Four In A Bed by three hundred and thirty five thousand. E4's latest episode of Hollyoakes drew 1.08 million viewers. The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Appearing attracted one hundred and thirty one thousand. Their top-ten list for the week also included When The Devil Hides (one hundred and eighteen thousand), Clown (one hundred and ten thousand thousand) and the 1968 schlock classic Curse Of The Crimson Alter (seventy thousand). Bitten, headed Syfy's top-ten with one hundred and fifty nine thousand whilst Hunters had one hundred and eleven thousand. Could We Survive Mega-Tsunami? and Lions On The Move were watched by forty three thousand viewers and forty one thousand on Eden respectively. Insane Pools: Off The Deep End was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with seventy one thousand. On W, John Bishop In Conversation With Lenny Henry (Last Funny, Briefly, In 1983) was seen by three hundred and fifty seven thousand. The Strain attracted three hundred and forty three thousand punters. On Spike, Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords was watched by one hundred and seventy two thousand and Car Crash TV drew one hundred and sixty four thousand. Say Yes To The Dress was seen by one hundred and seventy two thousand people who really do need to have a good, hard look at themselves in the mirror on TLC. The Vault's Saved By The Bell drew forty thousand punters. Rodd Hogg The Irish Magician attracted an audience of ten thousand on Irish TV. Shed & Buried was seen by seventy four thousand on the Travel Channel.

England achieved a twenty two-run victory on the final morning of an intriguing first test in Chittagong as man-of-the-match Ben Stokes took the final two wickets. Bangladesh began the day needing thirty three runs to beat England for the first time in a test match and with two second innings wickets remaining. They added ten runs before Taijul Islam was given out LBW after a review. Two balls later Stokes removed the last man, Shafiul Islam, who was also given out LBW and failed to overturn the decision on review as Bangladesh were dismissed for two hundred and sixty three. Going into the game, the Tigers had won just seven of their ninety three tests, previously beating only Zimbabwe and an under-strength West Indies. They have another opportunity to add to that total in the second and final test of the series, which begins in Dhaka on Friday. In a match featuring a record twenty six decisions reviewed, it was perhaps inevitable that the end came with, effectively, trial by television. England's first wicket was a less-than-confident appeal, but they had two new referrals at their disposal after the eighty-over mark in the innings. Taijul shuffled across his stumps trying to turn the ball to leg and it flew off the pad for what would have been valuable leg byes. But, England gambled on a review, which suggested that Stokes's delivery would have straightened enough to hit the top of leg stump. The match ended two balls later as Shafiul was hit on the pad outside the line of off stump without offering a shot. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena deemed that no shot was played and, although Shafiul called for a review, the third umpire S Ravi backed his on-field colleague and the decision stood. It was also fitting that the final wicket should have been taken by Stokes, who was unsurprisingly handed the man-of-the-match award. The all-rounder took four late wickets in Bangladesh's first innings to give England a vital forty five run first-innings lead. Stokes followed that by scoring eighty five with the bat in England's second innings and he was chosen to partner Stuart Broad in an all-seam attack on the final morning. Stokes tested Taijul with a bouncer that the tailender gloved over wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow's head for four. But full deliveries accounted for the last two batsmen in a final day chapter which lasted only three overs and three balls, the denouement to a fantastic match that fluctuated throughout.
Lewis Hamilton cut his championship points deficit to Nico Rosberg as he cruised to a comfortable victory in the United States Grand Prix on Sunday. Hamilton's first win since the German Grand Prix in July puts him twenty six points behind his Mercedes team-mate with seventy five available in the remaining three races. Rosberg finished second after recovering a position lost to Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo at the start. The Australian finished third ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton, the world champion has now won fifty races in his career, with only Alain Prost (fifty one) and Michael Schumacher (ninety one) having won more than that number in the history of the sport. Hamilton's long-awaited and much-needed victory halts the momentum Rosberg had built up after the summer break, since which the German has taken four victories in five races. But the Englishman is still up against it - the mathematics of the championship situation are that Rosberg is still able to tie up the title by finishing second to Hamilton in the final three races - Mexico next weekend and then, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Hamilton can only do what is within his control and he grabbed this weekend by the scruff of the neck from first practice and never let go. An excellent pole position was followed by a solid start, a lead into the first corner and a dominant victory, in which he lost the lead only through the first pit-stop period. 'All I can do is do my best,' said Hamilton. 'Nico has been driving fantastically well all season but I will keep going.' Rosberg also made a decent start, but his focus on Hamilton into the first corner gave Ricciardo the chance to challenge the Mercedes driver and the Red Bull took second around the outside of the fast kink of turn two. Ricciardo held a de facto second place through the first pit stop period and then made an early final pit stop for medium tyres on lap twenty five of fifty six. He would have hoped to get second place back from Rosberg when the German made his own final pit stop a few laps later. But then Ricciardo's team-mate Max Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure. That brought out a virtual safety car for more than a lap as the marshals recovered the Red Bull and that gave the Mercedes team the chance to get an effective 'free' pit stop for both of their cars and allowed Rosberg to retain second place. Ricciardo expressed his frustration in a number of naughty swear words over the radio but realised that there was nothing he could do. Verstappen had been running fourth until he made a pit stop by mistake on lap twenty six, thinking - in error as it turned out - that the team had called him in. The mechanics were not ready for him and he was delayed as they scrambled to service the car. It dropped the Dutchman to sixth but it became academic when his gearbox failed three laps later. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was on course to take fifth behind Vettel, but the team's decision to put him on a three-stop strategy with a third stint on super-soft tyres ultimately led to his demise. As he left the pits for the final time, the team told him to stop because a wheel was not attached properly as a result of a cross-threaded wheel nut, which would have led to disqualification. Behind the big three teams, there was an epic battle for fifth place in the closing laps between Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, Williams' Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso's McLaren. Sainz was nursing fading tyres and held off pressure from Massa and Alonso for a number of laps. Massa made no attempt to attack the Toro Rosso but things changed when Alonso grabbed sixth place from Massa with an opportunistic move at turn fifteen with four laps to go after the Brazilian locked a wheel. The two did touch during the move, however, Massa getting a slow puncture but holding on to seventh place. The incident was investigated after the race by stewards, but no further action was taken. Alonso then set out after Sainz and closed the two-second gap within a little over a lap and was on to his compatriot's tail with a lap and a half to go. A move into the first corner was defended by Sainz but Alonso dived for the inside into turn twelve and took the place. Alonso ran wide on the exit but Sainz was unable to take advantage and fifth place was his. Alonso's team-mate Jenson Button made a strong start to run eleventh on the first lap from nineteenth on the grid and ultimately finished a creditable ninth behind Force India's Sergio Perez.
Ayoze Perez scored after sixty seconds as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable, even to some Chinese chaps, apparently) Newcastle United made light work of Ipswich Town to earn a tenth Championship win from twelve games and remain at the top of the table. The Spaniard volleyed home the fastest goal in England's second tier this season from Dwight Gayle's flick-on. Ayoze's seventeenth goal for The Magpies was the fastest scored by a Newcastle player since Alan Shearer's fifty seven seconds effort against Charlton Not Very Athletic in March 2004. Perez hit the second from close range after the interval and Matt Ritchie stylishly curled in a third from a Perez pass. Ex-Magpies striker Leon Best came closest for The Tractor Boys with a fierce strike that came back off the bar. Best's effort came soon after Perez had put the hosts ahead, but it was a rare attack against a Newcastle side who missed plenty of additional chances. Gayle, who had eleven goals in eleven games and seven in his past four prior to facing Ipswich, side-footed over and Ritchie twice shot wide during a dominant first-half display. Referee James Adcock - who, frankly, had a shocker - waved away strong appeals for a penalty when Gayle was seemed to be brought down by Bartosz Bialkowski. With Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Colback in control in midfield and Ritchie, Gayle and Perez a constant threat, the goals eventually arrived in the final twenty minutes to give a more realistic feel to the scoreline. Ipswich drop to seventeenth place having failed to score for a sixth league game in seven. With second placed Norwich City surprisingly being beaten at home by Preston Both Ends, that left Brighton & Hove Albinos and Huddersfield Town behind United by three points.