Sunday, October 21, 2018

Rosa: Those Who Feel The Breath Of Sadness, Sit Down Next To Me

'We are one day out of a tipping-point in Earth's history, I don't want anything disrupting that. It's easy for me here, it's more dangerous for you. You can walk away from this.' 'Rosa Parks can't.' 'Rosa Parks doesn't.' 'If she can live here her whole life, a couple of hours isn't going to kill me.'
'This is our ninth attempt.' 'Fourteenth! You can't control this thing, can you?' 'Excuse me! Yes I can. Most of the time. It's just sometimes, like now, it has a mind of its own.' 'So, where are we, actually?' 'United States. 1955. Montgomery, Alabama if I'm reading this right. New displays. Still figuring them out.' ... '1955? Can we see Elvis?' 'I think he's in New York this week. I could give him a call.' 'You haven't got Elvis's phone number?' 'Don't tell anyone, I leant [sic] him my mobile phone!'
'Why padlock an empty room? Unless it's not empty.' 'That wasn't there a second ago.' 'No kidding!' 'It was there, we just couldn't see it. Perception filter.' 'Why would anyone do that to a suitcase?' Can we open it?' '... Is the right question! Is anyone excited? Cos I'm really excited.' 'You won't be if it's a bomb.' 'Don't kill the vibe, Graham!'
'You ain't from around here? ... I don't know how it goes where you folks are from but your boy will be swinging from a tree with a noose for a neckerchief if he touches a white woman in Montgomery.'
'Is it just me or has it gone very quiet in here?' 'We don't serve Negroes.' 'Good, cos I don't eat them.' 'Or Mexicans?' 'Is she talking to me?'
'Oi, Brando, looking for us? I'm not armed.' 'Is that supposed to make me not shoot you?' 'Ideally. So, temporal displacement weapon? Horrible things, can't stand them.' 'Thank you.' 'Not a compliment!' ... 'You've been leaving traces of residual Artron energy all over 1955.' 'And, what are you, The Artron Police? Maybe you are. Blue box in the alley, is it a TARDIS?' 'Might be! What's it to you?' 'Well, it could be worth a lot.' 'Nah, not that one. Second-hand. Huge mileage, one careless owner. Mind you, it's better than a vortex manipulator, like the one on your wrist.'
'Banksy doesn't have one of those. Or, have I?'
'Get what you wanted from tonight?' 'I didn't know what I wanted. But, yeah. Meeting you guys, listening to you talk ... It'll get better, you know. Not perfect, but better.'
'There it is, kicking-in, tied to your brain chemistry. You can't harm me as much as you want to. Better be nice to me because I'm your best chance of getting out of this time zone. Neutered criminal, on release. And you come here. Why?' 'I'm allowed a hobby.' 'And yours is Rosa Parks?' 'This was where things started to go wrong.' 'And, you think you can put them right?' 'I had a lot of time to think in Stormcage. And I realised, tiny actions change the world.' ... 'Listen, Krasko, I'll give you one warning. Go somewhere else; find a beach, read a book. Cos you're a criminal who's lost his kit.' 'You think that makes a difference? History changes when tiny things don't go to plan.' 'You mean tomorrow? Won't work. Not while I'm here.'
'When today isn't working, tomorrow is what you have.'
'Are we actually leaving?' 'Not in a million years.' Guess what, dear blog reader? This week we had a Doctor Who episode that this blogger didn't think was great which is his default position for just about every Doctor Who episode and has been since 1968. Rather, he thought Rosa was both extraordinary and touched with magnificence. Which is a necessary difference from merely 'great,' Keith Telly Topping feels. Compared to several previous episodes in which Doctor Who has flirted with tackling the subject of racism in a period setting (Remembrance Of the Daleks - set in 1963 - most notably), Rosa does not hide from - or, thank God, even attempt to sugarcoat - a portrayal of the racial divide in America 1955. Abhorrent and sickeningly bigoted and prejudicial acts and sentiments are on full display almost as soon as The Doctor and her friends (two of whom are, of course, entirely the wrong colour for Montgomery, Alabama) step out of the TARDIS. It is, at times, a difficult episode to watch without wanted to kick a racist, really hard, in their Jacob's Cream Crackers with hobnail boots on. Which, though tempting, is - sadly - illegal. But, if just one viewer had their consciousness raised to a level of previously-unrealised awareness about how sick and wrong racism was, is and will continue to be, then Rosa's existence is entirely justified. Eleven out of ten to Chris Chibnall and Malorie Blackman for giving the audience what they need, whether they want - or even deserve - it, or not. 'They don't win, those people. I can be a police officer now cos Rosa Parks fought those battles for me. For us. In fifty three years they'll have a black president as leader. Who knows where they'll be fifty years after that? That's proper change.'
Rosa was watched by an overnight audience of 6.39 million viewers, a share of over twenty nine per cent of the total TV audience. Most programmes during Sunday evening scored lower on overnights than they did the previous week, possibly due to the counter-attraction of the American Grand Prix (broadcast on both Channel Four - where it was watched by an average of three million punters - and Sky Sports F1) during peak time. The top overnight audience for the day was for Strictly Come Dancing's results show with 8.65 million. Countryfile had 4.91 million viewers and the final episode of the drama The Cry, 5.32 million. On ITV the highest rated programme was The X Factor with 4.02 million. Against Doctor Who, The Chase Celebrity Special had an overnight of 3.27 million. Although Doctor Who's ratings were down on the overnights for the previous two weeks (8.2 million and 7.1 million respectively), they still made Doctor Who the fourth most-watched programme of the week across all channels, behind two episodes of Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off, which had an overnight of 6.42 million. Rosa, just for  bit of context, beat the overnight audiences of every single episode of Coronation Street and EastEnders broadcast during the week. As usual, the consolidated, seven day plus audience figures will be published by BARB next Monday. Once again - for the third week running - media coverage for Doctor Who was, almost universally positive. Apart from some worthless louse-scum of no importance at the Torygraph. So, obviously, no spittle-soaked right-wing agenda going down there, then.
The second episode of Doctor Who's current series, The Ghost Monument had a consolidated seven day plus audience of a fraction over nine million viewers. That was made up of 8.67 million watching on TV (including catch-up and iPlayer) and an additional three hundred and thirty four thousand viewers on various other platforms like PC, tablets and smartphones. Though, why sixty three thousand punters chose to watch the episode on their phone when they could've, presumably, watched in on a widescreen telly is, perhaps, a question best left for another day. The nine million figure respects a 1.9 million timeshift increase over the initial overnight audience of 7.1 million. It meant that Doctor Who was the fourth most watched programme across all channel during the week-ending 14 October behind two episodes of Strictly Come Dancing (12.03 million and 9.97 million) and The Great British Bake Off (9.22 million). ITV's largest audience of the week was for Monday's episode of Coronation Street which had 7.99 million viewers. The Ghost Monument had an audience Appreciation Index score of eighty two out of one hundred.
As noted in the last bloggerisationism update, dear blog reader, yer actual Jodie Whittaker attracted a record audience for a new Doctor in the first episode of the new series. The Woman Who Fell To Earth was watched by a consolidated seven day plus audience of 10.9 million viewers. Which made it the highest Doctor Who series opener in the show's fifty five year history - albeit, with a couple of necessary qualifiers to add to such a bold statement. The consolidated figures from BARB include the number of people watching on other devices and platforms as well as TV. It is important to remember that BARB only began counting ratings from phones, PCs and tablets last month. The previous highest series launch episode for the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama was for Rose in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, which attracted 10.81 million. That number, obviously, didn't include iPlayer figures which were not counted towards ratings figures at that time. Current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall said: 'On behalf of the entire Doctor Who team, a huge thank you to viewers for taking Jodie's Doctor and her new friends into their hearts, in such huge numbers. It's a thrill being deluged with pictures of families snuggled up together, kids (and adults) hiding behind sofas and seeing all the extraordinary creative artwork inspired by the show. The journey of the thirteenth Doctor is only just beginning.'
In addition to the recently-announced fourth episode of the current series of Doctor Who - Arachnids In The UK - the BBC have also released details of episodes five and six this week. Firstly there is The Tsuranga Conundrum for which the synopsis reads: 'Injured and stranded in the wilds of a far-flung galaxy, The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan must band together with a group of strangers to survive against one of the universe's most deadly - and unusual - creatures.' The episode's guest cast includes Suzanne Packer, Ben Bailey Smith, Brett Goldstein and Lois Chimimba. It is written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jennifer Perrott. That will be followed by Demons Of The Punjab, set in India in 1947 where 'The Doctor and her friends arrive as the country is - literally - being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother's hidden history, The Doctor discovers demons haunting the land.' The guest cast for that episode includes Shane Zaza, Amita Suman and Hamza Jeetooa. It has been written by Vinay Patel and directed by Jamie Childs.
Further details on all three episode can be found - providing you're not spoilerphobic (or, in the case of next week's episode, arachnophobia) - in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine. Which is out this week and available from all good newsagents (and, some bad ones).
Speaking of stuff that's available at all good newsagents (and some bad ones), if you didn't already know, Jodie's on the cover of Radio Times again this week (for the second time in three weeks).
Madame Tussauds in Blackpool has launched an,if you will, 'out of this world' new Doctor Who area, including a wax figure replica of Jodie Whittaker her very self. And, for once, it actually looks vaguely like it's supported to. The Doctor and the TARDIS will set up home in 'an immersive new area' at the attraction, which will give visitors the opportunity to experience many aspects of the programme. Each detail of the Doctor's signature features has been replicated, with the wax figure's costume commissioned by Doctor Who costume designer Ray Holman. The outfit includes The Doctor's coat, rainbow t-shirt, striped socks and signature braces. Jodie has, apparently, been 'very involved' with the creation of the wax figure, attending a sitting and ensuring every detail had been replicated. Speaking of her figure, she said: 'It's an incredible honour to become part of the Madame Tussauds family, they've done such an amazing job!' Mat Way, the Global Director, Live entertainments, of BBC Studios, said: 'We are hugely excited to be working with Madame Tussauds at such a pivotal time for Doctor Who. We have been engaged in the development of the wax figure from inception to creation, therefore we can't wait to see the Thirteenth Doctor finally in position at her Blackpool home.' The Doctor Who area is part of the main Madame Tussauds Blackpool attraction and is included in the ticket price, starting from £13.50 for children and eighteen knicker for adults (additional twenty per cent discount are available when tickets are booked online).
Doctor Who has also landed itself a - quite literal - out of this world honour from NASA this week. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has just added a group of new gamma-ray star configurations and they have sought inspiration from the worlds of mythology, popular culture and science to help them decide on the names, including a Doctor Who reference. Which is something of a surprise since this blogger had assumed that all of the - numerous - Star Trek fans who work for NASA had already named everything! Seemingly not. According to the Radio Times, 'Tardis' is being used to describe one of the newly discovered unofficial constellations. It was recently unveiled by NASA to celebrate ten years of activity for the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. Godzilla, the Incredible Hulk and (of course) the Starship Enterprise are amongst the other names included in NASA's project.
The Doctor Who Appreciation Society has honoured the initial Doctor, William Hartnell, by producing a Blue Plaque marking his work in Film and Television. The plaque was unveiled in a ceremony at Ealing Studios by Jessica Carney, William's granddaughter, who attended with her mother, Anne and her brother Paul. Jessica, of course, is the author of a fine biography on the life of her grandfather. She said that Hartnell would have been 'delighted' with the recognition. 'I think he would be so thrilled, so overwhelmed at the thought of someone putting up a blue plaque to his work. The thought that Doctor Who is still so successful today would have thrilled him. The fans were so excited and involved with it. Whole school classes wrote to him about Doctor Who. It just captured everyone's imagination and clearly still means a lot to an awful lot of people.' The ceremony was attended the surviving members of the first TARDIS crew, Carole Ann Ford and William Russell. Other guests included Julian Glover, who worked with Hartnell in The Crusade, Michael Imison who directed him in The Ark, Timothy Coombe who worked with Hartnell as a Production Assistant and actor Frank Williams who co-starred with Hartnell in the ITV comedy The Army Game. Former companion Peter Purves was unable to attend but sent a message: 'His iconic performance as the original Doctor is where his real legacy lies. The lasting appeal of Doctor Who is today is because of what he and his original companions created in 1963. The conventions and wide world audiences for the show would never have taken place were it not for the originality and quirkiness he brought to the original concept. This plaque is the perfect way to remember a wonderful actor.' William Hartnell worked at Ealing studios on two feature films, The Goose Steps Out and The Bells Go Down. It was here that the first dramatic filming for Doctor Who took place. The shot, filmed on Thursday 19 September 1963, was from the very end of episode one, when the TARDIS is seen having landed in prehistoric times, being overlooked by the shadow of a human.
The BBC has now officially greenlit Dracula, a three-part series of ninety-minutes from Sherlock duo The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss. The series, first announced last summer, has now been announced as a co-production between the BBC and Netflix, with the streaming service making Dracula available outside of the UK. It has also been confirmed that, unlike Sherlock (and, Steven Moffat's Jekyll before it), the new project will be a period piece and not a modern-day reimagining. 'In Transylvania in 1897, the blood drinking Count is drawing his plans against Victorian London,' read an early synopsis. 'And be warned: the dead travel fast.' In a joint statement, The Moff and Gatiss said: 'There have always been stories about great evil. What's special about Dracula, is that Bram Stoker gave evil its own hero.' Piers Wenger, the Controller of BBC Drama, described the pair's 'ingenious vision' for Dracula as 'as clever as it is chilling. In their talented hands the fans will experience the power of Bram Stoker's creation as if completely anew,' Wenger added. 'We are thrilled to be collaborating with them and the brilliant team at [producers] Hartswood on yet another iconic British series.'
The first of a number of media articles which yer actual Keith Telly Topping feels it necessary to place in your general vicinity, dear blog reader, is this one; it's Andy Murray's excellent piece on Toby Hadoke's forthcoming radio adaptation of Nigel Kneale's legendary 1963 teleplay, The Road at the always readable We Are Cult website. Starring the likes of Mark Gatiss, Adrian Scarborough and Hattie Morahan (whose father, Christopher, directed the original TV play), The Road will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 2.30pm on Saturday 27 October. And, if this piece hasn't whetted your appetite for it, dear blog reader, you're not trying hard enough!
From The North's TV Comedy Line Of the Week came from a - frankly, rather disappointing - episode of Qi on Monday, Pictures. It did, thankfully, include one moment of Alan Davies comedy genius; Sandi Toksvig was in the process of noting that, in a survey at The National Gallery in 2011, out of two thousand three hundred works, a mere eleven has been the work of women artists. 'Maybe, you should just do better paintings,' suggested Alan as permafrost formed on the upper slopes of the entire Feminist Movement.
From The North's TV Comedy Line Of The Week (part, the second), came from another slightly disappointing episode, this time of Would I Lie To You? The good news was that another great From The North favourite, Sara Pascoe was a guest and told a delightfully daft (and, ultimately true) story about accidentally buying a doll house-sized chest of drawers when she thought she was buying a fully-sized one. Did the advert not specify the size of the item she was purchasing, she was asked, not unreasonably. 'I didn't know some charlatans made furniture this small,' Sara replied.
Filming continues on series two of From The North favourite Killing Eve, with several media outlets publishing images of Kim Bodnia filming a scene with Jodie Comer on London's Southbank this week.
Peaky Blinders' latest cast addition, Anya Taylor-Joy, has been spotted filming scenes for the show's fifth series. The actress was pictured filming alongside Finn Cole in Liverpool - which has, seemingly, been transformed into Detroit as the Shelbys hit America.
Meanwhile, Sam Claflin will also join the Peaky Blinders cast for the forthcoming fifth series, the BBC has confirmed. The Hunger Games actor said that he 'couldn't feel more privileged to be invited to join this iconic show.' The thirty two-year-old also praised screenwriter Steven Knight and described the production of the show as 'consistently brilliant.' The BBC said that series five of the popular period crime drama would be 'filled with opportunity and misfortune' as the world is thrown into turmoil by the financial crash of 1929.
In a lengthy interview with Vulture about his new film, My Weekend With Hervé, Peter Dinklage was asked where his Game Of Thrones character Tyrion Lannister will be once the final credits roll. He said: 'I think he was given a very good conclusion. No matter what that is - death can be a great way out.' Speaking about the final days of filming, Dinklage said: 'It's always anticlimactic for the character's last day. Nothing is shot chronologically, so you don't get some big mountain-top scene or anything. It's just, "That's a wrap on Peter Dinklage." But as anticlimactic as it was, my last day was also beautifully bittersweet. A lot of people whom I love were on set that day. Even if they weren't working, they came to set, which was beautiful. I tried to do the same thing when other actors were wrapping out. I won't say their name or their character's name, but one of the young people on the show wrapped this past season and everybody was a wreck. This person had grown up on the show, you know? They were a child and now they were an adult. And then they're done. It's like we were witnessing this person saying goodbye to their childhood.'
Gotham's final series is going to feature a new looks for The Penguin. Robin Lord Taylor has confirmed that his character will start to dress more like the comic book Penguin and will put on some weight. Speaking to, Robin revealed: 'I can't spoil anything specific but definitely there are parts of the traditional iconography of The Penguin that are coming into play this year. We've done everything else with this character, it has its own unique twists and it's also everything is earned and everything makes sense [that] this character is turning into the traditional Penguin that we all know and so we see it visually as well as emotionally.'
The upcoming Gotham prequel, Pennyworth has cast Endeavour actor Jack Bannon as its young Alfred. The series will follow Bruce Wayne's future butler Alfred Pennyworth, a former British SAS solider in his twenties, who forms a security company and goes to work with billionaire Thomas Wayne. Bannon's Alfred is described as 'a handsome, cheerful and charming young man from 1960s London' and the series will see Alfred struggle to reconcile the kind-hearted boy he used to be with the cold, calculated killer he has become. Aside from his regular appearances in the ITV detective series Endeavour, Bannon is best known for playing Alan Turing's flashback love interest in The Imitation Game. He has also appeared in the BBC series Ripper Street. The actor confirmed the news on his Instagram page also, writing: 'Beyond excited about this!' The rest of the Pennyworth cast is taking shape too as Our Girl's Ben Aldridge will be playing the young billionaire Thomas Wayne. He is described as 'a confident and extremely disciplined man, who makes an unlikely business partner in Alfred when they meet in London.' Based on the DC characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the ten-episode series comes from the same writing team as Gotham, although the creatives have already said that there will not be any direct links between the two series. Production on Pennyworth begins on 22 October at Warner Brothers Studios in the UK. A premiere date has yet to be confirmed. It has also been revealed that alleged singer Paloma Faith has been cast as a 'spirited, sadistic and sharp-tongued villain' in the show.
Westworld's main figures look set to be receiving huge pay bumps for the third series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris will all be earning two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per episode. Their previous salaries were claimed to be in the region of one hundred and fifty thousand. The publication also claims that Tessa Thompson and James Marsden were 'curiously not part of the "first tier" negotiations,' which has raised questions about in what capacity - if any - they will return. HBO declined to comment on the report, saying that they 'would never comment on talent negotiations.' Westworld's producers have said that HBO are not rushing them in regards to the third series. 'We want the show to get bigger and bigger and more ambitious and this takes time,' co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan recently said. 'We want to take all the time we need to get it right.'
Although the status of any Star Trek movie production remains in flux at the moment, the TV part of the franchise is currently thriving. Star Trek: Discovery is shortly to launch its second series which will introduce a young Mister Spock and it has also been announced that Sir Patrick Stewart will be returning to the fold for a new Jean-Luc Picard series. Producer Alex Kurtzman recently told TrekMovie that fans will 'be hearing a lot about' some new TV projects in the near future. His colleague, Heather Kadin, spoke more generally about how important 'new interpretations' of Star Trek will be to the overall plans in the future. 'I think the one thing we can say which is more general is that it's been a real conscious effort that every project we do have its own voice and occupy its own space,' Kadin said. 'I don't mean its own space in canon, I mean its own tonal vision. Because you shouldn't tune in to Discovery and wonder if you flipped the channel, that it was Picard. They should feel different, they should have different messages coming from different people.'
ITV has announced a new six-part drama starring Martin Freeman. Which is jolly good news for Marty since every advert he makes for Vodafone these days seems to end up getting banned for one reason or another. A Confession, from the acclaimed Little Boy Blue screenwriter Jeff Pope, also stars Imelda Staunton. Set in Swindon, the series is about the disappearance of twenty two-year-old Sian O'Callaghan in March 2011. Charlie Cooper stars as Sian's boyfriend, Kevin Reape, who reported her missing, while Sian's mother Elaine O'Callaghan is played by Siobhan Finneran. Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher (Freeman) leads the police team attempting to find Sian, eventually interviewing the chief suspect, local taxi driver Christopher Halliwell (Joe Absolom). Halliwell's shock confession 'results in sinister consequences and steers the investigation in an unforeseen direction.' Staunton played Karen Edwards, the mother of Becky Godden who disappeared ten years previously. ITV's head of drama, Polly Hill, said: 'It is wonderful to be working with Jeff Pope again on this compelling and important true story. I'm delighted that the brilliant Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton are leading the cast, making this an unmissable drama for next year.' 'I found this is a fascinating story to tell on a number of levels,' added Pope. 'On one hand it is a brilliant piece of detective work, but in order to find both girls Fulcher felt he had to deny Halliwell his rights as a suspect. It brings into question how we want our police to behave when someone goes missing. Should Fulcher have been praised as a courageous officer fighting for the life of a girl, or lose his career for riding rough shod over the law?'
The BBC's adaptation of John le Carré The Little Drummer Girl is currently in production, from the same creative team who delivered The Night Manager. The thriller stars Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgård. The Little Drummer Girl also marks the television debut of director Park Chan-wook. At a screening to launch the six-part drama, executive producer Simon Cornwell (le Carré's son) spoke about adapting what he called 'a huge and quite bold, complicated book' and compared it with his previous television production. He said: 'After The Night Manager, we were looking for something which shared the ambition and the scale and scope of The Night Manager but, at the same time, was radically different from it in tone, in approach, in storytelling and context. This seemed a very natural choice for us.' Simon's brother and fellow executive producer Stephen agreed: 'There's a shared scale and ambition between the two, they are both, in a sense, infiltrator stories. [But] I think there are a couple of things that are profoundly different about this story. I think what's really unique emotionally and operationally about this story is the love story. You have a very, very unique kind of thriller which is discovered through an emotional landscape.' Simon also commented on another recent BBC thriller, Bodyguard and how he doesn't feel pressure to emulate its success with The Little Drummer Girl. 'I think we're quite different to Bodyguard. I actually think we're quite different in ways that I would have to say I think are interesting and important. It's a very, very different kind of show. I'm delighted for the BBC that the Bodyguard was hugely successful but I don't feel particular pressure from that, because we're so different frankly.'
Before she takes to the throne in The Crown, Olivia Colman her very self becomes the Mistress of the House in the first images from the BBC's upcoming Les Misérables mini-series. The corporation appears to be splashing out on a big-budget adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel about class warfare in the streets of revolutionary Paris, although - thankfully - without the songs which made Hugo's novel into a popular West End musical. Photos of the cast for this version includes Lily Collins as the doomed mother Fantine and David Oyelowo as the cruel police inspector, Javert. There's also Colman and BAFTA-winning Adeel Akhtar as Madame and Monsieur Thénardier, the opportunist operators of a children's boarding house. When the action flashes forward in the series, the conflict between Javert and Jean Valjean (played by Dominic West) is set against a clash between the working classes and the soldiers at the barricades. Hugo's novel is being adapted into a six-part series for the BBC by the great Andrew Davies. The ambitious mini-series was filmed on location all throughout Belgium and Northern France.
Another From The North award ceremony now. Taking a leaf from Dave Gorman's 'From The Gecko' routine, the 'Most Spectacular Mangling Of A Popular Maxim In A Sporting TV Context' of the week award goes to Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert. During the channel's coverage of Friday practice at the American Grand Prix in Austin, the former F1 driver noted that the continuing heavy rain in the area was annoying for both viewers and for live spectators. 'It's putting a bit of a damp squid on things,' he said. Where to start? The phrase, Johnny, is 'damp squib' - it alludes to a small explosive firework which are often used in film and TV production to replicate gunfire. Hence, a 'damp squib' is one that does not go off and is, therefore, an anticlimactic disappointment for all concerned. A 'damp squid,' on the other hand, is an octopus in its natural environment. A dry squid, might, perhaps, be an acceptable substitute for a damp squib - particularly if you've paid top price for one in an expensive restaurant.
And, speaking of From The North favourite Dave Gorman, the comedian recorded a short piece for the BBC News website this week concerning the Gorman family's recent move from London to Bournemouth. Check it out, here.
The BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five are calling for new laws to give their shows top billing in the era of on-demand Internet TV viewing. Mind you, this according to some bell-end of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star so it's probably lies. The chief executives of the UK's biggest public service broadcasters, including STV in Scotland and S4C in Wales have, the Gruniad claim, co-signed a letter calling on the government and Ofcom to guarantee their content and players prominence, so they are not 'buried' by competitors such as Sky or Netflix. The UK's public service broadcasters have enjoyed the benefits of being guaranteed the top slots on traditional TV guides, thanks to legislation introduced in 2003. However, the shift in viewing habits - from the arrival of Netflix and Amazon to the introduction of algorithms to select shows viewers might like and promotion of 'top picks' in advanced menus on Sky and Virgin Media - has meant that 'many' TV fans bypass the traditional electronic programme guide. At least, according to the article - though they cite no figures to back up this assertion. The broadcasters fear, the Gruniad claims, that 'commercial players' are championing their own shows, while public service broadcasting content and services such as the iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4 are 'buried.' For example, Netflix and Amazon often pay smart TV manufacturers for branded buttons on their remotes to give them top billing with viewers. 'There is a global commercial battle going on to shape and influence what we watch, listen to or buy in our homes,' the alleged letter allegedly says. 'Global players have a growing influence on what UK audiences discover when they turn on their screens. Increasingly they are becoming the gatekeepers to what we watch but they have little interest in reflecting UK culture, investing in the nations and regions, or ensuring the news they provide is accurate and impartial.' This year the number of people signed up to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon overtook the number of those signed up to pay-TV companies such as Sky, Virgin Media and BT, which themselves have swelled in popularity to be available in almost seventeen million households. However, the chiefs of ITV, BBC, Channel Four and Channel Five argue that their programming is still - by far - the most popular in the UK, with shows such as Bodyguard, Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake Off and Doctor Who attracting huge - ten million-plus - audiences of the kind that Sky and Netflix can only dream about and that public service broadcasting content is 'vital' to British culture and democracy. Which it is. 'This is why it is so important that public service content remains easy for audiences to find,' the alleged letter allegedly says. 'Regardless of where you're watching, which device you're watching on, or who provides your television service, you should always be able to easily find PSB services and programmes in the UK.' Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - has just closed a consultation into the issue of due prominence. It is, the Gruniad claim, 'sympathetic' to the PSB's case but it would require new legislation to broaden the current laws across all services. 'To ensure public service channels are easy to find on TV delivered through the Internet, parliament would need to introduce new legislation,' an alleged Ofcom spokesman allegedly said. 'We would support that and we recently set out some ideas and sought views on how it might be achieved.' A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that the government was 'committed to working with PSBs and the sector to ensure our world-class TV industry continues to thrive.' Pay-TV companies, smart TV manufacturers and the Silicon Valley giants are opposed to being forced to give prominence to PSB services and content, arguing that in an on-demand world it is the viewers who decide what they want to watch. Sky argues that it already gives prominence to PSB on-demand content. The issue with raising the billing of public service broadcasters' streaming players is that they are stacked with content outside the current PSB regulations. 'Sky is the best partner PSBs never knew they had, helping to deliver significant reach, revenue and attribution,' said a spokesman for Sky. 'But we can't continue to be a good partner and innovate as a platform, unless we have access to PSB content in all the ways viewers want. An "app or nothing" approach is not in line with the spirit of industry collaboration that we all need to focus on.'
He captured the nation's attention in June with an outspoken tirade about Brexit negotiations. Now Danny Dyer has been given a role fronting a history series for BBC1. The EastEnders actor will present Danny Dyer's Right Royal Family as the corporation tried to 'inject fun' into some of its factual programming and create 'event TV.' The ancestry show Who Do You Think You Are? revealed last year that Dyer was a descendant of both William the Conqueror and Thomas Cromwell. In his new show the actor will explore eight hundred years of British history by living in the style of some of his famous forebears. He will be seen eating sheep's tongue as the Vikings did, donning a ruff for an Elizabethan banquet and learning how to hunt. Although, he's from Essex so he's probably got an idea of how to do the latter anyway. Danny said: 'I'm still in shock at the fact that I'm related to such important people. I've had a ball getting to know them. It was a nutty experience.' In a one-off evening edition of ITV's Good Morning Britain during the World Cup in June, Dyer heavily criticised at the former Prime Minister David Cameron. 'Who knows about Brexit? No one has got a fucking clue what Brexit is?' he asked. 'You watch Question Time, it's comedy. No one knows what it is. It's like this mad riddle. What's happened to that twat Cameron who brought it on?' he demanded. 'Let's be fair. How come he can scuttle off? He called all this on. Where is he? He's in Europe, in Nice with his trotters up. Where is the geezer? I think he should be held accountable for it.' His outburst was widely praised for cutting through the Brexit bullshit. The BBC's history commissioner, Simon Young, said that there was 'room in the schedule' for complex history shows - pointing to the social history show A House Through Time, next year's five-part series on Margaret Thatcher and Lucy Worsley's recreation of the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as well as informative 'pleasure and entertainment.' 'Danny is just an incredible talent and he has an amazing history in his family tree. What better way to get people to look at and understand that royal history than through his eyes? It injects fun and I think we need that,' Young said. Tom McDonald, the head of specialist and natural history commissioning, revealed that Professor Brian Cox (no, the other one) is to star in a new BBC2 series about the planets. Cox will tell 'almost biographical stories of what those planets were once like, how they evolved and how they came to be,' McDonald said. The aim was 'to do for science what Planet Earth and Blue Planet did for natural history,' he said. The success of those shows 'made me think how do you create event TV out of [other] genres. Lots of people would gather together to watch Blue Planet on a Sunday night and there's no reason why specialist factual in all its genres [such as history and science] can't do that. When you see the success of Blue Planet or Bodyguard in drama it shows what the audience still want from terrestrial television that sense of event and "roll up, roll up, I must watch this now."' McDonald has reorganised his department, which covers science, religion, history, business and the world-famous natural history unit and aims to replicate the success of shows such as Planet Earth in the other genres by using them as 'a blueprint for our aspiration' to bring new audiences to complex subjects. He said that Blue Planet and Attenborough's forthcoming show Dynasties - where for the first time the BBC follows individual families of animals such as tigers through one show - offer a 'broad entry point' with 'real depth and specialism. Blue Planet is the perfect example of that it was incredibly sophisticated television, people learned a lot. It was complex biology and zoology but done in a way where you were so taken away with the awe and spectacle of it that it didn't feel like a lesson.' Other shows from McDonald's team include a second series of Pilgrimage, in which stars including Les Dennis and Brendan Cole will 'walk to Rome.' Although, flights are available, apparently. The corporation has 'reinvented and reshaped' religion and ethics, said the department's chief, Fatima Salaria, who revealed a new documentary called Male Circumcision. There will also be a groundbreaking series called Twinstitute, featuring thirty sets of identical twins, which the head of science, Tom Coveney, said would test rival health theories. A programme about Parkinson's Disease trials that has been five years in the making was also announced.
Sky has reportedly 'delivered an ultimatum' to broadcasters including Disney and Discovery to 'sort out' their post-Brexit licensing plans by the end of 2018 or 'face being taken off its pay-TV service.' Sky has sent the deadline letter because it needs to know the licensing plans of its channel partners to make sure it abides by European broadcasting regulations in the event of a no-deal Brexit in March. The letter, a version of which rivals including Virgin Media and BT are also likely to have to send to channel operators, informs partners that they must 'notify' Sky 'before 31 December' of their future broadcasting and licensing plans. 'We continually work with our partner channels to ensure they have the licences they need to broadcast,' said a Sky spokesman. US media companies including Discovery, Disney, the MTV owner Viacom and WarnerMedia's Turner, which operates CNN, use the UK as their European broadcasting hubs, with one British licence allowing a channel to be broadcast across the continent. This means that Sky can currently legally make partners' channels available on its pay-TV service. The Gruniad Morning Star suggests that 'it is understood the letter has also been sent to British broadcasters including ITV, Channel Four and UKTV, which are transmitted on Sky under a single UK licence.' However, if the government fails to strike a deal to keep EU-wide broadcast rights post-Brexit - which is looking increasingly likely - companies will have to look to relocate significant parts of their businesses and TV licensing arrangements to other EU countries to continue to transmit across the rest of Europe. This means many channels on Sky's UK service will need to acquire two licences to continue to legally broadcast in both the UK and Ireland. In a no-deal scenario those partners that do not get licences to broadcast in Europe will be unable to be legally broadcast in Ireland by Sky UK. 'It looks like Sky is preparing for a no-deal scenario; it is sensible contingency planning,' claimed Ed Hall of the consultancy Expert Media Partners. 'A UK TV licence acts as passport to Europe effectively, but with no deal once the UK leaves the EU broadcasters will need a European and UK licence if they want to be across Sky's UK and Ireland service. Sky can't risk airing channels illegally, so they need to know licensing arrangements or channels will simply have to come off the platform.' The ultimatum ups the pressure on the large number of international broadcasters which use the UK as a European licence and broadcast hub to commit to making decisions on post-Brexit contingency plans. US giants such as Discovery, the biggest broadcaster to use the UK as a hub for the continent with licences for more than one hundred TV channels, have been evaluating locations for a second European licensing and broadcasting hub if a Brexit TV deal fails to be struck. Countries that have emerged as major contenders for broadcasters to move some operations to in order to secure new European licences include Luxembourg, the Netherlands (where Netflix has its European headquarters), Ireland, Estonia and Malta. The Commercial Broadcasters Association has said that if Brexit results in UK TV licences no longer allowing EU-wide broadcast, it could cost the economy one billion knicker in annual investment from international broadcasters. The UK, through the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, licences about one thousand channels and is estimated to be the home of more than a third of licences for all channels broadcast across the EU. Last October, Sharon White, the Ofcom chief executive, revealed to an audience in Brussels that 'a number' of major UK-based broadcasters had told her they had contingency plans to move editorial functions to other cities in Europe.
Primal Scream frontman and rock and/or roll God Bobby Gillespie appeared on the BBC's This Week to discuss why he thinks that a Hard Brexit could spell disaster for the UK. It is, as the NME notes, 'the kind of bonkers booking that could only really happen in the upside down world of 2018.' 'Politically, we're going backwards, we're going back to the Thirties,' Bobby told the host Andrew Neil in an impassioned address. As Neil drew the show to a close, he encouraged his guests to take part in the 'Skibidi Challenge' - a particularly irritating dance phenomenon which is currently infecting the Internet. But, while Neil joined Michael Portaloo and Labour's Caroline Flint in delivering a crushing cockroaches masterclass, Bobby knew better than to lower himself to that level of cringe. Instead, he sat there glowering at the camera in a stony silence with look on his boat that said: 'I'm the man who made Screamadelica, I have some dignity and I'm not lowering myself to get off this seat.' Next week, dear blog reader, Johnny Marr appears on Question Time and Barney Sumner on Newsnight. You heard it here first.
There's a superb interview with From The North favourite Elvis Costello by the BBC's Kev Geoghegan covering a huge range of subjects including Elv's new CD, Look Now, working with Burt Bacharach and Carole King, a post Me Too world and the singer and songwriter's recent cancer scare. Well worth a few moments of your time, dear blog reader, it can be found here.
Julian Assange is reported to be launching legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his 'fundamental rights and freedoms.' Which some might regard as a bit rude considering they've been letting him live in their London embassy (presumably, rent free) for the last six years. The Wikileaks co-founder has lived the UK Bolivian embassy since 2012 after seeking asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden over a rape inquiry which was later dropped. He was given a set of house rules by the London embassy this week, including 'taking better care of his cat.' Assange still - rightly - faces arrest should he leave the embassy for allegedly breaching bail conditions. Wikileaks lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, is currently in Ecuador to launch the case, which the Press Association reports is 'expected to be heard in court next week.' Wikileaks claims that the country's government had threatened to remove the protection' Assange has had since being granted political asylum. It added that his access to the outside world had been 'summarily cut off.' In a memo, it threatened to confiscate the pet if he did not look after it. The embassy did remove Assange's Internet connection in March, accusing him of 'interfering in other countries' affairs.' However, earlier this week it said it would be partially restored. Of course, if he were you leave the embassy and walk to the nearest McDonald's he could use their free wi-fi. Just sayin'. In a statement, Wikileaks said: 'Ecuador's measures against Julian Assange have been widely condemned by the human rights community' although, it cited no specific examples of this allegedly 'wide' condemnation. It claims that the government of Ecuador refused a visit by Human Rights Watch general counsel, Dinah PoKempner and had not allowed several meetings with his lawyers. Assange's lawyers also said that they were 'challenging the legality' of the Ecuador government's 'special protocol' - which makes his political asylum dependent on 'censoring' his freedom of opinion, speech and association. Swedish police first issued a warrant for Assange in August 2010 and he was arrested in London in December that year. The UK's Supreme Court ruled in May 2012 that he should be extradited to Sweden to face two separate allegations - one of rape and one of molestation. Assange said that the claims were 'without basis' and, by June, he was in the Ecuadorian embassy ignoring the old maxim which states that, after three days, fish and house guests smell. Ecuador seemed happy to grant him asylum in August 2012, saying it feared his human rights might be 'violated' if he was extradited. In May 2017, Sweden's director of public prosecutions confirmed that the investigation in the allegations against Assange had been dropped. However, a warrant for Assange's arrest - issued in 2012 after he failed to surrender himself to a court when his extradition was approved - remains in place.
England sealed their ODI series against Sri Lanka with victory in another rain-affected one-day international. The hosts posted two hundred and seventy three for seven in their fifty overs, with Niroshan Dickwella and Dasun Shanaka both hitting fifties. But, England were ahead of the rate on one hundred and thrity two for two from twenty seven overs when play was suspended in Pallekele because of rain. The game was called off an hour later, giving England victory by eighteen runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method and a three-nil lead in the five-match series with all four matches play thus far having been affected to a greater or lesser degree by rain. Which tens to be what happens when you arrange a tour of Sri Lanka during monsoon season. Joe Root and Eoin Morgan ended unbeaten on thirty two and thirty one respectively to help guide their side to a winning total after openers Jason Roy (forty five) and Alex Hales - who was palying in place of the injured Jonny Bairstow - had been dismissed. The final match of the series is in Colombo on Tuesday. What's the betting it'll rain there, too? England have now won their past nine one-day series of two or more matches following a two-one defeat by India in January 2017. Since the group-stage exit at the last World Cup, Morgan's side have won fifty one of seventy six one-day internationals, losing twenty, with one tie and four no results.
Fußball-Club Bayern München officials threw their public support behind the coach, Niko Kovac and his players on Friday despite a four-game winless streak in all competitions, accusing the media of 'disrespectful' reporting. The German champions, who have won the last six league titles but are currently sixth in the standings, travel to Wolfsburg on Saturday knowing any result other than victory would sink them deeper into their 'crisis.' But the club president (and convicted tax criminal) Uli Hoeneß and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge accused the media of 'outrageous, disrespectful and polemical' reporting and warned them of possible legal action. Because, of course, no one is allowed to criticise Fußball-Club Bayern München under any circumstances. It's The Law. 'When I read about Manuel Neuer then I just have no words. I would like to remind you that Manuel was world goalkeeper of the year four times,' Rummenigge said. 'Same goes for Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels.' Speaking at a news conference scheduled at short notice, the duo said reporters should now expect 'mail from our media lawyer' for any 'false or inaccurate' reports. 'I don't know if there are special laws for the media but we will not accept this kind of reporting any longer,' Rummenigge said. 'Today is an important day as we inform you that we will no longer tolerate this derogatory and derisive reporting. We will protect our coach, players and club. It is outrageous, disrespectful and polemical.' Kovac earlier on Friday said that all Bayern needed was 'a bit of luck' to turn things around. 'Not everything is as grim as it is presented and I also said after our good start this season that not everything was rosy,' Kovac, in his first season at Bayern, said. 'Changing everything now would just be doing it for the sake of change and that never works,' said Kovac. 'You have to stick to your plan Throwing everything overboard and inventing something on the spot does not make sense. You will never get that from me.' Bayern, pre-season favourites for a seventh straight league title, have lost two of their last three Bundesliga games to drop to sixth place on thirteen points, four behind leaders Borussia Dortmund. 'We cannot be negative, we want to be positive,' said Kovac, whose team face AEK Athens in the Champions League next week. 'But we need that bit of luck. You need it in life and you need it in sport. If we get that, because we have been creating the chances in every game, then it will work for us again.'
Some light-fingered bastard has stolen a giant, inflatable colon which is used to teach the public about the dangers of colon cancer. The University of Kansas Cancer Center said in a news release on Friday that it was stolen from a pickup truck in Brookside (the town in Kansas, not the Channel Four soap opera of the 1980s). Surgical oncologist John Ashcraft said that colon cancer is 'a tough subject' for many to talk about and the giant inflatable colon is 'a great conversation starter.' The colon is ten feet-long, weighs one hundred and fifty pound and is valued at four thousand dollars. It is owned by The Cancer Coalition, which hosts walking and running events under a campaign called 'Get Your Rear In Gear.'
Residents of a Southern US city hope to raise 'tens of thousands of dollars' to restore a statue of a giant peanut recently damaged by Hurricane Michael. 'I'm from the town with the big peanut,' is how petition founder Sarah Mastrario Cook says that locals of Ashburn in Georgia, proudly identify themselves. But the campaign to Restore Ashburn's Big Peanut has some way to go before reaching its target of fifty thousand dollars in donations. So far, a modest seven hundred and twenty five dollars has been raised.
If you think Burger King's latest gimmick in the US is nothing more than a marketing ploy, there may be some actual science to prove that it isn't. On 22 October, Burger King's new 'Nightmare King' burger will become be available in participating restaurants for a limited time for the lofty price of six dollars and thirty nine cents - whilst supplies last. The burger consists of a quarter-pound beef patty, a crispy chicken fillet, one slice of melted cheese, bacon, mayonnaise and onions on a glazed green sesame seed bun. Yeah, green. Its most-prized ingredient, though, is nightmares. To determine if the burger actually produces nightmares, Burger King partnered with the Paramount Trials and Florida Sleep & Neuro Diagnostic Services and Goldforest Inc to conduct a scientific study over ten nights with one hundred different participants, who ate the Nightmare King before they went to bed. Scientists tracked various signals for the purpose of the study, including measuring heart rate, brain activity and breath. The study - along with its participants - was used in a recent two-minute long advertisement by Burger King. 'From different studies in the past, we know that foods can affect dreams and sleep quality,' said Doctor Jose Gabriel Medina, the study's lead doctor. The study concluded that 'the unique combination of proteins and cheese' in the burger led to 'an interruption of the subjects' REM cycles, during which we experience the majority of our dreams. According to previous studies, four percent of the population experiences nightmares in any given night,' added Medina. 'But, after eating The Nightmare King, the data obtained from the study indicated that the incidence of nightmares increased by three-and-a-half times.' In the video, one subject said that he 'remembered hearing voices and people walking around talking' the morning after eating The Nightmare Burger. Another subject in the video claimed that the morning after eating the burger 'someone in my dream turned into the burger. The burger then transformed into the figure of a snake.' A third subject said that he 'recalled' a nightmare where he was swimming in the water and was then attacked by aliens.
A California man was extremely arrested on suspicion of stealing underwear from a woman's home after, allegedly, leaving semen on a victim's laptop which he had used 'to watch porn.' Jonathan Jose Ruiz was arrested last week after the DNA on the laptop led police to him, the Orange County District Attorney's Office announced. Police believe that Ruiz is responsible for ransacking and burglarising a home belonging to four college-age women on 4 October. The women went to an event that day and came back to their home just ninety minutes later to find their home in a disarray and their underwear strewn all about the residence, according to the District Attorney's office. Ruiz is accused of entering their home through a window, consuming milk and cookies from the home's kitchen and being the dreaded knicker nicker. Police swabbed multiple items at the crime scene including semen found on one of the victim's - by now, rather sticky - laptops, according to the District Attorney's office. They said that the Orange Police Department Rapid DNA Program [sic], a database intended to provide investigators with leads within hours of a crime being committed, matched the DNA to Ruiz. His DNA had been submitted to the database as part of a previous sentence for misdemeanour vandalism in 2017. Ruiz was arrested on 11 October and, during his arrest, police allegedly found 'multiple items' of the victims' personal property in his possession, including two pairs of the college students' panties. He was charged on Monday with first-degree residential burglary and vandalism. He is now facing up to six years and eight months in The Big House if convicted.
A beautician has been banned from driving after she blamed failing to take a breath test on her surgically enhanced lips. Mind you, this is according to the Daily Mirra so it might be lies. Scarlett Harrison claimed that her lips were 'too big' for her to blow into a police breathalyser after she was stopped by officers in Manchester city centre. But, when she was asked to give an accurate breath sample back at a police station Harrison - who apparently appeared in an MTV reality show called Ex On The Beach (no, me neither) - complained that her collagen implants made it 'too difficult' for her to get her mouth around the tube. She attempted four times to blow into the intoximeter machine before confessing to officers: 'My lips are too big.' She was later charged with failing to provide a breath sample. At Manchester magistrates court, Harrison initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, claiming that she was unable to give a breath sample for 'medical reasons.' But, on the day of her trial she changed her plea to extremely guilty and was banned from the roads for sixteen months. The Mirra reports that her 'trendy white Mini One car has since been sold.'
A sixty eight-year-old Ohio man accidentally shot himself with a gun rigged at his back door. Edwin Smith was caught in his own trap on Monday. According to investigators, Smith had a shotgun set up facing his back door. He went outside to feed some squirrels. At some point, he opened the door and the gun fired and hit his right arm. Cleveland County Sheriff's deputies did not immediately know if the contraption malfunctioned or if he forgot the weapon was rigged to fire. 'I've never seen anything quite like this,' said Captain Jon Wright with the Sheriff's Office. First responders cautiously went through the home to be sure nothing else was rigged with weapons. Smith was taken to Atrium Health in Shelby. Wright said Smith was severely wounded but alert when he was transported.