Saturday, October 25, 2014

In The Forest Of The Night: Songs Of Innocence

'You have reached your destination.' 'No we haven't, we're supposed to be in the middle of London.' 'You have reached your destination.' 'Oh, stop saying that!'
'Do you like the forest being in Trafalgar Square? I think it's lovely!' The award-winning screenwriter and novelist Frankie Cottrell Boyce has had a jolly interesting career, dear blog reader, taking in everything from scripting British primetime TV's first lesbian kiss on Brookside - to which he was a regular contributor - and his collaborations with Michael Winterbottom on several films including Twenty Four Hour Party People and Welcome To Sarajevo to his acclaimed contributions to Danny Boyle's 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. But, this week, he topped all of them shenanigans by writing the latest episode of Doctor Who. It was called In The Forest Of The Night (and, yes, the title is taken from William Blake, well spotted). The plot: One morning, the human race wakes up to find that the entire planet has been invaded by .... its own trees, as overnight a forest has grown everywhere and taken back the Earth from humanity. The people are, as you might expect, a bit shocked and stunned by all this malarkey but The Doctor knows more than everyone - that this bizarre stranglehold of vegetation means the final days of humanity might well have finally arrived.
'Obviously we wrote all of our scripts [from the eighth series] before we saw [Peter Capaldi],' Boyce told the Radio Times. 'We knew the story and that this guy was going to be older, a bit grumpier, a bit sharper. The minute they had any footage of him they showed [me], but there's an interplay between the writing and what he's trying to bring to it.' With that in mind, what tips and directions did The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat give to Boyce and the other staff writers about writing for Capaldi, he was asked. 'I've had his voice in my head since Local Hero came out in 1980-whatever-it-was,' Boyce noted. 'I think the key note Steven gave was that whereas the other Doctors tell you what they're doing, he'll keep things to himself for a while. Matt would tell you everything, but [Capaldi's Doctor] keeps the process to himself until he acts on it.' It's an approach which Boyce believes echoes another of Moffat's hyperintelligent leading men. 'I guess that's more like Sherlock Holmes,' he added. 'You know the wheels are turning in his head, but he's not really letting you in on the process.'
'A tree is a time machine.' The premise of the episode has The Doctor, Clara, Danny and a gang of precocious Coal Hill pupils - some of whom are more annoying than others, let it be noted - discovering that the whole Earth has been enveloped by trees overnight. 'Don't worry, the trees won't hurt you.' might once have been The Doctor's mantra. Hell, he ever dated a tree once. But, these trees really do have no mercy, it would seem. Meanwhile a young girl in a red hood finds herself - not very originally - lost in this new forest and she might hold the key to solving the predicament. There's an, utterly obvious, environmental message at the heart of the episode as you might expect and, minor criticism, it's not an especially subtle one. Mind you, neither was The Green Death's forty years ago, to be fair. When it comes to things like the environment, subtly isn't one of Doctor Who's strong points. As noted on at least a couple of previous occasions this series, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. That's French for 'shut yer effing trap and watch the damn thing instead of whinging' just in case you were wondering. Boyce said that he wanted The Doctor in his episode to be 'removed of his superpowers' and, he is rather powerless here, which is an interesting diversion from the 'all knowing' Doctor Capaldi has presented us with at moments in the last three episodes. As the Doctor exclaims at one point, 'I can fight monsters, I can't fight physics.' He does, thankfully, get to share a couple of properly great scenes with Clara as they ponder the apparent end of the world which might well include some of this blogger's favourite moments of the series.
'You? Have you got a name at all?' As you may expect, dear blog reader, on several level - not least, visually - this is something of a radical departure from the past handful of episodes. It's lighter in tone, if oddly lacking in any obvious direct humour, with a strange and very unconventional story containing no monster of the week to speak of - unless you count the tiger. Nor, indeed, is there really any overt horror element present, apart from the forest itself. Nature is the threat in this episode but, was with Kinda for example, there's a clever Doctor Who twist. The general look and feel of the episode is very impressive. The director, Sheree Folkson who is also making her Doctor Who debut, contributes a visually stunning episode to fit it well with the quasi-fairytale aesthetics in Frankie's script. The accompanying score - from the always reliable Murray Gold - enhances this curiously attractive blend which, again, recalls a handful of the odder, more cerebral and outré episodes from the series past (there's a bit of The Mind Robber, a splash of Castrovalva, a touch of Inferno and a definite hint of The Androids Of Tara floating around in here at various points if you know where to look.Mind you, there's more than a smidgen of Fear Her as well).
'I haven't phoned home, but I know my mum is worried about me.' A number of child actors make up the guest characters this week. Centre stage of them all is Maebh a vulnerable young girl with a haunted past, played by Abigail Eames. As we've discussed previously this year, the casting of child actors can be something of a lottery and having an episode of any series depending for its success on a young child is fraught with dangers at the best of times. We all remember Fear Her. Sadly. It's probably fair to say that In The Forest Of The Night really does need its audience to care about Maebh's thoughts on the world around her for the episode to work. Thankfully, Abigal is really very good here and adds a convincing and charming naivety to the episode. As for the rest of the kids, the performances range from more than adequate - 'anger management' Bradley's good, for instance - to okay at the worst. At least the children are well served with some impressively believable dialogue - what you'd expect from a children's author as good as Frank Cottrell Boyce. One particular stand out is Harley Bird - the voice of Pegga Pig, of course - who plays know-it-all Ruby. In a line reminiscent of Lisa Simpson, Ruby says of the new world they find themselves in. 'There was a forest, there wasn't a forest - nothing surprises us any more.'
'Why would the tress want to kill us? We love trees!' After a few episodes of being relegated to being on the end of phone calls, Danny gets a much larger role here as he takes on the leadership of the Coal Hill kids. Clara's walk down some questionable forest paths continues, of course. Her lying to Danny isn't really followed up in a satisfying way, although one suspects a lot of dangling plot threads are going to be tired together in the forthocming two-part series finale.
Continuity: The Day Of The Doctor ('what are the round bits for?'), The Eleventh Hour ('wood'), The Mark Of The Rani ('trees have no moving parts'), The Ice Warriors ('exactly what they said about the ice age'), Doctor Who & The Silurians ('that;s how this planet grows, a series of catastrophes'), Hide ('she hears voices'), The Doctor Dances ('not everything can be fixed with a screwdriver, it's not a magic wand'), The Long Game ('I've just informed you that a solar fares is going to wipe out your planet'), The Mind Robber, Fear Her, Utopia, Rose ('I don't want to be the last of my kind'), Remembrance Of The Daleks ('the human superpower, forgetting!'), The Ark, Kill The Moon ('I walk this Earth too, I breathe your air') and Mummy On The Orient Express ('what you gonna do, leave them on an asteroid?')
The dialogue is as enjoyable as you'd expect: 'I don't wanna see more things. I wanna see the things that are in front of me more clearly.' And: 'I'm allowed a torch sir, I've got a note. I'm darkness phobic.' And: 'Why are you asking me all the questions? Give someone else a go!' And: 'What are wolves scared of?' And: 'We will create pathways through the trees using carefully controlled fires.' And: 'Do you have an appointment? You need an appointment to see the Doctor.' This particularly blogger loved: 'You need an appointment to see The Doctor.' And: 'Miss Oswald? Dark hair? Highly unpredictable? Surprisingly round face?' And: 'In three hours time, the Ghana Black Star are due to play Sierra Leone in the African Cup of Nations. It does not look like the pitch will be ready!' And: 'Brand new forest?' 'Yes, it's like the New Forest except ... even newer!' And: 'You've got a spaceship, all we've got is Oyster Cards!' And: 'Trees have no moving parts and they don't communicate.' And: 'London has just been taken over by a giant forest, who do you want to talk to, Monty Don?' And: 'What use is "clever" against trees? You can't reason with them, you can't lie to them.' And: 'When the ice age was here, you lot managed to cook mammoth. Now, that there's a forest you'll just have to eat nuts.' 'I can't eat nuts, I've got an allergy!' And: 'She's probably dead by now, anyway. Crushed by Nelson!' And: 'I haven't got an imagination, ask Miss Oswald!' And: 'Any minute now we're gonna find a Gingerbread House with a witch inside!' And: 'Told you they were rubbish!' And: 'There are very good, solid scientific reasons for being really quite frightened just now!' And: 'We were here before you and will be here after you.' And: 'You've been chopping them down for furniture for centuries, if that's love, no wonder they're calling down fire from the heavens.' And: 'Class project - save the Earth.'
'Stick to the path, Red Ridinghood.' As emotional as the episode is, there's still plethora of adventure: 'Stars grow cold, planets implode. Catastrophe is the metabolism of the universe!' proclaims The Doctor on the realisation that this battle may already be over. The episode features some pointed - and slightly disturbing - observations on the way that adults treat children and their innocence ('why does everything have to go?') Boyce's script is literate, witty, informed and in places, very deep and complex. Yet, it's also, simultaneously, the sort of thing that this blogger can imagine a seven year olds understanding, and loving, on a far more basic level. 'Apart from being almost savaged by a tiger and abducted by a Scotsman, she's allowed any nervous ticks she likes!' In The Forest Of The Night is beautiful mixture of ecological polemic, love story, political allegory and comfortingly familiar Doctor Who elements. 'Fear a little bit less, trust a bit more.' Can we have Frank Cottrell Boyce on a permanent transfer, please?
The BBC has announced a special event, held in London and hosted by Frank Skinner, will take place on Monday 17 November, to mark the release of the Doctor Who series eight DVD and Blu-ray set. This will be the first chance the cast have had to reflect on the conclusion of Peter Capaldi's debut series as The Doctor, in front of one hundred and forty lucky fans at a Central London location. BBC Worldwide is offering seventy pairs of tickets for this exclusive event. Fans will be treated to a special screening followed by a Q&A with members of the cast. All they need to do is visit and correctly answer the multiple choice question, when they will subsequently be entered into a prize draw. The competition is now open and will close on Wednesday 29 October. Winners will be selected at random and will be notified within seven days of the closing date. Fans should only enter if they can travel to London for the afternoon of the 17 November. And, if they aren't, you know, one of The Special People. The event venue will be disclosed to winners on their invitation closer to the time. Frank Skinner commented: 'When they asked me to host this event I was over the moon. Luckily the space-dragon incubation period is such that I was in no real danger. I have so many questions I want to ask and, when we're all talked out, I'm planning to finish off by crowd-surfing for ten to fifteen minutes, dressed as Chief Engineer Perkins.' This event continues BBC Worldwide’s celebration of a new Doctor in the world's longest running family SF drama. Earlier this year, yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self travelled the globe visiting Doctor Who fans in Seoul, Sydney, New York City, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro and this week the interactive and immersive attraction in Cardiff Bay – The Doctor Who Experience – will reopen with an updated adventure featuring the Twelfth Doctor. The DVD and Blu-ray release of The Complete Eighth Series sees The Doctor and Clara encounter previously unimaginable wonders and horrors The time travellers meet a fleet of Daleks as they attempt to rescue a stranded ship of human survivors, face ranks of Cybermen stalking Earth, go back in time and join Robin Hood in a fight with killer robots in Sherwood Forest, become outlaws when they break into the deadliest bank in the cosmos, face a Mummy on the Orient Express, discover a deadly horror dwelling on the Moon and meet the last man standing at the end of the universe. The box set contains all twelve episodes from Peter Capaldi's debut series in the role and is also packed full of extras including four audio commentaries, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Time Lord, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Companion, Doctor Who: Earth Conquest and other stuff.

BBC1's new Sir David Attenborough series Life Story topped the overnight ratings outside soaps on Thursday with 4.41m at 9pm. Earlier, Watchdog appealed to 3.04m at 8pm, and Question Time brought in 2.49m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Strictly: It Takes Two had an audience of 1.55m at 6.30pm, followed by Big Dreams Small Spaces with 1.35m at 7pm. The Children In Need Sewing Bee gathered 1.66m at 8pm, while the latest episode Peaky Blinders was watched by 1.41m at 9pm. Russell Howard's Good News returned for a new series (and, on a new channel) with 1.27m at 10pm. On ITV, For the Love of Dogs attracted 4.20m at 8.30pm, followed by the second episode of The Great Fire with 2.62m at 9pm. Channel Four's Amazing Spaces was seen by 1.45m at 8pm, while Educating The East End attracted 1.11m at 9pm. Scrotal Recall brought in four hundred and forty five thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Underground Britain attracted eight hundred and eighty eight thousand at 8pm, followed by Burglars & Break-Ins with seven hundred and fifty seven thousand at 9pm and Inside Holloway with nine hundred and five thousand at 10pm. The Big Bang Theory returned with impressive ratings for E4. The US sitcom amused an average 1.65 million viewers.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD returned to more than a million overnight viewers on Channel Four on Friday. The opening episode of the second season was watched by an average audience of 1.1 million from 8pm. It was followed by Gogglebox, which had an audience of 2.95 million at 9pm, and Alan Carr: Chatty Man with 1.34 million at 10pm. Channel Four's evening ended with five hundred and sixty thousand for The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night at 10pm. With an average audience of 4.33 million at 9pm, BBC1's Have I Got News For You was among the evening's most watched shows. The latest episode of Lewis also proved popular, playing to an average audience of 4.31 million at 9pm on ITV. Secrets From The Sky attracted 2.3 million viewers for ITV at 8pm. BBC1's evening began with 3.77 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.88 million for A Question Of Sport at 7.30pm. After an episode of EastEnders, BBC1's night continued with 3.14 million for Would I Lie to You? at 8.30pm, and 3.35 million for Not Going Out at 9.30pm. With guests including yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Miranda Hart, The Graham Norton Show rounded off the night with 3.45 million at 10.35pm. The final episode of BBC2's Big Dreams Small Spaces entertained 1.3 million at 7pm, followed by 1.59 million for The Children In Need Sewing Bee at 8pm. Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes continued with nine hundred and ten thousand at 9pm, Gardeners' World had 1.22 million at 9.30pm and Qi finished the evening off for the channel with 1.69 million at 10pm. On Channel Five, Rome: The World's First Superpower was seen by eight hundred and fifty five thousand at 8pm, followed by seven hundred and ninety five thousand for Alex Polizzi's Secret Italy and six hundred and nineteen thousand for Body Of Proof at 10pm. BBC4's showing of Agnetha: Abba & After was among the highest-rated multichannel shows with five hundred and seventy thousand at 11pm.

Miranda will come to an end with two Christmas specials. The sitcom's creator and star Miranda Hart confirmed the news during an interview to promote a new book about the series. When asked by Radio 2's Steve Wright why she had chosen to release The Best of Miranda, the award-winning comic actress explained: 'Because I'm actually coming to the end of the whole sitcom. This is the first time I'm saying it out loud, so it's a bit weird!' Hart continued: 'I'm doing two Christmas specials, but they are going to be the finale of the show, full stop. So I wanted to do a book to celebrate the series and celebrate all the people who have supported it and watched it, so they get to see the scripts and some backstage gossip and all that sort of thing.' Miranda debuted on BBC2 in 2009, moving to BBC1 for its third series in late 2012. Speaking last year, co-star Tom Ellis had hinted that the show would return to television, saying that he felt the story - including his character Gary's on-off relationship with Miranda - needed a conclusion. 'I think there's certainly some more of the story to be told. I can't say when [another series is] going to happen, but I think it's not going to go away.'
A drama about British Muslims who sign up to fight for militant group Islamic State is being developed by Channel Four. Peter Kosminsky, the writer and director behind topical dramas Britz and The Government Inspector, is directing the programme. Channel Four said that the currently untitled drama is in the 'very early stages of development' but 'should' be broadcast in 2016. Production on the drama, which will feature fictional characters, is expected to begin next year. A Channel Four spokeswoman said that the drama would 'seek to cast light on why a small number of British-born Muslims might be tempted to travel to Syria or Iraq to live in and fight for the self-declared Islamic State.' Kosminsky, she continued, will shortly begin 'an extensive six-month research process' before writing the drama. Channel Four's representative said that Kosminsky's previous work showed he had 'an unrivalled track record of tackling sensitive subject matter.' The BAFTA-winning writer, whose other credits include 2011's The Promise, is currently directing Wolf Hall, the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Man Booker-winning novel. Islamic State is a radical Islamist group which has seized large swathes of territory in Eastern Syria and across Northern and Western Iraq. It is estimated that more than twelve thousand foreign nationals from more than eighty countries have travelled to Syria to fight over the past three years.

The BFI has confirmed that two lost episodes of pre-Monty Python sketch show At Last the 1948 Show have been re-discovered. The first and last-ever episodes were recently discovered on reels of sixteen mm film in the private collection of the late David Frost. Frost executive produced the ITV sketch show in 1967 and 1968, with future Monty Python's Flying Circus members John Cleese and Graham Chapman along with Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Aimi MacDonald. Cleese will be presenting the episodes at BFI Southbank in London on Sunday 7 December as part of the BFI's annual Missing Believed Wiped event. The episodes have not been seen in full since their original broadcasts. BFI television consultant Dick Fiddy said: 'This latest recovery is a crucial find. It represents a key moment in the history of British television comedy featuring the combined talents of some of its greatest exponents. These gifted comedians, all in their twenties and thirties, were let off the leash and allowed to experiment with style and content, resulting in shows which have had an enduring influence on comedy worldwide. Even very recently the famous Four Yorkshiremen sketch - which originated on At Last the 1948 Show - was used as the opener for the Python's stage shows at the 02 and had been performed previously by the team in galas such as The Secret Policeman's Ball. Cleese, Feldman, Brooke-Taylor and Chapman, created, scripted and starred in the 1948 Show and the fact that the show remains very, very funny forty seven years later is a tribute to their extraordinary abilities.' 'It was ground-breaking in a sense in that it was very silly, former The Goodies member Brooke-Taylor told the BBC. 'We were thinking, will we get away with it basically?' The series featured sketches which the Monty Python team would go on to adopt, including The Four Yorkshiremen and the line: ' ... And now for something completely different.' The two episodes were found when Fiddy was invited to explore the collection of Sir David Frost, who died last August. Rewatching the material after many years 'made me laugh a great deal', admitted Brooke-Taylor. 'I think the sketches would be shorter now, but I'm rather pleased with it.' Some of the sketches were previously released on an LP, but this is the first time since their original broadcast that any footage has been available to go with them. Cleese will present the two episodes, on loan from the Frost family, as part of Missing Believed Wiped. The event is also believed include a recently recovered episode of the 1960s BBC 'youth' series A Whole Scene Going featuring The Spencer Davies Group.

And, on a similar note, a rediscovered haul of television dramas that has been lost for forty years or more is set to change the way we think about many of Britain's biggest acting talent. The extraordinary cache of televised plays – described by experts as 'an embarrassment of riches' – features performances from a cavalcade of post-war British stars. The list includes John Gielgud, Sean Connery, Gemma Jones, Dorothy Tutin, Robert Stephens, Susannah York, John Le Mesurier, Peggy Ashcroft, Patrick Troughton, David Hemmings, Leonard Rossiter, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith and Jane Asher. The tapes have been unearthed in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. After months of negotiation, the library and the New York-based public service television station WNET have agreed to allow the British Film Institute in London to showcase the highlights in November, an occasion which is certain to generate intense nostalgia for what many critics maintain was the golden age of television. A hint of what is to come appears in the joint BFI and National Film Theatre guide for November, which refers to the forthcoming Missing Believed Wiped event and mentions the discovery of hundreds of hours of British TV drama. The tapes are understood to have been sent out to WNET for broadcast and later stored in the TV station's collection inside the Library of Congress, where they were recently catalogued. They were originally broadcast by the BBC and the independent television companies Granada and Associated-Rediffusion between 1957 and 1970. News of their rediscovery was inadvertently leaked to the public in an events bulletin put out at the weekend. The programmes include works by Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen, as well as new work written for weekly strands such as The Wednesday Play and Armchair Theatre. Among other gems found in the archives are a BBC production of Jean Anouilh's version of Sophocles' Antigone starring Dorothy Tutin and David McCallum, that made the front cover of the Radio Times in 1959 but has not been seen since. Notes inside the listings magazine confirm the production was Tutin's BBC television debut and describe her as 'the leading young actress of the contemporary scene.' A BBC production of Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm from 1965 stars Peggy Ashcroft with a supporting cast including John Laurie. Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens star opposite each other as Beatrice and Benedick in a 1967 production of Much Ado About Nothing recorded for the BBC, while Sean Connery appears with Dorothy Tutin in a rare BBC Sunday Night Theatre production of Anouilh's Colombe from 1960. The earliest rediscovered recording is a 1957 production of Ibsen's The Wild Duck, directed for ITV by Charles Crichton and starring Tutin opposite Emlyn Williams and Michael Gough. The library's hoard also includes finds of interest for social reasons. A production of Twelfth Night, starring John Wood as Malvolio, was made by Rediffusion for its schools programming in the afternoons. It was a seventy five-minute reduction of the play and was broadcast at the end of a nine-part series that examined the work's cultural and historical background.'Negotiations to secure the release of these dramas have been going on for some time and we have been holding on to the information until the time is right,' said a spokesman for the BFI. 'It is very exciting, but we don't have all the information yet.' Jane Asher appears in a 1962 schools production of Romeo and Juliet, along with another 1967 Play Of The Month staging of the same Shakespeare play, starring Kika Markham as Juliet, Hywel Bennett as Romeo and John Gielgud as the chorus. Among the bit players are Thora Hird and Michael Gambon, while Ronald Pickup plays Mercutio. The Library of Congress initially approached Kaleidoscope, the classic TV experts, who took the good news to the BBC and ITV this spring. 'We brokered the deal for the BFI because so many different companies have copyright over the material,' wrote Kaleidoscope's Chris Perry in a blog this weekend. The cast list for a production of The Young Elizabeth shows Hugh Paddick playing a courtier, while Hannah Gordon stars in a Wednesday Play, The Bond, from 1965. Robert Stephens, who died in 1995, appears several times, starring in a 1967 production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale alongside Jeremy Kemp and Anna Calder-Marshall. A year earlier Stephens stars in a 1966 Theatre 625 production of Chekhov's The Seagull with Annette Crosbie and Pamela Brown. An early ITV Play Of The Week from 1963 will also be of great interest to theatre historians. It stars Jill Bennett, the fourth wife of playwright John Osborne, in a production of Chekhov's The Three Sisters with the actress Hilda Barry.

A twenty eight-year-old mixing desk used by BBC Essex is to be stored at the Science Museum in London as part of a move to help preserve a bygone era of radio. The Mark III mixing desk used by the BBC in Chelmsford since 1986 is being replaced with new technology. The desks, designed in the 1960s, were among the last to be designed and built by the BBC, and are still in operation at a handful of stations, including the one yer actual Keith telly Topping used to freelance for! A Science Museum spokesman said the desk was an 'exciting new acquisition.' John Liffen, of the museum, described the equipment as 'a valuable device to explore how people's relationship with radio has changed over time.' The Mark III desk was installed in the corporation's first wave of local radio stations. Geoff Woolf, a technology development manager at the BBC, said: 'The Mk III is entirely analogue as digital audio was very much still in its infancy, with CD players considered to be luxury items. Accommodating PCs, screens and keyboards was not on the agenda when these were designed as in 1986 computers and software to provide studio solutions was still fifteen years away.'
The US TV network AMC, which broadcast Mad Men and The Walking Dead, is to take over the running of BBC America after a one hundred and twenty five million smackers deal with the BBC. BBC America is available in almost eighty million homes in the US via cable and satellite. AMC has bought a 49.9 per cent stake in the channel, while the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, will retain 50.1per cent. BBC Worldwide chief executive Tim Davie said that AMC was 'the ideal partner. They are committed to the kind of high-quality, unmissable content that has already gained BBC America one of the most educated, affluent and tech-savvy audiences in all of US television,' he said. BBC Director General Tony Hall said that the deal would 'help us reach new audiences in the US, strengthen BBC America's position for the long term and create opportunities for the UK creative community.' The broadcasters have already co-produced dramas including The Honourable Woman. 'This partnership means we can produce even more top quality drama together,' Hall said. BBC America will be managed as a standalone channel within the AMC Networks portfolio, which also includes Sundance TV and more than sixty international channels. But the channel will be run in line with the BBC's editorial standards and policies. Ed Carroll from AMC Networks said: 'Orphan Black and Doctor Who are just two examples of bold and original BBC America content that creates passionate viewers and fits well alongside AMC Networks shows such as Mad Men, Portlandia and Rectify.'

Dave Myers, one half of the Hairy Bikers chef duo, left the Countdown team with something of a conundrum when he came up with an unusual choice of word in an episode of the long-running quiz. The presenter, who starred in last year's Strictly Come Dancing, was doing a stint in dictionary corner on Friday's show when he offered up the seven-letter word 'todgers' – much to the amusement of host Nick Hewer and Rachel Riley. It was left to dictionary corner supremo Susie Dent to explain that the word could have counted because it is in the dictionary.
And, speaking of todgers, the lack of culture secretary has warned that the entire system of funding the BBC would be 'up for debate' if the Conservatives win the next election. Which is merely one very good reason for hoping that they, you know, don't. In comments which reveal the extent of the battle faced by the BBC in the run up to the renewal of its charter in 2016, the vile and odious rascal Javid said: 'We need to take a fresh look at how to fund the BBC for the long term. There are various funding models out there. Charter review should rule nothing out or rule anything in.' Asked exactly what alternatives there are to the current model of an annual flat-rate licence fee, the vile and odious rascal Javid weaselled that he 'hasn't made any decision' before going on to mention a subscription model such as that funding commercial rivals such as Sky and a 'state-owned commercially funded model' similar to Channel Four. The minister indicated that the charter review process will start in earnest next June once the election is over and a review of licence fee enforcement is complete. Such a review will give the government and the BBC just eighteen months to hammer out a deal, whereas the last review process took three years. Just before his appearance before the Commons select committee on media, culture and sport, the government announced that David Perry QC, a leading criminal law barrister who has worked on several high-profile cases including the prosecution of Abu Hamza and the cash for honours scandal, would lead its independent review into whether non-payment of the BBC licence fee should be decriminalised. The vile and odious rascal Javid was the final figure giving evidence to the select committee's inquiry into the future of the BBC. In her first appearance before the committee since her appointment as chair of the BBC Trust two weeks ago, Rona Fairhead appeared to back the BBC's decision to close the BBC3 TV channel before the Trust had even received final details of the proposal. Talking of the challenges of producing for an online-only world, Fairhead said: 'The idea of moving BBC3 and making it online in and of itself is good,' before going on to add: 'We haven’t done our final review of BBC3. It's a really difficult challenge. [Younger viewers] are certainly watching very differently, typically they watch on the go.' Odious Tory gobshite Philip Davies accused Fairhead of having 'gone native in record time' as she seemed to think that everything at the BBC was wonderful. Fairhead, the former FT group executive, replied, 'I don’t think I have gone native, I don’t ever intend to go native.' Outgoing trustee David Liddiment, who is standing down after eight years, said that there was a 'widespread view that the Trust was not fit for purpose' and admitted there was a 'faultline in the way that the Trust was set up.' He also raised eyebrows among committee members by suggesting that 'few licence fee payers had heard of the Trust.' Having brought forward his review into decriminalisation last month, the vile and odious rascal Javid repeated his opinion that the cost of the licence fee was 'too high for some people', with cases of non-payment taking up ten per cent of the time in magistrates’'courts. 'I do think £145.50 a year for some families is a lot of money,' he said. To other questions including those from committee chair John Whittingdale about the TV licensing authorities using powers under RIPA to chase people over non-payment of licence fee, the vile and odious rascal Javid said that he had 'no answers' but added that asking such questions 'suggests there will always be a licence fee.' The vile and odious rascal Javid said the much-criticised BBC Trust model of governance should be reviewed. 'I think there definitely needs to be a fresh look at what the governance structure should be in the charter review process. Some people have said should there be one board. Other ideas out there are should [media regulator] Ofcom have a role. Another idea I've heard about is should there be a BBC Trust-type structure but independent from the BBC, for example not funded by the BBC. These are good questions. I don’t have an answer at this point.' In comments that recognised controversy over executive pay and the Jimmy Savile fiasco the vile and odious rascal Javid said: 'The Trust has had to deal with significant challenges and they have made some mistakes which has been well recognised over the last few years and part of that is down to governance. There's a bit of a question-mark over how accountable BBC has been to licence fee payers.' However, the vile and odious rascal Javid seemed less keen on scrapping the idea of a charter altogether, saying, 'The current structure of the royal charter is still relevant today. Anything that has big impact on the independence of the BBC should be treated very carefully. Notwithstanding that parliament's role is very important in holding BBC to account. What I would absolutely expect and certainly happen if I was Secretary of State at the time [of charter review] is once government puts forward a proposal for charter it should be debated in the house and MPs given an opportunity to share their views.' Among other issues the vile and odious rascal Javid suggested would have to be part of the charter review process were spinning off BBC Worldwide, as well as the full privatisation of the BBC TV production operation. Of the latter, he said: 'This comes back to whole issue of the size of the BBC and does it need to be doing everything it does.' The vile and odious rascal Javid said that he used to be a fan of Newsnight, now anchored by Evan Davis following the departure of Jeremy Paxman. 'It's not that it is too late, I don't find it as compelling viewing as it was before,' he said. 'Maybe it has something to do with when one of the presenters left or something.' However, the vile and odious rascal Javid revealed himself to be a Doctor Who fan, telling MPs it was the one BBC show he 'never missed.' Though, with friends like the vile and odious rascal Javid, who needs enemies?
A police raid at the home of veteran pop star Sir Cliff Richard has been described as 'inept' by a group of MPs. The home affairs select committee said South Yorkshire Police should not have tried to 'cut a deal' with a BBC reporter who approached them about the story. The committee's report looked into how the BBC obtained details in advance of the raid in Berkshire on 14 August. South Yorkshire Police claimed its actions were 'well intended' but admitted they were 'ultimately flawed.' Sir Cliff denies an alleged historical offence of sexual assault at a religious event in Sheffield in 1985. The committee said police sometimes decided to publicise the name of the subject of an investigation for operational reasons - for example, to encourage potential witnesses to come forward, but it was wrong to do so otherwise. The MPs said that when the BBC journalist approached South Yorkshire Police about the story ahead of the raid in Sunningdale, the force should have contacted senior BBC executives to explain how any premature publication could have damaged the investigation. BBC Director General Lord Hall confirmed to the committee that the broadcaster would act on such requests from chief constables, the report said. The committee said that without such an approach the BBC was 'well within its rights' to run the story - although Sir Cliff had 'suffered enormous, irreparable damage to his reputation' as a result. Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: 'South Yorkshire Police's handling of this situation was utterly inept. The force allowed itself to hand over sensitive information to a journalist and granted him privileged access to the execution of a search warrant. The e-mail exchanges could easily be mistaken for a script from The Bill. The force should have refused to co-operate and explained to senior BBC News executives why the premature broadcasting of a story, which they claimed the journalist threatened, would have prejudiced the investigation.' Vaz added: 'No British citizen should have to watch their home being raided by the police live on television. Sir Cliff Richard has suffered enormous and irreparable damage to his reputation and he is owed an apology over the way matters were handled. Police forces should consider carefully how they deal with approaches from journalists on such matters in the future. Someone in possession of sensitive information decided to leak details of the investigation to the media. We deplore this. South Yorkshire assert that the journalist stated it came from Operation Yewtree. The journalist denies this. South Yorkshire should have alerted the Metropolitan Police immediately. Their reasons for failing to do so are unsustainable.' BBC Trust chairwoman Rona Fairhead told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the matter had been 'an editorial decision.' Fairhead, speaking in her first BBC interview since taking up the position earlier this month, said: 'Clearly, I have huge sympathy for anyone, whether they are a celebrity or not, if they are known and publicised to be part of a police investigation, particularly if it doesn't lead to charges. But I have to say this is an editorial decision. It is a matter for the executive and the Home Affairs select committee did say that the BBC was entirely appropriate in making this report.' South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: 'Whilst we believe our actions in relation to dealing with the media were within policy and were well intended, they were ultimately flawed and we regret the additional anxiety which was caused to Sir Cliff Richard. South Yorkshire Police has changed the way it deals with this type of media enquiry. In high profile cases the force no longer provides privileged briefings to reporters, nor does it confirm information which media sources seek to verify.' The force said that it was 'fully co-operating with the Metropolitan Police investigation regarding the original source of information.' Sir Cliff has been has been interviewed under caution by appointment with police but has not been arrested or charged. He says the claim of an assault is 'completely false.' A BBC spokesman said: 'The committee chairman has already said that the BBC acted "perfectly properly" in handling this story, and we're pleased today's report confirms this. Our reporter said very clearly he did not reveal his sources to South Yorkshire Police. We stand by his account.' Scotland Yard said it had 'no evidence' to substantiate the claim that Operation Yewtree had been the source of the leak. 'Any suggestion or speculation that the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) may have been responsible for the leak of information to the BBC about such a sensitive and live investigation causes us grave concern,' it said in a statement. 'Officers who have responsibility for Operation Yewtree have worked for years to build trust amongst the victims of abuse, giving many of them the confidence to speak out and report offences. Over the last two years the Yewtree team has routinely handled and received a significant amount of information and intelligence that is high-profile, sensitive and newsworthy, none of which has come into the public domain. Indeed, the MPS has faced criticism from the media for not providing them with greater levels of information. If any further information comes to light that allows us to investigate this matter further we will of course do that.'

Rwanda has suspended BBC broadcasts in the Kinyarwanda language with immediate effect because of a film questioning official accounts of the 1994 genocide. The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency said that it had received complaints from the public of incitement, hatred, revisionism and genocide denial. At least eight hundred thousand ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the genocide. The BBC has denied that any part of the programme constitutes a 'denial of the genocide against the Tutsi.' On Wednesday, Rwandan MPs approved a resolution calling on the government to ban the BBC and to charge the documentary-makers with genocide denial, which is a crime in the country. Those killed in the genocide are generally believed to be mostly members of the minority ethnic Tutsi group, and Hutus opposed to the mass slaughter. The BBC programme Rwanda, The Untold Story, includes interviews with US-based researchers who say most of those killed may have been Hutus, killed by members of the then-rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, which has been in power since 1994. The programme also included interviews with former aides of RPF leader President Paul Kagame, accusing him of plotting to shoot down the presidential plane - the act seen as triggering the slaughter. He has consistently denied previous such accusations. RURA said that it had established a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations it had received about the programme, after which further action may be taken. The cabinet is meeting next week to discuss parliament's recommendations. The BBC broadcasts affected by the suspension are produced by the BBC Great Lakes service, which was initially set up in the aftermath of the genocide as a lifeline service.

Goodfellas actor Frankie Sivero has filed a lawsuit against FOX claiming The Simpsons character of Louie, a member of Springfield's Mafia, was based on his portrayal of Frankie Carbone in Martin Scorsese's film. That's according to legal documents made public on the Deadline website. It's twenty three years since Louie made his debut opposite the long-running cartoon's mob boss, Fat Tony in the episode Bart The Murderer (first broadcast in October 1991). But now, apparently, Sivero wants two hundred and fifty million dollars for the alleged 'infringement.' He claims that he was 'the originator of the idea and character' of Louie, as he based Goodfellas' Frankie Carbone on his own personality. In the documents, he claims that at that time, in 1989, he was living in the same apartment complex as James L Brooks, when 'they saw each other almost every day.' He also claims that he was promised a film and a part in the future of The Simpsons and that he lost money because he was 'type-cast' as a result of Louie. Like Frankie, Louie has black curly hair, but Dan Castellenata, who voiced the character, said that he based the voice on Joe Pesci. It's not the first time this year that Sivero has taken legal action after claiming his rights to the Goodfellas character were infringed. In July he filed a suit against a Californian sandwich shop, Deli Belly, because they named an Italian-style sandwich 'the Frankie Sivero' after he once ate there. As Goodfellas' Jimmy Two Times would say 'somebody get the papers, the papers'. FOX Entertainment, which makes The Simpsons, has so far not commented on the claim. Although one suspects when they do, the second word will be 'off'.

Steve Coogan has been cast in a US TV series that was to have starred the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman had been due to begin filming the lead role in Happyish at the time of his drug-related death in February. Showtime will shoot a new 'pilot' show, starring Coogan as a Briton in New York whose world is disrupted when he gets a much younger boss. Show creator Shalom Auslander said Coogan 'possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands. Steve's range is astounding,' continued the writer and producer, describing Coogan as 'a comedy legend [and] a gifted satirist.' The original Happyish pilot also featured Rhys Ifans and comedian Louis CK alongside Hoffman's character. It is not yet known whether any of the original pilot's actors will reprise their performances in the reshot version. Meanwhile, the FOX network has announced it is developing a TV series based on the Will Smith romantic comedy Hitch. Smith will executive produce the spin-off from his 2005 film, in which he played a New York 'date doctor' who assists lovelorn singletons.

FA Cup football is returning to BBC television this season after the broadcaster made a new four-year deal with BT Sport. Sixteen live matches will be broadcast on TV, while BBC Radio 5Live and local radio will broadcast live commentaries. All the goals of the competition will be available to watch on the BBC Sport website. Coverage starts this Monday 27 October with Mark Chapman presenting the first round FA Cup draw live from St George's Park. The draw will be shown on BBC2 and broadcast on 5Live at 7pm. The deal for the BBC to broadcast the competition will last until 2018. And, best of all, it keeps Adrian Chiles off my telly.

Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson has said that he has been 'cured' of the terminal pancreatic cancer with which he was diagnosed in 2012. The sixty seven-year-old was initially given ten months to live after rejecting chemotherapy, but had radical surgery to remove the tumour earlier this year. 'It was an eleven-hour operation,' Wilko said at the Q Awards in London. 'This tumour weighed three kilos - that's the size of a baby,' he continued. 'Anyway, they got it all. They cured me.' The guitarist went on his 'farewell tour' in 2013 and recorded a CD with The Who's Roger Daltrey. 'I thought that was going to be the last thing I ever did,' he told BBC News entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson after the ceremony on Wednesday. Then, at the end of last year, a doctor got in touch and said 'something strange' was going on because he was still alive. Johnson went to see a cancer specialist at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and it was discovered that he had a rare form of tumour. He then had the surgery in April. After the initial diagnosis, he was 'absolutely convinced that this thing would kill me,' Johnson said. 'I accepted it. I didn't lose a minute's sleep about that.' The musician said that he had spent a year 'calmly accepting the idea that I was going to die.' He said: 'I decided that was the way to deal with it - not to curse it or fight it or anything like that. Just try and enjoy the time left, which I'd done. In order to do that, you have to accept, yes you're going to die, which in itself was quite an experience because it gives you a whole different way of looking at things. And then for someone to come up and say "We can fix it" ... When they first said they could operate, I was thinking, "What are they saying? They may be offering me two or three more months life?" But, no they weren't, they were saying they could get rid of the tumour, and that's what they did. And it's gone. I don't have cancer. It's so weird and so strange that it's kind of hard to come to terms with it in my mind. Now, I'm spending my time gradually coming to terms with the idea that my death is not imminent, that I am going to live on.' He said that he was 'still recovering' from the operation. When asked what he would do next, he replied: 'I don't know really.' Johnson's declaration came as he accepted the Icon Award at the Grosvenor House ceremony on Wednesday. Johnson's operation also involved the removal of his pancreas, spleen part of his stomach, small and large intestines and the removal and reconstruction of blood vessels relating to the liver.

Singer Alvin Stardust has died aged seventy two after a short illness. He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and died at home with his wife and family, his manager said. Born Bernard Jewry in the East End of London in 1942, his hits included 'My Coo Ca Choo', 'Jealous Mind' and 'I Feel Like Buddy Holly'. The former rocker had been due to release his first studio CD in thirty years on 3 November. He recently announced the record, titled Alvin, was finished and would represent 'a new and exciting departure' of which he was 'immensely proud'. Stardust grew up in Mansfield and started playing guitar as a schoolboy. He met one of his biggest influences, Buddy Holly, at a gig in Doncaster in 1957 and played backstage with the singer and his band The Crickets. Bernard signed his first record deal in 1961 as the frontman of Shane Fenton & The Fentones. The Fentones were actually an unknown teenage band who recorded a demo tape and mailed it in to the BBC with the hope of being picked to appear on television. While waiting for a reply, the band's seventeen-year-old singer Shane Fenton (whose real name was Johnny Theakston) died as a result of rheumatic fever. The rest of the band (Jerry Wilcox, Mick Eyre, Bonny Oliver and Tony Hinchcliffe) decided to break-up, but then they unexpectedly received a letter from the BBC inviting them to come to London for an audition. Theakston's mother asked the band to stay together and to keep its name, in honour of her son's memory. Bernard, who was working as the band's roadie at the time, was asked to join and to use Shane Fenton as a pseudonym. The combo had a handful of minor hits in the UK over the next couple of years basing their sound on that of The Shadows: 'I'm A Moody Guy', 'Walk Away', 'It's All Over Now' and their biggest hit, 'Cindy's Birthday'. These and several subsequent less successful singles were all issues on Parlophone where The Fentones were labels-mates with The Be-Atles (who supported them at a couple of gigs on Merseyside in 1962). Jewry later also appeared in Billy Fury's movie Play It Cool. He was managed by Larry Parnes. Jewry disappeared from the spotlight for a decade after the break-up of The Fentones, working in music management and performing at small venues with his wife Iris Caldwell, the sister of Rory Storm. In 1973 he signed with Magnet Records and took on the name that would make him famous. 'It started off as Elvin Starr, because they wanted a kind of rocky, country name,' he recalled in 2010. 'But [a woman] who was doing promotion for us said it wasn't "glam-rocky" enough, so it became Stardust and then Alvin.' 'My Coo Ca Choo', the debut song under his new guise - with its trademark echoy Elvis-influenced hiccuping-style vocals - peaked at number two in the singles chart whilst the follow up, 'Jealous Mind', made number one. 'Red Dress' and 'You, You, You' were also sizeable hits. Known for his rockabilly quiff, sideburns, and black leather gloves, Alvin projected a glowering persona which he said he adopted because he was nervous and 'didn't want to be found out.' His success led to him being part of a Green Cross Code road safety campaign in 1976, which saw him instructing children to look both ways before they crossed the road ('they must be out of their tiny minds!') That success continued into the 1980s with 'Pretend', 'I Feel Like Buddy Holly' and 'I Won't Run Away' all making the top ten. Once described as 'the Godfather of British Rock 'n' Roll' by Keith Richards, Alvin made sporadic acting appearances in Hollyoaks, The Grimleys and Doctors. In 1989, he hosted his very own Sunday morning children's series on ITV called It's Stardust. He also appeared on stage in such musicals as Godspell, The Phantom of the Opera and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, in which he played the fearsome Child Catcher. Alvin was married three times. With Iris, he had two sons, Shaun and Adam. His second wife was the actress Liza Goddard, with whom he had a daughter, Sophie. Alvin went on to marry Julie Paton, an actress and choreographer, with whom he had another daughter, Millie. Shaun is now a headmaster of a school in Reigate, while his brother is a producer and DJ who records under the name Adam F. DJ Tony Blackburn remembered the singer as 'a great showman' who would be 'sorely missed. Performing was his life,' added the veteran broadcaster. 'He had this bad boy image, but he was not like that at all,' Blackburn continued. 'On stage he was brilliant, but off stage he was just an ordinary guy.' Alvin, a committed Christian, was also remembered as 'a great bloke' by his former Hollyoaks co-star Jeremy Edwards.

Jack Bruce, bassist from 1960s band Cream, has died aged seventy one, his publicist confirms. Legendary supergroup Cream, which also included Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, are considered one of the most important and influential bands in rock history. They sold thirty five million LP in just over two years and were given the first ever platinum disc for 1968's Wheels of Fire. Bruce wrote and sang many of the songs, including 'I Feel Free', 'White Room' and 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. Born in the Glasgow suburb of Bishopbriggs in 1943, Jack's parents travelled extensively in Canada and the USA and the young Bruce attended fourteen different schools. He finished his formal education at Bellahouston Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, to which he won a scholarship for cello and composition. At the same time, he was playing bass in Jim McHarg's Scotsville Jazzband to support himself. The Academy reportedly disapproved of its students playing jazz. 'They found out,' Bruce told Musician magazine. 'They said "you either stop, or leave college." So I left college.' Jack left the academy - and Scotland - at the age of sixteen and eventually found his way to London where he became a member of the influential Alexis Korner's Blues Inc, where Charlie Watts, later to join The Rolling Stones, was the drummer. He played in a number of bands throughout the early 60s, including John Mayall's Blues Breakers and Manfred Mann (it's his bassline on the worldwide hit 'Pretty Flamingo') before joining Clapton and Baker in Cream. He had previously played with Bkaer - with whom he enjoyed a tempestuous, often violent, relationship - in The Graham Bond Organisation two years earlier. Cream split in November 1968 at the height of their popularity, with Bruce feeling he had strayed too far from his ideals. They only made four LPs - Fresh Cream, the stunning Disraeli Gears, Wheels Of Fire and Goodbye - but they had a massive influence over a couple of generations both both British and American guitars bands. Cream's music included songs based on traditional blues such as 'Crossroads' and 'Spoonful' and modern blues such as 'Born Under A Bad Sign' and 'Badge', as well as more eccentric songs such as 'Strange Brew', 'Tales of Brave Ulysses' and 'Toad'. In particular, they provided a heavy yet technically proficient musical theme which foreshadowed and influenced the emergence of Led Zeppelin, The Jeff Beck Group and Black Sabbath. Bruce never again reached the commercial heights he did with Cream but his reputation as one of the best bass guitarists in the business grew throughout the subsequent decades. As a session musician he was much in demand and he turned up on many chart records (like The Scaffold's 'Lily The Pink' for one, rather ridiculous, example). Collaborative efforts with musicians, in many genres – hard rock, jazz, blues, R&B, fusion, avant-garde, world music – were a continuing theme throughout Bruce's career. Alongside these he produced a long line of highly regarded solo Lps. In contrast to his collaborative works, the solo work usually maintain a common theme: melodic songs with a complex musical structure, songs with lyrics frequently penned by Pete Brown with whom he'd worked in Cream, and a core band of world class musicians. This structure was loosened on his live solo CDs and DVDs, where extended improvisations similar to those employed by Cream in live performance were often evident. In May 2005, he reunited with his former Cream bandmates for a series of concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall. Bruce's death was announced on his official website, and confirmed by his publicist Claire Singers. She said: 'He died today at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family.' A statement from his family said: 'It is with great sadness that we, Jack's family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father and granddad and all-round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a tasty bit of Northern Soul from the archives.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week Forty Four: That Is The Land Of Lost Content

Strictly Come Dancing secured another overnight ratings victory over The X Factor on Saturday. According to overnight figures, Strictly played to an average audience of 9.16 million on BBC1 from 6.30pm, up from the previous week's average of 8.65 million. It peaked with 10.1 million viewers around 7.45pm, making it the highest-rated episode of the series so far. BBC1's evening continued with 4.6 million overnight punters for Doctor Who at 8.25pm, 3.78 million for Casualty at 9.10pm and 3.51 million for Match Of The Day at 10.30pm. Most, presumably, there solely to watch yer actual Keith Telly Topping;s beloved (though unsellable) Magpies securing their first win of the season against Leicester City. Albeit, seeing Southampton give The Mackems of Blunderland the hiding of a lifetime was, admittedly, an additional attraction. Again, with regard to Doctor Who, it's worth noting that Flatline's overnight audience, the lowest of the current series of Doctor Who by a couple of hundred thousand, is likely to rise considerably once the final, consolidated ratings are published next week, given that the series is currently averaging a timeshift of around 2.1 million viewers per episode. The episode had an AI score of eighty five, the joint highest of the series so far. On ITV, The X Factor averaged 7.38 million from 8pm, peaking with 8.07 million around the 9pm mark. The Chase was earlier watched by 3.08 million from 7pm. The returning The Jonathan Ross Show had an audience of 2.43 million at 10.20pm. A repeat of Dad's Army was, again, BBC2's highest-rated show of the evening, playing to 1.51 million at 8.30pm. It was sandwiched between Penguins: Spy In The Huddle and Simon Schama On Rembrandt: Masterpieces Of The Late Years, which scored respective ratings of eight hundred and ten thousand and seven hundred and forty thousand punters. Channel Four's evening kicked off with seven hundred and seventy thousand for Grand Designs at 8pm, while a showing of the 2011 movie Fast Five appealed to eight hundred and ten thousand). Channel Five's movie picked up slightly higher ratings, with the Sergio Leone classic spaghetti western The Good, The Bad And The Ugly airing to eight hundred and eighteen thousand. Midsomer Murders was again Saturday's most popular multichannel show, averaging eight hundred and ninety five thousand on ITV3 from 9pm.

Strictly also won the Sunday evening overnight ratings battle, gained around six hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to average 9.11 million at 7.15pm. On ITV, The X Factor dropped around two hundred thousand, falling to 8.31m at 8pm. Downton Abbey was slightly up on the previous week's episode, with 7.48m at 9pm. Earlier, Sunday Night At The Palladium attracted 3.35m at 7pm. Earlier on BBC1, Countryfile appealed to 6.05m at 6.15pm, while Antiques Roadshow brought in 5.42m at 8pm. Our Girl continued with 3.73m at 9pm and Match Of The Day 2 scored 2.35m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Human Universe was seen by 1.12m at 7pm, followed by Wonders Of The Monsoon with 1.54m at 8pm and Sacred Rivers with 1.78m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Secret History had an audience of nine hundred and eighty eight thousand at 8pm, while Homeland's latest episode was watched by 1.24m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Forbidden Kingdom brought in nine hundred and forty four thousand at 7.15pm, followed by Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with eight hundred and fifteen thousand at 9pm.

Gotham stayed above a million overnight punters for its second episode on Channel Five. The imported drama dropped just four hundred thousand from last week's launch episode to 1.35m at 9pm. Earlier, Police Interceptors brought in seven hundred and thirty seven thousand at 8pm, while Under The Dome continued with six hundred and twenty seven thousand. BBC1's Inside Out was seen by 3.50m at 7.30pm, followed by Panorama with 2.10m at 8.30pm. The New Tricks series finale was the most-watched show of the night outside soaps, bringing in 4.47m at 9pm. On BBC2, University Challenge drew 2.70m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.10m at 8.30pm. The Kitchen's latest episode brought in eight hundred and eighty thousand at 9pm, while Never Mind The Buzzcocks had nine hundred and forty nine thousand at 10pm. ITV's Grantchester continued with 4.09m at 9pm. Earlier, The Undriveables gathered 2.57m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Odious, Full of His Own Importance Jamie's Comfort Food interested 1.12m at 8pm, followed by Sarah Beeny's How To Sell Your Home with 1.14m at 8.30pm. Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody was watched by 1.63m at 9pm, while Eight Out Of Ten Cats had an audience of seven hundred and eighty eight thousand at 10pm. On FOX, The Walking Dead's latest episode attracted seven hundred and twenty one thousand viewers at 9pm.

A celebrity 'special' - and, again, this blogger uses that word quite wrongly - of Gogglebox attracted over a million viewers on a quiet Tuesday, overnight data reveals. A compilation of the Stand Up To Cancer specials was seen by 1.52m at 10pm on Channel Four. Earlier, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners brought in 1.57m at 8pm, followed by You Can't Get The Staff with 1.44m at 9pm. BBC1's DIY SOS: The Big Build topped the ratings outside soaps with 3.96m at 9pm which, in and of itself is an indication of what a poor night it was all round across the channels. Panorama interested 1.41m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Children In Need's Sewing Bee appealed to 2.05m at 8pm, followed by Brian Cox's Human Universe with 1.87m at 9pm. ITV's Champions League coverage of Moscow Chelski FC's six-nil victory over NK Maribor scored 3.13m from 7.30pm. On Channel Five, Britain's Worst Crimes had an audience of 1.03m at 8pm, followed by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation with 1.08m at 9pm.

The Apprentice held steady to top Wednesday evening's ratings according to overnight data. Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie's latest bully-boy thug firings equalled last week's average figure of 6.07 million sick voyeurs who enjoy watching people being humiliated at 9pm. BBC2's spin-off The Apprentice: You're Fired followed with 2.14m at 10pm. On BBC2, Trust Me, I'm A Doctor brought in 2.26m at 8pm, followed by Gunpowder 5/11 with 1.15m at 9pm. ITV's Surprise, Surprise returned for a new series with 3.52m at 8pm. Scott & Bailey attracted 3.84m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Supervet was seen by 1.36m at 8pm, while Grand Designs interested 1.43m at 9pm. Channel Five's Nightmare Neighbour Next Door gathered 1.10m at 8pm, followed by Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away with 1.35m at 9pm. Wentworth's latest episode appealed to five hundred and ninety nine thousand punters at 10pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week-ending Sunday 12 October 2014:-
1 The Great British Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 13.51m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 9.74m
3 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 9.66m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.32m
5 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.65m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.76m
7 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 7.11m
8 Grantchester - Mon ITV - 6.21m*
9 Lewis - Fri ITV - 6.11m*
10 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.07m*
11 Our Zoo - Wed BBC1 - 5.66m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.48m
12 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 5.33m
13 Euro 2016 Qualifier: Switzerland Versus England - Sun ITV - 5.29m
14 Our Girl - Sun BBC1 - 5.28m
15 New Tricks - Mon BBC1 - 5.21m
16 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.03m
17 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.00m
18 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.92m
19 Have I Got news For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.87m
20 Scott & Bailey - Wed ITV - 4.77m*
21 The ONE Show - Thurs BBC1 - 4.70m
22 Ten O'Clock News News - Sun BBC1 - 4.64m
23 The Pride Of Britain Awards - Tues ITV - 4.52m*
24 The Driver - Tues BBC1 - 4.50m
25 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.34m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include include HD figures. Doctor Who's consolidated figure for Mummy On The Orient Express included a timeshift above the initial 'live' audience of over two million viewers (2.04m to be exact), the seventh time in eight episodes this series that this has occurred. Do we detect a trend emerging here? Saturday evening's episode of The X Factor had a final rating of 8.31 million viewers. Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday episode drew 9.01 million. BBC2's highest rated programme of the week wasCat Watch 2014: The New Horizon experiment with 3.14m. University Challenge drew 2.74m, followed by Human Universe (2.73m), The Great British Bake Off: An extra Slice (2.32m), Qi (2.23m), Peaky Blinders (2.18m) and Only Connect (2.03m). Channel Four's top-rated show was Gogglebox (3.70m) followed by Guy Martin's Spitfire (2.43m) and Homeland (2.37m). Channel Five's best performers were Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away with 1.80m and CSI with 1.71m. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's largest rated programme with nine hundred and sixty eight thousand. The opening episode of The Code drew BBC4's biggest audience of the week (1.02m). The second episode was watched by eight hundred and eight thousand. Meanwhile, BBC Parliament's very welcome fortieth anniversary repeat of the BBC's October 1974 General Election coverage, of huge interest to social and political historians and to anyone who enjoys seeing Sue Lawley being sneering and borderline homophobic about gay-lib and telling crass Irish jokes (true story, watch it if you don't believe me) had an average of eight thousand - very discerning - viewers. Including this blogger. Obviously.

And, on that historically unfortunate bombshell, dear blog reader, here's yer next batch of Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 25 October
The award-winning screenwriter and novelist Frankie Cottrell Boyce has had a jolly interesting career, taking in everything from scripting British TV's first lesbian kiss on Brookside and his collaborations with Michael Winterbottom on several films including Twenty Four hour Party People and Welcome To Sarajevo to his acclaimed contributions to Danny Boyle's 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. But, this week, he tops all of that malarkey, writing the latest episode of Doctor Who - 8:20 BBC1. It's called In The Forest Of The Night (and, yes, the title is taken from William Blake, well spotted). The plot: One morning, the human race wakes up to find the planet has been invaded by its own trees, as overnight a forest has grown everywhere and taken back the Earth. The people are, as you might expect, stunned by this malarkey but The Doctor knows more - this bizarre stranglehold of vegetation means the final days of humanity have finally arrived. Yer actual Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman her very self and Sam Anderson star.
For the fourth time in four weeks Qi XL has found its broadcast time shifted - this week, it's being shown at 9:00 on BBC2. Does anyone get the idea that somebody within the BBC scheduling department really doesn't seem to want anyone watching the extended editions of the popular intelligence quiz? If you can come up with an alternative theory, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping would love to hear it. Anyway, yer actual national treasure Stephen Fry his very self continues his exploration of a variety of subjects beginning with the letter L, in this episode asking a range of fiendish questions about Levity, Levitation and Lights. The Last Leg co-host Josh Widdicombe joins yer actual Sue Perkins, Frank Skinner his very self and regular panellist Alan Davies. Given that Frank is such a big Doctor Who fan, of course, one imagines there'll be a right old kerfuffle going on in the Skinner household due to a five minute overlap a'tween the two shows.

Tom Hollander stars in the title role in Dylan Thomas: A Poet in New York - 9:45 BBC2 - charting the poet's final days, isn't it? In 1953 Dylan Thomas went to New York for the last time, his marriage a wreck and his drinking out of control, there's lovely. He was on his way to meet Stravinsky and to bask in New York acclaim - but what was he escaping and how did the intended triumph become a requiem? Essie Davis, Phoebe Fox and Ewen Bremner co-star. Andrew Davies's drama appears to be a standard TV biopic of a great but troubled artist, a portrait of the last months of Thomas's life. Meanwhile, his devoted women – wife Caitlin, with whom Thomas had a volcanic relationship, and young American lover Liz – can do little as he suffers for his art.
Ned and Jesse are forced into making an impossible choice - Hani's life in exchange for technology capable of wiping entire cities from the face of the Earth in The Code - 9:00 BBC4. That's followed by the final episode of the Australian conspiracy thriller in which Ned and Jesse face the prospect of their fates being sealed and their story repackaged, leaving the truth beneath the radar - unless they take immediate action. Starring Dan Spielman, Ashley Zukerman and Adele Perovic.
Drama's repeat run of Waking The Dead continues - 9:00 - with another twenty four carat classic, End Game. Old adversary Linda Cummings the completely mad murderess (Ruth Gemmell) taunts Peter Boyd from inside a secure psychiatric hospital, leading the team to discover more murder victims within its confines. As his frustrations rise, Boyd needs help from Grace - but she has been mysteriously forced to take time away from the Cold Case Squad and handed the investigation over to an eminent psychologist who is an expert on Cummings. Guest starring Gina McKee and Alexander Siddiq.

Sunday 26 October
What (or who) killed Tutankhamun? Ever since the tomb of the boy king was discovered in 1922, he has become arguably the most famous pharaoh of all ancient Egypt. But his mysterious death at just nineteen years of age has never been explained. Now, in Tutankhamun: The Truth Uncovered - 9:00 BBc1 - Dallas Campbell reveals new scientific research aimed at getting to the truth. A CT scan of the pharaoh's mummified body creates a full-size image of the real Tutankhamun, while DNA analysis uncovers a shocking secret about his family background - and the genetic trail leads to a revolutionary new theory about his sudden and unexpected death/
Eight years ago, the British Army arrived in Helmand in Afghanistan, confident they could keep the peace, defeat the Taliban and rebuild the impoverished province. Now the troops are leaving, with hundreds having given their lives. The two-part documentary Afghanistan: The Lion's Last Roar? - 9:00 BBC2 - tells the story of the conflict in Afghanistan, beginning with how initial miscalculation led to near catastrophe shortly after the troops arrived.

How ironic that, whilst the reality of Afghanistan is being shown on BBC2, on Channel Four we've got the Hollywood version. Someone's havin' a laugh, clearly. Carrie makes a delicate alliance with her counterpart at Pakistan's secretive Inter-Services Intelligence, and intervenes when Fara fails to recruit a key asset in the latest episode of Homeland - 9:00. Elsewhere, Quinn is still reeling from events in Islamabad, and zeroes in on a potential lead.
With a second series on the horizon, BBC2 offers a timely late-night repeat of the acclaimed first run of The Fall - 10:30. Gillian Anderson is great - I mean proper, award-winning, 'now I remember why I had such a crush on her twenty years ago' great - as a Detective Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police who arrives in Belfast to review the investigation into the murder of a young woman. Running parallel is the story of a killer, possibly the killer (Jamie Dornan, playing brilliantly against type). He's a quiet obsessive, a man who stalks, who watches and who waits. He is also a man with many secrets from many people, and he is surprising, not just a blank-eyed, strangle-happy deviant. The Fall, like its two protagonists, is tightly controlled and very deliberate. Scary, too. When a murder in Belfast remains unsolved, DS Stella Gibson is brought in from the London Metropolitan Police to help catch the culprit. She finds similarities to a case from eighteen months previously and becomes convinced there is a serial killer on the loose, but her superiors are unwilling to make the same connection. Followed immediately afterwards by episode two which includes an opening ten minutes that is one of the most disturbing - and incredible - piece of any TV drama ever made. If you missed this first time around, don't make the same mistake twice.

Monday 27 October
Former LAPD cop Jack Whelan (the always excellent John Simm) finds the quiet idyllic life he has crafted with his wife Amy (Mira Sorvino) shattered when she vanishes in the oepning episode of The Intruders - 9:00 BBC2. Troubled by a violent history, Jack is drawn deeper into the mystery when his high-school friend knocks on his door asking for help with a murder inquiry. The more Jack uncovers, the further down the dark path of his own past he is drawn, and he soon crosses paths with a secret society know as Qui Reverti. Supernatural drama thriller, also starring Tory Kittles. Followed by the second episode in which Jack faces cryptic encounters in Seattle. Looks very interesting.
Sidney is woken in the early hours by a fire in the village and, putting his life on the line, races to rescue Marion Taylor from the burning house, much to the relief of her husband Dominic in Grantchester - 9:00 ITV. But there are questions surrounding the blaze - was it really an accident, and why was Marion so reluctant to leave? Normally Sidney would turn to Geordie to help solve a mystery like this, but he finds the detective is far from his usual self. When Dominic is then found stabbed to death, it's Geordie's junior, Atkins, who is sent to head up the case - and he's not exactly a fan of interfering vicars.
A corrupt businessman, released on police bail, instructs his lawyers to bribe his way out of trouble using the proceeds of his illicit activities in the third episode of Gotham - 9:00 Channel Five. Later, a masked balloon seller snaps a handcuff on him and he floats skywards to his death. Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock try to track down the vigilante, while Selina attempts to escape, and Oswald Cobblepot returns to Gotham. Thriller based the characters from the Batman comics, starring Donal Logue, Ben McKenzie and Camren Bicondova.

The divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell hosts as a trio of politics enthusiasts - for there are, indeed, some people who don't regard the lot of them as a bunch of scum who should be shovelled into the gutter along with all the other shit - take on three people associated with Oxford University in the general knowledge quiz Only Connect - 8:30 BBC2. Both sets of contestants lost in their first appearance, but now have a second chance to remain in the tournament. They must use patience, lateral thinking and sheer inspiration to make connections between four things that may appear at first not to be linked, with one set of clues consisting of Diamond Sutra, Berlin Bronzes, the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. They were all nicked by the British Museum would seem to be the answer.
Yer actual Bradley Walsh ('leave it!') hosts this year's The Crime Thriller Awards ceremony - 9:00 ITV3 - from London's Grosvenor House Hotel, featuring eleven awards honouring TV, books and film. Star names attending the event include Sarah Lancashire, Stanley Tucci, Philip Glenister, James Norton, Amanda Abbington, Keeley Hawes, Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss, Anna Maxwell Martin, Julie Graham, Stephen Tompkinson and Fay Ripley.

Tuesday 28 October
A family holiday to France ends in tragedy when a couple's five-year-old son is abducted, and although a large manhunt is launched, headed up by one of the country's finest detectives, it seems the odds of finding the youngster are against them in the opening episode of The Missing - 9:00 BBc1. Eight years later, when the fallout has driven the couple apart, the father returns to the original scene to continue the search for his son. He has a shred of new evidence - but will the original lead detective be willing to take up the case again? Drama, starring James Nesbitt, Frances O'Connor, Tcheky Karyo and Jason Flemyng.
On a trip to the fortified Moroccan village of Ait-Ben-Haddou in the Atlas Mountains, Professor Brian Cox (no, the other one) reveals how by watching the stars' motion across the night sky, it is quite natural for man to think he is at the centre of everything in the latest episode of Human Universe - 8:00 BBC2. That view was held for many ages, but innate human curiosity has eventually led to an understanding of mankind's true place in space and time, and an appreciation that Earth is not a focal point but a mere particle of rock in a possibly infinite expanse of space, 13.8 billion years from the beginning of the universe.
Crime Scene Investigator Barry Allen is obsessed with solving the mystery of his mother's murder, a crime for which his father is currently serving time in the opening episode of The Flash - 9:00 Sky1. His interest is also piqued when a couple of his nerdy colleagues come up with a cutting-edge particle accelerator that should offer massive advances in power and medicine. But when the grand unveiling is interrupted by a freak weather storm and Barry is struck by lightning, he ends up spending nine months in a coma - only to wake up feeling much speedier than ever before. Grant Gustin stars as the DC Comics superhero a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping as it happens - with Candice Patton and Rick Cosnett. There has, of course, been a previous attempt to bring The Flash to the screen in the early 1990s which, aside from featuring a few novel casting ideas (David Cassidy as The Trickster and Mark Hammell as The Mirror Master, for example) didn't have much going for it. Hopefully, this one will be a bit better.

And, speaking of CSIs, a twenty five-year-old mystery involving the theft of cash and the death of one of the robbers from gunshot wounds is rekindled when officers discover the bullet-riddled body of one of the witnesses in a location remarkably close to where the original incident occurred in the series finale of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - 9:00 Channel Five. As neither the money nor a lion figurine that was also taken that day were ever recovered, locals become convinced of a connection, and a former detective - obsessed by the case - also makes his presence felt. Elsewhere, Captain Brass handles a personal crisis after his daughter takes an overdose. Treat Williams guest stars, with Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue and Paul Guilfoyle.
Alan Yentob returns with a new series of Imagine films - 10:35 BBc1 - beginning with a two-part special shedding new light on the Third Reich's campaign against modern art. It begins with the discovery of a treasure trove of paintings in the flat of reclusive old man Cornelius Gurlitt, hidden since the Third Reich, and belonging to his father Hildebrand Gurlitt, art dealer to the Nazis. These were pieces that Hitler considered 'sickly and degenerate' - similar to his opinion of the Jews - and as such, he tried to rid Germany of both. But he reckoned without a secret world of collectors determined to save the works.

Wednesday 29 October
Doctor Alice Roberts, the Goddess of Punk archaeology - finds out what spiders get up to in people's homes, overcoming her own arachnophobia (or, indeed, her fear of any Middle Eastern state) to enter a house where an astonishing drama unfolds within its walls in Spider House - 9:00 BBC4. She meets entomologist Tim Cockerill, who loves spiders and immerses her in the wonders of web-building and the secrets of fly-catching. Alice then faces the ultimate challenge - to spend the night alone with her eight-legged foes. Remember, if you're having a bath tonight, they're watching you through the overflow ... I'm just sayin'.
Allie introduces her virtual baby project, allowing the pupils to get a taste of parenthood, although Darren can't understand why Rhiannon seems to be taking it so seriously in the latest Waterloo Road - 8:00 BBc1. A penniless Carol hits upon a money-spinning idea by faking an injury in the home economics class, making Maggie fear for her job. Will Vaughan see through her scheming ways? Justin's anger issues reach crisis point after one too many confrontations with Allie, leaving a furious Vaughan (the terrific Neil Pearson) determined his son should face the consequences of his actions.

The discovery of slaves on the Pritchard farm has turned a murder inquiry into a multi-agency operation in the series finale of Scott & Bailey - 9:00 ITV. The enormity of the case brings Dodson to Syndicate Nine, keen to establish Gill's state of mind and efficacy as senior officer. Having been the driver involved in the fatal collision with Cal Pritchard, Janet is under investigation and unable to interview the man's widow Evie. Devastated by the consequences of her actions, the detective eventually finds solace in Chris's calm and kind reasoning, but when an incandescent Evie smells alcohol on Gill's breath, she has all the ammunition she needs to discredit the case and bring the DCI down.
With electronic cigarettes increasing in popularity, presenter Michael Mosley considers whether they are safe to use in Trust Me, I'm A Doctor - 9:00 BBC2. The benefits of caffeine in helping people stay alert are also explored, as well as alternatives to the chemical. Chris van Tulleken investigates whether household chores can legitimately count as exercise, while Saleyha Ahsan offers first aid tips to treat someone suffering from hypothermia. Plus, Gabriel Weston witnesses life-saving surgery that involves removing all the blood from a patient's body. Last in the series.

Thursday 30 October
Peter Powell presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast on 25 October 1979. Featuring performances by The Specials, Viola Wills, turgid pomp-rockers Queen, Cats UK, The Charlie Daniels Band, Dr Hook, Iris Williams, The Dooleys, Janet Brown, Errol Dunlkey and Lena Martell - oh Christ, how long was 'One Day At A Time' at number one for? Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.

David Attenborough details the transition animals go through as they grow up into the adult world in Life Story - 9:00 BBC1. Looking at examples including a tiger cub whose family is under threat, a vulnerable veined octopus and a pair of sibling cheetahs guarding against starvation, the veteran naturalist illustrates how they develop new skills and learn how to survive on their own.
Tommy's power base in London is obliterated and Arthur and Michael are imprisoned as Major Campbell makes his influence felt in Peaky Blinders - 9:00 BBC2. Distraught at the prospect of losing her son to a lengthy spell in prison, Polly compromises herself to secure Michael's freedom. However, her actions risk damaging already fragile relationships. While attempting to regain the upper hand, Tommy is paid a visit by someone from his past. Old wounds are reopened and he finds himself having to make an impossible decision. Starring Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill.

The second of a two-part documentary Inside Holloway - 10:00 Channel Five - exploring the history of the prison and its inmates examines the period from 1948 to the present day. Ruth Ellis was the last woman to he hanged in Britain in 1955, while child-killer Myra Hindley later hatched an escape plan with a prison warden with whom she had fallen in love in a sick and tawdry tale of manipulation. The programme also takes a look at other notable inmates during the 1970s, including Joyce McKinney and Cynthia Payne, who were accused of sex offences and later became tabloid sensations. In the 1980s, affluent middle-class protestors from the Greenham Common RAF base were held at a time when physical conditions were nearing rock bottom. The past twenty years have seen an era of greater emphasis on prisoner therapies, as opposed to brutal punishments. Though it's still not unheard of for a lasses to shit in their own pants when they get sentenced to a tasty stretch of Richard III in the gaff.

Friday 31 October
Former Homeland star Damian Lewis chairs Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - with regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, joined by comedienne Roisin Conaty and writer-director Andy Hamilton, poking fun at the stories of the past seven days. Meanwhile, in Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - Stephen Fry continues the comedy panel quiz's exploration of subjects beginning with the letter L as he asks a range of fiendish questions about Lenses, Lungs and Legs. Josh Widdicombe, Jo Brand and Phill Jupitus join Stephen and Alan Davies for larks and that.
The team's abilities are sorely tested as the investigation continues into the murders of American classics student Rose and her lover in Lewis - 9:00 ITV. As Maddox hunts for drug dealer Harrison Sax, Hathaway is convinced the key to cracking the case lies in the stars and, desperate for answers, finds himself turning to one of the chief suspects for guidance. Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman, Rebecca front and Angela Griffin star in the detective drama.
Actor Larry Lamb reveals how the Roman Empire became the dominant power in the Mediterranean in Rome: The World's First Superpower - 9:00 Vhannel Five. Beginning his quest at the Roma Termini train station in central Rome, he learns how the city was attacked by the Gauls in the Battle of the Allia, fought roughly four hundred years BC. This three-year conflict inflicted great losses and damage, and left the Romans believing that attack was the best form of defence.

Environmental activists rocket to the top of the most-wanted list when the task force discovers the group is trying to gain possession of a highly destructive weapon in the latest episode of The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Living. Cooper sends Liz and Ressler to thwart the eco-terrorists' political stunt, which in turn gives Liz the chance to escape an overbearing acquaintance. Meanwhile, master manipulator Red tricks a loved one to get what he wants. Also, the discerning viewer is advised to watch out for a bit of almost-naughty nudity (well, as close as you're likely to get from US network TV, anyway).
In Secrets From The Sky - 8:00 ITV - Ben Robinson and Bettany Hughes visit Stonehenge, hoping to shed light on the purpose behind its construction. Robinson's images from the air reveal that the landscape is the product of thousands of years of worship, celebration and remembrance of the dead, while on the ground, Bettany builds a picture of how superstition and belief inspired people to redesign the world around them, and how modern perceptions of the role of the ancient monument are still changing.
And, for to the news: For a television audience to be prepared to journey into a parent's bleakest nightmare, they need to feel in safe hands. On 28 October, the actor James Nesbitt will attempt to take viewers to a very dark place with the launch of the BBC1 drama series The Missing, an eight-part thriller which tells the story of the disappearance of a young child on a family holiday. Nesbitt, who said the role had been 'the most involving' he had taken on since the film Bloody Sunday, told the Observer that the team behind The Missing have 'earned the opportunity' to confront people with such a difficult story because of the care taken to be truthful. The actor, who recently starred as Bofur in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, said that, although British television drama has become 'obsessed with crime and violence', The Missing can be defended as a properly considered, human tale. 'We are becoming inured to the horror in a lot of these shows, so whether it will be too much for viewers is an interesting question. I believe if these stories are told truthfully, then audiences are prepared to go there. But not if they are told exploitatively,' he said. Nesbitt, who also returns to TV screens next month as police commissioner Richard Miller in Channel Four's satirical drama Babylon, said that in The Missing he had immersed himself in the role of grieving father Tony Hughes, going so far as to pin police reports and photographs to the walls of the room he stayed in during filming in Belgium. 'Perhaps our imagination needs crime stories to fulfil some craving we have, as a way to assuage a darkness in ourselves,' he said. Although the BBC drama is not based directly on recent events, the plot of The Missing does have some echoes of real-life cases such as that of Madeleine McCann. 'Whatever the BBC and the writers say, there are going to be parallels there in cases we have all heard about. It takes you right back here. And it does make you want to hug your own children to you,' said Nesbitt. As the drama unfolds, jumping between dual time frames, the fragility of family happiness becomes a strong theme. 'It is not a conscious plan, but behind all these dramas the notion that we should not be taking things for granted is out there I am sure,' said Nesbitt, adding that good drama, while a commercial entertainment, still has the ability to show viewers the best and the worst human qualities. 'It is a pretty truthful bit of writing and I think that is why people will go with it. It shows the ramifications for other people of something like that happening.' Nesbitt, who has spoken in the past about his own struggle to keep family life going – he reportedly separated last year from Sonia Forbes-Adam, his wife of nineteen years – also said that he has asked himself whether he chooses roles that suit his own state of mind. 'My stock answer is that I am always led to a part by good writing, but as I get older and I get more into self-examination I wonder if I pick things to reflect where I am. Not as escapism, but I will play a role that gives me an opportunity to face things or talk about things that I am too much in denial about in my own life,' he said. As the father of two daughters, Nesbitt added that he had hoped that being a parent might help him with The Missing. 'I had thought I would be able to draw on that to locate the character, but I wasn't able to get myself to think about it directly. It was better in the end to concentrate on finding Tony and then I wasn't having to imagine losing one of my daughters. For me, the experience of this role was most akin to the one I had making Bloody Sunday.' The series was written by Harry and Jack Williams, the two sons of novelist and dramatist Nigel Williams, and was directed by Tom Shankland. 'The writing is sometimes simple, but very compelling, and part of what works is also the unusual fact of having one director all the way through. That's not done often at all. And without sounding too actorish, I hope, it made it feel a little like doing a play in that we were all working together throughout. I also felt I got to know and like my character, with all his faults, and so I felt there was a responsibility towards him, too.' Filming in Brussels allowed the cast and crew to focus on the story, he said. 'It meant we were all disconnected from our own lives, and that reflected the story, too, where a man is dealing with a system he doesn't understand and where he does not speak the language.' Living in an apartment, rather than the hotel where his character stays, Nesbitt surrounded himself with suggestive props. 'I did put all the things on the walls that Tony would have had there, including police reports. It was a great privilege to have that time to put into a role. Getting any work is amazing, but something which is actually a challenge really is.' After two years filming with Jackson in New Zealand, the actor said that he feels he has re-entered the real world. 'Coming to a part like this now, it is a very good reminder of what a realistic drama can be and why you do it. The Missing takes its audiences very seriously and realises there are plenty of good dramas out there. I just hope people watch it.' His appearance in starring roles on two channels this autumn will be exposing, Nesbitt knows. 'I hope people don't just think "oh, Jesus,"' he said, adding that he suspects the new series of Babylon, written by Peep Show authors Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, is 'even stronger' than the pilot episode shown in February. 'It has found itself. It is a brilliant look at the world of policing when everywhere they go there are either TV cameras or phones filming them. It gets at both the difficulty of all that and the sexiness of it, for want of a better word.' He is, he expects, already an over-familiar face for some viewers. 'Most people seem to know who I am and when I meet someone who doesn't know me, it is a relief, but also quite annoying, if I am honest. The main thing is though that I don’t want to have regrets about the way I play a character.'
Disgraced and disgraceful naughty old scallywag and convicted groper Dave Lee Travis’s three-month suspended sentence for indecent assault will not be referred to the court of appeal, the Attorney General has said. Jeremy Wright QC found that the sixty nine-year-old criminal's sentence for indecently assaulting a TV researcher on The Mrs Merton Show in 1995 was 'neither wrong in principle nor unduly lenient.' Convicted groper Travis was found very guilty at London's Southwark crown court and sentenced by Judge Anthony Leonard last month. A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said: 'The judge marked the seriousness of the offence by imposing a three-month sentence of imprisonment, the maximum under the guidelines being six months. It was neither wrong in principle nor unduly lenient to suspend that sentence.' The case was considered for referral to the court of appeal after four members of the public contacted the Attorney General's office to complain about the sentence. Convicted groper Travis's trial heard that the former Top Of The Pops presenter, who became a household name in the 1970s as the self-styled 'hairy cornflake', got a 'weird sexual thrill' when he indecently assaulted the woman, who is now a successful TV personality, in 1995. He cornered her in the corridor of a BBC television studio where she was smoking and commented about her 'poor little lungs' before squeezing her breasts for ten to fifteen seconds. Travis was found not guilty on a second indecent assault charge and the jury was discharged after it was unable to agree a verdict on a count of sexual assault. He faced a retrial after jurors failed to reach verdicts on those two charges earlier this year. He was cleared of twelve additional counts of indecent assault at his original trial in February.
The Commons committee on standards is being pressed to decide what action parliament should take against three leading News International executives alleged to have misled the culture select committee about their knowledge of phone-hacking. The request by the culture select committee last week is a test case for parliament on how it will respond if witnesses are judged to have knowingly misled a parliamentary inquiry. The committee in May 2012 found that three executives - Les Hinton, Tom Crone and Colin Myler - and News International itself had misled the committee by giving false or misleading evidence, findings broadly denied by those concerned. The report by the select committee was endorsed by the Commons in May 2012. MPs decided, without a vote and after a short debate, to refer the committee report to the commons standards and privileges committee. That committee has said it will look at the possibility of 'admonishing' the witnesses. The 2012 select committee report found that Hinton, the former News International chief executive, 'misled the committee in 2009 in not telling the truth about payments to [the jailed former Scum of the World royal editor] Clive Goodman and his role in authorising them, including the payment of his legal fee.' It also found that Crone, the company's former legal affairs manager, 'misled the committee in 2009 by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the [Professional Footballers' Association chief executive] Gordon Taylor settlement … and sought to mislead the committee about the commissioning of surveillance.' Crone and the former Scum of the World editor Colin Myler weresaidto have 'misled the committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing.' The Scum of the World and News International 'corporately misled the committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking.' It was agreed no action against the three should be taken pending decisions by the courts whether to pursue further criminal charges against them. In July 2012 the standards committee agreed to seek written evidence from the News International executives pending the start of oral evidence sessions in which the accused would be entitled to be legally represented. Most of the evidence sessions would be heard in public. The committee also agreed a procedure by which those charged with potential contempt could hear the potential charges against them. The standard of proof would be the same as set during a case against an MP or peer. It was agreed that no hearing should go ahead if the DPP said it might prejudice a pending criminal inquiry. The Crown Prosecution Service announced at the beginning of this month that it was to take no action against Crone on potential charges to hack phones and pervert the course of justice. 'It has been agreed for years that the punishment for misleading a parliamentary inquiry and so committing a contempt requires updating. In theory both Houses can summon a person to the bar of the House to reprimand them or order a person's imprisonment.' The last time a non-member was reprimanded at the bar of the House was in 1957, when the editor of the Sunday Express, John Junor, was 'rebuked' for remarks he had printed about MPs and petrol rationing in the aftermath of the Suez crisis. Erskine May states witnesses who have prevaricated, given false evidence, wilfully suppressed the truth or persistently misled a committee have been considered guilty of contempt of parliament. The recent inquiry by the joint select committee on parliamentary privilege warned against imposing a fine against someone found guilty of misleading parliament, fearing this might require the civil courts to pursue the individual for the fine. Many MPs are reluctant to allow the civil courts to intervene in the activities of parliament. Bernard Jenkin, the chair of the public administration select committee suggested it 'might be necessary' for the standards committee to give any individuals alleged to have misled a select committee a chance to defend themselves in front of an independent body, probably with some of the evidence being heard in public. He added it was also possible the reputational damage to a businessman found to have misled parliament would be sufficiently damaging that it might not be necessary to impose a fine.

The actress and presenter Lynda Bellingham, has died at the age of sixty sixfrom cancer. Her agent, Sue Latimer, said she died on Sunday, 'in her husband's arms'. The actress, best known for her long-running role as the mother in a series of Oxo TV adverts, had been battling colon cancer since being diagnosed in July 2013. Bellingham said that she had planned to end her treatment to limit her family's suffering after it spread to her lungs and liver. In a statement on behalf of Bellingham's family, Latimer said: 'Lynda died peacefully in her husband's arms yesterday at a London hospital.' She added: 'Actor, writer and presenter - to the end Lynda was a consummate professional.' A regular in recent years as a co-host of daytime chat show Loose Women, Bellingham became a household name during the 1980s as the mother in the popular series of Oxo adverts, a role she was to play for some sixteen years between 1983 and 1999. Before her 'gravy fame', the actress had appeared in a number of series, including General Hospital, Z Cars, The Fenn Street Gang, The Sweeney, Billy Liar, The Fuzz, The Pink Medicine Show, The Professionals, Shoestring, Blakes 7 Filthy, Rich & Catflap and Angels. Later, she took on the role of James Herriot's wife Helen in the revived series All Creatures Great And Small and was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1993. For Doctor Who fans, she became a regular in 1986 series The Trial Of A Time Lord playing The Inquisitor, The Doctor's 'judge'. In 2007 she appeared on the BBC's celebrity talent show Strictly Come Dancing. Several tours in the play Calendar Girls followed from 2008, but plans to appear in A Passionate Woman in 2013 were cancelled owing to the diagnosis of her illness. She also presented her own cookery series My Tasty Travels and most recently Country House Sunday. Lynda's husband, Michael Pattemore, told Yours magazine, for which his late wife was a regular columnist, that she had been unable to die at home as she had hoped. 'She was in too much pain and they didn't have it under control enough for me to be able to look after her,' he said. He told the magazine: 'I just want her to be remembered as an actress more than anything, not as a celebrity or one of the Loose Women. She started her career as an actress and never thought of herself as a celebrity - she's always been an actress.' Speaking earlier this month, Bellingham said her decision to give up chemotherapy was 'a huge relief because I took back some control of myself.' The first twenty minutes of Monday's Loose Women was dedicated to the show's former co-host. 'The mood is very different in the studio today,' host Ruth Langsford said. 'It's a very sad day for us here on Loose Women ... but we want this to be a celebration of Lynda.' A final interview with Bellingham, which was recorded a few weeks ago, will be broadcast on Wednesday. During an emotional appearance on the show recently, the actress told viewers: 'Grasp it all, don't be afraid, enjoy the bits you can and tell your family you love them while you have the chance.' After her death was announced, Christopher Timothy, who starred opposite Bellingham in All Creatures Great and Small, described her as 'a real friend. She was a life force. She was funny, she was loyal, talented and a great mum,' he told the BBC. 'On set, she was "one of the boys" really - she was naughty and funny. We've all been expecting it, but it is so unjust she didn't make her last Christmas as was her intention.' Michael Redfern, who played Bellingham's TV husband in the Oxo commercials, said 'everyone liked her. I think she was just normal, I think that's all it was,' he said. 'She was like the lady next door, the wife, your mother. She had everything, just a very open person.' Lynda was born in Montreal, Canada, but grew up near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire after being adopted. She studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. The actress, who had two sons and was married three times, was awarded an OBE in 2013 for her charity work.

BBC boss Danny Cohen has dismissed claims that Children In Need is holding back on eighty seven million quid in funds. And, how jolly nice it is, just for once, to see someone in a position of authority at the Beeb actually stand-up for the corporation, showing a bit of backbone and telling those who would do the BBC down to, basically, go fuck themselves. Bravo, Danny. More of this, please. Cohen was responding to 'reports'- not from anyone that you'd actually trust as far as you could spit, frankly - that the annual charity drive was 'not using a large amount of donations' from its investment portfolio. Writing in an official blog post, Cohen explained how the charity handles its donations, while insisting that' vulnerable children will suffer' if people stopped sending money each year. 'I have read with deep dismay this week's headlines about Children In Need,' he wrote. 'Accusations have been made that the charity is sitting on a large cash pile whilst asking the British public to donate more. The implication is that Children In Need is both not spending its money wisely and doesn't actually need further public donations anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking a piece of superficial detail, in isolation, and without the supporting facts, doesn't explain what is going on. It misleads. The truth here is simple and straightforward. Children In Need does indeed have money in the bank - this is because it often provides grants to charities, community centres, hospices, youth groups, counsellors and many others as a three-year commitment. This allows the heroes who run these places to properly plan ahead in a world of tightening austerity.' Cohen, who opened his blog by highlighting a school in North London which benefits from Children In Need grants, continued: 'Like most responsible charities, Children In Need does not hand over these multi-year grants in one lump sum at the beginning of the period. 'Instead, the money is released over time so that the charity can monitor the work being done and feel confident that every penny the public has donated is being spent wisely and with the greatest possible impact on the lives of young people. This is a responsible, prudent way of managing charitable donations and explains why BBC Children In Need holds the cash it has. The charity needs the money to fund the commitments it has made to thousands of organisations throughout the UK.' Cohen concluded that the BBC will not miss out if the charity folded, but rather young children in difficult situations. 'Understanding this basic and responsible accounting drives a juggernaut through these irresponsible accusations that risk having the most insidious of consequences. If members of the public choose not to give to Children In Need as generously as they have in previous years, the people who will suffer will be vulnerable children living troubled lives. The victim will not be the BBC. It will be those children. This is an untenable prospect. I hope everyone will get behind Children In Need – just as they have always done - to support this year's appeal and make it the most successful ever. The children and teachers at that school in North London, and many others, would appreciate it.'
A fire alarm interrupted the broadcast of ITV's Lorraine on Monday morning. Presenter Lorraine Kelly apologised to viewers as the siren sounded and everyone in the London Studios - including herself - evacuated the building. Sadly, they all came back later.

The Wright Stuff has been cleared by Ofcom after offensive language was broadcast. The Channel Five talk show, presented by Matthew Wright, 'came under fire' (albeit, again, not from anyone that actually matters) following a caller's foul-mouthed outburst on an episode broadcast on August 19 this year. The caller, who was identified as 'Jason', was put through to speak to Wright live on-air. The pair were discussing how Jason had become 'close' to his wife's best friend. At one point, Jason explained: ' ... And then I fucked her in the pussy.' Wright, initially, did not appear to hear the comment and asked Jason to repeat the phrase. Which he, gleefully, did. Jason's call was immediately terminated and Wright grovelled: 'I've had this wonderful run of good luck with callers, going on for years, and you've just spoilt if for me. What an idiot, what a moron, go off to ITV with your friends.' Oooo. Get her. In response to Ofcom's concerns, Channel Five stated that The Wright Stuff follows 'a strict protocol' when choosing viewers to put to air and that 'this case was no different.' They also explained that 'Jason' was 'made aware' that he should not use any offensive language or swear, which he chose to ignore. Ofcom's decision, published in its Broadcast Bulletin, stated: 'It was unfortunate in this case that the caller was given an opportunity to repeat the highly offensive phrase on-air before he was cut off, and that the incident was not followed by an immediate apology (although Mr Wright did apologise to viewers approximately one minute later). Nonetheless we noted Channel Five's representations in which the Licensee set out its formal procedure for vetting all callers to The Wright Stuff before they are allowed on-air. This includes a researcher warning every caller not to use offensive language. Channel Five said it had followed the procedure in this case.'

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 1 broke broadcasting guidelines when Lily Allen and Ed Sheeran swore on air at the Big Weekend festival, Ofcom has said. Allen swore six times during her performance at the station's event in Glasgow in May, which went out live between 17:30 and 18:00. Presenter Scott Mills warned listeners that the sets 'may contain strong language.' But Ofcom - who, let us remember, are a politically appointed quango, elected by no one - ruled the 'offensive' language was broadcast when 'children were particularly likely to be listening.' The BBC said that there was an immediate apology after the broadcast. It explained a 'comprehensive risk assessment' had been carried out and that singers were told not to swear in writing and on signs in their dressing rooms. Ofcom noted that Sheeran swore during one of his songs at 18:45. It added that, as Allen was known to use strong language, 'it was reasonably predictable that her set could contain the most offensive language.' Before Allen came on stage, Mills issued the warning: 'Now don't forget this set may contain some strong language, it is live on Radio 1's Big Weekend. We're about to see Lily Allen. If you're easily offended please go to the website and check out some other performance.' The BBC explained that it had 'considered' cutting away from Allen's set twice, but a senior producer decided to continue because apologies had been given and it was believed that 'not many' children would be listening. It also stated that, in retrospect, Radio 1 should have stopped broadcasting Allen's set live after the second song which contained offensive language and edited the rest of her performance. The watchdog received two complaints specifically about Allen's swearing and another about offensive language across the whole weekend. Ofcom said that as Radio 1 was 'both the event promoter and broadcaster' of Big Weekend, it had 'a lot of control' over the scheduling of performances. The watchdog pointed to a previous incident in 2011 when members of The Black Eyed Peas swore during a live performance at the same event. Radio 1 was warned at the time that it should 'take steps' to avoid strong language during live performances. Ofcom said the station 'should have been more aware of this risk' in light of the previous incident. Meanwhile, in its findings, the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee concluded that the live output on Radio 1 and online was 'a serious breach' of the editorial guidelines for harm and offence. A BBC spokesperson said: 'We note the findings of Ofcom and the Trust; we have examined our procedures and tightened them accordingly.'

And, we end the latest bloggerisationisms with a couple of personal bits and bobs. Monday of this week was, dear blog reader, the first time that yer actual Keith Telly Topping had been in the pool since last Wednesday - for variety of reasons. And, yer actual only went and done a new Briths, European and Commonwealth All Comers PB, didn't he?
Tuesday's Stately Telly Topping Manor recipe of the day for us dinner was for Chicken Tikka Masala with basmati rice. This included, fairly obviously chicken, rice, masala sauce plus wild mushrooms, spring onions, shallots, red onions, red peppers, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, honey and various spices (cayenne, turmeric, paprika, coriander, cumin, rosemary, ground black peppercorn and chilli powder). Method: First, boil the rice. Second, cook everything else in a big fuck-off pot until it's hot. Third, put it on a plate and, you know, eat the bugger. This was the latest episode of Cooking Made Really Simple With Yer Actual Keith Telly Topping. Next week, boiling an egg.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a bit of yer actual Carly Simon.