Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Stupidest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)

And so, dear blog reader, we ask once again 'has everyone in the world taken The Bloody Stupid Pill this week, or what?' To sum up a very sad situation, former Doctor Who actor Peter Davison - someone whom this blogger knows and spent quite a bit of time with during a couple of weeks in 2003 when we were both guests at two back-to-back Doctor Who events - gave his thoughts on the recent casting of Jodie Whittaker as the next Doctor at the Comic-Con event in San Diego last weekend. Thoughts which were soon reported - by lots of people you've never heard of - on Twitter. At this point, you just know this is not going to end well, don't you? It was the 'T' word that gave it away, wasn't it? As with most things in life 'context' is key but Twitter, due to its very nature, allows no room - nor, seemingly, has any need - for such a nuanced conceit as 'context.' Peter, as you would expect, because he's a thoroughly nice guy, was broadly supportive of Jodie Whittaker's casting although he did say in passing that, as the father of two young boys, he rather regretted the fact that, for the next few years, young male Doctor Who fans will not have a positive male role model - who, generally speaking, does not resort to guns or violence - to identify with. That is a valid argument although, personally, it's not one that this blogger entirely agrees with. But, nevertheless, Peter did qualify this with a comment that we should all be supportive of Jodie and that he believes she will be very good in the role.
Okay, so what's the problem, you may ask? Well the 'problem,' of course, is that this was promptly reported on Twitter which, as we know, is occupied mainly - if not exclusively - by arseholes. 'Twitter: ramming a rusty bucket of wasps on your head because road rage is for snowflakes since 2006,' as the very wonderful Reverend Richard Coles recently noted after he had his own run-in with the more insane end of the Twitterati over some minor nothing-or-other. Peter was, instantly, inundated with abuse - a lot of it really vicious and personal - and charges of sexism. Among those having a go at him (with both boots on) were Peter's successor in the TARDIS, Colin Baker (who was also at Comic-Con and was sharing a panel with Peter along with Sophie Aldred at the time). At which point every tabloid newspaper began instantly rubbing their collective hands together as, now, they had a Doctors At War story to run in what was an almost textbook example of the Twenty First Century staple of the media turning a non-story into a story, pouring lots of fuel on it and then standing well back, gleefully and watching the flames burn with an innocent look of their collective mush of 'what, guv, me? Cause all this malarkey, guv? Not me, guv!'
Peter was accused (again, by some people you've never heard of ... and probably don't want to) of sexism - which this blogger does not believe is true at all - and of being 'a dinosaur', which Peter said could be true in a light-hearted and self-deprecating way in an attempt to defuse a situation which was now rapidly spiralling out of control. Sadly, that 'admission' was also then used against him. Peter calmly issued a, lengthy, clarification of what he actually did say - and more importantly, what he meant by it. It did no good. And so, as we've seen happen in the past with others, he found himself forced to leave Twitter due to the 'toxic' atmosphere that had been created. Because, as we all know, Twitter is now The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. The Gruniad Morning Star says so (and, sadly, the BBC News website seems to also accept this nonsense), so it must be true. And, this gave the media - both social and print - another story to go with the earlier one that they had helped to create and then spread in the first place.
This, dear blog reader, is why yer actual Keith Telly Topping has steadfastly refused and continues to refuse to have anything to do with Twitter. This blogger has never liked Twitter and has never been on it, despite a few friends saying 'oh, you must, all the cool kids are doing it.' Yes, and how many of the coolest of 'the cool kids' have since quit Twitter in disgust after one shitehawk media-created 'Twitter backlash' non-story too many. Twitter always did seem specifically designed to create problems where none needed to exist, especially as - seemingly - a majority of those people on it appear determined to find offence in the most innocuous of places. Mind you, a lot of Twitterers don't exactly help themselves. There was a trend a few years ago of Premier League footballers posting pictures of their naked maleness on Twitter and then acting all surprised when anyone complained. There have also been a fair few comedians who've painted themselves into corners by saying something 'wackily controversial' which has then blown up in their faces. So, this blogger steers well clear of the Twitter gaff. At least on Facebook you can limit to whom you're talking thanks to their excellent 'block' facility and with blogs ... well, nobody reads From The North anyway so, no danger here! Going on Twitter, sad to report, is a bit like playing with a lighted flamethrower and a can of petrol next to a box of really big fireworks; it creates exactly this kind of nonsense, sees utterly 'nothing' comments become manna-from-heaven for professional offence takers and it usually all ends up in a Big Fight with someone who has done nothing more sinister than, perhaps, awkwardly word a perfectly straightforward bit of comment (sometimes not even that) appear, in the eyes of some no-doubt perfect specimen of humanity, like a Nazi. Avoid Twitter like the plague, dear blog reader. It's really bad for your health.
Although, once in a Blue Moon, something on Twitter does, just about, justify its existence.
This blogger will only add this to the debate; he believes Peter was wrong in the assessment that young boys cannot or will not be able to identify with a female role model (although, to be fair to Peter, that's not exactly what he said and almost certainly not what he meant) but, this was, nevertheless, qualified with supportive comments about Jodie Whittaker's casting. Ultimately, it was just nothing. A minor, throwaway line at a convention. If Peter had, for example, said 'they should not have cast a woman in the role, she will be crap,' this blogger would have been joining in with the ritual crucifixion and holding the nails for the chap with the hammer. But, he didn't says that, or anything even remotely like it. And, anybody who thinks that he did, needs to grow up. And stop taking The Stupid Pill.
'Has everyone taken The Stupid Pill this week, or what?' part the second. This blogger, personally, is quite delighted with the casting of Jodie Whittaker and has said so, both here on From The North - in the last three blog updates - and elsewhere. On Facebook, because he is surrounded by, broadly speaking, like-minded individuals, he has seen a large outpouring of goodwill on the matter. Which, coming from part of a frequent cesspool of puss like Doctor Who fandom can sometimes appear, is really rather refreshing. But, you just knew it was going to end sooner or later, didn't you? One of the things this blogger has enjoyed over the last few days is a particular Facebook page - created by one 'John Smith' - which has been posting lots of, on the whole really rather good, fan artwork featuring ideas for Jodie-in-costume as The Doctor. One such example was included - with due acknowledgement of the source - on From The North's last update. A later example, was a painting of Jodie wearing a rather stylish - Ruby In The Smoke-style - Victorian dress. This blogger thought it was rather good and so he put up a link to it on his own Facebook page.
A lengthy thread followed, as sometimes happens on Keith Telly Topping's Facebook page when it's a wet Monday night and there's not much of the telly. And, for the most part, it was quite a humorous one too - lots of Keith Telly Topping's Facebook fiends liked the art, though a fair number noted the seeming lack of pockets in the costume for Jodie's Doctor to, for instance, keep her sonic screwdriver in! There is, of course, no suggestion whatsoever that Jodie's final costume will be anything like this, Keith Telly Topping just enjoy this particular piece of artwork, that's all. I dare say, there are dozens of this kind of thing currently on The Interweb somewhere. Hundreds possibly. Anyway, in the middle of lots of quite cheerful comments about the impracticality of dresses without pockets(!), however, there was a snarling mono-brow'd bit of pure spiteful malice from some individual whom this blogger, to the best of his knowledge, does not know. Keith Telly Topping must have, at some stage, clicked 'accept' to a Facebook fiend request from this person but otherwise, again to the best of this blogger's recollection, myself and this individual haven't interacted much, if at all, since. Until Monday. 'Do you have some kind of weird crush on her or something?' snarled this person - on, let's remember, Keith Telly Topping's own Facebook page where, for better or worse, Keith Telly Topping gets to set the rules. 'Its [sic] creepy.' Nice, eh? Well, no sir, this blogger does not have some kind of 'crush' - 'weird' or otherwise - on Jodie Whittaker although he does admire her greatly as an actress and very much looks forward to her forthcoming role as The Doctor in Doctor Who. He also, he freely admits, does find Jodie quite aesthetically pleasing which is a minor bonus to her many other admirable qualities. But, as a fifty three year old chap, twenty years older than Jodie herself as it happens, he rather thinks that even if he did have a 'crush' on her, Jodie might just be a bit out of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's league. As in the difference between Premier League and Evo-Stik League Second Division (North), for example. Anyway, this exceptionally rude numbskull is now, very much, a former Facebook fiend of this blogger, a fate which awaits all of those who take it upon themselves to spew bile and invective on this blogger's own little Fortress of Solitude (with his two thousand five hundred Facebook fiends, obviously).
Quite why this individual felt it necessary to react so oddly and aggressively to someone merely posting a link to a bit of fan art is a question probably best left to the wilder imaginings of the darker corners of The Interweb. Keith Telly Topping, frankly, isn't interested. This blogger's life is too full already for him to have any time for this sort of crass bollocks, dear blog reader. But, like the Peter Davison malarkey mentioned above, it is a jolly useful reminder of two important things. That Facebook has a very excellent 'block' facility which means that if someone posts something offensive (personal, or otherwise) one simply does not have to listen with them any longer. There is an alternative - blissful silence. And, secondly, a very tragic truism: There are some good people in the world, dear blog reader. There are also some bad people. The vast majority of us are somewhere in the middle shuttling between the two on occasions but usually just trying to get through life as quietly as possibly without interacting with anyone with a nasty scowl on their face. And then, dear blog reader, there are some people are are just, simply, scum. And, this blogger shall not be doing with them.
As mentioned, in a brief update to the last From The North blog update, details of Peter Capaldi's final outing in Doctor Who have been revealed as the first trailer for the Christmas special was released online after it had been shown at Comic-Con. And, jolly marvellous it looks too. The one-minute clip for the episode - which we now know is entitled Twice Upon A Time - sees Capaldi and the First Doctor (played by the very excellent David Bradley) team up.
It features the return of Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, who had seemingly left the show at the end of the recently completed series ten.
The clip also showed a guest appearance from yer actual Mark Gatiss, who plays a World War One soldier called, simply, The Captain. Fan speculation has already gone into overdrive that The Captain may, in fact, be a relative (possibly the father) of the much-loved Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, The Doctor's friend from UNIT played by the late Nicholas Courtney. The release of the trailer coincided with the cast appearing at Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, where they talked about the upcoming episode, the last series and looked back at Capaldi's time on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama.
Mark Gatiss described the Christmas special as being 'a Christmas episode without being overtly Christmassy - it's very happy-sad.' He added: '[It's] a fantastic episode and we had a great time doing it. It was a lovely way out.' It will be the fourth time that the Sherlock co-creator and actor Gatiss has appeared on Doctor Who in addition to the ten episodes of the series he has written. Mackie also confirmed the festive episode will be her last appearance on the show. Comic-Con fans were also shown a three-minute 'goodbye video' for Capaldi, thanking him for his time on the show, which led to a standing ovation. The actor praised writer and executive producer The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), saying: 'Every shot you saw there came through his gentleman's mind. The message of the show comes from his heart.' The team also addressed the casting of Jodie Whittaker her very self as the next Doctor. Capaldi called her 'a great choice,' adding: 'I think Jodie's going to be amazing and she's so full of excitement and full of passion about the show. It's really thrilling to know it's in the hands of somebody who cares for it so deeply and is going to do exciting things with it.' On Saturday, Capaldi told Empire magazine he was both sad to be leaving the series and excited for its future. '[The Christmas special] is a wonderful episode and I couldn't have wanted for any more. It's an emotional and moving end to my time as Doctor Who.'
Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) also used the Comic-Con panel to criticise the 'imaginary backlash' which the media appear to have taken some delight in reporting on the issue of Jodie Whittaker's casting. And, it was about bloody time that somebody - other than this blogger - did so, frankly. 'There's so many press articles about a "backlash" among Doctor Who fandom against the casting of a female Doctor. There has been no backlash at all,' said Steven. Which is, broadly true. There have been some negative voice (one or two of them quite loud, let it be noted) but most of the reaction from Doctor Who fandom - which as Steven himself notes, does have a reputation for conservatism and resistance to change - has been very positive. This was something that this blogger noted when he appeared on local radio last week. 'Actor cast in TV show, more news at Ten.' It was a theme Steven picked up on during his Comic-Con appearance: 'The story of the moment is that the notionally conservative fandom has utterly embraced that change completely - eighty percent approval on social media, not that I check these things obsessively. And yet so many people wanted to pretend there's a problem. There isn't.'
The Moffinator continued: 'Doctor Who fans are more excited by the fact that there's going to be a brilliant actress playing the part than the fact that she's a woman. It's been incredibly progressive and enlightened and that's what really happened. I wish every single journalist who is writing the alternative would shut the hell up - it's not true.' But, of course, they won't do that because that's not 'news', is it? 'Vast majority of people happy about change.' You'll never see that as a headline in the Daily Scum Mail. The executive producer also 'cleared up' (or, to be more accurate, had a reet good laugh at) the issue of whether the character's name is Doctor Who or The Doctor. It's the latter by the way, just in case anyone was really wondering. 'There isn't any doubt about it, I'm sorry,' The Moff claimed. 'It was established in The War Machines [1966] that his name is Doctor Who.' He provided further evidence to back up his point, including signing letters 'Doctor W' [in The Underwater Menace] and the third Doctor having a 'Who 1' licence plate. 'He doesn't often call himself Doctor Who because it's a bloody stupid name,' Steven added, helpfully. But, he handed an excuse to those fans like this blogger who wish to go on insisting the contrary, noting that this 'could be equally true' because 'what would Doctor Who continuity be without blatant and unresolvable contradiction?' He's a sarky sod at times, that Moff!
As a final word on this subject, when this blogger joked on Facebook that 'According to yer actual Steven Moffat (OBE) [The Doctor's] name is, indeed, Doctor Who. But, this is quite clearly wrong. He is established as a citizen of the universe and a gentleman to boot. It must, therefore, be Doctor Whom, surely?' Steven was in like a shot, posting the sort of slap-down response that he often gives Keith Telly Topping when he's talking off the top of his skull about malarkey like this. (It was okay, dear blog reader, we had tided up the crisp packets and the cans of pop before Steven arrived, the gaff like reasonably presentable.) 'If Doctor Who is a question then how do we explain the frequent construction "Doctor Who and the XXXXXX', which appears on many books and the show itself?' he asked. '2. If Doctor Who is a question, why is it sometimes written Dr Who? It would be odd to use the contraction in a normal sentence, unless it was a title, and if it's a title, what follows is a name. 3. Why does he sign himself "Dr W"? 4. Is it a coincidence that his licence plate is Who 1?' Steve asked, before adding: 'Correct answer to all of this: Doctor Who is his name in some episodes and not in others, just as he is human in some episodes and a Time Lord in others and has one heart for the first six years of the show and two thereafter. Two possible ways of reconciling the name problem. 1. Doctor Who is a fiction made up by lots of different people, most of whom never met each other. 2. Everything Missy said in World Enough & Time about The Doctor's name is entirely true and this thorny issue has finally been resolved by yours truly. You're very welcome!' So, there you go, dear blog reader. As clear as mud, yes? Of course, as we all know, The Doctor is half-Whoman (on his mother's side). This blogger's thanks to his very excellent Facebook fiend Paul Driscoll for that comment, which wins The Internet.
According to Radio Times, i'f being able to keep a secret makes for a good Time Lord then Jodie Whittaker 'has passed the first test.' Alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'sources' allegedly 'close' to the performer allegedly say that Jodie - allegedly - knew 'for months' that she was getting the role of The Doctor. The magazine claims that Jodie was given the job 'at least five months ago' by Chris Chibnall, the incoming Doctor Who showrunner with whom Jodie worked on the ITV drama Broadchurch. Jodie appeared at a press launch earlier this summer for her new drama, Trust Me where she plays a nurse who poses as a doctor, and managed to keep a poker face for that. However the alleged 'sources' allegedly said that Jodie did tell one person: her husband, Christian Contreras. Jodie is expected to start filming for the role early next year for a likely broadcast in autumn 2018, with the role of her companion (or companions) still undecided according to alleged 'sources.' It has been claimed - albeit, not anywhere even remotely credible - that former Death In Paradise and My Family actor Kris Marshall has been chosen to accompany Jodie's Doctor in the TARDIS but alleged BBC 'sources' allegedly say that a decision has still not been made on the casting. Allegedly. Jodie said of her new role: 'I am beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet.' On, no, not the 'W' word. Jodie, love. Trust this blogger - no Doctor Who fan with an ounce of dignity or self-respect (admittedly, not words one normally associates with Doctor Who fans) uses 'Whovian'. We'd sooner be called 'anoraks' than that. 'It's more than an honour to play The Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything The Doctor stands for: hope. I can't wait.' Chris Chibnall, the Radio Times claims, is 'understood' to have been committed to casting a woman in the role ever since he landed the job last year. His statement said: 'I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we're thrilled to have secured our number one choice. Her audition for The Doctor simply blew us all away. Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role. The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way.'
There is yet another superb article about Jodie's casting, this one from Robert Fairclough at the very excellent We Are Cult website. Check it out, here: 'With my fanboy head on, I'm the kind of guy who, once a new Doctor's casting is announced, has scrutinised everything from All Creatures Great & Small, Withnail & I and Our Friends In The North, for possible hints about the direction of the new Doctor's character. I've spent an enjoyable weekend going through the second series of Chris Chibnall's Broadchurch, an experience that's made me more excited than I was at the initial announcement of Jodie's casting. In short, if Broadchurch was Jodie's unwitting audition for The Doctor – just like Casanova was for David Tennant under Russell T Davies – her performance is such a tour de force that I don't think we have anything to worry about. Of all the actors to be cast as The Doctor, Jodie is, in my opinion, the most emotionally honest, brave, natural and expressive. And that may be because she is, y'know, a woman.' Great stuff, Robert.
Before she takes over the lead role in Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker will be appearing on our screens as a very different doctor. And, a fake one at that. In the BBC thriller Trust Me, Whittaker plays Cath Hardacre, a nurse who loses her job after she turns whistle-blower. Wanting to provide a better life for her young daughter, she steals her best friend's identity as a senior doctor and lands a job in an Edinburgh hospital (a colleague, amusingly, describes the A&E department as 'like Braveheart with bad-tempered pensioners.') Armed with her nursing knowledge and some medical textbooks, Cath sets out to bluff her way as an experienced emergency medic. Of course, it doesn't all go smoothly. An early encounter sees her straighten a man's broken foot having forgotten to give him an anaesthetic. Then there's a heart-stopping sequence involving the victims of a car crash. 'There was blood squirting everywhere,' said Jodie, at a press screening which, as noted, was held before the recent announcement that she was to replace yer actual Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who. Like her character in Trust Me, the blood is of course fake, but that doesn't make it any less excruciating to watch. 'The prosthetics were amazing,' Jodie added. 'And, there were phenomenal actors coming in and committing to the sound of pain.' Trust Me has been written by Dan Sefton, a real-life A&E doctor, whose other TV writing includes Good Karma Hospital and Mr Selfridge. 'I think there are loads of people who aren't real doctors,' Sefton suggests. 'It's not that hard to fake it if you have some qualifications. Part of this thing is that people don't ask too many questions. We set this deliberately in a place that was on the periphery and struggling to recruit.' Sefton also revealed that there had once been a case of a bogus doctor working in his own hospital. 'He only got found out through some administrative thing, because he was actually pretty competent,' he recalled. 'Often these doctors are very professional and get along very well with their colleagues. The only flaw is that they aren't real doctors.' As well as writing the tense hospital scenes, Sefton also helped give the actors some basic medical training. That included teaching Jodie how to insert a needle into his own arm. 'I got it in your vein first time,' the actress notes proudly. 'But, I forgot to put the cap on and you started bleeding, which was a bit of a panic!' Jodie says that she was 'fine' with the 'physical and emotional stuff' that the script demanded. 'The thing I struggled most with - and that comes from failing over half my GCSEs - was the pronunciation of medicines.' The rest of the cast includes Emun Elliott as an A&E doctor, Sharon Small as the consultant in charge, and Blake Harrison as Cath's ex-boyfriend and father of their daughter. Jodie describes herself as 'a big fan' of the NHS. 'You don't have to be rich to be poorly,' she says. 'There are obviously problems - we all read the news - but I feel that the thing you want to celebrate is the day-to-day people: The doctors and nurses.' Sefton admits that what fascinates him is why people pretend to be doctors. 'Men almost always do it for egotistical reasons,' he says. 'They are often fantasists. They want to be somebody who is impressive. Women tend to do it more much more practical, interesting reasons. That's one of the reasons I chose a female protagonist for this drama. I was much more interested in looking at how the act of lying changes someone who is an essentially honest person.'
Series seven of Game Of Thrones is hugely upon us, dear blog reader. You might have noticed. Especially as the second episode saw red-hot lesbian action as Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) began kissing. According to the actors, the intimate moment between the two (which featured the line 'a foreign invasion is under way') was completely improvised by the actors. 'It wasn't directed that we would kiss,' Whelan told Entertainment Weekly. 'It just seemed like something we should do. We led it, very much so. It was meant to be a suggestion [of flirting] and then it became more sexual than we expected because it seemed right. There was only a skeleton crew working because the rig could only take so much weight, so we were left very much on our own. And who wouldn't want to kiss Indira? I mean, come on!' There was, however, one person a little reluctant to kiss Varma: Whelan's stunt-double. 'Gemma had hurt her back so there were some stunts she couldn't do,' Varma told the publication. 'So, I had to start kissing this poor stunt double and she was so terrified! That was quite funny, bless her. I don't think she'd ever been put in that situation before. She's used to falling over and being attacked and all the stunts, but to be kissed by an actress was a bit beyond her.' Whelan added: 'I think it's a wonderful scene and amusing as well - like that look from Yara to Theon that says "a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do."'
There's a great piece in Vanity Fair on the latest episode of Twin Peaks: The Return here, and in particular on the journey that the character of Bobby Briggs has been on in the twenty five years since the original series ended.
Esquire, meanwhile, rightly draws attention to the fact that David Lynch has managed to get possibly the best performance of a career - certainly the best in very long time - out of Jim Belushi.
And, the Gruniad's reviewer enjoyed the Big Black Whirly Thing In The Sky (as did this blogger).
Cos y'just can't go wrong with a Big Black Whirly Thing In The Sky, dear blog reader. Next ...

One of this blogger's favourite actors, as he's probably mentioned more than a few times before on From The North, is the very excellent David Warner. He's been interviewed at great length by the AV Club website about his extraordinary career - everything from Star Trek, Doctor Who and The Omen to Madhouse On Castle Street, Time After Time, Twin Peaks and Cross of Iron. Check it out here, dear blog reader. David comes over, as you'd expect, as a thorough gentleman. This blogger's only regret is that in mentioning just about every single part he's ever played, one of the few that the website missed out was one of Keith Telly Topping's favourites; 1969's classic heist movie Perfect Friday in which David was outstanding. But, that aside, what a great interview - the anecdote about David meeting Bob Dylan for the first time in fifteen years in the late 1970s in LA and Bob saying 'Hey, you played me,' is terrific.
Months after quitting The Great British Bake-Off ahead of its switch to Channel Four, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have been rewarded for their loyalty to the BBC with co-hosting roles on the revamp of the classic Saturday night game show The Generation Game. The show has been commissioned for a four-episode run, though a broadcast date is yet to be set. The reboot will 'combine classic aspects' of the series with new games. A new version of The Generation Game has, reportedly, been in the works at the BBC since 2014. Originally Miranda Hart was slated to host it. She is said to have filmed a pilot shortly after Miranda came to an end, but she appears to have chosen to shift her focus towards writing and acting instead. This has left the door open for Mel and Sue, who had been looking for a new TV project to work on together since the end of Bake-Off. 'I'm very hopeful Mel and I will do some pratting about, but I couldn't tell you exactly what yet. Possibly some prime-time pratting,' Perkins told Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs earlier this month. The Generation Game for those of you who aren't over the age of thirty, ran from 1971 to 2002 on the BBC, with Sir Bruce Forsyth serving as host between 1971 and 1977 and 1990 to 1994. The show pits pairs of inter-generational family members against one another, as they face-off in performance and task-based games, before heading to the iconic conveyor belt where they watch a parade of - very cheap - prizes whizz by and attempt to remember as many as they can. One change from the established format is that a panel of - presumably z-list - celebrity judges 'will be on hand to decide who gets to move on to the decisive conveyor belt stage.' Quite why something so wholly at odds with the original concept of The Generation Game - which, let's remember focused on ordinary members of the public not 'celebrities' - is not known.
The Great British Bake Off has found its final ingredients, with the kitchen cupboard staple Lyle's golden syrup and Doktor Oetker, the baking product maker, signing multi-million pound deals to be the first sponsors of what was the biggest show on British television when it was shown on the BBC. The hunt for a sponsor has been one of the biggest-ever charm offensives undertaken by Channel Four – which included presenters Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith appearing at an event designed to 'woo' some of the UK's biggest-spending brands – but it did not cook up an X-Factor-sized deal on its first outing. Given that the show was a national favourite, with fourteen million viewers watching the final last year, there was expected to be an advertising bun-fight following its move from the commercial-free environs of the BBC. Yet, while both sponsors are a perfect brand fit, they are not known as major TV advertisers. The famous green-and-gold cans of Lyle's only returned to TV advertising for the first time in a quarter of a century last year. Doktor Oetker, the German baking ingredients maker, has never sponsored a prime-time TV show. They are thought to have jointly paid about four million knicker to sponsor the first series, this year's Christmas specials and the Jo Brand-fronted spin-off Bake Off: An Extra Slice. Paul Hollywood's spin-off, A Baker's Life, is not part of the sponsorship deal. Channel Four had originally pitched opening bids at the eight million smackers mark for what was expected to be a sole brand, although that was originally for a bigger package that included the second series. ITV's entertainment big hitters The X Factor and Britain's Got Toilets struck sponsorship deals earlier this year worth ten million and six million notes per year respectively. However, Channel Four has been faced with 'a significant downturn' in the TV advertising market since the Brexit referendum, which has seen advertisers tighten the purse strings. Food brands – the third-biggest TV spending sector – are down more than fourteen per cent in TV advertising spend for the year to the end of March. Channel Four's relaunch of Bake Off, which also includes newly arrived hosts Sandi Toksvig and That bloody Weirdo Noel Fielding, has to prove it retains the recipe for success with viewers for budget-watching advertisers to come out in force next year. Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership innovation at Channel Four, said that bringing on-board two brands has been 'common' in the past, such as with the channel's hugely successful coverage of the London 2012 Paralympics. 'With big-ticket, highly demanded shows, it makes sense to look at dual sponsorship strategies,' he claimed. 'From a viewer perspective, it is a natural fit and from a TV perspective, it's great to encourage brands like Doktor Oetker and Lyle's golden syrup, which haven't been sponsoring shows or running ads for some time, to bring them back to TV.' Last week, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'signs emerged that Britain's home-baking boom may be running out of steam' as the amount of staple baking ingredients sold by supermarkets fell 3.8 per cent in the year to the end of March. Of the major brands, only Doktor Oetker increased sales volumes. After paying seventy five million quid to poach Bake Off from the BBC, Channel Four needs to make at least twenty five million knicker over its three-year deal with Greed Productions, the maker of the show, to avoid the equivalent of a commercial soggy bottom. Most revenues will come from selling TV advertising and packages, at premium prices of as much as two hundred thousand smackers for a thirty-second slot. 'In the last week, there has been a significant step change in sales,' Lewis said. 'We have already fully sold out the first show. We are now close to starting to fill up the whole series.'
The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening has a new adult animated comedy fantasy series heading to Netflix next year. Disenchantment is set in 'the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland' and according to Groening, is about 'life and death, love and sex.' It will be released ten episodes at a time. Groening is also an executive producer on the show. 'Matt's brilliant work has resonated with generations round the world,' said Netflix vice-president Cindy Holland. 'We couldn't be happier to work with him on Disenchantment. The series will bear his trademark animation style and biting wit and we think it's a perfect fit for our many Netflix animation fans.' Among the characters in the new series are hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion, Elfo and her personal demon, Luci. Groening said: 'It is also about how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.' There have been more than six hundred episodes of The Simpsons, which was first broadcast in December 1989.
Tom Hardy, Arthur Darvill and Tim Vine are among the stars of the BBC's twelve new comedy pilots. The pilots are split across three strands: the revived Comedy Playhouse on BBC1, BBC2's New On Two and BBC3's Comedy Slices. Hardy will star in Comedy Slices' animated sitcom Sticky, alongside Javone Prince, Kayvan Novak and Charlotte Riley, which follows four best friends who attend a college located in London's mythical borough of Shatford. Sticky also features Murder In Successville's Tom Davis and former Doctor Who actor Arthur Darvill and is created by Fonejacker's Ed Tracy. The Comedy Playhouse strand features Tim Vine Travels Through Time, which Vine describes as 'Doctor Who with puns,' Mister Winner starring Upstart Crow's Spencer Jones and Static with Rob Beckett. The New On Two season includes a sketch show Famalam, The Other One written by Holly Walsh (so, that'll be worth avoiding) and The Pact starring Sarah Solemani. Whether any of these will actually be funny or not, we'll have to wait and see.

Margo Chase – the graphic designer behind the iconic logo for Buffy The Vampire Slayer – has died in a plane crash. The renowned graphic artist died following the incident last Saturday in Apple Valley, California, Deadline reports. Margo also created the logos for Angel and Charmed and worked as a typography designer for major pop stars including Madonna, Prince, Cher and Selena Gomez. The fifty nine-year-old reportedly had a passion for flying and was practising a sequence in an aircraft when she crashed, according to the International Aerobatic Club. She founded the Chase Design Group in 1986, with the award-winning brand going on to work with clients including PepsiCo, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Campbell Soup Co, Microsoft and ESPN.
Over the weekend, a clip went viral showing a man furiously shouting at a family and trying to place them under citizen's arrest. The man in question has now been identified as Fergus Beeley, an former TV producer who worked on David Attenborough's documentaries. In the video, Beeley is seen threatening the family after he claims they were involved in a 'nearly fatal car accident' off the M27 in Hampshire. Beeley can be seen trying to force the family's car door open and trying to grab the arms of a man in an effort to place him under citizen's arrest. He tells the family that he intends to arrest all of them, including the son who was sat in the back seat, claiming the family were dangerous driving, abusive and that one of the family members had tried to punch him. The family can be heard saying that Beeley said he was an undercover police officer, which he denies. BBC News reports that when the police arrived no arrests were made, but two allegations of common assault were made. They also state - with some considerable relief, seemingly - that Fergus Beeley is not a current BBC employee and, indeed, has not worked for the BBC for 'over ten years.' During his time with the corporation he worked on The Life Of Birds, Planet Earth and Natural World.
Astronauts may not need to go far to find water outside Earth. As CNN reports, Brown University scientists Ralph E Milliken and Shuai Li suspect there are significant amounts of water churning within the Moon's interior. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, lean on the discovery of glass beads encased in the Moon's volcanic rock deposits. As recently as one hundred million years ago, the Earth's moon was a hotbed of volcanic activity. Evidence of that volatile time can still be found in the ancient ash and volcanic rock which is scattered across the surface. Using satellite imagery, the researchers identified tiny water droplets preserved inside glass beads that formed in the volcanic deposits. While water makes up a small fraction of each bead, its presence suggests there's significantly more of it making up the Moon's mantle. Milliken and Li aren't the first scientists to notice water in lunar rocks. In 2008, volcanic materials collected from the Moon during the Apollo missions of 1971 and 1972 were revealed to contain the same water-flecked glass beads that the Brown scientists made the basis of their recent study. They took their research further by analyzing images captured across the face of the Moon and quickly saw the Apollo rocks represented a larger trend. 'The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing,' Milliken said in a press statement. 'They're spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn't a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle.'
This blogger has recently seen the trailer for Christopher Nolan's movie Dunkirk, dear blog reader. Keith Telly Topping really must go to see this at the earliest opportunity, despite it getting a right slagging from some total cock-splash of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. That just made me more determined to see it. Anything the Gruniad disapproves of has to be worthy of your time.
This blogger's father was at Dunkirk, as it happens - that was his entire war; he was twenty one and was indescribably brave in a way that Keith Telly Topping knows he could never be in a thousand years in similar circumstances. My dad could have got out of it too, he was a riveter in the ship building industry and, therefore, was in what was, at the time, a protected job. In 1939, ships were far more important to Britain than men and skilled men like were father were being actively encouraged not to join up but to stay where they were. My father, like many others, said 'to Hell with it, I'm going' and, as TA reservist, he volunteered a couple of days before war actually broke out (his younger brother, my Uncle Les, also joined up at the same time having lied about his age; he was only seventeen.) My dad was part of the British Expeditionary Force arriving, according to his service record, in France in late January 1940. He was a bombardier in the Royal Artillery and was firing a big thirty two pounder down the road at the advancing Germans from the outskirts of the town of Dunkirk for about four or five days during the retreat before he finally got onto - and then, after a day, off - the beach on 31 May on one of the troop carriers. He was one of the lucky ones. He always said that although they, undeniably, did a great job, and it was fantastic feel-good propaganda at the time, the contributions of the so-called 'little ships' was somewhat overplayed and that ninety five per cent of those soldiers that got away and back to Britain did so on the far bigger troop carriers. But, unfortunately, that meant all the soldiers had to wade out from the beach about a mile off-shore to get to the ships and, in the event, my dad saw one of his best friends, who couldn't swim, carried away by a sudden wave and drown. He also told me an incredible story about the first night they were on the gun crew on the main Dunkirk road. It was complete chaos, the sudden German advance had caught everyone on the hop and what had, until that point, been a rather uneventful couple of months in Northern France for a large chunk of the BEF had, suddenly, become horribly real. Many of these young men - my father included - believed that they were going to die. It was an entirely reasonable assumption to make, the Germans were coming their way and they, you know, rock hard.
My dad, as noted, was twenty one and a bombardier (the equivalent of a corporal), his two - gunner - colleagues were twenty and nineteen respectively and they had a French corporal with them who was about twenty three. So, the French guy brought out a bottle of wine and, as it was quiet at the time, they drank it. All of it. Just at that point, the Captain walked in on them. Now, technically speaking they had just committed what amounted to an executable crime during wartime - drunk at ones post - and he would have been within his rights to just shoot them there and then, without the need for a court martial. Instead he said, calmly, 'I shall be back in an hour, I expect you all to be sober.' And, of course, they made damned sure that they were and nothing further was ever said about the incident. A moment of humanity in the middle of a horror movie. About a decade later, my father - by now having had to give up his previous job due to an infection of the mastoid bone which affected his balance and meant that he couldn't work at heights any more - was selected for jury duty and his captain was ... I can never remember whether he was the judge or one of the barristers but, in some way, he was involved in the court case, anyway. He recognised my father and they spoke fondly of their shared time in France. Then, after my dad had done his four days jury duty or whatever it was, his ex-Captain took him out for a meal. It was only when he was in his sixties and seventies that my father - who died in 1991 - ever really talked about any of this. Like a lot of people who had seen warfare at close quarters, he just didn't want to dwell on it. For him, war wasn't a glorious escapade; it was a rather mundane affair except for about five days in late May 1940 when it was, quite literally, Hell.
There was some considerable excitement round our way on Saturday, dear blog reader: A house more or less directly opposite Stately Telly Topping Manor had a fire. At first, this blogger simply thought it was something like a chip-pan fire since there was a lot of smoke but no obvious evidence of flame. So, this blogger took a few photographs of what was going on out of the window of Stately Telly Topping Manor and posted them up on Facebook with a brief running commentary. Fire appliances quickly attended. 'Excitement over; everything seems to be under control,' this blogger posted to his Facebook fiends. However, it subsequently transpired that the incident was bit more serious than this blogger thought, at least according to a piece which appeared a few hours later in the local press. A pretty accurate piece of reportage it was too, although this blogger does question the suggestion that fire officers 'fought the blaze for two hours.' Yer actual was watching it live, dear blog reader, it was more like, thirty minutes (after which they did hang around for a while, presumably having a jolly well deserve cuppa). Then, even more excitement; on Tuesday, this blogger drew a visit from a - very nice, let it be noted - young police officer who was interested in having a gander at the photos yer actual had taken of the incident in progress, as it were. I don't think they'll be too much specific help with the case since all Keith Telly Topping caught was the aftermath, really. But it is quite a novel experience to be, what's the phrase, 'helping police with their enquiries'!
Now, dear blog reader, this blogger was utterly startled when he noticed this on his good mate the legend that is James Gent's Facebook page on Thursday morning.
Keith Telly Topping had heard this claim made before but always thought that particular rumour was nothing but an urban myth. For the uninitiated (or, for our American dear blog readers anyway), Derek Griffiths is a bit of British TV legend, a long-time and much-loved presenter of the BBC children's programme Play School among many other credits. He's now in his seventies but is still acting, as recently as March this year he finished an sixteenth month run on Coronation Street. He is a singer as well being as an actor and comedian and the age was about right, he was born in 1946 so he'd've been twenty one in the late-summer of 1967 when The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) recorded 'I Am The Walrus'. We knew, from Mark Lewisohn's exhaustive and scholarly book on The Be-Atles studio work, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions (published in 1988) that one of The Mike Sammes Singers who provided the memorable choruses on 'I Am The Walrus' was a 'D Griffiths' too. But, I dunno, it just always seemed a bit of a stretch from that to the idea that it was the Derek Griffiths, particularly as there appeared to be no biographical info on the Interweb to suggest that Derek was ever a member of The Mike Sammes Singers during his early career. So, this blogger always marked that suggestion down in the same category as the rumours that Carl Perkins played guitar on The Be-Atles cover of his song 'Matchbox' or that Mick Jagger sang the backing vocals on 'Baby, You're A Rich Man'. Possible, but unlikely. Now, however, someone has actually asked Derek, on Twitter the burning question its very self. And, received an affirmative answer from Derek. So, there you go dear blog reader, Play School legend Derek Griffiths, according to the man his very self, was indeed one of the backing singers on The Be-Atles' 'I Am The Walrus'. The only downside to this revelation, of course, is that this blogger now cannot get the image of Derek Griffiths in a episode of Play School bellowing 'Oompah, oompah, stick it up yer jumpers' at the nation's five-year-olds out of his head. Damn, that's gonna be stuck there all day.
And, finally dear blog reader, some may consider this harsh but, probably, fair.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Sister Is Not My Enemy

Now, dear blog reader, just in case you were wondering, no it wasn't a crazy dream, The Doctor is still, very definitely, a ladygirl. And, this blogger believes that's a good thing. If you have a problem with that, then this blog probably isn't a place you want to be hanging out. This blogger suggests, instead, you might want to try Twitter. A far more resentful and angry venue. To quote the Reverend Richard Coles: 'Twitter: Ramming a rusty bucket of wasps on your head because road rage is for snowflakes since 2006.'
A thought occurred to this blogger his very self earlier in the week - don't look so surprised, it does happen occasionally - regarding the casting of Doctors. Not just the new one, but generally. And the thought was this, dear blog reader. Each time news is announced that the current actor playing The Doctor intends to leave Doctor Who, there is always a flurry of (usually rather banal) media speculation on the subject of the likely replacement for the role. It's always the same kind of names that get thrown into the ring - Hollywood A-listers whom the BBC couldn't afford in the million years (since all their money is paid to Chris Evans and Gary Lineker, seemingly); in-demand TV-regulars who would never be interested in a job that has a ten-and-a-half month a year filming schedule leaving them no time to do anything else, mixed in with various c-, d- or z-listers, instructed by their agents to push themselves forward as a 'potential' next Doctor to a tabloid stringer and get some free publicity. The bookmakers then get involved with their endless lists of runners and riders; almost all of whom you know will not be the name chosen because since when did you see a bookmaker telling you they think you should bet on someone who is actually going to win? And the whole thing becomes a - not entirely unamusing - circus for a few weeks and/or months until the actual actor chosen is publicly named. You always get some ridiculous suggestions for 'early favourites' for the role. Take Tilda Swinton, for example. Because an Oscar-winning actress who normally does four films a year, at least, is certainly going to be interested in taking a massive pay-cut (Peter Capaldi was paid between two hundred and two hundred and fifty thousand smackers for his work on Doctor Who in the last financial year, according to figures published by the BBC this week). And all to sign up to three series of a ten-and-a-half month a year shoot allowing her no time to do anything else? Yes, we're probably best to park that one in the 'Don't Be A Bloody Moron' file along with Helen Mirren, Idris Elba et al. A few false flags will be run-up the flagpole and saluted. Remember, dear blog reader, the Daily Torygraph grandly announcing that Rory Kinnear had been chosen as the new Doctor when he, you know, hadn't? It was same this time around with the Daily Mirra's curiously non-existent 'insider' and Kris Marshall. So, given all of that here's a thought for you; on the last three occasions that a new Doctor has been chosen, in all cases the incoming Doctor - Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker - have been mentioned virtually nowhere by any newspaper, broadcaster, website, media speculator or bookmaker until about three or four days before the announcement was due, at which point they suddenly become an overnight favourite (or, in Smudger's case, the overnight second favourite behind Paterson Joseph). Presumably, this was because at that point, one or two of the handful of people who actually knew the name had mentioned it, casually, to a friend or two over a pint, who had, in turn, mentioned it to a friend or two of theirs over a pint, several of whom had, immediately, rushed off to Ladbrokes to have a sly tenner on the outcome. Guessing! So, next time there's going to be a change of Doctor - which will, hopefully, not happen for a long while yet - once Jodie has decided that she's had enough, here's a tip for everyone; don't bother to speculate and ignore all of the people who are speculating to fill column inches. Rather, just wait until about three days before the announcement is due and then check out who is betting on whom. That will save us all a lot of bullshit, pointless hand-wringing and some unfortunate people - like Kris Marshall, for instance - getting depressingly spiteful malarkey said about them for the properly dreadful crime of 'being the next Doctor' when they were never going to be.
The Tilda Swinton thing - or, non-thing, actually - brings up another curiosity, dear blog reader. When he appeared on BBC local radio earlier this week, yer actual Keith Telly Topping mentioned to The Legend That Is Alfie Joey the concept of 'The Doctor Template.' Allow Keith Telly Topping to explain. Back in the late 1990 and early 2000s, whilst Doctor Who was off-air, every few months there would be an article somewhere suggesting that the BBC's, at that time former, family SF drama was about to be brought back (some of these rumours were based on nothing more than wishful thinking, others did come from actual pitches to the BBC that were, at least, discussed, before Russell Davies finally came up with his pitch that was accepted in 2004). Each time this malarkey occurred, a newspaper or several would write about the rumour and would then include a list of 'likely' people who were thought to be in the running for the central role. They were usually about as 'likely' as something ... that is not very likely in the slightest. But most such suggestions depended on what this blogger has described as 'The Doctor Template.' Which amounts to, suggesting someone who would, essentially, play the Doctor in a similar way to one of the previous Doctors. Often, showing the lack of imagination that journalists share with fandom, there would be suggestions based on actors previous CVs. For example, Tony Head - at the time playing a rather Doctoresque 'Englishman-in-an-alien-environment' character in another popular and long-running Telefantasy show, Buffy The Vampire Slayer - was usually near the top of any list. (That suggestion wasn't quite a batty as some others. Interestingly, Tony had been one of many names put forward during the casting process for the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie before Paul McGann got the role.) But, in other cases, you can actually see the thought processes at work. For example, another name that always cropped up in these kind of speculations was Eddie Izzard. Now, at the time, Eddie was still best known as a stand-up comedian but he had just started off on his parallel acting career. One which has, since, become very impressive and successful. And, of course, Eddie was then, and I think still is, famously, a Doctor Who fan (those with longer memories may recall that his early stage shows used to include a very funny routine about The Daleks). Eventually, somebody asked Eddie about all this 'are you going to be the next Doctor' nonsense. Eddie was wise to The Doctor Template theory and pointed out that, when journalists think of The Doctor, they usually think about Tom Baker who, after all, was the longest-serving Doctor and is still, to this day, probably the name most associated with the role. Tom, of course, is brilliant - a proper national treasure - but it has to be noted that he is also a bit ... odd. This blogger means that in the nicest possible way; he's a genuine British eccentric in real-life as well as in the majority of the roles he plays. That's one of the main reasons why we love him so much. So, Eddie noted, you can see the way that journalists (and, I guess, fans too) minds work in this regard. 'Doctor Who, he's a bit weird. Who else is a bit weird? That Eddie Izzard, he's definitely a bit weird. Right, we'll have him on the list!' Alan Davies, another stand-up-turned-actor - at the time we're talking about, very in-demand through Jonathan Creek - was another name to be regularly suggested by the tabloids. In his case, largely it seemed because he looked a bit like a young Tom Baker, especially his similar curly hair (it was, therefore easy for newspapers to do a bit of primitive photoshopping of Alan's face onto an old publicity photo of Tom in the hat and the scarf to accompany their speculative articles). And then, of course, there were a series of non-actors-but-eccentric-types; people like the late Paul Daniels and the presenter Adam Hart Davies who, infamously, received death threats after one newspaper suggested that he was 'in the frame' to be The Doctor in one of these proposed-but-never-made late-1990s revivals. Which brings us back to the 'early favourite' for the role once Peter Capaldi had announced his decision to step down, Tilda Swinton. A brilliant character actress and perceived to be. that phrase again, 'a bit weird.' The fact that BBC couldn't afford her or, even if they could put a deal together and Tilda was up for the gig, that would be, effectively, the end of her film career for three or four years whilst she was contractually obligated never seemed to have entered the heads of those making this suggestion and those sad, deluded planks who actually believed it. All two of them. So, again, next time you read a newspaper suggesting a potential 'next Doctor', use your brain, dear blog reader. That's what it's for.
The great thing this time around, though, as this blogger said on the radio the other day is that we have got no 'Doctor Template' on how Jodie will play the role. We're into completely new territory, for probably the first time since Christopher Eccleston. Some people appear rather scared - indeed, threatened - by that turn of events (something memorably - though rather sneeringly - parodied by the BBC's The Mash Report this week, for example); this blogger on the other hand is, genuinely, excited by it.
Not all male Doctor Who fans are 'terrified of vaginas,' of course, dear blog reader. Many of us actually think they're great (and, jolly useful too).
As for what comes next for the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, well something like this would probably be quite good (thanks to John Smith for the image).
Or, possibly this.
The BBC has issued a formal response to crass whinges - from an unspecified number of numbskull glakes - about the casting of Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor. Since the news was released on Sunday, the Corporation has, reportedly, received 'a number' of whinges about the casting decision. Of course they have.
As part of its complaints procedure it has now responded. Thankfully, with both barrels: 'Since the first Doctor regenerated back in 1966, the concept of The Doctor as a constantly evolving being has been central to the programme. The continual input of fresh ideas and new voices across the cast and the writing and production teams has been key to the longevity of the series. The Doctor is an alien from the planet Gallifrey and it has been established in the show that Time Lords can switch gender. As the Controller of BBC Drama has said, Jodie is not just a talented actor but she has a bold and brilliant vision for her Doctor. She aced it in her audition both technically and with the powerful female life-force she brings to the role. She is destined to be an utterly iconic Doctor. We hope viewers will enjoy what we have in store for the continuation of the story.' Or, in other words, 'welcome to the Twenty First Century you sexist dickheads. Try purchasing a new mind since the one you've currently got is clearly narrow and full of diarrhoea.' The BBC actually have a backbone. Who knew?
Just to be clear about this, the suggestion has been made more than once online - on a couple of occasions by people whom this blogger really rather respects - that just because someone does not think Jodie Whittaker should have been cast as The Doctor, that does not mean they're sexist. Okay, it's an interesting argument - not one this blogger agrees with - but, in that case, what other reasons are they if they're not sexist? This blogger, for instance, hasn't seen one single complaint about the casting of Jodie Whittaker because someone thinks that she's not a very good actress. Keith Telly Topping hasn't seen one that's critical because she's, for example, considered by someone to be too young, or too old, or too white, or too pretty. On the other hand, every single one of the criticisms that this blogger has seen concerning the casting of Jodie Whittaker are because she's a woman. By definition, that's sexist. It's saying that an actor should not be cast in a TV series entirely because of her gender and no other reason. If you want to call it something else, you're free to do so, but it's a virtual dictionary definition of what the word 'sexism' means.
Next, another random thought which will be familiar to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Facebook fiends: Some rather distressingly loud-mouthed individuals have claimed to anyone that will listen (and, indeed, anyone that won't) that following the casting on Jodie Whittaker, they no longer intend to watch Doctor Who. In the vast majority of cases, this blogger does not believe that's true for a single second - Hell would freeze over and the seventh trumpet of the Apocalypse would sound before many of these individuals would not willingly choose to sit in front of their tellyboxes on a Saturday night, gurning at the screen and then going on the Internet immediately after the episode has finished to tell everyone how much they hated it. However, benefit of the doubt; if, in some cases, this is true, then that does raise a truly terrifying prospect. Imagine: It's a Saturday in September 2018 and gangs of angry, embittered former Doctor Who fans are roaming the streets of Great Britain like an unholy army of the night looking for something to bellow 'Worst! Episode! Ever!' at. It's, frankly, a nightmare in the making. Has anyone alerted the authorities to this potential breakdown in the social fabric?
People who have publicly stated that they think a female Doctor is a good idea include: Doctor Who creator the late Sydney Newman (in 1985), Tom Baker, Russell Davies, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, David Tennant, et cetera, et cetera. People who have publicly stated that they think a female Doctor is a bad idea include: Doctor Who 'superfan' and former record producer Ian Levine, Katie Hopkins, the Daily Scum Mail, the Daily Scum Express. And, Satan (probably). Keith Telly Topping will leave it entirely up to you, dear blog reader, as to decide which column you'd sooner be in.
This blogger also recommends that those unfamiliar with the Doctor Who's sometimes awkward relationship with its own fanbase with regard to 'giving them what they want' should have a read of Nick Barlow's superb article Whether You Like It Or Not - a properly excellent think-piece and a jolly useful aide d'memoire to members of all TV fandoms who believe that they 'own' their own particular favourite show.
Meanwhile, Doctor Who author Una MacCormack's Chinks In The World Machine is another thoughtful and excellently written addition to the debate about whether a female Doctor is a) a good idea or b) a really good idea.
And, one that bombshell ...
Doctor Robin Bunce's op-ed piece in The New Statesmen, Doctor Who's Steven Moffat Era Will Be Remembered As A Golden Age is also highly recommended by this blogger. Not only because is it very well-written, well-argued article and it appears to be the product of a humane and sensible chap but, also, because it will very much piss-off exactly the sort of people who really deserve pissing off. So, double bonus.
Writing the series ten episode The Empress Of Mars wasn't Mark Gatiss's last contribution to Doctor Who after all according to the Radio Times. The writer and actor is, reportedly, set to appear in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, alongside Peter Capaldi, David Bradley, Pearl Mackie and Jodie Whittaker. The news was confirmed rather casually as Mark took part in an interview with Empire magazine at Comic Con this week, alongside yer man Capaldi and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE). 'It was a privilege, an honour and a thrill,' Mark said of his role. The trio were tight-lipped on the specifics of his character, but the outgoing Doctor added that the character had 'a resonant echo in the whole Doctor Who story.' This will be the fourth character that Mark has played in the family SF drama, having previously appeared as the scientist Professor Lazarus in 2007 episode The Lazarus Experiment, voiced a World War II pilot in both his own 2010 episodes Victory Of The Daleks and the following year's A Good Man Goes to War and had a cameo as Gantok in The Wedding Of River Song. Mark has also written ten episodes for the series since it returned to 2005 as well as creating 2013 'making-of' docudrama An Adventure in Space & Time.
The first trailer for Twice Upon A Time was premiered at Comic Con this weekend, dear blog reader. You can watch it here. It looks sexy.
The BBC have revealed that the video announcing Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor received over sixteen million views online. The minute-long specially shot scene debuted on BBC1 after the Men's Wimbledon final on Sunday, where just over five million viewers watched it. It was also released on BBC social media channels around the world. The reveal has been viewed 9.8 million times on the BBC Facebook channel so far, with over 2.5 million views on the Doctor Who Twitter account - making it 'the most successful tweet of all time' for Doctor Who. Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, said: 'To see the overwhelmingly positive response to the news that Jodie Whittaker will star as the Thirteenth Doctor and know that the reveal has had over sixteen million views online so far, is just phenomenal. It's exhilarating to see Doctor Who engaging with people on so many different levels and I cannot wait for the audience to see her in action on BBC1 this Christmas. The teaser trailer, which debuted on Friday evening before the BBC1 Six O'Clock News, has been watched a further 4.8 million times online.
Meanwhile, Jodie Whittaker doesn't appear to be anything like we'd expected, does she? (In case you're wondering, this is, actually, the very lovely sadly sooner-to-be-former Doctor Who Magazine editor, Tom Spilsbury appearing on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show to talk about Jodie's casting. Poor Tom. You announce that you're leaving The Doctor Who Magazine and suddenly everybody forgets your name! One hopes it's a fate Peter Capaldi doesn't suffer, too.
Incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Edge Hill University. The award for, services to Literature, was made on Monday 17 July. In a video released by the University, Chibnall talked about how it felt to receive the award and his aspirations for Doctor Who.
And now, dear blog reader, the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Seven programmes broadcast in the week-ending Sunday 16 July 2017:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.65m
2 In The Dark - Tues BBC1 - 6.64m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.12m
4 Poldark - Sun BBC1 - 6.01m
5 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 5.99m
6 The Loch - Sun ITV - 5.34m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.31m
8 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.10m
9 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.66m
10 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.46m
11 Wimbledon 2017: Men's Singles Final - Sun BBC1 - 4.43m
12 Fearless - Mon ITV - 4.41m
13 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 4.29m
14 Six O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.15m
15 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.11m
16 Fake Or Fortune? - Sun BBC1 - 3.87m
17 Peter Kay's (Lack Of) Comedy Shuffle - Fri BBC1 - 3.79m
18 The Voice Kids - Sat ITV - 3.75m
19 Supermarket Shopping Secrets - Mon BBC1 - 3.64m
20 Joanna Lumley's India - Wed ITV - 3.54m
21 Game Of Thrones - Sun Sky Atlantic - 3.49m
22 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 3.45m
23 ITV News - Tues ITV - 3.21m
24 Love Your Garden - Wed ITV - 3.15m
25 Catchphrase - Sat ITV - 3.07m
26 Pointless Z-List Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 3.03m
27 Today At Wimbledon - Mon BBC2 - 3.00m
These consolidated figures, published weekly by the British Audience Research Bureau, include all viewers who watched programmes live and on various forms of catch-up TV and video-on-demand during the seven days after initial broadcast. They do not, however, include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. The BBC1's latest - Godawful - music lack-of-talent show, Pitch Battle, continued to be ignored by all but the most undiscerning of punters, with a final and consolidated audience of below three million viewers (as usual, it didn't even make the BBC1 top-thirty list for the week). Monday's episode of Today At Wimbledon was - by a distance - the most-watched programme of the week on BBC2. Gardeners' World (2.19m) and the latest episode of Ripper Street (1.89 million) followed. Hospital was watched by 1.88 million, the movie The Lone Ranger by 1.72 million, Mock The Week by 1.67 million, Tuesday's The ONE Show (switched to BBC2 because some tennis match overstayed its welcome on BBC1), by 1.26 million, Frankie Boyle's New World Order by 1.18 million, Horizon by 1.16 million, The Hairy Bikers' Bake-Ation by 1.11 million and a Qi repeat by 1.10 million. Channel Four's highest-rated broadcast was for their coverage of the British Grand Prix (2.82 million) ahead of Catching A Killer: The Wind In The Willow Murder (1.89 million) and the latest episode of The Handmaid's Tale (1.84 million). Twenty Four Hours In A&E had 1.81 million, The Crystal Maze Z-List Celebrity Special, 1.78 million, First Dates, 1.75 million, Supershoppers, 1.59 million, Ackley Bridge, 1.51 million, The Last Leg With Adam Hills, 1.50 million and Tried & Tasted; The Ultimate Shopping List, 1.43 million. The Dog Rescuer With Alan Davies was Channel Five's top performer with an audience of 1.55 million. The Hotel Inspector drew 1.26 million and The Highland Midwife, 1.16 million viewers. The most-watched episode of Big Brother during the week was Wednesday's which also had an audience of 1.16 million. Paul O'Grady's depressingly wretched revival of Blind Date continued to lose viewers, its fifth episode attracting but 1.04 million, as yet more of the audience realised that the Blind Date format was a right load of old toot even when national treasure Cilla was presenting it, let alone O'Grady. This week was, of course, the week that all the various Sky Sports Channels had an identity change. Sky Sports Main Event (which used to be Sky Sports 1)'s coverage of Live British British Grand Prix was seen by three hundred and twenty nine thousand punters in addition to the four hundred and fifty two thousand who watched the race on Sky Sports F1 (the one Sky Sports Channel which didn't undergo a name-change). The new channel Sky Sports Premier League didn't have any Premier League football to show this week - it being the summer, and all  - so its most watched programme during its first week was Live WWW Late Night Raw with fifty nine thousand. Don't worry, lads, the football will bestarting again next month. On Sky Sports Cricket (formerly Sky Sports 2), Saturday's coverage of Live Test Cricket and England's calamitous defeat to South Africa in the second test had three hundred and seventy nine thousand - one presumes, very disappointed - viewers whilst Friday's Live T20 Blast was watched by one hundred and seventy nine thousand. On Sky Sports Golf (formerly Sky Sports 4), Live European Tour Golf - or, Hours Of Televised Sky as it should, more accurately, be called - had one hundred and twenty three thousand. Friday's Transfer Centre was top of the shop on Sky Sports News HQ, with one hundred and twenty three thousand punters. Sky 1's weekly top-ten was headed by the latest episode of that hateful exercise in smugness and celebrity-by-non-entity, A League Of Their Own (five hundred and twenty seven thousand viewers, every single one of whom needs their bloody heads examining for any signs of brain activity if they find this toxic, full-of-its-own-importance vomit even remotely amusing). The second episode of Ross Kemp: Extreme World drew four hundred and ninety two thousand having lost approximately forty per cent of its audience from the previous week. Zoo followed (four hundred and sixty three thousand). The Force: North East was seen by three hundred and eleven thousand. The Simpsons had two hundred and ninety four thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was, of course, topped by the opening episode of Game Of Thrones seventh series with a remarkable 3.49 million viewers. This is, not only by an enormous distance Sky Atlantic's largest ever audience for a single broadcast but also, one of the highest ever recorded for a pay-per-view channel in the UK. The clip show Game Of Thrones: The Story So Far attracted five hundred and eighty five thousand as late-comers tried to catch up with six years of plot. Good luck with that! The fifth episode of the much-trailed drama Riviera had three hundred and forty three thousand whilst Thronecast: War Room was seen by two hundred and sixty two thousand punters. The latest episode of Twin Peaks: The Return was watched by one hundred and fifty five thousand. On Sky Living, Chicago Fire was seen by five hundred and eighty three thousand whilst Madam Secretary had five hundred and seventy five thousand. Nashville drew three hundred and sixty four thousand and How To Get Away With Murder, two hundred and thirty six thousand. Sky Arts' Master Of Photography was watched by one hundred and six thousand viewers. The Ritchie Blackmore Story had fifty six thousand and Mumford & Sons: We Wrote This Yesterday, fifty four thousand. Endeavour was ITV3's top-rated drama (1.02 million viewers). Lewis was seen by nine hundred and twenty eight thousand and Foyle's War by six hundred and sixty six thousand. Thursday's Tour De France Highlights headed ITV4's weekly list with eight hundred and ninety seven thousand punters. If you missed the end, dear blog reader, Chris Froome took it, smoothly, up the Champs-Élysées and won. ITV2's list of shame was topped by Love Island - a truly depressing 2.85 million, the second largest multichannels audience of the week behind Game of Thrones and one of a horrifying six episodes of the hateful 'z-list celebrity scumfest' to attract an audience of more than two-and-a-half million viewers on ITV2. Broken Britain in one ghastly statistic, dear blog reader. The movie The Amazing Spider-Man pulled in seven hundred and sixty four thousand. Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with one hundred and six thousand viewers, followed by The Americans (eighty seven thousand) and DCI Banks (seventy thousand). The Real Housewives Of New York was watched by two hundred and forty thousand of the sort of people who enjoy such risible exercises in z-list-celebrity-by-non-entity on ITVBe. BBC4's list was headed by The British Garden: Life & Death On Your Lawn (eight hundred and ninety eight thousand punters). I Know Who You Are had seven hundred and fourteen thousand and Hunting The Nazi Gold Train, six hundred and fifteen thousand. Britain Beneath Your Feet was seen by five hundred and sixty one thousand, John Denver: Country Boy by five hundred and thirty nine thousand, Castles: Britain's Fortified History by five hundred and twenty four thousand, Britain's Lost Waterlands: Escape To Swallows & Amazons by four hundred and sixty two thousand, a repeat of the excellent Tales From The Tour Bus: Rock 'N' Roll On The Road by four hundred and six thousand and The Joy Of The Guitar Riff by four hundred and three thousand. 5USA's latest Chicago PD episode was viewed by six hundred and ninety one thousand viewers, NCIS: Los Angeles by four hundred and twenty six thousand and NCIS: New Orleans by four hundred and one thousand. NCIS topped the most-watched programme list of CBS Action (one hundred and fifty nine thousand). Family Guy was the most-watched show on FOX's list with one hundred and seventy nine thousand. Shots Fired drew one hundred and thirty seven thousand and an NCIS series fourteen repeat, one hundred and twenty nine thousand. Ransom was seen by four hundred and fourteen thousand viewers on The Universal Channel, followed by the movies Despicable Me (two hundred and three thousand) and Coming To America (one hundred and sixty four thousand) and Chance (one hundred and forty two thousand). On Dave, Not Going Out was watched by three hundred and seventy four thousand and Traffic Cops, by three hundred and forty three thousand. Have I Got A Bit More News For You attracted three hundred and eighteen thousand. Drama's Death In Paradise was seen by five hundred and sixty nine thousand viewers. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries was watched by four hundred and sixty eight thousand, Taggart by four hundred and thirty seven thousand and New Tricks by four hundred and ten thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme of the week was Rosewood (two hundred and twenty seven thousand) whilst The Coroner had one hundred and forty six thousand, Quantico, one hundred and thirty two thousand and Death In Paradise, one hundred and eighteen thousand. Inspector George Gently was watched by ninety two thousand. The Sony Channel's top ten was headed by Saving Hope (sixty thousand). [spooks] drew twenty nine thousand. Yesterday's Royal Murder Mysteries had two hundred and seventy one thousand, whilst Forbidden History attracted two hundred and fifty nine thousand and Ronnie Kray & The Pervert Peer, two hundred and forty nine thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Tanked was seen by one hundred and forty one thousand viewers. Yukon Men had one hundred and thirty two thousand, Deadliest Catch, one hundred and twenty eight thousand, Gold Divers, one hundred and eight thousand and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green: Extreme Fisherman, one hundred thousand. From The North favourite Wheeler Dealers topped the weekly lists of both Discovery Shed (twenty five thousand) and Discovery Turbo (thirty four thousand). Discovery History's Treasure Quest headed the top ten with eighteen thousand. Blood & Fury: America's Civil War attracted seventeen thousand, whilst Tony Robinson's Wild West and Did The Mob Kill JFK? both had fourteen thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory was seen by seventy one thousand viewers. On Quest, Salvage Hunters was watched by two hundred and thirty six thousand. Pick's The Force: Essex and Border Patrol had audiences of two hundred and forty four thousand and two hundred and twenty two thousand respectively. World's Most Evil & Sick Murdering Bastards drew one hundred and eighty four thousand. National Geographic's list was headed by the latest episode of Wicked Tuna with seventy one thousand viewers, followed by Supercar Megabuild (sixty thousand) and Air Crash Investigations (fifty six thousand). National Geographic Wild's Safari Live was watched by sixty nine thousand. The History Channel's most-viewed programmes were the third episode of Robert Redford's The West (two hundred and four thousand) and Storage Wars (one hundred and four thousand). A repeat of Robert Redford's The West on the Military History channel was seen by an additional thirty thousand punters. Ancient Discoveries pulled in twenty eight thousand. Most Shocking & Stunning Murderings, Killing Spree, The First Forty Eight and Snapped were Crime & Investigation's top-rated programmes with forty eight thousand, forty two thousand, thirty nine thousand and thirty eight thousand blood-and-snots-lovers, respectively. I Killed My BFF also drew thirty eight thousand whilst one of From The North's current guilty pleasures, Homicide Hunter, had thirty two thousand. Murderisation Calls, Evil Lives Here, The Perfect Murder and another From The North extremely guilty pleasure, Evil Stepmothers headed Investigation Discovery's list (ninety eight thousand, sixty thousand, fifty nine thousand and fifty five thousand respectively). The latest of GOLD's Mrs Brown's Boys repeat had two hundred and seventy thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Your Face Or Mine with one hundred and seventy one thousand. Your TV's repeat of Bones series one continued with ninety one thousand. On More4, Outlander was the highest-rated programme with six hundred and sixty one thousand viewers. Prince Philip: The Plot To Make A King had four hundred and seventy six thousand and The Yorkshire Dales & Lakes, four hundred and thirty eight thousand. E4's list was topped by Hollyoaks (a rather below-par nine hundred and fifty seven thousand for a series which normally manages to top the one million viewers mark at least once a week). Dark Matter, headed Syfy's top-ten with two hundred and ninety three thousand. The Horror Channel's top ten was headed by Day Of The Dead (one hundred and thirty six thousand). The channel's top-ten also included Phantasm (ninety eight thousand), Boogeyman (ninety thousand) and Apocalypse Pompeii (eighty five thousand). The Spaniard's Curse and The Naked Truth topped Talking Pictures list, with fifty five thousand and fifty two thousand respectively. On Forces TV, the welcome repeat run of Gerry Anderson's UFO was seen by twenty seven thousand. Enter The Dragon drew two hundred and ninety three thousand on Spike whilst The A-Team was watched by two hundred and forty two thousand. And, the person in acquisitions at Spike who bought that just loves it when a plan comes together. Wild Caribbean was watched by thirty nine thousand on Eden. Mountain Monsters was the Animal Planet's most-watched programme with sixty five thousand. Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders on W attracted three hundred and eighty five thousand punters. True Crime's Law & Order: Criminal Intent was seen by forty thousand viewers. On True Entertainment, Taggart was watched by one hundred and forty nine thousand murrrrrdaaah lovers. Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes drew seventy five thousand on Good Food. TLC's list was headed by the, frankly, nasty Say Yes To The Dress and the equally horrible Curvy Brides Boutique (two hundred and thirty eight thousand and two hundred and thirty thousand). Shameful waste-of-oxygen Ex On The Beach on MTV was viewed by five hundred and seventy three thousand. Ghost Adventures and Most Haunted were seen by two hundred and forty eight thousand and one hundred and seventy two thousand punters on Really. Which, given the subject matter of these two horrorshows should, possibly, be rechristened 'No-Not-Really'. Serial Killers: Peter Sutcliffe also attracted one hundred and seventy two thousand. Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! had seventy nine thousand on Boomerang. Zoinks. Nova topped PBS America's weekly list with thirty three thousand viewers. Einsatzgruppen: Nazi Death Squads was watched by twenty two thousand people with stronger stomachs than this blogger. Rock Box: Ultimate Rock Anthems drew eleven thousand on Scuzz. On Cbeebies, Abney & Teal was seen by four hundred and eighty four thousand, Topsy & Tim by four hundred and seventy three thousand and Bing by four hundred and fifty three thousand. Clangers was watched by four hundred and forty one thousand. Transformers Rescue Bots had one hundred and thirty three thousand on the Pop Channel. The Indoor League topped Front Runner's weekly list with four thousand viewers. Five Star's most watched show was Wentworth Prison with four hundred and eighty seven thousand. On AMC, Better Call Saul was seen by seventeen thousand. Billy The Exterminator drew one hundred and fifty thousand punters on Blaze. Botched attracted seventy seven thousand viewers on E! Project Runway All Stars had eighty five thousand on Lifetime. Danny yer's Deadliest Men and Gay Muslims - two programmes with, one suspects, rather different audience profiles, were the most-watched shows on London Live with fifty four thousand and forty five thousand. Sabrina, The Teenage Witch attracted twenty five thousand on The Vault.

Game Of Thrones has returned for its seventh series to an audience of millions - you might have noticed, dear blog reader - and the critics were, generally, quite happy about it. 'It was a thrill to have the show back and it looked more stunning than ever,' wrote the Independent's reviewer. 'By the end of the episode it is clear that the stage is now set for a war of truly epic proportions,' wrote Jess Kelham-Hohler of the Evening Standard. The first episode of the show's seventh series - Dragonstone - was broadcast in the US on Sunday evening and in the early hours of Monday morning UK time. Which would've played jimbuggery with yer actual Keith Telly Toping's sleep patterns if he hadn't, wisely, decided to record it and the latest episode of Twin Peaks: The Return to watch the following morning over breakfast and a nice hot, sweet cup of Joe. Which was civilised. Only one more series of but six episodes of the epic fantasy saga, inspired by the works of author George RR Martin, is planned after this one. Dragonstone opened in typically gory fashion with members of the late Walder Frey's house dying in numbers after drinking wine poisoned by Ayra Stark in revenge for Frey's murder of her mother and brother. The episode also featured the introduction of a new character, played by Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent, as well as a cameo from Ed Sheeran. He's 'a popular beat combo,' apparently. Reviews of the episode welcomed Broadbent's performance as Archmaester Marwyn, with The Hollywood Reporter saying that he 'fits into this ensemble flawlessly.' Critics were far less complimentary about Sheeran, whose appearance as a soldier was dubbed 'jarring' and 'unsubtle' by the Independent's Christopher Hooton. This blogger, who wouldn't have been able to picked Sheeran out of a one-man police line-up, frankly, thought he was all right. In his role as an unnamed soldier, the popular beat combo was seen telling Maisie Williams' Arya that the song he is singing is 'a new one.' According to the Daily Mirra, the exchange 'could only have been more awkward if he'd winked at the camera after and said "Available at all good record stores."' Presumably, they got that information from a 'source' other than the one that told them Kris Marshall had been cast as the new Doctor.
The BBC has upheld a complaint from the daughter of a Scottish artist after Jeremy Paxman gave the wrong answer to a question on University Challenge. The quiz show host incorrectly attributed Billy Connolly's 1970s banana boots to the artist John Byrne rather than their true creator, Edmund Smith. Glasgow pop artist Smith made the size-nine bananas for the comedian in 1975. The BBC said that it had drawn the 'oversight' to the attention of the programme's producers. Although quite what the Hell they are expected to do about this since the episode - a Christmas z-list celebrity special' - was broadcast on 27 December 2016 is another matter entirely. During the semi-final, Jeremy Wade, Shiulie Ghosh and Professor Jamie Angus - for the University of Kent - were asked by Paxo: 'Born in Paisley in 1940, which artist and playwright designed Billy Connolly's banana boots and wrote the 'Slab Boys trilogy' for the theatre and the series Tutti Frutti for television?' After a few seconds deliberation, team captain Paul Ross replied: 'Nicola Sturgeon.' To which Paxmo responded: 'Funny answer, but not right. John Byrne.' Byrne did, indeed, write Slab Boys, Cuttin' A Rag and Still Life as well as Tutti Frutti but he had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of The Big Yen's stage-footwear. The BBC acknowledged that the answer was wrong and conceded that the correct information was widely available, including from the biography of Billy Connolly, written by his wife Pamela Stephenson. In a ruling from the Complaints Unit, the BBC said: 'The daughter of Edmund Smith complained that the answer was incorrect, her father having designed and made the boots in question. Evidence from several sources, including a detailed account of the matter in Pamela Stephenson's biography of Billy Connolly, confirmed that the boots had been designed and made by Edmund Smith. The executive producer responsible for oversight of the series drew the finding to the attention of the independent production company which makes it.' Edmund Smith's banana boots are currently on display at the People's Palace Museum at Glasgow Green.
The BBC is to launch a new Top Of The Pops-style music show more than eleven years after it cancelled its flagship pop music programme. The corporation has announced that a six-part music series will be broadcast live this autumn on BBC1 and feature performances from a collection of the biggest UK and global music stars in each episode. The name of the programme and its place in the schedule are yet to be confirmed but it is understood it will be broadcast at peak times in the evening. Unlike Top Of The Pops, the new thirty-minute show will feature sketches and interviews as well as live performances. It will be made by the production company Fulwell Seventy Three, whose five partners include James Corden and Ben Winston, the executive producer of Corden's US chat show The Late Late Show. The BBC has not had a regular flagship music programme on BBC1 since Top Of The Pops was cancelled in 2006. Top Of The Pops was first broadcast in 1964. Like the new BBC music show it was only commissioned for six episodes before winning a permanent weekly slot. More than two thousand episodes of the programme have been broadcast, including Christmas Day specials since 2006. The new programme has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content and Jan Younghusband, head of commissioning for BBC Music. Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio and Music, said: 'This series will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase the biggest and best UK and international bands and artists and we’re looking forward to working with one of the world's most innovative and creative TV production companies.' Gabe Turner, another partner at Fulwell Seventy Three, added: 'The BBC's heritage in creating and broadcasting world-class music TV is second to none – their classic music shows were a big part of our childhoods growing up as fans devouring everything pop culture. The range of genres and different styles that people are listening to now is more diverse than ever before, and it's a great time to be making a show that gives a mainstream TV platform to the most exciting stuff out there.'
      This blogger's view on all this malarkey is as follows; it is always worth remembering the reasons why Top Of The Pop ended in the first place. It had experienced the best part of a decade of declining audiences as music fans tended to gravitate towards MTV, VH-1 and other specialist video channels. The BBC tried their best, they gave it different time slots on different nights and even switched it to BBC2 with the proviso that it needed to get less viewers on the second channel to be considered 'a success.' And, every time they tried something else with it, the audience shrank further. Also, the nature of Top Of The Pops - groups or solo singers appearing live in front of a studio audience - was seen to be somewhat 'old hat' as more artists concentrated on making videos rather than actually appearing live. And, although some fiftysomethings like this blogger might quite like the idea of a modern equivalent of Legs & Co or Pans People shaking their funky stuff to the latest X Factor winner who couldn't be bothered to come into the BBC and mime their single each week or some slab of bangin' gangsta rap, it's probably fair to say that such an idea would be considered faintly ludicrous by today's teenage pop consumers. Because, let's face it, the majority of people who call for a Top Of The Pops revival by and large almost certainly don't buy chart singles on a regular basis. The people for whom Top Of The Pops was always, primarily, aimed at never seemed to miss it too much when it was gone. Additionally, of course, since 2006 when Top Of The Pops ended, the whole nature of the singles chart has changed radically, as has the business of actually buying music. These days, with downloads and streaming, if a song is in the charts for more than two weeks it's an exception rather than the rule. Plus, obviously, anything that involves James Corden is, probably, best avoided. Apart from those two Doctor Who episodes he was in, obviously.
Many ticket holders for cancelled Olly Murs concerts in Dorset and Devon will not be refunded after the promoter went bust. The singer was to perform at Exeter's Powderham Castle on 29 July and at Kings Park, Bournemouth on 5 August. Stephen C Associates Limited, which organised the events, said it had ceased trading. In a statement the promoter said: 'The company is not in a position to offer you a refund.' Though, to be fair, they did not add: 'Still, bright side, at least you don't have to listen to Olly Murs singing now.'

A shrinking glacier in Switzerland has revealed two frozen bodies believed to be of a couple who went missing seventy five years ago, Swiss media report. Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin disappeared at a height of two thousand six hundred metres after going to tend to their cows in the Alps in August 1942. They were farmers whose seven children never gave up hope of finding them. Their youngest daughter, now aged seventy nine, said she was planning to give her parents the funeral they deserved. The couple were never found despite extensive searches. 'We spent our whole lives looking for them,' Marceline Udry-Dumoulin told Lausanne daily Le Matin. 'I can say that after seventy five years of waiting this news gives me a deep sense of calm.' A DNA test will be conducted in several days' time, police say. Local police said that the bodies were discovered last week on Tsanfleuron glacier, above the Les Diablerets resort, by a worker from a ski-lift company. Director Bernhard Tschannen said that his employee found some backpacks, tin bowls and a glass bottle, as well as male and female shoes and part of a body under the ice. Valais police said in a statement that a book, a backpack and a watch had been taken to Lausanne for forensic analysis. Tschannen said that it was 'likely' the couple had fallen into a crevasse and the way they were dressed implied that they could have been there for 'seventy or eighty years. The bodies were lying near each other. It was a man and a woman wearing clothing dating from the period of World War Two,' he told Le Matin. Ms Udry-Dumoulin said that her mother, a teacher, rarely went on such walks with her husband, a shoemaker, because she spent much of her adult life pregnant and it was difficult terrain. She said that she had never given up hoping that one day she would find her parents, even climbing the glacier three times herself to look for them. Within months of the disappearance of her parents, she and her siblings were placed with different families and lost contact over the years. She told Le Matin that she wanted to hold a long-awaited funeral, but would not wear black. 'I think that white would be more appropriate. It represents hope, which I never lost,' she said. The bodies of a number of missing climbers have been discovered in the Alps in recent years. Climatologists say a rise in global temperatures is causing the ice to recede, revealing the corpses of those missing for decades.
A security robot in Washington DC suffered a watery demise after falling into a fountain by an office building. The stricken robot, made by Knightscope, was spotted by passers-by whose photos of the aftermath quickly went viral on social media. For some, the incident seemed to sum up the state of Twenty First Century technology. 'We were promised flying cars, instead we got suicidal robots,' wrote one worker from the building on Twitter. 'Steps are our best defence against the Robopocalypse,' commented Peter Singer - author of Wired For War, a book about military robotics. It is not the first accident involving Knightscope's patrolling robots, which are equipped with various instruments - including face-recognition systems, high-definition video capture, infrared and ultrasonic sensors. Last year, a sixteen-month-old toddler was run over by one of the autonomous devices in a Silicon Valley shopping centre. And, earlier this year a Californian man was arrested after attacking a Knightscope robot. The man, who was drunk at the time of the incident, later said that he wanted to 'test' the machine.
Paul Nicholls has been rescued after being trapped at the bottom of a waterfall in Thailand for three days, his agent has said. The ex-EastEnders actor had motorcycled to the site in Koh Samui before falling, breaking both legs and shattering a knee. He was unable to use his phone after it broke, but local villagers alerted police to his abandoned motorbike. The thirty eight-year-old Bolton-born actor's agent said that he was 'recovering well.' Nicholls will be flown back to the UK next week. The actor, who played Joe Wicks on the BBC soap in the 1990s, was on holiday in Thailand after finishing filming for the Channel Four series Ackley Bridge. After being alerted, police searched records to find out to whom the bike belonged and found that it had been rented to a British tourist called Paul Greenhalgh - Nicholls' real name. Volunteer rescuers, police and medics went to search for the actor and found him several hours after setting off. Nicholls' first TV appearance was aged ten in Granada Television show Children's Ward. His EastEnders character lived with schizophrenia and the popular soap was praised for its portrayal of mental health on-screen. Since EastEnders, Nicholls has appeared in a number of TV shows, including Law & Order: UK, Casualty and Grantchester. His most recent TV appearance is in Channel Four's Ackley Bridge, where he plays a teacher in a school where British Asian and white British communities merge.
The very excellent Doug Morris posted up the playlist for this weekend's episode of, in this blogger's opinion, the best music programme currently on radio, BBC Newcastle's Best Surrender. This blogger noted that 'every radio show should start with 'Safe European Home', frankly. It'd certainly liven up Women's Hour, fr instance.'
The actor and playwright Trevor Baxter has died, aged eighty four. Born in November 1932 and educated as Dunwich College, after graduating from RADA in 1961, Trevor appeared in a wide variety of shows. His CV included credits in well-known series such as Adam Adamant Lives!, Z Cars, The Wednesday Play, Public Eye, Lorna Doone, Harpers West One, Thriller, The New Avengers, George & Mildred, Dickens Of London, Edward The Seventh, Zodiac, The Edwardians, The Barchester Chronicles, Rumpole Of The Bailey, Selling Hitler, My Family and in later years roles such as Lanyon in Jack The Ripper, Gordon Naylor in The Politician's Wife and Doctor Albrigtsen in Maelstrom. On the big screen, he appeared in films including Nutcracker, Parting Shots, Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow and Van Wilder: The Rise Of Taj (his final screen appearance in 2006). For Doctor Who fans, it was the pairing-up with Christopher Benjamin to play Professor Litefoot alongside Henry Jago that he will probably be best remembered. Created by the late Robert Holmes for the 1977 Tom Baker six-parter The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the duo proved popular and memorable and though rumours of a spin-off television series of their own never came to fruition, the pair found new life through the company Big Finish with their own series of audio CD adventures. Louise Jameson played Leela alongside Baxter in The Talons Of Weng-Chiang and paid tribute to the actor. 'Unbelievably sad to learn that marvellous Trevor Baxter has left the building. He has been in my life since 1976. Witty and vibrant to the end.' Off-screen, Baxter appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the West End, toured Shakespeare in South America with Sir Ralph Richardson and also appeared in the USA in David Mamet's A Life In The Theatre. He was also an accomplished playwright, with plays such as Edith Grove, The Undertaking, Ripping Them Off and Through A Glass Darkly. He also wrote the 1985 TV play The Last Evensong. In 2003 he adapted Oscar Wilde's A Portrait Of Dorian Gray for the stage and in 2005 Wilde's short story Lord Arthur Savile's Crime.
Just after completing the first draft of this bloggerisation update, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping heard the very sad news from his old mucker David Howe that Deborah Watling had died from cancer at the age of sixty nine.
This blogger once spent a pleasant four days with Deborah on a cruise from Los Angeles down to Mexico (it wasn't just us, there were other people there!) Keith Telly Topping remembers, in particular, when we docked in Baja California to do some shopping after a couple of hours Debbie spotted me about to walk back to the ship and asked if I'd take her arm because it was 'a bit hot!' So, we strolled along the road together, arm-in-arm, this blogger and Miss Victoria Waterfield, chatting about, you know, stuff! (I think, to be brutally honest, Debbie just wanted a man with her so that no locals would come up and try to sell her anything and Keith Telly Topping - near enough - fitted the bill!) The photo below of Debbie, with Peter Davison and another much missed member of the Doctor Who family, the late Mary Tamm, was taken by this blogger shortly afterwards before we all got back on the ship and returned to civilisation. A class act, Debbie - a really likeable, sweet lady. This blogger is properly upset by the news of her death in a way that he's not usually when someone he spent his formative years watching on television dies.
Debbie was born in Buckinghamshire in January 1948, the daughter of the actors Jack Watling and Patricia Hicks. She would appear, twice, with her father during her time on Doctor Who. Her sister, Dilys and her brother, Giles were also actors (the latter is now the Conservative MP for Clacton). Beginning as a child actress, Debbie had a regular role as the ten year old niece of Peter Brady in the ITV film series HG Wells' Invisible Man (1958). Later, she attended stage school, reportedly after failing her O levels, but left after three weeks and got herself an agent.
Her next major break came when she was cast for the lead in Dennis Potter's acclaimed Wednesday Play Alice in 1965, Potter's lucid fantasy about the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. The play got Debbie recognition, a Radio Times cover and some great notices.
She also had a small, but crucial role in the movie That'll Be The Day opposite Ringo Starr and David Essex and appeared as Naughty Norma Baker in the popular ITV Second World War drama series Danger UXB. And, she co-starred with Cliff Richard in the 1973 film Take Me High.
She is best known, however, for her role as Victoria Waterfield, one of the companions of Patrick Troughton's Doctor in Doctor Who in the 1960s. She made her first appearance in the second episode of the classic 1967 serial The Evil Of The Daleks, the only episode of that seven-part adventure which still exists in the BBC's shamefully incomplete archives. She went on to appear in six more serials - forty episodes in total - over the following year. Two of these, The Tomb Of The Cybermen and The Enemy Of The World, still exist in their entirety, whilst all bar one episode of The Web Of Fear exists.
Along with Troughton and Frazer Hines, Debbie was part of the TARDIS team that this blogger first encountered as a terrified five year old watching poor Victoria screaming her lungs out when menaced by the weed creature in Fury From The Deep, her final appearance in the long-running family SF drama in 1968. Her acting CV also included roles in William Tell, A Life Of Bliss, The Power Game, This Man Craig, No Hiding Place, Out Of The UnknownThe Newcomers, Crimes Of Passion, Doctor In Charge, Accident, Arthur Of The Britons,  Rising Damp, Lillie and The Jim Davidson Show.
In the 1980s Debbie more or less retired from acting although she continued to attend Doctor Who conventions, do commentaries for DVD releases and appear in documentaries about the series - often along with Frazer Hines who remained a close friend.
Her autobiography, Daddy's Girl (written with Paul Ballard) was published in 2012. At the time of her death, Deborah lived in Thorpe-le-Soken with her second husband, Steve Turner. All of us at From The North send our sincere condolences to Steve at this most difficult of times.
During the course of that cruise, incidentally, the weather was miserable; we were supposed to get off at Catalina Island for a few hours but we couldn't because the weather was so bad so we had an extra 'fun day at Sea'! Oh, the hours just flew by. So, we all spent lots of time in the ship's bar (or, bars actually as it had several). This blogger tried not to be too nerdy and ask Debbie lots of annoying questions about her career but, Keith Telly Topping being Keith Telly Topping he couldn't help it. He tended to stay away from Doctor Who and concentrate more on asking her things like 'What was Dennis Potter like?' and 'Meeting Ringo must've been fun?' Deborah was, always, patient, kind, witty and generally, lovely. This blogger was properly starstruck and that doesn't happen to him very often.
One of the things this blogger will always remember about Debbie was one day he walked into one of the bars and she was sitting, on her own, reading a magazine and drinking and a gin and tonic. Keith Telly Topping didn't want to disturb her but as he was ordering his own drink, we made eye contact and she sort of indicated that this blogger was welcome come over and sit next to her. 'Is it okay if I join you?' he asked. 'Thought you'd never ask!' she said. We chatted about the rotten weather and other trivia and then this blogger thought, 'I'm probably never going to get this chance again, I'm talking to bloody Debbie Watling!' so he said, 'can I ask you about Alice?' and Debbie looked at this blogger with an expression on her face that seemed to say 'Thank God somebody's asked me about something I've acted in other than Doctor Who!' She recalled that George Baker, who played Lewis Carroll in Alice, had been an old family friend - he'd been in a few things with her father - and she really regretted that they had lost touch over the years. Keith Telly Topping suggested 'when you get home, you should look him up, he's still around, isn't he?' She said: 'You know what, I'm going to do just that!' The other thing this blogger remembers her saying was when he asked if she had been nervous being in such a high profile BBC Wednesday Play at such a young age, she said 'but, darling, I'd been making TV shows since I was ten, how old was I when I did that?' This blogger replied (correctly, as it turned out) 'I think you were about seventeen.' She said: 'Oh God, I was a veteran by that stage!' Keith Telly Topping just cracked up!
Deborah Watling, dear blog reader. We lost another great today. And the world is much colder place without her.