Thursday, November 27, 2014

Liechtenstein, Micronesia, Chad, Uzbekistan, Somalia, Tuvalu, Greenland, the Falklands Where Are Ya?

The forthcoming return of Sherlock has been previewed in a new photo. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self appear in the picture, which was unveiled on Tuesday by producer Sue Vertue on Twitter. The actors appear in the classic, Victorian style of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, rather than their usual modern day dress. The photo also sees the return of John's hilarious moustache last seen in The Empty Hearse. Sue did not reveal any further information as to why the pair appear dressed this way, but suggested that the outfits will feature in the upcoming special episode. The cast and crew assembled on Tuesday for the first read-through of the special episode, written by creators The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss his very self. Sherlock will return with a one-off special sometime in 2015, with filming expected to begin in January. A fourth series of three further feature-length episodes will then be filmed later in 2015 for broadcast early the following year.
Sherlock fans' obsession with the filming of the massively popular BBC detective drama has led directly to changes in the way the show is scripted and shot, according to Mark Gatiss. The phenomenon, known as 'Setlock', sees groups of enthusiastic fans gathering in their hundreds at shooting locations, using a Twitter hashtag to share photos of the on-set action and of stars including Benny Cumberbatch, Marty Freeman and yer man Gatiss himself, as well as information they have gleaned from the snatched of dialogue they overhear. And, while Gatiss says that he doesn't resent fans' enthusiasm, he admits that after three series it is now something which has to be taken into account during production. 'When we were filming Baker Street exteriors last time, the fact you've got about three hundred people behind crash barriers is interesting,' Gatiss tells the Radio Times. '[So] we have factored in trying to minimise large scenes outside. If you’re just drawing up in a taxi and running through a door, it’s easier but large dialogue scenes outside are quite tough.' Along with the risk of potential spoilers getting out, one of the main problems is the difficulty the actors face when performing in what Gatiss says amounts to 'a live studio audience' situation. 'First of all it gives a lot away, which is a shame, but also just in terms of concentration it's hard when you feel like you're being observed by more than just the crew.' A further complication of having so many members of the public in the vicinity of a shoot is that it can sometimes be impossible to avoid them turning up in the background. Eagle-eyed viewers watching the series three opener The Empty Hearse spotted a group of Sherlock fans briefly in shot in a scene filmed at a London tube station. Meanwhile, the most famous Sherlock moment so far – the detective's plunge from the roof of St Bart's Hospital – was filmed multiple times, with various red herrings thrown in, in order to avoid the real solution being leaked. Gatiss and series co-creator The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat even made a tongue-in-cheek reference to fans' obsession in the script by including two fake 'solutions' to Sherlock's death-defying escapade within in the episode itself. Mark and Steven have always been at pains to point out that they avoid reading any of the reams of fan-fiction which has sprung up around the show – but one way or another, there's no denying Sherlock fans are having a direct impact on the direction the series takes. Albeit, not an entirely welcome one. That's one of prices of success, one could note.
It's very actual Martin Freeman – but not as we know him. The Sherlock star will soon be seen making a cameo in the BBC2 comedy Brian Pern: A Life In Rock. In the first episode of the show, which follows the earlier - acclaimed - BBC4 series based on the character, Marty plays himself playing a younger version of Pern in Stowe Boys – a West End rock musical about the band with a director played by Kathy Burke. Pern (the creation of The Fast Show actor Simon Day) is, of course, the former front man of the fictional progressive rock group Thotch – reuniting with his band mates for the musical before he's unexpectedly arrested by Operation Bad Apples Officers for a crime which he claims he doesn't know he's committed. Joining Marty on stage in Stowe Boys is the odious, risible, unfunny lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall who has been cast as a younger version of Nigel Havers' character, Thotch keyboardist Tony Pebble. So, that's yet another one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's most favourite TV programmes that the wretched louse Whitehall has infested and, probably, ruined by his presence. Nice one, mate. What do you do for an encore, get a job on Doctor Who? No, yer actual Keith Telly Topping mustn't even joke about that sort of thing ... Anyway, while filming the episode, Marty was sporting the beard which he grew for his stage portrayal of Richard III which was running at Trafalgar Studios at the time. However, the comedy chooses to explain his facial hair by insisting that the actor was recording 'a fictitious biopic of Chas & Dave' at the time. Co-creator Rhys Thomas, who is esteemed by comedy fans for his star-turn as spoof radio presenter Gary Bellamy in Radio 4's Down the Line, has known Marty for a number of years, but he was still surprised that the Sherlock actor was able to find time to film his cameo for the comedy. 'I didn't think he was going to say "yes" because he's really busy,' Thomas told Radio Times. 'He was doing Richard III at the same time and I think he wanted a bit of a laugh. He loves music as well. He just did it for fun. Martin that day had a really bad back. He had hurt his back doing Richard III and he really put all his effort into it. He is one of the busiest people in the world and I thought the fact that he could come and give an afternoon to this was really nice of him and he had a really good time.'
And, speaking of odious, worthless, inept lanky streak of piss and scum of the virry Earth itself, Jack Whitehall, in an interview with the Digital Spy website, the talentless, unfunny waste-of-oxygen bell-end, horrorshow (and drag) notes, quite horrifically: 'I'd love to do Doctor Who.' Yeah, yer actual Keith Telly Topping should've probably seen that coming. 'I need to corner Steven Moffat,' the horrible Whitehall continued. 'He had Zawe [Ashton] and Michelle Gomez in the last series - they were both very good in it. I love Doctor Who and Peter Capaldi has been brilliant. I'd like to play a villain. My heroes are people like Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman. I'd love to do my version of a Rickman villain. It would be Gruber-esque.' Oh bugger, this blogger knew he shouldn't have joked about such a potential scenario. So, having already shagged up two of this blogger's favourite shows - Qi and Have I Got News For You - in the episodes which he appeared in, and is about to shag up Brian Pern as well, now it seems the odious, unfunny waste-of-space has got his eyes on The Big One. Moffat, if you're reading this blog - and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows that you are - avoid corners at all costs. And, if he rings, don't take the call.
Catherine Tate has, apparently, ruled out a return to Doctor Who. Not that anybody had been suggesting that she would be returning to the show in which she last appeared in 2010. But, you know, just in case ...

ITV has commissioned a second series of Grantchester. James Norton and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green will return in a new run of the period crime drama, based on the characters created by novelist James Runcie, in 2015. The series follows charismatic priest Sidney Chambers (Norton) and Police Inspector Geordie Keating (Green) as they fight crimes together in the backdrop of Cambridgeshire in the 1950s. Lead writer Daisy Coulam will also return to work on the second series, while production company Lovely Day will produce. 'I'm delighted with how the audience have taken to Grantchester and I'm very happy that ITV have asked us to make a second series,' said Lovely Day's Diederick Santer. 'The show is a joy to make, so we can't wait to get back to working on it.' ITV's Director of Drama Steve November added: 'We received a tremendous audience reaction to Grantchester. It was so well received so it was an easy decision to commission a new series. We're looking forward to working with Diederick Santer and reading Daisy Coulam's beautifully written scripts.' Filming will begin in 2015, with further casting details expected to be made in the coming months.
I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) came out on top over the overnight ratings on Monday. The ITV Victorian freak show show dropped over eight hundred thousand viewers from the previous Monday's episode and around five hundred thousand from Sunday's to an average 8.46 million at 9pm. Earlier, Countrywise brought in 3.11m at 8pm. On BBC1, Fake Britain interested 3.87m at 7.30pm, while Panorama brought in 2.15m at 8.30pm. A New Tricks repeat was seen by 2.49m at 9pm. BBC2's Strictly: It Takes Two attracted 2.14m at 6.30pm. University Challenge had an audience of 2.69m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.28m at 8.30pm. Posh People launched with 1.49m at 9pm, while Never Mind the Buzzcocks was seen by eight hundred and seventy six thousand at 10pm. On Channel Four, Dispatches drew eight hundred and eleven thousand at 8pm, followed by How To Sell Your Home with nine hundred and thirty three thousand at 8.30pm. New series Skint gathered 1.14m at 9pm. Channel Five's Loch Ness Monster: Missing Evidence was watched by an audience of 1.03m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of Gotham with 1.18m at 9pm. On BBC3, Some Girls continued with four hundred and six thousand at 10pm, while Len Goodman and Lucy Worsley's Dancing Cheek To Cheek appealed to six hundred and seventy eight thousand at 9pm on BBC4. On FOX, The Walking Dead was seen by five hundred and fifty nine thousand at 9pm.

The Missing bounced back to top the overnight ratings on Tuesday outside soaps. The BBC1 drama gained back over five hundred thousand viewers from the previous week - when it went up against the England versus Scotland match - climbing to an average of 5.54 million at 9pm. ITV's Champions League coverage scored 4.33m from 7.30pm. On BBC2, MasterChef: The Professionals was watched by and average audience of 2.83m at 8pm, followed by Secrets Of The Castle with 1.56m at 9pm. Channel Four's Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners appealed to 1.45m at 8pm, while The Paedophile Next Door drew 1.33m at 9pm. A Gogglebox repeat attracted 1.32m punters at 10pm. On Channel Five, Countdown To Murder brought in nine hundred and sixty seven thousand at 8pm, followed by Miracle Babies with nine hundred and twenty seven thousand at 9pm. On Sky1, The Flash's latest episode had an audience of four hundred and thirty five thousand at 8pm. Dave's final episodes of Storage Hunters UK were watched by four hundred and fifteen thousand at 8pm and four hundred and seventy thousand at 8.30pm.

The Apprentice bounced back week-on-week on Wednesday, overnight data reveals. The BBC1 bullying competition was up by around two hundred and fifty thousand viewers to an average 5.35 million at 9pm. BBC2's spin-off You're Fired gathered 2.20m at 10pm. On ITV, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) easily topped the night, dipping by around two hundred thousand viewers from last Wednesday to 7.77m at 9pm. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise was watched by 3.53m at 8pm. BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals appealed to 3.06m at 8pm, followed by Great Continental Railway with two million punters at 9pm. On Channel Four, Posh Pawn brought in 1.34m at 8pm, while Liberty Of London attracted eight hundred and thirty eight thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's Gibraltar: Britain In The Sun was seen by eight hundred and eighty nine thousand at 8pm, followed by Benefits Britain with 1.34m at 9pm. On the multichannels, Sky1's Champions League coverage scored five hundred and eighty thousand thousand at 7.30pm.

The BBC is preparing to announce how it will save more money, having already clawed back more than one billion quid a year through cost-cutting measures. A new report will say the corporation needs to save an extra four hundred million smackers a year by 2017. However, it warns that further cuts will have 'an adverse impact' on programmes and services. Suggestion that the cuts already made, hasn't. Which, of course, is not true or anything even remotely like it/ The corporation has already announced the intended closure of TV channel BBC3, which will move online. Which isn't great news although the fact that it will severely cut the amount of time that Russell Kane - very popular with students - will be on television is, of course, welcome. Some press reports have suggested that BBC4 could follow suit, but the BBC's director of strategy, James Purnell, refused to speculate on its future during an interview on Radio 4's Today programme. 'We don't want to close BBC4,' he said. 'What we're doing is making efficiency savings, and what we've published today is a document that shows that over the last few years we've saved about £1.1bn of our costs. By the end of this charter period, in two years time, that'll be £1.5bn - that's nearly half of the costs that we control at the BBC.' The BBC's report comes as it prepares to negotiate with the government for the renewal of its Royal Charter in 2016. Various scumbag Conservative politicians with a sick-agenda smeared all over their disgusting collective mush have 'hinted' the corporation could face further budget cuts, with the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Javid calling the £145.50 annual licence fee a 'large amount [that] needs to be looked at.' The BBC's report emphasises it cannot repeat previous one-off cost-cutting measures, such as the sale of London's Television Centre, which raised two hundred million smackers. It has shed more than a thousand staff and reduced the pay packets of its star performers by twenty two million quid since 2008. The report stresses that most of the cuts have been behind-the-scenes, with more than ninety per cent of the licence fee now spent on content. 'It is vital that as much of the licence fee as possible goes straight to the programmes and services audiences love,' said BBC finance chief Anne Bulford, launching the document. 'This report shows we've made great strides in becoming more efficient. We're doing far more for less.' 'Every organisation is wasteful,' said Purnell, 'but the fact that we've saved five per cent a year for the last twenty years has actually been a huge transformation in our productivity. The licence fee has been pretty much flat in real terms, and yet we've given people new services like BBC3, BBC4 and the iPlayer. That's been a huge improvement in the value people get, without them having to pay any more.'

Oscar winning actresses Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are to star in a TV series by Ally McBeal writer David E Kelley. Based on the book Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, it tells the story of three mothers with children in nursery school who get caught up in a murder mystery. The actresses will play two of those women, whose seemingly perfect lives unravel during a school fundraiser. The pair will also co-executive produce along with Kelley. The third leading role has yet to be cast. Witherspoon and Kidman's respective production companies, Pacific Standard and Blossom Films, had originally optioned the rights to the Australian author's book earlier this year as a feature film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the comedy drama is being shopped to US cable networks and streaming services like Netflix as 'a limited series'. Although it could run as a one-off, a limited series offers the opportunity for a show to be renewed for further episodes if it goes down well with viewers, like CBS SF drama Under The Dome. Witherspoon last appeared on TV in 2000 in the US sitcom Friends, guest-starring as Jennifer Aniston's sister, Jill. She has also voiced characters in animated series King Of The Hill and The Simpsons. Kidman appeared in a number of Australian TV series at the start of her career including A Country Practice and Five Mile Creek. She starred in TV movie Hemingway and Gellhorn alongside Clive Owen in 2012, which earned her a best actress Golden Globe nomination. Witherspoon and Kidman are the latest A-listers try their hand at the small screen, joining the likes of Kevin Spacey, Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

The Cube is to return to ITV for a ninth series according to Broadcast magazine. The Phillip Schofield game show's latest run was filmed in September and will be shown in 2015.

Ed Sheeran, Take That and Ella Henderson are amongst those due to perform on this year's Top Of The Pops Christmas specials. Henderson, Sheeran, George Ezra and The Vamps will all perform on both the Christmas Day and New Year's Eve shows. The first show on 25 December will also feature performances from Tom Odell, Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne. The Vamps, Mr Probz, Sigma, George Ezra, Gordon City featuring MNEK, Rixton and Take That will also perform on the show, which will include the Christmas number one. The Script, Labrinth, Professor Green with Tori Kelly, Charli XCX and La Roux will then perform on the 31 December episode. One of two of whom, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self has actually heard of. When, exactly, did this blogger get so old and addled that he got out of touch with what the bright young people and the hippin' and the hopin' and the baseball cap on backwards and that are listening to? Oh, 1963. Fair enough.

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has denied that he and fellow The X Factor panellist Cheryl Fernandez-Versini have fallen out. The fifty five-year-old took to Twitter to say that the singer remains 'a great friend.' Which is, you know, such a relief cos we were all so worried that they may no longer be skipping through the daisies hand-in-hand any more. Meanwhile, Fernandez-Versini has reportedly ended her online friendship with former band mate Nadine Coyle, 'unfollowing' the Northern Irish singer on Twitter. And, this is Earth-shattering, post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare 'news', apparently.
Former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell has been ordered to pay three hundred thousand smackers in costs after he extremely lost his high court libel action over the so-called 'Plebgate' incident. Outside the court, Mitchell told reporters that he was 'bitterly disappointed' with the ruling - not to mention, you know, skint - and that it had been 'a miserable two years' for him, but that he now hoped to move on with his life. He had sued News Group Newspapers over a September 2012 story in the Sun which claimed he had launched an 'offensive and arrogant' attack on Downing Street police officers who refused to allow him to cycle through the main vehicle gates, branding them 'fucking plebs.' NGN based its report, which it said was 'substantially true', on the account given in his log by PC Toby Rowland. Giving his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting said: 'For the reasons given I am satisfied at least on the balance of probabilities that Mr Mitchell did speak the words alleged or something so close to them as to amount to the same including the politically toxic word "pleb"'. The officer claimed that statements made by the fifty eight-year-old MP for Sutton Coldfield from December 2012 onwards falsely suggested he had fabricated his allegations. Mitchell, who resigned as whip a month after the altercation, constantly denied saying: 'Best you learn your fucking place, you don't run this fucking government. You're fucking plebs.' He claimed that he would never call a police officer a pleb 'let alone a fucking pleb' – though he agreed that he muttered: 'I thought you lot were supposed to fucking help us' – albeit not directly at the officer. Sadly for him, the judge did not believe him and has, effectively, called him a liar. Whether the statements which Mitchell gave in court, under oath, will now lead to subsequent charges of perjury is not, at this time, known. Though, if they are not, one does have to wonder why not, exactly. Mitchell had been in a hurry to get to the Carlton Club that evening and was expecting to be let through as he had been without difficulty that morning and after lunch. He thought it 'extremely odd' when Rowland issued him with a warning under the Public Order Act, but claimed that he apologised to the officer for his language the next day. Mitchell agreed that the chief whip's role required 'a mixture of charm and menace' and that he could occasionally 'be abrasive' - in other words stomp around like an overgrown school bully who think he owns the place - but claimed that he did not merit the 'extraordinary tsunami of vitriol which descended on my head over a prolonged period of time.' Once again, the judge, seemingly, disagreed. His counsel, James Price QC, claimed that 'a web of lies, deceit and indiscipline' by police officers led to a press campaign and public hostility and the version of the encounter which was leaked to the newspaper by a number of officers was 'wholly false.' Except that, the judge decided, it wasn't. Whether those officers will now be considering taking libel actions of their own against Mitchell for these comments, and others, is also, not known. 'In the end, the lies brought Mr Mitchell down, destroying a political career of twenty seven years,' Price said. And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for him? Statements supplied in court by a range of people, from the musician Sir Bob Geldof to painter and decorator Richard Robinson, attempted to show that Mitchell was not 'a Tory toff” who would think of putting someone down because of their class, social background or occupational status by use of a 'toxic and class-laden' expression like pleb, Price alleged. But Desmond Browne QC, representing Rowland, claimed that Mitchell was a 'Jekyll and Hyde' character whose 'capacity for menace' found its outlet in 'foul temper and foul language.' He said that the MP was regularly let through the vehicle gates, in the face of the security policy, because of the 'unpleasant fuss' he made about the issue. Rowland said he did not know who Mitchell was when he saw the 'agitated' MP having a disagreement with a fellow officer and went to speak to him. 'I was perfectly calm, perfectly polite. It is quite common to have disagreements about entrances and times people can come and go.' He claimed that members of the public were 'within earshot' and 'visibly shocked' when Mitchell swore, which prompted the 'correct, proportionate and very necessary' warning. Rowland denied that his account was an invention to 'cover my arse' and justify giving a Cabinet minister a warning, maintaining that he recorded exactly what had happened while it was fresh in his mind. Once again, it would seem that the judge believed him and not Mitchell. In his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting said that PC Rowland was 'not the sort of man who would have had the wit, imagination or inclination to invent on the spur of the moment an account of what a senior politician had said to him in temper.' Which, if you look up 'back-handed compliments for police officers' on Google you'll find that one pretty near the top. The judge rejected the allegation that there was 'collusion' by the officers on the gate that night. Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'We are pleased that the judge has ruled in PC Toby Rowland's favour. Toby's name has been cleared and his integrity restored. Toby has conducted himself with dignity and professionalism in relation to this incident and subsequent inquiries and legal cases. It is important that this incident is now brought to a close to allow Toby and his family to look to the future.' Outside court, the BBC's legal correspondent Clive Coleman said that the ruling would be 'devastating' for Mitchell's reputation. And, for his bank account one imagines. The question of whether, having been accused by a judge of  being economical with the truth, Mithcell will resign from his parliamentary seat is also likely to be come an issue in the coming days.

A rare and valuable Shakespeare First Folio, regarded as the most important book in English literature, has been discovered in a small French town. The book had lain undisturbed in a library in Saint-Omer, near Calais for two hundred years. It was discovered by librarians planning an exhibition on the historic links between the region and England. 'The work has several pages missing, including the title page,' librarian Remy Cordonnier told the press. The loss of the first page and introductory material may have led to the book being catalogued as an unexceptional old edition, he added. The Folio collects thirty six of Shakespeare's thirty eight known plays for the first time and was originally printed in 1623, seven years after the playwright's death. Edited by his friends and fellow actors John Heminges and Henry Condell, it is credited with being the reason his literary legacy had survived. It is the only source for eighteen of his plays, including Macbeth. It is thought that eight hundred copies were produced, of which two hundred and thirty three are believed to still exist. New discoveries are made roughly once a decade and they are scrutinised by scholars for minor variations (each copy is marginally different) and what they might reveal about Shakespeare's intentions. They rarely change hands but one of the last Folios to be sold at auction, in 2006, fetched £2.8m. The copy discovered in Saint-Omer is one of only two known to reside in France. Cordonnier, who runs the library's rare books collection, said that he had not initially realised the significance of his find. 'I didn't instantly recognise it as a book of value,' he said. 'It had been heavily used and was damaged. It had seen better days. [But] It occurred to me that it could be an unidentified First Folio, with historic importance and great intellectual value.' The librarian contacted one of the world's foremost authorities on Shakespeare, Professor Eric Rasmussen of the University of Nevada, who happened to be in London working at the British Library. 'He was very interested by the elements I had sent him by mail and said he would come over and take a look,' said Cordonnier. Professor Rasmussen took the Eurostar to France last Saturday and authenticated the Folio within five minutes. 'This is huge,' he told the New York Times. 'First Folios don't turn up very often, and when they do, it's usually a really chewed up, uninteresting copy. But this one is magnificent. It was very emotional to realise we had a copy of one of the most famous books in the world,' said Cordonnier. #I was already imagining the reaction it would cause.' The Folio contains several handwritten notes, which may illuminate how the plays were performed in or shortly after Shakespeare's time. In one scene from Henry IV, the word 'hostess' is changed to 'host' and 'wench' to 'fellow' - possibly reflecting an early performance of the play where a female character was turned into a male. The library says that it has no plans to sell the book but intends to display it as the centrepiece of the forthcoming exhibition of its rare books by English authors. However, the Folio is not the rarest book the Saint-Omer library owns. It also has a Gutenberg Bible, of which fewer than fifty are known to survive.

Some truly dreadful news now. The Australia test cricketer Phillip Hughes has died aged twenty five, two days after being struck on the top of the neck by a ball during a domestic match in Sydney. Australia team doctor Peter Brukner said that Phillip had died in hospital, never regaining consciousness. Hughes, who also played for Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire, was hit by a delivery from bowler Sean Abbott. 'It's an understatement to say we're completely devastated,' said Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland. 'The word tragedy gets used too often in sport, but this freak accident is a real life tragedy.' Australia's captain Michael Clarke read out a statement on behalf of the Hughes family at a news conference held at St Vincent's Hospital, where the player, who would have been twenty six on Sunday, was being treated. Speaking on behalf of his parents Greg and Virginia, sister Megan and brother Jason, Clarke said: 'We're devastated by the loss of our much-loved son and brother, Phillip. It's been a very difficult few days. We appreciate all the support we have received from family, friends, players, Cricket Australia and the general public. Cricket was Phillip's life and we as a family shared that love of the game with him. We would like to thank all the medical and nursing staff at St Vincent's Hospital and Cricket New South Wales medical staff for their great efforts with Phillip.' Hughes had been wearing a helmet but the ball struck him at the top of the neck, causing the injury. He had CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the ground before being taken to St Vincent's, where he had a ninety minute operation to relieve pressure on his brain. But his death was confirmed in a statement on Thursday. 'It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away,' said Brukner. 'He never regained consciousness following his injury on Tuesday. He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends. As a cricket community, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Phillip's family and friends at this incredibly sad time. Cricket Australia kindly asks that the privacy of the Hughes family, players and staff be respected.' Speaking at the news conference, Brukner explained that Hughes had died as a result of 'vertebral artery dissection.' He said the artery had been compressed, causing it to split and leading to a 'massive bleed' into the brain. Brukner said the injury was 'freakish', adding: 'Vertebral artery dissection is incredibly rare. If you look in the literature, there is only one hundred cases reported. There is only one previous example caused by a cricket ball.' The Australian flag was lowered to half-mast over the Sydney Cricket Ground where Hughes suffered the horrific injury. Flags were also lowered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to Hughes, describing him as 'a young man living out his dreams. His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family. What happened has touched millions of Australians,' he said. 'For a young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking aberration. He was loved, admired and respected by his team-mates and by legions of cricket fans.' The England team also released a statement on Twitter, writing: 'Our deepest sympathies go out to Phil Hughes' family, friends and team-mates at this incredibly sad time. Phil was admired and respected by all he played with and against and will never be forgotten by the cricket community.' Giles Clarke, the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, added: 'He was an extremely popular and hugely respected cricketer in England and Wales not only as a successful tourist with various Australian teams but also as a wonderfully talented county player with Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire. He will be missed throughout the world of cricket and today our thoughts are with his family and all those involved in Australian cricket.' Hughes, who had played twenty six tests, made his debut at the age of ywenty against South Africa in 2009. In only his second match, he became the youngest batsman to post two centuries in a single test. He played county cricket for Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire and shared in what was at the time a world record tenth-wicket partnership of one hundred and sixty three with Ashton Agar against England in the 2013 Ashes series. He has been tipped for a recall ahead of the upcoming series against India, which is due to start next week. Cricket Australia had already decided to abandon the latest round of Sheffield Shield matches following the injury to Hughes. After his death was announced, cricket officials from Pakistan and New Zealand chose to postpone the second day's play in the third and final test between the two countries. A two-day tour match between a Cricket Australia XI and India, scheduled to be played in Adelaide on Friday and Saturday, has been cancelled. The death of Hughes has inevitably sparked further discussion about player safety in cricket and the use of helmets. 'It's an incredibly safe game, but I think this will shake batsmen slightly out of what might have been complacency,' said former England captain and opening batsman Michael Atherton. 'I wore the same helmet for ten years. I never changed it. I didn't give it much thought really. If there is that kind of complacency that I was guilty of, then I think people will be shaken out of that.'

More than one million vinyl records have been sold in the UK so far this year - the first time the milestone has been achieved since 1996. The figures mark a largely unexpected resurgence in an industry now considered to be dominated by digital. Earlier this month, Pink Floyd's The Endless River became the fastest-selling vinyl release since 1997. The Official Chart Company told the BBC it will soon launch a weekly vinyl chart. 'In an era when we're all talking about digital music, the fact that these beautiful physical artefacts are still as popular as they are is fantastic,' said Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts Company. Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live's Wake Up To Money, he said: 'It's really remarkable. We're seeing it come back as a significant earner for the music industry as well. Only five years ago this business was worth around three million pounds a year. This year it's going to be worth twenty million.' However, music industry officials acknowledged that vinyl will likely remain a niche interest. Pink Floyd's accolade as the fastest-selling vinyl release this century came thanks to just six thousand sales - a tiny amount in comparison to the numbers amassed by digital formats. The best selling vinyl in that period was David Bowie's Nothing Has Changed. The total figures are expected to rise to around 1.2 million with Christmas sales, said Gennaro Castaldo from music industry body the BPI. 'Most of us did write off vinyl,' he told the BBC. 'Whilst the candle flickered and nearly went out, it didn't entirely go out. I think the start of the 2000 period, a few rock bands came along - The Killers, Arctic Monkeys - it's helped made vinyl cool again.' In 1996, it was Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory? providing healthy vinyl sales. Thanks to a re-issue, the same LP is one of the best-selling of this year too - the LP is tenth in this week's chart. The market for vinyl appeared to be split into two distinct groups, noted the individuals interviewed by the BBC. They said one generation, which grew up with vinyl, liked to keep increasing their record collection by continuing to buy music in the format. Meanwhile, a younger generation has adopted vinyl as an antidote to the own-nothing trend of services like iTunes and Spotify. 'I think it's sort of a hipster thing,' remarked one shopper at Rough Trade East, a popular record store off Brick Lane in East London. 'Things that were cool decades ago, but fell out of fashion, are making a comeback.' One survey that seemingly backs up this train of thought was published in April this year, by the ICM Group. It suggested fifteen per cent of physical music - whether vinyl, CD or, less likely, tape - was bought with no intention of ever listening to it. Nigel House, co-founder of the Rough Trade retail chain, told the BBC he thought that the big record labels were pouncing on vinyl because it has become fashionable. 'The major labels, their albums are so expensive - twenty five pounds. You get someone coming in, they could buy ten CDs for a hundred pounds, or four vinyls. Yes, they are expensive. For me, I don't think that's good at all.' But he did welcome the resurgence, even if, as he put it, it was 'a drop in the ocean' of overall sales. 'Certain styles of music, they need that warmth. They need that feeling. Soul, reggae, hip-hop, even punk - they sound so much better on vinyl. Some records, I like the way they degrade. It's like a photograph fading, it's part of the whole beauty of vinyl.' Castaldo agreed: 'The difference between vinyl and other formats is that it's viewed as an art form, really - the audio quality, the sleevenotes, the cover art. Whilst other formats are being superseded every time technology improves, vinyl doesn't really fit into that category because it's more than that.'

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be attending Uncle Scunthrope's latest Record Player event that the Tyneside.
This week, it's the Goddamn Queen of Blue-Eyed Soul Dusty Sprinfield her very self and Dusty In Memphis. Tasty. So, that's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Check it out.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week Forty Nine: Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

The BBC have announced that the title for this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special will be Last Christmas, written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst. In addition a new promotional image for the episode has been released, featuring yer actual Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman her very self and Nick Frost as Santa, plus Dan Starkey as Ian and Nathan McMullen as Wolf, two of Santa's little helpers who were seen in the recent preview clip shown on this year's Children In Need.
The BBC have also released online highlights from the recentQ&A event hosted by the very Frank Skinner with guests Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Sam Anderson, Michelle Gomez and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, to mark the DVD and Blu-ray release of Doctor Who series eight. Which is nice. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping got sent his copy of the box-set on Monday.
Torchwood writer Catherine Tregenna will, reportedly, script an episode of Doctor Who for its forthcoming ninth series. Catherine's involvement in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's next batch of episodes was revealed by her client page on The Agency. The Welsh playwright and television scriptwriter has previously written for EastEnders, Casualty and Law & Order: UK. She also worked on four episodes of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood across its first two series - Out Of Time, Captain Jack Harkness, Meat and Adam.

Fans eagerly awaiting the return of the hit BBC drama Sherlock have been warned to 'expect tragedy' in series four. Co-creator Mark Gatiss his very self dropped some - not particularly subtle - hints in a recent interview, after The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat similarly said that the upcoming episodes starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch as the sleuth would be 'devastating'. 'Expect tragedy as well as adventure, that's just how it goes,' Mark told Radio Times, adding that the show's plotline would not, necessarily, follow that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original novels and short stories. 'Just because it's in the stories, doesn't mean it'll happen in the series,' he said. 'There's an awful lot of changes and an awful lot of places to go and things to do. It should be clear by now that while, of course, Doyle is our absolute God, we have gone quite a long way away as well. We've introduced Sherlock and Mycroft's parents – I don't think they've ever been seen in any adaptation – so there are lots of surprises to come.' One character who, potentially, could be facing an uncertain future is John Watson's wife Mary, played by Amanda Abbington. 'While we play fast and loose with the original stories, we generally follow the trajectory of what Conan Doyle did,' Martin Freeman his very self recently told the Torygraph. 'So [Watson] gets married and then Mary dies – so at some point, presumably, she'll die.' Should Mary face her demise in the next series, fans could see Watson move back into the Baker Street flat with Holmes, as happens in the Conan Doyle books. Although what fate awaits the Watsons' unborn child is, equally, unclear. But with Sherlock, anything could happen. A one-off Sherlock special begins production in January for a possible Christmas 2015 broadcast while a further three episodes will be shot later in the year to be broadcast in 2016.
Yer actual Martin Freeman his very self is, according to the Radio Times, 'in talks' to star alongside Thirty Rock's Tina Fey in a black comedy Taliban Shuffle, an adaptation of journalist Kim Barker’s wartime memoir. The story details Barker's time in Kabul, writing stories about militants and what it's like to be a woman in wartime Iraq and Pakistan, as well as dealing with the boredom, violence and promiscuous nature of life as a war correspondent. Freeman is said to be up for the role of Barker's love interest, a dedicated Scottish photojournalist. Fey will take the lead role as well as join as a producer alongside Lorne Michaels, with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa directing. The Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie is also said to have joined the cast, playing a competing hard-core on-air reporter. In the meantime, Freeman will be back on the big screen as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, which arrives in cinemas next month.

For British Doctor Who fans, the Time Lord is the star of the show but it seems that in other parts of the world Peter Capaldi and co sometimes get second billing to the man behind the scenes, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat. 'He's always getting pulled into photoshoots with us and saying "Oh, no one's interested in me,"' Capaldi told Radio Times. '[But] we went on stage in Mexico and [the reaction to Moffat] was like Sting or Bono.' Jenna Coleman her very self has had to get used to legions of adoring fans but even she was forced to admit, 'Steven is more popular here. I went outside the hotel yesterday to sign [autographs], and they were like "Where’s Moffat?!"' Details of The Moffinator's phenomenal following in Mexico are revealed in Earth Conquest, a forty five-minute film documenting the Doctor Who World Tour, which launched the eighth season this summer. Footage from the film, which makes up part of the series eight DVD extras, shows the party arriving in Mexico City to be met by screaming fans who don't seem particularly excited by either Peter or Jenna, but instead are chanting 'Moffat! Moffat! Moffat!' 'We all in Mexico adore, admire, Steven Moffat, because he's a hell of a writer,' gushes one fan. 'We all love to him to play with our feelings.' Steady. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat appears to take it all in his stride. Whether his comparative popularity in the Central American country is down to a regional delay in broadcast – meaning Coleman and Capaldi are less well known – or simply to the appreciation of quality writing and original storylines is uncertain. But as far as Mexican fans are concerned, Doctor Who is in very safe hands.
The Apprentice dropped around 1.3 million viewers week-on-week after going up against I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) on Wednesday, overnight data reveals. The BBC1 series fell to an average audience of 5.10m at 9pm, down from the previous week's 6.4m. BBC2's spin-off, You're Fired! was seen by 2.02m at 10pm. ITV's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was watched by 7.96m at 9pm after a day off for the football. This was down by around 1.2m from its previous episode on Monday. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise brought in 3.76m at 8pm. BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals had an audience of 3.27m at 8pm, followed by The Great Continental Railway with 2.04m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Posh Pawn appealed to 1.37m at 8pm, followed by Liberty Of London with six hundred and eighteen thousand at 9pm and Confessions Of A Copper with four hundred and sixty five thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Gibraltar: Britain In The Sun interested eight hundred and one thousand at 8pm, while Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away was seen by 1.04m at 9pm. Wentworth continued with four hundred and ninety six thousand at 10pm.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) bounced back in the ratings on Thursday. The ITV show gained back around four hundred thousand overnight punters from Wednesday's episode, topping the night with an average of 8.38 million from 9pm. Earlier, Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs appealed to 4.52m at 8.30pm. On BBC1, Watchdog intrigued 3.45m at 8pm, followed by Life Story with 2.89m at 9pm. Question Time brought in 2.76m at 10.35pm. BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals gathered 2.64m at 8pm, while The Fall continued with 2.16m at 9pm. Russell Howard's Good News failed to amuse 1.10m at 10pm. On Channel four, Amazing Spaces was watched by 1.49m at 8pm, followed by Twenty Four Hours in A&E with 1.29m at 9pm. Babylon dipped to three hundred and forty thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Underground Britain was seen by six hundred and twenty six thousand at 8pm, while Muggings & Mayhem attracted four hundred and fourteen thousand at 9pm. Sky1's latest episode of Arrow had an audience of three hundred and fifty three thousand at 8pm.

And I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was also Friday's highest-rated show with an average audience of 7.73 million. Despite a drop in viewers compared to Thursday's episode, the horrifying Victorian freak show attracted a thirty four per cent audience share. Elsewhere on ITV, Secrets From The Sky was seen by 2.65 million at 8pm. On BBC1, The ONE Show kicked the evening off with 4.04 million at 7pm, followed by 3.74 million for Still Open All Hours at 7.30pm. The evening continued with 2.78 million for Citizen Khan at 8.30pm, 3.77 million for Have I Got News For You at 9pm and 3.14 million for Not Going Out at 9.30pm. With guests including Dustin Hoffman, Judi Dench and Jennifer Aniston, the channel ended the night with 3.31 million for The Graham Norton Show at 10.35pm. The Home That Two Built was seen by 1.09 million at 7pm on BBC2, followed by 1.92 million for Mastermind immediately afterwards. Tigers About The House, Mock The Week and Qi had audiences of 1.22 million, eight hundred and seventy thousand and 1.32 million respectively. Gogglebox was, once again, Channel Four's highest-rated show with 2.08 million at 9pm. It was sandwiched between Marvel's Agents of SHIELD with nine hundred and twenty thousand at 8pm and nine hundred thousand for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. On Channel Five, Ice Road Truckers returned for a new series with 1.09 million at 8pm, followed by eight hundred and fifty two thousand for Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild at 9pm. Family Guy was among the most popular multichannel shows, peaking with six hundred and fifty eight thousand for the second of four episodes on BBC3.

TV comedy line of the week came from the latest episode of Qi during which Stephen Fry was talking about his recent appearance in 24: Live Another Day in which he played the British Prime Minister. 'Non-specified in terms of party,' Stephen added. 'Like almost every Prime Minister we've had for the last twenty years!'
Also worthy of mention was a subsequent section where Stephen was telling the sad story of the life of the Antechinus, a small marsupial which, quite literally, shags itself to death. 'It doesn't eat or sleep, it just goes from one female to the next in a testosterone-driven frenzy for fourteen days. To get the necessary energy, the male's body strips itself of all their vital proteins and shuts off their immune systems. By the end of the fortnight, they're bald, gangrenous, ravaged by stress and infection and, ultimately, keel over and die. Russell Brand, take note!'
Strictly Come Dancing continued with almost 9.2 million overnight viewers on Saturday evening. The popular BBC1 pro-celebrity dancing competition came top of the overnights on primetime with an audience of 9.17m from 7pm. Atlantis followed with 3.62m from 8.15pm, before Casualty recorded similar numbers (3.62m). On ITV, The X Factor's Elton John versus Whitney Houston Week (I'm genuinely not making this up, dear blog reader) drew 7.51m from 8pm. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was watched by 7.76m from 9.40pm. The Chase attracted 3.11m earlier in the evening. On BBC2, Flog It! Trade Secrets averaged eight hundred and ninety nine thousand punters from 7.30pm. Perry and Croft: Made In Britain and Dad's Army followed with 1.08m and 1.67m respectively and Qi XL drew 1.05m viewers from 9pm. Channel Four's Walking Through History was watched by nine hundred and forty two thousand in the 8pm hour. It Was Alright In The 1970s - which, actually, it wasn't - averaged 1.53m from 9pm. Channel Five broadcast the movies Christmas Wishes (five hundred and thirty thousand) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (five hundred and fifty five thousand). On the multichannels, a Sherlock repeat was seen by six hundred and fifty five thousand on BBC3 from 9pm.

Strictly Come Dancing was down marginally from the previous week but still, easily, topped Sunday's overnight ratings. The BBC show dipped by around two hundred thousand viewers week-on-week, attracting an average audience of 9.87 million at 7.15pm. ITV's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was down by around 1.1m from its launch, but up by 1.2m from Saturday night's episode, being watched by 8.94m. The X Factor dropped by over four hundred thousand punters from last Sunday's results show with 7.76m at 8pm. Keep It In The Family garnered 2.78m at 7pm. Earlier on BBC1, Countryfile appealed to 6.51m at 6.15pm. Antiques Roadshow was seen by 5.58m, followed by the new Michael Palin drama Remember Me with 5.28m at 9pm. Match of the Day 2 scored 2.42m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Secrets Of The Castle interested 1.52m at 7pm, followed by Sue Perkins's Mekong River with 2.30m at 8pm. World's Greatest Food Markets gathered 1.19m at 9pm. Channel Four's Woolly Mammoth Autopsy drew 1.38m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of Homeland with 1.04m at 9pm and a broadcast of Sarah Millican's live show with six hundred and eighty six thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Will Smith's Hancock had an audience of 1.12m at 7.15pm, followed by The Green Hornet with six hundred and sixty nine thousand at 9pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week-ending Sunday 16 November 2014:-
1 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - Sun ITV - 11.62m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.46m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.04m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 8.86m
5 Children In Need - Fri BBC1 - 8.54m
6 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 8.02m
7 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 7.80m
8 The Missing - Tues BBC1 - 7.68m
9 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.34m
10 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 8.85m
11 Film: War Horse - Sun BBC1 - 5.42m
12 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 5.32m
13 Grantchester - Mon ITV - 5.28m*
14 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.16m
15 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.06m
16 The ONE Show - Fri BBC1 - 5.04m
17 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.88m
18 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.85m
19 Euro 2016 Qualifier: Switzerland Versus England - Sat ITV - 4.69m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.59m
21 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.57m
22 Lewis - Fri ITV - 4.53m*
23 Gareth's All Star Choir - Mon BBC1 - 4.39m
24 Children In Need - Fri BBC2 - 4.34m
25 Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 4.11m*
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include include HD figures. Saturday evening's episode of The X Factor had a final rating of 8.28 million whilst Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday result episode drew 10.53 million. BBC2's highest rated programmes of the week beside the channel's part of the Children In Need telethon were the opening episode of the second series of The Fall with 3.54 million and MasterChef: The Professionals with 3.40m (again, all three episodes of the latter - on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - achieved audience figures above three million). The Apprentice: You're Fired drew 2.86 million, followed by Great Continental Railway Journeys (2.73m), University Challenge (2.68m), The Mekong River With Sue Perkins (2.67m), Only Connect: Children In Need Special (2.28m) and Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two (2.12m). Gogglebox was Channel Four's largest-rated show (3.58m), followed by Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.29m) and Speed With Guy Martin (2.10m). Channel Five's best performers were Gotham with 2.51 million, and Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away (1.43m). Midsomer Murders was ITV3's most-watched programme with seven hundred and ninety four thousand viewers. The Natural World drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (seven hundred and fifty nine thousand). E4's The Big Bang Theory had the biggest multichannels audience of all (2.34m). Sky Living's Elementary had nine hundred and thirty four thousand. On FOX, The Walking Dead was watched by 1.15m.

The Top Gear South America 'special' which prompted much crass bleating from Argentina's ambassador is to be broadcast at Christmas. Which is, of course, fantastic news - especially as it will seriously piss off lots of odious, risible middle-class Hippy Communist Green Party frackers at the Gruniad Morning Star and the Indi, some phone-hacking deniers at the Daily Mirra and lots of jack-booted bully boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail. And, let's face it, one can never witness too much of that. The announcement came on the very day that a letter from the Argentine ambassador, one Alicia Castro, criticising the BBC, was made public. Made public by whom,you may be wondering dear blog reader? Interesting question. Castro alleged that a recent response received from the BBC concerning their previous whinges had been 'inadequate.' Tragically, the BBC didn't respond by telling the Argentine ambassador her very self to, you know, piss off and stop telling them how to do their job when Argentina still hasn't apologised for all of The Disappeared in the 1970s and 80s. The BBC, of course, did not do this because they are far too polite and nice to do any such thing. But, this blogger isn't. In response to whinges concerning Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and a number plate - I'm not making this up, dear blog reader - the BBC's Director of Television Danny Cohen wrote to Castro in October defending the production. 'I would like to reassure you again that nothing we have seen or read since the team returned supports the view that this was a deliberate act,' he wrote. Castro said that Cohen's 'perfunctory' response showed he had not investigated the incident in any depth. Cohen 'merely reassures us that it was not deliberate,' she added. 'We are not prepared to accept this as a full and adequate response to this supposed "coincidence."' So, basically, she is calling Danny Cohen a liar. Ooo, get her. Top Gear will be split into two episodes, both focusing on the team's South American road trip and its highly charged, brick-chucking conclusion. The BBC's other festive offerings include Doctor Who, Call The Midwife and two final episodes of the sitcom Miranda. Other highlights include animated tale On Angel Wings, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, with a voice cast including Sir Michael Gambon and Juliet Stevenson and David Attenborough's Paradise Birds. Simon Callow narrates Rik Mayall: Lord Of Misrule, a look back at the career of the late and much-missed comic, while Mrs Brown's Boys returns for a two-part special. Sir Bruce Forsyth reunites with Tess Daly for the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special, while comedy offerings include festive shows from John Bishop and Michael McIntyre. So, they'll both be worth avoiding. Avengers Assemble, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen and Quartet are among the films the BBC will broadcast as part of its seasonal line-up. 'This year's Christmas line-up on BBC Television is one of our best ever,' said Danny Cohen, seemingly ignoring the fact that he'd just been accused of lying by the uppity Argentine ambassador. 'There's world-class talent, edge of your seat drama, outstanding comedy and fantastic storytelling.'

Idris Elba will return to Luther for a new miniseries in 2015. BBC Drama Production and BBC America have confirmed that the series will be back for two sixty-minute episodes. Production is scheduled to begin in London in March, with a broadcast date planned for later in 2015. Which is excellent news. Luther creator Neil Cross teased the continuing adventures of the titular detective in a statement released on Wednesday. 'Ever since we said goodbye to John Luther on Southwark Bridge, there's hardly been a minute when I didn't wonder what happened next,' Cross said. 'So I decided to find out. We're putting the band back together; Luther is coming back where he belongs. Back to the BBC. Back to London. And back to work.' Elba was quoted as saying earlier in the week that he was 'desperate" for at least a one-off Luther special. The miniseries announcement came just a day after FOX commissioned a US remake of Luther, in which Elba is not expected to star. Elba and Cross are on-board to executive produce the US version of the crime drama. Cross is also working on the new series Bay Of Plenty, about a police officer who emigrates to New Zealand to join a Maori police force.

British TV productions have won three awards at the International EMMYs, including best drama series for Utopia. The cult thriller, which was axed by Channel Four after its second series because, whilst it was highly regarded by half-a-dozen Gruniad journalists in Islington, virtually no one else was watching it, beat Sky Atlantic's crime drama The Tunnel - which, similarly, had an audience of about four - and shows from Chile and Japan. Stephen Dillane won best actor for The Tunnel. Documentary series Educating Yorkshire also won at the ceremony in New York, hosted by Matt Lucas. The producers of the fly-on-the-wall series, filmed at Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, picked up the award on behalf of the production. Channel Four announced in October that it would not make a third series of Dennis Kelly's Utopia. HBO is reported to be making its own version of the series with director David Fincher and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. The Netherlands' Bianca Krijgsman was named best actress for The New World ahead of Broadchurch's Olivia Colman. The BBC's Doctor Who origins drama An Adventure In Space And Time was denied the best TV movie award by Germany's excellent World War II drama Generation War. Sweden's No Burqas Behind Bars, examining the harsh conditions for inmates at a women's prison in Afghanistan, won the best documentary prize. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was presented the 2014 Founders Award by series stars Christina Hendricks and John Slattery.

The BBC is to film a new adaptation of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, which deals with a terrorist bomb plot in Edwardian London. Holding On scriptwriter Tony Marchant is behind the three-part BBC1 adaptation of Conrad's novel, which follows a Soho shopkeeper who doubles as a secret agent for the Russian government. The shopkeeper, Verloc, an agent provocateur and member of a largely ineffective anarchist group, is instructed by his handler to bomb the Greenwich Observatory to provoke the British government into cracking down on anarchism. Conrad's 1907 novel has obvious parallels with the terrorist threat the UK has faced since the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US. It was previously adapted as a BBC mini-series in 1992, starring yer actual Peter Capaldi and David Suchet. The Secret Agent adaptation forms part of more than forty hours of new drama commissions unveiled by the BBC on Wednesday evening. Other new shows include a drama from the writers of hit series The Missing and a series based on Len Deighton's Nazi novel SS-GB from James Bond film writers Robert Wade and Neal Purvis. Brothers Harry and Jack Williams, who wrote abduction drama The Missing, have created a new four-part series for BBC1 called One Of Us, set in Scotland. It focuses on the fall out from a double murder and its impact on the two families involved, which aims to 'keep viewers guessing.' The Williams brothers said the drama 'explores big themes and ideas through the lens of a very personal character-driven story.' SS-GB is a five-part series which revolves around the premise that Germany won the Battle of Britain and the Nazis are occupying Britain. Robert Wade and Neal Purvis said: 'Len Deighton's SS-GB is a brilliant tale of espionage that dares to think the unthinkable and we are very excited to be adapting it for television.' Also on the slate is what the BBC called 'a fast-paced and adrenalised cop show', which the corporation said would be broadcast weekdays on BBC1 at 8pm. Cuffs is the first new drama series for this slot in over eight years and may draw comparisons with ITV's long-running police drama The Bill. The BBC's controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, and BBC1 controller, Charlotte Moore, have also ordered a six-part drama about autism called The A-Word, a series about the first black director of public prosecutions from Peter Bowker called Undercover, The Dresser, a one-off drama directed by Sir Richard Eyre for BBC2 starring Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen and the return of Top Of The Lake for a second series. Casting details for the latter were not announced but the BBC said that the story will be set in Sydney. For children, the BBC is making animated versions of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes and Julia Donaldson's book Stick Man. The new commissions come on top of a number of forthcoming dramas, including Dahl's Esio Trot and an adaptation of JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, featuring Heeley Hawes and Julia MacKenzie, the first photos of which were released. Stephenson said: 'Only the BBC supports the range of writers and ideas that these new announcements demonstrate. This massive investment signals the future direction of BBC drama – once regarded as only the home of traditional period drama, I now believe we are the home of the best writers and the most ambitious modern drama. The point of the BBC is to deliver range and risk above and beyond other UK broadcasters, and I believe the success of our drama offering this year and the announcements we are making today pave the way for an exciting future.'

Which brings us to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 29 November
Question master and national treasure Stephen Fry continues Qi XL's exploration of subjects beginning with the letter L as he asks a range of fiendish and potentially life-changing questions on the topics of Love & Loveliness - 9:00 BBC2. Joining regular panellist Alan Davies are stand-up and The Last Leg co-host Josh Widdicombe, the Irish actress Aisling Bea and author and comedian Tony Hawks.

Dominic Sandbrook examines science fiction's obsession with alien invasion, from all-out assault to sinister hidden threats. He explores how it has reflected real-life anxieties, whether they be the challenge to Victorian imperial power in HG Wells's The War Of The Worlds, the Cold War paranoia in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers or more recent concerns about racism and immigration in 2009 movie District Nine in the second episode of Tomorrow's Worlds: The Unearthly History Of Science Fiction - 9:45 BBC2. He also celebrates one of the most famous alien invaders of all time - The Dalek. Featuring contributions by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and former star David Tennant, actor Richard Dreyfuss, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich and special effects supervisors Phil Tippett and Douglas Trumbull.
Peter Boyd learns that he is being removed from the Cold Case Unit in Waterloo, the final two-part story of Waking The Dead - 9:00 Drama. With just a few days left in the job, he re-opens an investigation into the disappearance of sixteen homeless teenagers between 1979 and 1982 - the first case that he ever worked on. However, as the team struggles to find any new information, Grace worries about her colleague's reasons for revisiting his past while a guilt-ridden Sarah becomes desperate to make amends for her role in stitching up Boyd like a filthy Copper's Nark and getting him the jolly old tin-tack. But, it will cost the duplicitous Detective Chief Inspector her virry life. Starring Trevor Eve, Tara Fitzgerald, Sue Johnston, Wil Johnson and Eva Birthistle and with a fabulous guest appearance by Paul McGann.
In the third part of Tony Robinson's World War One - 8:00 Discovery - with the Battle of the Somme in full swing, yer man Tone uses rare stereoscopic images to reveal some of the unprecedented technologies that made the war even bloodier.
Sunday 30 November
Care worker Hannah goes to visit Tom in hospital and is shocked to hear he has escaped, so detective Rob Fairholme opens a missing persons investigation in the latest episode of Remember Me - 9:00 BBC1. Hannah pleads with him to search in Scarborough, haunted by the old folk songs she found in the pensioner's house, but the detective isn't convinced by her hunch and continues his search closer to home. Visiting Tom's home, he finds the ripped photo of the man as a boy - as well as documents revealing he once had a wife who was killed in tragic circumstances. Meanwhile, the post-mortem on social worker Alison Denning proves inconclusive - but oddly, it does show that the dead woman had water in her lungs. Supernatural thriller, starring Mark Addy, Michael Palin and Jodie Comer.
As the CIA thriller Homeland continues - 9:00 Channel Four - Carrie organises a last-ditch operation, while Lockhart and Martha do their utmost to stall Inter-Services Intelligence. Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Tracy Letts and Laila Robins star.

'You should look for more mundane reasons for your murders,' a suspect tells Robbie Lewis in Lewis - 9:00 ITV3. 'It's usually sex or money, isn't it?' Not in this drama, where the motives are generally more tangled than bodies in a minefield. Hathaway and Lewis investigate the murder of a businesswoman connected with an organisation that supports gifted children, who had apparently been blackmailing the father of one particularly promising youngster. Further deaths follow, and as the body count rises, they realise there is a decades-old secret at the heart of the case. Matters are complicated still further by the presence in Oxford of former MI5 spymaster Grace Orde, who is visiting to sign copies of her tell-all memoir - which provides a vital clue to the killer's identity. We have a group of devious Oxford characters whose bonds and alliances may make your head spin: there's the shifty publisher, his deceitful wife and their precocious daughter - an Oxford undergraduate at fifteen. Plus a retired intelligence chief (played by Cherie Lunghi), a free-runner, a pub landlord and a politics don. Detective drama, guest starring Anna Chancellor, with Kevin Whately, Laurence Fox, Clare Holman and Rebecca Front.
With access to the first nationwide survey and state-of-the-art drones mapping the Great Wall of China, the latest Secret History documentary - 8:00 Channel Four - offers new evidence which reveals its extraordinary magnitude, rewrites its millennia-long history and decodes its complex signals system. Using cutting-edge chemistry, the programme also finds out what has kept the wall standing for so long - a simple cooking ingredient found in kitchens across the world.

Monday 1 December
In Wild Weather With Richard Hammond - 9:00 BBC1 - the Top Gear host reveals the hidden secrets at the heart of some of the world's most extreme weather in stunning detail, experiencing extraordinary phenomena first-hand. The first episode focuses on wind and sees the presenter brave temperatures of minus forty five degrees on top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, where in 1934 the highest wind speed ever measured on land - two hundred and thirty one mph - was recorded. Richard also investigates how wind actually starts, walks into the centre of a man-made tornado and employs fire to make a ten metre-high whirlwind. Expect plenty of middle-class hippy Communist, Gruniad Morning Star reading Green Party frackers to find something to whgine about in relation to this. Which, in and of itself, is usually amusing.
The second round of the student quiz University Challenge continues - 8:00 BBC2 - with two more teams of four pitting their wits against one another as they attempt to secure a place in the quarter-finals. Jeremy Paxman asks the questions. As usual, that's followed by Only Connect - 8:30 - in which host Victoria Coren Mitchell welcomes back two teams as the quiz enters the second round, with three historians taking on a trio of cat lovers for a place in the quarter-finals. They must use patience, lateral thinking and sheer inspiration to make connections between groups of four things that may appear at first not to be linked, with one set of clues consisting of Indian spiritual leader Meher Baba, Cuzco in Peru, Peace and LGBT Community.

Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock investigate financier Richard Sionis, who is running a deadly fight club where the winners are awarded a job at his firm in Gotham - 9:00 Channel Five. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne learns a difficult lesson when returns to school and tries to make friends, prompting him to ask Alfred to teach him how to stand up for himself and, you know, chin the bullies. Which he does. Crime thriller based on characters from the Batman comics, starring Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee.
The exuberant Doctor Lucy Worsley - of whom were all big fans here at From The North - and Len Goodman are learning the Charleston as they step into the Twentieth Century, when dancing was democratised and commercialised in the final episode of Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History Of Dance - 9:00 BBC4. Doctor Lucy reckons it should be a breeze as, 'I've got the right haircut for it.' Our hosts are in their element charting how the wild moves of ragtime 'plantation dances', the frivolous Charleston and the sensual Argentinian Tango reflected wider freedoms: women's suffrage, the escape from the horrors of the Great War and that. It's all great fun packed with dollops of social history – did you know that cockney favourite The Lambeth Walk was invented in the 1930s by Mecca executives? Under the instruction of Darren Royston, a historical dance teacher at RADA, Len and Lucy put together one final performance of the most iconic dance of the era in front of a crowd at the Cafe de Paris in London.
Tuesday 2 December
After four weeks of competition, the twelve remaining MasterChef: The Professionals contenders come together to compete in the semi-finals - 8:00 BBC2. They face an Invention test that features an abundant selection of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and herbs and spices to choose from, but must go back to basics as all the modern machines are removed from the kitchen. Marcus Wareing, sour-faced and scowling Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace then choose the best eight to go straight through, leaving the four weakest to cook off for the two remaining places in the competition.

This year ninety thousand children will spend Christmas in temporary accommodation - and more people are approaching councils to ask for help with somewhere to live. Tonight - 7:30 ITV - follows one such family to see what life is like without a place to call home.
In 2006, Tony is desperate to cover his tracks as he deals with the consequences of his actions and the lack of progress in finding Oliver causes Emily to finally break down in The Missing - 9:00 BBC1. Things are no better for Julien when an unprovoked attack puts him in danger. In the present day, Tony and Julien track down the man they have been searching for. He promises them information, but it comes at a price - forcing the grieving father to turn to his ex-wife for financial help. Drama, starring James Nesbitt, Tcheky Karyo and Frances O'Connor.

The latest episode of Secrets Of The Castle With Ruth, Peter And Tom - 9:00 BBC2 - focuses on the surprisingly colourful world of medieval interior design, with Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold rendering and lime-washing the inside walls of a guard tower, transforming its dark stone walls into a bright space. Ruth Goodman makes paint and decorates the castle bedchamber using designs based on those recently discovered at an Eleventh-Century church nearby, and Peter gets to grips with the indoor toilets known as garderobes.
Wednesday 3 December
Michael Portillo uses his 1913 copy of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide to venture beyond Europe as he travels through The Holy Land in this episode of Great Continental Railway Journeys - 9:00 BBC2. He begins in Israel, learning about the Baha'i faith and how it spread to Britain in the Edwardian era, hearing the story of the origins of Tel Aviv and visiting the Christian, Jewish and Muslim quarters of the capital, Jerusalem. Old Portaloo then crosses the separation barrier between Jerusalem and the West Bank in the company of his Palestinian guide and meets the embroiderers of the Arab Women's Union in Bethlehem, before finishing his journey in the Negev desert.

In Living On The Edge - 7:00 Channel Five - anthropologist and adventurer Chris Terrill travels to the world's most extreme environments to find out how and why people live in the grip of nature at its harshest. In the first edition, he heads to Mauritania to spend time with fishermen who work the rich but dangerous waters off the North-West coast of Africa. Travelling from Nouadhibou in the north to the capital Nouakchott in the south, Chris and his interpreter Ahmed Taleb witness the sight of a thousand boats fighting to get through the violent surf as it breaks on to the beaches and also discover a secret paradise where the desert meets the sea and millions of birds feed on the teeming fish.
In Marseille, a TV report announces that authorities are looking for an American in a murder case - a picture of Tony DiNozzo flashes across the screen. Meanwhile, in the back of a food cart, Tony incapacitates someone while apologising to them. He gets out and a French ladyasks him what to do next. His reply is simple and straight forward. 'Run!' Thirty hours earlier Tony is called to see Director Vance who charges Tony with a special assignment to bring home an Admiral's daughter from Paris who's got herself into a spot on bother in the latest episode of NCIS - 9:00 FOX. But, inevitably, Tony makes a right balls up of the whole malarkey and soon has to seek help from Gibbs' team after he enters a controversial crime scene.
Terrible bully-boy thug Alan Sugar-Sweetie pays an early morning visit to the candidates to bellow at them that he is about to test their negotiation skills in The Apprentice - 9:00 BBC1. For their next challenge, they have just one day to buy nine items - all of which have featured in tasks throughout the history of the show - at the best possible prices. There follows a day of rushing around London as Summit and Tenacity search for kosher chickens, nigella seeds, oud oil, human skeletons and the rest, trying to get them at knock down prices before hurrying back to the boardroom to find out which team has spent the least.
Thursday 4 December
Yer actual Stella Gibson informs Jim Burns that their confrontation in her hotel room may have been witnessed by completely mad serial killer Paul Spector and the detective is shocked - shocked, I tell ya - to discover Spector has been paying visits to one of his surviving victims in hospital in The Fall - 9:00 BBC2. Seizing on the opportunity, Stella finally locates Spector and puts him under surveillance, but her success is short-lived as she is forced to face her own worst fears. Thriller, starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan.
Tonight sees the return for a second series of the fascinating documentary The Railway: First Great Western - 8:00 Channel Five - following the work of the train operating company's staff along the route between London, South-West England and South Wales. The first episode focuses on problems caused by last winter's storms, with the worst weather for a Century battering the nation and pushing employees and passengers to the limit. Network Rail's Steve Hawkins and his engineers have their work cut out after the line at Dawlish in Devon is washed away, while Dave Slater and his team at Network Control have to battle the elements to keep trains running as storm after storm floods the network.

In Naked & Afraid - 9:00 Discovery - two people . who are obviously not complete shameless exhibitionists, oh no, very hot water - are challenged to survive for twenty one days in remote areas of the world with no food, no water and, of special interest no doubt to the readers of the Daily Scum Mail, no clothes. Won't somebody please think of the children? We begin in the dry landscape of Africa's Namibia.Contains full frontal nufity. Lots and lots and lots of it.
Simon Bates - remember him? - hosts an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast 6 December 1979. Featuring performances by Darts, Dollar, UK Subs, The Three Degrees, The Stranglers, The Sugarhill Gang, The Damned, Storm (no, me neither), Motorhead, Marianne Faithfull and The Police. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.

Friday 5 December
Grumpy old sour-puss comic the very excellent Jack Dee tries to raise a smile as he takes charge for half an hour of laughs and japes and other malarkey pulled from the headlines in Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1. With broadcaster Joan Bakewell and alleged comedian - although, actually, he's about as funny as a wart on the knackers - Mark Watson joining team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton to take pot shots at the week's headlines and other stories. Meanwhile, Stephen Fry continues Qi's exploration of subjects beginning with the letter L - 10:00 BBC2 - as he asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Ladies And Gents. Joining regular panellist Alan Davies are stand-up comedian Wor Geet Canny Ross Noble, Australian chick-lit author Kathy Lette and comedienne and Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins.
Match Of The Day Live - 7:30 BBC2 - features the potentially fascinating FA Cup Second Round tie between yer actual Hartlepool United and Blyth Spartans their very selves (kick-off 7.55pm). Dan Walker presents coverage from Victoria Park, as the League Two strugglers, The 'Pool welcome their non-league North-East rivals. This is the opening tie of the round and the clubs are looking to seal a place in Round Three and a, potentially 'uge money-spinning, tie against top-flight opposition. Hartlepool have a fight on their hands to avoid relegation from the Football League this year and will be well aware of Blyth's noble cup traditions - that glorious charge of the Fifth Round in 1978, most obviously - and the visitors can enter the contest with all to gain and nothing to lose.

The investigation that followed the sighting of strange lights streaking across the skies of Spain and Portugal in 2004 is the focus of UFO: Alien Invasion - 9:00 National Geographic. Plus, experts consider whether a UFO could have been responsible for a power cut at a military base in Viet'nam. To which, obviously, the answer is no. Because UFO's don't exist. Next ...
The Story Of Funk: One Nation Under A Groove - 9:00 BBC4 - is a terrific-looking documentary examining the history of funk, starting from its birth in the black community at a time of self-discovery, struggle and social change. So, a BBC4 music documentary not featuring Rick Wakeman, then. Is that allowed? The fun style of the music changed the streets of the US in the seventies with new trends in fashion and slang emerging, and its celebration of African-American culture. The genre produced some of the most famous acts in the world, such as The Goddamn Godfather of Soul James Brown, awww!, Sly & The Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. Including interviews with former President George Clinton, Ray Parker Jr (who they gonna call, eh?) and trombonist Fred Wesley.
To the new, thens: After months of waiting, the Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul, has been given a release date. The spin-off, starring Bob Odenkirk as the opportunistic lawyer Saul Goodman, will debut in the US on AMC on 8 February, with its second episode due to be shown the following night. It will then be shown in weekly instalments every Monday. There is still no word on a UK release date, although the drama is expected to arrive on Netflix across Europe shortly after its AMC run.
Some very good news now, ITV's utter pile of steaming tripe Your Face Sounds Familiar will not be returning for a second series. Oh dear. How sad. Never mind. The total lack-of-entertainment show, presented by odious professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness and waste-of-space greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Alesha Dixon, involved six ridiculously z-list celebrities impersonating - badly - various singers in a bid to win money for their chosen charity. Yes, dear blog reader, it was every single bit as horrible and worthless and risible as it sounds from that description. Asked by the Digital Spy website whether the show would be returning, McGuinness confessed that it would not: 'Because they're bringing back Stars In Their Eyes. Which, for instance, when we did Your Face Sounds Familiar - which I absolutely loved - I really thought we could have done something with that. But at the time when they told me about Your Face Sounds Familiar and we were just going to do it, I actually said, "Why don't you just do Stars In Their Eyes?" And then, lo and behold, I've talked myself out of a job and they are doing it and I've really shot myself in the foot.' Excellent. Could you do that with everything you're involved in, please Pad? Thanks muchly, it really is appreciated.

ITV have reportedly ordered a new drama series based on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & My Hyde ... just seven years after the BBC got Steven Moffat to do something similar for them. Charlie Higson will provide the script and serve as executive producer on new show Jekyll & Hyde. The series, which was previously rumoured to be in development earlier in the year, is set in 1930s London and focuses on Robert Jekyll, the grandson of the original Henry Jekyll. Higson said of the project: 'It's an exciting challenge to take Stevenson's work and use it as the basis for a new Jekyll & Hyde. So many superheroes with secret dual personalities have been brought to life thanks to Jekyll and Hyde. He's one of literatures most important and influential characters and it's a privilege to be rediscovering him.'

The Fall will broadcast an extended series finale it has been announced. Yer actual Gillian Anderson confirmed that the concluding episode of the current second series will run for ninety minutes, rather than the standard hour. The actress - who plays Stella Gibson on the BBC2 drama - announced the news during an interview on Chris Evans's BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show.
Natalie Dormer has been announced to star in BBC2's The Woman In Red. The Game Of Thrones and The Tudors actress will play Lady Seymour Worsley in the one-off Eighteenth Century 'factual drama.' The Woman In Red follows Lady Worsley on trial, after she tries to leave her husband, Sir Richard Worsley (played by Endeavour's Shaun Evans) and elope with his best friend Captain George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard). In a landmark case, a woman's worth and 'material value' as, effectively, one of her husband's 'possessions' are heavily debated.
A first picture from the BBC's upcoming fantasy series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has been unveiled. The drama is is being adapted from Susanna Clarke's novel by Doctor Who and Wallander writer Peter Harness. Bertie Carvel leads the series as aspiring London magician Jonathan Strange, while the great Eddie Marsan's Norrell uses his own magical abilities to dazzle townsfolk in the North of England. The destinies of these two men become intertwined during the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Marc Warren, Alice Englert, Samuel West and Charlotte Riley all have supporting roles in the much-anticipated BBC1 drama series. Looks really good, this one.
Mad Harriet Harman has urged the lack of culture secretary to defend the BBC from 'fatal wounds' by rejecting pressure from Conservative MPs to swap the licence fee for a voluntary subscription. The deputy Labour leader said that it was crucial for the vile and odious rascal Javid to publicly back the BBC - which he's obviously, not going to do - and that if the Tories were still in power after May's general election she feared the corporation 'would be in peril.' As do many of us who care about the BBC albeit, I'm not sure it'd be that much safer under Labour after the small and twatty way it was treated under their own lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Bradshaw during the last parliament. Did you think we'd all forgotten that, Mad Hattie? 'Labour strongly supports the BBC,' Mad Hattie claimed at the Salford International Media festival on Tuesday. 'But the culture secretary must make it clear that he too supports the BBC. At a time when opponents of the BBC are circling, it's imperative for the culture secretary to defend it. You're either backing it or you're attacking it. But he's not backing it and if the Tories get in again, the BBC would be in peril.' Disgraceful Tory gobshite Andrew Brigden has written to the vile and odious rascal Javid calling for 'a review' into whether the BBC licence fee should be replaced with a voluntary subscription system. Up to fifty scum MPs (mostly, though not exclusively from the political right) could back Brigden, according to the Sunday Scum Express - who, of course, have no thoroughly sick anti-BBC agenda to push - and he is 'pressuring' the vile and odious rascal Javid for a 'quick fire' response. 'It's couched in terms of a review but it's clear they want to kill off the licence fee to fatally wound the BBC,' said Harman, who is also shadow lack of culture secretary. 'There are many Tory MPs who oppose the whole idea of public service broadcasting and would love to please the BBC's private sector detractors by dismembering it. And the worry is they think they've got a real ally in the secretary of state. [The vile and odious rascal Javid] has already made sympathetic noises about getting rid of or slashing the licence fee. The BBC is not safe in Tories' hands.' Mad Hattie said that while the BBC should be 'closely scrutinised', the licence fee remains its best funding mechanism, despite its 'imperfections and anomalies. The BBC is not perfect,' she said. 'It gets a lot of public money so it's right that it gets a high level of public scrutiny and accountability and lives up to the highest standards. No one should feel that the BBC is above criticism. I put that into practice myself by protesting about managerial high pay and the lack of diversity on and off screen. But when it comes to the principle of the licence fee we back it because for all its imperfections and anomalies no one's shown a better way of funding the BBC.'

A Downing Street police officer has told the high court how he was 'embarrassed' by the 'childish and overbearing' behaviour of former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell the night before the alleged 'Plebgate' incident. PC Gareth Bonds, who has thirty years' service, was the senior officer on duty at the Downing Street front gates on 18 September 2012 when Mitchell, the MP for Sutton Coldfield, tried to cycle out of Downing Street and was told he should go through the side gate as that was policy. Bonds said: 'Mister Mitchell then raised his voice and stated that he was the government chief whip and that he wanted to leave via the front vehicle gates. He was politely told to use the gate at the side. He again raised his voice and repeated the same phrase: "I'm the government chief whip. I want to leave through these gates." He also stated that he had been let out of the gates on previous occasions. He was raising his voice as though that would work. During this exchange, I stood and watched in disbelief at how childish a grown man in his position was being and found it embarrassing. I, therefore, spoke to my colleagues and told them to just open the gates as it was ridiculous to argue over a gate. I found Mister Mitchell's tone overbearing, but he did not swear at us. He then left.' Bonds said that the incident was the only one like it in his nine years with the Diplomatic Protection Group. 'Most people are quite polite,' he said. PC Alex Jamieson, who was also on duty at Downing Street on the night before the alleged 'Plebgate' incident, told the hearing that Mitchell 'became agitated' and 'refused to listen' when asked to use a side gate rather than the main one. 'I said "exit through there, sir,"' Jamieson told the court. 'Every time I tried to explain, he spoke over me.' In written evidence, Jamieson said that the instructions for 'dealing with cyclists' had been in place for over a year and, while there was no specific policy towards cabinet ministers on bicycles, officers 'used discretion' with figures from the government. 'For example, I was present when Peter Mandelson charged through the main gates about five years ago on foot after his car was delayed in traffic on Whitehall and he was late for a meeting,' he said. 'He was furious at being delayed for five minutes and when I explained that we were clearing two vehicles, he said he wasn't having it and charged though on foot. The gates were already open to let a vehicle in and he wasn't a security threat as I knew who he was, so I did not challenge him.' Jamieson said that, apart from the Mandelson incident, in the five years he had worked at Downing Street he had not come across anyone else who had acted in the way Mitchell did. 'Most people follow the policy when it is pointed out to them.' PC Jamie Dove said that Mitchell ignored him when he opened the pedestrian gate for him that evening. 'I heard Mitchell say to the others: "I have been through this exit two times today already and I am leaving through here now." His voice was determined, but not angry. It was said as an order not a request.' The claims were made during the libel case brought by Mitchell against the Sun for its story on the alleged Plebgate incident. PC Toby Rowland, who claims that Mitchell called him 'a fucking pleb', is counter-suing the Tory MP, who has already admitted swearing but denies using the word 'pleb' during the incident. Mitchell has told the court he was 'stitched up' and said that he believed his complaints about the behaviour of some officers at Downing Street had made him 'a marked man.' The trial extremely continues.

A classic villain from James Bond's past is expected to return for the next 007 outing. Oscar-winning Django Unchained star Christoph Waltz will be playing Ernst Blofeld, the nemesis of 007 first introduced in From Russia with Love, according to the Daily Scum Mail. So, like as not, this is all lies. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the scummish right-wing rag that the 'more serious tone' of the Daniel Craig movies has led producers to 'change the character to fit in with the new-look 007.' Blofeld was originally created by Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory for an abandoned James Bond movie project in 1960 before Fleming used the character in his novel Thunderball. The character featured prominently in You Only Live Twice (played by Donald Pleasence), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Telly Savalas) and Diamonds Are Forever (Charles Gray), while also appearing in 1983's unofficial Bond movie Never Say Never Again. Blofeld was last seen in 1981's For Your Eyes Only being dispatched down an industrial chimney by Roger Moore after a struggle on board a helicopter. The supervillain has not been referenced since due to an ongoing legal wrangle with McClory. Bond producers Danjaq and distributor MGM acquired the rights to the character last year from McClory's estate, paving the way for Blofeld to return to the film series. Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris will return for there, as yet untitled, Bond Twenty Four, with Léa Seydoux and Dave Bautista rumoured to be joining the cast.

Older children watch half the amount of live television per day than adults, preferring to watch content online instead, new research suggests. Ofcom's Children's Digital Day research shows that children aged eleven to fifteen are watching one hour and thirty two minutes of live TV per day. Adults watch two hours and firty eight minutes per day, the survey revealed. Yer actual keith Telly Topping his very self watches at least sixteen hours so he's clearly doing the job of five people. Older children only consume a fifth of the radio listened to by adults each day - just fifteen minutes. The survey by the media watchdog involved a representative sample of sixteen hundred and forty four adults who had to complete seven-day media diaries. A sample of one hundred and eighty six primary school-aged children (aged six to eleven) and one hundred and seventy three secondary school-aged children (aged eleven to fifteen) completed three-day media diaries. The study also found that nearly all adults reported watching live TV every week over the course of a week (ninety four per cent). This compared with just over three-quarters (seventy eight per cent) of children aged eleven to fifteen and ninety per cent of six to eleven year olds. Older children are spending six times longer than adults watching short online video clips on sites such as YouTube. Children aged between eleven and sixteen also spend twice as long communicating via social networking sites than adults each day. Overall, three quarters of children aged six to fifteen reported playing games on an electronic device (including games consoles and tablets) during the week. This took up a fifth of children's total time spent on media and communications. How many bother to read a book these days, the survey doesn't address.

She has a degree in science communication and policy from University College London, ten years of experience in financial journalism, and was once named Young Engineer of the Year (for saving Black & Decker a million quid by tweaking the design for a leaf-blower). So what on Earth, you may wonder, could any viewer possibly have against BBC Breakfast's business presenter the very excellent Steph McGovern? The answer? Her accent, apparently, is 'a terrible affliction' according to one, no doubt perfect, specimin of pond scum. McGovern, who was born and brought up in Middlesbrough, has revealed how her first foray in front of the camera prompted some excruciatingly snobbish viewer feedback. The thirty two-year-old told the Sunday Scum Express magazine: 'I even got one letter that politely said, "Dear Ms McGovern, I watched you on BBC Breakfast. I'm sorry about your terrible affliction. Here's twenty pounds towards correction therapy.' Jesus, dear blog reader, some people are just scum, are they not?
Original Dad's Army star Ian Lavender is to make a cameo appearance in the new film adaptation. The actor, who is also known for roles in EastEnders, Doctors and Casualty, will play an officer in the movie, according the Torygraph. Lavender played the hapless teenager Private Frank Pike, the youngest member of the platoon, in all nine series of Dad's Army between 1968 and 1977. His original role will now be played by Blake Harrison. The remake of the BBC sitcom, which also stars Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Mark Gatiss and Catherine Zeta-Jones, will see Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson and co go back on parade in Walmington-On-Sea. Dad's Army followed the escapades of a group of Home Guard soldiers as they tried to protect a quiet seaside town from a potential Nazi invasion during WWII. The hugely successful sitcom, which starred Arthur Lowe, Clive Dunn and John le Mesurier, is still repeated on TV to this day. And, it's still funny. Ninety-year-old Jimmy Perry, who co-wrote the original series, is set to produce the new film alongside The Iron Lady and The History Boys producer Damian Jones. As this blogger has previously noted, however, the fact that its director and writer previously collaborated on Johnny English Reborn does not, exactly, fill yer actual Keith Telly Topping with hope that it'll be an unsurpassed masterpiece, a great cast notwithstanding.

And, speaking of 'stupid boys', horrible full-of-his-own-importance Dave Whelan has been accused of anti-semitism after the Wigan Not Very Athletic owner told the Gruniad Morning Star that he believes 'Jewish people chase money more than everybody else.' Which, coming from a former money-grabbing flogger of cheap and shoddy sports gear such as Whelan is, frankly, a bit rich. A Chinese community leader, Jenny Wong, also said that Whelan was 'condoning racism' by claiming that it is 'nothing' to describe a Chinese person as 'a chink.' The comments came on the day that one of Wigan's shirt sponsors, the kitchen appliances firm Premier Range, announced that it was ending its agreement with the club, describing its position as 'untenable'. They were followed some hours later by another sponsor, the energy drinks firm Ipro. Whelan - whom this blogger has long regarded as big-mouthed waste-of-space, particularly over his obscene attempted defence of the Wigan player Callum McManaman after the latter had put Massadio Haïdara in hospital with a horrific knee-high tackle in 2013 - had been explaining his appointment on Wednesday of Malky Mackay as Wigan's new manager. This, despite the fact that Mackay is currently under investigation by the Football Association for alleged racist and anti-semitic comments in e-mail and text exchanges with Cardiff's former head of recruitment Iain Moody whilst Mackey was Cardiff manager. The three texts or e-mails which Mackay had sent to Moody included one describing the Cardiff City owner, the Malaysian millionaire Vincent Tan, as 'a chink.' In another, Mackay referred to the Jewish football agent, Phil Smith, saying: 'Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.' It is worth noting at this point, incidentally, that Mackay himself has accepted that he did wrong and has apologised for his offensive comments on several occasions, which isn't excusing in any way what he said, but it does make a very interesting contrast to Whelan's spectacularly foot-in-the-gob comments this week. Whelan said that he saw neither of these comments as offensive, nor did he consider the other text, in which Mackey referred to there being 'enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go round', when Mackay had signed the South Korea international Kim Bo-Kyung to be worthy of censure. Whelan claimed that he does not believe the reference to Smith was offensive, first explaining that he believed Mackay was only 'reflecting' that Jewish people 'love money' like everyone does. 'The Jews don’t like losing money. Nobody likes losing money,' Whelan told the Gruniad having, seemingly, not realised that the old truism 'when you're in a hole it's a good idea to stop digging' is, in most cases, pretty sound advice. Asked whether he believed that what Mackay had said was offensive, because the claim Jews 'love money' has been used as a negative stereotype, Whelan blustered: 'Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do? I think they are very shrewd people.' Asked by a Gruniad journalist - who, one imagines must have been quite literally rubbing his hands together in glee at the juicy quotes he was getting fed - whether he, personally, believed that, Whelan, the seventy seven-year-old multimillionaire and former owner of JJB Sports, said: 'I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don't think that's offensive at all.' Whelan said he did not think there was 'a lot wrong' with anything that Mackay said and there was 'no malice or disrespect' in the statement about Smith. He added: 'It's telling the truth. Jewish people love money, English people love money; we all love money.' Whelan's remarks were condemned by Simon Johnson, a former FA and Premier League executive who is Jewish and is the chief executive at the Jewish Leadership Council. 'Unfortunately Mr Mackay and now Mr Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of anti-semitism and stereotyping of Jewish people,' he said. 'Mackay used offensive language to insult a fellow participant in football using a tawdry racial stereotype.' Whelan said 'we’re all against racism in football,' and that it was 'right' that Mackay had attended diversity education courses since his acrimonious exit from Cardiff. However, he then added that the word 'chink' is, he considered, 'not offensive' - something which, frankly, he doesn't get to decide, it's surely up to those people who are being described thus to say whether they consider it to be offensive or otherwise - and that he, himself, used it in relation to Chinese people when he was younger. 'If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman "a chink" he is lying,' Whelan claimed. Which, yeah, that's possibly true - it's certainly true in the case of this blogger - but that doesn't make it right now or right in the past. Plenty of British people, this blogger very much included, once used that and other words and phrases which were examples of casual racism in every day conversation over many decades without really thinking about it. The point is, we know better now. Or, some of us do, at least. 'There is nothing bad about doing that. It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish paddies,' Whelan claimed. Which it isn't, or anything even remotely like it and anybody who thinks it is really does need to go on a diversity education course. Wong, the director of the Manchester Chinese Centre an organisation devoted to Chinese community cultural understanding, said that chink 'is an insult, racist.' Whether it's 'racist' or not, per se, this blogger will leave up to other people to decide but there is no denying that it is, at the very least, a racial comment and its use, as a pejorative, is similarly not open to question. 'I remember at school in the 1970s a skinhead kicking me, calling me "chinky, chinky,"' Wong added, sadly. 'It has stopped now; things have changed for the better. We have legal protection against racism and that is important; it is not political correctness. As a football manager, this man should not have said it.' Whelan later said, rather too late one could suggest, that if anyone had been offended by his comments - which clearly, some people were - 'to please accept my sincere apology.' He then tried the old 'many of my best friends are ...' defence: 'I would never insult a Jewish person. I have got hundreds and hundreds of Jewish friends.' He told Sky News: 'I've got loads of Chinese friends and I would never, ever insult the Chinese.' Except just now, when you did. Whelan, digging an even bigger hole for himself by disclosing the details of what, one presumes would have been private conversations, also told the Gruniad that he has been 'advised' by two 'influential' people at the top of the FA that 'nothing will come' from the investigation into Mackay over the text messages when he was at Cardiff, largely because the exchanges were made in private communications, which the FA chairman Greg Dyke has previously said are beyond the organisation's disciplinary processes. The FA was quick to issue a statement which said: 'No assurances have been given as to the outcome of this case.' And, one imagines that those two 'influential' people will probably not have been very impressed with Whelan's comments, even if they did tell him what he claims they did. Earlier in the day Premier Range became the first of the sponsors to pull out, before Whelan had made his remarks, saying: 'The texts Mr Mackay has admitted to sending are wholly unacceptable – and the thoughts expressed within them are a shocking reminder of a past we thought football had left behind. A team that would employ a man who expresses views such as these is not the kind of team Premier Range wish to deal with.' Ipro said after Whelan's comments it 'actively encourages positive working relationships that are not based on colour, race, nationality, religious belief, sexual orientation or age and cannot condone racism, sexism or homophobia. As a result, it is with deep regret that Ipro Sport will be severing its relationship with Wigan Athletic.' Whelan later said, rather stroppily dear blog readers may consider, that he will resign as Wigan chairman if the Football Association punishes him for his comments. Which is, sort of, the modern football equivalent of 'I'm taking my ball and going home.' The FA said that its investigation into Whelan's comments would be treated 'as a priority.'

A watercolour thought to have been painted by Adolf Hitler has sold at an auction in Germany for one hundred and thirty thousand Euros. Rumours that it has been purchased to hang in the boardroom of Wigan Athletic cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. The 1914 painting of Munich's city hall was put up for sale by two elderly sisters. Their grandfather had bought the painting in 1916. A private buyer from the Middle East, who 'wished to remain anonymous' - no shit?! - bought the work, auction house Weidler said. Experts generally consider Hitler's artworks to be of not particularly high quality so, you've got to conclude that anyone buying one of his paintings, especially for this sort of coin, isn't doing so because they're an art lover. The auction was held in Nuremberg. Of course. The auction house said that bidders from four continents had 'expressed an interest' in the work. The signature 'A Hitler' is seen on the watercolour painting Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). The original bill of sale was included with the painting, which contributed to the relatively high sale price, auction house director Kathrin Weidler said. The sellers would donate ten per cent of the proceeds to a charity that helped disabled children, Weidler added, according to Reuters news agency. And keep the other ninety per cent for themselves. Obviously. Previous sales of Hitler's art have, unsurprisingly, caused controversy and been criticised by some relatives of Holocaust survivors. As a young aspiring artist, Hitler sought admission to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, but was rejected. Because he wasn't very good. After founding the National Socialist Party in the 1920s, and a period in prison for a failed putsch, Hitler then became military and political leader of Germany from 1933 to 1945, launching World War Two and causing the deaths of millions, including six million Jewish people under Nazi rule. So he was clearly, you know, a complicated figure, let's put it that way. And he only had one. Allegedly.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's remarkable reversal in fortunes continued with victory over Hapless Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Strangers, a fifth successive league win - and, sixth in all competitions - that puts The Magpies fifth in the Premier League. Moussa Sissoko's strike with quarter of an hour left was enough for the Black and Whites, who were bottom of the Premier League on 22 September. The French midfielder - captaining the side in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini - collected Sammy Ameobi's pass before driving it into the net on the turn to send the Strangers back to London with nul points and firmly rooted to the foot of the table. Newcastle's day was, however, somewhat soured by what appeared to be another serious injury to Ryan Taylor, who was making his first league start in thirty two months. For just over half an hour, the afternoon had belonged to the popular Taylor who had recovered from two potentially career-ending cruciate ligament injuries, as he shone in midfield. Sometimes breaking up play effectively from a central role, sometimes unnerving Queens Park Strangers courtesy of expert dead-ball delivery, he played like a man who had never been away from the game. As Newcastle boss Alan Pardew put it: 'Ryan was pulling the strings.' Then Taylor went down in his own penalty area. The physio arrived, manipulated the player's knee and, immediately, extended a consolatory arm. Eventually, Taylor got to his feet and limped off to a standing ovation from the fifty thousand punters at St James' Park, with tears streaming down his face. Despite initial fears that Ryan could have suffered a injury similar to the two which kept him sidelined for the majority of two full seasons, the thirty-year-old later tweeted after he had received an MRI scan at the Royal Victoria Infirmary that he had experienced 'no major problem.' Before he left the field he looked like The Magpies' most potent weapon having twice tested the Strangers goalkeeper Robert Green, and Ryan's departure appeared to unsettle the home side for a while. Newcastle eyes then looked to Ayoze Perez to break the deadlock, with the Spanish under-twenty one international striker having scored three goals in his last three games. He should have grabbed his fourth when he was played in by Sissoko, only to dwell on his shot too long, allowing the alert Robert Green to block. Sissoko has, arguably, been Newcastle's best player this season and he was rewarded for another diligent display when he combined with Ameobi before launching an angled effort beyond the reach of the Strangers keeper. Defeat was the Hoops' seventh on their travels in all competitions this season and sees them slip to the bottom of the pile thanks to Burnley's win at Dirty Stoke. Hapless Harry Redknapp's side had four shots on target, but none troubled Newcastle keeper Tim Krul. Maybe if Hapless Harry spent a bit more time on the training pitch and a bit less making those crappy six-six-six adverts he side might win a few matches. Who can say? Joey Barton, returning to his former club, inevitably, enjoyed the last word – clearing Papiss Cissé's shot off the line in the dying moments.

Lewis Hamilton - who, for once managed to keep a straight face and not whinge like a bairn - clinched his second drivers' world championship with a comfortable victory in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 2008 champion became only the fourth Briton to win two world titles. Hamilton, second in qualifying, took the lead at the start and controlled the race, as Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg suffered car trouble and finished fourteenth. 'This is the greatest day of my life,' Hamilton said. '2008 was a great year in my life. The feeling I have now is way, way past that. The greatest feeling ever.' Hamilton moves level with Jim Clark and Graham Hill with two world F1 titles, and is one behind Sir Jackie Stewart. He also joins a number of other drivers on two titles, including his great contemporary rival Fernando Alonso. Michael Schumacher is the all-time record holder with seven, while the most successful current driver is Sebastian Vettel on four. Rosberg, who started on pole, was left struggling by the failure of his hybrid system. With two laps to go, he was told he could retire by his engineers at Mercedes but said: 'I would like to go to the end.' As Hamilton crossed the line, Prince Harry, attending the race, took to the team radio to say: 'Lewis, well done for not making the British public sweat. You are an absolute legend.' Hamilton stood on his car to celebrate after he returned to the pits and then went over to embrace girlfriend, the singer Nicole Scherzinger - seen left, kissing Hamilton's helmet - and his family, who had flown in for the race day to support him. The Englishman's win was his eleventh of the season, compared to Rosberg's five, and he finished sixty seven points clear at the top of the title standings. It was the thirty third grand prix win of Hamilton's career. Rosberg, who entered the race needing to win and hope that Hamilton finished lower than second in order to win the title, was never in the position he needed to overhaul his rival. While Hamilton made a perfect start to the race under the setting sun at the impressive Yas Marina circuit, Rosberg's Mercedes bogged down and the Briton was into the lead well before braking for the first corner. Hamilton completed the first lap 1.2 seconds in front and inched clear until he was almost three seconds in front by the time he made his first pit stop on lap ten, always giving the impression of being in complete control. The gap stayed at around that margin until lap twenty three, near half-distance, when Rosberg began to suffer from a failure of the energy recovery system on his Mercedes. From then on, it was a matter of damage limitation for Rosberg, who constantly asked his team over the radio to tell him what he needed to do to finish in the top five - the result that would give him the title should Hamilton have been forced to retire. 'How's it looking, to be in the position I need if Lewis has a problem?' Rosberg asked after about thirty four laps. 'It's not looking good, Nico,' his engineer Tony Ross told him. 'What the hell does that mean?' Rosberg snapped back. 'What times do I need to do?' 'Just drive flat out,' he was told. But, lacking one hundred and sixty horsepower for thirty three seconds of the lap, Rosberg was helpless as he slipped down the field, battling problems with his brakes, which were put under extra strain as a result of his problems. When Rosberg hit trouble, Mercedes put Hamilton's car into a conservative setting and the tension he was feeling as he neared his goal became apparent when he said: 'Please don't turn up the car - I am comfortable. I can go faster if I need to.' Williams took a shot at beating Hamilton to the race win by putting second-placed Felipe Massa on to super-soft tyres for a short final stint at his second pit stop with twelve laps to go. Massa closed to within nine seconds of Hamilton with eight laps to go and kept reducing the gap but Hamilton controlled his pace to ensure he had plenty of margin in hand to keep Massa at bay. Williams took a double podium with Valtteri Bottas taking third, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who drove brilliantly to take fourth after starting from the pit lane because both Red Bulls were found to be illegal after qualifying. 2009 World Champion Jenson Button took fifth for McLaren in what could be the final race of an illustrious career - McLaren have yet to choose whether Button or his younger team-mate Kevin Magnussen will partner Fernando Alonso, who is moving from Ferrari, in 2015. The Force India team used an inverted tyre strategy to take a strong sixth and seventh with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Ricciardo's team-mate the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who also started from the pit lane, was eighth. Alonso, in his last race for Ferrari took ninth, ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Magnussen.

There was a proper top quality Record Player on Thursday evening at the Tyneside, dear blog reader. This week yer actual Uncle Scunthorpe was playing an LP which yer actual Keith Telly Topping has to confess he was not greatly familiar with (Vampire Weekend's latest offering) but this blogger - and, I think, a few other regulars - were rather impressed with. It reminded me somewhat of Mercury Rev in places. And, Paul Simon in others. Best bit of the night, however, was a really intense discussion about how much of an odious, risible, balding, Tory tax-exile twat Phil Collins is on a scale of one to ten. With one being 'not much of a twat' and ten being 'really very twatty indeed'. This blogger suggested twelve. Although, on reflection, Keith Telly Topping feels that he may have been a little lenient there.

So, on that bombshell, we come to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the day. Which is this.