Monday, August 25, 2014

Week Thirty Six: How Was It For You?

Critics have hailed yer actual Peter Capaldi's feature-length début as The Doctor, as the eighth series of Doctor Who premièred on BBC1 on Saturday. You might have noticed. The Torygraph's Michael Hogan said the actor 'crackled with fierce intelligence and nervous energy.' Some middle-class hippy Communist tool at the Gruniad Morning Star, called Peter's performance 'wise and thoughtful', though decried the plot as 'demented.' The programme was watched by an overnight peak of 7.26 million people around 9pm (with an average of 6.8 million across the entire eighty minutes), according to initial overnight viewing figures. More than decent on a Saturday night in August under any circumstances, of course. If the last series is anything to go by then added timshifts should take that figure up to somewhere around nine million or so although it's getting harder to speculate on an exact final figure - even for a seasoned ratings watcher like yer actual Keith Telly Topping - as timeshifting is becoming so much more prevalent with each passing year. Those final, consolidated figures will be released by BARB in about a week's time. And, of course, none of this takes account either iPlayer viewers or those who were watching the episode at four hundred and forty cinemas around the country. The BBC said that Deep Breath was the most watched opening episode of a Doctor Who series on overnights since Matt Smith's début episode, The Eleventh Hour, in 2010. Richard Beech, in the Mirra, said that Capaldi had 'all the hallmarks of a great Doctor.' He called the eighty-minute episode, Deep Breath, 'an impeccable début. If you watched Deep Breath and you don't want to watch the rest of series eight, then there truly is something wrong with you,' he added. The surprise reappearance of Capaldi's predecessor, Matt Smith his very self in the closing moments of the show was greeted with joy by many fans, though the Mirra's critic called Smudger's phone call from the past 'divisive. For some, it will have been a genuine treat to see Matt Smith as The Doctor for one last time - but many didn't need the closure, and didn't need telling to get behind a man they already firmly believe in.' The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has described Smudger's appearance as 'the fastest return ever on Doctor Who. It just felt utterly right for what we were planning for Peter's Doctor, and right for Matt's Doctor, that he would think of that as he was just about to go out the door,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'In some ways, this episode resembled Moffat's other show, Sherlock, with its twisting plot, cryptic newspaper ads and London landmarks. Although the pace sagged in places, as a debut for a new Doctor it worked well with some old-style behind-the-sofa scares and sly humour,' noted the Torygraph's reviewer. 'There was even an oblique dig at ITV ("so many advertisements, a distressing modern trend") and a nod to the upcoming Scottish referendum, with Capaldi declaring: "My eyebrows want to cede from my face and set up their own independent state." This Doctor might be darker but he's not without wit.' 'This was a wise and thoughtful opening gambit from Moffat, and from the wonderful Capaldi - if you can utterly disregard the demented plot. Granted, this might be like saying "apart from that, 6 August was a typically pleasant day in Hiroshima", but the underlying, and cleverer, theme was of age, and ageing, and looks, and perception, very nicely summed up when Clara (Jenna Colman, in a performance of great nuance if you can forget that last faux-Scots diphthong) asks the pretty lesbian lizard-lady, "When did you suddenly stop wearing that veil?" "When you stopped seeing it," comes the reply,' wrote the Observer's reviewer. AA Gill, The Sunday Times's TV critic, said Capaldi's version of The Doctor was 'not unlike Richard Dawkins, madly science-fictive and theophobic, with selective amnesia and vague formless feelings of charity.' In the Daily Scum Express, David Stephenson added: 'Capaldi plays the tartan time traveller as a serious thinker, an almost troubled being, with a burden. An independent soul, he is not finding his way in the world – he has already been there. In short, the new Doctor is one of us; older, kindly, grumpy at times, and with regrets. "I've made mistakes," he says solemnly. Once he gets over his post-traumatic regeneration disorder, this worldly Doctor could become a classic but do not expect the scarf to make a return. He may be an avuncular Doctor in a frock coat but he will not be reaching for the pipe and slippers.' 'Deep Breath is simultaneously familiar and yet unfamiliar. It's a familiar "new Doctor" episode which touches on the after-effects of regeneration,' added the Metro's Tim Liew. 'Steven Moffat's clockwork droids from The Girl In The Fireplace return. And we’re reunited with the Paternoster Gang of Vastra, Jenny and Strax, who help uncover the droids’ murderous attempts to repair their spacecraft and reach the promised land. At the same time, however, everything is different. The Doctor himself certainly is, with both he and Clara struggling to come to terms with his new appearance and personality.' 'The story took second place to a delightful play on the babble surrounding casting an older actor as The Doctor and not another boy wonder,' added Liew's Metro colleague, the excellent Keith Watson. 'Capaldi was in his element, brilliant at bafflement as he came to terms with his new identity. "Don't look in that mirror, it's furious", he cried, not recognising himself. "Why did I choose this face? It's like I'm trying to make a point." A point, indeed, and one neatly made by writer Steven Moffat, railing at ageism. Jenna Coleman's Clara was having a hard time swapping a potential boyfriend for a bloke who could be her dad and, in a cheeky take on Who legend, we had (spoiler) two Doctors for the price of one in a scene with Matt Smith popping up to help her move on.' Even the Daily Scum Mail's notoriously hard-to-please grumpy-faced whinger Jim Shelley seemed to quite enjoy Capaldi's performance, although not without a thoroughly spiteful, cowardly and, it would seem, sinisterly agenda-soaked dig at Peter's immediate two predecessors Matt Smith and David Tennant that we could have well done without. Then again, this is the Daily Scum Mail we're talking about , dear blog reader, and nobody with half-a-brain in their head or an ounce of conscience in their heart reads that odious full-of-it's-own-importance right-wing spew. The critics were also united in their praise for yer actual Jenna Coleman, returning as the Doctor's companion Clara. Her character drove much of the action in the episode which opened with a dinosaur stranded in Victorian London and encompassed spontaneous combustion and robots harvesting human body parts. 'The plot runs secondary to the emotional throughline here,' wrote the US critic Geoff Berkshire in Variety. But he added: 'What Capaldi lacks in youthful energy, he more than makes up for in gravitas and wry eccentricity, whether marvelling at his "independently cross" eyebrows or gleefully embracing his Scottish accent as a license to complain.' 'Behind his furrowed brow and tendency to complain, roil new and exciting storms, which may tilt the tale away from love and longing and back to adventure,' noted the Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara. 'Either way, this Doctor is truly something else again.' Certainly good old Mad Tom Baker seemed to enjoy the episode, posting on Facebook: 'Bravo, Peter Capaldi! Wonderful actor in a wonderful series off to a great new start!' Of course, when reporting all this, the BBC News website couldn't resist finding a handful of whinging fekkers of no importance whatsoever on Twitter who disagreed and wanted to tell everyone that would listen (and, indeed, everyone that wouldn't) all about it. And, once again, we have an example of the naive media assumption that Twitter is The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. Which is isn't. Not even close. 'Seriously disappointed with Doctor Who. Bored, angry, frustrated, irritated, offended and let down,' whinged some arsewipe whom you've never heard of with a username like Numskull473. Or something. So, presumably he or she will be watching Tipping Point on ITV next week instead? Good. See, everybody's happy.
And, from that, to this year's best silly season story. According to the Independent, Ofcom has received six complaints after a lesbian kiss featured in Saturday night's Doctor Who. Exactly where they got that figure from is not, at this time, known but let's assume for the moment that it's true (always a jolly dangerous assumption where the Indi is concerned) and, as a consequence, let us, once again, simply marvel at the utter trival bollocks that some right-wing bags of loathsome scummery choose to care about. The BBC's popular family SF drama 'came under fire' from some viewers (I'm certainly not going to use the word 'fans' here, unlike the Indi, because, well, they're not) for the allegedly 'inappropriate' moment between the Silurian Madame Vastra and her human wife Jenny Flint. Although the Victorian couple - portrayed, excellently, by Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart - have appeared as lovers for three years in the series, their first on-screen kiss sparked some ... people (and I use that word very loosely) to attack what they saw as 'a blatant gay agenda.' Ah, how marvellous it is to see sick, vile and open homophobia alive and kicking in the Twenty First Century? The moment came when Jenny was holding her breath to escape the clockwork droids who can sense humans by their breathing (hence, the episode's title). As she struggles to breathe, Madame Vastra helps to keep her alive with her own oxygen. A kiss of life, if you like - so, one imagines, Casualty might be getting some complaints as well. But, while the scene received a broadly positive reaction from most viewers, others - well, six anyway - claimed it was 'unnecessary' and 'gratuitous', with one 'reviewer' accusing the BBC of 'wanting to become a porn channel.' Yes. Yes, it does. It's what I pay my licence fee for, I dunno about anybody else. 'It just seems [Steven Moffat] is on some weird, lizard-lesbian perv trip,' wrote someone else, according to the gay news site, Pink News. Where these couple of jokers actually wrote these things isn't made entirely clear although, chances are it's bloody Twitter. In which case who, actually, gives a frig?

So, as noted, the return of Doctor Who was seen by an initial overnight audience of nearly seven million people on BBC1. Series eight opener Deep Breath was watched by an average overnight audience of 6.8 million in its 7.50pm timeslot. The feature-length episode, which marked the full début of yer actual Peter Capaldi, peaked with an audience of just over seven million around 8.45pm as the episode drew towards its conclusion. With a thirty two per cent audience share, it was watched by nearly a third of all TV viewers on Saturday evening. The episode had an Audience Appreciation Index score of eighty two. Still firmly in the 'good' category, if you were wondering. Elsewhere, the wretched Tumble was seen by an average audience of 3.31 million. The BBC's truly horrific gymnastics show narrowly improved its audience on the previous week's average of 3.30 million. Doctor Who was followed by 4.2 million for Casualty at 9.10pm, while Match Of The Day rounded off the evening with 3.47 million. Tipping Point was seen by 3.12 million on ITV, while All Star Family Fortune played to 2.81 million. Celebrity Big Brother continued on Channel Five with 1.43 million tuning in to the latest episode. Channel Five's evening began with seven hundred and ninety one thousand for The ABBA Years at 7.10pm, followed by ABBA @ Forty: Live At Wembley with 1.07 million. Channel Four's movie, Red Lights, was its biggest draw of the night with an audience of seven hundred and seventy thousand at 9pm. The Restoration Man and Grand Design were viewed by five hundred and fifty thousand and six hundred and sixty thousand punters respectively. On BBC2, Ancient Egypt: Life And Death In The Valley Of The Kings was seen by nine hundred and sixty thousand at 8.15pm, while seven hundred and eighty thousand watched Andrew Marr's Great Scots: The Writers Who Shaped A Nation immediately afterwards. With 1.31 million viewers, an episode of Dad's Army was BBC2's highest-rated show of the evening at 7.45pm. ITV3 dramas Lewis and Foyle's War performed well, entertaining respective audiences of seven hundred and twenty thousand and eight hundred and forty thousand.

Overnight ratings on Sunday were incredibly low right across the board - hardly surprisingly for a Bank Holiday weekend in August, one could suggest. BBC1's Countryfile once again scored the night's largest overnight audience attracting 4.71 million at 8pm. It was sandwiched between Nature's Miracle Orphans and The Village, which were watched by 3.73 million and 3.52 million, respectively. With highlights of the games between Stottingtot Hotshots and Queens Park Strangers, as well as The Scum versus The Mackem Filth, Match Of The Day 2 bucked the day's downward trend and was actually seen by a marginally increased audience week-on-week of 2.56 million. Celebrity Big Brother was another show that seemed to be unaffected by the Bank Holiday, being watched by 1.7 million sad, crushed victims of society at 9pm. Channel Five's evening movie Legally Blonde was viewed by nine hundred and ninety five thousand punters at 7pm. Come On Down! The Game Show Story was ITV's highest-rated show of the evening, playing to but 2.27 million at 7pm. It was followed, on what was little short of a horrorshow of a night for the commercial channel by 2.07 million for The Zoo at 8pm and a mere 1.3 million for The Great War: The People's Story at 9pm. It's been a long, tough summer for ITV and how they must be counting the days until The X Factor's return next week. BBC's evening began with eight hundred and sixty thousand viewers for highlights of the Belgian Grand Prix at 7pm, followed by 1.99 million for Dragons' Den at 8pm. BBC2's evening peaked with 2.16 million for James May's Cars Of The People - which provided the BBC's second channel with a rare victory over ITV in a 9pm slot - while a repeat of the Mark Gatiss-penned Doctor Who biopic An Adventure In Space And Time was seen by six hundred and forty thousand at 10pm. On Channel Four, How Britain Worked attracted an average audience of six hundred and twenty thousand while The Mill concluded with 1.2 million. The channel's première of 2012's The Cold Light Of Day was seen by 1.37 million at 9pm.

Deep Breath averaged 1.187 million national viewers in Australia. It was the highest rating drama of the day and the eighth highest rated programme overall. Excluding regional and rural viewers, yer actual Peter Capaldi's début averaged seven hundred and ten thousand viewers in the five major Australian capital cities and was the ninth highest rating show of the day overall (the second highest rating drama after ANZAC Girls). The 4.50am broadcast, simulcast with the UK, also averaged a highly impressive two hundred and sixty thousand national viewers (presumably, very sleepy ones at that). As with Britain, these rating do not include timeshifted viewers. Meanwhile The Doctor's latest incarnation delivered the popular family SF drama's biggest American première audience yet. BBC America's broadcast of Deep Breath puled in an initial US audience of 2.6 million viewers, a record-setting opener for the series in the States. During its 8 to 10pm slot on Saturday night, Doctor Who was the most-watched show on cable.

The BBC drama Sherlock has won a hat-trick of awards at the US Primetime Emmys in Los Angeles. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self won best actor and best supporting actor in a miniseries, although neither was present to collect their awards. In Benny's case, he was probably still doing his ice-bucket challenge. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat also won best writing in a miniseries for the final episode of Sherlock's third season, His Last Vow. Breaking Bad was the big winner on the night, winning five awards including best drama series. It was the second consecutive year the show picked up the awards' highest honour, after ending in September last year after five seasons. Its star, Bryan Cranston, was named best actor in a drama series for a fourth time as the teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White. He beat a host of Hollywood heavyweights including Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson for their roles in the acclaimed crime drama True Detective. 'I have gratitude for everything that has happened,' Cranston said. His co-stars, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, were also honoured for best supporting actor and supporting actress in a drama series. Collecting the award for best drama series, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan said: 'Holy cow! This is indeed a wonderful time to be working in television. Thank you for this wonderful farewell to our show.' Julianna Margulies, star of The Good Wife, won the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series for her part as lawyer Alicia Florrick. 'I feel like this is the golden age of television, but it's also the time for women in television,' said Margulies. 'I feel very grateful to be here.' Modern Family was named best comedy series for a fifth consecutive year, equalling the record set by 1990s show Frasier for most comedy wins. Ty Burrell, also walked away with best supporting actor in a comedy, for his role on the show. The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons won best actor in a comedy series, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winning her third consecutive Emmy for her role as the foul-mouthed US Vice President Selina Meyer in political satire Veep. Allison Janney won the best supporting actress in a comedy series for Mom. She also collected a second prize during the ceremony for best guest actress in a drama for her role in Masters Of Sex. The ceremony also paid a traditional tribute to industry members who died in the past year. They included James Garner, Ruby Dee, Sid Caesar, Carmen Zapata, Elaine Stritch.It concluded with a special tribute to Robin Williams by his friend Billy Crystal who remembered the actor as 'the brightest star in a comedy galaxy. It is very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in our lives,' Crystal said. 'While some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now, their energy long since cool, but miraculously, because they float in the heavens so far away from the sound, their beautiful life will continue to shine on us forever. And the glow will be so bright, it will warm your heart, it will make your eyes glisten, and you'll think to yourself, Robin Williams - what a concept.'

Speaking at the Emmy, yer actual Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) claimed that he has a 'devastating' plan for when Sherlock returns for its one-off special (likely to be next Christmas) and new three-part run (likely to be in early 2016). He went on to say: 'We practically reduced our cast to tears by telling them the plan. Mark [Gatiss] and myself are so excited with what we've got coming up, probably more excited than we've ever been about Sherlock. Honestly, I think we can [top the last season].'On the subject of the awards, Moffat said: 'We were just starting to think that that phase of our lives was dying down, because as shows get older they don't win as often - just like people. We're delighted that we've made it here and hopefully this gets more people watching. That'd be great.' Seemingly Steven wasn't even upset that the BBC News website managaed, yet again, to misspell his name ('Stephen'). It put it right. Eventually.

Back to the ratings and New Tricks rose slightly from the previous week's series opener to win the overnight ratings outside soaps on Bank Holiday Monday. The popular, long-running BBC1 crime drama climbed by around fifty thousand punters to an average audience of 5.84 million at 9pm. Earlier, a different slot for Countryfile appealed to 4.30m at 6pm, followed by coverage of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2014 with 4.53m at 7pm. A repeat of Miranda was watched by 3.33m at 8.30pm, while a look back on the career of the late Lord Attenborough was seen by 2.26m at 10.35pm. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by 2.65m at 8pm. Including this blogger's old mate Danny who noted: 'I may need to brush up on my thermodynamics and asexual reproduction of fungi, but I know The Pixies, Ian Dury and Pulp when I hear them. Honestly, bloody students.' And, so say all of us. He added that the episode also featured an example of what is fast becoming one of UC's most endearing features: 'Paxo gazes dewy-eyed at yet another charming lady captain!' The Scotland Decides debate between Alex Salmond (who, probably won) and Alistair Darling (who, you know, didn't) had an audience of 1.66m at 9pm. Most of whom would've been bored utterly titless by the end. On ITV, Countrywise gathered 2.49m at 8pm, followed by the latest Long Lost Family with 3.28m at 9pm. Channel Four's Food Unwrapped was seen by seven hundred and seventy seven thousand at 7.30pm, while Richard Ayoade's Gadget Man returned with nine hundred and ninety five thousand at 8.30pm. Royal Marines Commando School brought in 1.34m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Police Interceptors attracted nine hundred and thirty one thousand at 8pm, followed by the latest Celebrity Big Brother nonsense with 1.41m at 9pm. Under The Dome returned for its second season with eight hundred and seven thousand at 10pm.

Here's the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 17 August 2014:-
1 The Great British Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 8.79m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.08m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.73m
4 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 6.49m
5 Boomers - Fri BBC1 - 5.32m
6 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 5.31m
7 In The Club - Tues BBC1 - 5.30m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.24m
9 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 5.04m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.03m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.71m
12 Long Lost Family - Mon ITV - 4.54m*
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.40m
14 The Village - Sun BBC1 - 4.39m
15 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.37m
16 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 4.27m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.04m
18 Match of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.00m
19 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.56m
20 Tumble - Sat BBC1 - 3.54m
ITV Programmes marked '*' do include include HD figures. BBC2's highest rated programmes of the week was James May's Cars Of The People (3.06m), followed by and Dragons' Den (2.91m), The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice (2.65m) and University Challenge (2.50m). With the exception of five episode of Corrie, six episode of Emmerdale and Long Lost Family only one ITV show in the entire week managed to top three million viewers: One Hundred Year Old Drivers which had an audience of 3.29m. The fourteenth most watched programme on what is supposed to be Britain's second most popular channel was Tipping Point: Lucky Stars with a mere 2.93 million punters. I'd love to tell you how many the abysmal Love Your Garden got, dear blog reader, but I'm still too busy laughing. Okay, it was 2.46m. Channel Four's highest-rated show was Royal Marines Commando School with 2.52m followed by One Born Every Minutes (1.86m) and Dispatches (1.85m). The film Safe was Channel Five's best performer with two million viewers, followed by CSI with 1.90. On BBC4, Inspector Montalbano led the way with seven hundred and eighty eight thousand viewers. Lewis was ITV3's best performer with nine hundred and thirty nine thousand. Family Guy on BBC3 was the most watched show on multchannels with 1.42m.

The BBC is reportedly developing a drama based on Shannon Matthews, the Yorkshire child who endured a hoax kidnapping ordeal organised by her own scumbag of a mother. Sheridan Smith, the award-winning actress who is about to be seen in the lead role in ITV's Cilla Black biopic, may play the part of Karen Matthews, extremely jailed for the abduction and drugging of her then nine-year-old daughter in February 2008, a crime described as "despicable and inconceivable" by the judge. Shannon endured a twenty four-day ordeal before West Yorkshire police discovered her hiding under a bed with her mother's boyfriend's uncle, Michael Donovan, in a flat a mile and a half from her home in Dewsbury. It later emerged that her mother, who had made several tearful television appeals for Shannon's return, staged her daughter's disappearance and kept her captive in a ruse to collect fifty grand reward money offered by the Sun after the girl was 'found.' Matthews and Donovan were both very jailed for eight years, although it emerged in 2012 that Matthews had been released on licence after serving half of her sentence. Police said that it was possible the pair had been influenced by the international coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance in 2007. Award-winning writer Jeff Pope and the BBC are in talks to make the programme. Pope has previously worked on docu-dramas about the Moors murders, the Great Train Robbery, Lord Lucan and the series killers Fred and Rose West. Pope and Smith appeared together on Friday at the Edinburgh International Television Festival where he said the project would be 'extremely complex.' He was asked if Smith might be involved in the Matthews drama and said: 'Maybe, yes.' When asked if she might play Shannon Matthews' mother, Pope replied: 'Yes.' The pair worked together on the Great Train Robbery drama Mrs Biggs and on The Widower, based on the crimes of the convicted murderer Malcolm Webster, as well as the forthcoming Cilla. The drama would be made for the BBC by ITV Studios, where Pope is Head of Factual Drama as well as a writer. Pope said: 'It's very early stages; it's not been commissioned yet and the casting process hasn't even begun.' Pope also revealed in Edinburgh that he wanted to write a drama about dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile. Pope said that he had 'not quite got the way in' yet to writing about the DJ and TV presenter who was revealed as a serial sex abuser after his death, but did not think the drama would focus on 'the man in Bacofoil' that people know from the years when the star ran marathons for charity.

A TARDIS has appeared alongside a café on the Bristol to Bath cycle path - with a Victorian-style bathroom inside. The replica of The Doctor's time machine was bought by the owners of Warmley's Waiting Room Café. They have spent the past few months turning it into the, ahem, 'Who loo', complete with flashing light and TARDIS sound effects. Owner Justin Hoggans said: 'It's got everything you need; a toilet, sink, hot and cold water and a hand dryer.' He added that he was 'a big fan' of the television show; so much so, in fact, that he seemingly liked the idea of people shitting on an aspect of it. Fandom comes in many forms, dear blog reader. Some odder than others. Hoggans said: 'This is a replica [TARDIS], made by a carpenter in York. We've got a doorbell we can press in the café that makes the sound go off, so we do it when someone's having their photograph taken outside - which is quite often. The light is operated off a motion sensor so as someone goes into the toilet, the lights inside and on top of the box go on to indicate the toilet's in use.' Is there any better way to let the world know that you're taking a dump, one wonders? He added: 'We needed a toilet to operate. We've got public toilets just opposite us, but they were shut down for about three weeks last summer. We thought, if we're going to have it let's make a feature of it.'

And, on that bombshell, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 30 August
'The answer to my next question must be honest and cold considered, without kindness or restraint. Clara, be my pal, tell me ... am I a good man?' A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship in the latest episode of Doctor Who - 7:30 BBC1 - Phil Ford's Into The Dalek. Looking, it must be said, pure dead hard. The Doctor is the only person who can help the ship's crew, but he needs Clara by his side as he, once again, faces his arch-enemies. The Doctor is confronted with a decision that could change The Daleks forever, being forced to examine his conscience as he tries to find the answer to the question 'Am I a good man?' Popular family SF adventure, starring yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self. The episode also features the début of Sam Anderson as Danny Pink and guest appearances from the great Michael Smiley (Spaced, Wire In The Blood, Luther), Sherlock's Zawe Ashton and Ben Crompton (Ideal, Games of Thrones).

The talent extravaganza The X Factor returns for its eleventh series - 8:00 ITV - with some important changes. For a kick-off Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crosssroads is back on the judging panel for the first time since 2010, former guest judge Mel B takes a permanent role on the show and The Heaton Horror Cheryl Cole has also signed up for a return. But, she's now Cheryl Fernandez-Versini following her whirlwind wedding to some bloke you've never heard of in July. Or, just plain Cheryl. Possibly. Who, in all honesty, gives a toss about absolute bollocks like that? Show stalwart Louis Walsh completes the line-up as the experts search for the nation's next singing sensation. In the nastiest and most humiliating fashion possible. For the 'entertainment' of gawking voyeurs across the land. As with last year, there's an X Factor double bill every week from the beginning, kicking off with the 'popular' closed-room auditions. The minimum age for acts has now also been lowered to fourteen, creating more opportunities for all the budding Justin Biebers out there. Dermot O'Dreary hosts.

You've probably seen the Victoria Coren Mitchell-voiced trailers for BBC4's latest Scandinavian import, Crimes Of Passion which starts tonight at 9:00 and concerns a trio of Swedes who wear nice clothes and solve crime. In Bergslagen in the 1950s, amateur sleuth Puck Ekstedt, her student boyfriend Einar Bure and their police superintendent friend Christer Wijk set out to solve a series of murders. In the first episode, a female guest is killed at a university tutor's summer house on a secluded island. Looks rather good in a kind of Marple type way. Swedish crime drama with English subtitles, starring Tuva Novotny, Linus Wahlgren and Ola Rapace.

This penultimate episode of True Detective - 9:00 Sky Living - is famous for the scene where Marty (Woody Harrelson) is convinced to re-open a murder case that was closed seventeen years previously. His former partner Rust (Matthew McConaughey) plays him a crackly videotape of ritual child abuse – of course the audience doesn't actually see that horror, but Harrelson's outraged, primal reaction and the terrible tension as we wait for it, make the idea properly indelible. Just as important to the narrative is the moment when these two ageing men, their families and careers gone through their own flaws, assure each other that they're happy and carefree; a quick montage of TV dinners and bin bags full of bottles suggests otherwise. So it is that the ex-cops go back to the first leads in the Dora Lange case, back to hard investigative work, back to the start of this misty, circular story. Delving deep into pure horror is all they have left.

Sunday 31 August
Former The Fast Show colleagues John Thomson and Simon Day head off to Argentina to learn the ways of the country's rugged cowboys and national icons ahead of them participating in a cattle drive in the foothills of the Andes in the first of the two part The Two Amigos: A Gaucho Adventure - 9:00 BBC2. After a hair-raising, pot-hole dodging drive, they arrive at La Pelada Estancia near the small town of Esquina, Simon and John's home for a week of intense training. Head honcho Dario Gallardo soon has the pair bedecked in traditional ponchos and riding on two of the ranch's sturdiest horses, preparing them for their three-day ride in the wilds of Patagonia.
Yer actual Sir Tony of Robinson his very self uncovers the shocking truth behind some of the most gruesome events of the Nineteenth century, when criminals would steal corpses from graves to sell on to surgeons who were desperate for bodies to examine in a Time Team special Secrets Of The Bodysnatchers at 8:00 on Channel Four. Recent research shows that the horror continued long after The Anatomy Act was introduced in 1832. The new law was supposed to put a stop to the trade by allowing workhouses and poor hospitals to sell cadavers for dissection. They were only allowed to deal in those unclaimed by families, but over a period of one hundred years, about one hundred and twenty five thousand bodies were traded without the prior permission of the deceased.

The locals are in a celebratory mood as Edmund and Harriet prepare for their wedding, and despite Norma's opposition, Gilbert and Agnes get married in the chapel in the latest episode of The Village - 9:00 BBC1. The land debate continues as Bert and Phoebe are caught trespassing on the Allinghams' estate, and Grace defies John despite his best efforts to make things right between them. Her decision to join Robin and the villagers in a protest over access rights at the Big House has dramatic consequences when Bill Gibby returns in time for the supposedly peaceful walk. Classy period drama, starring Maxine Peake, John Simm and Rupert Evans.

First shown in 2008, the opening victim in scriptwriter Alan Plater's genteel puzzle And The Moonbeams Kiss The Sea, tonight's episode of Lewis - 8:00 ITV - is a self-consciously 'quirky' and very annoying female student. Which, frankly, is more than enough motive to bump her off. She runs bogus heritage tours of Oxford and is found extremely dead with a snippet of a Shelley poem in her pocket. 'I met murder on the way', indeed. What can I say, dear blog reader, this blogger did English A level. I didn't say I passed, mind you. Nevertheless, a major fan of Percy Bysshe his very self is yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Anyway, back to Lewis. Another victim is soon discovered in the Bodleian Library. If you're gonna get done-in, it might as well be in world-renowned academic surroundings, rather out the back by the bins. The suspects in both cases are supercilious university professors. Cue wry and discontented looks from Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway (the always excellent Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox). They find themselves investigating the death of a maintenance engineer found very shot in the head in the basement of the Bodleian. A search of the man's house reveals a stash of valuable volumes and a connection to the local Gamblers Anonymous group, and the detectives go on to expose a scam involving two Oxford academics. Drama, guest starring former Drop The Dead Donkey co-stars Neil Pearson and Haydn Gwynne, with Clare Holman and Rebecca Front.

Monday 1 September
In this week's episode of New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1 - the UCoS team looks into the death of a terrorist thirty years previously after his daughter receives an anonymous note claiming that he was extremely murdered. It's an investigation which takes them back to the Greenham Common anti-nuclear protests. Which is, of course, a damned good excuse for Gerry Standing to orate a whole series of atypical rants about 'loony leftie' and all that. Some things, it would seem, never change. Meanwhile, Sasha agrees to go for dinner with her ex-husband Ned, which he is hoping will lead to a reconciliation. Tamzin Outhwaite, Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson and Nicholas Lyndhurst star, with guest appearances from Barnaby Kay, Charlotte Cornwell and Patricia Potter.

Return To Betjemanland - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather classy-looking documentary focusing on the life and work of John Betjeman, the writer and broadcaster who was Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984. Betjeman's biographer, AN Wilson, visits places of significance to the poet, travelling through the so-called 'Betjemanland' - which consists of areas in London, Oxford, Cornwall, Somerset and Berkshire. In doing so, the presenter paints a portrait of his subject's complexity, and reveals how he adopted a somewhat contradictory approach to social class and religion. That's followed at 10pm by a welcome repeat of Metroland, Betjeman's memorable 1973 BBC documentary in which he took a nostalgic look at the branch lines of the London Underground's Metropolitan Line and their meanderings through suburban Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Yer actual Victoria Coren Mitchell her very self returns with the cult quiz show Only Connect as it moves from BBC4 to BBC2 - 8:30, straight after University Challenge. Another batch of contestants using patience, lateral thinking and sheer inspiration try to make connections between four things which may appear, at first, not to be linked in the slightest. The opening edition of the tenth series features a trio of 'political enthusiasts' (who in the name of all that's holy can be enthusiastic about politics or politicians? That's a complete contradiction in terms). They're taking on three cat lovers, with one set of clues consisting of a theatre on Londons' Argyll Street, a golf club, a UK policeman and the US five-cent coin.
In Fifty Ways To Kill Your Mammy - 9:00 Sky1 - Irish 'daredevil presenter' Baz Ashmawy and his seventy one-year-old mother, Nancy, embark on the trip of a lifetime and attempt to complete every item on an extreme bucket list which Baz has created for her. Their second stop is Morocco, where Nance learns how to charm snakes, before Baz persuades her to take part in an off-road race, the International Rally. Later, Nancy treks across the desert for a more comfortable ride on a camel, before performing a Berber dance routine. The presenter then tests his mother's head for heights as the duo take a hot-air balloon ride across the Sahara.

Tuesday 2 September
The work of Steve and Sarah Bennett, who run a jewellery shopping channel broadcasting to Europe and North America twenty four hours a day is the subject of Gems TV - 9:00 ITV. With a turnover of around one hundred million smackers a year, part of the family's success lies in their business method - purchasing direct from the mines and keeping costs low - but there are problems on the horizon. There's an urgent need for new on-screen presenting talent in the run-up to Christmas and supplies of the best-selling gemstone - Tanzanite - are fast running out. Narrated by Liza Tarbuck.

Businessman Gabriel Ortiz is suspicious of the verdict that the death of his eighteen-year-old daughter Ana in Mexico was drug-related and calls on Doc Robbins, who he is friends with through their charity work to help him find some answers in the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. The medical examiner agrees to look into the case and heads south of the border accompanied by Nick Stokes, who acts as translator. Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, Sara and Greg investigate two concrete-covered bodies found buried in a garage, and uncover an unlikely connection between this case and the death of Ana Ortiz.

The search for Danny intensifies as Charlie and her friends close in on Neville and his men in Revolution - 10:00 on Pick. However, the militia leader is not willing to give up his hostage without a fight and has resurrected a forgotten technology to help him stay one step ahead of the rebels. Drama taking place in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future, starring Giancarlo Esposito and Tracy Spiridakos.
The final part of Super Senses: The Secret Power of Animals - 9:00 BBC2 - explores the world of scent and examines the animals that have pushed their sense of smell far beyond human capabilities. In the Bahamas, physicist Helen Czerski dives into shark-infested waters with only a small pouch of liquid as her defence against them, while biologist Patrick Aryee controls the behaviour of a swarm of bees by using tiny traces of scent, and gets uncomfortably close to a skunk.

Wednesday 3 September
Our Zoo is a gentle-looking period drama based on the true story of the Mottershead family, who made a huge personal sacrifice to establish Chester Zoo in the 1930s - despite staunch opposition from the locals. George Gently's Lee Ingleby heads a fine cast as the ex-serviceman George, still haunted by memories of the trenches of the First World War and frustrated that he and his family have to live with his parents. An animal lover, he is unable to stand by while an unwanted monkey and camel are put down in the quarantine bay at the docks, so he houses the animals in his mum and dad's backyard. The family think he is losing his mind - but, for George it's the spark of an idea. Liz White from Life On Mars, Anne Reid, Ralf Little and Sophia Myles co-star.

Twenty-five years after the World Wide Web was created, the issue of surveillance has become the greatest controversy of its existence. With many concerned that governments and corporations can monitor people's every move, the Horizon documentary Inside The Dark Web - 9:00 BBC2 - meets hackers and scientists who are using technology to fight back, as well as the law enforcement officers who believe it's leading to opportunities for risk-free crimes. With contributors including World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee and WikiLeaks co-founder - and international fugitive from justice - Julian Assange.

The events that led Lorraine Thorpe to become Britain's youngest female double murderer at the age of fifteen are covered in Countdown To Murder: Killer Schoolgirl - 8:00 Channel Five. She and forty one-year-old Paul Clarke tortured and killed their friend Rosalyn Hunt in a sick orgy of horrific violence, before smothering Thorpe's own father, Desmond, to death with a cushion after he threatened to go to the police and reveal the details of their dreadful, hellish crimes. The programme features interviews with Rosalyn's brother as well as detectives from the joint Norfolk and Suffolk investigation team.

There's live international football on ITV (so, there coverage will be apocalyptically piss-poor, as usual). England play Norway (kick-off 8.00pm) in a friendly match at Wembley as England play their first fixture since their hugely disappointing World Cup campaign. Roy Hodgson's young men returned from their brief trip to Brazil without a victory from their fixtures against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and are also now without their captain for that tournament, Steven Gerrard, who has since announced his retirement from international football. Which might come as a considerable surprise to many England viewers who assumed he'd retired years ago. Hodgson may be tempted to add more new faces to his line-up this evening depending on performances in the opening weeks of the Premier League season, as he aims to find a winning formula ahead of Monday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland. Presented by odious, worthless breakfast TV flop, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles, with commentary by Clive Tyldesley and Andy 'you know nothing' Townsend, and a singular lack of analysis by Lee Dixon and Glenn Hoddle.

Thursday 4 September
Saucy Sheridan Smith, who went from singing with her parents in the working men's clubs near their North Lincolnshire home to successful stage performances in Little Shop of Horrors and Legally Blonde - not to mention her countless TV appearances - embarks on a journey to find out where her family's musical talents come from in the latest Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. Shezza is soon hot on the trail of her great-great-grandfather Benjamin Doubleday, a world-class banjo player and musical impresario - but she is surprised by his change in fortunes.
Castles In The Sky - 9:00 BBC2 - is a fine-looking fact-based drama about the development of Britain's radar system during the 1930s by Robert Watson-Watt and his team of relatively unproven and unknown scientists, an invention which was to prove decisive during the Battle of Britain and the subsequent air war. Watson-Watt's ambition was initially dismissed by the Oxbridge-dominated establishment - including Winston Churchill - while he and his colleagues were disregarded as a bunch of 'weathermen' from provincial universities. They continued to strive to achieve their dreams against all odds, to the detriment of their personal lives and at the cost of some of their marriages. An excellent cast is led by Eddie Izzard, Laura Fraser, Tim McInnerny and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Highly recommended.
You're a bit spoiled for choice for new drama tonight, dear blog reader. Chasing Shadows - 9:00 ITV - follows a missing-persons unit on the hunt for serial killers. After he criticises police procedure in the aftermath of a murderer's capture, Detective Sergeant Sean Stone's superiors want him out of the way, so they assign him to a new unit at the MPB with analyst Ruth Hattersley. However, the case of a vanished sixteen-year-old girl soon has the unorthodox detective back out in the field with his new partner. Looking into a spate of teen suicides, he believes he has discovered a killer preying on vulnerable youngsters. Starring Reece Shearsmith, Alex Kingston and Noel Clarke. This one looks quite promising as well.
The updated version of the classic 1980s soap Dallas returns - 10:00 Channel Five - with the Ewings united after having vanquished old enemy Cliff Barnes. Sue Ellen is busy planning John Ross and Pamela's wedding, but the groom clashes with Bobby over their joint ownership of Southfork Ranch - and also begins an affair with Emma. Elena's return makes it clear her relationship with Christopher is irreparably damaged, and the arrival of a mysterious stranger puts everyone's plans at risk. Starring Patrick Duffy, Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe.

Friday 5 September
In tonight's Mastermind - 8:00 BBC2 - John Humphrys invites four more contestants to take their place in the famous black chair, where they answer questions on the specialist subjects of champagne, the Manhattan Project, Italian photographer Tina Modotti and cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner. They then have a chance to demonstrate their general knowledge in the final round.

Chef Gino D'Acampo sets off on another tour of his home country, this time exploring the North of Italy in the second series of Gino's Italian Escape - 7:30 ITV. In the first edition he examines the food that has shaped the city of Florence, beginning by tackling the bistecca alla Fiorentina - a thick and juicy steak - before preparing sliced T-bone with a colourful courgette ribbon and goat's cheese salad. He then heads to the town of Prato, sampling a pastry chef's speciality brioche buns with an aromatic, creamy filling, and conjuring up his own dessert of apple poached in red wine with amaretti biscuit cream.

The friends gather for Joyce's retirement party, where John has made a tribute video - but forgotten to ask Trevor for his contribution - and Maureen latches onto a trendy young couple in Boomers - 9:00 BBC1. Alan also has bad news that might ruin proceedings - unless the guest of honour spoils it first by confronting her neighbour about her kids' unruly behaviour. Alison Steadman and Philip Jackson star in the sitcom, with Russ Abbot, Stephanie Beacham, Paula Wilcox and James Smith.

To the news now: Allowing sectors of the UK TV industry to be bought up by US media companies poses a risk to the UK's tradition of innovation and risk-taking, the head of Channel Four has suggested. 'Our free-to-air channels have become must-have accessories,' David Abraham told an audience in Edinburgh. Independent production firms, he said, had been 'snapped up almost wholesale.' He called on politicians and regulators to act 'decisively' to safeguard public service broadcasting in the UK. MTV Viacom's recent four hundred and fifty million smackers acquisition of Channel Five and the purchase of All3Media, producer of shows including Skins and Midsomer Murders, by Discovery Communications and Liberty Global showed the UK's television industry 'risks becoming a victim of its own success', Channel Four's chief executive continued. Abraham, who has been with the channel since 2010, made his remarks while delivering this year's James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Last year's MacTaggart lecture was given by Kevin Spacey, who used his speech to champion streaming services like Netflix, the producer of his acclaimed House Of Cards series. According to Abraham, Spacey's show, along with many others, owed its success to a creative gambit taken initially by a British public service broadcaster. 'Would Netflix have bought a show about a murderous politician who broke the "fourth wall" of drama if the BBC hadn't taken that risky decision, decades before?' he asked. 'This special landscape of ours did not happen by accident. So we should not assume that, left purely to the market, it will continue to thrive.' Abraham's speech included a plea to Ofcom and the government to 'update and strengthen the PSB system, the system that has delivered so spectacularly for UK viewers and for UK PLC.' His call for increased protection of Channel Four and other public service broadcasters prompted a robust response from the Commercial Broadcasters Association, the UK industry body for digital, cable and satellite broadcasters. The UK broadcasting sector, it said in a statement, 'benefits hugely from an increasingly mixed ecology, with a wide range of players, both PSB and non-PSB, investing in different forms of domestic production. Intervention that damages one part of this sector in favour of another risks undermining this success and putting at risk the UK's status as a global television hub.' Coba's members include FOX, NBC Universal and other US broadcasters which operate in the UK. BSkyB also rejected Abraham's suggestion that PSB broadcasters should be financially recompensed for allowing their stations to be viewed via Pay-TV platforms. The proposal, said Graham McWilliam, Sky's group director of corporate affairs 'amounts to a discriminatory tax on millions of licence fee-paying viewers to watch public service content that is supposed to be free.' Channel Four, he added, 'should not be allowed to walk away from the obligations of universally free access which come with the very significant benefits of public service status.' The BBC used to pay Sky four and a half million quid a year to transmit on its platforms. The two broadcasters reached an agreement in February to drop the fee completely. Though largely spared criticism in Abraham's wide-ranging address, the BBC did not wholly escape some crass, agenda-soaked whigning. The corporation 'should be taking more risks', he said, going to suggest that shifting BBC3's output onto the iPlayer would see the service 'buried [more] thoroughly [than] radioactive waste. Subject to approval from the BBC Trust, we hope our exciting plans for BBC3 will set a new bar in engagement with young audiences,' the BBC responded.
Sir Cliff Richard has been formally interviewed under caution in connection with an alleged historical sexual offence, South Yorkshire Police has said. Sir Cliff met officers by appointment and was not arrested or charged. It comes after police searched his home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on 14 August as part of their investigation. The veteran singer strongly denies the alleged offence, saying that the claim of an assault at a religious event in Sheffield in 1985 is 'completely false.' South Yorkshire Police confirmed that it had 'spoken' to 'a seventy three-year-old man.' A police spokesman said: 'The man was interviewed under caution but was not arrested. He entered South Yorkshire Police premises by arrangement.' A spokesman for Cliff his very self said: 'Today Sir Cliff Richard voluntarily met with and was interviewed by members of South Yorkshire Police. He was not arrested or charged. He co-operated fully with officers and answered the questions put to him. Other than restating that this allegation is completely false and that he will continue to co-operate fully with the police, it would not be appropriate for Sir Cliff to say anything further at this time.' The BBC has been criticised for its coverage of the search after it found out about the operation in advance and sent cameras to Sir Cliff's home when officers arrived. The BBC has previously confirmed that its 'source' relating to the police investigation was not the South Yorkshire force itself. The BBC says that its journalists 'acted appropriately' in its coverage but the police - scrambling to cover their own back, it would seem - have accused the corporation of a 'cover-up' afterwards over what it had known. The bosses of both the BBC and the South Yorkshire Police have been summoned to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee to explain how the broadcaster knew of the search in advance. South Yorkshire's police chief has attacked the BBC's 'disproportionate' coverage of the search, accusing the corporation of making the raid look 'heavy-handed and intrusive.' Although, given that they were raiding the bloke's gaff, it's difficult to fathom how they reckon it wasn't intrusive. Crompton's letter accused the corporation of attempting to 'distance itself' from the force's handling of the search with a heavily critical piece by a BBC journalist who described the house search as 'a deliberate attempt by the police to ensure maximum coverage.' This criticism was made even though the journalist was 'aware' that South Yorkshire police was not the original source of the leak, Crompton said. He added: 'This appeared to be an attempt by the BBC to distance itself from what had taken place and cover up the fact that it had initiated contact with the force about the story. This was misleading and was known by the BBC to be inaccurate.' The use of the horribly loaded phrase 'cover up' - designed, one imagines, to provide maximum headlines from the Daily Scum Mail and its ilk - is particularly interesting in this case since, of course, South Yorkshire police know all about cover-ups.

Meanwhile, a Tory MP has criticised government interference in the search for the next chair of the BBC Trust. Conor Burns, a member of John Whittingdale's House of Commons lack of culture select committee, was also critical of the government's 'enthusiasm' to appoint a woman to the job 'simply because it's a woman rather than go out and find the best person to do that job.' Burns, who described the BBC as 'a brilliant advertisement to the world', said the corporation had been 'wrong' to broadcast live pictures from the police search of Cliff Richard's home but said it was 'premature' to call Director General Tony Hall to give evidence before MPs. Hall will appear before the home affairs select committee, chaired by full-of-his-own-importance Keith Vaz. Burns told the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Saturday: 'What I hope doesn't happen, and I know some in my party will want to see it happen, I hope the BBC doesn't become a political football.' Asked by BBC broadcaster Kirsty Wark whether the Trust chair appointment had been massively interfered with by the government, Burns said: 'Yes it is and I regret that. I do regret that the government seems to have decided to appoint a woman simply because it's a woman rather than go out and find the best person in the marketplace to do that job. I regret that enormously. I also think the structure of the Trust should be changed. The chairman should be brought back inside the building and much more closely aligned to the Director General.' Speaking afterwards, Burns said of the corporation's coverage of the raid on Richard's home: 'For the first time in broadcasting history the major news channel carried a raid of someone who had not been arrested or charged. I think it was extraordinary editorially to take a decision to broadcast a raid on a man's house when he had not been charged or arrested. We haven't asked the Director General to appear before the culture, media and sport select committee. I think it is probably premature. I would like to wait until the end of the process and see what happens before we do anything like that.'

A former psychologist for the TV show Big Brother was sacked unfairly by the University of Manchester, an employment tribunal has ruled. Professor Geoff Beattie was sacked for not disclosing the full extent of his media and broadcasting work. But the tribunal said that although Professor Beattie had 'breached' university policies, it was unfair to sack him for his first disciplinary offence. A future hearing will decided the remedy for his dismissal. During his time as professor of psychology at the University between 1994 and 2012, Professor Beattie had a high media profile as a commentator and academic. He acted as the 'resident psychologist' throughout ten series of the (then) Channel Four show Big Brother. The tribunal heard that the University encouraged outside work from academic staff and used Professor Beattie's media profile as a way to attract potential students. However he was disciplined in 2012 for 'failing to disclose the full extent of his outside work, with some going beyond broadcasting related activities and into private consultancy.' It was alleged that he had 'failed to account' to the university for the 'resources' he had used during this work, particularly the time spent by his research assistants. He was sacked for gross misconduct in November 2012 as a result. The panel said: 'Whilst it was reasonable to conclude that his actions had been in breach of the relevant policies, it was unfair to dismiss him for what was a first disciplinary offence. He had not acted dishonestly or deliberately breached the policies and his long service and excellent record with the university should have been given greater weight.' The University said that it would be 'considering its position in due course.'

Oscar-winning British film director Richard Attenborough has died at the age of ninety, his son has confirmed. Lord Attenborough was one of Britain's leading actors, before becoming a highly successful director and prodcuer. In a career which spanned seven decades, he appeared in numerous films including Brighton Rock, The Great Escape and, later, in the dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park. As a director he was perhaps best known for Gandhi, which won him two Oscars. Sir Ben Kingsley, who played the title role, said he would 'miss him dearly. Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him twenty years to bring to fruition. When he gave me the part of Gandhi it was with great grace and joy. He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him.' Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg said Lord Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life. He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Gandhi and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park,' Spielberg said. 'He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him.' Attenborough had been in a nursing home with his wife for a number of years. His son told the BBC that Lord Attenborough died at lunchtime on Sunday. During a career spanning almost seventy years, the irrepressible Dickie Attenborough became one of Britain's best-known actors and directors: a man of charm, talent and old-fashioned liberal principles. What one writer described as 'an apparently unquenchable appetite for doing good', Dickie himself attributed to his upbringing in Leicester. Richard Samuel Attenborough was born on 29 August 1923 in Cambridge. He and his two younger brothers - David, the TV naturalist (b 1926) and John (1928-2012) - were brought up by fervently do-gooding parents. Both were Labour Party activists whose commitment extended to adopting two Jewish refugee girls from Germany when World War II broke out. From his parents, Richard inherited a belief in the importance of community and society. Apart from a brief flirtation with the Social Democrats in the 1980s, he was a lifelong member of the Labour Party, and much of his work reflected his political beliefs. Richard was born in Cambridge, the eldest of three sons of Mary Attenborough, a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. Richard was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester where his father became principal of University College. He later studied at RADA. Richard made his film début while he was still a drama student in 1942, playing a memorable cameo role as a stoker on a naval destroyer in Noel Coward's In Which We Serve, a role which would help to type-cast Richard for several years afterwards as spivs or cowards in films like London Belongs To Me (1948) and Morning Departure (1950). Over the next thirty years - interrupted by three years' service in the RAF where, following initial pilot training he was seconded to the newly formed RAF Film Unit at Pinewood Studios, under the command of Flight Lieutenant John Boulting before a spell with Bomber Command - he became one of Britain's most reliable character actors. Another notable early appearance was a small role in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1946 masterpiece A Matter Of Life And Death. Arguably, Richard's most astonishing performance was his chilling portrayal, in 1947, of the teenage hoodlum and murderer Pinky Brown in Brighton Rock. On stage, he was part of the original cast of Agatha Christie's long-running whodunnit, The Mousetrap. Richard worked prolifically in British films for the next thirty years, including appearing in several successful comedies for John and Roy Boulting, such as Private's Progress (1956) and, with Peter Sellers, in I'm All Right Jack (1959). He later became a fixture of British television Christmases as the doomed Roger Bartlett in the 1963 prison camp drama The Great Escape. In 1964 he won a best actor BAFTA for his portrayal of the downtrodden husband of a deranged spiritualist in Seance On A Wet Afternoon. The award also recognised his performance as a martinet sergeant major facing a native uprising in Guns At Batasi. He also won two Golden Globes for his performances in The Sand Pebbles and Doctor Doolittle. His greatest skill as an actor was the sympathetic embodiment of ordinary though never mundane men in extraordinary circumstances. It served him especially well in 1971 when he played the serial killer John Christie - outwardly normal, in reality a chilling psychopath - in Ten Rillington Place. But he had become frustrated with acting, in which he only interpreted other people's work. He began producing films in the 1960s - The League of Gentlemen, The Angry Silence, Whistle Down The Wind, The L-Shaped Room - before turning to directing. 'Becoming a director enabled me to do things I couldn't do as an actor,' he said. He was a film-maker with a mission, believing popular cinema had a capacity to make the world a better place. His greatest achievement was his 1982 epic Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley as the outsider hero whose moral courage and sense of purpose enabled him to change the world. Gandhi won eight Oscars, including best actor and best director. But it took Attenborough twenty years to raise the money to make it. He mortgaged his house, sold possessions and took roles in films he described as 'terrible crap' to help pay for what became an obsession. Along the way he directed other films. There was a version of Joan Littlewood's anti-war musical satire Oh! What A Lovely War. There was Young Winston, about Churchill's early years, and the war epic A Bridge Too Far. After Gandhi came his adaptation of the musical A Chorus Line. That was followed by Cry Freedom, the story of the murdered South African activist Steve Biko and Donald Woods, the journalist who took up his cause. Like Gandhi, Cry Freedom was both a box office and a critical success. Like Gandhi, it was anti-racist, anti-imperialist and impeccably liberal, as well as a strong, eminently watchable drama. Both films were a perfect mirror of their creator, wearing their political hearts defiantly on their sleeves. And both were criticised for being overblown, overlong, sentimental and even patronising, largely by scumbag glakes of no importance. Some of Richard's films were flops. His 1992 biopic of Charlie Chaplin failed to make money, while Grey Owl, about a pioneering Canadian Indian environmentalist who turned out to have been born in Hastings, went straight to video in the US. His final film, 2007's Closing The Ring, was judged to be a muted finale to a distinguished directorial career. But Shadowlands, released fourteen years earlier with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, was a commercial and critical success. The story of children's writer CS Lewis and his late love affair with American poet Joy Gresham was an unashamed and astonishingly effective tear-jerker. It befitted a film by a man who was himself famous, even notorious, for weeping in public. Late in life Richard resumed his own acting career in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park in 1993. He also starred as Kris Kringle in Miracle On Thirty Fourth Street and was terrific as William Cecil in Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth (1998). As well as being one of Britain's foremost actors and directors, Lord Attenborough was also one of its most active public figures. His patronage extended to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the British Film Institute, Capital Radio, Channel Four, the Tate Gallery, the Muscular Dystrophy Group and his beloved Moscow Chelski Football Club. He put down his - much parodied - habit of addressing everyone as 'darling' to serving on so many committees with so many people that he was never able to remember everyone's name. Reportedly at a Downing Street seminar in the early 1980s on the parlous state of the British film industry, the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, expressed deep concern. 'Why wasn't I told?' she asked. 'Darling, you never asked,' Attenborough is said to have replied. His personal life was apparently irreproachable. His marriage to the actress Sheila Sim was one of the longest-running in showbusiness. They married in 1945 and had three children, including the theatre director Michael Attenborough. Tragedy struck the family in 2004 when the Asian tsunami killed Richard's fourteen-year-old granddaughter Lucy Holland, as well as his daughter, Jane and her mother-in-law. Richard went on to channel his energies into supporting the Khao Lak Appeal, in aid of a Thai village struck by the tsunami. The appeal raised more than a million quid. His vast entry in Who's Who listed more than thirty organisations of which he was or had been a director, trustee, fellow, chairman or president. He was appointed a CBE in 1967 and knighted nine years later in 1976, before being made a life peer in 1993. Lord Attenborough was life president of Moscow Chelski FC, which said it was 'deeply saddened' to learn of his death. 'He led a long and successful life and always found time for the things in life he loved most, one of which was Chelsea,' the club said. 'His personality was woven into the tapestry of the club over seven decades. He was a consistent force for good at the club, even in dark times. He will be greatly missed, and the thoughts of everyone at Chelsea FC are with his family and friends at this sad time.' Richard was the subject of This Is Your Life in December 1962 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Savoy Hotel, during a dinner held to commemorate the tenth anniversary of The Mousetrap, in which he had been an original cast member. In 1973 he was mercilessly spoofed in the British Showbiz Awards sketch during the third series of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Attenborough was portrayed by Eric Idle as effusive and simpering and constantly bursting into tears, a parody which, though perhaps a shade cruel, Richard himself reportedly found 'hilarious'. In 2012 Attenborough was portrayed by Simon Callow in the BBC4 Kenny Everett biopic The Best Possible Taste. In October 2012, it was announced that Richard was putting the family home, Old Friars, with its attached offices, Beaver Lodge on the market for £11.5 million. His brother David stated: 'He and his wife both loved the house, but they now need full-time care. It simply isn't practical to keep the house on any more.' Richard had great charm and immense energy and knew how to use both. The public saw a gregarious theatrical extrovert, but beneath the gush there was a determined and decisive man. Throughout an extraordinarily busy life he remained passionately committed to his chosen craft of film-making. And he always believed films should be more than merely entertainment - while never forgetting that before they could do anything else, they had to entertain. He is survived by his wife, Shiela, his surviving children, Michael and Charlotte, seven grandchildren and his brother David.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day positive proof, deal blog reader that, if an idea is worth using once ...
... it's worth using again.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Deep Breath: Twelfth Night

'A giant dinosaur from the distant past has just vomited a blue box from Outer Space! This is not a day for jumping to conclusions.'
So, dear blog reader, Peter Capaldi his very self is The Doctor. He is the resurrection and the light. He becomes the twelfth actor to play the role on television in the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama. Or, if you count Richard Hurndall and John Hurt - which you really should, since they both did the gig, albeit in both cases only briefly - the fourteenth. Which is nice. In the past, the job of introducing a new Doctor to the show's audience has, usually, been done by bringing in some old, familiar, established elements from Doctor Who's past. Patrick Troughton was given a six episode face-off against The Dalek and Mister Pertwee's introduction was within a comfortingly contemporary Earth setting that viewers knew from The Web Of Fear and The Invasion and was aided by the reintroduction of UNIT and the Brigadier. Who, of course, were both still knocking around four years later when Tom Baker first appeared. And, it was similar threats to a world we could all, easily, recognise as broadly speaking our own that Chris Eccleston (facing Pertwee's old enemies The Autons), David Tennant and Matt Smith were presented with. Peter Davison and Paul McGann had to contend with different regenerations of The Doctor's nemesis, The Master and for Sylvester McCoy, it was another renegade Time Lord, The Rani. Only The Crap One had a story which contained no obvious links to the series' past. Which is, perhaps, one of the many reasons why The Twin Dilemma is the Doctor Who story that lots of regular viewers would have somewhere very close to the bottom of any hypothetical list of 'ooo, I really must watch that one again.' Its thoroughly rotten, cliché-driven script, cheap design and hammy performances from the top on down notwithstanding. The Power Of The Daleks, Spearhead From Space, Robot, Castrovalva and the 1996 TV movie (and even, to an extent, Time & The Rani) all spent time in visuals and dialogue reminding viewers of former Doctors as a necessary juxtaposition marker to the changes which they were currently being presented with. Of late, Rose, The Christmas Invasion and The Eleventh Hour have all had a similar construction - throwing the new Doctor(s), immediately, into a sink-or-swim situation from which there is little time for reflection or dwelling on the past but, instead, charging head-first into the future unknown. In Doctor Who, across forty eight years since the series' first regeneration story in 1966, certain key elements always seem to accompany The Doctor in the fog of each post-regeneration crisis. A bewildered companion (or two or, once, three), a complex problem to drag The Doctor out of his mental confusion and, most obviously, the presence of the TARDIS. 'It's part of the TARDIS,' said Patrick Troughton forty eight years ago. 'Without it, I couldn't survive.'
'A dinosaur is burning in the heart of London. Nothing left but smoke and flame. The question is, have there been any similar murders?' On a related note, the character of the new Doctor usually falls into one of four broad categories in his first story: There's the lugubrious, mysterious, unfamiliar stranger who, nevertheless, the audience feel instantly that they will soon come to know and love (Troughton, Tom). There's the haunted, post-apocalyptic figure of - again - mystery with, one senses, some ancient and unspeakable sadness at his core. One which he doesn't hide but effectively covers most of the time with bluff and evasion (most obviously Eccleston, but also, to an extent, Pertwee and Smudger). There's also the bewildered amnesiac whose clouded mind will suddenly, after the intervention of a, necessary calming force, reveal the hero within (Davison, McCoy, McGann and, especially, Tennant). And then, there's the unlikable crass bully whose chest-beating sneering arrogance and casual indifference to his companion's understandable distaste for such a change almost instantly puts a significant proportion of the audience off both the character and the show for the next three years. Peter Capaldi's début, mercifully, occupies bits of the first three strands and, for this blogger at least, none whatsoever of the fourth, a few aesthetic comparisons with the appallingly nasty 'I am The Doctor, whether you like it or not' scene in The Caves Of Androzani notwithstanding. Clara, like Peri, might have lost a rather fanciable young chum to someone older, louder and more sure of himself but, thankfully, there, the comparisons between six and twelve end. Apart from the fact that one is exactly half of the other, obviously.
'He is lost in the ruin of himself, and we must bring him home.' Shooting for Deep Breath took place at The Maltings in Cardiff from 7 January 2014 and, later, at Mount Stuart Square. Scenes were subsequently filmed on Queen Street in the city towards the end of the month. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat announced to fans that this episode is going to be 'a big introduction' for Peter Capaldi noting that there would be 'plenty of action and nonsense and jeopardy, as there ever is in Doctor Who.' The episode, it was announced, would feature Capaldi alongside Jenna Coleman and Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey reprising their roles of Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax. Capaldi's predecessor, Matt Smith, it was rumoured, would also appear in a cameo which had been shot during the production of his final episode, last year's Christmas special The Time Of The Doctor. On 6 July 2014, long after the episode had been completed, the scripts for the first five episodes of the series (including Deep Breath) were inadvertently leaked online from BBC Worldwide's Latin America headquarters, prompting a plea from the BBC to fans to keep the storylines of the five episodes secret. Also leaked was a poor quality black-and-white rough cut of Deep Breath, missing most of the visual effects but otherwise complete. The BBC blamed the leak on the fact that the files had been stored on a publicly accessible server in its new Miami-based headquarters. Steven Moffat, speaking at the London Film and Comic Con, called the leak 'horrible, miserable and upsetting.'
'It's all right up till the eyebrows and then it just goes haywire. Look at the eyebrows! They're attack eyebrows. You could take bottle tops off with these. They're crosser than the rest of my face. They're independently cross. They probably want to cede from the rest of my face and set up their own independent state of eyebrows!' A lifelong fan of the series, as a teenager Peter Capaldi inundated the Doctor Who production team with fan mail full of questions and suggestions. In the live TV announcement ofhis casting, he was presented with a letter his fifteen-year-old self wrote to the Radio Times praising its Doctor Who coverage in 1973, which Capaldi sheepishly referred to as 'the full anorak.' Peter had previously played the character of Lucius Caecilius in the 2008 Doctor Who episode The Fires Of Pompeii as well as playing - quite magnificently - the civil servant John Frobisher in the 2009 spin-off Torchwood: Children of Earth. Before taking the role of The Doctor, Peter stated that he had to seriously consider the increased level of visibility which would come with the part, adding that 'I had to decide if I was ready to live with that, because once that genie is out of the bottle, it doesn't go back in.' He revealed in an interview that he had been invited to audition for the role of the eighth Doctor in 1995 prior to the production of the 1996 TV film. He turned it down as 'I didn't think I would get it, and ... didn't want to just be part of a big cull of actors.' 'I've been very, very lucky in that Matt Smith and David Tennant have been incredibly friendly and supportive to me,' Peter has noted recently. 'I can talk to them any time because it's quite a small club, the actors who've played The Doctor and they recognise the realities of what being in this position is like.' Part of Doctor Who's attraction for Peter it seems lies in its imaginative potential: it's held a sense of wonder, awe and terror for generations of British people - including the new Doctor himself. 'It is this relationship between the domestic and the epic,' Peter says on the subject of what appeals to him about the programme. 'The sense that there's a bridge, that a hand can be extended, and you can step from the Earth, from the supermarket car park, into the Andromeda Nebulae. And I love monsters. Everybody loves monsters.'
'You remember thingy. The not-me one. The "asking questions" one. Names ... not my area.' Deep Breath, of course, features a significant portion of the staples from the programme's Twenty First Century regeneration, created by a group of Doctor Who fanatics, just like Capaldi. There are in-jokes aplenty in Steven Moffat cleverly weighed script with lots of self-referential moments - the dialogue is littered with allusions to both the new Doctor's apparent age and his, definite, Scottishness, including at least one very loaded independence joke - but that's just one part of the show's detailed, complex and eccentric universe. For someone as established and respected an actor as Capaldi this is all food and drink. Visually, in his eventual 'front row of a Specials gig in 1979' costume, he looks a bit like the ageing rock star he could well have been now had circumstances dictated. He was, infamously, in the sub-Postcard band Dreamboys along with his old mate Craig Ferguson in his youth just prior to breaking into acting in Local Hero. And so to the part he's waited to play all of his life; Capaldi is, within seconds of his first appearance in Deep Breath, The Doctor. A new, volatile, cross, sarky, mature and much more dangerous Doctor. You'd expect Capaldi to be riveting from the word go - unless you were that infamously glakeish American online Special Person who declared that Capaldi (whom he or she had 'never heard of', incidentally) had, this person considered, 'neither the depth or range' to play the part. Apparently. It's on The Internet, dear blog reader, so it must be true. Comparisons to several previous Doctors are, of course inevitable. That always happens during a new Doctor's opening overs and this time around, it's no different. It's not hard to detect shades of William Hartnell, Tom Baker and, especially, Mister Pertwee, reportedly Peter's own childhood favourite, in his performance (and, interestingly, more than a smidgen of Sylvester McCoy too. Not just in the Scottishness, either).
But Capaldi is, defiantly, his own Doctor occupying his own space (and time) and shows as much depth and range as an actor of his quality and experience should. Much has been made in parts of the media of his incarnation being 'darker' that his immediate predecessors (something which Capaldi has used at least one recent TV interview to play down). By the conclusion of the opening episode, and one scene in particular - sure to be debated at length within fandom - audience will know (know for certain) that this is not a Time Lord to be messed with. Yet there is also a warmer, more vulnerable side to the character - reminiscent of both Davison and Smith - hovering in the background but, perhaps, a touch harder to access than it was before. There's also a decent amount of humour in the episode, most of it coming from The Doctor and Clara's developing new relationship. 'He doesn't do puzzles, he isn't complicated. He really doesn't have the attention span!'
'I could use it to blow this whole room if I see one thing I don't like. And that includes Karaoke and mime, so take no chances.' Of course, it's a continuity lover's dream. There are allusions to, in no particular order, The Time Of The Doctor (Handles, 'I am not a control freak!', the eleventh Doctor's cameo phone call from Trenzalore), Planet Of The Spiders ('here we go again'), Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, Terror Of The Zygons (the monster in the Thames), The Pirate Planet ('what's the point?'), The Power Of The Daleks ('renewed?'), The Day Of The Doctor (Marcus Aurelius, 'are you judging me?', the 'round things'), The Snowmen ('... and we will melt him with acid'), Robot ('And a big, long scarf. No, move on from that. Looked stupid!'), The Fires Of Pompeii ('I have never seen that face', 'It's funny, because, I'm sure that I have.'), The War Games (Time Lords' ability to chose a specific face when regenerating), Time & The Rani ('I've gone a bit Scottish'), Asylum Of The Daleks (The Impossible Girl small ad), Human Nature (the references to The Doctor's watch), The Angels Take Manhattan ('it's at times like this I miss Amy'), Silence In The Library (the voice-activated sonic), The Girl In The Fireplace ('droids harvesting spare parts. That rings a bell'), The Doctor's Wife (the non-matching hands), The Brain Of Morbius ('This isn't a man turning himself into a robot. It's a robot turning itself into a man piece by piece'), Blink ('she called the police?'), The Tenth Planet ('is there any of the real you left?'), The Eleventh Hour ('Geronimo!'), The Mind Of Evil ('Oh, look! The cavalry!'), The Talons Of Weng Chiang (the Fifty First Century), The Underwater Menace ('little man!'), Ghost Light (the entire building as a spaceship), The Robots Of Death ('self destruction is against my basic programming'), Frontios (the hat-stand), The Three Doctors ('you've redecorated, I don't like it!'), The Bells of St John ('a long time ago you were given the number of a computer help line, but you ended up phoning the TARDIS. Who gave you that number?'), The Hand Of Fear (the TARDIS missing its intended target and ending up in Scotland) and The End Of The World (chips solve everything).
There are visual nods in the direction of several previous regeneration stories (notably Castrovalva and Spearhead From Space) as well as a whole array of pseudo-historical adventures from the series' past - the sometime steampunk Victorian settings of The Snowmen, The Crimson HorrorThe Next Doctor, The Unquiet Dead and The Talons Of Weng Chiang, most obviously. It's also full of clever inter-textual Sherlock Holmes jokes ('We've got the Paternoster irregulars out in force. If anyone can find him, they can. Meanwhile, Madame Vastra is slightly occupied by the Conk-Singleton forgery case and is having the Camberwell child-poisoner for dinner'!) and there's a really witty little allusion to the Father Ted perception scene ('It's just far away. Everything looks too small'). Along with paraphrases from The Terminator, Apocalypse, Now, Sweeney Todd, Picnic At Hanging Rock, Tipping The Velvet, Bleak HouseO Captain, My Captain and the collected works of Robert Burns.
'I'd say that person would be an egomaniac, needy, game-player sort of person.' 'Well at least that hasn't changed.' In a story which benefits from being firmly set in one of Doctor Who's most regular haunts - the land of cod Gothia Victoriana - Deep Breath functions on just about every level one could ask of it; as straight entertainment, as subtext and as metaphor. Superbly directed by Ben Wheatley, in places stylistically fascinating, it is an episode essentially about faith, in all its forms (that surprise final scene with Michelle Gomez). It featured big ideas - necessary big ideas - but still found time for the small and the apparently insignificant amid its classy depiction of rebirth and refocusing. The episode had elegance, tension and beautiful drama, particularly in the scene in which Clara refuses to tell The Half-Face Man what he wants to know (Jenna acting her little cotton socks off here, and elsewhere for that matter). 'Shut up, I was talking to the horse!'
And then, there's the dialogue. 'Hello, rubbish robots from the dawn of time. Thank you for all the gratuitous information. Five foot one and crying, you never stood a chance!' Yes, this is one of Moffat's funny ones, dear blog reader. 'I'll wager you've not seen anything like this before!' 'Not since I was a little girl.' And: 'It dropped a blue box marked "Police" out of its mouth - your grasp of biology troubles me.' And: 'You're very similar heights. Maybe you should wear labels.' And: 'Don't look in that mirror, it's furious!' And: 'I never bother with sleep, I just do standy-up-catnaps. Generally when anyone else starts talking. I like to skip ahead to my bits, it saves time!' And: 'You want a psychic link with me? The size of my brain, it would be like dropping a piano on you.' And: 'I love monkeys, they're so funny!' And: 'The world which shook at my feet, and the trees, and the sky have gone, and I am alone now.' And: 'May I take your clothes?' And all of those are in the first ten minutes! Then, it gets all moody and philosophical. 'He is the Doctor. He has walked this universe for centuries untold, he has seen stars fall to dust. You might as well flirt with a mountain range.' And: 'Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, last of the five Goodens. A stoic philosopher.' 'Superlative bass guitarist. The Doctor really knows how to put a band together.' There are moments of naughty humour ('My time machine got stuck in your throat. It happens. I brought you along by accident - that's how I mostly meet girls!' And: 'You've got to admire the efficiency.' 'Is it okay if I don't?') There are great daft lines for Strax to bellow ('Out of the way, human filth. Jurassic emergency!' and 'He's almost certainly had his throat cut by the violent poor!') There is time for the surreal ('Probably best to stay out the larder. It'll get a bit noisy in there later') and the epic ('I'm the Doctor. I have lived for over two thousand years and not all of them were good. I have made many mistakes, and it's about time I did something about that.') Moments of the humane ('I've got a horrible feeling I'm going to have to kill you. I thought you might appreciate a drink first. I know I would') and the sinister ('Never start with your final sanction. You've got nowhere to go but backwards') and the genuinely sad ('To find the promised land.' 'You're millions of years old, it's time you knew. There isn't one'). There's geet towering slabs of wee-yer-pants humour ('Deflected narcissism, traces of passive aggressive and a lot of muscular young men doing sport.' 'What are you looking at?' 'Your subconscious' And: 'Where are we now?' 'Factually, an ancient space ship, probably buried for centuries. Functionally, a larder'). There's sly, witty wink-of-the-eye humour ('What devilry is this, sir?' 'I don't know. But I probably blame the English') and giggly, 'I shouldn't really be laughing at this but ...' humour ('Oh, the symbolism.' And: 'She called the police? We never do that. We should start!') Deep Breath is written to be quoted, at length, to complete strangers on a bus six weeks after the episode has aired: 'I'm not just being rhetorical, you can join in!' And, who could fail to love the bit where Clara got hit in the mush with The Times?
'Please tell me I didn't get old? Anything but old!' Deep Breath, then, is the first brick in the construction of the twelfth Doctor's house. It's lyrical and smart, but never - as Frank Cottrell Boyce noted in his piece in the Torygraph this week 'smart-alec'. It's never so in love with its own cleverness that it finds no room for the odd moments of slapstick and largess towards its audience. 'Nothing is more important than my egomania!' It's not perfect, there are flaws. There are a couple of lugubrious faux-naïf moments that might have been left on the cutting room floor in an ideal world, a couple of supporting players who hadn't, quite, got with the programme and at least one less-than-special effect which could have done with a bit more time and money, although the dinosaur is wonderful. But such criticism is churlish when one sees the way that Peter and Jenna interact, the way the script pulls many 'you can't get there from here' tricks and then proves they, actually, you can. 'Give him Hell, he'll always need it!' And the new title sequence is fabulous, though the redone title music is just a shade too ... clang-y and bang-y for this blogger's own personal tastes. I'm sure I'll get used to it. Conclusion: Deep Breath is good. In fact, it's borderline great. It's not a love letter to the series past like The Day Of The Doctor was though it flirts with being exactly that (so much for the 'no flirting' thing!) Instead, it is a little bit like a Kate Bush single; appealingly odd, multi-layered, wistful and knowingly a part of its own, unique, universe. And utterly memorable. 'Welcome to Heaven' indeed. Or, to put it another way: 'Spontaneous combustion!' 'Is that like love at first sight?' Yes, dear blog reader. Yes it usually is.
And, from the important stuff, to the ratings: Match Of The Day At Fifty was seen by an average overnight audience of 2.37 million on BBC1 on Friday. The hour long Match Of The Day retrospective which, if you will, kicked-off at 10.35pm, peaked with an audience of 2.53 million. BBC1 also had success with the sitcom Boomers, which with viewing figures of 3.56 million, was Friday's highest-rated show outside of soaps across all channels at 9pm. The evening began with 3.01 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.62 million for A Question Of Sport and 2.62 million for Scrappers at 8.30pm. The Dales was ITV's most popular show outside of soaps, on something of a horrorshow of a night for the commercial channel, scoring figures of just 2.36 million at 8pm. Doc Martin was seen by 2.09 million at 9pm. Young Vets got BBC2's evening off to a respectable start, attracting 1.16 million at 7pm. It was followed by 1.66 million for Mastermind and 1.31 million for Sweets Made Simple. The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice achieved an evening high of 2.11 million at 9pm, while Gardener's World was seen by 1.63 million. On Channel Four, The Million Pound Drop attracted eight hundred and seventy thousand punters at 8pm, while six hundred and forty thousand watched The Singer Takes It All at 9pm, which was followed by The Last Leg with seven hundred and sixty thousand. Celebrity Big Brother's latest episode was seen by 1.85 million. BBC4's excellent Running Up That Hill: The Kate Bush Story was among the highest-rated multichannel shows, picking up seven hundred and thirty eight thousand viewers at 9.10pm.

BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore has revealed details of a number of new programmes heading to the channel. Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival over the weekend, Moore revealed that she had commissioned several shows to broaden BBC1's drama, factual and documentary offerings. The first of these, The Living And The Dead, is a new six-part fantasy drama from the creators of Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes. It begins shooting next year and, according to Moore, is 'steeped in real history and mythology that will scare the audience and awaken the dead.' Set in Somerset in 1888, the hour-long episodes will follow the story of Nathan Appleby, a farmer who has made it his mission to prove the existence of an afterlife. Described by the creators as a 'complex and compelling man', Appleby will experience paranormal activity - encouraged by the Society for Psychical Research - until his obsession begins to threaten the safety of his family and his own sanity. A second drama which begins shooting in the New Year, From Darkness (written by the excellent Sugar Rush's Katie Baxendale) focuses on former Greater Manchester Policewoman Clare Church. Described by Moore as 'powerful and provocative', the series will see Church having to face returning to the force after twenty years when grim new evidence relating to a past case is unearthed. The last of the new drama commissions is a seventy five-minute exploration of a woman's response to her daughter's murder in the 7 July bombings. A Song For Jenny, written by Frank McGuiness and directed by Brian Percival, was adapted from Julie Nicholson's memoir and will star Emily Watson as the grieving mother. On the comedy front, Moore announced a new six-part studio sitcom series, Mountain Goats. Set in the Scottish Highlands, it will revolve around 'the antics of an energetic ragtag group of Mountain Rescue volunteers.' The final new offering Twenty Four Hours In The Past will see Ruth Goodman supervise six 'celebrities' as they relive a day in the life of some of the poorest people in Victorian Britain. Well, that should be funny. Oh, hang on, this isn't part of the comedy slate, is it? 'Authenticity runs through everything I'm trying to do on BBC1 and the new programme commissions underline this focus,' added Charlotte. '(By) inspiring talent and discovering new voices to tell universal stories in unexpected ways (I hope) to bring audiences the very best quality programming.'

Senior BBC executives including Director of Television Danny Cohen and drama chief Ben Stephenson were - according to a not in the slightest bit agenda-soaked trouble-making piece of shite in the Gruniad Morning Star - 'furious' with Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s rigorous questioning of Charlotte Moore at Edinburgh on Friday. The pair, the Gruniad allege, 'confronted' the Channel Four News presenter at the end of Moore's Meet The Controller session with Stephenson 'particularly animated.' Sadly, it would seem the pair didn't take the odious, full-of-his-own-importance Guru-Murthy out the back and give him a jolly good, hard, talking-to. Guru-Murthy was, the Gruniad sneer, 'having none of it', telling them they were being 'ridiculous.' The presenter, by all accounts no fan of BBC1's Sarah Lancashire drama Happy Valley, was also criticised by a BBC drama producer in the audience who took umbrage after he asked Moore about veteran BBC journalist John Simpson's recent not very warm comments about the 'tough women' who run the corporation. 'Do you think that in repeating that and asking that of a female controller, there is a danger you are legitimising it?' she asked, to loud cheers and applause from the audience who were, clearly - and much to the Gruniad's seeming distaste - 'on Moore's side.' Quite the opposite, weaselled Guru-Murthy (who, of course, the middle-class hippy Communist lice at the Gruniad just love the mostest, baby). 'When a leading BBC talent like John Simpson makes a public comment like that, one of the BBC's leading women needs to be invited to comment on it.' Which Moore was happy to do. 'He's entitled to his opinion,' she said, flatly. 'I don’t think he was talking about me.' That's the way to deal with uppity nonsense, Charl, slap it down. Hard.

The BBC will carry on producing its big hit shows such as EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Top Gear in-house, despite proposals to open up BBC schedules to independent producers. Director of Television Danny Cohen revealed at Edinburgh that those formats, at least, would not be up for grabs. If the proposal to shake up BBC productions outlined by Tony Hall in July goes ahead, Cohen said the BBC is 'not planning to put any of the current strands' out to tender. He said the new BBC production outfit 'will be part of the BBC family in the way BBC Worldwide is', indicating it would be a stand-alone subsidiary. Cohen said, candidly, that the plan has 'gone down differently in different areas, in some parts I'm not the most popular person', while some staff are 'excited by it.' He said the BBC is, 'doing very, very detailed business planning' but there is not a figure he could - or cared to - put on what the savings would be as yet. However, he thought that, 'there's millions to be saved.' Cohen said that areas such as natural history will win 'huge amounts of business' in an open market but that particular attention needed to be paid to genres such as children's programming and sport. When asked if restrictions or guarantees would be put in place to ensure the production subsidiary could not be sold off one day, Cohen said that discussions were still taking place: 'In terms of the potential to be sold off I don't think that's in our plans either,' he said. 'But, I think that we need to get through the next stage of our regulatory and financial planning to be able to come up with a conclusive plan on that one.' Speaking afterwards to the Gruniad Morning Star, he said: 'It's a fair question and we need to do more work on it. I just don't know about the regulatory detail, I need to get more advice on it. I think there needs to be [some kind of restriction] but it would also be the case that if they didn't make the business it's going to go, those bits wouldn't survive.' He added: 'If we can’t compete, those bits won't continue.' Cohen also said his job will change because there will be a conflict of interest: 'I won't be able to do the current job because my job in its current form won't exist. The question will be: do we need to do that before we make a move so that when we do the planning there's no thing? That's one of the things we're looking at.' Within the next few days the BBC will appoint a policy and strategy team which will lead the process. When asked if the new outfit becomes part of BBC Worldwide it could mean that some staff may move back to Television Centre where BBC Worldwide will move next year, Cohen said: 'As to property, we are going to need to make sure our productions are in places where they are efficiently run based on their budgets and that may mean that big factual production isn't in W1.' Cohen also asked the industry to get 'behind the BBC' in the run-up to charter renewal over the next eighteen months.

Channel Five has issued a statement following claims that the latest series of Big Brother was 'fixed.' Since the show concluded last Friday, some viewers have been complaining to the broadcaster that Helen Wood's victory could not possibly reflect the results of the public vote. 'Channel Five has received inquiries from viewers about the most recent series of Big Brother,' begins the response posted on the programme's official website. The statement goes on to highlight the multiple procedures put in place to independently verify phone and text votes on any given eviction night. It also highlights the individual housemate standings at various points on the day of the final. 'At 9.20am on 15 August, the morning of the final of Big Brother 2014 Ashleigh was eight thousand and eighteen votes ahead of Helen,' reveals the broadcaster. 'Helen was nine thousand seven hundred and eighty nine votes ahead of Christopher, Christopher was four thousand nine hundred and forty five votes ahead of Ash, Ash was eight thousand seven hundred and thirty votes ahead of Chris [and] Chris was eleven thousand two hundred and thirty seven votes ahead of Pav.' Poor Pav. The figures show that viewer votes put Ashleigh ahead of Helen right up until the start of the evening's live broadcast. By the time the voting lines closed at 10.03pm, Ashleigh's lead had been lost, with Helen managing a four thousand six hundred and thirty one vote victory. In response to allegations that Helen's pass to the final was 'orchestrated' by Channel Five to ensure that she won the show, the broadcaster adds: 'During the launch of Big Brother, the viewers voted for Pauline to be given 'the power' in the House. And, you mustn't mess with Pauline, dear blog reader. Or she will attack and you don't want that. 'Pauline knew nothing about what reward would be given when she selected Helen for a reward. The first either Helen or Pauline or any other housemate knew about there being a "pass to the final" was when Big Brother announced to the House exactly what the reward was that Pauline had chosen Helen to receive. Helen auditioned for Big Brother in the same way as all other applicants for a place in the Big Brother House,' Channel Five continues, in reference to rumours that the twenty seven-year-old from Bolton had been 'hand-picked' as the winner. 'When she entered the House, Helen did not have an agent, a manager or any connection with either Northern & Shell or [owner of Channel Five and soft-core pornographer] Richard Desmond.' The broadcaster also addresses claims that Helen received 'multiple warnings' from producers which did not air on the show and that these went on to skew the final result. 'There were a number of further informal interventions with Helen about her conduct,' it explains, 'although these informal interventions were not themselves included in any broadcast. Informal interventions with other housemates, similarly, were not included in the material broadcast.' The statement concludes: 'The Big Brother voting system remains independently verified and Big Brother is satisfied that the outcome of Big Brother 2014 was an accurate reflection of the public's decisions.' As if anybody actually gives a stuff about crap like this. Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has yet to make a comment on the allegations, but notes on its website that as of Monday it had received over four hundred0 complaints about the reality show's result.

BBC4 is seeking as a priority to bring back the missing 'edge of satire' to refresh its schedule, in line with past hits, including The Thick Of It and Twenty Twelve. Cassian Harrison, the channel editor, said that 'bold, critical commentary on the world we live in now' was on his agenda, and was also being pursued with BBC comedy commissioner Shane Allen. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, he also said he wants to refresh Friday nights, which have tended to draw on archives of popular rock and roll performers for concert, clip and list shows. 'We need to turn that chapter, open up the mix, more variety, more than one artist and explore collaborations with 6Music' he said, including live performances from music venues, such as London's Round House. Harrison also backed 'big bold ideas', like the recent hit, The History Of Toilets and added that a forthcoming programme, Spider House, followed the lives of twenty thousand spiders throughout the day; 'how they mate, what they eat, what they do.' Although BBC4's twenty six per cent budget cut has ruled out landmark biopic dramas such as Edith and Burton & Taylor, Harrison is able to buy a licence for some original drama and has agreed to contribute to a second series of the Anglo/Welsh S4C drama, Hinterland which ran successfully on BBC4 earlier this year. He is continuing the popular Saturday night screenings of European dramas like The Bridge and Spiral with Cordon, a Belgium production about a killer virus due to be shown this autumn. And although BBC4's audience is upmarket and over fifty five - except for yer actual Keith Telly Topping who is very downmarket and only fifty - Harrison said that once audiences grew to more than five hundred thousand the mix became much more diverse, and it needed its own Twitter account and Facebook page to interact with regular viewers.

So, as noted, an outbreak of a deadly virus in Antwerp will be the focus of the latest Saturday night foreign drama on BBC4, with the broadcaster also due to show the new series of The Bridge and the acclaimed French police drama Spiral. The Belgian city is sealed off from the outside world in the ten-part thriller, Cordon, following the discovery of a contagious and deadly virus which brings out the very best of the people trapped inside, but also the very worst. It is the second thriller from Belgium on BBC4 following the bank heist drama, Salamander, as the broadcaster looks to spread its net further beyond the traditional Scandinavian home of its biggest hits, The Bridge, The Killing and Borgen. The dramas have come to define the channel as it reshapes itself after savage budget cuts which have meant it has lost all of its home-grown drama output. The Bridge will return for a third series as part of BBC4's new season of programmes announced at Edinburgh on Thursday. Other new series include a season of programmes exploring the nation's fascination with all things Gothic across BBC3 and BBC4 and a series of Storyville films about love in the Twenty First Century. Elsewhere, Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman will join cult favourite Lucy Worsley to tell the story of British dance in a three-part series, Dancing Cheek To Cheek. The only one of the BBC's four channels to increase its audience in the current decade, albeit from the lowest base, Cassian Harrison said: 'BBC4 is in rude health: share and reach were both up on the previous year and audience appreciation continues to be the highest of all BBC channels. BBC4 has a unique place in the BBC portfolio offering intelligent, innovative and surprising content with a distinctive depth, wit and verve.' That BBC4 has a channel editor rather than controller is, of course, a reflection of its downgraded status as a result of recent cuts, although its future appears to be secure, unlike sister channel BBC3, due to get kicked online next year. Other new BBC4 shows already announced include metal detector sitcom The Detectorists, starring Mackenzie Crook and Puppy Love from Getting On co-creators Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine. The Gothic Season will include programmes about Frankenstein, Gothic architecture and a Goth music special featuring Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, The Sisters Of Mercy and The Mission. A new documentary, Spider House, will feature a Gothic family house taken over by spiders, showing 'in unprecedented detail' the secret world of the spider, while three-part Treasures Of The Indus will explore the treasures of the Indian Subcontinent. The three-part Love Season will include One Hundred Years Of Love And Courtship, featuring the 'very first kisses ever caught on film' with a soundtrack by Richard Hawley, a documentary about a Japanese love hotel and One Hundred And Twelve Weddings, about, well, one hundred and twelve weddings, basically.

Scowling Jezza Paxman his very self is said to be 'in discussions' with Channel Four over a possible move from the BBC. The former Newsnight host has been in talks with Channel Four's chief creative officer Jay Hunt about future projects on the channel, she revealed at Edinburgh. When asked if she had held talks with Paxman, she said: 'I have known Jeremy for years and worked with him on Newsnight. Jon Snow should not be worried in any way. But am I in talks? Yes, of course.' Hunt would not give any more information about what kinds of projects Paxman could be involved in. Paxman left Newsnight after Twenty five years as its lead presenter in June, but remains at the corporation as host of University Challenge. He recently received broadly positive reviews for his one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Channel Four will create a one-off drama focusing on Nick Clegg's rise in British politics. The project, which has the working title Coalition, will chart Clegg's journey in 2010 from 'rank outsider' to 'the man who would decide the fate of the country.' And, if they hang on for another year until the next election, they'll be able to chart his journey into the gutter with all the other shit when he and his party get abandoned by their long term supporters for forgetting all of their principles for a sniff of power.

The cast of a popular South African soap opera, Generations, have all been sacked after going on strike in a long-running dispute over pay and contracts. The show's sixteen actors, watched nightly on state broadcaster SABC, were fired after resisting calls to return to work at studios in Johannesburg. The programme will continue to be broadcast until October, while producers have indicated that new actors will be recruited. Generations follows a group of black middle-class characters working in advertising. It was first shown in 1993, a year before South African's first democratic multi-party elections brought Nelson Mandela to power. The programme is a popular draw with South Africans, providing a source of aspiration to many TV viewers. Executive producer Mfundi Vlunda told a South African radio station that new cast members would be sought. 'There were other actors before, there will be other actors in the future,' he told Talk Radio 702. 'Generations will go on, it doesn't mean the demise of the series. We've been engaging with them since October last year,' said Vlunda, who added that the cast had been asked to continue recording the show while negotiations continued but had not returned to work. 'That's it, it's finished, it's a termination,' he added. Vlunda branded the actors' pay and contractual demands 'unreasonable' and claimed that twelve of South Africa's highest paid actors were Generations cast members. The cast have contended they are underpaid and also receive no repeat fees for their work, which is screened in other African countries. Among the actors losing their jobs is Sophie Ndaba, who has played Queen Moroka since the show's inception. The cast's lawyer said that they would 'seek further advice' before deciding how to fight the programme makers' decision. South Africa's Arts and Culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, said that he was willing to help reach 'a speedy and amicable resolution to this matter' and added the drama had helped foster the development and growth of the country's creative industries.

Now, as some of you will already know, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith telly Topping has been suffering from a sodding annoying back injury over the last few months - essentially, it's sciatica (that's inflammation of the sciatic nerve for those without a medical degree, which is caused by a compressed disc in the lower vertebrae). Frankly, it hurts like jimbuggery. It's okay, I'm not fishing for sympathy here, I'm taking strong pain-killers for it which helps and the lack of mobility a lot of the time is liveable-with. But, as a consequence, much of the cycle-based fitness regime that yer actual Keith Telly Topping had been doing at the back end of last year - which seemed to be doing him a lot of good - has had to go into mothballs. Except from swimming. Now, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had been really enjoying going along to his local pool two or three times a week, doing a few lengths breaststroke and then spending half-an-hour in the steam room or the sauna (or, sometimes, both) before breakfast. Over the last couple of weeks, or so, I've started to up the amount of pool work that I'm doing. It's usually five days a week now - sometimes six - and whereas once upon a time, six or eight lengths might've been considered a good day, I've found myself able to get up to ten, twelve, thirteen and then, on Thursday of this week dear blog reader, this blogger set a new British, European and Commonwealth All Comers personal best of fourteen. Fourteen! No, that's not Paul Hadrcaste's second, rather forgotten, single but, rather, the number of lengths wot yer actual Keith Telly Topping only went and done (a figure which he matched on Capaldi Saturday, incidentally). It hurt. I mean, it really hurt, but still ... Little victories and all that. This was considerably aided, it must be said, by the pair of swimming goggles Keith Telly Topping bought at Argos in midweek for a tenner. This was the first time in ages that he had emerged from the waters without his eyes stinging like Sting (singing on the roof of the Barbican) from all the chlorine. Anyway, this was the middle part of an early morning triathlon which also involved yer actual Keith Telly Topping walking to the bus stop and then, later, limping back to the bus stop to come home. Admittedly, there was a break in the middle for a coffee at Morrison's. You know, this blooger reckons that international triathlons should all have a coffee break in the middle; it'd be more civilised and, imagine what the finishes would be like if the Brownlee brothers had tons of caffeine swilling around in their systems?!