Monday, 31 May 2010

We came DEAD last in EUROVISION and other news from the glowing box

We came in dead last, 10 points, I nearly died laughing with the final indignation of being pushed into absolute bottom of the table by of all countries, Belarus. My mate Stu and my wife were incoherent with laughter. Apart from the shame of finishing behind the worse song in the final, we deserved what we got. My wife used to do stand up comedy, I mention this only as she has had to come on after a stonking  great act that killed. Short of self immolation, there is nothing you can do to look good after some guy has stripped off and shot fire from his arse. Poor Josh had to perform right after the highest octane party piece of the night. Greece OPAe'd the crowd into a dance frenzy only to be equalled later by the French song, he didn't stand a chance.  I feel bad for Josh, he'll have to give back the economy pack of M&S underwear the BBC bought him. Maybe now a guest spot on the washed out Eurovision acts edition of Come Dine with me? He's so old news, even Jordan , real name Katie Price, won't pretend to have an affair with him. 

The reason we did come in last was a vestige of block voting. Belarus, the country who sported butterfly wings and bad phonetically sung English  ( I told you I would remember) had a neighbour give them their douze points, bless em. Arguably the worst act of the night, they ranked below Britain and Ukraine in poor song choice poor singer choice poor costume choice and the resulting mess of previously mentioned choices. And yet they still managed to get more points than Britain. That said, block voting seems to be well and truly dead. Some countries did not get the memo and triggered sporadic booing by giving  the Russian entry that had suicide help lines on red alert, 90 points.  Ireland however preferred voting for good songs and only gave Britain 4 points, seems Eurovision has turned the corner on at least this one big issue. The winner even came from one of the four sponsoring nations, things are looking up.

How did my countries to follow fare?

Greece 8th 140 points
France 12th 82 points
Serbia 13th 72 points
Germany 1st 246 points
Turkey 2nd 170 points
Albania 16th 62 points

Full final results here  Britain voted 8 points for Romania, 10 points for Turkey, and 12 points for Greece.

Some final thoughts on Eurovision before I file it away for another  year. Apologies to Albania, I completely forgot to praise a song that was genuinely good, catchy and worthy of any mainstream radio. Saved the big kvetching for the lowlight reel, the few incidents along the way  that caused us pain or giggles. While not a bumber crop, there were a few moments.  Russia made us want to leave the room and floss our teeth or worse, when he dropped the photo , my only thought was , were they trying to lose? Spain had a mildly amusing pitch invasion. If I'm honest, Daniel Diges managed to carry on as if it was part of the act never missing a beat. Ukraine had a tone deaf girl dressed in Yoda's cowl, who were she not dead fit, was only saved by the ubiquitous wind machine. I couldn't say much about her signing as I had the telly on mute during most of her performance.  Bjork  sang without her trade mark swan dress. Having packed on that much weight and changed her singing style..It does explain why she hasn't been invited to a Brit Awards in a while. Barefoot Georgia was a bit awkward to watch. I still don't understand why she needed help walking from her back up dancers? Maybe if they had worn orthopaedic shoes she could have at least moved around a bit. Graham Norton during the entire proceedings was his usual sarcastic self. At times you almost believed him when he ever so faintly praised Josh Dubovie or was effusive about the butterfly dresses. His best wit  was reserved for some of the jackets "even he wouldn't wear" or the times he took the mickey out of himself for being vapid during an interview with some Eurovision hostess. I missed a lot once the scores came in as myself and Stu were making inappropriate remarks about the ladies  reporting votes from various capitals. Aim for the gutter and you about got it right. You know I'm almost looking forward to next year now.

Graham Norton back at his day job, was up to his old tricks. Last Monday was yet another mostly decent ep, save for the presence of the stunned , dull  disoriented and confused Janet Jackson and her puppet master Tyler Perry. Comedian Marcus Brigstocke and Norton kept the show moving till Python Legend Eric Idle was released from the green room to thunderous applause. He of course should have been there from the beginning as he is in the grand scheme of things, bigger than Janet Jackson. You felt the programme come  to life the moment he stepped onto the altar of chat and took over. Poor Janet looked like she had just been run over by a fast moving train. I know you need the odd American guest, but they should be first made to watch an ep or two before coming on. As for Janet Jackson, the only person more out of it when they were on was Katie Price.

Speaking of mistakes, Last Monday I might have been a tad harsh on J.J. Abrahms. I basically said he needed to have some balls and tell  ABC where to go when they demanded MORE eps than three years worth. I stand corrected. Source of all that is knowable in such things, Kieth "Telly" Topping ( Telly  not his real middle name) informs me of the following.."Basically, the creators sold the show to ABC as a recurring series which had an end to it. Now, writers in that position are onto something of a hiding because, if nobody watches the early episodes, you might have to wrap the whole thing up with very little notice around episode eight! But, on the contrary, if it takes off then the network is likely to want five, six, seven, eight, ten, however many years of miling it. Simple economics of TV, that. Don't kill the oglden goose. What happened with Lost was that sometime around about the middle of season three, Casee and Lindelof realised that every time they wanted to take a step forward in terms of the overall plot, they then had to take a couple sideways (that entire episodes which existed purely to explain where Jack got his exotic tattoo from, is the example they usually cite). So, they approached ABC and said, to the effect, 'we need about fifty episodes from here to finish this so, how about we do two seasons of twenty four episodes and then end it.' ABC reluctantly agreed (since the show still had a pretty big audience) but suggested instead a compromise, three series of sixteen instead of two of twenty four. (In the end, due to a number of exterior factors we got three seasons of fifteen-seventeen-and-eighteen!)".  As I explained somewhere else, I was writing on the basis of media reports at the time of the initial announcement . This bit of news of course makes absolute sense and I thank Keith for the clarification. I stand by my opinion though that it was stretched out too long and would have made more sense without so much filler.

On to more pressing things ..... If you haven't seen Doctor Who this week, please avert your eyes for the following segment.  Part 2 of the Silurian resurrection  was everything I said it would be. Laughter, pain , grief anguish and sarcasm, and that was just the pre Eurovision debate we had before DW came on. Ok I've warned you , from here in  I'm in spoiler land...

The best and the worst of humanity is on display, warriors posture, maternal instincts lead to poor choices, love blossoms, and some memories fade for ever. DW bosses have set up a tasty sequel to take place 1000 years from now. Will humanity be any more inviting to the Silurians than they were this time? will the Silurian's military be just as trigger happy and more interested in "Living space" than sharing the planet with apes? Only the writers know for sure , but I know one thing, it will be classic stuff. I particularly liked the way the way so much sacrifice seems to be for the good, deeply flawed mother becomes teacher of peace and cooperation , lover becomes a bridge between the races. Lastly....... Amy looses Rory for good, not only is he killed, but he is lost to the rift in time. Amy strugles to remember him , but it's pretty clear for now that he's gone. Last time a companion death made me feel that bad, Adric was taken from us. Unlike Mickey, remember Mickey? Rose's ex? ... the gormless one ? No nothing?  Mickey gets shipped off to Torchwood where he marries Martha and fights aliens. Not the glorious death that will be stuff of legend and song is it? Rory will be missed by many , but not by the writers who had to figure a way to dodge the bullet of the wedding the next day before Amy signed on board the Tardis. I have saved the best for last though. The famous rift in time, the one that keeps swallowing up whole people and otherwise indestructible monsters, just got more complicated and tragic. As a fan I cannot help but think that there will be an end time for something. Perhaps the Doctor himself or the Tardis, which of course is far worse. We are used to the idea of new faces, new costumes, but the notion of our beloved knackered old type 40 Tardis one day being junked in a tragic act of supreme sacrifice to save the universe, is too much to bear. I predict a Facebook save the Tardis campaign, many letters to Ofcom and a silly editorial in the Guardian wondering what the fuss is all about.

In the perhaps it's too early to laugh department, I heard this gem from a fellow poster at Gallifrey Base.
Quote Arn....I can't see what anyone could get upset about with tonight's Who. After all a stiff Rory's been up Amy's crack plenty of times before.

Where do you go from that bit of crassness?  Why Britain's got talent of course. This programme makes Eurovision look like Royal Shakespeare. Best bits from Saturday  had to be the strange Ali Baba who did some spectacular Slavic and Turkish dancing. Pity Big Top Amanda only seems to know street dance and Michael Jackson impersonation. One hopes she doesn't get asked to judge on Strictly. Ali Baba stormed off in a huff of Mediterranean passion leaving his "friend" he met on hols in the lurch. Strange man , strange relationship. The other strange bit of casting was putting through the Michael Jackson miming pig as well as the truly awful Madonna drag queen. Truth be told, the pig was better.  Mercifully, the top 40 selection has trimmed away the vast majority of street dance troupes and left a decent amount of drag acts , freaks, singers acrobats and  assorted "other ones" .  Now it's BGT and Corrie giving us a full week of drama , pathos and utter shite, still not sure who will deliver what .

My father being a veteran who travelled with the British 8th corps ( in the polish Karpacka Brygada) has told me many stories about the miracle of Dunkirk. You need to watch Dunkirk :The story behind the legend BBC. An eye opening investigation in perhaps the most important action in World War 2 in the spring of 1940.  If you will allow me this one moment of sentimentality. Take the time to get to know your parents and grandparents. Learn the story of their sacrifices while they can still tell you. Our way of life for better or ill , is what it is because of them. If you've lost yours, make friends with somebody else's grandparents.

Now if you like Time Team or the Story of Science, you might think History Cold Case on BBC2 was worth catching. Don't bother. Where Time Team would have come to some  fairly accurate conclusion in about 6 minutes , Cold Case is still hemming and hawing 45 minutes in. It's Science for dummies dressed in a lot of pretty gimmicks. Don't wast your time. Another waste of time had to be Question Time. Alistair Campbell was told to piss off or the new ConDemn coalition was going to boycott. How very democratic, on second thought here is the link . BTW Paul saw you in Tower blocks and Togas, have you still got that leather jacket?

A few quick links Child of our time personality test  is compelling and is far from over, take the test.  Jonathan Dimbleby started an absorbing voyage across Africa . Looking through the various Players, I've found this to pass the time if there aren't any compelling programmes this week. Blackadder rides again, and Trafalgar: Battle surgeon  It's the only programme on the subject that ever mentioned that there were women on board the Victory. If all else fails, rent Life on Mars or dig out your Sweeney tapes.

On a different note, I'd like to suggest you have fun with a hand whisk this week, unplug the magimix , and make a pavlova or meringue. Takes me the same amount of time and I have more control than any magimix ever gave me.   Or get yourself a pastry cutter, canny for blending butter and other things in a pie dough ,again ditch the magimix, the moment the dough happens is special. Jamie does the Pyrennes had  a great recipe for a warm summer salad. We had it today and will keep it as a regular on the menu now.

Blog brought to you by Nick Robert's Beat Surrender on listen again,  this week's a great alternative to Eurovision. Get ready for the World Cup by taking Keith Topping's World Cup Trivia . Till next Monday then!


Friday, 28 May 2010

Eurovision, I Swore never again but....

This time last year my wife and I were approaching the impending final with child like abandon and optimism tinged with the sadness of creeping frustration.. In other words, some (most) of the songs we liked had not made the Final. Why should this year be any different? Until last night, my biggest regret had been that Dustin the Turkey had not got to the big show in 2008. He is replaced now by the best song never to be Eurovision winner... Holland's /Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie), /The natural successor to Ding a Dong in the annals of classic Eurovision novelty shlock. Even now the song is transporting me to another time when Abba was king and Nanna Mouskouri sang about her lover under the eucalyptis tree. Ok so maybe that last one was Benny Hill. I'm sure/ /Tingalingaloo would have won given half a chance.

My problems with the last few Years of Eurovision are worth explaining.
Let's start with the British entries. We've had disturbing man with sexy schoolgirls, gayest airline on earth, earnest decent R&B song by man who should have had a massive world wide dance hit ( clearly too good), earnest R&B song by skinny girl trying to be Leona Lewis ( need I say more) , and now we have the lovely Josh. Josh is clearly out sung, out cooled and out lyriced by all but the worst acts in this year's edition. He has less charisma than a chartered accountant . This afternoon when Simon Logan played his song , he asked for 20 texts and he would stop, he didn't have long to wait. The last two songs have the lyrics of a motivational tape and the passion of a 12 year old who's never known pain or suffering of any kind. I almost miss the time when every loony in the land would try and write a silly song and get it selected. At least those were funny. The safe inoffensive, allegedly uplifting choices of today are nausea inducing. With luck we may ask a recognized celeb rock pop something star to contribute a song. You know like the Arctic Monkeys, Ali G, or perhaps Robbie Williams. Any one of these would place higher than Scooch or Jade.

As you may have guessed, I'm not just out of grammar school, while some of you snigger at bell bottoms, I had to wear them. While some of you wonder what a TV dinner is, I had to eat them. And I'd do it all again if it meant seeing Doctor Who for the first time or listening to music that doesn't sound like everybody is trying to be Rihana or Beyonce. Britain, and great parts of Europe seem for the last few years to have forgotten where they came from . It's been english lyrics to an American pop/diva belter/warbler in a sexy outfit. Some of them frankly don't even have a clue about the words they are singing . One act this year, I'll remember it later, was so bad , I had to be told it was english. Europe produced some great synth , europop, rock, dance, house and classic jazz as well as folk standards. Yet all you seemed to hear and see were pale euro fakes of American pop R&B and disco.

This year, while not perfect, is an improvement on the past. I'm Polish, a Slav, my blood pumps when I hear things like fiddles and gypsy beats. I can understand the stuff coming out of Slovenia, Serbia, Russia and Croatia. I love how they have married the traditional sounds and lyrics to modern beats and styles. It does things to me that make me wander off to youtube and listen to Slovenian house music for an hour. While I may bemoan the lack of trannies ( not one this year ), gays and circus freaks, the quality of music coming from some of the nations is light years ahead of last year even. I know most of you won't understand a word of the lyrics, but you will be grabbed by the throat by the songs and find yourself dancing despite yourself.

Here is my list of countries to watch in the final ...

Greece: OPA! is every greek party wedding and bar fight ever. Gay, straight, male or female, you WILL want to party with these guys.

France: Allez Olla Ole Is the coup de Boule song from after the last World cup with changed words. It's fun, infectious and possibly the least traditional sounding song in Eurovision. The song is a signal that the next generation of immigrants to Europe are finally at home and belong. And in a World Cup year, it certainly fits in.

Serbia: Ovo Je Balkan mixes slavic beats and themes with house. Do try to get the translation of the lyrics, it's as haunting and heart tugging as Home Newcastle. Milan Stankovic has a voice and presence that draws you in and caresses you. He is also,as far as I know, the only gay left standing. The only other two acts that were even more openly gay did not make the cut. A bit sad for a show known for drag acts and fag acts.

Germany: Satellite sung by Lena, a genuine top 40 act who has a single sweeping Europe in blitzkrieg like fashion. What a novel idea, an established star fronting her country with a hit in the charts. I wonder if that will work?

Turkey: Manga sung by a hard rock group complete with the Stig's sister in glitter gear. These guys are a sign that secular Turkey is not about to disappear any time soon. As a card carrying metal head, I can say they are as good as any band out of Sheffield.


Wales ... Disguised as Cyprus, the Welsh entry is everything Britain could have been. Talented, catchy, personable and most importantly, GOOD. I can safely say that if you want to send a message to the selectors, vote for Cyprus. Maybe next year we can be proud of the song that goes in without having to suffer the semi final.

I feel the need to at least mention the unworthy victims of the finals who won't be entertaining us on Saturday.

Holland : Shala Lie (see above)

Lithuania: Eastern European Funk. Truly fun and and entertaining song, designed to make you dance not think too hard.

Switzerland: Il Pleut de L'Or or it's raining gold. Realy nice song in french by a singer who rises above his gold Python suit and silly ears to make you listen.

Finland: Työlki Ellää , perfomed by a folk group that will get any person with any Celtic blood in them entranced.

Slovakia: Horehronie The green anthem of the year done in stunning costumes and traditional Central European style.

Serious bit from Health and safety: I have received a memo from the NHS advising us all to be responsible in our use of glitter and silly hats at the weekend. Pace yourselves, don't get all excited when a good song falls behind in the count to some rubbish like the wrist slitting Russian entry. It's not about being good, it's about voting for your neighbours, unless of course your neighbour has a Josh in the contest. I boldly predict Britain will place at least a few spots above the drop zone, with maybe 20 points.

See you all next Monday, enjoy the week end, it's just a bit of fun, nothing else.

Monday, 24 May 2010

They Killed the Quatro!!!! or Here Comes Eurovision

Last week I was in the grip of finale fever, tonight I'm quietly thinking of how to fill the massive gaping hole now created in my viewing schedule. I will dear reader, reveal the secret cave of wonders I'm off to later , and no it's not DAVE.

First things first...

They killed the Quatro! What I had been thinking was confirmed when Gene Hunt saw the report on himself. Of course , it made perfect sense and was all the more touching when Alex et al are tempted one last time by the Devil. DCI Jim Keats is played with such understated rage and frustration, he is the consummate controlled face of evil. Alex aka US, is hoyed from pillar to post, never quite sure what the truth is. But when we find out the truth , it hits us hard like a Rooney Pen. Yes they are all dead, it's purgatory, Gene Hunt is helping the souls of the dead move on. This would be plenty, but the writers were not done pealing the onion away, Gene is the burnt ( offering) officer, an earnest plod Telly Savalas wanabe, who was cut down before he ever got going. I have of course lit a candle for both Gene Hunt AND the Quatro. I wish him well with his new graduating class of dead officers. Will we see Gene Hunt pass over? Who knows? Part of me would love to see that limited run 4 part epic cherry on top of the cake. I doubt however the writers are interested in messing with a perfect ending. My hat is off to those who took the hard decision to end the programme on a high note.

Speaking of ending on high notes, the other much awaited finale, LOST, aired in the last 24 hours. How I wish JJ Abrahms had had the courage of his convictions , and told the network, NO it's a three year arc, I'm not stretching this to suit you. How does it end? See above, They're all dead Jim! What a let down, I knew this by the end of series 2. What's even worse is they went out of their way to deny this, going as far as calling people like me, crazy and delusional. The previous hard core of Trekies, Whovians and Ringers dropped Lost like a hot potato shortly after Charlie was drowned in a vicious waste of the only character I cared if he lived or died. Then the nail on the coffin was the frankly confusing couple of eps where it's clear only a few survived and are haunted by this, only to flash back to the Island. Joseph Conrad is easier to read. I never recovered enough from the extreme disappointment of the stretch to watch again. Good thing too, Ashes to Ashes did it better faster and with some respect for it's viewers.

Sadly the other finale had a paltry 700,000 viewers getting the answer to the great question. Just what is the village? Short answer is it's a higher plain of the mind where mental patients are sent to recover from serious disorders. The fact Number two and his wife number one are doing this entirely against their will is the point of number six's rebellion. No prison, no matter how well intentioned is anything but a prison. Idealists cannot and should not force a single vision of perfection on humanity, because they believe they hold the only official truth. As it turns out, it's not perfect is it? Number six must choose, liberate the people or find a better way and a new truth. Poor 313, the girl is a complete basket case, two is not a bastard after all and 313 is the lynch pin of the finale. How will six choose? I'm not telling you . The science is a bit dodgy,but I'll let it pass, it is science FICTION, not science fact. On the whole a good wrap up to a great limited series. Try and catch it from the beginning before ITV sends it to Belgium.

Luther chugs along like the creepy engine that could. Ruth Wilson who plays Alice Morgan has owned this role. Any other show would have taken such a role and made her tiring by now, but not Luther. I fully expect to see her helping solve crimes more often, ... for a price. Idris Elba's character is clearly addicted to Alice who is drawing him into her wonderland of strangeness. In the most unsettling , will they or won't they pairing, some of us are waiting for the morning they wake up naked , he is very afraid, she smiles.

Outnumbered has come and gone for another series. I assume the entire barking mad clan of suburbanites will be back for another go in a few months. Getting that much gold out two small person cannot be easy and I'd rather wait till they have more rather than squeeze the funniest children on television like a once too often used tea bag.

BGT, my not so secret addiction, continued it's stream of less then stellar acts wanting to entertain the Queen. Please somebody explain to me the fascination with street dance? Even Charlie Brooker agrees with me on this one. It was refreshing to see the cute children in costume , doing something that didn't resemble a mass epileptic fit. The Asian dance troupe was brilliant, sadly ITV chose to show only truncated clips.This despite the clearly good reception they had. The father & son Jackson Impressionists were spectacular and seem destined to join the long list of acts that will make a decent living in Benidorm or some other resort town for the next ten years. The lad signing Danny Boy was good, but I hate Danny Boy, ( had to sing it in choir as a child) Maybe he can do a nice version of Athenry. That boy belongs in an Anglican Church Choir where his voice will be cared for and trained. His parents should have had him in music school ages ago , not going on BGT months before his voice breaks. My new favourite act is now the doorman who channels Sinatra and Tony Bennet. As a registered not wrinkly above the age of JLS, I am relieved to see more than one style of music to get a shot. Amanda Holden, Piers morgan and the substitute twat Louis Walsh managed to get through this week without being too silly, perhaps it was Simon Cowell being away due to the flu.

Doctor Who was a part one of two at the week end. Typical formulaic ending when the doctor predicts a few huts and 30 villagers only to see the entire Silurian civilization in front of him. I will not criticize the ep as being thin on story or even ripping off Inferno. Though I could. I will instead state what I consider the obvious, It's a part one, take the time to develop the personas dramatis that will make you shout at the telly in despair and fear whilst hid behind a pile of pillows. Or so I'm told some of us may have done. Remember, don't Blink...Go for a pee before the show starts and take the phone off the hook. These things usually get going big style in the second half. Matt Smith for NUFC manager, he couldn't do worse than the last two.

I'm pleased to report that Graham Norton is back on track, He had on last Monday the leader of the Dorothy cult Andrew Lloyd Webber, Minnie Driver, and mad Welsh person Ruth Jones. Camp funny and websites....

You want more Camp? Eurovision is here. Three nights over a week of the annual Euro fest of bad taste and block voting. I know Our song is bad beyond redemption, nauseatingly embarrassing and bland all at the same time. I know It'll be mostly nul points to Britain and that the winner will almost assuredly be from the Eastern Block. Will this stop me from watching? Of course not. I'm rooting for France with the not Coup de Boule song and Greece's OPA! They embody all that is great and truly awful about Eurovision. Get your drag face on and load up on niblies, you will not be able to pull yourself away from this year's crop of songs.

Now at the top I promised you something. This in fact is for my mate Paul in South Shields who moaned to my wife..." There's nowt on telly!" . How wrong you are!!!!
The iPlayer is a veritable treasure trove of gold and addictive stuff you will almost assuredly have missed if you were watching telly during prime time. The problem starts when you go to the BBC or any of the other players out there and look for something you missed and needed to watch. I WAS looking for Rock Band and found the 90 minute gem Synth Britannia . No Devo, but the bands that were on were mint. Proof that the 80's were not a complete wasteland. Over at 4OD We watched all 13 eps of Chelmsford 123, did a Time team marathon, and I'm wallowing shamelessly in Shameless. ITV is not without it's own treasure chest Classic ITV. So next time you think the telly is devoid of choice, have a neb around the Players. I'll have a few suggestions from the iPlayer cave of wonders every week for you. In the mean time, dig out those Doctor Who Throughton tapes and DVDs.

This blog written to the sounds of Beat Surrender and Paddy MacDee on BBC radio Newcastle. Coming soon, proper links to Nick Roberts Radio Newcastle introduces ( 9 pm most nights)new local NE bands. Follow the links here to find Nick, Paddy, Alfie and our Keith Telly Topping. For more great blog experiences read The Lord Toppings top tips before they air here

See you next week , or sooner if Eurovision is sufficiently inspiring....Happy viewing, Good luck with those auditions Paul Carney, Check out Rock The Barn
for local live gigs.

Monday, 17 May 2010

My name is Alex Drake, I voted and woke up in 1983

Before I say another word, I'd like to dedicate this first blog to a dear friend of mine who never stopped believing and encouraged me to go the extra mile. Colin Arneld sadly did not live to see this, but I hope wherever he is , he is in a better place.

Greetings sad followers of The great Lord Topping. I too will be joining some of you every Saturday on listen again somewhere in the tail end of Simon Logan. Seems some of us just can't get enough of that voice.

Apologies for not writing more but a strange thing happened.... I voted and found myself in 1983. It was the oddest thing, George Osborne was Chancellor of the exchequer and all my Labour mates were in a deep funk, people were organizing marches... It took more than a week to realize this wasn't just a nightmare, but that I was in fact in 1983. So I spent the rest of the week digging up my polyester trousers, silk shirts and power ties. After that, I caught up on some telly!

Let us begin with the worst of the lot. No fun writing these things if you can't have a good moan is there?

Chelsea won the FA Cup and the league .... No that's it , isn't that bad enough? Ok Didier Drogba was man of the match and man of the season. King of the divers, mate of John "I've done her" Terry , and Cashley "Hot Geordie Lass not good enough" Cole.

Then my in box was inundated ( I got two e-mails and three FB group invites) about Fat Mike and his austerity budget at our club, the fabled the brilliant the one the only Newcastle United . Seems our owner has found new ways to torture supporters. We can only have new players if we sack the tea lady, rent out the Leazes End to visiting young Tories and pledge eternal loyalty to Satan, OR he might have a few Bob but nothing certain. Either way, NUFC's least loved or admired manager has full say in player affairs but no budget for transfers. Lovely! Another summer watching other clubs vie for players we cannot afford . Not like they were going to come THIS far north in any case. No hot & cold running Perrier or Harrod's for the WAGs. I wonder if Chelsea can throw us a few of their cast-offs on loan?

Reet! BGT or Bores & gormless twats has thrown up ( and I do mean thrown up) some real winners in the last two weeks. The fact that Piers and Amanda Holden keep putting through tone deaf singers and other acts designed solely to annoy Darth Cowell may be amusing to some, but I had hoped to be spared this. The lack of quality reaching our television screens during auditions is astonishing. Now I like a good car crash as much as the next guy, but when a man does bad magic accompanied by even worse flute recital, or when dead fit " so called strippers " manage to bore me, I have to ask myself how they managed to get past the vetting phase. Surely they read the bit about TALENT in the name. The other thing that gets me is the enduring appeal of yet another Urban Street Troop. When will we be free of these creatures who think regurgitating the same 20 dance steps over and over is even remotely interesting to anybody over the age of 12? I want my circus freaks, trannies, singers comedians, magicians and animal acts.

Notwithstanding the dreck I was forced to endure, a few bright spots made the ordeal worth it. I look forward to many weeks of the following...

The Impressionist Paul
The He/She off the Ferries
The topless stripper fire eating lass
The wee little girl who sings
The other Lad who does Motown
I'm pretty sure there was an animal act that got through, but I can't be certain
I know I'm missing some acts here, but I can't be expected to remember them all having just lapsed out of a coma into a nightmare.

Speaking of Nightmares, Poor little Hamster... How do you take the building of Wembley, complete with cost overruns and interesting science and make it too boring to endure more than 5 minutes? Perhaps I'm too used the boffins on BBC4 just getting to the point and assuming you're familiar with the science or history in question. God Love Channel 4 ( both of them) . Sea shanties, the story of Science, Time Team, Blitz Street, Boats that built Britain, I'm in a Rock Band, even the great masters series is pretty decent if not a touch full of itself at times.

ITV has not been a complete cultural wasteland. I would watch Joanna Lumley do a 6 part documentary on the European adventures of Sunderland ( well maybe not... or maybe yes, for a laugh). She did with the Nile what that useless art critic guy could not do with Lost Tribes of Africa. The underrated but well written and well acted The Prisoner, is coming to an end. I decided to let it run over me like a refreshing stream of cold mountain water and NOT try to second guess it. A good thing too, the last ep answers as many questions as it raises and works well in 2010. Imagine if we were all number files on a vast server? Imagine if we lived our lives on this server, blissfully unaware of the real world. Well we do , it's called Facebook. Any roads, the answers are satisfying and the last ep frustratingly two weeks off now. While we are still waiting for Corrie to get better, we did watch Blanche's funeral and the farewell special. She encompasses all that is great about Corrie. Simple stories with humour, sharpness and wit, with above all else believability anchored in reality . Perhaps the current writers should review old scripts and try to recapture that spirit before it wanders off totally into phsycho drama land complete with dust ups, bizarre love triangles and incredibly improbable stories "because it's cool". Corrie has wandered so far from where it was two years ago, I can scarcely recognize it.

Channel 4 was a bright spot waiting to light the gloom that has become the interregnum ( that's Roman for geet big vacation) between Top Gear series. Time Team is like crack. Watching Baldrick guide us through muck and dirt, (How appropriate) has just got even better. Until now we've had a cast of characters including funny bald archaeologist number one with dangly white hair and his brother second funny archaeologist with dangly white hair. These amusing people have been joined as of the last few eps, by the SEXY archaeologist Dr Helen Geake. She can excavate me any time she wants.

Now I know the High Lord Kieth has a problem with Jamie Oliver. TBH for a while so did I, he was tired, preachy and frankly flogging a dead horse. He has however returned to his roots. "Jamie does..." is all about expanding your culinary mind. He assumes ( finally), that we know how to cook basics like fish or broil meat . In this series he tells us how to approach other cookery with ease while loosing the cooking for dummies short cuts. I am confident that if I made any of the recipes presented, for a native, I would not be insulting their national cuisine. Moreover, I'm not just hungry, but in the mood to cook after watching the new series.

"You have been watching" , like the on hols 8 out of 10 cats, is funny, verrrrry funny . But it does does one supremely important service that Cats does not. You don't have sit through an entire ep of Michael Whiner or Manswers to take the piss out of it. The B a s t a r d s special was a compilation of everything we thought, said outloud.

My favourite network, The Beeb, It has to be, I spend more time on one or another of the BBC's than any other, was single handedly responsible for 75% or more of our viewing time. To think that this great institution is already hunkering down in it's tower to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and taking arms against a sea of Tory troubles.

Doctor Who has yet to disappoint me on the same level as say the Colin Baker doc. Amy pond, skinny legs and all, is brilliant, I love her, not like I love Rose, but I love her. She is right up there with Leela of the Janus thorns. Matt Smith ( not the one from ITV sports) is soooo good, I have seen flashes of Throughton , Pertwee and Tom Baker . At one point I almost expected to see K-9 trundle out and insult. Now is it a "Children's programme"? You have to be kidding. It hasn't been a children's programme since the Daleks appeared and scared the brown stuff out of an entire generation. I have been firmly behind the settee since then and proud of it. Is the science on Doctor Who suspect? It's Science fiction, of course it is. In what world would David Tennant pull Kylie Minogue? In what world a man twice her age would get lucky with Billie Piper? ( Oh yeah Ginger twat ) .
Any road, aside from the unsatisfactory denouement in the Victory of the Daleks, the science ( as established by canon) holds up nicely. Possibly the best series since the last Peter Davison series.

I'm in a rock band is object lesson in how to build a band and how to wallow in the best music ever made in the guise of a "how to" documentary. Totally thought the drummers were talking through their collective arses. It's the guitarist stupid. ACDC, the Quo, Stones, Pistols, are instantly recognizable from the first three guitar strums you hear. Drummers, ( Buddy Rich and Phil Collins aside) are as expendable as Amy Barlow actresses and sometimes as rubbish, yes Ringo , I'm talking to you. Poor man , there was an entire segment of Ringo jokes.

Luther. Prisoner 313 sizzles in a sexy scary sort of sensuality that makes you want to throw away sanity and ride the black widow express. Luther himself is so compelling as the brooding highly intelligent man surrounded by turkeys too stupid to see the forest for the trees. I know police work is nothing like this , but I'm prepared to suspend belief.

Outnumbered is a treat to watch. I would hope I never have children like that ever, but those lines are beyond belief funny.

Ireland's favourite gay man, no not Louis Walsh, but Graham Norton, displayed an incredible sense of humour. It's not his fault some PR hack at the Beeb thought it would be a good idea to piss off 6,500 plus DW fans. I Like the way they have the animated Norton being chased by Daleks in the trail just before DW now. Unfortunately poor Graham was victim of bad bookings. The ep Monday last, Brooke Shields, Miranda Hart and Kevin Bacon topped by the terrible twins Jedward, didn't stand a chance. I tuned out point one nano seconds after he said Jedward. Honestly? where are the camp comedians, the knitting lady who covers houses, that funny actress who flashes her boobs or the frankly strange web sites, the cheeky interviews with people who know the rules of Norton. If I wanted American stars I'd watch Woss. Barring last Monday, I have been loyal to the animated Norton.

Top gear repeats on the BBC, because I think it's sad to watch Dave all day....

I'll have to lump in all the sciency timey wimey stuff into one section.... Story of science, Victoria a love story, Sacred music, Great masters, Sea shanties, Boats that made Britain, Coast, Guitar heroes, any train spotter stuff.

Then there was BBC News 24.... Took me an age to pry myself off that particular drug. I am addicted to political drama, even when it personally pains me. The work of all those reporters, policy boffins, observers, columnists and general news gadgees was the most fun I've had with my clothes on in years. Not since we got relegated last year was I so engrossed and repelled at the same time. Something about history in the making you cannot ignore.

Is the licence fee worth it? You bet it is.

Happy Birthday Paddy MacDee , big 60 today!

This post brought to you by Beat Surrender on Listen again. That's right boys and girls, the same canny device you can hear Keith Telly Topping on now SIX days a week. BTW Sir, where were you this afternoon (Monday)? Must have somehow missed you.

Gotta run, fire department here for yet another false alarm across the street!