Wednesday, 28 October 2009

UK TV Chart - w/e 18th October 2009

Here's the rundown of the Top 20 most popular UK TV programmes or series for the week ending Sunday 18th October 2009 collated from information compiled and presented by BARB. Note that figures for multi-episode TV broadcasts (ie soaps or other shows with more than one episode per week) are rounded up into an average figure for the series and are denoted in the chart by * News broadcasts are excluded from the figures. 'Rpt' denotes repeated broadcast or film

1) The X Factor (ITV1)....................12.98 *
2) Doc Martin (ITV1).......................9.49
3) Coronation Street (ITV1)................9.10 *
4) EastEnders (BBC1).......................8.85 *
5) Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)............8.44
6) Harry Hill's TV Burp (ITV1,Sat).........7.35
7) Football World Cup Qualified (ITV1, Wed)7.65
8) Emmerdale (ITV1)........................6.89 *
9) Life (BBC1, Mon)........................6.84
10) All Star Family Fortunes (ITV1).........6.64
11) Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix (BBC1,Sun)
6.63
12) New You've Been Framed! (ITV1)..........6.56
13) Benidorm (ITV1).........................6.38
14) Countryfile (BBc1)......................5.79
15) (Holby City (BBC1).......................5.73
15) (Have I Got News For You (BBC1)..........5.73
17) Blue Murder (ITV1)......................5.15
18) Casualty (BBC1).........................5.04
19) National Lottery draws (BBC1, Sat)......4.98
20) The Armstrong and Miller Show (BBC1)....4.68

BBC: 10 ITV: 10

Chart commentary: With the upper reaches of the chart still dominated by the powerhouse of The X Factor and with ITV1's Doc Martin growing in popularity and now overtaking the soaps, not much to see in the Top 10. In the lower reaches it's notable how trusty old Saturday night warhorse Casualty is losing support, slipping to the edge of the chart. This may because of the fact that X Factor and Strictly dominate Saturday nights (and indeed all TV coverage, it seems) to the exclusion of anything else or maybe that the show is a bit tired now and needs a long break. Elsewhere good to see the first episode of the second series of Armstrong of Miller edge into the Top 20 and a decent figure for the umpteenth series of Have I Got News For You. ITV's Family Fortunes and New You've Been Framed remain bafflingly popular and,as we'll see next week, BBC1's clever plan of resting Merlin for a week may have had a devastating effect on its future prospects as the episode screened most recently had the series' lowest ever figure, a number which will see it down at the lower end of the Top 20. Frustrating that BBC1 makes far and away the best shows but remains clueless as to how to schedule them properly. Way to go, BBC1!!

Friday, 23 October 2009

UK TV Chart - w/e 11th October 2009

Here's the rundown of the Top 20 most popular UK TV programmes or series for the week ending Sunday 11th October 2009 collated from information compiled and presented by BARB. Note that figures for multi-episode TV broadcasts (ie soaps or other shows with more than one episode per week) are rounded up into an average figure for the series and are denoted in the chart by * News broadcasts are excluded from the figures. 'Rpt' denotes repeated broadcast or film.

1) The X Factor (ITV1)..................13.23 *
2) Coronation Street (ITV1)..............9.26 *
3) Doc Martin (ITV1).....................9.21
4) EastEnders (BBC1).....................9.01 *
5) Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)..........8.82
6) (Emmerdale (ITV1)......................7.13
6) (Harry Hill's TV Burp (ITV1, Sat)......7.13
8) All Star Family Fortunes (ITV1).......6.37
9) Mirror Pride of Britain Awards (ITV1).6.35
10) Benidorm (ITV1).......................6.17
11) New You've Been Framed (ITV1).........5.90
12) Merlin (BBC1).........................5.69
13) Holby City (BBC1).....................5.64
14) Antiques Roadshow (BBC1)..............5.62
15) Casualty (BBC1).......................5.52
16) Countryfile (BBC1)....................5.51
17) Blue Murder (ITV1)....................5.07
18) Criminal Justice (BBC1)...............4.97 *
19) National Lottery Draws (BBC1, Sat)....4.85
20) Harry Hill's TV Burp (ITV1, Sun)......4.57 (rpt)

BBC: 9 ITV: 11

UK TV Chart - w/e 4th October 2009

Here's the rundown of the Top 20 most popular UK TV programmes or series for the week ending Sunday 4th October 2009 collated from information compiled and presented by BARB. Note that figures for multi-episode TV broadcasts (ie soaps or other shows with more than one episode per week) are rounded up into an average figure for the series and are denoted in the chart by * News broadcasts are excluded from the figures. 'Rpt' denotes repeated broadcast or film.


1) The X Factor (ITV1)......................12.40 *
2) Coronation Street (ITV1)..................9.14 *
3) Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)..............9.06
4) EastEnders (BBC1).........................8.72 *
5) Doc Martin (ITV1).........................8.71
6) Waking The Dead (BBC1)....................7.09
7) Emmerdale (ITV1)..........................6.96 *
8) Benidorm (ITV1)...........................6.50
9) Casualty (BBC1)...........................6.37
10) Merlin (BBC1).............................6.09
11) All Star Family Fortunes (ITV1)...........5.60
12) Holby City (BBC1).........................5.52
13) UEFA Champions League Football (ITV Wed)..5.28
14) Antiques Roadshow (BBC1)..................5.26
15) Countryfile (BBC1)........................5.08
16) Blue Murder (ITV1)........................4.96
17) Emma (BBC1)...............................4.84
18) National Lottery Draws (BBC1, Sat)........4.79
19) The Cube (ITV1)...........................4.71
20) New You've Been Framed (ITV1).............4.70

BBC: 10 ITV: 10

TV Review: Sarah Jane Adventures - Prisoner of the Judoon


Business as usual (or should that be unusual?) at Bannerman Road as kid-friendly Dr Who spin-off ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ returns for its third full series on CBBC, airing this year twice-weekly on Thursday and Fridays. The format remains as it has been for the past two years – former Dr Who companion Sarah Jane Smith (the ageless Elisabeth Sladen) and her alien construct son Luke (Thomas Knight) and his schoolfriends Clyde (Daniel Anthony) and Rani (Anji Mohindra) battle alien threats to Earth (well, mainly Ealing where Sarah Jane and co live it which seems extraordinarily prone to alien and/or supernatural incursions) with the help of the super-computer in Sarah Jane’s attic and, from time to time,robot dog K9. After a cracking and surprisingly-sophisticated first series in 2007last year’s second run saw a bit of a dip in quality. The show looked cheaper, the stories were derivative and too many characters and costumes were reused either from the show itself or from Dr Who, as the Sontarans from the then-recent Dr Who season reappeared in much the same way as the Slitheen from the first series of Dr Who appears in SJ’s first outing. The quality slide was disappointing because ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ has so much potential and, when it’s on form, can tell intelligent and mature stories for its juvenile audience which don’t patronise or talk down to them and still have enough meat and drama to appeal to those…ahem…older viewers who are watching because of its obvious connection to the parent show. But when the show goes off-mission – or at least sails too close to the panto winds of traditional contemporary children’s drama – it resorts to running around, shouting, prat-falling and over-acting. Which brings me, sadly, to series three opener ‘Prisoner of the Judoon’. Oh dear…

There’s actually some good stuff dotted throughout these two episodes. There’s no denying the energy and commitment on display here as everyone gives their all to make sure this is a pacey, rattling yarn with loads of incident and some pretty good special FX – the rampaging nanobots, the reconstructed spaceship, the prosthetic make-up for renegede alien Androvax.. But the problem lies both with Phil Ford’s script and some rather iffy acting – astonishingly from the otherwise-reliable Lis Sladen herself. Here’s a story which really throws away the show’s sometimes-tentative foothold in the real world, often resembling a better-financed episode of 1970s ITV kid’s adventure ‘The Tomorrow People’. ‘Prisoner of the Judoon’ is a story which aims itself too squarely at its children’s audience and, in doing so, seems to be assuming, alarmingly, that its children’s audience isn’t quite as bright as it once thought. For this is pretty simple stuff indeed as an alien ship crashes in London and a planet-destroying reptile escapes, its Judoon captor (the integalactic space police rhinos introduced in Dr Who series three opener ‘Smith and Jones’) on its case. Sarah Jane and co arrive on the scene, team up with the slightly-bewildered but official Judoon Captain Tybo (cue much comic misunderstanding as the Judoon confronts human officiousness) and spend two episodes being boggle-eyed, running around and shouting, getting locked up and escaping and ultimately returning home in time for tea with another of Sladen’s now slightly-overplayed “the Universe is wonderful tra la la” homilies.


Dr Who has, to be fair, set up the precedent that series openers should be relatively straight-forward, great big romps which reintroduce the concept and characters of the series before challenging the audience with meatier fare. ‘Prisoner of the Judoon’, though, takes this to an extreme. Ford’s script is witty enough but the one-note gags and general lack of real tension or sense of danger in the story gets a bit wearisome after a while. Similarly an extraneous and farcical subplot which sees Rani’s mother (a florist) and father (a school headmaster) ingratiate their way into a Top Secret research institute – on a Sunday! – to persuade them to display some flowers on the premises! When they get there they indulge in repeated and increasingly-laboured comedy set-pieces as they boggle at aliens, confront witless security guard anbd joiun in the general running around and hiding. Where Rani's predecessor Maria had a dysfunctional family who worked as real people struggling with real emotions, Rani's folks have, at a stroke, become bumbling comedy oafs gurning and, having survived an encounter with big gun-wielding rhinos from outer space, decide to forget all about it and wander home at the end of it all as if it';s all in a day's work..

If this doesn't leave you shaking your head in despair and wodnering where the quality cvontrol's gone for this series, your jaw will be on the floor as the villainous Androvax, a creature who hides himself in human bodies, decide to yake over Sarah Jane. Now I'm quite a fan of Elisabeth Sladen, a fine and monstrously-underrated actress who, after her initial stint on 'Dr Who' in the 1970s really should have goine on to become a major TV star. She's a great, instinctive actress and over the years she's turned Sarah Jane from a running and screaming cypher into a fully-rounded, well-observed and rather melancholy older woman. But what the Hell was she thinking when she decided to play the possessed Sarah Jane as if she was auditioning for (and failing to get) a role in some shoddy provinical Pantomime? Playing the baddy may have been a lovely opportunity for Sladen and at our most generous we can probably say that she certainly threw herself into the performance. I can't really be sure though because I watched much of it from behind the hands flung over my eyes in embarrassment. This was over-acting at its most astonishing. Initially coming over as rather sexy; her confrontation with the super-computer Mr Smith - "Mr Smith, I need you" was pretty smouldering. but it all goes horribly wrong in part two when she prowls around hissing and growling like Christian Bale with tonsilitis (imagine that!), her eyeballs rolling in her sockets as she not only chews up the scenery but pretty much spits it all out in our faces. I blame the director; Joss Agnew should have had a quiet word and got her to reign it in a bit. But then in a fairly light and farcical story, maybe something darker and subtler would have flown in the face of the knockabout style of the story and left the whole thing a bit unbalanced.

It's always nice to see 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' back on screen because it's generally such a confident and competent series and, with the other Who family of series on reduced duties this year, it's good to be back in one of Russell T Davies's worlds again. But 'Prisoner of the Judoon' is really a pretty clumsy and dim-witted affair, exposing the show's inherent weaknesses rather than playing to its strength. It's a kid's show, of course, and that's the audience it needs to be aimed at no matter how much grizzly old fans like me think it belongs to us because we knew Sarah Jane when she was a fresh-faced young twenty-something. But with so little kid's drama on TV these days it's hard not to think that 'Prisoner of the Judoon' sells them short a bit with its rehashed old monsters and lazy hackneyed storyline and trite comedy stylings. 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' has done much better than this so let's hope that the best is yet to come in this third series. Don't be too down-hearted by 'Prisoner of the Judoon'; it's not a disaster by any means but it's just a bit of a misfire from a series which, when it's on top form, can scintillate almost as much as the show which spawned it. 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' works best when its stories are about its characters and how they react and inter-act with the astonishing things which happen to them, woven into clever, thoughtful adventure stories. Stuff is glad to report that the just-screened first episode of the second story, 'The Mad Woman In The Attic' is a marked improvement, playing as if it's from an entirely different series altogther. And then, of course, a certain Time Lord pitches up to join the fun next week...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

UK TV Chart - w/e 27th September 2009

Here's the rundown of the Top 20 most popular UK TV programmes or series for the week ending Sunday 27th September 2009 collated from information compiled and presented by BARB. Note that figures for multi-episode TV broadcasts (ie soaps or other shows with more than one episode per week) are rounded up into an average figure for the series and are denoted in the chart by * News broadcasts are excluded from the figures. 'Rpt' denotes repeated broadcast or film.

1) The X Factor (ITV1)......................11.13 *
2) EastEnders (BBC1).........................8.72 *
3) Coronation Street (ITV1)..................8.70 *
4) Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)..............8.39 *
5) Doc Martin (ITV1).........................8.03
6) Waking The Dead (BBC1)....................7.22 *
7) Emmerdale (ITV1)..........................6.56 *
8) Midsomer Murders (ITV1)...................6.34
9) National Lottery Saturday Draws (BBC1)....6.33
10) Casualty (BBC1)...........................6.06
11) Merlin (BBC1).............................5.94
12) All Star Family Fortunes (ITV1)...........5.45
13) (Blue Murder (ITV1)........................5.35
13) (Antiques Roadshow (BBC1)..................5.35
15) New Tricks (BBC1).........................5.32 (rpt)
16) Holby City (BBC1).........................5.28
17) When P**** Met Sir Cliff (ITV1)...........5.09
18) Countryfile (BBC1)........................4.96
19) The Cube (ITV1)...........................4.81
20) Formula One: Spanish Grand Prix (BBC1)....4.41

BBC: 11 ITV: 9

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

New Dr Who logo revealed!!!

So here it is. Revealed officially online this morning at 8am (and I forgot to take a look at it until about 2pm!!) here's the all new, all shiny and fresh logo for the soon-come fifth series of Dr Who, starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillen. This is the logo which will be adorning Dr Who merchandise for the next few years, replacing the familiar eliptical logo the show has used since its return in 2005.



The Dr Who fan community often gets in a right old tizz about things like this - too much lens flare, too flat, too big, too tall, too squat - but to Stuff it looks like...well, a logo. I don't tend to get worked up about things like this; it's some words in a shape, after all. But it looks cool, modern, new and it does its job well. Here's to it.

What do you think of the new Dr Who logo? Over-react or under-react as much as you like...leave a comment and let me know what you think!!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Dr Who location filming clips - October 5th 2009!!

After a relatively quiet period in the production of the fifth series of Dr Who (or first as the production team are apparently calling it!), this time starring Matt Smith as the all-new eleventh Doctor, the crew have been out and about at locations all over South Wales in the last couple of weeks filming sequences for the new episodes. This week they're on Stuff's doorstep - more or less - filming for four days in and around the picturesque Llandaff Green area, in the shadow of the impressive Llandaff Cathedral. The episode currently being filmed is the first in the new series (episodes three, four and five at least already 'in the can' - see how comfortable Stuff is with these technical terms!) and with Smith and his new companion Karen Gillen (playing Amy Pond) presumably comfortable in their new character skins, it's time to tackle that all-important first episode. Title and plot are pretty much a mystery but photos taken in the last day or so (they'll be all over the net by now) see Smith in a distressed version of his predecessor's familiar pin-stripes and his companion in an eye-catching Police woman uniform complete with mini-skirt!! Yikes! They don't dress like that in The Bill! Rumour has it Amy's off on a (fancy dress) hen night when she meets the newly-regenerated Time Lord... Stuff missed most of the big scenes being filmed today (curse you, work!) but pitched up on location at around 5.30pm, trusty little video camera at the ready, and managed to capture a few videoclips of the action. As usual, apologies that these aren't exactly broadcast quality but hopefully they'll give you a bit of the flavour and atmosphere of what's been going on this evening and won't be too spoilerific for those of you averse to knowing what's coming up... First up, there's something in the sky, it's transfixed the locals and they're gazing at it through their camera-phones? Who's Marcello? What's Bosley the dog got to do with anything?

video

Next up it's TV's Matt Smith appearing back on set. It's 6pm, the light's threatening to fade and Matt's ready to film. That's him in the middle pacing about in a Big Coat to keep out the Cardiff chill. Wuss.

video

And finally after a few moody close-ups, Matt is joined by Karen. The natural light is boosted by a big illuminated white screen and the pair rehearse and record a dialogue scene with Smith crouching on his haunches and finally getting up to look along the green and make a disparaging remark about humanity. Quite right too. It's a wrap and the pair are bundled off into their swanky car and whisked away into the night, Smith pausing to hurriedly sign a few autographs. What a nice man. David who???

video

Check out Stuff again later this week for more filming reports. Also don't forget that the new Doctor Who TV logo is due to be unveiled on the official BBC Dr Who website (whatever that is) at 8am tomorrow. It's all happening!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

UK TV Chart - w/e 20th September 2009

Here's the rundown of the Top 20 most popular UK TV programmes or series for the week ending Sunday 20th September 2009 collated from information compiled and presented by BARB. Note that figures for multi-episode TV broadcasts (ie soaps or other shows with more than one episode per week) are rounded up into an average figure for the series and are denoted in the chart by * News broadcasts are excluded from the figures. 'Rpt' denotes repeated broadcast or film.

1) The X Factor (ITV1)...........................10.97 *
2) Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)...................8.68 *
3) EastEnders (BBC1)..............................8.63 *
4) Coronation Street (ITV1).......................8.57 *
5) Doc Martin (ITV1)..............................8.30
6) Waking The Dead (BBC1).........................7.36 *
7) Emmerdale (ITV1)...............................6.53 *
8) National Lottery Saturday Draws (BBC1).........6.29
9) Casualty (BBC1)................................5.91
10) Merlin (BBC1)..................................5.77
11) All-Star Family Fortunes (ITV1)................5.74
12) Antiques Roadshow (BBC1).......................5.59
13) New Tricks (BBC1)..............................5.44 (rpt)
14) Holby City (BBC1)..............................5.43
15) (Countryfile (BBC1).............................4.83
15) (Blue Murder (ITV1).............................4.83
15) (The Cube (ITV1)................................4.83
18) Film: Casino Royale (ITV1).....................4.82
19) Football: UEUFA Champions League (ITV1, Weds)..4.12
20) The One Show (BBC1)............................4.08 *

BBC: 11 ITV: 9

Chart commentary: Another victory for the BBC with 11 entries over ITV's 9 (two of which were a film and a football match). Ighnoring the tedious slugfest between the two tiresome reality/talent behemoths at the top of the chart it's reassuring to see a stroing drama presence in the chart. ITV's Doc Martin kicks off its fourth run with a solid 8m plus and BBC1 will be relieved to see that their second series of Merlin hasn't been swamped by the reality show war and logs in a commendable figure which settles it nicely in the Top 10. Figures have remained constant for the second and third episodes too - the third actually up a bit - so the series clearly has its established audience and will occupy a nice mid-chart slot throughout its run (unless it starts to haemmorage viewers as Robin Hood did earlier this year) and further series seem guaranteed. Elsewhere warhorses Casualty and Holby City plod on and even a repeat of New Tricks manages the sorts of numbers ailing ITV dramas like The Fixer and The Bill can only dream of.

Coming soon: A look at a raft of new genre dramas dotted around the non-terrestrial schedule, reviews of some new comedy shows, film reviews and hopefully some footage and photos from the latest round of Dr Who location filming taking place on Stuff's proverbial doorstep and much more...