Arts and Entertainment

Mr Memory, who was brought on Monday’s Newsnight to memorise the title sequence and couldn’t even remember that Jeremy bloke with the beard’s name. Gosh I love telly. 

Shame on those who besmirch the empire builders

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

TELEVISION London Shouting / Only an Excuse (BBC2) A voice crying in the wilderness of the summer schedule, Alan Parker gives us truth, not lies. Presumably.

The silly season is television's rubbish tip. Programmes that can't find a place in the schedules at any other time of year are bulldozed into August and left to rot among the repeats: the bussed-in mini-series, the season of documentaries about old age (honestly, there's one coming up), the stray dramas there's no other space for because Alan Yentob has over-commissioned.

Panorama chief wins battle to head BBC2

Mark Thompson, head of factual programmes at the BBC and veteran of the Nine O'Clock News and Panorama, was yesterday appointed the new controller of BBC2, beating five other short-listed candidates.

Mathew Horsman; On why John Birt is right

Bill Bryson, travel writer and former Independent staffer, once wrote, apropos of the trendy main courses on menus in even out-of-the- way provincial hotels, so often followed by bread-and-butter pudding or sherry trifle, that you can do a lot to the English, but "don't f*** with their pudding."

reviews: TELEVISION Knowing Me Knowing Yule... with Alan Partridge (BBC2) It's not easy being incompetent - Alan Partridge is to chat-show interviewing what Rudolf Nureyev was to spot welding. But maybe it's time to get real.

Nick Broomfield has already demonstrated this week, as on sundry other outings, that incompetence is a time-consuming business. It takes far longer to portray a slowly unfolding cock-up than a success in which all runs smoothly. Alan Partridge is one step up from Broomfield in the evolutionary scale of broadcasting competence: at least he gets the interviews, but conducts them so appallingly that he extracts no more from them than if he had interrogated a tree trunk.

Camera down the wrong trousers

After Janet Street-Porter's cabaret act on Friday night, Rory Bremner kicked off proceedings proper on Saturday morning with a review of the year. It had been a year, he said, in which Tony Blair had left his mark on Rupert Murdoch. "It's lip-shaped and in the back area." Television had, through a Desmond Morris documentary, brought an entirely new view of the human orgasm "when it put a camera down Michael Grade's trousers at his salary review meeting". Next year, meanwhile, promised an exciting new film about BBC management called Only Fools on Courses.

Edinburgh: the horror

Last week I bumped into someone very high up in broadcasting who is famous for discovering new talent. "Oh God," he said, "I hate August. I suppose I shall have to go. Every year I try to get out of it but they make me in the end."

Television to murder for

'Resort to Murder', the new thriller series from the Beeb, is far from a classic whodunnit with its Goths, Skins and Crusties. It has itself diced with death, writes Elizabeth Udall

We want results

HARD COPY

Producers and money men split over BBC cuts

A BITTER row has broken out between senior BBC programme makers and finance staff over the drive to clear the corporation's debts by cutting spending on programmes.

Television: Please sit. I'd like to appeal on behalf of The Choir

This week I'd like to appeal on behalf of The Choir. Now, I don't doubt that there will be some among the congregation who will bridle at this suggestion. Is it really a deserving cause, they will ask. Some among you, no doubt, will point to the audience figures, which, while not exactly luxurious could scarcely be depicted as requiring charitable relief. Is it our responsibility, they will say, if this series has got ideas above its station? Why did it not have the common sense to stay on BBC2, where 6 million viewers would have given it more than respectable life, indeed pre-eminence in that select community? To those questions I have no answer.

In Camelot, they make magic The founder

After four months, the nation is hooked on the National Lottery. Good news all round - but the best news is for those running the show.

Hit and run television

Popular drama series: ITV have them in spades, the BBC have them in their dreams. Thomas Sutcliffe joins Alan Yentob on his search for the elusive hit

Not a nice task, but Salman's gotta do it

Newspaper reports the other day said the Iranian government had announced a competition for the best short story about Salman Rushdie. I would not make this up. The government wants people to write short stories about what hell Rushdie's life must be. They are offering, as a prize for the best story, 10 gold pieces and a plaque of honour. My immediate feelings on reading this disgraceful story were twofold. On the one hand, I was disgusted by the sheer malice. On the other, I thought 10 gold pieces wouldn't half come in useful and that I should go in for the contest while there was time. So here is a new short story provisionally entitled "If you ever get fed up with The Archers, you can imagine how sick of The Archers Salman Rushdie sometimes gets ..."

TALK OF THE TRADE : Big money but little interest in TV films

The BBC is to put £51m into "original films" over the next two years, offering indoor relief to middlebrow talents such as Hanif Kureishi and Mike Leigh. It is proof that the one-off drama's mystique has survived Producer Choice. But how about vi ewer choice? Since the mid-Eighties, three strands of TV films, the BBC's Screen One and Screen Two, and Channel 4's Film on Four, have pumped out around 35 titles a year. There is the occasional big hit (eg, Four Weddings and a Funeral). But most Screen One and Screen Two films are shown and forgotten.
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A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home