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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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

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After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

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Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

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Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

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He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

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Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

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Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

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