Weekly Telly news highlights including farewell to Reg Harcourt and Derek Fowlds, Corrie star getting lippy and what was the top telly of 2019?

The best of 2019 on the telly?

Chernobyl’s dramatic nuclear power plant explosion tops the list as the most memorable TV moment of the year in a recent poll by sofa and carpet specialists SCS.

Line of Duty and Game of Thrones moments also appear twice in the top 14 with 2019 being a year of iconic and shocking TV moments. From Caitlyn Jenner stepping foot into the I’m a Celeb jungle to that Prince Andrew interview, we’ve certainly experienced some unforgettable scenes over the last twelve months.

Topping the list as the most memorable TV moment of the year was the unforgettably moving nuclear power plant explosion on Sky Atlantic and HBO’s Chernobyl. Based on true events, perhaps the shocking nature of the series led to it being crowned the best TV moment of 2019.

Next up is Killing Eve. You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the hugely popular Beeb drama, and one moment from this year’s series came out in second place on the list of memorable happenings. We were left on a HUGE cliffhanger when Villanelle shot Eve at the end of season two, and we need to know, is Eve still alive?

It was real life dramas in third place with Newsnight finding itself in an unusual high position thanks to Prince Andrew being interviewed by Emily Maitlis. Let’s just say that Pizza Express in Woking is apparently the place to be – you’ll never forget a single minute spent there and will be able to recall dates and times spent stuffing a stuffed crust down your royal – sweat free – face.

At four TV-pickers is England beating New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. England de-throning New Zealand was a moment that rugby fans will never forget. To beat the famous All Blacks in such a big occasion took an incredible performance, making  the whole of the UK proud.

In the number five slot comes Arya vanquishing the Night King in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Labelled the ‘biggest assassination in GoT history’, last year, Arya put an end to the Night King once and for all. It was such a big moment that Brits voted it as the fifth most memorable in 2019, even if the episode’s darkness made it incredibly hard to see the action!

Peter Kay came back with a bang in 2019 with his award-winning Car Share series on the BBC, and one of the most memorable episodes featured a cheeky monkey setting up camp on top of the car during their trip to the safari park. One thing leads to another, and the monkey ends up strapped into the back seat in what proves to be one of the funniest moments of the show and lands here in sixth place.

Seventh television heaven was England’s Cricket World Cup victory. Yet another amazing sporting achievement for the UK in 2019 was being named world champions in the Cricket World Cup, with New Zealand again on the losing side. While at eight its Line of Duty. It’s one storyline that had the nation gripped was whether the legendary Ted Hastings, commanding officer of Anti-Corruption Unit 12,  was in fact corrupt himself. The evidence was piling up against him and viewers were convinced that Ted was in fact the notorious ‘H’. However, in the end he was thankfully revealed to be innocent after all.

At nine its ITV Granada’s longest running show. 2019 saw the collapse of the factory roof in Coronation Street with Rana Habeeb ending up dead. The storyline continues to have an impact on the characters of Weatherfield as the show heads into its 60th anniversary year. And at ten its another mention for Line of Duty, this time for what was said to be the ‘best line’ of the series. When Kate told DI Brandyce to “stop making a tit of yourself and p*** off”, fans went into meltdown.

To see the nation’s top 25 TV moments of 2019, visit the SCS website here.

In Brief

Ollie Williams quit reality show Love Island, ITV confirmed on Tuesday (January 14th).  Having only been on the programme two-and-a-half-days. He said it was down to feelings he still held for someone ‘back home’. However he had been the subject to a petition to get him off the show when photographs of him posing with dead wildlife he’d shot surfaced online.

Ian ‘H’ Watkins has hit back at abuse over his Dancing on Ice partnership with pro-dance-skater Matt Evers. Ofcom received sixteen complains when the show debuted the male pairing earlier this month, with ‘H’ also noting he’d had hurtful messages too.

‘When people call you hideous names and say things like, It’s not natural’, or, ‘You’re a f****t’, all of those awful names, for me, are a dagger in my heart… I think the world has progressed and changed so much, but those kinds of people still exist…those bigots will breed more bigots and we’re bigger and better than that now, as a society. There’s still a small minority that breeds negativity and it’s hideous.’

The enthralling, powerful BBC drama, The Trial of Christine Keeler penned by award-winning screenwriter Amanda Coe, arrives on DVD and digital from Acorn Media International on 27th January 2019.

The story of the Profumo Affair has been told many times before…on the big screen, in books galore, on stage and even in song and The Trial of Christine Keeler takes a look at the real people behind the headlines. The drama flips the focus to the women involved and brings the story bang up to date for the #MeToo era. It stars a stellar cast including Sophie Cookson, Ellie Bamber, James Norton, Emilia Fox and Ben Miles.

Sticking with releases those ruthless romans, drugged-up Druids and capricious Celts can be enjoyed once more in Britannia. Olivier award-winning playwright Jez Butterworth penned this rich historical series that blended fact and fantasy to create a fever-dream drama.

Recently back on screens for its second series on Sky Atlantic, Britannia Series II comes to DVD and digital from Acorn Media International on the 10th February 2020 alongside a Series I & II Box Set.

Despite being sacked from Emmerdale, actor Asan N’jie has secured a new role in upcoming BBC One crime thriller Bloodlands. News outlet Digital Spy noted he’ll be starring alongside James Nesbitt in the police drama set in Northern Ireland.

Asan was dropped from the ITV Yorkshire soap in September 2019 after video footage surfaced showing him involved in a scuffle at the TV Choice Awards with Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas.

Coronation Street actress Julia Goulding was forced, The Sun reported, to deny having lip fillers after ITV viewers spotted her fuller lips in an episode broadcast on January 15th. The performer, who plays Shona in the saga, put her lip-bloat – that would give Ivy Brennan (the late fabulous Lynn Perrie) a run for a trout-pout – down to having a cold sore.

Lynn Perrie was sacked by Granada Television for having a lip-job in 1994. The actress has played opinionated Ivy since 1971. Lynn sadly never really recovered from her lip saga, with limited television appearances and work thereafter. She died in 2006 aged 74.


GMB Weather goes back three decades

Back in the late 1980s Good Morning Britain was the UK’s most popular breakfast show. Coming from the studios of TV-am in Camden, North London, the show was headed by the late Mike Morris and the ever-present in the ITV morning schedules Lorraine Kelly. However when Wincey Willis departed for other TV work a newcomer was launched onto the weather map in the form of Ulrika Jonsson.

Things have changed since those halcyon days of TV-am’s GMB. The show is now broadcast from the BBC’s former HQ, Television Centre, in West London and is hosted by Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid, while the ratings are second to BBC One’s Breakfast.

Still a touch of nostalgia never does any harm and Ulrika Jonsson returned to Good Morning Britain on the 15th January for a chat and while at the studios couldn’t resist a chance to present the weather for the first time since her debut 30 years ago.

The 52-year-old Swedish TV presenter began her career broadcasting the weather 1989 when, according to the former model, the show still used stick-on clouds and the weather map was not graphics but a succession of boards that rotated with different forecasts on.


Beeb to boost job roles outside of London

Chairman of the corporation Lord Tony Hall has announced that there will be a new technology hub located in Newcastle-upon-Tyne,. The BBC will also be relocating around 150 jobs to Bristol.

The Beeb in the North West will be the major base for BBC Sounds with staff based in the Salford quays centre with BBC News noting that BBC Sounds will be home to more digital posts and much more journalism. The move around the regions follows that of other public service broadcaster Channel 4; who have opened creative hubs outside of the capital including centres in Glasgow and Leeds.

Sky have also shown an interest in local television news with mooting’s they may be interested in the regional TV market. The network going in the opposite direction is ITV, an area-by-area independent regional service launched in 1955, that mixed a large amount of local content programming with popular networked slots. It has since the late 1990s merged into a single ITV across England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

The BBC’s plans appear to want to reflect the success of ITV in its regional days when talent could be sourced via local operations. Lord Hall said that moving job roles outside of London would be a chance to “promote inclusion” and “diversity of thinking”. The Beeb note that 19,000 of their workforce is currently based outside of the capital.

“Our centres have become magnets for ideas and talent, new jobs and investment… That’s really good news. But I know we can go further. We can do so much more for this country – and we’re going to – starting this year.” – Lord Hall speaking to BBC staff

The ‘Pink Palace’, the BBC’s studio centre in Newcastle Upon Tyne.


Vale Derek Fowlds

Goodbye Mr Derek, Basil Brush has paid tribute to his telly co-star Derek Fowlds who passed away aged 82. Derek was also well known for his long-running role in Yorkshire Television’s 1960s set police drama Heartbeat and BBC One political comedy Yes, Minister. The actor died at Royal United Hospital in Bath this morning (17th January), after having suffered with pneumonia.

From the late 1960s into the 1970s Derek became a part of many children’s lives as the co-star of The Basil Brush Show, alongside the charming toothy-fox. Basil took to social media to pay tribute to Fowlds noting ‘I don’t know what to say, I’m so desperately sad. Such times we had, rest in peace Mr Derek, my best friend forever.’

In the 1980s Derek became a lead actor alongside Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington in Beeb political satire Yes, Minister from 1980 to 1984, and in later Yes, Prime Minister from 1986 to 1988. He then went on to spend eighteen years with Yorkshire Television’s dales based drama Heartbeat from 1992 until 2010.


The fickle world of CelebAbility

She was the darling of TV, wanted by everyone. But the world of showbiz can be cruel and fame can be fleeting. Although sadly these days the limited talents of many ‘reality stars’ such as Gemma Collins seems to linger far longer than the ability.

A little unfair when you think that Scarlett Moffatt, who does have a flair for television, has been dropped from two ITV programmes. First it was announced that she wouldn’t be back for Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and now its been revealed she’s been ditched from ITV2’s CelebAbility.

Bosses have lured in Stacey Solomon to replace the  one time Gogglebox regular. Previously Moffatt quit as a co-host on ITV2’s I’m A Celeb Extra Camp, citing that she didn’t want to fly out to Australia in order to spend more time with her partner. She was replaced on that show, which has now also been reportedly axed, by actress Emily Atack.


Dharshini David appointed Global Trade Correspondent for BBC News

This newly created role will enhance the BBC’s coverage of trade, the Beeb note, at a time when it is making headlines every day. From the changing world order to Brexit and the environment, trade is a story which is having a major impact on people’s lives.

As Global Trade Correspondent, Dharshini will join the dots, explaining what is happening and why it is happening. She will provide a global perspective for international and domestic audiences, contributing to the corporation’s output across television, radio and online.

Dharshini is familiar to BBC News audiences, presenting business news for Radio 4’s Today programme and covering economics for all outlets.

“I am thrilled and privileged to be taking on this hugely important role at the BBC at a crucial time. International trade can be dismissed as dry and complex but globalisation has shaped all our fortunes – for better or worse – in recent years. The new decade is going to be defined by radical changes in trading relationships. I’m looking forward to working with my BBC colleagues to strip away the spin and speculation, to explain to our audiences what lies in store – and exactly what this means for them.” – Dharshini David


Bring out the Drama

The BBC have announced a six-part thriller, Vigil. The programme will star Suranne Jones, Rose Leslie and Shaun Evans to name just three and brings to screen events following a mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board a Trident nuclear submarine. These events bring the police into conflict with the Navy and British security services. DCI Amy Silva (Jones) leads an investigation on land and at sea into a conspiracy that threatens the very heart of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

BritBox also announced a drama set in 1960s rural England. The Sister Boniface Mysteries will be a series of light-hearted murder mysteries investigated by Sister Boniface, Bride of Christ, vintner, and Crime Scene Investigator.

While critically acclaimed Sky original drama Britannia has been recommissioned for a third series on Sky Atlantic. Starring David Morrissey, Mackenzie Crook, Annabel Scholey and Eleanor Worthington-Cox Britannia brings a moment of our history to life like never seen before on TV; it’s a genre-bending, psychedelic tale of clashing faith systems, torn apart families, mystic men, powerful women, all told with humour, heart and violence.

And filming commenced on the fourth series of award-winning ITV drama, Unforgotten starring Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar. The fourth series opens with the discovery of a dismembered body in a scrap metal yard, which the team believe has been stored in a domestic freezer for thirty years. A unique Millwall Football Club tattoo leads to the victim being identified as Matthew Walsh, a young man in his mid-twenties who went missing in March 1990.


Cold Shoulder over Cold Feet’s lack of ‘fair’ pay?

A tabloid reported this week that some of the cast of Cold Feet are giving ITV the cold shoulder over pay. The drama’s creator Mike Bullen is noted as saying the series will be ‘on a break’ while some of the performers of the series ‘row’ over the amount they’re paid.

The Mirror state that Fay Ripley had raised issues with ITV bosses a year ago about wages and how they vary between her and co-stars Hermione Norris, James Nesbitt, Robert Bathurst and John Thomson. The ninth series is airing on ITV, and Bullen has suggested there won’t be a tenth any time soon, although he hopes there might be a one-off special in the short-term.

Cold Feet returned to ITV in 2016 after a thirteen year absence.

“Pay is measured on very odd things that are to do with ‘bankability’. It’s not a case of the boys being paid more than the girls, as a whole unit, but we are not all paid the same.” – Fay Ripley quoted by The Mirror


Quote of the Week

Great British Bake Off 2018 contestant, Karen Wright, declared the show open with a “showstopper” of a caravan cake, just as news of Sandi Toksvig’s departure from the Channel 4 tent-based cook-fest was announced.

“After just hearing the news that Sandi Toksvig has made the decision to leave the Bake Off, I would like to wish her all the best for the future and give her the advice that I took when I left the Bake Off, go away in a caravan for five weeks.” –  Karen Wright


Legendary ATV presenter Reg Harcourt dies aged 88

It was sad news for Midland ITV viewers this week with the announcement reporter and presenter Reg Harcourt had died aged 88. He was with ATV in the Midlands from 1964 filing reports for programmes including ATV News, ATV Today, ATV Tonight and Central News. He also presented and reported for political series Left, Right and Centre for ATV and then Central Lobby in the 80s and 90s. He became well known as an incisive political interviewer and later political editor.

Former ATV and Central TV colleague Bob Warman, who still anchors the ITV News Central programme from Birmingham, paid tribute to Reg:

“Some of our older viewers will remember the veteran broadcaster Reg Harcourt… Reg’s television career began with the launch of ATV Today in 1964 which broadcast across the whole of the Midlands region. As the first local news reporter he covered the events of the day for the regional half hour slot which achieved daily audiences of around three million. A popular figure amongst his colleagues, he’ll be remembered as one of the pillars of regional television.” – Bob Warman speaking on ITV News Central

Reg Harcourt, in a Central TV promo for political programme Central Lobby.


The views in this opinion piece is those of Mike Watkins and are not endorsed by ATV Today.

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