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Steven Moffat gets just what the Doctor ordered for Christmas

1 hour ago

Doctor Who showrunner reveals he was given a Dalek last year as a present from his wife

Most of us take our work home with us now and again. But spare a thought for Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat, who simply can’t escape his BBC show – even if he turns the telly off.

Not only does the sci-fi showrunner have to put up with wall-to-wall Who trailers in the lead-up to the traditional Christmas special, he even gets Doctor-themed presents from his family.

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- Monkey

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The Apprentice review – a breath of fresh air from Claude the cheesegrater

2 hours ago

It’s the interview round where CVs and business plans are torn apart mercilessly by that marvellous bully Claude Littner

I always enjoy this one, the interview episode of The Apprentice (BBC1). And it’s taking place in the clouds, up the Leadenhall Building, Aka the Cheesegrater. So Bianca, Daniel, Roisin, Mark and Solomon take it in turn to go up in the lift to the top, in order to be grated by Claude Littner. Grated, melted, swallowed, then spat out on the pavement outside. Merry Christmas.

There are other interviewers. Mike Soutar is a publishing heavyweight, we’re told, with a gift for reading between the lines. And the lies. He finds out Daniel wasn’t named salesperson of the year for the company he worked for in 2009. Seems he has self-awarded since, for the benefit of his CV, though he doesn’t see any deceit. “To be honest, »

- Sam Wollaston

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Thursday’s best TV

2 hours ago

A feature-length finale for The Fall, the last of Babylon and Kiefer Sutherland is a bumbling hitman in Playhouse Presents: Marked. Plus: Panorama delves into Apple’s Broken Promises, more castles are invaded in Britain’s Fortified History, and arrows are flying at the World Darts Championship

Live coverage of the opening night of the 2014 tournament from Alexandra Palace in London, about which Sky is so excited this year that Sky Sports 3 has been renamed Sky Sports Darts for the duration. As is traditional, Phil Taylor starts favourite for what would be, should he land it, an astonishing 17th world title. Tonight’s matches include reigning champion Michael van Gerwen against Joe Cullen, and triple world champ John Part against world youth champion Keegan Brown. Andrew Mueller

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- Andrew Mueller, Ben Beaumont-Thomas, John Robinson, Hannah J Davies, Ali Catterall and Ben Arnold

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The Apprentice 2014: episode 11 live blog – as it happened

11 hours ago

It was scary interview time for the final five when all those embellishments on their CVs would be ruthlessly exposed as utter lies by Claude and his rottweiler mates

10.01pm GMT

Did you enjoy that? I’ll pop down into the comments now to find out. I did. But I can’t feel my hands. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that I hallucinated the whole liveblog and just “thought” all of this without actually typing it. If this turns out to be the case, sorry!

See you here on Sunday for one final dose of this absolute lunacy. Everyone bring in boardgames. It’s the end of term!

9.59pm GMT

Who is going to be Alan’s business partner? Tights or blah blah something skyscraper spreadsheet machiato? Who?

9.59pm GMT

So Mark and Bianca are through. They will be, in just a few days time, »

- Julia Raeside

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YouTube's next big challenger could be Vessel's 'early access' videos

14 hours ago

Us startup says YouTubers and media companies will be able to earn ‘20x’ more revenues from its online subscription service

Web video startup Vessel has revealed its plans to take on YouTube in 2015, including striking “early access” exclusivity deals with some of the latter company’s popular channels.

Vessel will launch early in 2015 as a two-tier service: a free ad-supported version, and a $2.99-a-month subscription tier promising fewer ads and “early access to the web’s best short-form videos”.

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- Stuart Dredge

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The Great British Bake Off scandal: ‘It makes good TV if there’s conflict’

14 hours ago

Iain Watters chucked his soggy baked alaska and caused a national furore. So, is he Ok now

• August 2014: Great British Bake Off’s Iain Watters loses his cool over baked alaska

“I never, ever thought there would be that much interest in someone throwing something in a bin.” So says Iain Watters of bingate, the summer’s most talked about cultural moment: when some guy from The Great British Bake Off chucked his baked alaska in the rubbish, claiming sabotage by rival contestant Diana Beard.

Interest? Try furore. After the show aired, Justice For Iain groups sprang up on Facebook, 800 people complained to Ofcom, the press ran stories. Watters even appeared on Newsnight.

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- Gwilym Mumford

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Adult Swim unveils new mind-bending infomercial on prescription medicine

16 hours ago

The Cartoon Network’s late-night strand takes aim at drug companies via a warning that starts with a chilled-out bear – then takes a dark, graphic turn

It feels like just yesterday we were being told to stop singing Too Many Cooks or else (mostly because it was yesterday and it’s still stuck in our heads). But fortunately, Adult Swim has offered a reprieve in the form of another infomercial this week – one that will leave you nothing short of disturbed in a newer, bleaker sense of the word.

To start, Unedited Footage of a Bear delivers exactly what it promises: a large, wet, chilled-out bear – until it breaks for a decongestant commercial 30 seconds in. Even that seems standard until we learn that “Claridryl” causes “severe reactions”. Sure. But I don’t think any of us really predicted just how severe they’d be. Be warned: it gets pretty graphic, »

- Anne T Donahue

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The Great British Bake Off rises to top of most-watched TV of 2014 so far

17 hours ago

BBC1 cooking show set to be crowned top entertainment show of the year, beaten only by England’s defeat to Uruguay in summer World Cup

The Great British Bake Off is on course to be the most popular UK entertainment show of 2014, after concluding its hugely successful transfer to BBC1 with an audience of 13.5 million for October’s final.

Only ITV’s coverage of England’s calamitous defeat at the hands of Uruguay in the football World Cup in June scored more viewers this year. An average audience of 13.9 million viewers tuned in to see Luis Suárez effectively scupper England’s chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the tournament in Brazil.

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- Tara Conlan

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Stephen Collins confesses: 'I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret'

17 hours ago

Actor admits to People magazine he had inappropriate sexual contact with three underage girls decades ago and has been ‘working to atone for it ever since’

Actor Stephen Collins, who played the family pastor in the television series 7th Heaven, has admitted to having inappropriate sexual contact with three underage girls decades ago, People magazine reported on Wednesday.

“Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since,” Collins, 67, said in a statement released to the magazine.

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- Reuters in New York

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A Curb Your Enthusiasm finale? That'd be pretty, pretty good

18 hours ago

Larry David says that the chances of a further series are ‘six to one against’. Should he return to the show, or leave it hanging?

It took me about two episodes to “get” Curb.

Weird steadycam shots of two men walking the halls of TV networks discussing their penchant for nodding at black people. As someone who’d never watched a second of Seinfeld it was completely foreign. But as the constant taboo-breaking mounted up and Susie’s abusive tirades grew ever more caustic it became an unmissable show. There have been times over the eight series when my interest has waned – everything up to season six is flawless, but seven and eight were a bit too self-referential for me – yet the prospect of a final season is something most fans would savour.

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- Lanre Bakare

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The Flash/Arrow crossover isn’t just fan service – it’s tradition

21 hours ago

This week fans are being treated to an honest-to-goodness TV superhero team-up, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Green Hornet met Batman in 1967

It’s the superhero equivalent of a Champions League home-and-away tie. In Tuesday’s episode of The Flash, scowling, vengeful bowman Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) turned up in Central City looking to turn a bad guy into a pin cushion. In Thursday’s episode of Arrow, scarlet speedster Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) heads over to Starling City to help Olly run down a villain who throws lethal boomerangs. It’s a genuine, honest-to-goodness superhero TV team-up, and it’s about time.

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- Graeme Virtue

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Best TV of 2014: No 5 – The Trip to Italy

23 hours ago

Was the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon vehicle a travelogue, a comedy, a food show, scripted reality, or something else entirely? Or was it simply as good as television gets?

See the full countdown so farNominate your pick in our form at the bottom of the article

A convertible Mini doesn’t have a massive amount of legroom in the back. I don’t care – I would have sacrificed comfort for a ride around Italy with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, singing along to Alanis Morissette, in the voice of Roger Moore; playing Byron and Shelley, possibly having a romantic liaison, with a younger lady; certainly having lunch, at lovely restaurants, while discussing eating Mo Farah’s legs (over Stephen Hawking’s) after an Andean plane crash; or just bickering and bantering about our mid-life crises. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be on a TV show so much (well, »

- Sam Wollaston

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Black Mirror: White Christmas – review: the funny, freaky, tragic near-future

16 December 2014 11:00 PM, PST

Black Mirror isn’t really sci-fi, it’s more like now after a couple of software updates – and it’s quite terrifying

I got blocked once, by @Lord_Sugar as it happens. I’m not sure why, maybe he saw me as a threat, in business. It wasn’t actually too upsetting, but then I wasn’t in a relationship with him – hardly knew him at all, to be honest. And he only blocked me on Twitter, not in real life, as people can do here sometime in the future, in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: White Christmas (Channel 4). So they can’t see you or hear you, nor you them: you’re both just muffled silhouettes, digital ghosts. That’s what happens to poor Joe (Rafe Spall).

It’s typical – and typically brilliant – Black Mirror. Brooker takes something that’s already here, like blocking, and pushes it forward in time. »

- Sam Wollaston

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Wednesday’s best TV

16 December 2014 10:00 PM, PST

The final five of The Apprentices get grilled, Ruth Peter and Tom reveal the last Secrets Of The Castle and Jonathan Ross hosts The British Comedy Awards 2014. Plus: a look at why drivers Hit And Run, the end of Alan Sorkin’s The Newsroom and the big match – can Bournemouth knock out Liverpool?

A junior take on the fly-on-the-wall school doc trend popularised by the Educating … franchise, this series has followed new pupils at a Stockton-on-Tees secondary school over the course of 15 episodes. While some have had a smooth transition from primary school, others have struggled to adjust, or required support for disabilities such as dyspraxia and Adhd. In this final instalment, there’s an end-of-term talent show and a party for the increasingly independent year sevens. Hannah J Davies

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- Hannah J Davies, Gwilym Mumford, Mark Jones, Jonathan Wright, Bim Adewunmi, Ali Catterall and David Stubbs

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Judge censures Channel 4 News over ‘misleading’ report on child abuser’s conviction

16 December 2014 9:22 AM, PST

Practice of police prerecording media interviews described as ‘repugnant’ after prematurely launched ITN story nearly caused collapse of Simon Harris trial

British former teacher convicted of abusing Kenyan boys

A costly eight-week trial of one of Britain’s most prolific child abusers nearly collapsed at the 11th hour after Channel 4 News published “misleading and inaccurate” material about the story, it can be revealed.

Simon Harris was found guilty at Birmingham crown court on Tuesday of a host of sex offences against vulnerable young Kenyan street boys.

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- Press Association

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Ascension: space opera heads for turbulence

16 December 2014 7:21 AM, PST

SyFy’s new miniseries isn’t as smart or pacy as Battlestar Galactica, but there’s a great plot twist and, let’s face it, there isn’t much else on TV right now

What’s the name of the show? Ascension

When does it premiere? It started on Monday on SyFy and airs its final two parts on Tuesday and Wednesday at 9pm Est.

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- Brian Moylan

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Cucumber, Banana, Tofu trail is nothing if not ballsy | Media Monkey

16 December 2014 7:07 AM, PST

The trail for Russell T Davies’ cross-platform trilogy Cucumber, Banana, Tofu on Channel 4 is a cornucopia of phallic imagery, all delivered in the vivid greens of polished cucumbers, bright shiny yellows of bananas and semen-coloured tofu. After googling (other search engines are available) “tofu in a sexual context,” to discover it mostly refers to the use of strap-on phalluses for “non-meat eaters” in Mandarin, Monkey sat back to enjoy the Nsfw trail ironically at work, for “research” purposes, naturally.

There are other fruits (black grapes anyone?) and nuts (walnuts among them), the latter always being in pairs, and a tilt at “from little acorns grow” to try to ensure that Channel 4’s long-stated desire to “outrage” the Daily Mail will prove more than just a (pink) pipe dream. Certainly Davies’ new creations will be full of the writer’s spunk. Sorry, bravery.

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- Monkey

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Best TV of 2014: No 6 – Grayson Perry: Who Are You?

16 December 2014 2:13 AM, PST

It’s been an excellent year for drama, but one documentary truly stood out, as the potter met a wide variety of people from all over Britain and turned them into art

See the full countdown so farNominate your pick in our form at the bottom of the article

Among all the excellent drama and comedy this year, one documentary series really stood out. In Grayson Perry: Who Are You?, Britain’s most agreeable potter travelled around the country discussing identity with people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds before interpreting his chosen subjects as works of art for display in the National Portrait Gallery. From disgraced MP Chris Huhne to TV presenter Rylan Clark to a group of Belfast Loyalists, via a short stay with some members of the Jesus Army, he studied them like an anthropologist, but also seemed to come to each with a fully open mind. »

- Julia Raeside

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The Missing finale: who do you think did it?

16 December 2014 1:42 AM, PST

As the eight-part thriller reaches its conclusion, we run down the list of prime suspects in Olly’s disappearance. Let us know your theories in the comments

With our collective breath held, on Tuesday viewers will find out who abducted Olly Hughes in the finale of The Missing. The eight-part drama has been brilliantly executed and tremendously spooky. In fact, ‘Ian Garrett’ is now is now a strong contender for next year’s Halloween costume.

The penultimate episode came to a head with the discovery of that mysterious gold coin. But the big question still to be answered is – whodunnit? Here are the prime suspects.

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- Priya Elan

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Take That gag voted as the year's best new cracker joke

16 December 2014 1:16 AM, PST

In a poll by the TV channel Gold, topical gags from Twitter users were rated against each other – featuring everything from Ukip to Game of Thrones and Luis Suárez. Here’s the list – can you do any better?

The 10 best alternative Christmas cracker jokes, from Tim Vine, Bridget Christie, Milton Jones and more

Following last year’s gag about Miley Cyrus enjoying “twerky” in her Christmas dinner, the TV channel Gold has once again asked the British public for its best new Christmas cracker jokes – and this year’s winning entry riffs on Jason Orange’s departure from Take That. Prepare for groans:

What will be missing from Take That’s Christmas stocking this year? An Orange.

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- Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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