Monday, June 22, 2009

F**kin' 'Ell, It's Abi Titmuss!

And, so we begin the latest batch of Top Telly News, dear blog reader, with an obscure pop-culture reference from the 1980s indie-scene. What a surprise. Abi Titmuss has claimed that playing a nurse (presumably, a 'naughty' one) on Holby City would be her 'dream role.' The former nurse, turned glamour model, who is now supposed to be giving acting a try, admitted that she had discussed appearing in such a show when she worked at the Royal Brompton Hospital. 'The one thing I would love to do is play a nurse,' she told the website Digital Spy during an in-depth and hard-hitting interview. One in which Abi aired her thoughtful views of all manner of subjects from the terrible situation in the Middle East, to the tragedy of teenage illiteracy and the environmental devastation caused, on a daily basis, by Chris Moyles. Or, you know, not. 'When I was working on the wards, the other nurses would say, "Abi, we'll know you've made it when you play a nurse." So something like Holby City or Casualty would be brilliant,' she noted. However, the Celebrity Love Island contestant and reality TV regular also admitted that she has had trouble finding much thespian work which does not require her to appear with her kit off. How very curious. Is anyone able to come up with some reasons for such an oddity?

The BBC's comedy supremo, Lucy Lumsden, is leaving the corporation after eleven years to join Sky. This brings to an end Lumsden's career at the BBC, latterly as Controller of Comedy Commissioning - a post that she has held since 2005. Before taking her most recent role, Lumsden worked in the BBC's independent comedy team on shows such as Bedtime and Human Remains. Lucy began her career in television in 1992 on The Comic Strip, and has also worked in the area of both drama serials and documentaries. Lumsden's move to Sky follows criticism of the BBC's recent track record of launching bold, new, mainstream comedy on its terrestrial channels - particularly BBC1 which is seen as over-reliant on Last Of The Summer Wine and, to a lesser extent, My Family. The move will see her reunited with Stuart Murphy, Sky's Director of Programming and a former controller of BBC3 with whom she commissioned the award-winning Gavin and Stacey.

As the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 cut ­budgets and programmes, there is one corner of British television where times have never been better: satellite broadcaster Sky. The UK's biggest pay TV provider, buoyed by subscriptions that are still rising despite the economic downturn, is in a bullish mood, spending money while competitors retrench, as exemplified by its splashy 1980s-style ­advertising for the drama adaptation of Martina Cole's The Take. Sky's snaring of Lucy Lumsden (see above) and its move into a genre which is traditionally expensive and risky, follows bids by Stuart Murphy for established hits and talent from terrestrial rivals. While ITV's Harry Hill and the final series of Gavin and Stacey will stay put despite Sky's overtures, Sky did manage to secure the cult US medical drama House, starring Hugh Laurie, from Five paying an estimated £500,000 an episode. Sky's burgeoning ambitions contrast with the decline of its competitors. Setanta, the pay-TV broadcaster that has poured hundreds of millions into sport over the last three years, was left close to collapse last night after the ­Premier League terminated its £392m contract to show live matches.

Eamonn Holmes and his fiancée, Ruth Langsford, are reported to be 'worried' that they could be dropped from This Morning. The couple, who got engaged in March, are thought to be deeply concerned about their future on the ITV daytime show after bosses failed to assure them that they would definitely be returning. 'They love presenting the show and have great chemistry on air,' one production insider told the Sun. 'But Eamonn, in particular, is expensive and he is worried they can no longer afford him.' Oh dear. How very sad. Never mind.

Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan has vowed to stay with the broadcaster for at least another two years. Duncan has shot down industry rumours that the publication of the government's Digital Britain report last week would pave the way for his departure, in an interview with the Observer. With Lord Carter rejecting a merger of C4 and Five and calling on C4 and BBC Worldwide to firm up their joint venture plans – a move backed by both the Tories and Liberal Democrats according to Duncan – he said he was now focusing on what his organisation would look like in the future. 'Now is the moment to stop talking about a [funding] gap,' he said. 'My job is to think about two or three years from now, or five years from now.'

Michael Schumacher has been revealed in his secret identity as The Stig on Top Gear. Or not, as the case may be. The former Formula1 world champion removed the trademark white helmet and visor during an interview with show host Jeremy Clarkson on last night's opening episode of the popular motoring show's thirteenth series after completing a record-breaking lap on the production's test track in Dunsfold Park, Surrey. It has been suggested that The Stig is played by at least four professional drivers (including another former F1 world champion Damon Hill), with some commentators claiming that up to eight people have taken on the role at various times. A Top Gear spokesman confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that Schumacher had driven the latest lap in a one million pound Ferrari FSX but added that the identity of The Stig at other times would remain 'a mystery.' I have only one question to ask in regard to this matter. Why the long face, Michael?

BBC future media controller Anthony Rose was honoured with the Individual Achievement Award for his 'ground-breaking' work on the BBC iPlayer at this week's Broadcast's Digital Awards. Rose, formerly chief technology officer at Kazaa, joined the BBC in 2007 and was praised by judges as being the man who 'made the iPlayer work.'

Alan Titchmarsh is to front a forthcoming ITV series on the seasons and climate change. Produced by Tiger Aspect, The Seasons will look at seasonal change in the modern word and how the weather affects us all. The four-part natural history series aims to show how changes in the global jet stream and oceans affect our mood, culture and behaviours and how this influences everything from wildlife to the stock market. Rumours that The Thinking Octeganarian's Stud will get eaten by Triffids during the climax are, apparently, unfounded. Which is very sad, of course. Hey wouldn't it be, like, great if Abi Timuss married Alan Titchmash? Then she'd be Abi Titmuss-Titchmarsh. And also, it'd be totally fantastic if Kylie Minogue were to get married to the lead singer of 1980s hit band The Mighty Wah! Then she'd be Kylie Wylie.

Ex-Doctor Who companion Billie Piper and former test cricketer Peter Willey, anyone?

Nah, lissun...

BBC1 is planning an animated version of Julia Donaldson's bestselling children's book, The Gruffalo, as one of the centrepieces of its Christmas schedule. Robbie Coltrane will voice the eponymous monster, Helena Bonham-Carter is lined-up as narrator and Rob Brydon and James Corden will also loan their voices to the short film - with Corden playing the mouse at the centre of the book. It will be produced by Pinewood Studios-based indie Magic Light Pictures, with a combination of clay scenery and CGI-animated characters.

The rules were thought to be simple but, after the debacle of last year when Corpus Christi College, Oxford were thrown out of University Challenge, even though they were the best team by a street-and-a-half, the BBC has changed the regulations for the first time since the show began, on Granada, in 1962. If it was not clear before, the BBC spelled it out in its new guidelines: 'University Challenge is a competition for teams of students.' A seven-page document was sent to all twenty eight competing teams clarifies the eligibility criteria, including three definitions of what a student actually is, before filming began last week on the thirty ninth series of Britain's longest-running quiz show. The BBC said that filming will in future take place over a single academic year. That change was not made in time for the series currently in production, but will come into force next year. The tightening of the rules comes after the Observer revealed in March that Corpus Christi's Sam Kay had graduated and become a trainee accountant during the production of the programme. In the later rounds, he claimed he was still studying chemistry. But, in reality, Kay had been refused funding to study for a master's degree and did not tell producers that he had started work. Thus depriving the magnificent Gail Trimble of her rightful status as "Queen of Brains."

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