Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Deal In Abstracts

Let's have a Sunday update for a change. And we start with a bit of good news - in fact, some of the best and most welcome Top Telly News that Keith Telly Topping has had the pleasure to bring you, dear blog readers, in ages. The BBC have - rather unexpectedly - commissioned a sixth season of their cult sitcom Ideal. The show's creator, and co-star, Graham Duff is currently in the process of writing the new eight-part series which will be filmed later in the year and episodes are likely to premier on BBC3 in the spring of 2010 with a BBC2 repeat to follow. Johnny Vegas returns in the central role as the scruffy-but-vulnerable Moz, who was last seen about to go on the run from the police. 'Series six promises to take the show into dark and hilarious new territory, with its unique combination of humour, menace and the unexpected,' according to the BBC's press release. And, for once, that's likely to be a genuine and accurate description of the series rather than some crass media hype written by someone who's never even seen an episode. One of British TV's best kept secrets, Ideal is, if you've never seen it before, a beautifully constructed absurdist sitcom about a small-time dope dealer (Vegas) living on a scummy Manchester estate. More precisely, it's about the parade of weirdos, losers, psychopathic murderers and other detritus of society who use his flat as a kind of local community centre. Their number includes bent copper PC (Tom Goodman-Hill), dim-witted teenage child-minder Jenny (the quite astonishing Sinead Matthews), camp-as-Butlins Brian (Duff himself), useless boastful DJ Kuldip (Ronny Jhutti), third division indie band Silicon Valets, neighbourhood necrophiliac Judith (Joanna Neary) and the constantly 'on probation' career petty criminal Colin (Ben Crompton). There's also the series' most iconic and memorable character, the silent hitman-with-a-permenant-mask Cartoon Head (David Sant), Moz's mental 'old skool raver' brother Troy (Tony Burgess) who lives in the airing cupboard and their stepfather, Keith (Mick Miller), sinister gangland boss Stemroach (David Bradley), boring allotment owner Derrick (my old radio oppo and occasional writing partner Alfie Joey) and Moz's long-suffering, if rather less-than-faithful, Welsh girlfriend Nikki (Nicola Reynolds). Add in the screwdriver-wielding local street thug Psycho Paul (Ryan Pope) - think Liam Gallagher if Oasis had never got out of Burnage! - two members of a Japanese girly pop band, a smattering of Triad gangsters, a lunatic born-again Christian who believes a man he once almost drowned in a water tank is the Messiah and a next door neighbour who constantly dresses in a ski mask and used to be a vicar and you've got the full galley of life's oddities that populate the Ideal universe. It's a bewillderingly funny show dealing with some very dark subject matter but often in a surreally abstract fashion. Ideal is challenging, morally ambiguous, deliciously un-selfconscious and has a core of really rather profound humanity at its centre that can be both touching and, occasionally, heart-warming. Kind of like Shameless but with far better jokes. I'm really pleased that it's going to be back on our screens.

The ONE Show's Hardeep Singh Kohli has been dropped by the early evening magazine show following a complaint of inappropriate behaviour from a female colleague, the BBC has confirmed. Comedian and writer Kohli will take six months away from the show. The BBC said producers received an informal complaint from a production colleague several months ago. Kohli has since 'apologised unreservedly.' A BBC spokesperson said the unnamed woman had 'acknowledged that ONE Show management took the issue extremely seriously. He was reprimanded and immediately apologised. He agreed to take some time away from the show to reflect on his behaviour.' Glaswegian Kohli, who played a roving reporter role for the show, said in a statement: 'Nobody has accused me of sexual harassment. I recognise I overstepped the mark.'

Former BBC broadcaster and presenter Donald MacCormick has died of a heart attack, aged seventy. The Scot anchored current affairs show Newsnight throughout the 1980s along with John Tusa and Peter Snow. He also worked on several other BBC flagship programmes including Question Time, The Money Programme, Tonight, Newsweek and BBC World. Mr Tusa said that his formwer colleague was 'professional, generous and selfless' and provided 'a perfect foil to both Peter and me.'

Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson has claimed that ITV is blocking his plans to resurrect the show. The eighty-year-old producer is believed to have been in negotiations with the broadcaster, which owns the rights to the programme, for more than three years - but none of the talks have come to fruition. 'It's madness. Everyone loves Thunderbirds - the bloody audience is out there waiting,' Anderson told the Daily Mail. 'What the hell is the matter with these people that they won't let me make it? It's beyond my understanding. Is it ageism? I even said I'd raise the money myself, for God's sake. I don't want you to think I'm over-emotional, but being able to remake Thunderbirds is the most important thing in my life.' Perhaps there were strings attached. Sorry. Anderson continued: 'I'd keep the same characters, the same principles - good overcoming evil - but new machines, new places of concealment, new ways of rescuing people and it'd all be computer-generated. Just imagine. It'd be so nice if the team could actually walk and pick things up and open and close their mouths properly.' Anderson also revealed that he was shocked by the quality of the 2004 movie remake, describing it as 'utter crap!'

Hugo Speer has encouraged ITV to keep Taggart on the air following rumours that it is facing the axe. The actor, who recently filmed a guest appearance on the programme, claimed that the long-running drama must not become another casualty of the broadcaster's budget cuts. Speaking to the Daily Record, Speer commented: 'I really hope they don't bring it to an end. I did Heartbeat recently, and that's been going for ages. That's been cut now too. Everything is being cut back, all these big old long-running series are falling away. I would hope that Taggart isn't one of them. As with all decent, good quality drama like Taggart, if you have the formula in place, it helps to keep this business ticking over. I remember watching Taggart when I was a kid in the days when Mark McManus was doing it. It's always been really high quality.' So, it's obviously all your fault, Hugo. For God sake, don't go near any more shows and get them cancelled.


IAmATVJunkie said...

Keith, not that well kept a secret these days, IFC on US cable and satellite are running season one currently.

Sitcom? I dunno. I don't really laugh but I'm oddly compelled to watch each episode.

I can't quite figure out what to make of it, though I will say that it's so far taught me a decent amount of UK street drugs slang.

I had no idea what Leb was, for instance.

I guess one always hopes their dealer in Nancy Botwin. In reality, it's Moz.

Keith Telly Topping said...

It's still pretty obscure though, even in the UK! Consigned to minority channels and graveyard slots. But it's got a dedicated - genuine cult - following, mainly through the DVDs. It's a "sitcom" I guess only in so much as it's half-hour format, studio based, has jokes in it (dark jokes, admittedly) and features lots of comedians. Actually, I was over at Alfie's gaff yesterday doing some writing on a project we're vaguely working on at the moment and he let me borrow a couple of Graham Duff's shooting scripts. My God, they're longer than some drama script I've seen! The detail is astonishing.

Robin Brown said...

I'm a bit fan of Ideal, despite not actually liking quite large chunks of it. I think quite a lot of falls flat, and a lot of the supposedly 'dark' stuff, but when it's on song it's the funniest thing on TV.

Jonny Vegas is always watchable, and underrated as a comic actor, and many of the characters are beautifully observed.

PC singing Police and Thieves is a moment of genuine brilliance.