Wednesday, July 08, 2009

John Barrowman's Arse More Popular Than Some Dead Pop Star. Official.

This blogger would like to start today's update with something which is a bit off-topic to From The North's usual raison d'être. So Keith Telly Topping hopes that his TV readers will bear with him for a moment of beautiful game-related self-indulgence; it won't take very long. As some of you may be aware a footballer (or, at least, an alleged one) named Michael Owen used to play (or, at least, occasionally turned-out) for this blogger's beloved Newcastle United. Who paid him a lot of money - and I mean A LOT - reportedly one hundred and twenty thousand pounds per week over a four year period. An era during which Owen started just one in every three-and-a-half games for the club, being "injured" the rest of the time. It was pointed out, not infrequently, by some sections of Newcastle's fanbase that had Owen been one of the several racehorses which he owns, he'd've probably been shot years ago. Anyway, at the end of the season just finished, Owen's contract finally ran out and he was off, faster than he had ever moved at Newcastle. After some weeks of speculation as to where he would end up, he's now managed to get himself a move to Manchester United. Normally, this blogger wouldn't even bother to comment, save for perhaps a wry passing observation that never have a player and team deserved each other more than this. But, having read his first interview at his new club, I now feel somewhat differently. 'I probably had a poor spell up at Newcastle,' he noted, in passing, before moving on to other subjects. So, that's it is it? That's the last four years of my life summed up in nine words. That's somewhere in the region of six and a quarter million quid in basic wages justified? Not a single solitary word of apology or regret to the fifty thousand mugs who paid the vast majority of those wages on a weekly basis. Not a trace of an 'I'm sorry I helped to get you guys relegated.' Nothing. Just 'a poor spell.' It's been reported, elsewhere, that Owen is alleged to have remarked that he felt he was 'treated like a criminal,' at Newcastle for being injured so often. I'm not sure whether any of my fellow fans regard things like going missing in action every time the opposition got the slightest bit tough or, just for instance, developing a sudden groin strain on the morning of a must-win game against Fulham a week before the end of last season as 'criminal' per se. Some may regard it as downright cowardly and immoral. I couldn't possibly comment on that. Except that were, say, some klodhopping defender with, I dunno Stoke for instance, to miss-time a tackle during a game next season and break Owen's leg clean in two I would, I'm forced to admit, struggle to find it in my heart to feel much sympathy for him. And there genuinely aren't many footballers, past or present, that I could honestly say that about. The Little **** has gone to The Scum. It seems fitting, somehow. Oh, and one last thing for any Man United supporters who may happen to be reading this. Note how, within hours of arriving at his new club, Owen was suddenly briefing journalists about his hopes to soon get back into the England squad. I think you Red Devils might find - as Liverpool, Real Madrid and, particularly, Newcastle fans have previously - that, when it comes to his international career, actually playing for his club side comes a very poor second. Bye, Michael. Hope we didn't inconvenience your career too much.

Football, eh? It's a funny old game. Particularly when you're on over a hundred grand a week.

Right, back to the telly and some news that has Keith Telly Topping coming over all aflutter. That lovely, gorgeously stunning vision of minxy loveliness Hayden Panettiere will apparently become involved in a lesbian storyline on the upcoming season of Heroes, it has been widely reported in the US genre press. The actress's character - Claire Bennet - will be getting 'very close and personal' to her college roommate during the fourth season of the superhero series, the Press Association reports in a storyline that is, in no way, a very obvious and desperate attempt to claw back some of the many viewers who have deserted the (once unmissable) show of late due to its meandering dreariness. 'It's just girly fun at first,' a source told the Daily Star. Oh, I'm sure it will be. 'But it might progress into something more serious, it depends how viewers respond.' Place your bets on the outcome now, dear blog reader.

More than six million viewers watched the Michael Jackson memorial event across several channels on British television. Both BBC2 and Five cleared their early evening schedules for live coverage of the Los Angeles service, which over-ran by almost ninety minutes, while Sky Arts, Sky News and the BBC News channel also covered the event in some depth. I have to say (and I never thought I'd hear this coming from my own blog) I agree with every single word that the Sun had to say about the event. 'Like a macabre circus.' Absolutely. In terms of viewers BBC2 did best, with an average of four million between 6pm and 8.45pm, peaking at over five million for the final fifteen minutes, according to unofficial overnight figures. BBC2's coverage was the most watched programme on any channel between 8pm and 8.45pm. Five's coverage of the Jackson event drew just over a million viewers. Because of this, viewing figures for EastEnders, Emmerdale and Holby City were all substantially down on their average which meant that the second episode of Torchwood: Children of Earth was the most watched single programme of the night with 5.6 million (a 24% share). Not that you'd know it from Broadcast's ludicrously underwhelmed reportage. Talk about 'damning with faint praise.' It should also be noted, in the interests of balance, that EastEnders BBC3 repeat at 10:30 last night attracted a staggering 1.3 million viewers, clearly suggesting that a bunch of the soap's regular audience temporarily abandoned Albert Square for the mawkish going-on at the Staples Center.

So, Torchwood was the most viewed TV show of the day, who'd have bet on that happening? It was delightful, however, quite apart from the quality of the story (a kind of 'X-Files meets John Wyndham' conceit that is, in places, very scary) since the episode featured a) more than a glimpse of John Barrowman's shapely naked arse; b) television drama's first ever 'escape by fork-lift truck' and c) lots of the quite brilliant Kai Owen. What a star that bloke is. He once bought me a pint, you know? Yeah, yeah, reflected glory and all that. It was, also, a double celebration for the divine Eve Myles who, like her character, has revealed that she's pregnant. In an interview with Wales on Sunday, Eve noted that she's so far managed to dodge morning sickness but has been suffering from some unusual cravings – for mashed spuds and Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Sounds like a normal evening meal in this house. Eve and her partner, actor Bradley Freegard, have already chosen names for a boy and a girl, but they will be keeping them under wraps. Keith Telly Topping wishes to extend his and all From The North readers' very best wishes to the couple at this happy time.

Meanwhile, David Tennant and Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding will join the cast of the new St Trinian's film. The pair will join Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and Gemma Arterton in the sequel to the 2007 movie, The Legend of Fritton's Gold. Tennant will play the movie's main villain, Pomfrey, in the latest instalment of the rejuvenated franchise. Harding, who made a cameo in the previous movie along with her bandmates, will play 'a cool new schoolgirl.' Keith Telly Topping likes this news greatly.

Charlie Brooker has said that The Apprentice could provide the basis of a second series of his zombie thriller Dead Set. The first series of the horror drama was set in the Big Brother house and featured Davina McCall in a cameo as a zombified version of herself. Regarding a potential return of the E4 show, Brooker told Metro: 'Zombies are just very stupid dead people. If we did a Dead Set 2 we thought we'd do one based on I'm A Celebrity but actually The Apprentice would be better because then you could have ten really ruthless, foul-mouthed people.'

Labour MP John Grogan has backed David Cameron's pledge to strip Ofcom of its policy-making role if the Tories are elected, branding the media regulator 'arrogant towards Parliament.' The backbencher, who is Labour MP for Selby, said: 'I think David Cameron is quite right about restricting Ofcom's role to technical regulation rather than policy-making. In recent years Ofcom have had far too much discretion over broadcasting policy and have displayed a rather arrogant attitude towards Parliament.' Not to mention towards programme makers who, to be honest, are of a bit more interest to the general public than a bunch of sleazy, corrupt, expenses-fiddling nobodies like the House of Commons.

BBC1's Mistresses is set for one final fling after the drama was recommissioned for a third season. The new series, which follows the romantic affairs of four friends will once again star Sarah Parish, Sharon Small, Shelley Conn and Orla Brady for a four episode run, two less than the previosu year. Speculation about the future of the show had been circulating after the second season, which started on 17 February, put in a lacklustre performance with an average audience of 4.7m, half a million down on the first run in 2008.

ITV is preparing a major overhaul of its evening schedule this month, with Coronation Street being moved from its traditional Wednesday evening slot to make way for football and The Bill. The Manchester-based soap has been broadcast on Wednesday nights for nearly fifty years since it began in 1960, but a spokesman for ITV said the move would reflect the broadcaster's contracts for the Champions League, the FA Cup and England internationals, which will see live football regularly broadcast on that evening. Under the shake-up, which takes effect on 23 July, the police drama The Bill will be launched in its new 9pm slot and Emmerdale's hour-long Tuesday night episode will be cut to thirty-minutes. Two thirty-minute Emmerdale episodes will be shown on Thursdays, one starting at 7pm and the other at 8pm. The volume of both soaps will remain the same - one hundred and eighty minutes of Emmerdale stripped across the week and one hundred and fifty minutes of Corrie. But under the changes Coronation Street's Wednesday episode will be moved to Thursday at 8.30pm. ITV has today launched a campaign faced by soap stars Michelle Keegan and Sammy Winward (see right) to direct viewers to the new Thursday night soap special. 'We're delighted that Thursday evenings on ITV will be a great showcase for soap from Weatherfield and the Woolpack,' the ITV spokesman said.

Fern Britton has again rejected reports that she has had a falling out with her soon to be ex-This Morning co-host Phillip Schofield. It was previously announced that Britton will step down from the job and she has already denied suggestions of a rift between her and Schofield. She told TV Times: 'Is it right that Phillip and I have had a row and that I'm cross I'm not getting paid as much as he is? None of that is the actual truth. The next thing will be a comparison between me and the goddess who replaces me on This Morning. But that's fine. I couldn't care less but it annoys me to be used as fodder.' Fern - pictured to the left in her notorious 'last time I saw something like that it had an apple in its mouth' pose - added: 'I want my successor to have a great time - the moment's right for someone else to have a go. But the thing is, no-one believes that you would willingly relinquish a job because in telly you only get sacked and booted out.'

And finally some news: "Scientists in Newcastle claim to have created human sperm in the laboratory in what they say is a world first." I'm not sure about that, personally. I'll bet somebody's done it before on the quiet. You know, late on a Friday night, for a dare, after a few pints of Brown Ale and over a photo of Dr Alice Roberts. Anyway...