Monday, July 20, 2009

Looks Soft, Acts Hard!

Doctor Who fans have been given their first glimpse of the costume worn by Matt Smith, the eleventh actor to play the role on TV (if we don't count Richard Hurndall). The Time Lord's new look consists of tweed jacket, bow tie, rolled up trousers and a pair of scruffy black Doc Martens. Nice threads. Filming on the first batch of series five episodes begins today in Cardiff, with the new series scheduled for boradcast in the spring of 2010. Smith is taking over from David Tennant, whose final three episodes in the role will be shown at the end of the year. 'I feel very privileged and proud to be part of this iconic show,' Matt said after arriving on set for his first day of filming. 'The scripts are brilliant. I'm excited about the future and all the brilliant adventures I get to go on as the Doctor.' The Doctor will also have a new companion - Amy Pond - played by the jaw-droppingly lovely Karen Gillan, who meets the Time Lord in episode one of the new series. There is also a significantly changed team behind the scenes, led by head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat who will be responsible for the overall creative direction of the show, as well as plot and character arcs. 'And here it is, the big moment - the new Doctor, and his new best friend,' Moffat told the press. 'And here's me, with the job I wanted since I was seven. Forty years to here! If I could go back in time and tell that little boy that one day all this would happen, he'd scream, call for his Mum and I'd be talking to you now from a prison cell in 1969. So probably best not then.' Heh! He's a canny lad, that Moffster, innee? 'Matt and Karen are going to be incredible, Doctor Who is going to come alive on Saturday nights in a whole new way - and best of all, somewhere out there, a seven-year-old is going to see them, fall in love, and start making a forty year plan' Steven concluded. Aye, I know what he means. The cosmic eternal wheel, it begins again. This show - they tried to kill it, they tried to bury it but it just keeps coming back, bigger and stronger than ever.

The Pet Shop Boys' singer Neil Tennant has criticised the BBC for no longer broadcasting the iconic music programme Top Of The Pops. The musician, who headlined Latitude Festival on Friday, said that new acts were missing out on that 'great moment' of being at the top of the charts. 'I think it was defeatist to get rid of it,' he said. The BBC said the show ended in 2006 because multimedia access meant it no longer played a central role in music. TOTP was broadcast for forty two years before the BBC announced that it was being axed. The show first appeared in 1964, from a converted church in Manchester. Tennant added he thought as part of the BBC's public broadcasting, the corporation should be keeping its 'astonishing archive' of musical footage up-to-date. '[That is] why we like the BBC, because they do things that should be done but don't always make complete commercial sense.' The singer said that a former BBC employee who now works for ITV had told him why the show had to go. 'He explained to me at great length that the public aren't interested in music unless its heavily editorialised - by which he means X Factor. If you look back over the presentation of Top Of The Pops in the nineties, cynicism crept into the way it was presented.' Former culture minister Andy Burnham has also expressed an interest in bringing it back. In the past he said the programme was a good vehicle to champion new music. Responding to Tennant's comments, a BBC spokesman said there were no plans to bring back a weekly programme. 'Top Of The Pops was decommissioned in 2006 as it became clear that the ever increasing competition from multimedia and niché musical outlets meant it no longer occupied the central role it once did,' he said. However, he added that the BBC still made occasional 'specials' and offered popular music on television through programmes like Later... with Jools Holland and Sound on BBC Switch as well as recorded video performances from radio networks.

Annette Crosbie has claimed that standards are falling in the TV industry due to an obsession with ratings. The veteran actress admitted that she is not totally satisfied with the quality of her new comedy-drama series Hope Springs, produced by BBC Scotland and currently airing on Sunday nights. Many of the programme's interior scenes were filmed in a disused whisky warehouse, leading to frequent interruptions during poor weather conditions due to its leaky roof and draughty rooms. Speaking to the Scotsman, Crosbie admitted: 'It's not the same animal that I used to know thirty years ago. It's fairly frenzied now. There isn't the preparation time or the realistic time to film, bearing in mind the bad weather. I'm not too keen on watching. I feel nothing has been done to the best standard. This isn't a criticism of BBC Scotland, this is the way it is now. Everyone is looking for the ratings figures, and standards go out the window.' Issuing a warning to aspiring actors, she added: 'My advice to young people now would be forget it! This business is all about rejection.' Again, as with the TV drama writers debate that's currently going on this appears to be, essentially, somebody who's been in the business for many years moaning that 'it isn't how it used to be.' Well no, it isn't - and such is life. Some thing change for the better, some thing change for very much the worse but whinging about the process of change in and of itself doesn't really help matters. Maybe Annette and Tony Garnett could get together and make something 'worthwhile' and 'well prepared' that doesn't 'chase ratings', because, of course, having nobody watching your show is always a sign of quality isn't it?

Anna Friel has claimed that her axed comedy-drama Pushing Daisies will pave the way for more experimentation on television. God, I hope so! The thirty three-year-old actress played Chuck Charles on the quirky show for two years before ABC cancelled the programme in November 2008. Friel told the California Chronicle: 'I was gutted for the audience and the fanbase. People were saying to me that they couldn't believe it had been dropped. But I'm so proud of it. I'm so glad I was part of something that was genuinely groundbreaking TV, and although it didn't last a lifetime it'll stay in people's memories for a long time, I think. It has definitely opened doors for other people who want to make daring TV.' She added: 'It was done over two years which makes it the longest job I've ever done. So it was sad saying goodbye to everyone and those fantastic costumes and great sets. But there's no point in wallowing in it.' Pushing Daisies told the story of a piemaker named Ned (Lee Pace) who was able to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. The show also starred Chi McBride and Kristen Chenoweth who has, this week, been Emmy nominated for her role in the show. 'That it got five nominations is just a wonderful curtain call for the cast. We were part of something very special, and we deserved more of a chance,' said Kristen.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is to make a guest appearance on the BBC soap EastEnders later this year. He will appear in a scene set in the show's Queen Vic pub where he has an argument with landlady Peggy Mitchell, who is played by Barbara Windsor. The scene will be in an episode showing Peggy, who recently got involved in local politics, enduring a frustrating time trying to track him down. The scene with Johnson was filmed last Friday and will air this autumn. Johnson said: 'It was, of course, a tremendous honour to step inside that most venerable of London landmarks, the Queen Vic, and share a scene with another of the capital's icons, the fabulous Barbara Windsor.' Executive producer Diederick Santer added: 'EastEnders does its best to reflect contemporary London, and we hope that meeting the mayor will help us stay ahead with the latest London stories, policies and developments. We couldn't let the visit pass without the mayor entering London's most famous pub, the Queen Vic, and meeting its formidable and politically-active landlady.'

John Barrowman has crashed a turbo-charged rally car speeding at 80 mph while shooting a stunt for Fifth Gear. The Doctor Who actor was driving a £120,000 Subaru when he lost control of the vehicle, according to the News Of The World. The motor reportedly flipped over four times before narrowly avoiding a lake, with the show's presenter Tiff Needell next to the star in the passenger seat. Barrowman said: 'I'm lucky to walk away unscathed. I got a ticking off from my mum afterwards.' The incident will feature on the next episode of Fifth Gear, which airs tonight at 8pm on Five.

BBC sports veteran Ray Stubbs is to front ESPN's Premier League coverage, with IMG understood to be signed up to produce all studio discussion around the games. The company is set to produce all pre- and post-match analysis for the forty six games that the new ESPN channel will screen this season. Production of the games themselves will be overseen by Sky. Football Focus presenter Stubbsy is to become the face of the channel and will make his debut for the Everton v Arsenal match on 15 August. A former professional with his hometown club, Tranmere, Stubbs' first broadcasting gig was at BBC Radio Merseyside in 1983. He joined BBC Manchester as an assistant producer three years later, working on A Question of Sport and subsequently On the Line, Grandstand, Match of the Day and Sportsnight. He has since covered several international championships, including four World Cups, and was the regular host of Final Score. 'Having been associated with the BBC for over twenty five years this was always going to be a difficult decision,' Stubbs said.

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