Thursday, August 06, 2009

Loving The Alien: The Dalek Invasion Of Gatesheed

We start the latest gogglement of Top Telly News (and, if gogglement isn't the collective noun for Top Telly News then Keith Telly Topping considers that it really should be) with something genuinely wow-spooky from The Twlight Zone that is local TV. Apparently, the most watched bit of video currently on the BBC News website is a piece in which an unidentified flying object (and I do, hopefully, use the term in its proper descriptive context here) appears to fly between the Millennium and Tyne Bridges on the Newcastle/Gateshead Quayside during one of last Friday's local new bulletins. You can see it for yourself here. Is now, I wonder, the time to inform any uninitiated blog readers that Colin Briggs, the newsreader featured in this clip, is the brother of Nick Briggs, the voice of the Daleks on Doctor Who? (If you knew that already, just shut up, there's bound to be somebody out there who didn't!) Clearly, Davros and his monstrous creations of naughtiness have their eyes set on a hostile takeover, by violence if necessary, at St James' Park. Well, let's face it they couldn't do any worse than the last lot.
However, the Skaro Ultra Aggro Boys had best be quick about it getting their masterplan for black and white conquest underway. It is being widely reported today that Tyneside businessman Barry Moat has emerged as the leading contender to buy my beloved, unsellable, Magpies. Moat, an executive box holder at St James', has previously invested in the club's academy and also helped to organise Alan Shearer's testimonial three years ago. Dunno much about the chap myself but he's said to be a property millionaire and lifelong United fan. Sadly - and this is the sour bit for all my fellow Toonies - it is understood that no deal is expected imminently. Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias said in a statement: 'We would love to be able to expand further on the sale and managerial position at the club, but we're very sorry we are unable to make any further comment at the present time.' As, indeed, they've been saying basically all summer. Except when it suited them. And except when they seemingly offered Joe Kinnear his old job back earlier in the week. Unless Joe is lying, of course. Over to you on that one, Derek. Moat is reported to have been in London this week, holding talks with the representatives of current owner Mike Ashley. Some newspaper reports have claimed that Moat's team has already carried out due diligence on the club's books. However, BBC Sports News correspondent Gordon Farquhar explained the intricacies of a takeover would make a quick sale highly unlikely. 'The official asking price is still one hundred million pounds and anyone doing a deal for that amount is going to want to go through the paperwork thoroughly. That could take weeks.' So, no change there then.

I was actually at St. James' today on my way home from work; that'll probably be the only time I'll be inside the erstwhile 'best stadium in the Championship' this year now that my season ticket has gone the way of all flesh. But, I thought I'd pop in and check out the tributes to Sir Bobby Robson that have now taken over the vast majority of the Leazes End. (Yes, I know it's 'officially' called something else now by various cheb-ends who have about as much understanding of the traditions and passion of this club as I have about marine biology. It will always be the Leazes End to me just as the Gallowgate End will always be thus.) As you can see, most of the stand is awash with colour as floral tributes, shirts, scarves and other ephemera - from many different clubs, not just United - have created a genuinely moving temporary epitaph for a widely respected and admired man. I also went into the main reception of the Milburn Stand and signed one of the Books of Remembrance that the club have opened. I said, in my own inarticulate speech of the heart, much the same as what I said on this blog three days ago; that Sir Bobby always appeared to be decent and honourable. A gentleman in other words - qualities that are far too rare in the world these days. It's sobering to think that whilst I was doing that around me the club that I - like Sir Bobby - have supported all of my life is, slowly, dying a death. Thanks a bundle, Mr Ashley - can't tell you how much we all appreciate your efforts.

Lastly, before we get onto some proper, actual Top Telly News, here's a quick plug for ... well, a plug, basically. The Afternoon Show - of which I am a contributor of sorts(!) now has a daily preview which can be heard here. Occasionally, you might even get to hear me (I'm on Tuesday's and Thursday's audio clips for this week, for instance). Check it out, daily, for such amazing sights as ... well, the back of producer Scunthorpe Steve's bonce, for one. I recorded the next few Top Telly Tips this morning. Gilly Hope is filling in for Jamie, (who is off for a long weekend holiday) today and tomorrow and I think Sue's in the chair on Monday before the Jamster returns. Remember, also, that a specially recorded Top Telly Tip (singular) can be heard on Alfie Joey's Comic Cuts on Saturday between one and two in the afternoon.

Okay - on with the news. Father Ted star Frank Kelly has announced that his cancer has not returned. It had been reported in some media outlets that the seventy-year-old, best known for playing the Father Jack in the popular clerical comedy, was fighting the disease again. However, Frank told BBC News that while he is undergoing preventative treatment, he is fit and well. Mr Kelly's portrayal of foul-mouthed, alcoholic priest Jack Hackett won him legions of fans around the world. 'I want it made clear that I don't have cancer any more. I have had cancer of the bowel and something about the size of a mobile was removed,' said the actor, speaking from his Dublin home. 'They then found a little spot on my liver and that was subsequently removed. But I don't have cancer, I just have to go for treatment for a period until they give the all-clear.'

News Corp is set to start charging online customers for news content across all its websites. The media giant is looking for additional revenue streams after announcing big losses. The company lost $3.4bn (that's about two billion quid) in the year to the end of June, which chief executive Rupert Murdoch - seen to the right, as usual, in his finest 'Gentlemen, to crime' Monty Burns-style pose - said had been 'the most difficult in recent history.' The loss, due to $8.9bn in write-downs already announced, compared with a $5.4bn profit a year earlier. Revenues at the media giant, which owns BSkyB and 20th Century Fox, fell 7.8%. News Corp also owns The Times and Sun newspapers in the UK, as well the New York Post and Wall Street Journal in the US.

Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie of Flight Of The Conchords have revealed that they stayed at a fan's house when they first visited Los Angeles. The band also told thelondonpaper that it was 'very embarrassing' to have fans obsessed with McKenzie's 'five second' appearance as an elf in Lord Of The Rings. Clement said: 'When we first came to LA we literally didn't have enough cash to pay for a hotel for the whole time. So we had this fan, it was kind of complex, basically we ended up at her house.' McKenzie continued: 'She said, "Well, what should we do? Do you guys want to watch a movie?" I'm like, "Okay" and then the only DVD she owns is Lord Of The Rings.' He added that the superfan character Mel in their show was based on a mix of half a dozen real-life fans of the musical comedy duo.

Will Young and Nigel Harman are among the cast of ITV's new Marple film, it has been announced. The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side will see the pair joined by actors including Samuel Barnett, Hugh Bonneville, Lindsay Duncan, Joanna Lumley, Caroline Quentin and Julia McKenzie in the title role. The story - first published in 1962 and adapted for film in 1980 starring Angela Lansbury and again, by the BBC, in 1992 with Joan Hickson - follows Hollywood star Marina Gregg (Duncan), who has moved from Los Angeles to St Mary Mead. And, that's when the trouble starts. McKenzie said of the new Marple: 'I'm absolutely delighted to be returning to the role. I'm very much looking forward to filming with such a wonderful guest cast.' I must say, it's one of my favourite Agatha Christie novels, so I'm rather looking forward to this even though, as my mother will be the first to tell you, there's no TV or film Miss Marple who can hold a candle to Joan Hickson's performance!

Victoria Beckham has reportedly signed up to be a guest judge on the new series of American Idol. The former Spice Girl has been tipped to pocket one hundred and fifty thousand quid for the two-episode deal, which was allegedly finalised after she was approached by Simon Cowell recently. In a back alley? Sorry, I dunno why I said that, it was just the first thing that popped into my head. Anyway ... It is believed that Posh was originally offered a permanent place on the panel, but opted for the smaller role because she is busy with other commitments. Well, yeah. I mean, her solo recording career's been such a massive success, hasn't it? Unless, of course, they mean that she's too busy keeping David out of fights with drunken Americans. Because that seems to be a full time job at the moment.

ITV Studios generated significantly more revenue from rival UK broadcasters during the first half of the year - but significantly less from the ITV channels themselves. ITV Studios' external UK production revenues were up eleven per cent from twenty eight to thirty one million pounds, with a bumper performance from the likes of Come Dine with Me for Channel 4, Eggheads and The Street for the BBC and Animal Cops for the Discovery Channel. But sales to ITV channels fell by seven and a half million pounds to £128m as the broadcaster's commissioners ordered less from its production arm. ITV blamed the fall on its reduced level of original commissions for 2009 and into the 2010 World Cup year. It also pointed to ITVS commissions such as Piers Morgan's Real Lives, Billy Connolly: Journey to the Edge of the World and The Colour of Money. But ITVS's internal performance would have been even worse had it not included new pricing for Coronation Street and Emmerdale, which collectively was worth an extra five million pounds to ITVS during the six months ended 30 June.

Channel 4's treatment of Michael Jackson's death has come under fire from viewers, with more than two hundred complaints levelled against three shows last month. An edition of Zeppotron's comedy panel game 8 out of 10 Cats received one hundred and fourteen complaints over what viewers perceived as 'extremely poor taste' references to the late pop star. Objective's topical comedy The TNT Show had twenty three complaints on similar grounds. One viewer voiced disgust at its 'very harsh and rude' gags, adding: 'I'm horrified; do you have no respect for the dead?' Errr... that'd be a catious "no", I'm thinking. Jacques Peretti's documentary Michael Jackson's Last Days: What Really Happened? was also criticised as 'gossipy and misinformed.' One of the sixty five complainants said: 'Did he honestly think he was giving us some new insight? Overall the documentary was patronising, ignorant and just unacceptable, with Peretti's sing-song delivery actually making my blood boil as I watched.' That happens to me when I watch much of Channel 4's output - but I don't, as a rule, complain to anybody about it. Other contentious Channel 4 shows in July include Rupert Everett documentary The Scandalous Adventures of Lord Byron, which attracted twenty four complaints for what one viewer, expecting an educational programme about the poet, described as 'unnecessarily sexually explicit content more suitable to a porn channel.' You've actually read some Byron I take it, Mr or Ms complainant? Jeez, the nonsense some people chose to care about. Alan Carr's chat show Chatty Man also received twenty three complaints on lack-of-taste grounds. Art show Life Class: Today's Nude proved divisive for its depiction of naked bodies during the daytime. It was the most praised show last month with twenty three people contacting Channel 4 to defend the show. One sample read: 'Congratulations on having the common sense to be able to show non-sexual nudity in an artistic sense, without falling for the usual seaside postcard sniggering the British media usually attach to it. An excellent programme, sensitively handled - well done.'

ITV made a loss of one hundred and four million pound in the six months to 30 June and has sold Friends Reunited to DC Thomson company Brightsolid for twenty five million - taking a hit of one hundred and forty five million pounds on their initial investment. The sale came on the back of the commercial broadcaster's half-yearly report, which many had expected to coincide with the naming of a new chief executive. However, no such announcement was made. Friends Reunited was bought by former ITV chairman Charles Allen four years ago for one hundred and seventy million pounds as part of the broadcaster's push into social networking. But it was soon overtaken by sites such as Facebook and My Space which did not charge members for a subscription. The sale, overseen by Credit Suisse, was finalised earlier this morning. Beano publisher DC Thomson also owns the Evening Telegraph, the Sunday Post and the Courier. Michael Grade described ITV's twenty five million pound disposal of Friends Reunited as 'the best price we could get.' Oh well, that's all right then. 'I am confident that I will be handing my successor a revitalised ITV, both on and off screen.' Now remind me, who said that again?

Former Ordinary Boys frontman Samuel Preston has admitted that he regrets walking off the Never Mind The Buzzcocks set in 2007 during filming. Preston stormed off when host Simon Amstell read extracts from Preston's then-wife, Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton's autobiography. 'I'm struggling to think why I would have acted so weird,' he said. The musician has vowed to return if asked. 'I would love to go on there and show them that I'm not a tantrum-y person.' Preston, who is currently launching a solo music career, admitted he thought his behaviour had been 'terrible' and said he knows returning to the BBC2 show would be hard. 'I would be destroyed and they would probably show lots of clips and stuff,' he said. You think?! The singer said that former presenter Amstell, is 'funny, charming and likeable, which made it all the more embarrassing.' After Preston stormed off, team captain Bill Bailey picked a member of the audience to take his place for the remainder of the recording. 'It was just an uncomfortable situation,' Preston said. 'I wanted the floor to swallow up and eat me, so I did the next best thing and ran away, which is terrible, because I'm really not the sort of person to walk away from confrontation, I'm normally the sort of person to talk it out.' Preston married Houghton shortly after meeting on the Channel 4 reality show in 2006 but divorced a year later. Looking back at the beginning of his career, Preston admitted he has made some mistakes. 'I just regret the fact that I was so young and I handled myself badly, especially in interviews,' he said. With the release of his new single - out on 23 August - Preston revealed he is 'terrified' at how the public are going to react to him. 'The more I think about it, the more I realise how wrong I got it the first time around.'

Fern Britton's This Morning wardrobe is being flogged off to the ITV daytime show's staff, reports the Sun. An e-mail alerting staff to the sale was entitled A Journey Through Time and Size - with sizes ranging from ten to twenty two, a tribute to the five stone which Britton lost towards the end of her ten years on the show. Can I blag one of the size twenty twos please? I'm thinking about having a camping holiday later in the summer but my tent's leaking ...