Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No Telly? I'd Sooner Starve!

People would rather scale back on shopping and going out in the evenings before cutting their spending on television during the current recession, a study has claimed. The report, published by Deloitte/YouGov for this year's Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival found that forty three per cent of people interviewed (who expressed a preference) would rather give up eating out than reducing their spend on TV subscriptions and pay-per-view. A further thirty eight per cent said they would cut back on going to the cinema or the pub. The contrast between staying in and going out was particularly stark among thirty five-to forty four-year-olds, forty five per cent of whom said that they would eat out less before considering reducing their spend on pay TV, compared to thirty five per cent of the eighteen to twenty four age group who felt the same way. The researchers also found that forty five per cent of all viewers were watching TV for more than an hour a day, with nineteen per cent saying they watched more factual programmes than they used to and eighteen per cent watching more news and current affairs shows. These findings are said to be broadly in line with an earlier Ofcom poll which found fewer than one in five people planned to cut their spending on television-related expenditure. So, when times are tough people tend to stay in and watch more telly? And they needed to pay people to run a survey to tell them that? Jesus, did we all leave our common sense at the door when this Century began or what?

BBC2 is to mark the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse with a 24-style dramatisation of the weekend leading to its demise. The great American actor James Cromwell, who appeared in 24, Six Feet Under and The West Wing, will star as US treasury secretary Hank Paulson in the hour-long drama, which will offer a close-up of the boardroom battle to save the bank. The Last Days of Lehman Brothers will also feature James Bolam (Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, New Tricks), Ben Daniels (Law & Order: UK); Michael Landes (Love Soup, Material Girl), and Corey Johnson ([Spooks], The Bourne Ultimatum) as Lehman chief executive Dick Fuld. The BBC said: 'The heads of Wall Street's biggest investment banks were summoned to an evening meeting to discuss the plight of Lehman Brothers. After six months' turmoil in the world's financial markets, Lehman Brothers was on life support and the government was about to pull the plug. Lehman chief executive Dick Fuld, recently sidelined in a boardroom coup, spends the weekend desperately trying to resuscitate his beloved company through a merger with Bank of America or UK-based Barclays. But without the financial support of Paulson and Lehman's fiercest competitors, Fuld's empire – and with it, the stability of the world economy – teeters on the verge of extinction.' Ben Stephenson, controller of drama commissioning, and BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow commissioned BBC Drama Productions to produce the show as part of a wider Crunch Season. Excllent - though they could have probably come up with a better name for it. The drama will air on 12 September, the anniversary of the collapse. Ruth Caleb (A Short Stay In Switzerland, Judge John Deed) is the executive producer, Michael Samuels (Caught in a Trap, The Curse of Steptoe) is the director and the producer is Lisa Osborne (Little Dorrit). Caleb said: 'In the year following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, writer Craig Warner has written a very engaging script inspired by those events. We are also very fortunate that we have an exceptional cast to bring those events to life.' Yeah, I'll have some of that.

ITV has confirmed that this year's X Factor will move its results show to Sundays, with a live face-off for the two contestants with the fewest votes. ITV's director of entertainment and comedy Elaine Bedell confirmed the scheduling shift ealier in the week following months of media speculation. The Saturday show will remain a showcase for contestants to perform to a live studio audience. But the results show, which until now has been shown later on Saturday evening, will be postponed to Sunday night. The results show will also feature special guest performances. The new series is likely to feature previous winner Alexandra Burke, whilst as not-particularly-exclusively revealed by From The North yesterday, Madonna and Robbie Williams are understood to be considering offers. Bedell said: 'The new Sunday results show will be a fantastic way of building excitement and anticipation across two nights of live television and with performances from some extra special guest stars The X Factor will now be an event spectacular across the whole weekend.'

BBC1 Daytime commemorates the Seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War with a new five-part all-star period drama – Land Girls. The stellar cast line-up includes Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Bleak House), Christine Bottomley (Hope Springs, Massive, Early Doors), Sophie Ward (Holby City), Summer Strallen (Hollyoaks), Mark Benton (The Street), Danny Webb (Our Friends In The North), Jo Woodcock (Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, All The Small Things) and Becci Gemmell (Home Time). The drama follows the lives and loves of four girls away from home, striving to do their bit for Britain in the Women's Land Army while trying to come to terms with the fact that their lives may never be the same again. Created by Roland Moore, Land Girls follows the girls as they adapt to their new surroundings, and knuckle down to some hard work – and play. Against the backdrop of war-weary Forties Britain, Land Girls is set on the Hoxley Estate, as the girls balance their working lives at the run-down Pasture Farm and the opulent Hoxley Manor. Nancy, Joyce, Bea and Annie have all joined the WLA for very different reasons, but they all have one common goal – to serve their country and help win the war. The drama follows the women as they try to live out their lives in very challenging circumstances, with lots of laughter and tears along the way. Liam Keelan, Controller, BBC Daytime, says: 'Land Girls is a warm and vibrant drama celebrating the unsung heroes from the Second World War, and we're delighted to have secured this talented cast to realise the story.' Land Girls is accompanied in BBC Daytime by The Week We Went to War, presented by renowned singer Katherine Jenkins, who is well known for her charitable work with British troops. Each weekday morning the programme celebrates the everyday heroes on the Home Front, from families who took in evacuees, to ordinary people who ran into bombed buildings to save their neighbours. Katherine is joined in the studio by her special guest Michael Aspel talking about his own experience as an evacuee and BBC antiques expert Tim Wonnacott looks at the everyday wartime items which have become today's collectables. Until now, many of the incredible stories of everyday heroism that took place in British communities have remained untold. The Week We Went To War seeks to uncover these remarkably little-known tales throughout the week. The BBC Archive will release a new online collection exploring the outbreak of the Second World War featuring radio recordings and documents from the period. Key broadcasts, including Chamberlain's declaration of war itself, will sit alongside documents and memos that reveal how the BBC helped the UK population prepare for life in wartime and cope with the quiet early months, later dubbed the Phoney War. The new collection will be released on Wednesday 26 August and forms part of the permanent BBC Archive resource which the BBC has made available to UK audiences. For more information, visit

Angus Deayton has been tipped to make a one-off comeback to Have I Got News For You next year. The fifty three-year-old presenter fronted the hugely popular satirical panel show for twelve years before being axed amid a series of sordid tabloid drug and sex revelations concerning his private life in 2002. His role is now filled by weekly guest hosts. According to the Daily Express, BBC bosses have agreed to ask Deayton to return for a special episode when the programme marks its Twentieth anniversary in 2010. An insider said: 'There's no way Angus would be coming back on a permanent basis but it's only fitting he's there.' Deayton has hosted Hell's Kitchen and Bognor Or Bust for ITV and BBC comedy panel show Would I Lie To You? since being dropped from the programme. Earlier this year, show panellist Ian Hislop admitted that his co-star Paul Merton had 'never liked' Deayton.

The producers of Lost are reportedly looking to cast a new recurring character for the show's upcoming sixth and final season. According to Entertainment Weekly, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have put out a casting call for a male in his mid thirties to late fifties to play the role of Lennon, a spokesperson/translator for the president of a foreign corporation. The character is described as 'scruffy, edgy, charismatic and slightly stir-crazy' and is said to be 'a wily negotiator who is far more powerful than his lowly position would seem to indicate.'

The Sci-Fi Channel UK has announced plans to air the second season of Dollhouse within weeks of its US broadcast. The new run of thirteen episodes will air on the channel from Tuesday 20 October, starting with a double-bill premiere. The move means that UK airings of the series will be just three weeks behind America. Sci-Fi is also moving the programme's broadcast slot from 9pm to 10pm for the new season. Meanwhile, Keith Telly Topping finally got around to watching the 'DVD only' thirteenth episode of the first season, 'Epitaph One' earlier in the week. And, suddenly a lot of things that had previously rather troubled me about the show - particularly the chracter of Topher and his casual relationship with playing God - made a lot more sense. And, right at the end of its run, the show did manage to say some very worthwhile things about the modern world - notably that old 'be careful what you wish for, it might just come true' truism that Buffy often tapped so well. Dollhouse has no obvious hero or heroine - or, often, no clear delineation of what's good or bad for that matter - which possibly helps to explain why it struggled to find an audience in Ameirca. Doom-laden, miserbalist warnings about the dangers of unfetted scientific advances seldom play all that well in a world where we're sold - daily - the idea that technology and glamour can fix all of our problems. What I particularly liked about Dollhouse, conceptually, was that with a hard-faced logic, it started to expose the crass lie behind much of the wish-fulfillment culture that exists to sells us dreams of buying a better version of ourselves. Because, taken to its logical extreme that means nothing but a world full of self-obsessed, emotionless, vacuous plastic androids; American's Next Model on a mass scale in your street. My hat's off to Joss Whedon for having gotten the series made in the first place and, even more so, for getting it to a second season. But then, I have a horrible feeling that's more because somebody in FOX's middle-management likes looking at Eliza Dushku in leather pants than because they've actually understood what the show is trying to say and what its targets are.

Russell T. Davies has said that he has planned out the future of Torchwood. The creator of the Doctor Who spin-off told Torchwood Magazine that he would have no difficulty in continuing the story from the end of the recent, apocalyptic 'Children Of Earth' five-parter. Davies said: 'I could write you scene one of series four right now. I know exactly how to pick it up. I've got a shape in mind and I've got stories. I know where you'd find Gwen and Rhys and their baby, and Jack, and I know how you'd go forward with a new form of Torchwood.' He added: 'If the BBC asked for another thirteen one-part stories, that's what we'd do. I'm ready for anything, but I think it works well as one continuous story. But if the BBC decide they want thirteen one-offs, I'll suddenly decide that's the best format in the world!'

Nicola Roberts will reportedly study at beauty college during Girls Aloud's forthcoming hiatus. The 'Call The Shots' singer already has her own cosmetics range and is said to be taking on the academic studies in order to help improve the brand. 'Nicola is serious about her beauty range and doesn't want to put her name to anything she's not one hundred per cent sure of,' an insider told the Daily Mirror. 'She wants to know the ins and outs of everything, which is why she's looking into doing a course. The range started off as a bit of fun for the TV show Passions of Girls Aloud but now she's focused on making [it] work. If that means going back to school to learn about the business, then she's prepared to do it.' Meanwhile, fellow bandmembers Cheryl Cole and Nadine Coyle are both recording solo albums during the group's time off, while Sarah Harding is allegedly hoping to further her acting career, having already been lined-up to star in the St. Trinian's sequel. Harding is also reported to have been 'asked along for a chat about Doctor Who.' Whether this turns out to be true or another one of those 'Zoe Lucker to play the Rani'-type bits of tabloid stuff and nonsense, we'll have to wait and find out.

BAFTA is to mark the influence of Monty Python’s Flying Circus with a special award, forty years after the comedy troupe's TV debut. The five surviving stars of the seminal BBC show - John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam – will be reunited for the first time in four years to receive the award. They are due to be honoured on 15 October, the fortieth anniversary of the first BBC1 broadcast of the first episode of the show. The ceremony will take place in New York, following a screening about a new documentary on the comedians. Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) features new interviews with the comedians, plus archive footage of the late Graham Chapman and contributions from noted fans such as Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, Stephen Merchant and Jeff Bridges. Cleese said of the award: 'I believe these trinkets are more important than people think.'

The BBC plans to cash in on Michael Jackson mania with an X Factor-style hunt for a dancer who can master the late-legend's moves. And the wannabes could even be judged by one of the late singer's family, TV Biz has suggested. Bosses will kick-off a national search for Britain's best moonwalker and body-popper later this year. Like the X Factor, contestants will be judged by a panel of industry experts. The Beeb is desperate to have a talent show to match ITV's juggernauts The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent. The show - to be called Move Like Jacko - is still at an early planning stage. But insiders say executives will try to land one of Jackson's siblings as a judge - possibly Jermaine, or LaToya, who have both won numerous UK fans with their appearances on Celebrity Big Brother. A source said: 'People are so passionate about Michael it makes sense to build a talent show devoted to him and his incredible performances. And given that his family played such a huge part in his life, it makes sense for one of them to be a judge.'

Strictly Come Dancing producers are hoping to sign up Fern Britton for the new series, a report has claimed. According to the Daily Mirror, negotiations with the formerly large former TV host have entered their final stages in recent days, with the show's team now confident that Britton will agree to appear. Britton, who stepped down from This Morning after ten years last month, will reportedly be paired with dancer Brendan Cole if the deal goes ahead as planned. A source commented: 'Fern is a major coup. Producers have been wooing her for some time but it is only in the last few days talks have really progressed. Brendan was lined up to dance with Jo Wood but now bosses have offered him to Fern as bait.' I could say 'a sprat to catch a whale' here if I was feeling particularly unkind, but we'll let it pass. 'Fern is bound to get lots of attention and they believe he's the guy most equipped to handle it,' the source concluded. As noted by his comments, Rockin' Ronnie Wood's estranged wife Jo has agreed to appear on Strictly this year, a story confirmed by the Daily Express. The fifty three-year-old former model is said to have already started training for the BBC1 ballroom competition, which returns to screens next month. An insider (presumably, a different one) told the Express: 'Jo is in fantastic shape, looks amazing and is going to be brilliant. She'll love to show Ronnie a clean pair of heels.' Jo was cruelly dumped by the loverat Rolling Stone in July last year after he started a fling with twenty year old bar strumpet Ekaterina Ivanova. Ah well, that's rock and roll, Jo love. Nevertheless, Jo recently vowed not to 'hide away' following the split, adding that she is looking forward to starting 'a whole new life.'

Emmerdale star Siân Reeves has spoken of how a stage accident almost ended her acting career. The forty four-year-old, who recently joined the ITV soap for a six-month guest stint, was left with severe injuries following an incident in rehearsals for Vernon God Little at London's Young Vic in 2007. 'Someone had left a trapdoor open backstage,' she told the Daily Star. 'I fell down it on to a steel ladder and punctured my lung and crushed my upper rib cage. I might have been paralysed but I was flat on my back for the best part of a year. It was an incredibly scary time.' Reeves makes her Dales debut next week when her character, Sally Spode, arrives and quickly starts causing trouble for her old flame Ashley Thomas (John Middleton). She added: 'Ashley's really shocked and unnerved. He doesn't know where to put himself.' Reeves has previously appeared in Cutting It, Northern Lights, Where The Heart Is and BBC1's recent drama series Hope Springs.

Alison King returned to filming at Coronation Street this morning according to the Digital Spy website. Allison's character, Carla Gordon, fled Weatherfield back in February following her screen husband Big-Eyed Tony Gordon's (Gray O'Brien) tearful confession that he murdering her lover Liam Connor (Rob-James Collier). Off-screen, however, King took maternity leave after it was announced that she was expecting her first child with her sound technician boyfriend Adam Huckett. King finished filming in December and only days after her temporary screen departure in February, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl called Daisy Mae.

The advertising watchdog today censured the Daily Express for the fourth time in two weeks for disguising advertorials as legitimate news stories. Richard Desmond's Express Newspapers misled its readers by disguising part of the advert for a supplement to ease joint pain as an article in the Daily Express, according to the Advertising Standards Authority. The Daily Express devoted a full page to Goldshield's Rozip supplement. The bottom half of the page was an advert while the top half was a story written by a journalist. Both the article and the advert were linked and the whole page was a 'marketing communication,' the ASA concluded. The regulator added that the words 'advertisement feature' should have been clearly displayed at the top of the page. 'The Daily Express misled its readers by implying an article that reviewed and made various favourable claims about Goldshield was editorial, rather than advertising material,' an ASA spokeswoman said. 'Goldshield fell foul of the rules for being unable to substantiate the claims for its product.'

The BBC has received two hundred complaints after the newsreader George Alagiah was told to step down as patron of the Fairtrade Foundation charity over impartiality fears. Today the BBC confirmed it had received the complaints since those nosy Communists at the Gruniad broke the story at the end of last month, although the corporation believes an organised lobbying campaign was behind many of them, with forty three received before a Facebook page was set up on 29 July and one hundred and fifty seven since. Just to put that into some perspective in case some tabloid scum wants to stir up the sitation with a 'BBC slammed! Shock!' exclusive, that's approximately one fifteenth of the number of complaints that the BBC have received in relation to the replacement of Alrene Phillips with Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing. It's also, more or less exactly the same number of people who have complained to the BBC about replacement of Alrene Phillips with Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing for a second time! Founding members of the Fairtrade Foundation, including the charities Cafod, Oxfam, Traidcraft and Christian Aid, have called on the BBC to reinstate Alagiah, who had served in the role for seven years, saying they want him to continue his 'immensely valuable contribution.'

Mr Bonio out of U2 could, reportedly, be stripped of his Bosnian passport by the country's government, after it was awarded to him by a previous administration. Late president Alija Izetbegovic honoured the singer in recognition of his campaign work for the war-ravaged country when U2 performed in the capital Sarajevo in 1997. Mr Bonio recently spoke of the honour during the band's performance in neighbouring nation Croatia, describing it as one of his most treasured possessions - prompting the Bosnian government to renege on the decision to issue a passport to a non-citizen. Civil affairs minister Sredoje Novic told Contactmusic: 'If we establish that a passport was given outside a regular legal procedure, we will have no other option but to take it away. We cut no slack to anybody, not even for Mr Bonio.' Now you know how your mates Geldof and Sting must feel, geezer. You take all the trouble to save the world and still nobody likes you. Innit marvellous?

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