Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Week, Another Scandal!

There is, literally, nowhere else to start our latest batch of Top Telly News dear From The North reader, than with some Top Telly Sports-Related Ratings Analysis. Stay awake at the back, there may be questions afterwards: England's stunning victory over Australia in The Ashes was watched by peak audiences of 1.9m on Sky Sports1 and just over 2.3m on Five on Sunday, according to unofficial overnight figures. Sky's live coverage of the action from the final Test at The oval ran from 10am to 7pm and drew an average of eight hundred and fifty six thousand viewers and a 7.2 per cent audience share across the nine hours, though as these figures do not include out-of-home viewing (in pubs, for instance), the true audience is likely to have been much higher. Five's highlights of the action garnered over two million viewers in the 7.15-8pm slot.

Meanwhile, the former Dragons' Den contestant and Reggae Reggae Sauce creator Levi Roots made a steady start with his new show on BBC2 last night, while ITV comedy-drama Monday Monday came to a close with its highest audience of the series but still ended with a figure of under three million. Mr Roots' seriously easy-going half-hour programme Caribbean Food Made Easy was watched by 2.2m between 8.30pm and 9pm, roughly in line with what that slot normally draws. Poor night for ratings all round, really, except for the soaps.

The new series of The X Factor, of course, launched to an audience of just a shade under ten million viewers on Saturday night. The opening episode of series six, which saw the introduction of a Britain's Got Talent-style public audition format, averaged 9.91m (forty seven per cent audience share) for ITV between 7pm and 8.30pm. The audience is slightly down on the opening episode of series five, which averaged 10.19m on 16 August last year. The live auditions in the new series have been met with disapproval by some viewers, however. According to a survey by Yahoo!, seventy per cent of their respondents preferred the 'behind-closed-doors' approach of previous series. Simon Cowell has already said that he will personally take the blame if the changes made to the format do not prove to be a success. The move was influenced by the huge success of Britain's Got Talent. But some fans of The X Factor seem to feel there is now little to differentiate the two shows. Commentators also expressed concern that there will now be less excitement when the final acts first perform at the live studio shows.

A senior Conservative politican has compared parts of the UK to The Wire, the US television show which portrays inner-city drugs and violence. In a speech, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling argued that the UK was suffering the same culture of gangs and street violence found in the US. He said that Labour had failed to ensure law and order was preserved in the poorest parts of the country. But the government responded that crime had fallen by thirty six per cent since it came to power. Grayling told an audience in Westminster that police were fighting an 'urban war' against gangs and that violence in society had become 'a norm and not an exception.' Just like the 1980s, you mean? You know, the last time your lot had their grubby hands on the rudder? The Wire, which is currently being shown on BBC2, has been acclaimed by critics in both the US and Britain for its realistic portrayal of the dramatic struggle between police and drug-dealing gangs on the streets of Baltimore. Grayling repeated his charge that poorer communities in the UK have been let down by Labour, saying: 'The Wire has become a byword for urban deprivation and societal breakdown in modern America.' Is 'societal' an actual word? Anyway, never mind ... He added: 'When The Wire comes to Britain's streets, it is the poor who are the ones who have borne the brunt of the surge in violence under this government. It is they who struggle to live their lives against a constant fear of crime. Far too many of those features of what we have always seen as a US phenomenon are now to be found on the streets of Britain as well.' Ministers dismissed the comparison with the show, saying that drug use in the UK had fallen since Labour came to power and was now at historically low levels. 'The connection between The Wire and Chris Grayling's grasp on the problems of modern Britain is that they are both fictional,' Alan Johnson said. Of course, the interesting thing about The Wire is that whilst the early seasons of the drama do, indeed, confirm exactly to these 'drug-scum on the streets' stereotypes, the latter two or three years of the show are much more centred on the city's numerous corrupt politicians and businessmen. Presumably, Mr Grayling hasn't got to that point in his viewing of the show yet? Or, maybe he has and he's trying to tell us something. Anyway, it should be also noted, if we're going to go down this 'TV comparison' route, that some parts of Britain are like many other television shows. If Ain't Half Hot Mum for a kick-off; tired, outdated, unfunny and pointedly racist. Or, The Jeremy Kyle Show; full of ignorant numbskulls. So, what are you planning on doing about them, Mr Grayling? Once again this whole episode goes to prove a gross truism that From The North has banged on about several times over the last year. Put simply, politicians make rotten TV reviewers. They drop all these cultural references into their speeches because they think it makes them look 'cool' and 'down wid da kidz', and they express their sympathy for Jade Goody and Arlene Phillips or their outrage over something Frankie Boyle or Clarkson have said (just to take a few celebrated examples) because they believe that will make like-minded individuals vote for them. But, really they shouldn't bother because somewhere along the line, they always seem to miss some, part or all of the point. Stick to what you're good at, gentlemen - dodgy expense claims, ruining the economy and appeasing the right-wing press.

Britain's Got Talent hosts Ant and Dec have claimed that Simon Cowell apologised to them for hiring Kelly Brook without consulting them. In February this year, the presenters admitted that they were annoyed over the music mogul's decision to recruit Brook for the ITV show's panel in secret. Brook was axed from the programme after just six days, once producers realised that the format did not work with four judges. Speaking at the time, Dec Donnelly admitted: 'We were angry about Kelly. But it was because no-one asked our opinion. What was upsetting was that it happened in the first place. It was wrong from the start.' In a new interview with Q magazine, the pair have revealed that the issue was resolved after Cowell conceded he should have sought their advice before acting. Reflecting on the dispute, Ant McPartlin commented: 'We had a bit of an issue with him bringing in a fourth judge. But we sat down and talked about it and he apologised for not consulting us.' That's not how your hero Terry Collier would've handled the matter, lads - there'd've been some claret and a deal of push and shove. Pfft ... see, this is what's happened after they took away the Gallowgate End. Geordies have gotten soft. Stand up for yerselves, you're supposed to be from Byker for God's sake.

A total of fifty four million people worldwide are expected to watch television on their mobile phone this year, analysts have predicted. By 2013, the eighteen million people currently watching TV on a smart phone may have jumped to a figure of three hundred million, according to a study by market researcher In-Stat and Californian chip maker Telegent Systems. The research revealed twenty per cent of those surveyed watched mobile-TV every day, with more than half watching at least three times a week. In some areas more than forty per cent watched daily. While most viewers favoured a broad range of programmes, news and sport proved especially popular. People are watching mobile-TV while taking flights and trains, and also during their lunch hours at work. Frank Dickson, vice president of research at In-Stat, said: 'The adoption of analogue mobile-TV handsets has been driven by the most powerful force in the mobile industry: consumers.' I'm not sure about all this 'watching TV shows on your mobile' malarkey, personally. I've got a television set for that eventuality. It's a bit like being asked if you'd like to wash your clothes in your microwave, isn't it?

Birmingham-based independent producer Isis Media has signed former head of Granada and Central Duncan Rycroft. Rycroft will spearhead new development initiatives and executive producer the company's current slate. Isis has also hired ITV Productions production manager Shauna Swift as head of production. Her credits include Hell's Kitchen, Dispatches and MacIntyre Investigates. Isis managing director Ben Robinson said the appointments would strengthen the company's popular factual credentials and help its drive to expand into comedy and entertainment. Isis was yesterday named one of the twenty regional indepedents chosen for the second phase of the BBC's XM25 scheme, designed to forge relationships with production companies outside of London.

Former world boxing champion Joe Calzaghe has been confirmed as a contestant on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. Calzaghe's family told the Western Mail that he was preparing to take part in the BBC1 talent show, which returns this autumn. 'Of course I know about it,' said his father, Enzo. His uncle Uccio expanded on his nephew's prospects: 'He should be good, his grandad was a really good dancer. He used to do tangos and things like that so it is in his blood. Good boxers are light on their feet.' They're also, usually, quite good at smashing people in the boat-race. But I don't imagine that skill is going to come in all that handy on this particular occasion. Unless Craig Revel Horwood gets really offensive about his foxtrot, of course. The full line-up of sixteen contestants is to be unveiled at a press launch later today. Calzaghe, who retired from boxing in February as an undefeated light-heavyweight champion, is one of a number of celebrities to have been linked with the show. Names tipped include This Morning presenter Fern Britton, the former Olympic sprint champion Linford Christie and ex-test cricketer and I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here winner Phil Tufnell. The former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, Ronnie Wood's estranged wife Jo, La Toya Jackson and Loose Women presenter Lynda Bellingham are others rumoured to be getting involved according to various sources. Some far more reliable than others. Ann Widdecombe? Christ almighty, this I have to see!

Of course, somewhat typically, about twenty minutes after I wrote all that nonsense, the final list was announced. In his rush to get the hot news to you, dear blog reader, if only Keith Telly Topping had waited - that's the story of his life, frankly. Anyway, turns out Ms Widdecombe was something of a false flag (as, indeed, were Fern and La Toya and some others). The actual contestants (and their respective partners) are as follows:- The Bill's Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna, Lynda Bellingham and Darren Bennett, EastEnders' Natalie Cassidy and Vincent Simone, tennis champion Martina Hingis and Matthew Cutler, athlete Jade Johnson and Ian Waite, Zoe Lucker and James Jordan, Lucker's ex-Footballer's Wives co-star Laila Rouass and Anton du Beke, Jo Wood and Brendan Cole, Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff, jockey Richard Dunwoody and Lilia Kopylova, Ricky Groves and Erin Boag, BBC Breakfast's Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan, Corrie's Craig Kelly and Flavia Cacace, Phil Tufnell and Katya Virshilas, Hollyoaks' Ricky Whittle and Natalie Lowe and Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding and Aliona Vilani. Place your bets now.

Amanda Holden has suggested that Piers Morgan is not suitably qualified to be a judge on ITV reality contest Britain's Got Talent. The actress told thelondonpaper that as someone who has auditioned for such roles in the past, she is uniquely placed on the panel to understand what the entrants are going through. Holden said: 'I've always said, out of the judges, I'm the only one who has auditioned for a panel or a crowd of people. When I see the contestants, I look at these people and I remember that feeling, having that dream. It's not like I'm sat there smugly saying, "I know better." It's just that I know because I've been there. Obviously Simon [Cowell] is very qualified but I'm not quite sure what Piers is doing there.' Yeah. That's something which many of us have been asking since the show started, actually. If you find out, Mandy, let us all know, there's a love. Regarding the possibility of being replaced by a younger woman on the show, Amanda added: 'I honestly would be completely gutted if the panel changed.' Shed a few tears, perhaps? Why change the habit of a lifetime? 'I've had such a good run and I've enjoyed many aspects of it. I'd have to very nicely wish the next person the best of luck.'

Steve Coogan has revealed that he injured himself during the making of Night at the Museum 2. The forty three-year-old actor, who starred in the comedy with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, said that he genuinely thought he had gone blind after running into the set. Coogan told the Mail on Sunday: 'I was running along... scampering past these giant blades of plastic grass. As I bent over to catch my breath, one of these blades went right in my eye. It was horrific - it pushed my eyelid over the top of my eyeball and down over the other side.' He added: 'I bruised my eyeball - actually, I nearly blinded myself. I stopped and put my hand over my eye - I thought I'd have blood gushing out - I couldn't see anything. My head went numb. I had a black eye for the whole of the rest of the film. They had to cover it up with make-up every day.'

Keith Carradine has joined the cast of Dollhouse, according to reports. The sixty-year-old actor will appear in two episodes of Joss Whedon's cult TV series, according to TV Guide. Carradine will portray businessman Matthew Harding, who is connected to both Adelle (Olivia Williams) and Sierra (Dichen Lachman). He will first appear in the fourth instalment of the second season due for broadcast in October.

Spooks and Robin Hood star Richard Armitage has signed up to star in a Sky1 adaptation of one of ex-SAS solider Chris Ryan's novels. The six-part series, titled Strike Back, also features Andrew Lincoln, Jodhi May, Orla Brady, Laura Greenwood and Nicola Stephenson. The drama follows the lives of two former soldiers, Major Hugh Collinson (Lincoln) and discharged veteran John Porter (Armitage), as they're about to meet for the first time in seven years in a Middle East hostage crisis. 'As with all Sky1 dramas, not only will it feature a gifted cast with a large popular following, but working with Andy Harries and Left Bank Pictures means an already crackling script will jump out of the screen,' said Sky's Elaine Pyke. 'Shot in South Africa with stunning locations and high octane HD action sequences on a grand scale, Chris Ryan's bestselling novel will be a truly uncompromising, compelling, action drama.'

Former Cutting It star Siân Reeves has claimed that the BBC failed to support her recent drama series Hope Springs. The actress, who played Hannah Temple on the Sunday night show, confirmed that she is unsure whether it will return to BBC1 next year after it failed to set the ratings alight. Hope Springs launched with an impressive six milion viewers in early June, but the programme's audience had dropped to 3.78m by the end of its run. Speaking to the Daily Record, Reeves explained: 'I don't think the BBC pushed it as much as they should have. I've had much more people stopping me about Hope Springs than Cutting It. It would be a shame if it doesn't go again.' I think you'll actually find, love, that the BBC did indeed push the series - they managed to get six million people watching the first episode of this turkey. The fact that you weren't able to hold onto them would appear to suggest it was more the programme which was at fault, rather than the broadcasters. But, you know, why accept your own failings when you can indulge in a bit of victim culture in which everything in the world is someone else's fault?

One Tree Hill star Antwon Tanner has pleaded guilty to taking part in a fake identity scam. According to AP, the thirty four-year-old actor, who plays Skills in the CW teen drama, admitted to selling more than a dozen social security numbers for ten thousand dollars. Tanner apparently told a federal judge in Brooklyn that he was acting as a middleman selling numbers provided by someone else, but refused to comment on how he got into the scheme. The actor was charged in April with selling sixteen social security numbers and three fake social security cards. He is reportedly expected to be jailed for up to a year at his sentencing, which is scheduled for 20 November.

Virgin1 has been criticised by Ofcom after the 'F' word was used in the reality-style series To The Manor Bowen. The programme, which followed Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen and his family as they relocated to a new country home, saw a builder on the site use the word 'fucking', which was not edited out of the episode. It was also noted that the scene was used in a mid-programme promo, but the expletive had been masked on that occasion. As a result, Ofcom received a complaint from a viewer who objected to the use of such strong language in a pre-watershed timeslot and was concerned that young children may have been watching. Virgin1 apologised for the use of language and alleged that two versions of the show had been produced: One for a pre-watershed slot and one to air post-watershed. However, it offered no explanation as to how the profanity aired in the earlier timeslot. Ofcom acknowledged Virgin1's apology and the steps to re-edit the episode to avoid future offence, but was concerned that the broadcaster's compliance check did not identify the expletive.

Hiroyuki Sanada has reportedly joined the cast of Lost as a recurring. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the forty eight-year-old actor will appear in several episodes of the show's final season. Details of his character are being kept under wraps and ABC has declined to reveal the number of episodes he will appear in. Sanada's previous screen credits include Sunshine and Rush Hour 3.

Channel 4 News presenter and Paxman wannabe Alex Thomson has revealed a hidden talent: growing courgettes. The glowering and grumpy - yet seemingly green-fingered - journalist reportedly shared his latest mammoth harvest with his colleagues last week. Thus providing a much-needed morale boost to a newsroom facing upheaval with the axing of News at Noon and More 4 News. It's just what you need when you've recently received the sad news that you might well be losing your job, isn't it? Somebody bringing in a nice ripe courgette. One thousand and one innovative uses for them, ladies and gentlemen. As Alex appears to be demonstrating in this photo.

Shine Television is reviving Junior Masterchef in a new thirteen-part series for nine to twelve-year olds on CBBC. It is not known whether judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode will also front the junior show, which will launch with on the channel at the end of the year. Like the adult MasterChef show, Junior MasterChef will task amateur cooks to create a two-course meal in an hour. Junior MasterChef first ran on BBC1 between 1994 and 2000, and was fronted by Lloyd Grossman who also presented the main MasterChef series at the time. Controller of children's Richard Deverell said: 'We hope to inspire children around the country to get cooking in what promises to be an aspirational, fun, and enjoyable cooking competition.' The revival comes in line with plans by Shine Group to massively ramp the MasterChef brand with the launch of an online club, a live event and MasterChef products. It also follows a BBC order for more than one hundred and fifty new hours of MasterChef and its spin-offs, cementing its television presence for at least the next three years.

Marshall Lancaster has revealed he is glad Ashes To Ashes is ending after its third series. According to The Sun, the thirty four-year-old actor, who plays DC Chris Skelton in the BBC series, said that he wants to show to go out on a high. 'These sorts of shows have only so much mileage and it will have gone as far as it can,' he said. 'I think we can stretch only one more series out of it. Everything should draw to an end at some point and sometimes you can flog these things to death. You've got to aim for something like Fawlty Towers where they didn't film many episodes but they were all brilliant.' Discussing the final series of Ashes, he teased: 'It will be a real eye-opener and won't be what everybody expects.' Lancaster can currently be seen playing Becky's ex-boyfriend Slug in Coronation Street.

Producers of Megan Wants a Millionaire have started an investigation into possible background check lapses on the series. The VH1 reality show was postponed by owners 51 Minds after contestant Ryan Jenkins was charged with murdering his ex-wife Jasmine Fiore. Executives had previously said that the thirty two-year-old would not have been offered a slot if they had known about his criminal history, which included a 'battery constituting domestic violence' charge against Fiore in June. They now plan to look into where the lapse in researching his background came about, People magazine reports. 'The company did have in place what it thought was a thorough vetting process which involved complete background checks by an outside company for all contestants on its shows,' the producers said in a statement. 'Clearly, the process did not work properly in this case. 51 Minds is investigating what went wrong and taking steps to ensure that this sort of lapse never occurs again.' A week-long international manhunt for Jenkins ended in a gloomy motel in a remote part of British Columbia where his body was found hanging in the early hours of Monday morning.

Heather Locklear is reportedly in discussions to return to Melrose Place. The forty seven-year-old actress is considering reprising her role as the bitchy Amanda Woodward on the CW reboot, according to People. Locklear, who played the scheming landlady in the original Fox series from 1993 to 1999, previously passed on playing the part again in March of this year, saying that there was no feasible way for her to make an appearance. However, Melrose executive producer Todd Slavkin hinted at the recent Television Critics Association's summer press tour that there is a plausible means to facilitate Locklear's return, claiming that 'the door was always open' for her to come back for the new series.

ESPN has signed former Newcastle United, Liverpool, SV Hamburg and England legend Kevin Keegan to act as lead analyst for its Premier League coverage for the 2009-10 season. Let us all hope that King Kev does a marginally better job for them than he infamously did when co-commentating with Brian Moore for ITV on the England vs Argentina penalty shoot-out at the 1998 World Cup. 'Will David Batty score, Kevin?' Even my granny knew the correct answer to that one, dear blog reader, and she's been dead since 1973. The twice former European player of the year started his new role at the weekend when he sat alongside host Ray Stubbs for West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur. It has also been announced that former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink will join Stubbs and Keegan to offer his analysis for certain selected live matches over the season. Other analysts to join the team include Frank Lebeouf, Danny Murphy and Shaka Hislop, while Chris Waddle will accompany Jon Champion in the commentary box for Premier League games from September. ESPN EMEA vice president, TV channels, Jeroen Oerlemans said: 'We're extremely happy to have Kevin and Guus on board. Between them they have won twenty three major honours as both players and managers and will bring a wealth of experience, flair, opinion and enthusiasm to ESPN's coverage this season.'

A former Emmerdale actor has been found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a nightclub. Lewis Linford had been accused of assaulting the woman, who cannot be identified, in December 2007 at the Pozition club in Hull, East Yorkshire. The woman told Hull Crown Court he had touched her and asked her for sex. But a jury of seven men and five women found Mr Linford not guilty. He played the part of gamekeeper Lee Naylor in Emmerdale until two months ago. He appeared in court under his real name Lewis Smales. Linford starred in the soap for ten months between September 2008 and June 2009.

The BBC has suspended its contract with an independent TV production company after a cameraman posed as a member of the public on a BBC2 programme. Sun, Sea and Bargain Spotting, hosted by Angela Rippon, has been taken off-air indefinitely pending an investigation with Reef Television, which makes the show. In what has rapidly become known in the industry as Angela Ripoff-gate a BBC spokeswoman said the corporation was 'extremely disappointed' that the company had 'misled the audience and us.' For anybody wondering, yes the last two words very pointedly were aimed squarely in the direction of Ofcom and the Daily Mail. In an episode originally broadcast last July, a cameraman is said to have posed as a member of the public aiming to buy goods being sold by the programme's contestants. In the show, two competitors go bargain hunting for antiques in France and then attempt to make a profit on the items they have bought on a market stall in London. While attempting to sell an acrylic panel, a man offered twenty five pounds for the item. It has since emerged that this individual was, in fact, a cameraman on the show, New Zealand-born Craig Harman. 'We take this matter seriously and have suspended all business with [Reef], while we investigate,' the spokeswoman continued. 'We regret that the production company has failed to meet the high standards the BBC expects of its programme makers.' A Reef Television spokesman said that the company 'wishes to apologise, unreservedly, for misleading Sun, Sea and Bargain Spotting viewers and the BBC.' Reef was established in 2003 by former Talkback producer Richard Farmbrough, currently the managing director of the company. According to their website, Reef produces over one hundred hours of television a year and has a dedicated post-production floor. Probably a fair bit less than one hundred hours now, I'm guessing.

Virgin Media has been censured for showing an unedited eighteen-rated episode of The X Files at 7pm. Ofcom has ruled that Virgin ignored a stipulation of the Broadcasting Code that says no material rated eighteen can be aired before 9pm on any channel which is not pay-per-view. On 21 April, Virgin1 aired the season two episode The Calusari, which centres on a young boy possessed by the demonic spirit of his stillborn twin-brother. It culminates in an exorcism during which FBI agent Dana Scully is attacked by the spirit and thrown around the bedroom like a rag doll in one of the most dramatically satisfying moments of the show's two hundred plus episodes. It's a particularly fine episode, actually, albeit one dealing with some very strong (and very disturbing) subject matter. The BBFC rated the episode at eighteen for its first video release in 1997 citing its 'occasional strong horror' (most fans of the show believe it was actually the exorcism concept and sequences that were the main reason behind this rating). It was the only episode of The X Files ever to receive such a rating, with other episodes typically classified as suitable for twelve or, occaisonally, fifteen years. Virgin Media said that the content was typical of The X Files (which proves - categorically - that they haven't got the faintest buggering clue what they're talking about), although it admitted that it was 'more at the stronger end of the scale' and had decided it could be aired at 7pm, but not during weekends or school holidays.

The BBC has retracted claims by senior staff that it has axed Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire because of funding issues. A top level corporation source told Broadcast magazine last week that the 'swords and sandals' spoof series had been dropped after its funding partner, Comedy Central, dropped out. However, both the BBC and Hat Trick Productions, which makes the show, now claim that a second series of the BBC2 could still happen if they secure a new co-production partner. Hat Trick boss Jimmy Mulville stated: 'There is a bit of misinformation going on. As far as the writers and the controller of BBC comedy and the controller of BBC2 and Matt Lucas are concerned, we are developing a second series.' Mulville hinted that Hat Trick will have to rework the series for a tighter budget – drawing comparisons with Blackadder which was cancelled after the first series but later resurrected with 'reduced scale and increased editorial merit.' He added that, with the right funding, the BBC is likely to back a second series 'because it did well, it is a very unusual piece and it's got ambition – and it's got Matt Lucas in it.' The first series of Krod Mandoon aired in June and was billed as 'Conan the Barbarian with a social anxiety disorder.' Lucas starred as Dongalor, the arch-enemy of Sean Maguire who played the eponymous anti-hero.

Channel 4 was justified in broadcasting nudity at lunchtimes in art show Life Class, Ofcom has ruled. The regulator has rejected thirty seven complaints against the week of programmes, which aired during the daytime last month. It chose not to comment on its decision. Each episode of the series focused on a different nude model and encouraged viewers at home to join in with demonstrations of depicting the subject. When the series was announced, it attracted ludicrously over-the-top tabloid headlines and upon airing proved divisive among C4 viewers. It was the most praised show of the month, with twenty three messages of support from viewers to the broadcaster, but also attracted fifty six complaints. A typical objection was that 'children of any age, turning over channels looking for a cartoon or Postman Pat are being subjected to a naked person.' Oooo ... repressed upbringing much?

BBC2 has greenlit Whites, the kitchen comedy co-written by Peep Show star Matt King and featuring Alan Davies as a lacklustre celebrity chef. A pilot of the show was filmed by BBC Productions earlier this year and the project has since been commissioned for a full six episode series. Matt King, who stars in Dogface as well as Peep Show, created the series with FM writer Oliver Lansley, drawing on his own experiences of working in kitchens. It stars Davies as Roland White, a successful 'executive chef' who has grand ambitions for his restaurants but lacks the drive to see them through, as well as The Darling Buds Of May star Pam Ferris as his 'dogged' agent. The series also features Saxondale actor Darren Boyd as White's hardworking sous chef, Bib, and Isy Suttie as a waitress, dubbed as the 'female Manuel.' Jessica Cooper, the agent who represents both King and Lansley, said: 'The show is a comedy about relationships and people. Roland wants to be a culinary star but can’t really be bothered doing the hard work. He'd rather his best friend and sous-chef Bib Spears did the hard graft and he got to take the credit.' Well, let's be charitable here, it can't possibly be any worse than Lenny Henry's notoriously dreadful Chef! Can it?

BBC4 is to chronicle the story of Kit Williams, eccentric and author of the children's book Masquerade, and his reunion with a golden hare he hid in the British countryside thirty years ago. The hare – a large jewelled charm - became the centre of a nationwide hunt after Williams published a storybook containing clues to its whereabouts. However, the hare was lost for a long time and the frenzied media coverage of the story destroyed William’s artistic credibility and forced him to become a virtual recluse. The amulet was eventually discovered in 1982 and auctioned at Sotheby's in 1988, to an anonymous overseas bidder for thirty one thousand pounds. The BBC productions documentary, The Man Behind the Masquerade, tracks down the hare's eventual owners, who live in the Far East, and asks whether Williams' artistic output needs to be reappraised. BBC4 controller Richard Klein, who showcased the charm at his channel's Autumn/Winter season launch yesterday, said: 'Kit is an extraordinary artist who broke new ground and yet was rejected by many in the artistic community. I am delighted that, in a life full of the twists and turns of fate, BBC4's been able to reunite Kit with this talisman from the beginning of his career.'

US cable network MTV is to create an American version of hit E4 teen drama Skins and has promised to 'preserve the authenticity' of the UK version, which included graphic scenes of drug taking, drinking, swearing and casual sex. Viacom-owned MTV landed the rights to develop the drama – which regularly pulled in more than one million viewers during its three series on Channel 4's digital channel E4 – 'after intense competition' over two years, according to the US broadcaster. In a bid to maintain the original production's successful model of bringing in new young writers, MTV will also draft in teenagers to write and star in the series, which will be set in Baltimore. The UK version, which features the exploits of a group of young people in Bristol, has already aired in the US on cable channel BBC America. A fourth series is currently in production. MTV, previously known for its music shows, has been moving into other areas of programming for some time, with series such as The Hills. The network's schedule also includes another former Channel 4 face, T4 presenter Alexa Chung, who currently fronts MTV's It's On with Alexa Chung. Bryan Elsley, who co-created the original British version of Skins with his son Jamie Brittain, will write and executive produce the US version, which will be made by his independent production company, Stormdog.

1 comment:

Robin Brown said...

I've been wondering about those X Files episodes and some fairly tough content for an early-evening slot for a while, but put it down to getting older and more fogeyish.