Monday, October 26, 2009

All The World Is Birthday Cake...

A brief history of time: It happened exactly forty six years ago today on the 26 October 1963, dear blog reader, in a small fishing village on the banks of the bonny River Tyne. It was then that Thomas Topping abandoned his heavily pregnant wife at Newcastle General Hospital to go and watch his beloved (and, even then, unsellable) United get thrashed 3-2 by Northampton Town at The Cathedral of Dreams. (That's St James' Park to you lot.) Arriving at the hospital in the early evening he then watched, unimpressed, as Lily struggled valiantly through labour and promptly delivered him a third son (he'd rather been hoping for a daughter) shortly after 19:30 GMT. Seeing the squalling brat emerge, Tommy noticed a TV set in the corner of the room. 'I'm going to call him Keith Telly Topping' he said. Then he went out with his brothers and got plastered.

True story, that. Well ... Most of it, anyway. And, a small matter of forty six years on, the Magpies remain, tragically, utterly unsellable and that little bouncing baby boy has grown up to become a snarling, vicious, temporarily-bearded rottweiler of a Top Telly Tipster. One who casts his jaundiced, cynical eye with monotonous regularity across the sheer detritus of what passes for mass entertainment in these shocking times. Still... it's a living, I suppose. It could be worse. He could've ended up a dustman.

Anyway, I bring you - albeit second-hand - this little gift, dear blog reader. It was tweeted (as I believe all the young and with-it people describe what they do with their telephones) yesterday by Miss Victoria Coren: 'I just tore the seat of my trousers on a nail. Quick turn in garden shed: cartoon ripping sound, trousers half off. I feel like Terry Scott.' Keith Telly Topping feels like a cold shower personally...

Meanwhile, alleged comedian Jimmy Carr has been criticised after making a joke about servicemen amputees. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer complained: 'This was a remarkably dim and foolish thing to joke about. It's not funny and this man's career should end right now.' Oh, if only wishing made it so your honour.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Yes, I know that sounds like the opening line of an unreleased Half Man, Half Biscuit song but, actually, it's a genuine piece of news. The composer's spokesman released a statement which stated that the disease had been caught in its early stages. 'Andrew is now undergoing treatment and expects to be fully back at work before the end of the year,' it explained. The sixty one-year-old is due to launch a new BBC show next year to find upcoming stars to play Dorothy and Toto in a London production of The Wizard of Oz. It's is unknown as yet whether any health concerns may affect Lloyd Webber's participation in the show.

X Factor producers reportedly held crisis talks on Sunday night after being left 'shocked' and 'stunned' by the results of the viewer phone vote. Girl-band Miss Frank were eliminated from the competition after finding themselves in the bottom two with hotly-tipped singer Danyl Johnson. Simon Cowell immediately described Johnson's setback as 'a joke.' So, there you go, X Factor viewers, Simon hasn't got a very high opinion of you, apparently. What a surprise. According to the Sun, 'show chiefs' (so, that'd be Simon, basically) are now keen to ensure that 'the best acts' do not end up in the sing-off again. A source said: 'They need to work out whether they've given the acts the best songs.' Cowell's protégé Johnson was also said to have been surprised by his narrow escape, though he later told The Xtra Factor that he had expected to do badly. The insider added: 'He looked like a broken man when he came off stage - absolutely destroyed. He was stunned to be in the bottom two, he thought he was the best thing on the show.'

It was all kicking off, big-style back stage at The X-Factor seemingly. Contestant Lucie Jones was left 'in agony' after she was struck in the face by a tambourine by show rival Joe McElderry back stage. Heh. Anybody else getting an image on one of those 'have you been injured at work?' adverts in their head? The Welsh singer is reported to have 'cried out in pain' after the eighteen-year-old misfired throwing the instrument in the air. It came down and struck Jones directly in the face. Show onlookers claimed, Jones cried out: 'Why did you do that?' An insider told the Sun: 'Lucie looked very miffed, even though Joe obviously didn't mean it.' The injury was an extra blow for Jones who was left in floods of tears on Saturday night's show after her big band performance failed to win over Simon Cowell. Jones blubbed: 'I just don't know what I have to do to please him. I'm trying so hard – it's upsetting.' Well, you entered the competition in the first place, you silly girl. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the sweat shop, it's very simple.

And, it's no wonder that ITV is so annoyed about Strictly Come Dancing going up against X Factor, the Sun claim. The dance show is said to be taking valuable advertising 'eyeballs' as 'millions of viewers' change channels during advert breaks. Rating-watchers have discovered that every time The X Factor goes to a break, up to two-and-a-half million viewers, briefly, swap sides. After catching up on the rival show they then return to Simon Cowell and X Factor after about five minutes. The move is said to be 'annoying' ITV's advertising chiefs, who sell the show to advertisers based on its expected audience. On Saturday 11.4 million viewers were watching at The X Factor at 8.10pm but when the advert break started at around 8.15pm that audience dramatically dropped to 9.3 million. An even bigger drop was experienced during the break at 8.35pm. The X Factor's figures dropped from over twelve million to 9.8 million. Viewers only started to actually watch the advert breaks once Strictly finished at 9pm. ITV has been fuming about Strictly running directly against it, claiming the Beeb is ruining viewers' choice. Strictly averaged 9.7 million on Saturday, while The X Factor had 13.5 million. ITV will have some relief next weekend after Strictly is moved to ten minutes earlier, with ITV sources claiming they were 'running scared.' Not sure, exactly, one can 'ruin viewers choice' by giving them a choice. But, I'm sure that ITV's very talkative 'source' will have that one covered.

Craig Revel Horwood has revealed that he adopted a 'tough love' approach to Alesha Dixon when she faced a backlash from Strictly viewers. Dixon's debut as a judge on the BBC1 series was strongly criticised last month. A number of viewers complained that the pop star was a poor replacement for Arlene Phillips. Fellow panellist Horwood told the Daily Star Sunday: 'Alesha has had a rough ride, but I told her the only way to deal with that was to toughen up. I told her that she just had to be herself and be much more opinionated than she had been before. She's got a great personality and she just needs to let that shine.'

And now, sadly, some awful news. Jeremy Kyle is reportedly set to host a new ITV programme in a deal worth one million pounds. The chat show host will go into people's homes to offer advice on how they can improve their lives, according to the Sunday Mirror. Showing Jeremy Kyle the door would probably be a good start, I'm thinking. An ITV spokesman confirmed that discussions are underway, adding: 'We're always looking at ways of developing our talent.' Earlier this year, a judge described Kyle's current ITV chat show as 'cruel and exploitative.' Which Keith Telly Topping considered to be a huge insult to perfectly ordinary cruel and exploitative programmes.

The BBC's deputy director general Mark Byford has hit back at the criticism surrounding the BNP's appearance on Question Time and stated 'I don't regret it.' Putting up a robust defence on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Byford said that the BBC had to 'fulfil its charter obligation on due impartiality' by inviting Nick Griffin on to the programme and refuted the accusation from the British National Party leader that he had faced a lynch mob. 'The audience felt strongly about the questions they wanted to ask and that they were able to put under public scrutiny those issues,' said Byford, describing it as: 'Democracy in action.' The BBC executive also defended the format of the show in which nearly every question targeted Griffin, prompting him to lodge a complaint. However, Byford said: 'I haven't yet received his complaint and I'm not sure I will.' He said there had been previous examples where the programme had been dominated a single issue such as MPs expenses. The audience set the agenda and the vast majority of questions were about race and immigration and that's why David [Dimbleby] allowed those questions to be asked.' He also said that all the panellists knew in advance that the edition was scheduled to take place in London, with its high ethnic diversity.

Simon Cowell has reportedly been dubbed 'the neighbour from hell' by a resident living on the same Beverly Hills street. Police have been called to The X Factor judge's twelve million pound six-bedroom mansion on numerous occasions to deal with a variety of complaints, according to the Mail On Sunday. Neighbour Judy Wolf told the newspaper: 'Construction's been going on for five years and I've been near the end of my rope on many occasions. And we've been told the construction is not over yet. Apparently Simon didn't like the way two or three of the rooms have turned out, so he's completely redoing them. It's the building project that never ends.' Cowell bought the property in 2004, after having said that he feels more at home in Los Angeles than anywhere else in the world. Another resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that the construction work being carried out on the property means that the road is constantly filled with vehicles. They stated: 'I have spoken to several builders and workers at the house and they say they have to park in the street because Cowell doesn't want them on his drive. Of course, what he says goes, but what Cowell doesn't realise is that it is making life miserable for everyone else on his street.'

The BBC is to auction off two of its under-used Freeview streams, to stop them 'sitting idle' in the run up to 2012. The corporation will need the capacity for BBC HD after digital switchover, but announced today it will drop the red button and multi-screen news facilities from Freeview Multiplex B in order to sublet the capacity until then. The two streams will be available in approximately eighty per cent of the country from later this year, but will be gradually reduced to nothing as each regions goes digital in the run up to 2012. The spectrum will be sold off in a competitive tender process, starting today. BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson said: 'The BBC has identified an opportunity to release temporary spare spectrum capacity to any interested companies that wish to launch new services for audiences in the UK. Not only does this mean that we are ensuring that spectrum is used as efficiently as possible but it will also deliver better value for money for licence fee payers.'

The BBC has chosen Graham Norton as the host of its 2009 New Year's Eve show, says the Sun. According to reports, the special show will be pre-recorded in December in a bid to help the BBC secure better guests. The Norton-fronted show will be based around his BBC1 chat show, but the channel will cut live to BBC Scotland for the traditional midnight celebrations. An insider is quoted as saying: 'Landing the show is a coup for Graham, as it's a plum slot - millions tune in. The idea is for it to be a little bit more family-focused as youngsters will also be watching.' On New Year's Eve? Everybody's gonna be slammed anyway, what does it matter?

Jennifer Aniston and Oprah Winfrey are reportedly planning to co-host a television show. That'll be the blonde leading the bland, then? The Sunday Express claims that Aniston will produce and star in the weekly programme, which will be broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Aniston reportedly decided to work on a television show after being inspired by her friend Chelsea Handler, who hosts Chelsea Lately. 'Jen became fascinated with the format after spending time with Chelsea,' a source said. 'When she saw Oprah she mentioned that it would be fun to do a chat show and Oprah seized the moment and suggested they front one together for her new network.'

The BBC Trust is to consider whether Gaelic TV channel BBC Alba should get a Freeview slot, as part of a review of the service launched today. The consultation will weigh up whether it is worth dropping the BBC's radio stations from the DTT in Scotland during Alba's hours, and allowing the Gaelic channels to air there instead. It will also examine the performance of the service, whether it represents value for money and how well it appeals viewers who do not speak Gaelic.

Sky Sports gave undue prominence to Specsavers' sponsorship of the Hawk-Eye technology used in its Ashes coverage, Ofcom has ruled. The regulator threw out Sky's argument that the technology is 'programme-related material,' derived outside of the programme in which it is used and, therefore, open to commercial branding just as sports scoreboards and timing devices. Ofcom instead judged that because Sky deliberately uses the technology to 'enhance the viewing experience,' it is intrinsically part of the programme itself. As such, it cannot feature any branding. Hawk-Eye is a technical system that captures information from sporting fixtures. In the Ashes coverage, this included the spread of shots around the wicket, the speed of the bowling, the spread of the bowling to the batsmen, and whether a leg before wicket decision is likely to be correct. In Sky Sports' coverage, whenever the Hawk-Eye displays were on screen, a Specsavers logo was briefly displayed. Ofcom said that it could not accept Sky's argument because it could open the floodgates to sponsorship of other sports production techniques such as slow-motion replays, graphics of team formations and techniques and cameras placed within sporting grounds.

Occupation, the BBC's Iraq war drama produced by Kudos, has won the Prix Europa for the best episode of a drama series or serial. It was the only UK entry to scoop an award at the ceremony in Berlin on Saturday night, although Ruby Films co-pro Five Minutes of Heaven and Panorama: Britain's Homecare Scandal both won special commendations. France picked up the prize for the best television fiction programme of the year, with Skirt Day (La Journée de la Joupe), a drama by Mascaret Films about a depressed teacher who discovers a weapon in one of her students' bags and uses it to hold her class hostage. The prize for the best television script by a newcomer also went to a French entrant: Adila Bennedjai-Zou for her drama, Tomboy (Garçon Manqué), about a Muslim girl brought up as a boy. Poland took the award for the best TV documentary, with Chemo, a close up look at 'ordinary life on an oncology ward,' by Pawel Lozinska, whilst the Netherlands' Backlight: Lockerbie Revisited took the prize for the best TV current affairs programme.

A single website offering access to every British radio station could be developed by the end of the year, according to a report. Speaking to the Independent, BBC director of audio and music Tim Davie said the abundance of free music websites like Spotify meant the industry faced a 'real threat' of extinction unless it moved quickly to provide a one-stop shop for radio listening. At present, only two per cent of radio listening is done via the Internet, but Davie wants to see it become widespread through portable. The site would offer up to five hundred different networks including both BBC and commercial stations. A prototype could be ready for testing as early as this Christmas. The site is then expected to be available to consumers in the first half of 2010.

Kim Raver has revealed that she is hoping for some closure between Jack Bauer and Audrey Raines on 24. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Raver also said that she is happy that Audrey has not been killed off in the FOX series. Asked if Audrey might return, she said: 'That's a tricky one. I was happy to know Audrey wasn't dead because there [may be] a little bit of a window to go back to that family. But I don't know where they are with that storyline. I'm sort of a romantic at heart so I would love to see some closure between Jack and Audrey - especially if it's the last season. I feel like [Audrey just] lying there not being able to talk to him wasn't really any kind of great closure.' Raver added that she believes the duo are meant to be together. 'I have a warm spot for those two characters. They are soul-mates. I know that sounds corny, but they are,' she said.

Natalie Cassidy and Dean Gaffney are reportedly meeting in secret. Now claims that Cassidy, who starred with Gaffney in EastEnders, has not told her boyfriend about the meetings. 'Before we knew they met up, Nat was always texting and speaking to Dean on the phone,' a source said. 'She told her best friend that she's always had a soft spot for him.' Meanwhile, a photographer reportedly saw Gaffney leaving Cassidy's home. 'I couldn't believe it when I saw Dean scurrying away from Nat's and he wouldn't answer any questions,' he said. 'He was pursued by the paparazzi further down the street.' However, Cassidy's representative denied the rumours, saying: 'Dean was on his way to Islington and just stopped off for a cup of coffee.' Gaffney's spokesperson added: 'He's remained good friends with Natalie since leaving EastEnders.'

Former Coronation Street actress Debra Stephenson has admitted that working on the soap left her feeling 'exhausted.' Stephenson joined the Weatherfield drama as Frankie Baldwin in 2004, but bowed out of the role at the end of 2006 to spend more time with her family. Stephenson is now settled in London with her young family. Reflecting on her decision to leave the show, Stephenson told the Mirror: 'James and I decided that we wanted another child and I got pregnant. But my job was so full-on. Sometimes I was doing a six-day week when I had a big storyline and it was relentless. By the time I was heavily pregnant, I had that mad plot where Frankie developed feelings for her stepson Jamie (Rupert Hill) and I found it draining. It was a bit of a shame because I left the show in an exhausted state and I needed a couple of years off after that.'

Keira Knightley has won the role of Eliza Doolittle in a new film adaptation of My Fair Lady, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Daniel Craig has revealed that the twenty third James Bond movie will start filming in 2010. The actor told fans outside the Broadway theatre for his play A Steady Rain that production will kick off at the 'end of next year.' The movie will be Craig's third outing as the British secret agent following 2006's Casino Royale and last year's Quantum Of Solace. The films have taken in more than one billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Peter Morgan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are writing the next 007 instalment, which is expected to open in cinemas towards the end of 2011.

Ashley Cole has defended his wife's choice of outfit for The X Factor performance of her new single. Cheryl received criticism for dressing provocatively - in a black see-through top and military-style jacket - while she sang 'Fight For This Love'. However, her footballer husband said that he approved of her attire, the People reports. Oh well, that's all right then.

Kerry Katona has apparently agreed to carry out personal appearances at pubs for a fee of fifty quid a pop. The singer, who lost her two hundred and fifty thousand pound a year contract with supermarket Iceland after being filmed allegedly taking cocaine, is said to be experimenting with new opportunities to boost her income. Slowly, it would seem. According to the News Of The World, Katona's husband Mark Croft is behind the money-making venture. 'She is happy to go along with it. She's keen to do whatever it takes to earn some extra money,' a source said. Well, Keith Telly Topping's kitchen floor needs a once-over with some Flash if Kerry fancies earning a quick tenner. Nowt'll be said to the Benefit's Agency. Honest.

So we come to today's Katie Price section. And, actually, there's a whole bunch of news related to the orange plastic one: Firstly, Price has reportedly kicked boyfriend Alex Reid out of her house. She is said to have told the cage fighter that she needs space to decide if she wants to carry on seeing him, according to the Sunday Mirror. The newspaper claims that the couple had spent the previous forty eight hours apart and Reid had temporarily moved back in with his mum. Price was also said to be 'stunned' when she arrived at a book signing over the weekend and discovered that her new release was on sale for half-price. The glamour model appeared red-faced when she spotted the special offer at a Waterstones store in Gateshead, the Daily Star claims. Posed pictures of Price at the event appear to show her holding up her book, Standing Out: My Look, My Style, My Life while using her hand to cover up a sticker advertising the discount. A source is quoted as saying: 'She looked so embarrassed when she saw the sticker. Her face was so red. Perhaps she should change her name to Katie Half-Price!' Hahaha ... Katie Half-Price, do you get it? Oh, suit yerselves. Anyway, also in Jordan news, the Ministry of Defence has reportedly turned down Price's offer to visit troops in Afghanistan. Feeling, perhaps, that the poor lads have suffered enough hardship already. According, again, to the Daily Star, army brass was concerned that Price would use the trip as a 'shameless publicity stunt to help flog her merchandise,' the paper said. 'Her bid was considered like all the others the MoD gets from celebrities,' added a source. Probably not the same source that was at Gateshead Waterstones, though you never know. They get about these saucy sources. '[The army cheifs] weren't happy. They looked at her lifestyle and felt her current image was not something that they wanted to be involved with. Let's just say it was all thought to be a bit too tacky.' Katie Price? Tacky? Surely some mistake?

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