Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad Impressions

It's BBC Newcastle's Octobeard Day Twenty Eight, dear blog reader. And, yer man Keith Telly Topping has - much to his surprise - to report that he's finally starting to warm to the Jesus of Nazareth (only, you know, ginger)-look. Which he's been slowly and steadily developing over the last four weeks after agreeing in a moment of madness to part-take in this malarkey. It's still itchy as buggery, mind! And, he remains eager for Saturday to come around so that he can give it some severe razor action!

We've reached that curious point of the year where a few of the American drama shows start missing the odd week because of the damned strange nature of how American network TV functions. Don't worry about it, dear blog reader, it has baffled far better brains than ours. Thus, there were no new episodes of, for example, Bones or CSI this week. There was a very good Lie To Me (Grievous Bodily Harm) which delved into Cal's murky past in England as a shady West Ham supporting con-artist although there was a feeling that the episode's author had based most of his knowledge of London on a couple of viewings of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Also, FlashForward took an interesting diversion into the series' political parallel universe in the episode Gimme Some Truth - which, once again, suggests a very good potential show in the making but one whose main, and most obvious, fault is a tendency by the writers to over-flower the dialogue to the point of genuine annoyance. Particularly between the Jospeh Fiennes and Sonya Walger characters whom one just wishes would shut the hell up whinging about the manifest unfairness of fate once in a while. Focusing, as the episode did, on two of the show's most interesting characters - Courtney Vance's dry, cynical FBI boss Wedeck and Christine Woods' suddenly-out-of-nowhere-lesbian Janis Hawk - was a good move. Stargate Universe is also looking potentially strong, although the fact that we're five episodes in and they've barely left the spaceship yet does rather suggest that the writers (and, we're talking about damned good ones like Robert Cooper, here) need to start thinking about getting a move on with regard to where they want to take the viewers. An audience won't wait around forever for something to happen. Witness Star Trek: Voyager. The TV highlight of the week, however, was Dollhouse's long-awaited Sierra-background episode, Belonging. This was, quite possibly, the best single episodes of any TV series so far this year this season. All the more remarkable when one considers that of the series' two notional 'stars', Eliza Dushku was reduced to a few quiet scenes of characterisation and Tahmoh Penikett was missing completely. Instead, we got a series of outstanding performances by Dichen Lachman, Harry Lennix, Olivia Williams and especially Fran Kranz as Topher finally, finally, got a bitter taste of just how horrible moral ambiguity can be in the great scheme of things. The episode got into the sort of deep areas of psychology that most dramas wouldn't dare to touch in a million years; issues like individual choice, abuse, care of the vulnerable and secrecy, handled in clever and oblique ways. And a truly outstanding script was aided by Jonathan Frakes' astute direction. Keith Telly Topping will say it again but it is a right bloody tragedy that more people aren't watching this show and that it will, in all likelihood, end once its thirteen season-two episodes are done. If not sooner. Meanwhile, generic tosh like CSI: Miami will just go on and on and on until the end of time. No justice.

BBC1 is to pitch its cult panel-show Qi against ITV's long-running police drama The Bill when the Stephen Fry-fronted quiz returns for its seventh ('G') series next month. Qi will move to Thursday nights at 9.30pm from 26 November in the run-up to Christmas, though it will then return to its traditional Friday night slot for the remainder of its run in early 2010. Remember, there's sixteen episodes this coming series. Ironically, Talkback Thames produces both Qi and The Bill, meaning it will have shows playing simultaneously against each other on the UK's two biggest terrestrial channels - something that, I think I'm right in saying, only Kudos have ever managed before. (Although, I'm sure one of you, dear blog reader, knows different.) Thursdays have become a fierce scheduling battleground since ITV changed The Bill's broadcast slot in July, positioning it as a weekly hour-long drama at 9pm. BBC1 has frequently countered it with ratings blockbuster New Tricks and - every time it has done so - it has gained the lion's share of the audience rating. New episodes of the popular Wall to Wall-produced crime-drama attract around seven million viewers compared to The Bill's average of between three-and-a-half and four million. Even repeat episodes of New Tricks' previous series have typically pull in more than four million. Qi made a successful move from BBC2 to BBC1 earlier this year. The sixth series was watched by an average of four-and-a-half million viewers. However, it is as yet untested on Thursday nights, which is not traditionally considered a home for comedy on the channel (unlike BBC2, where it very much is). BBC1 has yet to confirm what will be broadcast before it in the half-hour slot at 9pm.

Top Gear presenter James May's new series based around the toys of his youth helped BBC2 to a fine night in the ratings on Tuesday, out-performing every other channel except for BBC1 according to overnight figures. More than three-and-a-half million viewers tuned-in for the debut of James May's Toy Stories at 8pm, which followed James' quest to build a full-sized Spitfire from Airfix™. The show achieved over nine hundred thousand more viewers than the slot usually commands. The programme was only topped by BBC1's medical drama Holby City, which won the 8pm slot with 5.9m. Elsewhere, the ITV stalwart Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? came third in the race with 3.2m. Gok Wan enticed 2.2m for How to Look Good Naked. A further two hundred and thirty five thousand watched the show on C4+1. Five's Nature Shock documentary on the mysterious death of a family of elephants collected 1.2m.

ITV are going down the strip-scheduling route, it would appear, with the much-anticipated Collision, which will air 9pm for five nights from Monday 9 November. The five-part serial is described as 'a modern epic tale which explores how fragile our lives are. It focuses on how fate and the feeling of immortality behind the wheel play a part in modern lives, where events are not always in our control and ordered.' ITV have taken the decision to follow the successful lead of the BBC whose innovative broadcast of dramas like Criminal Justice, Occupation and Torchwood: The Children Of Earth across a single week brought much critical acclaim and positive ratings in the last eighteen months. Collison's extraordinary cast includes Douglas Henshall, Kate Ashfield, Paul McGann, Lucy Griffiths, Dean Lennox Kelly, his brother Craig Kelly, Claire Rushbrook, Phil Davis, Sylvia Syms, Jan Francis and David Bamber. It had been created and written by acclaimed author and screen writer Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War) and co-written by Michael A Walker (Does God Play Football?).

TV and movie icon Barbara Windsor is set to say goodbye to everyone's favourite pub landlady, Peggy Mitchell, when she leaves EastEnders in 2010, the BBC report. Peggy Mitchell has been Queen of the Vic for most of Barbara's fifteen years in Albert Square and has famously yelled 'Get outta moi paaaaab' at pretty much every inhabitant of Walford at one time or another. Babs first appeared in EastEnders in 1994 and has since become one of the nation's most loved television matriarchs ruling the Mitchells with 'an iron fist and a heart of gold.' She was awarded an MBE in 1999 and was a Lifetime Achievement Award at The British Soap Awards in May this year. Keith Telly Topping believes that the former, just about, tops the latter. Barbara says of her departure: 'EastEnders has been wonderful to me and it's no secret that it changed my life all of those years ago. I'll be sad to leave Peggy behind; she's such a wonderful character to play. I have had the pleasure of working with a marvellous cast and crew and have made many lasting good friends. To have had the honour of showing the Queen around the set is something that will stay with me forever. I would like to thank the BBC for the incredible opportunity they gave me and above all, I must thank the wonderful viewers for their support over the years. I'm looking forward to the future and I suppose when all's said and done, I should spend a bit more time with my old man, as he's not getting any younger.' John Yorke, Controller BBC Drama Production & New Talent, says: 'To most of the British public Barbara is EastEnders, and it's almost impossible to imagine Albert Square without her. For fifteen years she's given her heart and soul to EastEnders – she's been a consummate professional, a national treasure and a joy to work alongside. We will all miss her hugely – both as a character, and as a friend.'

Channel 4 is to hold an online debate on the subject of the death penalty following the broadcast of its controversial fictional drama The Execution of Gary Glitter it has been announced. With a Channel 4-commissioned poll showing that seventy per cent of the public think the death penalty should be reintroduced, the broadcaster is to transmit a one-off, ninety-minute fictional drama imagining the consequences of capital punishment being reinstated. In the drama, the first person to be tried under a new Capital Crimes Against Children law is Paul Gadd, better known as 1970s rock-star Gary Glitter. Gadd will be played by Doctors actor Hilton McRae. Billed by Channel 4 as a 'courtroom drama shot in the style of a documentary,' the programme examines how society deals with its most serious offenders. The Execution of Gary Glitter is written and directed by Rob Coldstream and produced by Juniper Productions and will air on Monday 9 November. Samir Shah, the executive producer will then chair a debate on the death penalty afterwards on The head of documentaries and More4, Hamish Mykura, said: 'High-profile crimes against children often prompt calls for the return of the death penalty – this drama confronts the public with what many say they want.' I'm really not sure at all what to make of this. And that's, surely, one of the few occasions in his life where Keith Telly Topping has been, genuinely, lost for words.

League of Gentleman star and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss is to star in his own adaptation of HG Wells' Sci-Fi romance, The First Men In The Moon, for BBC4. Rory Kinnear (Waking the Dead, Silent Witness) will also appear in the ninety-minute drama, which is the first project to emerge from Gatiss and director Damon Thomas' independent production company, Can Do. Set in July 1969, 'as the world waits with baited breath for news of the Apollo 11 astronauts,' the drama focuses on ninety-year-old Julius Bedford (Kinnear) who recounts his own, secret, journey to the moon sixty years earlier. As a young man, Bedford met 'unworldly' scientist Professor Cavor (Gatiss) who has invented 'cavorite' – a substance which can be used to make objects immune to the forces of gravity. The BBC press office notes: 'Knowing a miracle when he sees one, and with a keen eye on profit, Bedford encourages Cavor to think big. And so the two men construct a copper and cast-iron sphere which will fly them to the Moon. But what terrors await them in the lunar interior? And will they ever succeed in returning to Earth?' Very much looking forward to that one.

Some of the UK's leading sports bodies have attacked Ofcom's proposed intervention in the pay-TV market claiming that it is 'fatally flawed in a number of key areas,' according to Broadcast magazine. The media watchdog yesterday published responses to its latest consultation, in which BT, Virgin Media and Top-Up TV filed a joint submission. As part of the review, Ofcom is currently considering whether to force Sky to sell its premium content, movies and sports, below the existing wholesale prices. The ECB said that it was 'very concerned that Ofcom has not sought to engage us in any discussions on this issues' and that 'this approach heightens our concerns that Ofcom has pre-determined its views on this subject and will seek a remedy that could have a very damaging impact on cricket in this country, particularly our ability to invest in cricket at the grassroots level.' Meanwhile, the FA Premier League added that the 'consultation is fatally flawed' in a number of key areas. 'Most importantly the remedy will be highly detrimental to consumers by significantly devaluing content rights. However, this negative effect for consumers is entirely ignored by Ofcom.' So, here's the really important question - does TV need sport more than sport needs TV, or is it the other way round? Place your bets here, dear blog reader.

Paula Newsome will join the cast of FlashForward for a number of upcoming episodes, according to a report in Entertainment Weekly. The Woman's Murder Club actress will play a doctor in a FlashForward story-arc of indeterminate length which will be broadcast in early 2010. Newsome has previous guest-starred on a number of TV series in recent years, including NCIS, Heroes and Bones.

Larry David has been attacked by a religious critic over dialogue in a recent episode of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. In this, the show's creator and star accidentally splatters urine on a picture of Jesus in his assistant's bathroom and does not wipe it off. His assistant later enters the room and concludes that Jesus is crying. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said that the comedian should 'quit while he's ahead,' FOX News reports. No, I don't know what that means either. 'Was Larry David always this crude? Would he think it's comedic if someone urinated on a picture of his mother?' Donohue asked. 'This might be fun to watch, but since HBO only likes to dump on Catholics - it was just a couple of weeks ago that Sarah Silverman insulted Catholics on Real Time with Bill Maher - and David is Jewish, we'll never know.' He added: 'When David and Jerry Seinfeld are asked if they ever experienced a miracle, David answers, "Every erection is a miracle." That's what passes for creativity these days.' No, I think, actually, it passes for what's funny these days, pal. Slight difference, but an important one non the less.

X Factor producers have reported met with police over complaints from Golder's Green residents about the contestants' house. According to the Sun, the six million pound property may be closed down because of the allegedly lewd behaviour of female fans who are reported to have been visiting the building. Teenagers are said to have been 'flashing their breasts' at the twin brothers John and Edward when they have appeared at the windows. Local Alexander Netsler, who contacted police on Sunday, noted: 'I saw a girl who must have been only about fourteen lifting up her top to flash at the twins. I had to look away. With all these young girls about it is attracting dirty old men to come and stare at them. These girls - some as young as eleven - are writing pornographic messages on the barriers. They are also writing their phone numbers on the walls and no-one is doing anything about it. It is encouraging the sexualisation of young girls and it should be stopped.' I'm not saying your wrong, Alexander, far from it, but have you considered telling them all of this rather than a newspaper which plasters women's tits all over the nation's breakfast table? Police are now said to be patrolling the grounds, looking for any flashers, but neighbours are apparently threatening to stage their own protest. 'We're sick to the back teeth of all the disruption this is causing and if the police don't sort it we will,' threatened an unnamed local, menacingly. 'The people round here are extremely wealthy and have their own personal security. If necessary, we will blockade the street and stop the crowd ourselves.' Now, that sounds brilliant. They should film that and show it instead of X Factor, frankly.

US talk-show host Craig Ferguson was forced to use a torch when a power-cut hit a recording of his latest episode. The presenter was interviewing Hollywood actress Alicia Silverstone on The Late Late Show when the studio lights dimmed. Producers decided to keep the cameras rolling and handed Ferguson a torch to illuminate proceedings. High winds were blamed for the power cut at the CBS studios in downtown Los Angeles. Scottish-born Ferguson has hosted the show, which is screened immediately after The David Letterman Show on CBS, since 2005. His programme, which is a rather good mix of guests and his own improvised monologues, goes head-to-head with Conan O'Brien's similar late night talk show on NBC. Ferguson, who moved to the US in 1994, once had his own short-lived comedy show on ITV (which was, also, pretty good) and was a fixture on the alternative comedy circuit during the 1980s. Used to do a brilliant joke about people saying that if you don't annoy bees they'll leave you alone but, wondering, how exactly one knows if what one is doing is annoying the bee. Like, for instance, changing a TV channel. The bee might be sitting there saying 'I was watching that, you bastard!'

Claudia Winkleman has suggested that show producers were not being ageist when they chose to replace judge Arlene Phillips with Alesha Dixon. Oh God, are people still wittering on about this nonsense? She wasn't sacked because she was too old, she was sacked because she was a rubbish judge and nobody liked her. Give it a rest, for heaven's sake. The Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host told Stylist that critics had misunderstood the decision from the programme's bosses. Winkleman said: 'I think it's been read wrong. I can't talk about it because I'll get into trouble whatever I say, but I think it's a brilliant show and they wanted to update it. I don't worry about it because I think you can stay on TV whatever your age. And if I can't, I'll do radio, or I'll write.' She added: 'Strictly takes over my life from September until Christmas, so I don't do any TV work through the summer. My agent, Joanna, knows it has to be something extraordinary for me to have to work in the summer as I'd rather by with my kids. I've turned down a lot of jobs because of it.'

Richard Gere is being lined-up to make a guest appearance on Strictly, a press report has claimed. Producers have reportedly approached the Pretty Woman actor to take part in a one-off performance with one of the show's professional dancers Katya Virshilas. The pair previously worked together on 2004 movie Shall We Dance? The rumours are said to follow claims that BBC bosses are worried about Strictly losing out to its ITV rival The X Factor in the Saturday night ratings battle. A source is claimed to have told the Sun: 'ITV is hammering the show in the ratings, so bosses think getting some high-profile names on will do the trick. Mariah Carey and Pamela Anderson are also being lined-up.' Yeah, that sounds like just the kind of thing somebody working on Strictly would've told a national newspaper. I don't think.

The BBC has pulled an episode of This Week from the Internet amid worries of a race controversy after the show's host Andrew Neil compared Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo to a chocolate HobNob biscuit and a custard cream. Nah. Portaloo's more a Jammy Dodger, I'd've said. The political show was broadcast on BBC1 last Thursday, on the same night as BNP leader Nick Griffin made his controversial appearance as a guest on Question Time. This Week began with Neil making reference to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's apparently reluctance to name his favourite biscuit. Neil made a light-hearted joke that his two co-hosts were 'the chocolate HobNob and custard cream of late night telly.' Concerns were raised by 'a handful' of viewers that Neil might have been making a veiled allusion to race - and the episode was prmptly removed from the BBC's iPlayer on-demand service the following evening. A planned BBC2 repeat of the show was also cancelled. A BBC spokesman said: 'On Thursday's programme Andrew made reference to the story that Gordon Brown was reluctant to name his favourite biscuit during a live web-chat with parents from the website Mumsnet. It was in this context of Gordon Brown's biscuit preferences that Andrew introduced Diane and Michael as "the chocolate HobNob and custard cream of late night telly." Andrew's introduction chose two well-known types of biscuit at random but a few viewers have expressed concern that this might have been a reference to race. This was certainly not the case and the programme would like to reassure them on this point and apologise if any unintentional offence was caused.' Well yes, and I think it's not unreasonable to assume that most viewers with half-a-ruddy-ounce of common sense in their brains would have been able to work that out for themselves, surely? So, why the hell are the BBC pandering to the insane prejudices and rants of 'a few viewers'? At what point, exactly, do these people's opinions take precedence over the enjoyment of the millions of other viewers of a TV show who don't complain about petty rubbish like this? Again, the crap that some people chose to care about continues to befuddle and concern. You can't do right for doing wrong these days, it seems.

How Clean Is Your House? star Kim Woodburn has reportedly signed up for the new series of I'm A Celebrity... According to the Daily Star, ITV has added the sixty seven-year-old to the cast of Z-list celebrities heading to the jungle next month. 'Kim's used to getting rid of bugs - now she may be eating them!' a 'friend' of Kim's is supposed to have told the newspaper. Nice 'friend' you've got there, Kim. I'd be considering scratching them off your Christmas card list if I were you. That is, of course, if they even exist. Over to you to produce this, alleged, 'friend, Daily Star.

Comedian Vic Reeves and his wife Nancy Sorrell were named the 'Sexiest Glasses Wearers' at the Specsavers Celebrity Spectacle Wearers of the Year Awards earlier this week. No, honestly, there is such an award, I'm not making this up. The Royle Family actress Liz Smith received the 'Services To Specs' title. 'When I first started to wear glasses I felt a foot taller,' said Reeves. 'I don't wear glasses to be funny, I think they make me look like a boffin, they give me the cool scientist look. Look at Elvis Costello, he carries it off. You can be a cool boffin.' Sorrell added: 'Vic loves me in mine, he says I look one hundred per cent sexy.'

Debra Stephenson has promised that her new impressions show has a playful rather than 'cruel' sense of humour. The former Coronation Street actress has teamed up with Jon Culshaw for a new eight-part BBC series which parody personalities like Cheryl Cole and Anne Robinson. Stephenson told This Is Hull: 'I think one of the most difficult acts to learn was Davina McCall. She doesn't have a particularly strong accent and has a fairly regular presenting voice. She has a vocal quality like mine, so it is more about her mannerisms. We're not cruel to anyone, though. I'm looking forward to seeing it on TV.' Stephenson said that she started entertaining audiences with her impressions when she was a teenager, but had not found a mainstream outlet for her talents until now. She explained: 'I got into it through my dad. He would write and coach me, while my mum would make costumes. Although it would be hard travelling all over to perform, it was fun. It got to the stage though where there wasn't much happening for impressionists, so I decided to go to drama school and from there got the roles on Coronation Street and Bad Girls. Going back to impressions, it feels like I've gone the full circle.'

Johnny Briggs has revealed that he would be interested in returning to Coronation Street in the future. According to the Daily Star, the seventy four-year-old actor wants to keep all options open even though his character Mike Baldwin was killed off in a blaze of publicity following a heart attack in 2006. Briggs reportedly said that he could play Mike's evil twin brother, arguing that Dallas character Bobby Ewing set a precedent for surprise comebacks in soap. Not another flaming shower scene? I don't think you've got the body for it these days, Johnny. Maybe in 1974, you know... On the possibility of a return, the actoris quoted as saying: 'Why not? I think it could work. It worked in Dallas where he came out of the shower as someone else.' Errr... actually, he didn't Johnny, he came out of the shower as himself, claiming that the entire previous season had 'all been a dream.' Which was the point where a very good show became a very silly one overnight. 'I would do something like that, definitely.' Briggs went on to say that he left the ITV drama because the hours required were getting 'longer and longer.' He commented: 'It got to the point where I just thought, "I don't want to be carried out of here on a stretcher."'

Cilla Black will host this Friday's edition of Loose Women, it has been announced. The sixty six-year-old former Blind Date presenter will join the regular team - Sherrie Hewson, Carol McGiffin and Jane McDonald - while Christopher Biggins will be a guest. 'I am delighted Cilla will be joining us for the day,' said ITV daytime chief Fiona Keenaghan.

Manchester's greatest living guitarist Johnny Marr will tell next week's Inside Out programme that he doesn't Twitter or Facebook with his former band-mate Morrissey – although the two of them do exchange e-mails. Johnny, whose jangly Rickenbacker chords so epitomised The Smiths glorious and unique sound, also tells presenter Andy Johnson in an exclusive interview that he had 'no ill-feeling' towards anybody in his old band. Marr says: 'We [Morrissey and Marr] send each other e-mails very, very occasionally when we've got something to say. I wake up in the morning with about two hundred e-mails from a lot of people I don't know, so I'm assuming it's going to be the same with Morrissey, that's the way the modern world is. By the time I've got through the e-mails I've got to do, I'm not going to go, oh, "Dear Mozzer, Having a cup of tea, blah blah, blah."' Johnny, who is now a full-time member of indie-band The Cribs, also told the programme that he has no desire to play any of The Smiths' back catalogue of songs but that he doesn't get irritated when people still want to talk to him about the seminal band. 'I never get irritated by it because I figure it's coming from a place of love, really. People love the band.' Asked by Johnson about the band he says: 'I'm super-proud of it. I can hear it the way other people hear it, and I like it which is kind of handy!'

It was with real sadness that Keith Telly Topping heard yesterday of the death of David Shepherd the former test umpire after a battle with cancer, aged sixty eight. Shep, who was born in Devon, officiated in ninety two Tests and one hundred and seventy two one-day internationals, including three World Cup finals before retiring in 2005. He was famous for his aversion to the 'Nelson' - scores with a multiple of one hundred and eleven considered unlucky in cricketing circles - which made him hop at the crease between deliveries on one leg. Shep played for Keith Telly Topping's beloved Gloucestershire from 1965 to 1979 (in that great team with Mike Proctor and Zaheer Abbas) as a solid middle-order bastmen hitting ten thousand six hundred and seventy two first class runs and being part of the side which won the Gillette Cup in 1973 and the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1977. Dickie Bird, who umpired many matches alongside Shepherd, said his former colleague would be missed. 'He was a fine umpire, we spent many happy hours together. He was a great man and a tremendous man to umpire with.'

'Viewers are in for a real treat this winter', the BBC claim, as Richard Hammond returns to present two (allegedly) 'hilarious' celebrity editions of Total Wipeout. The purpose-built course outside Buenos Aires is a magnet for the fearless and the foolhardy, they reckon, so how will the celebrities fare when they take on the world's largest and most extreme obstacle course? There will be no VIP treatment for these stars, the BBC state. Rather, they must have strength, stamina and nerves of steel to make their way through to the final. Expect more mud splashes and comical crushes as ten celebrities go head-to-head in each episode in order to win ten thousand pounds for their chosen charity. Competing against each other in the first special will be fitness expert and choreographer Kevin Adams, Strictly Come Dancing dancers James and Ola Jordan, Casualty and Waterloo Road actor Luke Bailey, ex-EastEnders actor and professional realtiy show regular Joe Swash, comedian Tim Vine, vocal coach Carrie Grant, Emmerdale actress Adele Silva, former world javelin record holder Fatima Whitbread and presenter Kaye Adams. If you said 'who?' to several of those (alleged) celebrities then, trust me, you are not alone, dear blog reader. The second group to take up the Total Wipeout challenge are: actor Chris Parker (EastEnders), desperately unfunny comedian Joe Pasquale, desperately annoying presenter Dominic Littlewood, Kenny Everett's old chum Cleo Rocos, Olympic gold medal hurdler Sally Gunnell, presenter and stand-up comic Kirsten O'Brien, Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, model, presenter and girlfriend of half the Premiership Danielle Lloyd and singers and presenters Sam Dixon and Mark Rhodes. My God, some people are just desperate to get their boat-races on TV, are they not? Don't get me wrong, however, Jeith Telly Topping does like Total Wipeout. After all, who doesn't enjoy watching smug, full-of-themselves people getting covering in mud, punched, half-drowned and still winning nothing at the end of it?

Ke$ha reportedly urinated in the sink of a London pub because the queue was too long for the toilets. The 'Tik Tok' singer, who was at the Shepherds' Tavern in Mayfair with Lily Allen, allegedly pulled down her wet-look leggings and 'shocked other punters' as she relieved herself in front of them. 'When you've got to go, you've got to go, girls,' the Mirror quotes her as saying. I wonder if she realises that's an allusion to the movie Shane? Anway, the twenty two-year-old, who will support Calvin Harris and Mr Hudson on some upcoming live dates, reportedly offended other drinkers at the venue. 'That is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. I can't believe she just peed in the sink. Where am I supposed to wash my hands now?' one punter told the paper.

Minnie Driver has compared single motherhood to an 'insane earthquake.' What, like the earth moves for you? For Keith Telly Topping, that sort of thing normally comes at a rather different stage in the, ahem, baby-making process.

No, really.

Okay then, it doesn't. I was lying. Next ...

Author Martin Amis has launched a strongly-worded attack on glamour model Katie Price. The Rachel Papers writer told an audience at London's Hay Festival that readers should 'bear in mind' Price when considering the character of Thredony in his new novella State of England. According to the Daily Telegraph, Amis said of Price: 'She has no waist, no arse... an interesting face... but all we are really worshipping is two bags of silicone.' Two big bags of silicone, to be fair, Martin. He admitted to having read two volumes of Price's autobiography but added that the phrase 'Number One bestseller' on the cover of one of her books was 'more terrifying than anything inside.'

Joe Calzaghe has said that he would be happy to knock out Katie Price's current partner, Alex Reid, if her ex-husband Peter Andre gave him a fee. The former undefeated world champion boxer and Strictly Come Dancing failure told Red Dragon FM that he would be delighted to spar with 'that fighter who dresses like a woman,' the Sun claimed. Calzaghe joked: 'Of course I could take him on. As long as he stays standing up, no kicking allowed. It would be too quick. I'd do that for Peter if he paid me. I'd take him out, no problem. I'll be waiting for Peter's phonecall.' At least, one assumes he joking.

Price herself, meanwhile, has promised that she will 'disappear from the spotlight' when her fans 'grow bored of her.' Bye then.

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