Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crusty Jugglers

Yer Keith Telly Topping's resemblance to Doctor Harold Shipman in today's Octobeard picture of the day really is disturbing. To both himself and, he assumes, to you also, dear blog reader. If truth be told he was actually going for a sort of early-1970s krautrock look (note the use of the skinny, Kraftwerkesque tie, for instance). But the light went all Robert Freeman on him and he's ended up with this unnerving and unholy mixture of With the Beatles-era serial killer and crusty juggler. It's not a good look, is it? I mean, even at the best of time that 'wild man of Borneo' thing suggests either a severe finance problem in affording some Bic razors™, or of some deep, dark and dreadful secret, hidden in a blood-soaked plastic shroud in a lock-up garage somewhere in Blakelaw. So, you know, treat with extreme caution everything Keith Telly Topping has to say and, under no circumstances, turn your back on him for a instant.

A former BBC employee has 'blown the whistle' on alleged cocaine use among the corporation's TV and radio producers and star performers. Sarah Graham told a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing that it is seen as 'part of your creative genius or part of your extraordinary personality.' Is it? Crikey, I've obviously been hanging out with the wrong broadcasting people because nobody's ever offered me so much as choccy biscuit. Only a plain Rich Tea. Once, I did get a cuppa with it, to be fair. No milk, though. Ms Graham alleges that instead of being reprimanded, those who take the drug are praised for their 'off-the-wall' brilliance. Miss Graham has previously worked for BBC Radio 5, Children's BBC and Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, and says she was offered the drug by a presenter and producer on her first day at work. I think the emphasis in that sentence is 'has worked.' As in, 'doesn't currently and probably never will again.' She says: 'Behaviours that would not be tolerated in a normal job can actually be spun to be part of your creative genius. Some of those people are still in place, some are behaving in off-the-wall ways … and people bow down to them. There is a culture within the media and within the celebrity world that is very relaxed around the use of cocaine. It's seen as something that is socially acceptable in industries where this "work hard, party hard" ethos exists.' Now, let me make clear that Keith Telly Topping is all for people grassing up their former employers like a Copper's Nark. Especially when it is likely to cause maximum embarrassment as part of a series of sweeping generalisations into an industry which employs thousands of people, for many of whom, the closest they ever get to very hard drugs is Lemsip's Cold Cures. Nevertheless, if all of this is true - and it may well be - then it might help to explain quite a few things. How Dale Winton continues in gainful employment when no one within the BBC can, quite, work out what it is - exactly - that he actually does; ditto for Jimmy Carr; and Dom Littlewood. Also, one or two scheduling decisions of late. Plus, of course, the husky-to-the-point-of-laryngitis state of the voice of that lady continuity announcer on BBC2. Suddenly, it all makes sense. They're all on drugs. Even the name, BBC. British Broadcasting Charlie. Somebody tell the Daily Mail, quick, for God's sake. We're being entertained by coke-heads.

Boyzone's record label, Polydor, has filed an official complaint with the Press Complaints Commission over a Daily Mail column about Stephen Gately. A spokeswoman for the label confirmed that it had contacted the press watchdog, but had no further comment to make at this time. Jan Moir's article stated Gately's death struck a blow to the 'happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.' Moir has since denied that the piece was homophobic and blamed the furious reaction to it on a mischievous 'heavily orchestrated Internet campaign.' More than twenty five thousand people have now contacted the PCC about the article. The PCC has already written to the Mail for its response to the complaints received so far - the most ever made about a single newspaper article. But the body has not yet made a decision on whether to launch a full investigation. It generally waits for a complaint from 'directly-affected parties' - in this case Gately's family - before taking that step. Although it has been in touch with representatives of the family, it is understood that no such complaint has been filed at this stage.

X Factor producers want Boyzone to perform a special tribute to their late bandmate on the show, according to a press report. The programme's bosses are said to be planning to suggest the idea once they get the green light from the group's manager and judge Louis Walsh, the Mirror claims. A source said: 'Stephen was a very close friend of the ITV show.' Can you actually be a friend of a show. I mean, a friend of people who work on it, yeah, I can see that but a show is, surely, an ephemeral thing? Abstract, on could suggest. 'During a production meeting,' the source continued, 'they were discussing ideas for guest performers. Boyzone were mentioned as an obvious choice. Everyone is painfully aware they need to be sensitive, so they have held back on a formal approach until they speak to Louis. But the huge outpouring of grief is hard to ignore. There have been a lot of messages asking the boys to do some kind of tribute to his life.'

Tabloid reports have claimed that Simon Cowell has spent twenty thousand pounds on leather furnishings in his X Factor dressing room. According to the Sun, the judge's backstage room features 'slate-coloured leather tiles,' a bathroom 'decked in imported Spanish marble,' Italian mahogany furniture and a five thousand pound leather sofa with matching armchairs. Stylish. The room at Fountain Studios, Wembley is also apparently filled with ashtrays, pictures of Frank Sinatra, bottles of champagne and copies of Top Gear magazine. Clarkson will be delighted! 'Simon is the king when it comes to The X Factor - and so his every wish is catered for,' said a source.

Dermot O'Leary has admitted that he is grateful for the lack of 'sob stories' on The X Factor this year. In an interview with Zoo magazine, the show's presenter said that he used to find it 'awkward' when contestants shared tales of their personal tragedies with him during filming. He added: 'At the end of the day, it's a singing contest, it's an entertainment show - so you have to try and veer away from it always being "a journey" or telling people "you've come a long way."' Last year, O'Leary appeared to mock the show's numerous sad stories during an appearance on ITV2 quiz Celebrity Juice. Speaking at the time, he joked: 'It's past 9pm, I can say what I fucking want. So, I don't care what your dream is. I don't care what you want to sing. And I don't care about your dead relative!'

Jamie Shaw has criticised Cheryl Cole's performance of her debut solo single on The X Factor. The former One True Voice singer told the Sun that Cole appeared to struggle with the live rendition of 'Fight For This Love'. Shaw said: 'I thought Cheryl's performance was poor. She looked really nervous and lost on that big stage. With the higher notes, she strained a bit and you could tell that in her face. There was no oomph in her performance. It was quite flat. She has a brilliant recording voice, but live it really isn't working.' One True Voice were made up of the male winners of 2002's Popstars: The Rivals but lost out to the female victors Girls Aloud, who included Cole, in the battle for that year's Christmas number one and, subsequently, having a career that lasted longer than five minutes.

X Factor losers Kandy Rain were reportedly booed off stage in Surrey at the weekend, according to the Sun. Azi Jegbefume, Coco Lloyd, Khatereh Dovani and Chemmane Applewhite appeared at McClusky's in Kingston-on-Thames (sounds like a quality gig, that mind!) But, apparently they had to be escorted off-stage by security due to a negative audience reaction. 'It was carnage. Kandy Rain were only on stage for about five minutes,' said a source. 'Every time they tried to talk they just got booed. It looked like things could turn nasty so the bouncers escorted them away.'

Rikki Loney's mother has claimed that phone-line issues resulted in her son being voted off The X Factor at the weekend. Irene Loney told the Daily Record that constant engaged tones on the Scot's phone number cost him 'hundreds' of votes following Saturday night's performance show. The budding star's mum commented: 'I couldn't get through on the phone on Saturday or Sunday. Our family in Scotland and England, all my friends and my workmates and my son's friends couldn't get through. I want to know what's happened here.' Your boy lost, Mrs Loney, that's what happened. And now, presumably, it's back to stacking the shelves at Top Man, or whatever. She continued: 'I can't understand and I would like an explanation. It was saying the lines were too busy, ringing then cutting off. It's not just a few people, it's hundreds of people that couldn't get through. And my boy got put out because of it. I've got fifteen brothers and sisters and seventy eight nieces and nephews who were trying to vote. But I'm not just talking about family. The Scottish are very patriotic and I'm talking about friends of friends. Word is getting back that they couldn't get through either. We don't know how many votes he fell short. I'm just upset that my son got put out and he got put out because nobody could get through on his number.' An X Factor spokeswoman has dismissed the accusation by insisting that a phone line fault was "not possible."

FlashForward showrunner Marc Guggenheim has departed the ABC series. No reason has yet been cited for his exit, but reports suggest that network executives have been unhappy with the direction of the show's storytelling post-pilot. The programme, which stars Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger and Dominic Monaghan, was recently handed a full-season order by ABC and has continued to perform well in Thursday night ratings (and, is also a sizeable ratings hit on import for Five in the UK). It is not yet known whether co-creator David Goyer will now serve as sole showrunner or if he will be joined by someone else.

Roxanne Pallett - pictured left with something hot and throbbing between her thighs - has claimed that her feud with Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner was all for show. The former Emmerdale actress insisted that Gardiner was positive about her performances backstage at the ITV skating programme, despite slating her live on-air. She told Take 5 magazine: 'It was like a panto. You've got your camp dame in Jason, your wicked-witch in Ruthie [Henshall] - but they're all in character. 'Jason winked at me off-camera and said, "That was fabulous, darling." People forget it's show-business.' Pallett had reportedly called for Gardiner to be sacked after being eliminated from the contest earlier this year. The choreographer later hit back by describing Pallett as 'ungracious' and 'a really silly little girl.'

More than two-thirds of over fifties believe there is clear evidence of ageism against older presenters in Britain, and around a quarter of those name the BBC as the worst offender. A survey of nine thousand four hundred and forty one people, commissioned by Saga magazine, also found that nearly three quarters of over fifties feel there is a programming-bias in favour of younger people, whilst three-in-five said their needs and interests were ignored by programme makers. Some eighty one per cent of those who said there is evidence of ageism against older television presenters, thought the prejudice was worse for women than men.

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has said that the government's controversial approach to tackling illegal file-sharing will be moderated in the wake of widespread criticism. Last month, business secretary Lord Mandelson moved to toughen the anti-piracy measures outlined in the Digital Britain report to place the power to suspend connections of targeted copyright infringers in the hands of the secretary of state rather than regulator Ofcom. However, Bradshaw told the Commons culture, media and sport committee that any content rights holder requesting to cut off the connections of persistent copyright infringers would have to first secure a court order, reports the Guardian. He said that suspensions would be used as a 'very last resort' for the most serious cases of infringement and would never happen just 'on the basis of an accusation.' Targeted offenders would also have full rights to appeal against the decision.

Jack Dee has received an honorary degree in a ceremony at Winchester Cathedral. The forty seven-year-old comic, who grew up in the city, accepted the accolade from the University of Winchester. The degree was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to comedy, drama and the performing arts. Veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost, who lives near Romsey, also collected an honorary doctorate at the ceremony on Wednesday. Dee said: 'I'm very pleased, I was hopeless throughout school. I left with four O-levels and one A-level at grade D. Since then, I have subsequently wished I'd tried harder at school and made more use of the opportunities that were available. On the other hand it has worked out okay.'

Larry Lamb has revealed that his father is the inspiration for his villainous EastEnders performances. The sixty six-year-old actor told the Mirror that he regularly thought back to his childhood experiences when he filmed scenes as scheming Archie Mitchell on the BBC soap. Viewers have seen Archie's sinister presence causing chaos for his family since his arrival last year. His current storyline sees him plotting to take over the Queen Vic with co-conspirator Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks). Lamb explained: 'From the start I based Archie on my father. My dad was a very screwed-up man and emotionally damaged from his childhood. He had a terrible relationship with his own father and I imagine it was the same for the generations before that. Just like Archie, my dad was absolutely convinced of his rightness and his sanity and thought he was completely justified in everything he did. Everybody else is at fault, but he's fine. Archie is the same. As far as he's concerned, he's perfectly sane. But the truth is, he's twisted. That twisted, dark, nasty side of me comes from my father. He was a skilled psychological bully. He would loom over me and threaten, threaten, threaten. I lived in fear of him. He was a crazy man.' The star's parents split-up when he was nine years old. When his dad, Ronald, died in 2008, Lamb had not spoken to him for more than fifteen years and chose not to attend his funeral. He added: 'Our relationship got worse and worse, year after year. It got to the point where things were never put right between us. I could never take him seriously.' Lamb filmed his final scenes on EastEnders last week.

Former EastEnders stars Kara Tointon and Joe Swash are to appear in panto together. The real-life lovers, who played siblings Dawn Swann and Mickey Miller on the Walford soap, have landed roles as Snow White and Prince Charming at Bristol's Hippodrome theatre. Tointon told the Sun: 'It'll be strange to work together again but we're looking forward to it.' The couple started dating last year after growing close on the set of the programme. Both have since departed from the show.

Meanwhile, Tointon, former Hollyoaks actor Barry Sloane and Torchwood star Gareth David-Lloyd are all scheduled to make guest appearances in a forthcoming episode of The Bill according to an exclusive obtained by Digital Spy website. Sloane - who played unhinged Niall Rafferty until November last year - takes on the role of Josh Hunt. Tointon - Walford's Dawn Swann - is to portray his screen fiancée Ami Ryan. David-Lloyd, who starred as the now-deceased Ianto Jones in the Doctor Who spin-off, will appear as a character called Jeremy Preston. Details of the episode have yet to emerge, but it is said to revolve around 'a lovers' tiff.'

A Knights' Tale and Florence Nightingale actress Laura Fraser is to lead the cast of BBC3's new lesbian drama Lip Service. Fraser will star alongside Ruta Gedmintas, from The Tudors and Fiona Button from ITV's The Palace, as three twentysomething lesbians living in Glasgow. In the six-part series by Mistresses writer Harriet Braun, Gedmintas will play Frankie, an irreverent and provocative photographer who avoids commitment, while Fraser will play Cat, her former lover. Button plays Tess, Cat's best friend, who seems to always attract the wrong sorts of women. Braun said: 'All of these characters are very close to my heart, so to have found such a great cast who bring them to life so fantastically is very exciting.' Lip Service is being made by Kudos, the independent producer behind Life on Mars, [Spooks] and Hustle. Executive producer Derek Wax said: 'I am thrilled we have secured such a strong and exciting cast for Lip Service. Harriet Braun has a completely fresh and engaging take on contemporary relationships, as explored through the lives of young gay women and it's fantastic that her tragi-comic series about love, in all its passion and absurdity, has been commissioned by the BBC.'

Shane Warne has apparently accepted a role as the presenter of a new series of Top Gear Australia. The ex-cricketer, who is known for his love of fast cars, is believed to be hosting six episodes of the motoring show with the presenter of the UK's version, Jeremy Clarkson. The Nine Network confirmed with the Herald Sun that it has held discussions with Warne to host the programme, but no formal agreement has been signed. The television channel is likely to make an announcement within the next few days. Previously, the Australian version of the show had two seasons on SBS fronted by Steve Pizzati, Warren Brown and James Morrison, but it has failed to acquire the same large audiences as the British original.

Channel 4 has promoted commissioning editor Shane Allen to head of comedy and acting head of entertainment. He will report to Julian Bellamy, head of C4, who decided to split the roles when former comedy and entertainment head Andrew Newman moved to Objective Productions last week. Allen joined the broadcaster as commissioning editor in 2005 and will now be responsible for all of the channel's comedy output. His credits include Star Stories, Plus One, Fonejacker and the Charlie Brooker-authored zombie series Dead Set. He has also overseen series two of The Inbetweeners.

Sky1 has commissioned a new documentary series called Naked Britain. The three-part show, fronted by psychologists Jack Lewis and Anjula Mutanda, will dissect the UK's attitudes to nudity and find out if the country deserves its prudish reputation. 'Naked Britain is a fun and insightful investigation into the nation's changing views towards nudity,' said Sky1's Emma Read. 'Britain is famously prudish, but this show will challenge that notion and will uncover a whole host of loud and proud nudists.' Lewis added: 'I want to test my own attitudes to nudity. I thought it'd be interesting to throw myself in the deep end and see what my prejudices are in certain scenarios. Nudity is such a complex subject. When you're a kid, you have no inhibitions, but then puberty happens and the shyness kicks in. Britain also makes an unwavering connection between nudity and sex. Scandinavian countries are more open-minded, and are able to separate non-sexual nudity from the sexual. The British can't, it's the Victorian hangover.'

Craig Revel Horwood has revealed that he would hate to live forever. The Strictly Come Dancing judge told the Daily Mail that he does not see any point in worrying about death. Asked if he would like to be immortal, Horwood replied: 'I can't think of anything worse. I like the finality and rejuvenation of death. I look at death positively. It is the beginning of something wonderful.' Well, keep on having a go at Brenden Cole's dancing partner, Craig pal, and that might just happen sooner than you think.

Classic TV series This is Your Life is to receive a Twenty First Century makeover, with two major new multiplatform initiatives underway. Digital Rights Group is launching the brand on the Internet with a new website based around the iconic series, which told the life stories of a variety of personalities. At users will be able to create their own personalised version of the 'big red book' featuring photos from their own lives. In addition, an application for the iPhone will launch simultaneously that will allow users to turn their photos into an online version of the This Is Your Life book. Jeremy Fox, chief executive of DRG, said: 'This is not about celebrities, it's about everyone. These innovative applications are the perfect opportunity for users to capture the This is Your Life magic.' The show launched on the BBC in 1955, hosted by Eamonn Andrews, and ran until 1964 before being rested. It returned in 1969 on ITV, with Michael Aspel taking over hosting duties after Andrews died in 1987. It returned to the BBC in 1994 and was finally axed in 2003. Trevor McDonald hosted a one-off special for ITV in June 2007, when Simon Cowell was presented with the book.

ITV's premier current affairs strand, Tonight, is losing around two-thirds of its in-house production team in an overhaul that will see a reduction in both the number of episodes and budgets. Editor Mike Lewis is among the eighteen jobs to go at ITV Studios. These are part of a wider shake-up of ITV's television journalism. Currently, more than seventy editions of Tonight are produced a year, all made by ITVS. In 2010, there will be at least fifty episodes of Tonight, but only thirty seven will be made in-house. ITN will make ten programmes, while around three of the thirty-minute programmes will be opened up to the independent sector and ITV's regional news bureaus. There will also be additional opportunities for Tonight specials. Insiders told Broadcast magazine that budgets have been slashed from eighty thousand pounds per episode to sixty thousand pounds. ITV director of news, current affairs and sport Michael Jermey said the changes were intended to 'bring together the very best journalism from ITV Studios, the indie [sic] sector and our regional and network news.' He added: 'Historically, current affairs has existed very separately from news, but my appointment created an opportunity to unite the team, tapping into the resources of eight hundred people and ITV's one hundred million pound investment across the news divisions.'

The BBC has revealed plans to remove BBC News Multiscreen and close the Red Button interactive channel on Freeview to make room for the high definition service. Writing on the BBC Internet Blog, the corporation's Red Button controller Rahul Chakkara said that his team will soon switch off two of the three interactive streams used to deliver BBC content on the platform. From 27 October, BBC News Multiscreen and the interactive stream on channel 302 will cease to be available via the Red Button on Freeview. All Red Button content, such as sporting coverage, will remain accessible to viewers, but will come via linear BBC channels rather than the interactive stream. Chakkara explained: 'Whereas before we have run Red Button content in long loops, meaning it is repeated frequently, we will now be scheduling shorter runs to make sure we fit in as much content as possible into the remaining space we have. To ensure that you can find this BBC content available behind the Red Button we will also be providing better scheduling information to TV listings magazines and improve our on screen now and next information so you can set your Personal Video Recorders to record this content.' All programming on BBC News Multiscreen will remain available via the Red Button on Virgin Media, Sky, Tiscali TV and BBC Online, but Chakkara acknowledged that some Freeview users will be 'disappointed' by the move.

The Beatles' producer, Sir George Martin, is recovering after undergoing 'routine surgery,' his manager has confirmed. 'Geroge had routine surgery earlier this week. He spent one night in hospital and is now back at home,' Adam Sharp said. He did not disclose what the eighty three-year-old, sometimes dubbed the fifth Beatle, had been treated for.

Jospeh Wiseman, who played villain Dr No in the first James Bond movie, has passed away aged ninety one. The Canadian-born actor died at his home in Manhattan, his daughter Martha told the Los Angeles Times. Wiseman's most famous role came in the 1962 film, where he played Dr Julius No opposite Sean Connery's secret service spy. He moved to the United States with his family when he was a child. He began his career on Broadway in a 1938 production of Abe Lincoln In Illinois. His stage credits also included stints in Anthony And Cleopatra, King Lear and 2001's Judgment At Nuremberg. In the late 1970s, Wiseman began appearing in major US TV shows such as Crime Story, Buck Rogers In The Twenty Fifth Century, MacGyver and The A-Team. Aside from Dr No, his other big screen outings included Marlon Brando's Viva Zapata! and Burt Lancaster's The Unforgiven. Martha admitted that the actor was disappointed that he was best remembered for his Bond movie role, claiming he felt 'great disdain' for his part in the film. 'He was horrified in later life because that's what he was remembered for - stage acting was what he wanted to be remembered for,' she said. He is survived by Martha and her sister Ruth. Wiseman's second wife Pearl Lang died in February.

David Duchovny has revealed that he would like to see a third X-Files movie in cinemas by 2012. The forty nine-year-old played Fox Mulder in the TV series from 1993 until 2002. He also reprised his role in two X-Files feature-length films, 1998's The X-Files and 2008 hugely disappointing sequel I Want To Believe. The Californication star told The Daily Beast that he would like to see the plotline for the possible third instalment centre on an 'alien-oriented conspiracy.'

Snoop Dogg has declared that he would like to appear in hit vampire series True Blood. The rapper, who name-checks the HBO show on new single 'Gangsta Luv', said that he is 'down' with the programme. 'I love that show. I wish I could be on it. I'd be a hell of a vampire, don't you think?' he told MTV. 'So what's happenin'? True Blood, get at me - Snoop Dogg wants to be a vampire.' Word.

Joss Stone has blamed her 'atrocious personality' for the backlash against her in Britain. Most people put it down to that embarrassing nonsense she was coming out with at The Brits in 2007. You know, the whole 'staggering about on stage at an awards ceremony, speaking in a dreadful fake-American accent and generally rambling about nothing in particular' thing.

Noel Edmonds has signed a deal to make Christmas specials for Sky 1 for the next three years. Since Noel's Christmas Presents returned in 2007, it has been a hit for the satellite broadcaster. In 2008, it was the most watched programme on the channel for the entire year, achieving a cumulative audience of over three and a half million. The show had been off screens for eight years. It previously aired on BBC1 and came to an end in 1999. Produced by Twofour, Noel's Christmas Presents 'rewards the nation’s most deserving, hard-working and selfless individuals with a Christmas present they’ll never forget.' Delivered by the Beard of Despair.

David Neilson has announced that his Coronation Street character Roy Cropper will be plunged into turmoil following Tony Gordon's forthcoming deathbed confession. Tony will soon reveal his involvement in the death of Liam Connor during a private moment with café owner Roy in hospital. The shock plot twist comes after Tony suffers a heart attack and experiences a crisis of conscience over his past crime.

Stephanie Pratt has been released from custody following her arrest for driving under the influence. The Hills star, who was pulled over by police in Hollywood in the early hours of Sunday morning after attending sister-in-law Heidi Montag's birthday party, was apparently asked to take two breathalyser tests and failed one of them. According to TMZ, Pratt was on the 0.8 legal limit on the first test but registered 0.9 on the second. She was therefore jailed overnight.

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