Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Dancing With The Rude Boy

The BBC is facing calls to sack Strictly Come Dancing professional Anton Du Beke over the racist comment he, allegedly, made during training. Over the weekend, the dancer made a public apology after it emerged that he was accused of describing his celebrity partner, Laila Rouass, as 'a Paki.' It is believed that Du Beke made the comment after the actress had a spray tan. Du Beke is also said to have joked that Rouass could be a terrorist after hearing about her Moroccan heritage last month. Anti-racism groups have now claimed that the star should be dropped from the ballroom series. The BBC previously sacked Carol Thatcher from The ONE Show after she referred to a black tennis player as 'a golliwog' backstage. Nick Lowles, from Hope Not Hate and Searchlight, told the Mirror: 'This is more serious than the Thatcher incident. It is the second time such language has been used. Those are clearly his feelings. An apology isn't enough. He should be sacked.' Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Pakistan Welfare Association in London told the Daily Star: 'The P-word is offensive and racist and there should be repercussions. If someone at the BBC got the sack for using a racist term and another person seems to go unpunished for saying something similar, then where is the justice? If anyone said this in the workplace they'd probably be fired.' Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda added: 'This kind of language is totally unacceptable. It sounds to me as if Anton Du Beke needs to be sent on a race awareness course.' Doesn't sound like a bad idea, actually - most other BBC employees have to go on one. Largely because of idiots like Anton and Carol who open their mouths before engaging their brains. The BBC has insisted that it does not condone offensive language in the workplace. On claims that Du Beke is being treated differently to Thatcher, a spokesman said: 'She [Thatcher] maintained it was a joke. When it was explained the term was offensive to lots of people she still refused to offer an unconditional apology. Anton understands that it's offensive and has unconditionally apologised.' Indeed, a small amount of credit should be given to Du Beke for, at least, realising he'd done wrong and seeking to put that right - notwithstanding the fact that he said something so horribly offensive in the first place. The fact that Thatcher still, to this day, continues to argue that her comments were not offensive - when they clearly were - is a necessary different between the two cases.

Actor Paul McGann has launched a blistering attack on the UK drama industry, claiming it no longer deals with a broad range of subject matter or has 'the bravery to tackle things that might be riskier.' The Withnail and I star, who also features in ITV's upcoming drama Collision, said that the recession had made drama producers and commissioners more risk adverse, with more thrillers and police dramas in the pipeline than more diverse subject matters. 'I've got two teenage kids. And they complain – they are reasonably intelligent, but they are little bit bored,' he said. 'Things are kind of samey. Suddenly sixty channels have appeared from somewhere but no discernable growth in quality. People love cop shows, and hospital dramas but we've all got a complaint if that's all there is.' McGann added that he would like to see more adaptions on screen, but budget restrictions were affecting what could now be achieved.

The characters and controversy of the 1936 Olympics will provide the backdrop to a new mini-series, produced as part of a major drama partnership between Talkback Thames and Berlin-based UFA. The Olympics will be a two-part drama that will go into production next year, in time for broadcast around the 2012 London Olympics. Key figures such as US athlete Jesse Owens and German film-maker Leni Riefenstahl will feature prominently in the drama. A writer, director and broadcaster have yet to be secured. It is one of the first projects to emerge from a new drama development unit, backed by FremantleMedia and based in Berlin, that will see Talkback Thames and UFS collaborate on co-productions for the UK and German markets. It will also see the production of The Hub, an eight episode mini-series about German and British police units working together, penned by Steve Bailie (The Bill, [Spooks]). Two scripts have already been written, with production lined up for 2010. Speaking to Broadcast magazine at the Mipcom TV market in Cannes, Lorraine Heggessey, chief executive of Talkback Thames, said: 'The relationship was sparked after we worked together on The Bill and SOKO Leipzig.' This saw both companies work together to develop a special two-part storyline which featured in both shows – successful primetime police dramas and Britain and Germany respectively. Filming took place in London and Leipzig, using characters from both programmes and was broadcast on ITV and ZDF (Germany). 'After that, we started to think about what more we could do and developed The Hub, a sort of Europol idea,' added Heggessey. 'We put together a business case and Fremantle decided to back it as a unit, which will be based in a disused chocolate factory in Berlin. We will have two development producers working over there.' It will be launch on 1 November, jointly managed by Talkback Thames head of drama Johnathan Young and Jorg Winger, executive producer at UFA Fernsehproduktion. Speaking about the Olympics mini-series, Winger said: 'It will prove very interesting for German audiences because the story of Leni Riefenstahl has not been touched in a TV series until now. She was an incredible film-maker who won all the major prizes in the US, UK and Europe for her films about the 1936 Olympics. But she also made movies about the Nazi Party and became too close to the organisation. This is a controversial figure, which is why we think the international audience will show great interest.'

Sir Ian McKellen is to star in an, if you will, 'mockumentary' about a failing drama school to be made by DLT Entertainment. The Academy is a co-production with 2act Productions and is a fly-on-the-wall format set at the fictional Clapham Academy of Creative Arts. This used to be an excellent establishment but has fallen into disarray because of the recession. So, the faculty comes up with an plan to allow a documentary film-crew to capture the school at work, with the hope this will bring notoriety and much needed funds. The show, which does not have a broadcaster attached to it at the moment, will also feature Jonathan Hyde (The Mummy) and former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy as faculty members, plus Frances Barber (Law and Order UK) who plays herself. McKellen plays her fictional brother, Murray, who runs the academy. The show is created and directed by Peter Hinton and will be produced by former LWT controller of comedy Humphrey Barclay and John Bartlett (My Family).

Many of the BBC's best-paid presenters are classing themselves as freelancers to avoid tens of thousands of pounds in tax according to a rather finger-wagging piece of scum-vitriol in the totally impartial and balanced Daily Mail. Who, of course, have never ever employed freelancers themselves. Oh no. Presenters such as Jeremy Paxman, Fiona Bruce and that po-faced haunter of cats Emily Maitlis have all, according to the report, set up companies to channel their earnings, which will save them from having to pay the new fifty per cent income tax rate on salaries over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. I imagine most of them were advised to do this by their accountants who will have phrased the question something along the line of 'do you want to pay tens of thousands of pounds of tax when there's a way you can avoid it?' I imagine the average Daily Mail scum-journalist's answer would be pretty much the same as Jezza Paxman's in such a scenario. The BBC is accused - by the Mail, if not anybody who actually, you know, matters - of encouraging the arrangement, which saves it millions of pounds a year in employer's national insurance payments, levied at 12.8 per cent of any salary. Hang on, aren't the Mail always on the BBC's collective back about all of the licence fee payers' money that it, supposedly, wastes? Now they're having a go because they're saving money - and doing so in a perfectly legal way? Can't do right for doing wrong for these clowns, it would seem. And, this is the Daily Mail, remember - supposedly the friend of the self-employed. More than twenty BBC presenters who are classed as freelance have set up service companies for their earnings. How utterly terrible. Hang them in the streets at once.

Graham Norton has defended the BBC, describing its diverse broadcasting as 'brilliant.' The comic and presenter also criticised 'a vociferous minority' who attempt to dictate what shows the broadcaster should produce. Well it's about bloody time somebody acknowledged that. Nice one, Graham. 'I think what's brilliant about the BBC is that it serves so many needs and so many audiences,' he told Digital Spy website. 'If they're bullied into just catering for one section of the population, that's a really bad thing. A lot of people who watch television and really enjoy television don't have a voice, but sadly there's also a vociferous minority who are trying to dictate what people should watch and I think that's bad.' Speaking about his chat-show's move to BBC1, he said: 'Little Britain has been played on BBC1 and the world didn't end, so I think as long as I don't shit myself, we'll be fine. It's like a pat on the back. But in real terms, we were making a TV show that was available on televisions in every home and we're still doing that. It's not like it was in black and white and now it's in colour. It's the same show. But I'm not an idiot and I am aware that it's seen as a promotion. So, we've accepted the compliment and we're getting on with it.'

The Department of Health is to sponsor episodes of The Simpsons in a bid to tackle obesity, it has been revealed. Well, that certainly makes a change from Domino's Pizza who've been doing that job for the last decade, Keith Telly Topping supposes. Fans of the long-running American cartoon sitcom will see introductory clips before episodes in which specially-designed characters tuck into fast food and unhealthy snacks before the junk food disappears and is replaced with more nutritious fare such as fruit and vegetables. Designed by Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations, the characters will recreate the familiar images of Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie sitting on the sofa at the beginning of each episode. When asked for his reaction to this turn of events, Mr Homer Simpson of Springfield commented with what sounded like an annoyed grunt.

Michelle Keegan from Coronation Street has said that Helen Flanagan is her friend, not her rival. The actress, who plays Tina McIntyre in the ITV soap, revealed that she likes to go out on the town with Flanagan, who plays Rosie Webster. However, she claimed that her clubbing buddy gets more male attention than her. In an interview with the News of the World, Keegan said: 'I think guys like her more. They think she will be more flirtatious and I will be more hard work. That's partly true.' She added: 'People always think that we're rivals but we're friends. We like to gossip and I'm happy to let Helen take on the raunchier roles so that I can keep playing strong-but-sexy Tina.'

Actress Rula Lenska is to film a guest appearance in Coronation Street. The sixty two-year-old Polish countess and star of Rock Follies will take on the role of Claudia, an old friend of Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls). A Coronation Street spokesperson told Digital Spy: 'Rula will play a glamorous friend of Audrey's who she meets up with at a function. She makes Audrey think about her life and what she wants out of it.'

BSkyB is to carry out a one and a half million pound rebrand in an effort to position itself as 'a warmer and more customer-friendly' brand. According to the Financial Times, the satellite broadcaster is planning a new logo with a more rounded 'S' as part of the new identity, which will be rolled out with Sky's annual pre-Christmas marketing campaign. 'We're making some evolutionary changes to help us keep reaching out to more customers over time,' a Sky spokesman said. Sky will also launch its subscription digital music service, Sky Songs, in the build up to the festive period Christmas.

Nicholas Lyndhurst will play Rodney Trotter's presumed biological father Freddie 'The Frog' Robdal in the upcoming prequel to Only Fools and Horses which began filming yesterday. The actor, who played Rodney in the long-running sitcom, will be joined by Inbetweeners star James Buckley, who will play the young Derek Trotter in Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Chips. John Sullivan said: 'Nick Lyndhurst is a comedy genius and I can't think of anyone better suited to bring the shady but charming Freddie Robdal to life. James Buckley has a tough act to follow but is sure to do for leather bomber jackets and winkle-pickers what David Jason did for camel-haired coats and cocktail umbrellas!' Other actors cast in the ninety-minute special include Kellie Bright as Derek and Rodney's mother Joan, Shaun Dingwall (Above Suspicion, Doctor Who) as her work-shy husband, Reg Trotter and Phil Daniels as Del's grandfather, Ted. The prequel will concern the release of Robdal from prison, which will 'ruffle some feathers in the Trotter household.' The one-off episode will also feature teenage versions of other Only Fools And Horses characters like Boycie, Trigger and Denzil.

Jay Leno has joked about fellow chat-show host David Letterman's recent extortion plot. Letterman was, allegedly, the recent target of a two million dollar blackmail scheme over his affairs with female staffers on his talkshow, which he admitted to on a broadcast last week. Leno, who moved from his late-night position on The Tonight Show to a new prime-time format with The Jay Leno Show this season, poked fun at his long-time rival's troubles, TV Guide reports. 'If you came here tonight for sex with a talkshow host, you've got the wrong studio,' he said. 'First Conan hit his head and then someone tries to extort money from Letterman? I am so glad I'm out of late night. I'm happy to say I have never had a sexual relationship with any of my staff members.' Robert Halderman was earlier confirmed as the man behind the alleged extortion plot. Former Letterman assistant Stephanie Birkitt reportedly dated the 48 Hours producer and is believed to be one of the women whom Letterman had sex with.

Weatherman Michael Fish has come out of retirement to work on GMTV for a week. The TV veteran, who was awarded an MBE in 2004 for services to broadcasting, will return to celebrate the anniversary of his infamous 1987 hurricane prediction. Fish told BBC viewers twenty two years ago that there would only be light winds for Southern England on the night of 15 October, but the date saw the worst winds in the region in living memory. He will appear on GMTV to mark the event's anniversary from 12 to 16 October. 'I was thrilled to get the call from GMTV. It's great to keep my hand in and see how the other side works too,' said Fish. GMTV weather presenter Kirsty McCabe added: 'I'm delighted to meet up with Mike again. When I first started at the BBC he trained me, now I've been showing him the ropes here. It's lovely to see him back.'

Fiona Phillips has attacked Channel 4 news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy after he mocked her role at the Labour Party conference. The former GMTV host introduced Home Secretary Alan Johnson at the Brighton event last Tuesday. Writing in her column for the Mirror, Phillips revealed: 'Apparently, Channel 4's smug Krishnan Guru-Murthy - apologies if you haven't a clue who he is - reckons [I] was "excruciating."' Which, to be fair, she was a bit. But, she certainly has a decent point about Krishnan Guru-Murthy's vast well of smugness. She added: 'I think it's always best not to take yourself too seriously, Krishnan, don't you? Still, thanks for your constructive criticism. Next time I'm asked to do a performance which requires me to be wooden and devoid of any wit or personality, I'll ask for your advice.' Ooo, get her! Phillips stepped down from GMTV to spend more time with her family last December.

Hayden Panettiere has revealed that she asked Heroes writers for a lesbian storyline. Panettiere's character Claire Bennett will have a romance with her college roommate, played by Madeleine Zima, in future episodes of the show. 'I kinda threw it out there,' Contactmusic quotes the actress as saying. '[The writers] put you in relationships and I was like, "Can I just be with a girl or something? Let's do that." So they took it and ran with it. She's a great girl... and we have a blast.'

ESPN has agreed a new multi-channel deal with FIFA to broadcast archive matches and programming from over seventy years of World Cup Finals. Under the multi-year deal, ESPN and ESPN Classic will screen footage from the first World Cup tournament in 1930 right up to the most recent event in 2006. From yesterday, the channels will screen one hundred and fifty classic matches, along with the fourteen official FIFA films dating from 1930 to 2002. Both channels will also carry the hour-long Top Twenty FIFA World Cup Moments programme and the FIFA World Cup Stories six-episode series. 'With the 2010 FIFA World Cup just around the corner we are pleased to add more first class international football content to the channels,' said Jeroen Oerlemans, ESPN EMEA vice president, TV channels. 'With one hundred and fifty classic matches on ESPN and ESPN Classic, fans will be able to see some of the greatest ever football games played at the world's legendary FIFA World Cup tournaments. The FIFA Films archive helps us deliver top quality archive football to a wide audience across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.' So long as they've got Hungary vs Brazil from 1966, then Keith Telly Topping will be well happy. Florian Albert. Ah, them were the days. FIFA's director of TV Niclas Ericson added: 'We are proud of this deal primarily because it will benefit fans of soccer as well as the sport itself.'

NBC Universal is to launch a global push to acquire and order original, exclusive and first-run content, and to put its emphasis on five channel brands, led by Universal Channel. The US giant is to commit an undisclosed but significant sum to the kind of content that will make it channels 'must haves' in the pay sector, according to UK managing director Laurence Dawkin-Jones. He said that more deals were in the offing similar to the Warner Bros tie-up that will see the V remake, Human Target, and Eastwick air on NBC channels. As well as top-end third party acquisitions, NBCU will also look to commission original content, and Dawkin-Jones said there were opportunities for UK drama producers to pitch ideas with 'scale and ambition' with a view to them being picked up for transmission around the world. The strategy, which will also see its global channels business NBCU Global Networks renamed as Universal Networks, includes a focus on five core channel brands globally. The move will bring consistency to NBCU's global business, where around fourteen different channel brands operate in different countries.

Natalie Imbruglia has revealed that she thought she would die while filming a television show. Contactmusic claims that Imbruglia, who was working with Jack Osbourne on Celebrity Adrenaline Junkie, thought that she would be electrocuted. The singer agreed to climb a mountain for the programme, but became frightened when she was caught in a storm. 'I thought I was going to die for real,' she said. 'I should have felt safe but at a certain point of climbing a mountain, you're in a cloud and you hear a noise that is electricity - what can they do to protect you from electricity in the cloud you're in? So they were like, "Sit on your bag, it's made of rubber." I went, "Why?" They said, "So you don't get electrocuted." I was like, "Hang on, I'm on a TV show!"' Imbruglia revealed that she had asked Osbourne if they could stop the challenge, but he told her that she would have to continue. 'I prayed,' she said. 'It was probably about half-an-hour and this is after two previous meltdowns begging Jack - like, "Cut! Seriously, rescue me!" and he was like, "From where? There's nowhere a helicopter can land," so I had to get to the summit to get off.'

Megan Fox has revealed that she used to dress up as a giant banana when she worked in a smoothie café as a teenager. The Jennifer's Body star said that she was teased by her peers for wearing a costume in the shape of the yellow fruit. She told Bang Media: 'I worked at a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Florida when I was fifteen. I would have to go out in the street wearing a gigantic banana costume and dance to try to get customers to come in. There was no anonymity, the costume had a big hole cut out so that everyone would see your face.' Fox continued: 'My friends from school would drive back and forth and yell all kinds of awesome obscenities at me!'

Mathew Horne has praised the sitcom Friends. The Daily Star Sunday reports that the Gavin & Stacey star watched the programme during a difficult time in his personal life. 'It wasn't the best time in my life, but non-stop Friends certainly helped,' he said. All of this, of course, in direct contrast to Mathew's own Horne & Condon which left the majority of viewers feeling much worse after watching it.

And, finally, the new Doctor Who logo has been unveiled this morning. The logo - the eleventh in the show's forty six year history - will form part of a revamped title-sequence in the new run, which will air next Spring and see Matt Smith take over from David Tennant as the titular Time Lord. Showrunner, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, said: 'A new logo. The eleventh logo for the eleventh Doctor - those grand old words, Doctor Who, suddenly looking newer than ever. And look at that, something really new - an insignia! DW in TARDIS form! Simple and beautiful, and most important of all, a completely irresistible doodle. I apologise to school notebooks everywhere, because in 2010 that's what they're going to be wearing.' And, if you would like to pop over to Gallifrey Base right about now, dear blog reader, you'll probably be just in time to hear some members of the Flat Earth Society saying stuff like 'it's big and it's square and I be a'feared of it.' Keith Telly Topping rather likes it. But then, as we know so well he's a Moffat-loving sycophant with no taste or appreciation of genuine quality. Apparently.


Paul Mount said...

Thank you - oh thank you - for that Natalie Imbrgulia photo. I need to go lie down now. To sleep, of course....

Keith Telly Topping said...

Then my work here is, clearly, done!