Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Jolly Close Shave

Okay dear blog reader, here's the deal. I'm going to get this one out of the way at the top of yer latest Top Telly News and then we're done with the subject once and for all, capiche? Octobeard. Yer Keith Telly Topping only went and won the damn thing. Could have knocked him down with a feather, so you could. If I was any of the others taking part, I'd demand a steward's enquiry, frankly. The judging was done yesterday by David Dade - the founder and president of The British Beard Club - live on Jonathan Miles' Morning Show. Sadly, Jonny had hurt his back the day before so Sue Sweeney was filling in for the day. Alfie Joey joined her for the announcement in a tense atmosphere with, literally, tens of people on the edge of their seat awaiting for the result. Anyway, Mr Dade considered that Keith Telly Topping's effort had 'good coverage, length and colour.' Jonny himself came second and probably would have won if only he hadn't shaved his 'soul patch' off! Jamie Wilko was third, Nick Roberts and Alfie a joint fourth and poor old Simon Hoban dead last. Ironically, Keith Telly Topping couldn't do an acceptance speech as he was out getting a haircut at the time the results were announced. True story. He's now gone from looking like a roadie for Hawkwind to looking like a roadie for The Selecter instead. And, just to clarify. There will be no more webcam images of horribly gurning fortysomething TV reviewers posted on the blog from this day forward. You people can only take so much punishment, I realise this now. Get well soon, Jonny by the way.

FlashForward continues to positively revel in its own complex dichotomy. This week's episode played, heavily, on by far the weakest aspect of the story - Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger's wet-as-a-slap-in-the-face-with-a-haddock pair of Mark and Olivia standing around bitching at each other in scenes so painfully overwritten they should come with their own release valve. Do the producers really think anybody is actually enjoying this? It's a pity, really, because elsewhere this is shaping up to be a jolly excellent show. The other major subplots - Dmitri's chasing of the 'Blue Hand' clue, the aftermath Janis' shooting, Wedeck's excellent dry and cynical world-view and, best of all, the revelation about the connection between Jack Davenport's character and Dominic Monaghan's character - are all progressing nicely. I think, possibly, as viewers we've been somewhat spoiled by the way in which many US TV shows are able to slowly play out their drama on a huge canvas so we've come to expect the same from every new one. I'm also slightly worried that they might be advancing the plot a bit too quickly to get viewers hooked (and, that's clearly working) but that, somewhere down the line, we're going to get about ten episodes of treading-water - in the way that, Lost's third season, for instance, seemed at the time to be a case of one step forward and three sideways every few episodes. But, credit where it's due, FlashForward has already managed to get its claws into me. And, hopefully they'll stay there for a long time to come.

And now, of course, for the hottest bit scheduling news of the month (if not the year): Doctor Who will return to BBC1 after seven long months on Sunday 15 November with The Waters of Mars. As previously revealed, the second of four specials airing throughout the year will feature David Tennant's Doctor alongside Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide. The Russell Davies and Phil Ford-scripted special will also feature Peter O'Brien as Adelaide's second-in-command Ed. The hour-long episode has been directed by Graeme Harper and produced by Nikki Wilson. For our American readers, the scheduling news is that it will air in your neck of the woods on 19 December in the US on BBC America.

David Tennant, meanwhile, has said he had to keep 'a stiff upper lip' while he was filming his final scenes for Doctor Who. 'It was very emotional saying cheerio,' Tennant said after a press screening of The Waters of Mars earlier this week. 'There's lots of scenes in the final episode that are very sad and were very sad to play.' He added: 'On the actual final day I was a bit of a puddle, but kept a mildly stiff upper lip.' The actor, who took on the role of the Time Lord in 2005, admitted he had been 'nervous' about seeing another actor on the role. 'I'm thrilled that it's carrying on,' he said, 'and know that everyone who's there is a great choice, but of course you feel a bit proprietorial.' The Waters of Mars will be followed by two episodes over the Christmas period that will see Tennant's Doctor once more pitted against The Master, played by John Simm before he regenerates into Matt Smith in 2010. As Keith Telly Topping recently wrote in a piece for Celestial Toyroom, 'I would love to have seen David Tennant stay for, perhaps, another year as the Doctor, if only to see what his favourite writer, Steven Moffat, could have done with the character when given total control over it. But, in the end, he took a bit of advice that Tom Baker once gave him to heart. "I wish," the fourth Doctor once noted, "that'd I'd left a year or two earlier, just before I stopped getting offered other things." I can't imagine for a single moment that David, one of the most in-demand actors in the world right now, is going to find any problems with type-casting now that he's left the role that he considers he was born to play. Leaving will still be a wrench, of course. For him and for the audience. Matt Smith has big tennis shoes to fill. But, that's the beauty of Doctor Who, you never quite know what you're going to get next. Maybe that's why we still watch it after all these years. Because of this unpredictability. However, it's important to remember that we never forget what's gone before. And we'll never forget David Tennant once the final credits of The End of Time roll.' Put your hankies away, we've still got The News to do.

There was an excellent bit of critique from the normally funny-as-a-kick-in-the-knackers Nancy Banks Stewart in the Gruniad earlier in the week: 'Apropos fine cuisine, last night in Coronation Street, Tony Gordon crashed to the cobbles clutching his chest, a traditional exit for Underworld owners. The prime suspects are Tony's black Glaswegian heart and Roy's full English breakfast. Only £2.95 for bacon, beans, black pudding, fried egg, fried sausage, fried tomato, fried bread and tea you could trot a mouse on.' Heh.

Alexandra Burke has claimed that singers on The X Factor are not urged to cry by producers. So all that embarrassing blubbing you did last year when you won was all 'natural', was it Alexandra? However, last year's winner told the Evening Standard that the contestants are told not to be overly-professional when they perform. Burke said: 'No-one's telling them to cry. I mean, they do advise you not to be too professional. They say, whatever emotion you feel, just let it out. If you're acting too professional, that will be your biggest downfall. It's like, people on that stage are crying for their dreams.' She added: 'All that anger or sadness or anxiety that you might feel in the week builds up, and builds up, and then it's just that one moment on a Saturday night. On live TV. They do say, "Don't repress it." Otherwise you don't look human.' Hang on ... people on The X Factor are human? seriously? I thought they were all the creation of some mad scientist working in a laboratory somewhere in Teddington Lock.

Simon Cowell has reportedly said that he is praying X Factor twins John and Edward Grimes do not win this year's show. Which will obviously come as a considerable surprise to many people at ITV who didn't realise there was anything higher than Cowell himself whom one could pray to. The reality talent impresario nevertheless added that he had to accept the decision of the public who vote for their favourite singers, the Mirror claims. Cowell is reported to have said: 'The twins are completely deluded and live in fantasyland but they are lovely. They thought Britney [Spears] would watch their performance and wanted to invite Robbie [Williams] to their party. I'm praying John and Edward don't win but there are reports they might be in the lead. You have to live with a public vote.' He added: 'If they win it would be a complete disaster. I would get on a plane and leave the country then sulk for about six months and Louis [Walsh] will be in serious trouble.' Well, in that case, Keith Telly Topping thinks everybody should ring in and vote for John and Edward. 'The fact is, it's a singing competition,' concluded Cowell. 'And they can't sing.'

Kelly Brook has claimed that she has been 'shocked' by various comments that Ant and Dec have made about her since her departure from Britain's Got Talent. The model and actress told the Daily Mail that she cannot understand why the pair have made public their constant jibes, insisting that she had no disputes with the cheeky-chappie presenters during her short-lived stint on the show as a judge. Brook was sacked from the programme after six days in January. Ant and Dec have since expressed their anger over her appointment, arguing that she was 'wrong from the start.' Reflecting on their complaints, Brook explained: 'Basically, I just don't think Ant and Dec liked me. Their egos are such that they were saying to themselves, "How dare she think she can come on to our show?," and since then they've been very vocal about their displeasure at me being there.' The model also denied Ant and Dec's recent allegation that she had never seen Britain's Got Talent before she was hired and was, thus, unaware of what they did on the contest. Brook claims that the duo simply misinterpreted a question she had asked about their backstage role. She added: 'I have to say it's the first experience I have had of that kind of behaviour and I was shocked by it, actually. I would like to apologise to them now if they thought I didn't know who they were. I do think they are very talented guys who are great at what they do. People love them on television and that's why they work consistently.'

Camilla Dallerup has said that she intends to back Phil Tufnell to win this year's Strictly Come Dancing. The Danish professional dancer, who won the 2008 series as the partner of Waterloo Road actor Tom Chambers, said that the ex-England cricketer 'looks like a natural' on the dance floor. 'I'm sitting at home watching it, clapping on the couch, waiting for him to come on,' Dallerup told the Digital Spy website. 'He's got the spirit of each dance and he's not a trained actor or dancer. For him to pick up the character and make us feel the routine through the camera is amazing. He never looks awkward and for a man, that is really difficult.'

The story behind the freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke's five-year battle to force MPs to reveal details of their expenses is to become the subject of a satirical BBC4 drama it was announced this week. Brooke is acting as a story consultant on the drama, which has a working title of The Heather Brooke Story. Not the most exciting of titles, perhaps, although it certainly can't be done under the Trades Description Act. Brooke told the Gruniad that her ideal choice to play herself on screen would be The X-Files and Bleak House actress Gillian Anderson, who is a fellow American and, also, a ginner. Casting for the drama, which will be filmed in December and broadcast sometime next year, has yet to be confirmed. BBC4's hour-long dramatisation will follow Brooke's tortuous battles with officialdom that began with a straightforward request under the Freedom of Information Act and saw the Commons authorities, led by the then-Speaker, Michael Martin, go to the High Court in a bid to prevent details coming out. Brooke fought for five years to get MPs' expenses made public, only for the Daily Telegraph to beat her to the bunch earlier this year. Full details of expenses were sold to the Telegraph, triggering the biggest political scandal of modern times, with many MPs forced to quit at the next election as a result of public anger at their - at best, dubious - claims.

Newspaper journalists sometimes joke that their cousins in broadcasting 'can't spell because they don't need to.' Occasionally they do need to, however. The main news item on Thursday evening's BBC1 Ten O'Clock News was presented in front of a graphic about the investigation into the Nimrod crash with the headline 'Damming Report.' Ouch.

Emmerdale newcomer Natalie Robb has claimed that she is 'loving' her role on the ITV soap. The show's producers announced in May that the actress had been cast in the tole of new Woolpack barmaid and mum-of-three, Moira Barton. The character, who forms part of the drama's new farming dynasty, made her debut in July. Robb told the Mirror: 'I love playing Moira - she's a down-to-earth farmer's wife who adores her family. It's great actually because I can be married in the day with three teenage kids and then I can hand it all back and have my single life at night.' Discussing her personal life further, the thirty four-year-old continued: 'I broke up with my long-term boyfriend last December, before I joined Emmerdale. He was French and I lived with him in the French Alps for about eight months, but it wasn't working out. Then this job came up and it couldn't have happened at a better time.'

ITV is trialling a live prime time variety show featuring number-based games which will invite viewers to phone-in for the chance of winning a big cash prize. Magic Numbers will feature a series of performances, pranks and games, with each segment generating a single digit. Once viewers can match two numbers from the last six digits of their telephone number, they will be eligible to call in and register for the final game. A randomly selected viewer will then be invited to answer general knowledge questions for a chance to win a cash prize. Sounds almost as complicated as the game show that Joey on Friends was supposed to be presenting, Bamboozled! In the non-broadcast pilot of Magic Numbers, filmed in ITV's London Studios by independent producer CPL, the top prize was two hundred and fity thousand smackers. Britain's Got More Talent host Stephen Mulhern presented the hour-long show, which included a performance by X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and comedy from stand-up John Bishop. It also featured a live cross to the commentary box of the Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid match at Stamford Bridge. Other segments included telephone prank by Cold Feet actor John Thomson, dance routines and fifty of the UK's best firefighters. Sounds ... thrilling.

Glamour model and sometime actress-wannabe Abi Titmuss has been cast in a Seagull Theatre production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The Celebrity Love Island star - with the enormous chest - will appear as Lady Macbeth at the Lowestoft venue on 18 November. She will also tour theatres in Sudbury, Bungay, Halesworth and Norwich for one-off shows. 'There is no stunt casting - this is someone who is earning her stripes,' said artistic director John Hales. 'She is a really, really good actress and that was one of the main considerations as we needed a strong female lead. To those who have not seen her she will be a wonderful surprise. She brings depth and heart to it and she will move people.' We believe you, John. Thousands wouldn't.

Denis Leary's company Apostle Films has recently acquired the rights to 1997 SF movie Gattaca for a TV adaptation. The company plans to develop the concept as an hour-long crime series set in the future, according to Variety. NCIS writer/producer Gil Grant has been contracted to showrun the project, which is being developed through Sony TV's international division. The film version of Gattaca was directed by Andrew Niccol and starred Ethan Hawke as a genetically inferior man living in a world where genetic engineering of humans is common.

Lost actor Henry Ian Cusick has reportedly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit. Chelsea Stone, who was a member of the show's production crew, filed the suit in April, claiming that she was sexually harassed and subsequently fired from Lost. She sued ABC and the production company, Grass Skirt Entertainment, for an undisclosed amount of coin. Cusick, who plays fan-favourite Desmond Hume on the series, was also named in court documents. He was alleged to have 'fondled the plaintiff's buttocks and breasts and kissed her on the lips.' Stone claimed that she was told by a supervisor to 'avoid contact' with the forty two-year-old. The parties reached a confidential settlement in a Los Angeles Superior Court on 5 October, TV Guide reports. Cusick's representative declined to comment on the matter.

Anna Paquin has suggested that viewers get uncomfortable seeing her naked in vampire drama True Blood. Not this Keith Telly Topping-shaped viewer, Anna, trust me. The actress, who played Flora in Oscar-winning film The Piano aged eleven, said that people find it difficult to see her strip off because they still think of her as an innocent child star. Although, again, anybody who saw her flash her panties whilst deflowering William Miller in Almost Famous will more than familiar with the concept! Paquin told Bang Showbiz: 'It's been a gradual evolution for me. It's probably weird for people to watch it and if they have this image of me as a sweet little child, but it's not weird for me.' She continued: 'My wardrobe is awesome. I'm practically naked the entire time - what's not to love?' Indeed.

Christopher Lee has been knighted by the Prince of Wales in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Best known for his performances opposite Peter Cushing in numerous Hammer and Amicus horror movies, Sir Christopher has featured in over two hundred and fifty productions in a career lasting the best part of sixty years. He was honoured for his services to both drama and charity. Also honoured at the ceremony were veteran rock and roll guitarist and singer Joe Brown, Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke and Marina Dalglish, the wife of Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish. Sir Christopher joked: 'I've done a lot of films that have become iconic, not necessarily because of me.' He also added: 'A whole new career opened up for me when I was in Lords Of The Rings and Star Wars. What's really important for me is, as an old man, I'm known by my own generation and the next generation know me too.'

Benidorm star Hugh Sachs has said that the ITV comedy series is successful because viewers recognise themselves in the characters. Speaking on This Morning, Sachs's co-star Paul Bazely also credited the show's writer Derren Litten for much of its popularity. 'I think people just recognise themselves - we don't behave very well on holiday as a nation and I don't think there's that many sitcoms about the vast majority of people,' Sachs said. 'Lots of people go on holiday and have rows in public.' Bazely added: '[What] Derren Litten captures very well is that you go on holiday with your loved ones and you do have rows with them but you still love them. So there's a warmth underneath it all.'

Dennis Hopper has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to his manager. The Easy Rider actor, aged seventy three, has cancelled all of his upcoming promotional duties and appearances in order to concentrate on his treatment. Speaking to the Associated Press, Sam Maydew confirmed that Hopper is being treated through a 'special programme' at the University of Southern California. He added that they are 'hoping for the best' but declined to comment further on the star's condition. Obviously, Keith Telly Topping asumes he's speaking for all of From The North's readership when he sends best wishes to Dennis. Fight this dreadful ailment with the same vigour and courage that you spent a career fighting the studio system, sir, and you'll be right as rain in no time.

A federal judge in Boston has ruled that Big Brother US winner Adam Jasinski is a flight risk. The thirty one-year-old, who won the CBS show's ninth season, was recently charged with attempting to sell two thousand Oxycodone pills. He reportedly told DEA agent Todd Prough that he used his five hundred thousand dollar prize money from the reality TV series to purchase thousands of the prescription drugs in order to resell them. Jasinski faces a maximum of twenty years in The State Pen and may also be fined one million dollars (or, twice as much as he won in the Big Brother house) for the possession charge. Now, that's poetic justice. US District Judge Leo T Sorokin has denied a motion to release Jasinski, E! reports. 'He is detained,' court clerk Maria Simeone said in an over-dramatic way that suggested she was angling for a role in an upcoming episode of Law & Order. '[The judge] determined that the government had met its burden of proof based on the evidence and that the defendant posed a risk of flight.'

The BBC has admitted it posted pictures of actors from the film The Firm on the Crimewatch website and wrongly claimed they were real football hooligans earlier this week. Earlier this week, the Sun also printed the pictures of The Firm actors on under the headline 'Hooligan Hunt' after the Metropolitan police had supplied them with the photos. The Sun is expected to run another story soon admitting to the mistake and laying all of the blame on the Met for the error. Because, as we all know, checking the veracity of a story is, in no way, a newspaper's job. The BBC also blamed the Met for the mistake, saying that the police had provided its Crimewatch show with the images. Earlier in the week the police released sixty six photographs of people they want to trace following the manic violence during a match between West Ham United and Millwall in August. Crimewatch ran an item about the search for the suspects on BBC1 on Wednesday night. The images of the actors did not appear on screen, but they were posted on the programme's website shortly thereafter. Although most of the photos pictured people who were allegedly involved in the violence, they also included six headshots of actors who appeared in The Firm, a British movie centred on football-related violence. The film was released shortly after the trouble at West Ham's Upton Park ground in East London, during a Carling Cup game against local rivals Millwall on 25 August. The original version of The Firm, starring Gary Oldman, was shown on BBC2 in the 1980s. A statement on the BBC's Crimewatch website said: 'Yesterday we published photographs of sixty six men supplied by the police who told us they were wanted in connection with violent behaviour at a football match. Six of the images supplied by the police were sent by them in error and the men pictured were not wanted for any crime. The police have asked us to pass on to the men concerned their sincere apologies for this mistake.' Police stated that the package sent to the BBC also included scenes from The Firm as it included parallels between the real-life fracas and the fictional fights depicted in the film. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Service apologised for the error. She said: 'Newham Borough Police regret this mistake and any embarrassment it has caused, and wish to apologise unreservedly to those affected. The borough is actively seeking to contact those persons whose images were released and will be offering personal apologies once they have been identified.' She added that an inquiry into the incident had been launched.

Sandra Bullock has admitted that she can be an annoying person. As anybody who's seen Speed 2 will, happily, avow.

Katie Price has claimed that she does not consider herself to be 'high maintenance.' The glamour model, best-selling autobiographer, 'TV presonality' and celebrity divocree made the astonishing claim during the recording of a new series of Channel 4's cookery program The F Word, the Sun reports. Price told the show's host, Gordon Ramsay, 'I'm not high maintenance, believe it or not.' Ramsay responded with incredulity: 'Katie Price, excuse me? That's like me saying I'm a vegetarian!' Price added: 'But I'm not! Okay my hair every three months costs fifteen thousand pounds - and that's because I go to LA and the flight costs a lot.' Sometimes, dear blog reader, a punchline just isn't necessary.

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