Friday, October 30, 2009

The Queen Is Very Much Alive

Regular listeners to Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips on BBC Newcastle will probably be aware that there is a significant change happening as of today (Friday). Namely, my oppo for the last six months, Jamie Wilkinson, is leaving The Afternoon Show. Yesterday, we recorded our last slot together. It was quite emotional. In a thoroughly manly way, I hasten to add. Anyway, I reflected that somehow over the last five years I've managed to see off firstly Julia, then Alfie and now Jamie; it's starting to look like I'm a sodding Jonah to anybody who acquires that slot. It's been lovely working with Jamie - a really top bloke - for the last few months and I wish him every success in the future. And, if you're stuck thinking what you could possibly get for a very special present for someones birthday, anniversary or even divorce, check out Jamie's Bespoke Radio website for an off-beat and highly original possibility. Meanwhile, Keith Telly Topping's new partner-in-criminal-TV-reviewing will be Simon Logan who takes over The Afternoon Show on Monday coming. Simon's a nice chap too - albeit, he prefers The X Factor to Strictly. I'm gonna have to set him right on that score. So, if you were wondering, Top Telly Tips will remain in roughly the same slot, Monday to Friday at around quarter-to-four and available on 95.4FM for those of you in the vague 'North East of England' region or, online via the link to your right, for everyone else. And, also of course, I'm still working with the legend that is Alfie Joey on Alfie's Comic Cuts on Saturdays between 1pm and 2pm. Providing there isn't a lunchtime kick-off for the Magpies or the Black Cats. On a somewhat related theme, Octobeard (which was Jamie's idea originally) also finishes today. And, not a single second before time either. I think Jonny Miles has got the title sewn up (he's starting to look like Captain Birdseye!), however yer Keith Telly Topping will let all dear blog readers know the outcome when he knows it himself. Not that you're all exactly standing there with bated breath over this matter, I imagine. Although, I'm sure you'll be as thoroughly glad as I will be once I no longer have any possible excuse to post these horrible webcam pictures of myself with disgraceful facial hair on here in which I look like a sinister child molester. Only one more to go, dear blog reader. Brave heart, it'll all soon be over.

Vic Reeves has denied calling Jonathan Ross a 'bully' in the aftermath of the Manuelgate scandal. A report in the Daily Mail in February suggested that the comedian had criticised Ross for his treatment of ex-Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. However, Reeves has insisted that he was misquoted after defending the chat show host against the criticism he was receiving in the newspaper. He told the Edinburgh Journal: 'I said it's a big fuss over nothing and you lot should stop being bullies, then they printed Jonathan Ross should stop being a bully. That's the Daily Mail for you, they'll twist whatever you say and try and start a fight. They are terrible, awful gossip-mongers and troublemakers.' Oh dear. You've done it now. You'll be right on their shit-list, Vic. They'll be calling for the BBC to ban Shooting Stars as 'sick filth' before you can blink.

ABC has reportedly pulled a skywriting promotion for upcoming remake of V. The network had planned to use skywriters to generate giant red Vs above twenty six prominent US landmarks multiple times a day, TV Guide suggests. The creations were to mimic the spaceships that float above worldwide locales during the alien-themed show's premiere episode, which stars Elizabeth Mitchell. The termination of the promotional campaign follows a Washington Post article which highlighted the amount of pollution that the operation would cause although the network have stated that the actual reason for the change in policy was nothing to do with the negative publicity generated.

The Simpsons' Dan Castellaneta will appear in an upcoming episode of Desperate Housewives, according to TV Guide. Castellaneta, who voices Homer Simpson among other characters, will play the pilot of a plane that crashes on Wisteria Lane during a Christmas party on the popular series.

The BBC is to cut more than one hundred of its senior managers' jobs in a bid to slash its wage-bill by a quarter over the next three and a half years. The corporation will abolish eighteen per cent of the six hundred and forty three senior manager and executive director posts and will only recruit new staff 'at a discount' to the rates they can expect in the commercial sector. They have also frozen pay for all executive directors and members of the BBC Direction Group for a further three years – on top of the one-year freeze which was already announced – and have suspended their bonuses indefinitely. Other directors and senior managers will have their bonuses suspended for two years. The move marks a major change in the pay ethos of the BBC, which include the acceptance that there are 'a number of different markets for staff' within the BBC and that the corporation's approach to pay must be 'tailored to reflect that.' Previously, the BBC has argued that it operates within a marketplace and that reducing salaries would put it at risk of losing its best talent. Time will tell whether that belief was true.

Jamie 'Afro' Archer has claimed that he has lost his confidence after Big Band Week on The X Factor. The singer switched his song to U2's gospel anthem 'The Angel Of Harlem' at just twenty four hours notice last Saturday and claimed that he is still 'smarting' from the incident. 'I was thrown by it because it was so last minute. I wasn't able to perform it as well as I wanted to,' he said in a chat with vocal coach Yvie Burnett, reports Digital Spy website. 'I really am a bit concerned, I've lost my confidence a little bit in what we're going to do, what song we're going to choose. I just hope that we can get it right this week. It's on my mind and I can't stop thinking about it. Am I going to actually have to change my song? Until it's been heard and everyone has said that's brilliant and working, right up to rehearsals I'm going to be worrying about whether I might have to change it.'

Emmerdale actor James Hooton has said that he is planning to pitch a format for a video game show to television studios. Hooton, who plays Sam Dingle in the soap, recently attended the Eurogamer Expo in order to gain more connections with industry speakers at the event. 'I'm trying to get a games programme off the ground at the moment,' he told Eurogamer. 'I've meetings lined up with some of the big companies to try and get some sponsorship and backing for it.'

Anna Friel has declared that she had no doubts about appearing naked on stage for her latest role. The former Pushing Daisies and Brookside favourite features nude in the theatre version of the 1961 movie Breakfast At Tiffany's in London's West End. Her part - as the lead, Holly Golightly - has reportedly caused a stir since the production opened. Producers issued a ban on audience members taking photos of the actress whilst she was disrobed. Friel told The Paul O'Grady Show: 'At first I was nervous. There was a whole debate about when we actually rehearse the nakedness for the first time. It was in a rehearsal room which was very stark and cold and under fluorescent lights. I have never really had a problem with nakedness. I could sit here completely naked and be interviewed and not care. But I won't be doing that, don't worry!'

The BBC has ordered what has been described as the 'spiritual successor' to The Street from Jimmy McGovern's new production company. The Accused is a six-part series from RSJ Productions, which was founded by The Street's creator McGovern with the acclaimed drama's executive producer Sita Williams and script executive Roxy Spencer. The new drama is scheduled for BBC1 in autumn 2010 after a lightning commission from BBC controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson, who said that he had 'read the script on the Sunday and commissioned it on the Monday.' Asked about the potential for a fourth series of The Street, Stephenson said there were 'contractual difficulties.' But, he added: 'I wouldn't say it's dead, but it's complicated.' The third series of The Street, produced by ITV Studios, attracted more than five million viewers on BBC1. However it also looked to be the last after ITV announced that it intended to scrap its Manchester drama unit. McGovern said at the time that he would not allow the series to be produced by another broadcaster.

Blackpool and Desperate Romantics writer Peter Bowker is developing a new medical series for ITV. The new project will see Bowker, who began his scriptwriting career on the BBC's Casualty, reunited with Mammoth Screen, the independent production company he worked with on ITV's recent adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Laura Mackie, ITV director of drama, told The Stage that Bowker's drama was 'a very grown-up medical series' and that the show will be being built around a 'big character,' in the same way as ITV's Doc Martin. She added: 'One of the things we are looking for is a medical series and we have a couple of things in development. Pete is someone I love working with and I think he's had a purple patch recently. I first worked with Pete on Casualty - that was one of his first commissions - and he is very good on medicine. He has done Medics and Peak Practice.' Mackie said she did not want to reveal too much detail about the series in development, but that it would not be like Harley Street, last year's medical drama starring Suranne Jones, which was a critical and commercial flop for ITV. She also emphasised that the new show would be based around a strong central role, which she said broadcasters often 'shy away from,' and that this concept would mean the series did not clash with BBC shows such as Holby City. 'A lot of medical series are very ensemble and, if we do one, we don't want to tread on the toes of Casualty or Holby because they are brilliant and they do that very well,' she said. The new series does not yet have a working title and Mackie stressed it was just one of a number of projects being considered by ITV. The director of drama also revealed that Barbara Machin, the creator of the BBC's Waking the Dead, is developing a crime drama for ITV.

Thriller writer Peter Jukes has written an strongly-worded piece for Prospect about why he believes British TV has lost its way and why it can never hope to produce a series like The Wire. It's a somewhat familiar rant to anybody who saw Tony Garnett making an utter fool of himself earlier this year when whinging on a similar subject. But, it's still an interesting perspective to analyse for the average TV viewer. The breakup of the old American network cartel and competition from cable channels such as HBO and Showtime has, undeniably, been good for competition – the result is that series have had to toughen-up, rather than becoming dumbed-down. This flowering of talent has produced series such as Mad Men, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The West Wing and Sex and the City. In the UK, both Channel 4 and ITV have largely abandoned adult drama (with a few notable exceptions), leaving pretty much the entire genre in the hands of the BBC – and of one man in particular, their controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson. It's not that Britain is short of TV writing talent, argues Jukes, but rather that it hasn't worked out how best to use it. As a result, the US has cornered the market in what he describes as 'the high-end stuff.' Series which bears devoted watching and repeat viewing. Like [Spooks] for instance. Oh no, hang on, that's one of ours, isn't it? Sorry, my mistake. Prospect has a graphic which - they claim - demonstrates this point: One second-series episode of The Wire has twenty one interweaving story-lines. An episode of Kudos' acclaimed British drama, Life on Mars, combined four. Well yeah, okay fair point. They were four bloody goods ones, though. Plus, I'm not sure that counting the number of storylines in a drama is any particular indication of quality, per se. You'll find plenty of recurring plot-threads in the average soap, for instance. The only way to produce sophisticated, long-running drama like The Wire or even ER - the Americans have discovered - is to use a team of writers who collaborate under a show-runner, a system that US studios have cracked and which had now started to infiltrate British TV in the last few years. (That's the system they're now using on Doctor Who, to great success, for instance.) For a thirteen or twenty two episode series, it's simply too much for even one world class dramatist to write the whole thing (albeit, Aaron Sorkin tried to on The West Wing), but by the same token you can't hire hack writers to work on episodes in isolation. The result is that American viewers sit down to an evening of Damages, argues Jukes, whilst we get Casualty. It's also interesting that soaps are mere daytime fodder in America. In Britain, they 'clog the prime time slots' – and the former Holby City writer Jukes reserves most of his bile for them. He says writing for that show involved 'the most dispiriting experiences in my twenty five years as a dramatist. Soaps squeeze the creativity and innovation out of you.' Now, I'm not saying there isn't an element of truth in what Jukes is saying. And nobody has more time for US network and non-network drama than I. But, they're very odd series to be comparing. It's like comparing apples and bananas. Why Holby City with The Wire? Why not with [Spooks]? Or Torchwood? Or Shameless? Or any one of thirty or forty other fine examples of when British TV gets it dead right. Or, by the same token, why not compare CSI: Miami (the most widely-watched TV show not only in the US but, indeed, in the world, let us remember) with Waking The Dead and see which one emerges with the biggest balls? That's the trouble with comparisons, sometimes they work for you, sometimes they blow up up in your face.

And, on a related theme, BBC staff are plagued by 'morbid job insecurity,' which is 'debilitating' the corporation's ability to deliver its public service remit, Occupation director Nick Murphy has claimed. Murphy, who last Saturday collected a Prix Europa for his Iraq war drama, also criticised Channel 4, claiming that the film which scooped the Prix Europa for best documentary would never have got off the ground in the UK. 'There is no way Chemo would have been commissioned by C4 or the BBC and if it was, it would be buried away somewhere at 11pm,' he said. Well, hang on. You can't have it both ways, pal. It either would be commissioned or it wouldn't. If it would then the scheduling of it is utterly immaterial to the argument you're pushing. 'Everyone is terrified of losing their jobs. People at the BBC have a morbid job insecurity and it is affecting the programmes they commission. It is starting to debilitate public service broadcasting.' Yes but, as previously noted, public service broadcasting also involves entertaining the public, not just lecturing them, preaching to them and wagging your finger at them, something most people who casually used the words 'public' 'services' and 'broadcasting' in close proximity to each other seem to forget all too quickly. Chemo, by Polish filmmaker Pawel Lozinski, for channel TVP SA, shows life on a cancer ward through a series of literal close-ups of patients' conversations. Murphy, who has also made documentaries including How Art Made The World (for BBC2) and Paddington Green (for BBC1), said his experience with Occupation had been atypical and that it had been strongly supported by BBC executive Patrick Spence. The BBC responded that it was 'extremely proud' of its public service broadcasting track record. You want to try going to Peter Jukes' beloved America, Nick, and see how much support you get from the broadcaster system over there.

Over in the US, meanwhile, Syfy has handed a thirteen-episode order for a US version of Being Human. The show, which was of course originally developed by the BBC, centres around three twentysomethings - a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost flat- -sharing in modern-day Bristol. 'It turned out great as we can now do an American version,' said Syfy president Dave Howe. 'We've always been keen on vampires and werewolves, and we loved the originality of Being Human, the fact that the fantastical creatures in it are very young, accessible and charming.' Yes, Peter Jukes, America is so 'the land of innovation and originality,' isn't it? They've never had a single original idea in their head since 1776. And even that one they nicked off the French.

Paul O'Grady may soon be returning to ITV - but his production company, Olga TV, is poised to hang on to the tea-time Channel 4 slot that is currently home to his chat show, The Paul O'Grady Show. Sources close to Channel 4 told Broadcast that Olga TV director, and O'Grady's agent, Waheed Alli is close to signing a deal for a new 5pm show that would feature different presenters. A condition of the deal would be that O'Grady makes regular guest appearances. One source told Broadcast it was 'a done deal' because C4 was 'tempted' by O'Grady's involvement. 'Channel 4 is unhappy at losing O'Grady, but it's better to have him appearing occasionally than not at all,' said the nameless source. However, a Channel 4 spokeswoman denied this: 'We're continuing to talk to a number of production companies, including Olga TV, about ideas for the 5pm slot next year, but nothing's been decided at this stage.'

Zooey Deschanel will guest star in an upcoming episode of Bones, FOX has announced. The 10 December episode, The Goop On The Girl, will see Deschanel united with her sister Emily for the first time on-screen. She will play Margaret Whitesell, a distant relative of Emily's character, Temperance Brennan, who arrives when Brennan's father (Ryan O'Neal) invites her to spend Christmas with them. O'Neal is also appearing in the episode. FOX has also announced that the forthcoming one hundredth episode of Bones, which is due to air next spring, will be directed by the show's male lead, David Boreanaz.

The BBC's director of sports rights Dominic Coles has suggested that the 2013 Ashes cricket series should be simulcast on the BBC and Sky Sports. Yeah, like that's going to happen! A panel of experts led by former FA executive director David Davies is currently reviewing the list of sporting events that are protected for broadcast on free-to-air television. The England and Wales Cricket Board recently agreed a new three hundred million pound deal with Sky for exclusive England international cricket coverage, which comes into force next year and includes the 2013 series. Any attempts by the review panel to place the Ashes back on the list of protected sporting events would be strongly opposed by both the ECB and Sky, in a case of the former because it views the money gained from TV deals as vital for funding grassroots cricket development in the UK. Speaking to the Guardian, Coles said that the BBC cannot compete with Sky's financial muscle, but there is another way to resolve this issue by simulcasting the series on pay and free-to-air TV. 'We can never compete with Sky in terms of the vast amounts of money they offer. But since 2005 [when the Ashes were shown on Channel 4] the numbers watching sport on pay-TV have plateaued,' he said. I think Sky might beg to differ on that one, Dom, baby. Still, one can dream, at least. Dreaming, as Blondie once said, is free. (Or, at least, cheap.)

Myleene Klass has expressed surprise over the way the contestants behaved on the recent US series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Klass, who presented the NBC programme alongside Damien Fahey, suggested that participants were less than willing to enter into the spirit of the programme unlike their UK counterparts. Speaking on The Paul O'Grady Show, Klass noted: 'It's nothing at all like our version. It's so funny, you say, "Go on, put your hand into the rats and grab the star." [They say], "I'm gonna phone my attorney. I'm gonna sue." You think, how are we going to get around this - and you do - and then they're hungry and they say, "I want a pizza." So you have to explain the concept of the show every ten minutes. But it was brilliant fun.' Sounds like it. She added: 'It's just very different over there. A lot of the Americans thought we were on a set because their sets are so epic. People really just didn't believe that we were in the jungle. But believe me, we were. I didn't sleep properly for five weeks.' The show, which aired in June, featured celebrities including Janice Dickinson, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.

Caroline Quentin is in talks to join The Bill in a bid to 'save the struggling show' claim the Mirror. Producers want to draft in the Blue Murder star as Sun Hill's Borough Commander to boost flagging ratings - as staff fear the ITV police drama faces the axe after a fresh wave of redundancies. Caroline would appear for six weeks in episodes written especially for her although it is understood that she is yet to commit. A show source said: 'Caroline Quentin has been asked to come in to try and boost the show's popularity. Scriptwriters have been told to write especially for her as ITV is keen to improve the ratings.'

The X Factor twins John and Edward Grimes have apparently been dragged into a potential international incident with the Chinese Embassy it has been claimed. The contestants' house in North London is said to be 'next door' to the Chinese Ambassador, and she is, reportedly, 'very irritated' by the permanent mob of screaming girls who hang around the area hoping for a glimpse of the boys. The ambassador, Fu Ying, is said to be so upset by the noise, litter, graffiti and general discombobulation that she has lodged an official complaint with the diplomatic service. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy allegedly told the Mirror: 'I can confirm there was a complaint. The reason is several times late at night and early in the mornings the teenage fans were noisy and disturbing.' Course, in China, they'd've sent the tanks in by this stage. That'd give the little sods something proper to scream about. Has anyone else noticed this disturbing tendency for Keith Telly Topping to come over all militaristic and reactionary when the subject of The X Factor is on the agenda? A mostly benevolent and almost hippy-style domestic policy, it's true, but tough on The X Factor and tough on the causes of The X Factor. It's a vote-winner, Gordon, I'm telling you ...

Chris Hollins has said that he is 'in panic' about his latest routine on Strictly Come Dancing. Shouldn't that be in a panic, surely? The BBC Breakfast presenter revealed that he will be performing a cha cha cha on Saturday's show, but admitted that he is very worried about his slow progress with the dance. 'Someone must have taken my brain out at the start of the week, because we are in panic situations again,' he told It Takes Two. 'Christopher Hollins is taking a long time to learn the steps, so you may see more trout pout, sucking lemons or "with a migraine" face as I try and remember my steps.' Hollins, who is partnered by Ola Jordan, added: 'Yesterday was so bad. You know when you speak to a dog and say, "sit down Rover," and all it hears is, "Rover, blah blah blah." Well, that was like me. All I could hear was, "Chris, blah blah blah."' Speaking about his future in the competition, he said: 'We don't train for twenty five hours a week for the fun of it. I am not ready to give in just yet. I'm really loving it.' Little known fascinating trivia fact related to Chris Hollins - he is, of course, the son of former Chelsea, Arsenal and England midfielder John Hollins, you probably knew that. What you might not know is that Chris is also the nephew of former Newcastle United and Wales goalkeeper, Dave Hollins. Now, John and Dave Hollins are, as far as Keith Telly Topping is aware, the only pair of brothers ever to have represented different countries at football. There you go, told you it was fascinating. Wake up!

BBC Wales is looking for two modern day families who would like to step back in time and take part in a new reality TV series, Snowdonia Farmhouse set in 1890. Commissioned from independent company Indus Television, producers of the innovative Coal House series, the new project aims to recruit two Welsh families, who will live in neighbouring farm cottages in Snowdonia, immersed in the harsh realities of nineteenth century life. Strictly no mod cons. In what Cardiff's head of English language programmes Clare Hudson calls 'a collision of social history and real life drama,' women will work the land, tend the livestock and run the family home while the men will work in the nearby slate mines. Their trials and tribulations will mirror the challenges faced by their forefathers over one hundred years ago. Filming will take place during March and April next year but the recruitment of families had already started.

The Full Monty director Peter Cattaneo is to return to his TV roots with a BBC2 sitcom about a frustrated urban Anglican vicar. Handle With Prayer (working title) is one of two new BBC commissions for Big Talk Productions and will feature In The Loop, Pride And Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean and Desperate Romantics actor Tom Hollander as Andrew Smallbone, newly promoted from a sleepy rural parish to the 'socially divided' area of St Botolph's in London. Unable to turn anyone away, Smallbone is faced with a catalogue of moral dilemmas as he juggles the needs of genuine believers - some on the streets or addicted to drugs - with the demands of social climbers using the church to get their children into the 'right' schools. 'It's the antithesis of any religious comedy you've ever seen,' said Kenton Allen, executive producer and chief executive of Big Talk. Given that most of the religious comedy we've previously seen has been - how can I put this nicely? Arse - then that shouldn't prove to be too difficult. 'Although the UK is supposedly an increasingly secular place, when it comes to the major events in our lives - weddings, births, deaths and the education of our children - many of us still turn to the church.'

BBC1 is to investigate the libel laws in a new six-part observational documentary co-production from BBC Scotland and Matchlight as part of a batch of orders from the nations and regions. An archaeological series from Northern Ireland's 360 Productions and two BBC Scotland series have also been commissioned this week. Libel (working title) will feature Britain's leading law firms and will follow high-profile libel cases as they happen. It will look at how UK libel law shapes the national press and ask why so many US celebrities bring libel cases in the UK rather than at home. BBC1 controller Jay Hunt, who ordered the series with documtaries commissioner Charlotte Moore, said it would have 'extraordinary access to a notoriously private world.' Also on BBC1, the three-part Dig 1940 will use archaeological finds to explore famous Second World War events from the 'most dangerous year in Britain's history,' which included the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The series is the first commission for 360, which is a partnership between Impossible Pictures and former Timewatch editor John Farren. He said: 'Britain was a nation in peril in 1940. This is the archaeology of three potential disasters, all averted.' As a big fan of Time Team's occasions specials covering that era, that one sounds to have great potential. The series was ordered by Hunt and history and business commissioner Martin Davidson to broadcast in the summer of 2010 marking the seventieth anniversary of the events it will focus upon. Meanwhile, BBC Scotland has secured commissions for Shipshape, a two episode look at the impact of the sea on British art and culture for BBC4 and a second series of the daytime quiz A Question of Genius.

The BBC did not bow to BNP pressure and allow party leader Nick Griffin to appear on last week's Question Time, according to Mark Thompson. And, on present levels of electoral support - around two per cent of the national vote - the party was likely to be invited onto the programme 'not more than once a year or less,' the director-general told the Lords Communications Committee yesterday. During a twenty minute questioning about the broadcast and the Griffin decision, Thompson was asked by the committee's chairman, that oily little runt Lord Fowler (remember him? 'Fowlpest' from Spitting Image) whether the invitation for the BNP to join the panel had been an initiative from the party and whether it was done to boost ratings. Thompson said the initiative had been the BBC's. 'This was in no part designed to increase ratings. The question of who appears is not decided on an ad-hoc basis, it is something that is under constant review,' he told the committee. '[Question Time] is not a competition you can enter.' He said the decision to allow the BNP its first appearance on the programme had been his decision, as editor-in-chief - taking advice from Ric Bailey of editorial policy and having briefed the BBC executive board as well as non-executive directors. Thompson repeated his view that it was for parliament, not the director-general of the BBC, to decide whether an organisation like the BNP, considered by many to be racist, should be banned from the airwaves. He refused to be drawn on whether, as Fowpest's suggested, Thursday's programme had been 'a crude and unpleasant shouting match.' You were a member of Thatcher's government, pal, you'd know all about nonsense like that. And, remind us how you got to be a 'Lord' in the first place? I certainly didn't vote for you. As Thompson may have to adjudicate on some viewer complaints about perceived bias in the show - there were two hundred and forty compliants after transmission - he said it would not be 'appropriate' for him to give a personal view. In a wide-ranging session which covered competitive Saturday night scheduling, out-of-London production, top-slicing and the future of project Canvas, Thompson was also quizzed on the rumoured sale by BBC Worldwide of the Lonely Planet travel guide. 'We are not seeking to dispose of Lonely Planet because of what's in newspapers,' Thompson said. A round of applause for that, at least. 'BBC Worldwide has no plans to sell the highly successful Lonely Planet travel information business. It is not up for sale,' a spokeswoman said.

Former Emmerdale star Jenna-Louise Coleman has admitted that she found it strange to go back to school for her new role in Waterloo Road. The twenty three-year-old actress signed up to play Year Twelve pupil Lindsey James on the drama earlier this year. Reflecting on her new role, Coleman told TV Times: 'It was surreal sitting in a classroom doing chemistry lessons again! And it felt weird putting on the uniform. At my school we didn't wear uniforms in sixth form, so I haven't worn one since I was sixteen. My school uniform was a bottle-green colour and we didn't wear ties as we had dicky bows. So I didn't know how to do up Lindsey's tie and had to get someone in the costume department to teach me!' Revealing what viewers can expect from her new part, Coleman continued: 'She's completely different to Jasmine Thomas, my Emmerdale character. She's a hard-nut to crack and a tormented soul, whereas Jasmine wore her heart on her sleeve and just cried all the time!'

Dannii Minogue has claimed that she posed for Playboy because she needed to solve a financial crisis. The Australian singer reportedly made the revelation in her recent TV interview with Piers Morgan, telling the former journalist that she felt desperate because she owed one hundred and fifty thousand pounds and could not afford to pay her rent. Keith Telly Topping would've loaned her a tenner if only she'd asked. In fact, he'd've robbed a bank for Dannii if only she'd asked. Anyway, Minogue infamously stripped off for the magazine in 1995 after splitting from her then-husband Julian McMahon. She is quoted as saying: 'My parents didn't want me to do it. My dad was saying, "Doing this is forever - you can never, ever change it." Kylie knew why I was doing it - I could have asked her for the money, but it wasn't in my nature. I never wanted to admit the trouble I was in. I should have been looking at my finances.'

Sarah Palin has claimed that she is 'appalled' by remarks made by the teenage father of her grandson, according to Entertainment Tonight. During an appearance on CBS's The Early Show on Thursday, nineteen-year-old Levi Johnston alleged that Palin had called her baby son, Trig, who has Down's Syndrome, 'retarded.' He also suggested that he knew various other 'secrets' about the former vice presidential candidate and governor of Alaska. In a statement, Palin said: 'We have purposefully ignored the mean-spirited, malicious and untrue attacks on our family. We, like many, are appalled at the inflammatory statements being made or implied. Trig is our "blessed little angel" who knows it and is lovingly called that every day of his life. Even the thought that anyone would refer to Trig by any disparaging name is sickening and sad.' In other words, Levi matey boy, when President Palin gets sworn in, Guantanamo's re-opening for business and you're gonna be its first customer.

Morrissey triumphantly returned to the stage at London's Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday night, and made light of his collapse during a recent concert in Swindon. 'Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a bumpy night,' he declared, launching into the Smiths' first hit 'This Charming Man.' That song had been the last one he played before collapsing with breathing difficulties on Saturday night. In London, he pretended to faint again at the song's climax, before springing to his feet and declaring: 'Thank you, Swindon!' Heh! Morrissey cracked a joke! We truly are living in the End of Days. The singer also spoke, briefly, about his collapse, when he told the sell-out crowd: 'The doctor said I shouldn't smile. I told him, "I don't."' Heh! Morrissey cracked another joke. Steady on, that's two in one lifetime. That's quite enough Stephen, you'll be after your own stand-up show on BBC2 next. A concert in Bournemouth, due to take place on Monday, was postponed, but the star's spokeswoman said he was now 'rested and absolutely fine.'

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