Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rascals And Knaves. And Retuning-Issues

Top Gear presenter James May was left uninjured yesterday after a stunt that involved an airship crash landed. Which will no doubt have come as a considerable disappointment to all the hippies and Communists out there. The host had been filming a segment for the BBC2 series when the craft was blown off course, BBCi reports. A caravan was attached to the bright orange blimp, which was being flown across Cambridgeshire. Strong wind gusts blew it away from its scheduled cricket pitch destination into a farmer's field located near the A428. Emergency services were on hand, though they were not utilised following the accident. A spokeswoman for the show confirmed that May escaped without harm, saying: 'Viewers will have to wait until the next series to find out what happens.' Eyewitness Peter Clarke told the Daily Mail that the caravan-carrying airship was 'a very strange sight.' He said: 'I understand they were planning to land on the village cricket green in the middle of a match. All the cricketers were there dressed in their whites waiting for it to appear, but it started drifting off in the wrong direction. The film crew were a bit fed up as they'd been hanging around the village all day waiting for the wind to drop so they could film.'

The final scenes featuring the tenth Doctor are 'a brilliant send-off' for David Tennant, his co-star John Simm has said. The Life On Mars actor returns as The Doctor's arch-nemesis, The Master, in the two-part Christmas special, the final episodes of Tennant's four year odyssey in time, space and superstardom. Simm told BBCi that he had lots of fun working on Tennant's last episodes, which are now complete. 'It's all done,' he said. 'I've just spoken to David and he hasn't seen it either. We're doing some dubbing and we go in and do the voice-overs. Hopefully we'll see a bit of it then. I'm looking forward to it. It was a great script. It'll be a brilliant send-off. Last time I did [Doctor Who] it was such fun. It was wonderful to be asked back and to be in the very, very last one. To go head-to-head with him was a really honour.' Simm says one of the main reasons he chose to appear in Doctor Who was because of his son. He first appeared as The Master in 2007 in three episodes. The role means that the actor's eight-year-old son Ryan can watch at least one of the programmes that Simm appears in. He noted: 'The things I usually do on TV or film are quite adult and he doesn't get to see [them]. He knew his dad was an actor but I never got the chance to prove it to him because he's not allowed to watch Life On Mars or Human Traffic or State Of Play. He wouldn't get it, thank God. It was a great opportunity to make my son proud.'

As ITV confirmed that a new co-production deal would allow the return of cult show Primeval, the show's writer, Adrian Hodges, revealed that the new episodes will be filmed in Ireland. A co-production deal has been struck between ITV, UKTV, German broadcaster Pro7 and BBC America. This will see a seven-episode fourth season premiere on ITV in early 2011 and a six-episode fifth season begin on Watch later that year. Hodges said 'Obviously I'm thrilled that we'll be coming back to make series four and five. We were dismayed to leave the storylines unfinished at the end of series three and doing the new series is a chance both to put that right and move Primeval on into the future – I'm very excited about it. Some things about the new series will be familiar to viewers but some things will change – for one thing we're shooting the new series in Ireland, which on the production side helps us with tax breaks, but also gives us a lot of new locations to work with. Although the show has been shot in and around London up to now, it's never been specifically a "London" show - for the most part it could be taking place in any modern city and we already know that Dublin will enable us to keep the modern, urban look of the show intact.'

ITV hopes to follow its resurrection of Primeval with more innovative drama funding deals designed to squeeze the most from its reduced budget. Speaking at the launch of forthcoming stripped drama Collision, ITV director of TV, Peter Fincham said the recession meant broadcasters needed to find creative solutions and 'box clever and cut our cloth in different ways.' Primeval will return for two series after Impossible Pictures pulled together a -seemingly impossible - funding package for the show involving BBC America, UKTV and Pro7. Fincham said: 'I don’t think all drama will be funded this way, but I wouldn't be surprised to see more of it. It's a reality of a world in which it's challenging for broadcasters to fully fund drama.' Asked whether this kind of deal could help secure the future of shows such as Heartbeat or The Royal, Fincham said: 'There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but we are always open to imaginative deals from suppliers.' Fincham also used the occasion to criticise the head-to-head between The X Factor and BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, claiming the BBC was 'more concerned about ratings than ITV.' Fincham, blog readers may remember, was the BBC Controller who, in 2008, first insisted that Doctor Who should be moved from its established 7pm slot on Saturday night to the earlier 6:15 to increase the amount of the night that the BBC had a ratings lead over ITV. So, no obvious and quite staggering hypocrisy there, then. And after all the nice things Russell Davies said about him in A Writer's Tale too. Fincham added that the BBC was more competitive because it 'spends without seeking a return on investment,' and that ratings were one of the ways it could measure success, as opposed to ITV's focus on return on investment. 'It's a different gauge,' he said.

Heroes is continuing its US ratings plummet, according to early viewing figures. The third episode of volume five - called Ink - broadcast on Tuesday evening in America pulled in just 5.82m for NBC during the 8pm hour, down from last week's two-hour premiere. Elsewhere, FOX's House had an audience of 14.44m. And, to think, it's only a couple of years since the two shows were getting, pretty much, the same weekly audience figures. Don't hold your breath on Heroes reaching volume six.

Also in the US, the Rod Blagojevich-media-blitz continued last Thursday night as the disgraced former governor of Illinois appeared on Comedy Central's The Daily Show where he has been the butt of numerous Scumdog Million Hairs jokes over the last nine months. Blagojevich told his nemesis, Jon Stewart, that he has been falsely accused of trying to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat for financial gain. After Stewart made a few further hair jokes, he asked Blagojevich point-blank about the now-infamous line that came out in the indictment: 'I've got this thing and it's fucking golden.' 'My accusers, who had a press conference while I was locked up in a jail cell, said that I said that,' Blagojevich noted. 'They have since gone to court and have gotten a court order that prevents me from finishing out that conversation and telling you exactly the next sentence or the next paragraph.' In the second part of the interview, Blagojevich suggested that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan 'may have some criminal culpability. He was holding back a jobs bill, not expanding health care,' Blagojevich said. 'If he was leveraging that for [his daughter, Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan's] Senate seat then you have to ask yourself if that's legitimate or not.'

Armstrong and Miller's subsidiary company Toff Media is piloting a companion show to Have I Got News For You that will cast a satirical eye on the week ahead. The Hat Trick-backed producer will this week film a pilot of The Monday Show, in which Alexander Armstrong will chat with studio guests and introduce location reports. Lined-up for the pilot are comedians Jon Richardson and Graham Fellows' spoof singer John Shuttleworth, with one guest still to be confirmed. The show is pencilled in for BBC1 if it is picked up for a full run. Armstrong has been a regular guest presenter on Have I Got News For You, which airs on Friday nights, and also fronts its web spin-off Have I Got News For You News … For You.

The family of X Factor contestant Scott James reportedly think that the Susan Boyle controversy affected his chances on the show. Asperger's sufferer Scott impressed the judges with his original audition earlier this year, but was ultimately sent home at the boot camp stage. The twenty one-year-old's early success in the competition had sparked media comparisons to Scottish singer Boyle, who checked into The Priory clinic following her stint on Britain's Got Talent earlier this year. Her experience led to a debate over whether she had been too vulnerable to have been allowed to compete on the programme. According to the Mirror, James's parents Sharon and Ken believe that he would have progressed further in the contest if he had auditioned before Boyle's rise to fame. His singing coach Linzi Hunter commented: 'It might have been different if he'd come along before Susan. I think they were worried how he'd cope with the live shows - but his future still looks good.'

A BBC3 documentary about the implications of growing up without a father is to be fronted by singer and Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon, to be produced by Flame TV. The sixty-minute programme, which has the working title, Who's The Daddy?, will look at both the emotional and practical impacts fatherlessness can have on a person – from the risk of unwittingly having a sexual relationship with a half-brother or sister, to the 'dangerous consequences' of not knowing your medical background. Dixon, whose own parents broke up when she was four-years-old, will also try and help one young person in an 'ambitious' hunt for his or her biological father. Barbara Altounyan, Flame director of programmes and executive producer of the documentary, said: 'This is a personal journey for Alesha, who is determined to get the nation thinking about the subject of absent fathers in the UK and to view the issue from the child's perspective.'

Hundreds of viewers with Freeview have been complaining about losing some channels when they tried to retune their set-top boxes and TVs. The service is being upgraded to give more homes Five, but four hundred and sixty thousand households are expected to lose access to ITV3 and ITV4 instead. For example, Maurice Short from Brighton is said to be 'very annoyed' because he has lost ITV3. A Freeview spokesperson said viewers with problems should try again. A statement said: 'The majority of people find retuning straightforward but if viewers are experiencing problems after retuning, we would suggest trying again.' Keith Telly Topping reports that he managed to retune not only his own Phillips Digi-TV but, also, his dear old mum's Sagem set-top box without too much trouble and no loss to channels. And, if a complete technophobe like he can manage it then he can't imagine too many other people having much trouble.

Eight out of ten of the UK's sixty million TV sets are now digitally enabled, according to Ofcom. Its Digital TV Progress Report for the second quarter shows that 24.3 million - up fifteen per centage points in a year - of secondary sets have now been converted. Ofcom reports thirty million sets have been DTT-enabled, of which ten million are primary and twenty million secondary. There are an average 2.4 of both types per household. The number of Freeview set-top boxes sold - six hundred and eighty thousand - was down by a quarter compared with last year thanks to the popularity of integrated digital TVs. Meanwhile, as the Granada region prepares to begin the switchover in November, nine out of ten main sets have been connected to a digital decoder.

Sky1 has picked up the rights to NCIS: Los Angeles, it has been announced. The spin-off of the popular naval crime drama, which stars LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell, premiered on CBS in the US last week with an impressive 18.3 million viewers. 'We're delighted to have acquired NCIS: Los Angeles from CBS Studios International, following its incredible success in the US,' said Sarah Wright, head of acquisitions at Sky. 'It is a fast-paced, action-packed drama which we know our customers will love and will be a great addition to our existing acquisitions.'

Brooke Vincent has said that she and Sacha Parkinson have agreed not to use tongues when they kiss in Coronation Street. The actresses, who play Sophie Webster and Sian Powers respectively, will reportedly have a same-sex romance on the show next year. Brooke told the Sun at the Inside Soap Awards: 'We've talked about it, we're so close so we'll be alright. I've just told her as long as she sticks to her own side when it comes to the kissing scenes things will be fine. But no tongues! I think the story's going to be really good, it's something to get my teeth into and it will take Sophie out of Rosie's shadow.' She added: 'It will also let other teenage girls know they are not the only ones going through it if they are experiencing something similar. Often there aren't as many lesbian characters on TV compared to gay ones so it's a really positive thing for the soap.'

Corrie's Michael Le Vell has claimed that he will quit the show if his character's infidelity storyline does not end. The actor told the Sun that his alter ego, Kevin Webster, must ditch his affair with Molly Dobbs (Vicky Binns) when he learns that his wife Sally (Sally Whittaker) has breast cancer later this year. Le Vell announced: 'If Sally's cancer doesn't end the affair and Kevin's got no remorse towards her then I'm leaving because I can't be putting up with it. If he carries on with Molly he doesn't deserve to be in the family unit, it's as simple as that.' He added: 'I hope Kevin gives all of his backing to Sally because if he doesn't he's a bigger bastard than I thought he was.' The forty four-year-old has previously revealed that producers want the plotline to run for 'twelve to fifteen months' and feature 'many twists.'

Michelle Collins has admitted that she regrets speaking publicly about her Desperate Housewives audition. The former EastEnders actress first revealed that she had tried out for a role on the hit ABC drama in July. She later said that she would soon fly out to the States for a second meeting with the show's producers. Collins has now conceded that she should have kept quiet about the developments until she was confident she had a part. She told Take 5: 'I had a meeting with them but I wish I hadn't opened my mouth because everyone's talking about it. I've been up for loads of parts but this has been the one that people have been talking about. It would be amazing but we'll just have to wait and see.' I believe you'll find that From The North did, actually, advise that you do exactly that at the time, Michelle ('If I were you, love, I'd've keep my mouth shut until I'd actually been given a job'). Because, as anyone who's ever spent even a short time in Hollywood will happily tell you, if there's one thing that nobody there likes it's a big mouth. Particularly when it comes to bragging about a part they haven't even got yet.

Matt LeBlanc has signed on to play himself on upcoming TV show Episodes. The forty two-year old, who has not appeared on screen since short-lived Friends spinoff Joey ended in 2006, is to team with David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik for the series, TV Guide reports. Episodes will centre on a British couple whose television programme is turned into an Americanised sitcom that stars LeBlanc. He said: 'Jeffrey and David have a great idea - I love it. And I am so glad I got the part. Seeing someone else play Matt LeBlanc would have been devastating.' Note that Matt, like Keith Telly Topping, appears to have developed the strange and often annoying habit of talking about himself in the third person. Production on the series, co-produced by Showtime and the BBC, will begin on six episodes this winter in London and Hollywood.

Peter Serafinowicz has suggested that Spaced's dedicated fanbase can bring the cult Channel 4 show back as a movie, despite creator Simon Pegg's insistence that he doesn't want to do another series. Serafinowicz told Digital Spy website that he would like to see the sitcom resurrected in the future. 'The series was so filmic, it'd be great to see it as a film,' he said. 'It's certainly still the thing I get most recognised for. That's the one thing people always say, "Wow, you were so amazing in Spaced."' Sad to say, this is a little like that story we highlighted a few days ago about 'the guy who used to play Gunther' in Friends causing headlines all around the world by stating that there was a film version in the offing when none of the six people who actually matter in such a scenario had indicated they were planning to take part or even interested in taking part. When Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright or Jessica Hynes says there's a possibility of more Spaced, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be over in the corner watching my almost worn-white DVD of season two.

Lynda Bellingham has signed a two hundred and fifty thousand pound deal to write a book about her life, according to a report. The actress recently finalised plans for an autobiography called Lost and Found after sparking a bidding war between rival publishers, the Mirror claims. It is thought that Bellingham will now 'spill the beans' on her early life and also 'open up about her experiences' on Loose Women and the current series of Strictly Come Dancing. Save me a space on my book-shelf for that one. A source said: 'Lynda has already begun work on Lost and Found and some of it will focus on her earlier acting career. But the later chapters will be among the most explosive. She has only been on [Strictly] for a few weeks but she will already know lots of backstage gossip.'

David Proud has revealed that he is thrilled by the response to his EastEnders debut. The twenty six-year-old actor made his first appearance as wheelchair-user Adam Best on the soap earlier this month. His snobbish character is the programme's first permanent disabled adult role. Discussing the impact of his arrival, Proud told Peterborough Today: 'The reception has been really, really positive. I have been touched by a lot of the feedback from people. It's been a dream response.' In real life, David has spina bifida, a birth defect which results in an incomplete formation of the spinal cord. The condition is also used to explain Adam's wheelchair use on EastEnders. The actor made his comments as he launched the Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus's Fit For Success scheme as part of his new commitment as the charity's patron.

Posters and a radio advert for Quentin Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds have escaped the censure of the advertising industry watchdog. The adverts were not likely to cause strong offence or be seen as socially irresponsible, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled after it received more than twenty complaints about the word 'basterd.' It was clear the adverts referred to the name of the 2009 film and Universal Pictures took care to mitigate the adverts' exposure to children, the ASA said. The posters featured an image of three men holding guns and a knife, while a voice-over on the radio advert stated: 'Quentin Tarantino brings you his most inglourious, most wildest adventure yet, utterly glorious... Inglourious Basterds....' 'Although the word "basterd" would be considered distasteful by some, it was presented in the context of a film and was not used in an aggressive or derogatory manner or used to verbally attack someone,' the ASA found. Again, the crap that some people chose to care about ...

Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS has reportedly been dismissed. In September 2007, the seventy seven-year-old former CBS Evening News anchor filed a seventy million dollar breach of contract and fiduciary duty suit against the network, in relation to a 2004 telecast about then-US President George Bush's military record. Rather stepped down from his position as news anchor after the 60 Minutes segment on Bush was widely criticised. He was seeking twenty million dollars in compensatory damages and fifty million in punitive damages, amid claims that the network 'seriously damaged his reputation' in an attempt to make him 'a scapegoat to pacify the White House.' A New York state appeals court dismissed the case yesterday, according to TV Guide. 'This claim attempts to gloss over the fact that Rather continued to be compensated at his normal CBS salary of approximately six million dollars a year until June 2006,' judge James Catterson wrote in the dismissal. 'CBS was under no obligation to use Rather's services or to broadcast any programme so long as it continued to pay him the applicable compensation.' Rather's lawyer Martin Gold said that his client was 'extremely disappointed' and that they plan to appeal the ruling with the New York Court of Appeals.

A contestant on the US show So You Think You Can Dance? accidentally exposed her vagina on-air after auditioning. The woman, known only as 'Contestant 22036' (catchy), was featured on a montage clip of those who made it through to the semi-final round in Las Vegas, according to TMZ. It is understood that after she received the news, she fell to the floor in amazement and rolls over to reveal herself. 'None of us knew she did this. The show was always designed to expose talent, but not in this way,' judge Nasty Nigel Lythgoe explained. However, he later said that he was informed by FOX's standards and practices department that it was 'a crease in the young lady's panties.'

Noel Gallagher is to star in a new Adidas advert alongside David Beckham and Snoop Dogg, say reports. The former Oasis guitarist filmed a cameo at an industrial estate in East London last week, according to the Sun. Noel revealed in 2005 that he had an uncontrollable fetish for 'vintage Adidas trainers.' Ian Brown, Mr Hudson, N-Dubz, model Agyness Deyn and French dance duo Daft Punk were also apparently involved in the shoot at Bow. Beckham and Snoop Dogg filmed their scenes in Los Angeles.

England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has admitted that he cannot stand reality TV contestants. The twenty nine-year-old, who is married to Popstars and Dancing On Ice contestant Jessica Taylor, argued that the competitors on shows such as Big Brother do not deserve fame. 'I hate these reality TV shows where people walk off Big Brother and think they're A-list celebrities when they've done nothing in their lives. It really does my head in,' he told Channelbee. The sportsman also rubbished a long-standing rumour that he enjoys cooking at home naked. 'The most ridiculous thing I've heard about myself is [that I like] cooking naked. I've heard a couple of times that I cook naked at home,' he said. 'That is ridiculously outrageous and not true at all. I don't cook so how can I cook naked?' Pietersen was unveiled as the new face of Brylcreem yesterday, after signing a deal reportedly worth two million pounds.

Brian McFadden has compiled a dossier of evidence to prove that Kerry Katona is an unfit mother, according to a report. The former Westlife singer will raise his objections in court in a bid to win custody of his two daughters Molly and Lilly Sue, the Daily Star claims. A source said: 'Brian has a lot of information his lawyers are convinced will prove that Kerry is not a fit and capable mother. He is led to believe that she is still taking drugs and drinks excessively.' McFadden announced plans to take the girls into his care last week following his ex-wife's recent cocaine scandal. Katona allegedly 'went ballistic' when she heard the news. The Irish singer split from Katona in 2004 after almost three years of marriage.

X Factor reject Amie Buck has posed in her bra and pants for a lads' magazine. The singer, who exited the ITV reality series after forgetting her words during a performance at boot camp, said in an interview last week that she would never pose topless. Buck has not - quite - broken her promise, but she does appear in various skimpy black outfits in a video which showcases her first shoot for Zoo. The twenty two-year-old made it through the first round of The X Factor, when she was joined by judge Cheryl Cole for a rendition of 'I'll Stand By You'. However, it was revealed afterwards that Buck had not told producers about her experience working in Newcastle's Blue Velvet strip club. Earlier this week, former Hartlepool striker Jack Wilkinson claimed that Buck is desperate to become a WAG and described her as 'the wildest sex I have ever had.'

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