Saturday, October 03, 2009

Somebody's Going To Emergency, Somebody's Going To Jail

Keith Telly Topping starts his daily look at the detritus of the entertainment world with a quick bit of news for Qi fans (and, essentially, that should be everybody): Alan Davies has said yesterday on Twitter that the next - seventh - series will start broadcasting in December and it will be airing on Tuesday nights rather than the traditional Friday.

And, on the subject of world-class BBC comedy, Mock The Week, BBC2's satirical panel show has been commissioned for a further two series Janice Hadlow announced today. Hurrah! But, there's a catch - it will be without Mad Frankie Boyle from now on. Boo! The acclaimed show, made by Angst Productions, combines the best elements of panel show, stand-up comedy and improvised games with two teams of comedians taking a satirical swipe at the news and world events. Dara O'Briain will return as host and each week will be joined by panel members made up of top satirical comedians, established stars and exciting new talent from the stand-up circuit. Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC2, said: 'Mock The Week is a major part of the BBC2 schedule, regularly delivering wit and energy to an enthusiastic audience. This two series commitment shows just how much we value it.' After seven successful series, however, regular (and popular) panellist Mad Frankie Boyle will not be returning to the show due to other television commitments. Dan Patterson, the series' producer at Angst Productions, said: 'Frankie has been a brilliant member of the team since the beginning and the door is always open for him to come back. We wish him all the best with his other projects.'

Broadcasting Watchdog Ofcom has fined an ITV company eighty thousand pounds for breaking broadcasting rules during The British Comedy Awards in 2004 and 2005. Viewers were encouraged to continue voting on premium phone lines for the People's Choice Award after the winner had been announced in 2004 and 2005. The fine on Channel TV also covers the over-riding of the 2005 People's vote. Ant and Dec handed back the 2005 trophy after it was revealed Catherine Tate had actually won the public vote. Channel TV, based in Jersey, were in charge of making sure the awards programme followed broadcasting rules. They have been fined by Ofcom for the two separate breaches. The broadcasting watchdog found that in both 2004 and 2005 the vote for the People's Choice Award was finalised early. The final half-hour of the ceremony was pre-recorded and broadcast as live on ITV after the news. In that time viewers were asked to keep voting, however the winner had already been announced in the ceremony. In its report Ofcom called the breaches 'entirely foreseeable, serious, reckless and repeated.' Channel TV admitted this breach was 'entirely unintentional but nonetheless stupid.' ITV launched an independent inquiry into the awards last year after claims of irregularities. It discovered that The Catherine Tate Show was the rightful winner of the People's Choice Award in 2005 despite Ant and Dec being given the trophy. The TV stars handed back the trophy and were said to be 'absolutely appalled at the error.' Ofcom looked into claims that the presenters were given the award to ensure the attendance of their friend Robbie Williams, to present the trophy. Ofcom ruled it was unable to conclude definitively whether the substitution took place as a result of Mr Williams's alleged booking condition or the alleged involvement of ITV or the ITV Network.

Channel TV, meanwhile, has called for a criminal investigation into the British Comedy Awards phone-in scandal, after members of the TV production team 'deliberately' changed the 2005 People's Choice Awards from Catherine Tate to Ant and Dec. It has lodged a formal request for Ofcom to refer the matter to the police for further investigation. In an independent report by Davenport Lyons, commissioned and released by Channel TV, the legal firm said one unnamed source had confirmed that 'senior members of the production team deliberately changed the final result of the People's Choice Award just before it was announced.' A statement issued after Ofcom's announcement said: 'Channel Television is profoundly dissatisfied that Ofcom, due to their lack of statutory powers to require information or assistance from third parties, have had to reach conclusions on the "selection" issue without full knowledge of what happened before, during and after BCA 2005.' Keith Telly Topping does consider it potentially fantastic if someone ended up going to jail over giving Ant and Dec an award they shouldn't have had. And, he wonders if other retrospective TV decisions could also carry a jail sentence - like, for instance, the commissioning of Totally Saturday, Live From Studio Five and Celebrity Wrestling. No mercy, judge.

Hayden Panettiere has said that she is fed up with constant media speculation regarding her love life. The Heroes actress claimed that any male she is spotted with is automatically assumed to be her boyfriend by the press. 'I can't stand next to anyone of the opposite sex without being linked to them or dating them. It is so frustrating,' Showbiz Spy quotes Panettiere as saying. 'Apparently I can't have any friends. It's absurd. And when they analyse the body language, it really gets to me.'

Jon Plowman offered an intriguing glimpse of the BBC duty log at last week's Broadcast TV Comedy Forum. BBC2 black comedy Psychoville, which Plowman produced, attracted complaints that it was 'full of innuendo' and that a caption reading 'Bristol, Avon' was, geographically, inaccurate. ('When will you people realise?' the author of the complaint bemoaned.) But, what about the sequence with the words Fuck pig, emblazoned in blood at a murder scene laden with excrement and semen? Five hundred complaints? Nope. Zero. 'I despair [about] what gets the British public annoyed,' Plowman lamented. As does Keith Telly Topping, Jon mate.

Paul McGann has said that it is unlikely that he will return to Doctor Who to film a Children In Need special, a rumour that seems to go around on one Internet forum or another on an almost annual basis. The actor, who played the Eighth Doctor in the one-off TV movie in 1996 (it wasn't very good, he very much was), said that he has not been in touch with the team behind the show since its 2005 relaunch, according to the Press Association. On the subject of rumours of a comeback, McGann said: 'It's highly unlikely, because since I walked off that set in 1996, no-one's ever called me. I've never met these people, I've never been down to Cardiff and met what's-his-face, Russell T. Davies.' He added: ''So no, maybe haven't they got my number. There's always rumours, it's nice to stoke the fire. I'm always hearing them.'

Zoologist Mark Carwardine, co-presenter of BBC2's current series about endangered animals, Last Chance To See, has been given the honour of naming one of the rare Kakapo chicks that will feature in the episode of programme to be seen on Sunday 4 October. Mark, whose adventures with Stephen Fry have been captivating BBC2 audiences as they go off in search of some of the scarcest – and strangest – species on Earth, was delighted to be asked to name one of the new Kakapo which bring their total numbers to more than one hundred for the first time in decades. Mark said: 'It was a real honour to have the opportunity to name one of these magnificent animals. I chose the name Jemma after the daughter of a good friend. She's only eight years old and has already developed a passion for wildlife and conservation. It is a great step in ensuring that the Kakapo conservation story is passed on to the next generation. As well as this, Jemma means gem or jewel – which are obviously precious – as is the Kakapo.' Decidedly odd looking bird, nevertheless. The kakapo, that is, not the eight year old.

Mad Crazy Dennis Hopper has left hospital after being treated for severe 'flu-like symptoms and dehydration. The seventy three-year-old was taken to a New York clinic on Wednesday - as reported on From The North - and had to withdraw from a series of planned interviews which were promoting his new TV series, Crash. His manager, Sam Maydew, said in a statement that the Blue Velvet star was 'feeling much better.' He added Hopper is 'grateful for the well-wishes and looks forward to getting back to work on Crash.' The veteran actor checked into hospital on Wednesday afternoon after complaining of stomach ailments usually associated with the 'flu.

The BBC could produce an update of Carla Lane dreary middle-everything 1970s sitcom Butterflies as the corporation looks to push further into the US market. Don't the Americans hate us enough already for burning down the White House in 1812? Two comedies which haven't been seen on British screens for more than twenty years have been dusted down by the BBC and pitched to American broadcasters. According to Media Guardian BBC Worldwide's American production arm in Los Angeles, which is headed by the former BBC controller of fiction, Jane Tranter, is pitching Butterflies and 1980s sitcom Three Up, Two Down to US broadcasters. A 'bittersweet family comedy' according to the BBC (or 'a load of old crap about a bunch of middle-class chebs who should be horsewhipped to within an inch of their lives ... and then horsewhipped some more,' if your tolerance threshold for Carla Lane's indescribably twee alleged 'comedy' is on the low side) Butterflies, which aired on BBC2 between 1978 and 1983, starred Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer and helped launch the career of Only Fools and Horses actor Nicholas Lyndhurst. Three Up, Two Down, which starred Michael Elphick and Angela Thorne, originally ran from 1985 and 1989. It featured a young couple who rent out their basement to two of their respective in-laws and the romance that eventually blooms between them. It is understood that BBC Worldwide feel the two shows would appeal to US broadcasters, although it is not known if any channels have yet shown any interest. As well as the two comedies, BBC Worldwide is also understood to be pitching sleuth drama Jonathan Creek at US broadcasters. You won't get very far with that, Jane. It 'promotes witchcraft.' Apparently.

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has stepped up his criticism of Andrew Marr's interview with Gordon Brown, lambasting an 'error of judgement' that was 'part of the trivialisation and degradation of our political discourse.' Speaking on BBC1's Question Time this week, Bradshaw said quizzing Brown over rumours of his use of prescription drugs was 'outrageous.' He said there was no point in the BBC or Marr apologising now but criticised Marr for focusing on the issue. 'What was outrageous about this question was that the BBC had specifically asked Number 10 based on these smears and innuendos that were on a right-wing blog, several times if it was true and Number 10 had denied it,' he said. 'Yet Andy still asked the question which gave it legitimacy and gave it the exposure. The BBC says this was common knowledge and everyone was talking about it – I'm a cabinet minister for goodness' sake and I hadn't heard about it.' Bradshaw clashed with fellow panellist, historian and TV presenter David Starkey, who argued that the public has 'a right to know.' Starkey said that politics had become a branch of celebrity to the extent that as prime minister, 'you've turned yourself inside out and what is private becomes public.' Pointing to Brown's unease with a subsequent Sky TV interview, Starkey added: 'These rumours would also not have the currency they do if the prime minister, for example, had not behaved as he did on the Adam Boulton show this morning – in that childish temper, that arrogance, rushing off with a microphone still attached to him.' The issue raised mixed feelings among other MPs on the panel. Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, who denied a drinking problem that was later made public, said MPs should not put any 'artificial boundaries' on the questions journalists could ask. 'I felt I was entitled to my own privacy in the way I was dealing with that at the time,' he said. 'I didn't seek any apology from the BBC but it was forthcoming from Greg Dyke at the time, quite unprompted.' Shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Theresa May agreed that journalists should be free to ask questions, but said there were 'so many bigger issues' at stake than rumours about prescription drug use.

Businesses are being warned they could be breaking the law if staff watch live TV on their computers when the firm does not have a TV licence. Shops, offices and other workplaces could be fined up to one thousand pounds, the TV Licensing authority says. The law covers live transmissions online and does not apply to catch-up services such as those on the iPlayer. If watching via mobiles and laptops that are battery operated, they will be covered by the owner's home TV licence. The situation changes if equipment is plugged in - as it usually is in offices. 'At that point, you need a licence,' said Ian Fannon from TV Licensing.

Joe Calzaghe has dramatically increased his Strictly Come Dancing training hours in a bid to redeem himself with the show's judges, according to a report. The former boxer was slated by the panel when he took to the dance floor with professional partner, big busty Kristina Rihanoff for the first time two weeks ago. Head judge Len Goodman described the pair's tango as 'a dance only a mother could love.' According to the Mirror, Calzaghe has rehearsed for thirty hours over the past week as he attempts to put in a better showing with a Paso Doble. That's the most work Joe's put into pretty much anything since he chinned Mikkel Kessler in ten rounds. A source said: 'He's training like a man possessed. He was stung by the comments and wants to perfect his dance. It's like he's training for a world title fight.' Calzaghe was the bookies' favourite to win Strictly before the series launched last month. However, he has since drifted in the betting and currently has odds of thirty three-to-one.

Louis Walsh fears that he is finally facing the consequences of Johnny Rocco's curse, a report claims. Retired gardener Rocco, sixty nine, issued a warning to Walsh at auditions in Manchester two years ago after being mocked by the Irish judge. As well as mumbling in Italian to the boy-band manager, he said: 'Remember the name Johnny Rocco.' According to the Daily Star, Walsh now blames Rocco after being hit by a run of bad luck as he filmed his judges' houses stage in Italy recently. It is thought that the star lost his luggage and found himself caught in thunder and lightning on arrival in Milan. How utterly terrible. Keith Telly Topping's heart bleeds for the poor chap, getting wet like that. Additionally, Walsh's contestants were reportedly left stranded near Lake Como after he was banned from taking a boat to join them due to the poor weather conditions. A source said: 'Louis could, quite literally, have been sleeping with the fishes if they had allowed the boat to sail.' The insider added: 'Louis didn't take [Johnny's] threat seriously at first but now he is really wondering if it could be real.' Responding to the rumours, Rocco said: 'Louis has at last had his just desserts. He messed with me and bad-mouthed me and now he's paid the price. Maybe this will stop people like him judging me so quickly and being so nasty.' Keith Telly Topping believes him and considers that the only way for Louis to be cleansed is an exorcism. Which, should be filmed and shown on ITV every Christmas.

X Factor hopeful Ethan Boroian assisted producers of the reality show in Morocco after they were stopped by immigration police, a report has claimed. The budding singer flew out to the North African Muslim country with fellow members of the 'boys' category in order to perform for their mentor, Cheryl Cole, at the judges' houses stage. According to the Sun, police stepped in after the contestants and the show's team arrived on Moroccan soil. The country is believed to have strict rules on filming. It is thought that Boroian was able to quickly resolve the situation because he can speak fluent French, which is Morocco's second language after Arabic. A source said: 'The boys and the presenters got to the first border control point. They stood out because of all the filming equipment and were stopped straight away. The police didn't speak English but Ethan could understand so he explained why they were there. He acted as a middle man between the authorities and the crew and once they had the right paperwork they were allowed in.' Earlier this week, it was rumoured that Dannii Minogue's contestants had been detained at an airport in Dubai for five hours due to similar filming concerns.

X Factor hopefuls John and Edward - you know, 'them two with the funny hair' - will supposedly show 'an emotional side' during the judges' houses episodes this weekend. The Dublin-born twins recently admitted that viewers see them as 'villains' after they schemed against their rival contestant Sian Paley at boot camp. Paley was sent home by the judges following a joint performance with the brothers, who decided to drown her out by singing over her. In tomorrow night's instalment, the pair break down in tears amid fears that they have failed to impress their mentor Louis Walsh and his guest judge Ronan Keating in Italy. Edward tells show host Dermot O'Leary: 'I don't want to be crying. I just feel like, we go home and then it's just like, "What the hell? That's it." Then that's what we're remembered for, that's the end.' Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

ABC Family has given the greenlight to a comedy pilot starring Melissa Joan Hart, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The former Sabrina, The Teenage Witch star has been tapped to play Hailey, a 'political dynasty wild child-turned politician' in the as-yet-untitled show. The plot revolves around Hailey taking in her teenage niece and young nephew when her sister is jailed. Joey Lawrence has signed on to play a 'manny' who moves in to help the family. The network has also handed a pilot order to an untitled single-camera project from Boy Meets World creator Michael Jacobs, which will centre around parenting philosophies. The show will focus on a young father who is made redundant and begins to develop a closer bond with his 'underdog middle daughter,' while his wife acts as a mentor to their older child.

Emmerdale's Laurel Thomas is left fighting for her life next month when an unstable Sally Spode sets fire to the church with her love rival still inside. According to the Daily Star, Sally - played by forty four-year-old Siân Reeves - continues in her attempts to become Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) and re-establish herself in Ashley Thomas's (John Middleton) life. Over the last few weeks, Laurel and Ashley have been forced to deal with Sally's over-bearing nature and underhand attempts to rekindle her teenage romance with Ashley. Events, however, takes a far more sinister turn when Sally sets the church alight knowing that Laurel is trapped inside. The ensuing carnage are claimed to be some of the soap's best scenes of the year. An Emmerdale insider told the newspaper: 'What most viewers won't know is that Charlotte Bellamy was heavily pregnant when we filmed the scenes. She was crawling across the floor with six foot flames burning around her all the while trying to hide her baby bump.' They added: 'Charlotte didn't let anything get in her way and the scenes look absolutely amazing.'

Hollyoaks actress Loui Batley has described her character's gruesome skydiving death as the perfect exit from the show. The twenty-year-old, who played lesbian student Sarah Barnes for four years, bowed out of the Channel 4 serial during Thursday night's penultimate episode of Hollyoaks Later on E4. The episode, which featured the skydive stunt, saw a jealous Lydia (Lydia Kelly) sabotage Zoe Carpenter's (Zoë Lister) parachute. However, when the packs were distributed, Lydia allowed the trio to take to the skies and a game of Russian roulette ensued. Without knowing who had the tampered parachute on their backs, Zoe, Sarah and Lydia took it in turn to jump out of the plane. Zoe successfully pulled her ripcord but Lydia could only watch on as a panicked Sarah plummeted to her death when her parachute failed to operate.

Chris Fountain has revealed that he has been teasing his former Hollyoaks co-star Ricky Whittle over his Strictly Come Dancing outfits. The twenty two-year-old actor, who played Justin Burton on the Channel 4 soap, told What's On TV that he is enjoying watching Whittle (Calvin Valentine) and his other ex-colleague Ali Bastian (Becca Dean) each week. Fountain commented: 'I have to watch [Strictly] because Ricky's on there and Ali's on there. They're both like joint-favourites now, I think. But I have been giving Ricky some abuse about his costumes, only because he did it to me when I did Dancing On Ice, so you've kind of got to do it. I said, "You're doing really well mate but those shirts are horrendous, you've gotta sort it out."' He added: 'I'm voting for them both. When it gets to the final, I'll have to man up and choose which one I want but at the moment I'm sending each of them a little vote.'

Paul O'Grady has said he expects his Channel 4 chatshow to finish at the end of the year following a huge budget cut imposed by the broadcaster, with a potential move to the BBC on the cards. It was originally thought that O'Grady would finalise his future at the end of last month, but discussions between him and Channel 4 as well as other rivals are ongoing. However, O'Grady told MediaGuardian that he now expected his Channel 4 teatime chatshow to come to an end. The broadcaster wanted to cut the show's estimated £14.3m annual budget by a huge sixty per cent, he said, which would make it unsustainable. 'It is likely to go at the end of the year. We can't make it on that budget – it would just be me and the dog. We'd have to be in a tiny studio, with not more than thirty in the audience, and we wouldn't be able to attract the kind of guests we get now. I can't believe they want to kill it off, but after six years, perhaps I have to move on. It is such a shame.'

Ozzy Osbourne says his family's MTV reality show was an 'experiment that went wildly out of control.' The Osbournes, which ran from 2002 to 2005, showed the often chaotic domestic life of the Black Sabbath singer, his wife Sharon and their children Jack and Kelly. It introduced Ozzy to an entirely new generation of fans, who were hooked by his bumbling ineptitude at everyday tasks like working a TV remote. But the star told BBC Radio 4's Front Row that the subsequent attention he received was ;really creepy. It was as if I went to bed in one world and woke up in a completely different world,' the sixty-year-old said. 'We went down to this market in Beverley Hills where you can just walk around artwork and statues and dolls and all this stuff and I got this really creepy feeling. I look around. People aren't looking, but I could feel eyes on me. I thought I was getting paranoid or something.' The star, who is promoting his autobiography I Am Ozzy, said he was not keen to repeat the experience - even though his wife has forged a career as a TV personality on shows like The X Factor and America's Got Talent. 'I don't really want to do TV. I don't like doing TV much. Sharon loves it.' Yeah, we've noticed.

Alyssa Milano has revealed that she is getting annoyed at the constant rumours that she is expecting her first child. The former Charmed star has been the subject of pregnancy rumours since she married boyfriend David Bugliari in August. Writing on her Twitter account, she said: 'Rumours that I am pregnant are still false and still annoying. Please, please, please refrain from retweeting such rumours.'

The Ramones will reportedly feature in a forthcoming biopic. FOX Searchlight is in advanced negotiations to make the film about the legendary punk band, reports ABC News. The movie is said to be based on upcoming book I Slept with Joey Ramone, which was written by frontman Joey's brother Mickey Leigh and music journalist Legs McNeil. The project has apparently been in development since 2006, when producer Rory Rosegarten originally bought the rights to the biography. Rosegarten also negotiated a deal with Joey's mother and executor of his estate Charlotte Lesher, which would allow him to use the group's music in the biopic. The Ramones were previously the subject of acclaimed 2003 documentary End of the Century.

The BBC Trust has rejected a complaint about images of full-frontal male genitalia in a BBC3 documentary. The BBC's regulatory body said the show had not breached the broadcaster's guidelines on harm and offence. It followed a complaint the show was 'inappropriate' as it could 'have been seen by children' and was 'gratuitous' and 'excessive.' The Trust said while it contained challenging material there was a clear editorial purpose for it. My Penis and Everyone Else's was originally broadcast in September 2007. It was billed as 'challenging society's stereotypes of masculinity as well as getting to the heart of why men are so fixated with their members.' The BBC Trust's complaints committee ruled that the show had been editorially justified and that the scheduling and pre-programme information had been appropriate for the content.

The case against several cast members of the CW's Vampire Diaries has been dismissed. Actresses Nina Dobrev, Sara Canning, Kayla Ewell and Candice Accola were arrested along with photographer Tyler Shields and extra Krystal Vayda during a photoshoot in Georgia. Motorists told law enforcement officials that the women were dangling off a bridge and flashing drivers during the incident. The disorderly conduct charges have now been dropped after the stars forfeited their bond, Radar Online reports. 'The girls did not show up. They each forfeited the cash bond of five hundred dollars that they paid for the bonding company,' a Monroe County court spokeswoman said. 'Judge Geoffrey Davis dismissed the case since they forfeited the bond. He is not issuing a warrant; it's over since the county got the money from the bonding company.'

A man has been charged over an alleged plot to blackmail US chatshow host David Letterman over sexual relationships he had with female staff members. CBS employee Robert Joe Halderman, was arrested after an undercover sting operation, New York authorities said. Letterman confessed during a recording of his show, broadcast by CBS, that he had had sex with female colleagues. He said a man had threatened to expose the relationships unless a payment of two million dollars was made. Letterman, sixty two, married long-term girlfriend Regina Lasko in March. They have a six-year-old son. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Halderman, a producer for the real-life crime show 48 Hours, had been arrested on Thursday. He was indicted on one count of first-degree grand larceny, an offence punishable by a prison term of five to fifteen years, Mr Morgenthau said. 'Our concern here is extortion and that's what we're focusing on,' he is quoted by the Associated Press as saying. Letterman told the studio audience of his Late Show on Thursday that he was first approached by the alleged blackmailer three weeks ago. He said he had got in his car early one morning to find a package with a letter containing proof of the 'terrible things' he was said to have done. The letter, he said, was from a man who threatened to write a book and screenplay about the veteran broadcaster unless he was given money. 'I have had sex with women who work on this show,' Letterman admitted, causing some confusion among audience members who appeared unsure whether he was delivering a comedy line. On the advice of his lawyer, Letterman said, he had contacted prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. 'This morning I did something I've never done in my life,' said the broadcaster on Thursday. 'I had to go downtown and testify before a grand jury.'

Liam Gallagher has spoken out in support of a campaign to save the honey bee from extinction. According to NME, the Oasis frontman was informed of the insect's plight after he used honey to help cure a throat virus in August. 'You've got to look after the birds and the bees, man,' Gallagher said. 'The bees are vanishing. We've got to save them before they all buzz off.' He continued: 'It's important. It's a really worthwhile cause. Without them we're in proper bother. I like honey. If it weren't for honey, I'd have a rough voice.' Apparently, Liam is said to be writing a song about the plight of the creatures. He's recording it for his first solo single although, insiders believe it's more likely to go on the b-side. Oh, never mind...

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