Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time For A Quick One Before The Bubble Bursts?

Thus, dear blog reader, we have reached the all-important Octobeard Day Thirteen thereupon. And, it must be reported that yer Keith Telly Topping is, by now, just about starting to resemble one of them chaps from ZZ Top. And, not the drummer, either. Remember kids, growing a beard for a local radio charity event is not big and it's not clever. It's just itchy and irritable and the end of October cannot, frankly, come quick enough. It's also, sad to report, likely to be in vain as my rival, that black-hearted rapscallion Johnny Miles, is already starting to resemble a camp pirate! (Cut-Throat Jake from Captain Pugwash was the one I was chiefly thinking of.)

And, so to a quick bit of telly reviewing: This week's episode of House neatly followed-up on the consequences of Chase and Foreman's actions (or, in the case of the latter, lack-of-actions) in the previous installment, whilst also finding time to tell a - rather sweet - little story about karma and what is truly important in life. One of their best episodes in a while, that - even though there was still nowhere near enough of Lisa Edelstein in it. And, in further US telly news, after the fine guest appearance of James Marsters in last week's Lie To Me the latest episode of the impressive Tim Roth-vehicle saw yet another Buffy The Vampire Slayer alumni, Marc Blucas, popping up in the role of a very slimy rival for Cal Lightman.

It's another day, and we've got yet another racist apologist on the Strictly judging panel. This time it's Craig Revel Horwood who has chosen to defend the reputation of Anton Du Beke. Revel Horwood said: 'I've known Anton for years and years and years, and he's not a racist. I've never heard him say anything like that before and it's so unlike him. He's such a nice bloke and I think this is a case of something being taken out of context and snowballing into a massive thing.' He added: 'Anton has apologised and Laila accepted it, so I think we all just need to move on. They need to just get on with the dancing. I think that because they've had so many talks, it's going to make their relationship stronger and make them more fiery in their dance. I think they will work together and pull together and be serious contenders for the winning prize.' This is a radical suggestion, I know, but maybe - just maybe - this story would go away a hell of a lot quicker than it has already if only you guys would shut up talking about it and, thus, keeping it in the headlines.

Meanwhile, in other Strictly news Kristina Rihanoff has said that Joe Calzaghe is battling with his nerves on the show. We'd never have noticed. The Welsh boxer, who finished rock-bottom of the leader board on Saturday, is a far better performer in rehearsals, according to his Russian dance partner. 'He gets so nervous. It's such a shock to me. It's like dancing with a different person on Saturday night,' she told Claudia Whatsherface on It Takes Two. 'I wish they could score us on rehearsals because he is so good at rehearsals. He is so much more relaxed and in touch with the music. Something happens on a Saturday night, as soon as he comes near the BBC something happens to him.' Speaking about his foxtrot performance, Calzaghe added: 'I was smiling and I was enjoying it a lot more than I have done before. It didn't go as well as rehearsals, but I thought I had improved. I was pretty happy with Len's remarks, he knows what he's talking about, so I take some positives from that.' Indicating that the other three judges don't know what they're talking about? Ooo, more Strictly controversy.

Justin Lee Collins has said that Bruce Forsyth was 'horrible' to work with on Strictly. The comic and TV presenter, who hosted spin-off show Strictly Come Dancing On Three during the first series, said that Forsyth's 'tone and demeanor' were not pleasant when he interviewed him. The Friday Night Project star told Love It magazine: 'He's horrible! I had to interview Bruce three times. He was not pleasant. I was terrified before our first live interview, then during it, he told me my questions were ridiculous. The awkwardness continued and I was thinking, "Oh man, why are you being like this?" My mum used to tell me the more unpleasant a person is to you, the more you should kill them with kindness, so I kept being nicer and nicer to him. Even though he'd been horrible, at the end of the interview I said, "Thank you Bruce so much, I've been looking forward to meeting you all day." He stood up and his parting shot was, "Well you've met me now," and walked off. I was shattered. And the following week he was just as bad.' Collins added: 'I last saw him at an end of series dinner - the BBC recommissioned the show and everyone was coming back - except me. One of the producers said to me, I've been having a chat with Bruce and he told me, "When Justin first started, I wasn't sure about him. But I saw how hard he worked, he did alright." Isn't that a nice thing to say, Justin? I actually wanted to tell him to fuck off, grab a doggie bag and go back home to Bristol!'

Alesha Dixon has defended herself against criticism of her judging performances on Strictly. The singer told Heat magazine that she did not think she was 'as bad as some of the people have made out' after her first week on the show and was hurt by those 'slagging off' she received. Dixon said: 'I think there's a difference between having an opinion and being bitchy. It's okay to have an opinion, but what's not okay is when people say that you're an airhead. What I started to realise with my thirty-year-old "airhead" was that this situation says more about other people than it does about me. They'd started slagging me off before the show had even started.' She added: 'What does that say about the perception of the younger generation? That actually because you're below a certain age, you're not going to have any intelligence our an opinion? I find that really bizarre. I didn't think it was going to be a smooth ride, but I was shocked at how big a deal it was made into.'

Kandy Rain singer Azi Jegbefume has said that X Factor judge Cheryl Cole did not understand the band when she criticised their outfits on last Saturday's show. That's perfectly possible. She's from Newcastle, love. We don't really understand much up here. Particularly what the hell everybody sees in The X Factor. Fellow judge Dannii Minogue had urged the girls to 'rein it in' and Cole agreed that the group were dressed 'a bit provocatively,' before they lost the public vote. So, it's back to the tills at Morrisons for you girls now then, is it?

Coronation Street producers have denied newspaper speculation surrounding the current condition of Weatherfield legend Maggie Jones. The seventy five-year-old actress, who plays Blanche Hunt in the soap, is said to be 'seriously ill' after being rushed to Manchester's Hope Hospital for life-saving surgery on Sunday. A spokeswoman for the Manchester-based drama has stated that a recent report suggesting Jones ruptured her spleen in a fall over the weekend is untrue. Speaking to Five Live, the spokeswoman continued: 'She's had an operation and obviously she's in her Seventies. Our thoughts are with her. She's been written out of storylines for the time being, everyone's wishing her a speedy recovery.' Meanwhile, a Weatherfield source told the Sun: 'Even if she manages to make a full recovery, she wouldn't be filming again until Christmas, which will keep her off screen until mid-February at least.'

Meanwhile, Corrie actor Bill Tarmey has announced that his thoughts are with his co-star Jones. Show veteran Tarmey, better known as Jack Duckworth, has become the first cast member to speak publicly about the matter, the Press Association reports. He commented: 'My beautiful Maggie. She is a delight, she is wonderful and I am just hoping she will be okay. We just sit and laugh together and I need her to get better otherwise I will be sitting on my own.'

Paul O'Grady has agreed to sign a new eight million pound deal with ITV following a breakdown in talks with his current bosses at Channel 4, according to a report. The comedian will launch a new primetime Friday night chat-show on ITV next year, putting him head-to-head with Jonathan Ross, the Mirror claims. A source said: 'This will give Paul the best of both worlds - less work but a big show on a mainstream channel in a primetime slot.'

Matthew Perry is developing a new single-camera comedy, says The Hollywood Reporter. The former Friends actor will reportedly executive produce, co-write and star in the untitled project, produced by Sony Pictures TV. The series - directed by the great Thomas Schlamme, who has previously worked with Perry on Friends, The West Wing and Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip - will see Perry play the manager of a second-rate sports arena who begins to question his life choices on his Fortieth birthday. So, that'd be The Brittas Empire: LA Style, then? It could work.

Adrian Chiles has been granted a 'quickie' divorce by London's High Court. Chiles and Jane Garvey were awarded a decree nisi, which will be finalised in six weeks. According to the Daily Mail, Ms Garvey will be entitled to a share of Chiles's estimated four million pounds fortune. Garvey is expected to stay at the couple's family home in Shepherd's Bush with their two daughters, Evelyn and Sian. They are expected to share custody. The ONE Show host has continually denied rumours that his relationship with co-presenter Christine Bleakley had anything to do with the breakdown of his marriage.

Jesse Spencer has revealed that he would consider returning to Neighbours as a guest star. The thirty-year-old House actor previously appeared as Billy Kennedy on the iconic Australian soap for six years from 1994 to 2000. Speaking to the Sun, Spencer said: 'They have asked me a couple of times but I've just been on [House] the whole time. But I'd do a guest episode, for sure.' In April, his co-star and on-screen sister Kym Valentine revealed that she was hopeful that Spencer would one day return to the series. 'Jesse has said to me face-to-face that if he has the time off he would do it because we're family - we'll always be family!' she said.

The Riches actor Todd Stashwick has been cast in NBC's Heroes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the forty-year-old will join the show later this season in a recurring role. His character Eli ties in with the traveling carnival storyline on Redemption and is said to be closely linked to Robert Knepper's Samuel. Stashwick's previous screen credits have included Ghost Whisperer, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Mentalist. He is currently recurring on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The accountant who claimed he was assaulted by Kerry Katona has expressed outrage following the news that she will not face charges. Financial adviser David McHugh had accused the reality star of punching him during a heated row when she visited his office in Warrington on 26 August. Katona was arrested over the alleged incident, however, it was announced on Monday that no further action will be taken against her. Speaking to the Sun, McHugh has now described the decision as 'an absolute joke.' Meanwhile, Katona commented: 'I'm delighted this is finally over. It was hell.' It is thought that the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue the matter due to 'conflicting witness evidence' and because pictures of McHugh's injuries apparently did not match his story.

Sir David Attenborough made a triumphant return to TV on Monday night, with his latest BBC1 wildlife series Life enchanting six and a half million viewers at 9pm. According to overnight figures from Attentional, the show was the most watched non-soap programme of the night, beating the final part of ITV's Blue Murder. The Caroline Quentin police drama pulled in 4.8m at 9pm for the climax of its two-part finale, its best ratings for three weeks. But Life comfortably won the slot and built its audience from 5.63m at 9pm to a peak of 6.9m at 9.30pm. Attenborough's documentaries have traditionally been a huge draw for BBC1. The naturalist's previous series, Life in Cold Blood, debuted with 7.1m in February last year and averaged over six million during the course of its five-part run. Life also benefited from Panorama's strongest showing in six months at 8.30pm, with a report on Ryanair achieving 3.8m. Elsewhere at 9pm, viewers have stuck with Five's US import FlashForward, now into its third week. On Monday, 3.2m tuned-in, slightly down from last week's figure. The Attenborough effect hit BBC2 and Channel 4 hardest. At 9pm, BBC2 still had three million viewers glued to the final fifteen minutes of Masterchef: the Professionals, but this fell to a million once the penultimate part of Design for Life started at 9.15pm.

In what is quite possibly television's most tawrdy and disgraceful stunt yet, the alleged psychic medium Derek Acorah will 'attempt to contact' Michael Jackson in a live séance on Sky1. You remember Acorah, of course? He was the bloke who used to do his psychic medium schtick on Most Haunted. Acorah, reportedly, claims that he left the popular Living TV show to 'pursue other projects' although the show's presenter, Yvette Fielding, claimed during an interview with Metro that Acorah was actually asked to leave after Ciarán O'Keeffe, a parapsychologist for the show, fed him misinformation to which he later responded during an investigation. ('Unbeknown to us, Ciaran had suspicions about Derek and decided to plant some information to see if it would be repeated. He left a piece of paper around with the name "Kreed Kafer" on it and said, within earshot of Derek, that he was a nasty South African jailor. When we started filming, Derek decided to get possessed by this fake person. The name is actually an anagram of "Derek Faker." We tell people everything is real, then it turns out he was a fake, so he had to go.') Anyway, two newly commissioned shows, Michael Jackson: The Live Séance and Michael Jackson: The Search For His Spirit, will air in November. June Sarpong (her with the awful voice on T4) will host the events, which Sky claim will aim to give fans 'a final chance to connect with their hero.' The séance will apparently take place at a secret location which was once inhabited by the pop star. 'There is an insatiable appetite to find out more about Michael Jackson. He was an extraordinary figure and the curiosity surrounding his life - and his death - stretches well beyond fans of his music,' said Sky1 director of programmes Stuart Murphy. 'These programmes will explore whether it is possible to make contact with Michael and will seek to give his fans new insight into their idol.' Sick. There's simply nothing further to add to this one, really.

The new series of Rab C Nesbitt will focus on his attempts to be a family man. The six-episode run, which was announced earlier this year, will also introduce several new characters. After being reunited with his granddaughter Peaches, Rab will struggle to stay off the drink and keep money coming in, leading to domestic mayhem and his most elaborate benefit scam yet. Additionally, Iain Robertson is joining the cast to take over the role of Rab’s son Gash, while Cora Bisset is introduced as barmaid Camille.

There are new faces both in the staff room and in the playground as school drama Waterloo Road returns to BBC1. Strictly Coming Dancing winner and Holby City star Tom Chambers joins the cast as Max Tyler, a new Executive Head brought in to oversee a merger between Waterloo Road and local private school John Fosters. Will Ash (Lilies, Burn It) is Christopher Mead, the new Deputy Head, with Sarah Jane Potts (Casualty, Sugar Rush, Bodies) as Jo Lipsett, the new Head of French. Elizabeth Berrington (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Apparitions, Moving Wallpaper) is Ruby Fry, food technology teacher and domestic goddess, who tries to teach the pupils some manners. Vinette Robinson (Hope Springs, The Passion) also joins the teaching staff as Helen Hopewell, a newly qualified teacher who soon finds out that Waterloo Road is nothing like what she was taught during teacher training. In the classroom tensions are raised by Lindsay James, a troubled teenager played Jenna Louise Coleman (Emmerdale), who enters into a battle for power with Michaela White for supremacy in the playground. The new series also sees a welcome return for Waterloo Road regulars Eva Pope, Jason Done, Denise Welch, Angela Griffin, Philip Martin Brown, Zarrah Abrahams, Lucy Dixon and Dean Smith.

He may have a bit of a go at the Gruniad from time-to-time for being such a bunch of priggish rite-on knob-ends, but Keith Telly Topping is the first to praise them when it's due. And it certainly is over Gavin Gaughan and Toby Hadoke's splendid pair of obituaries for the late Barry Letts. Excellent stuff, gentlemen. Saltué.

Black writer and broadcaster Bonnie Greer will appear on next week's controversial edition of BBC1's Question Time, which will feature British National Party leader, and 'plucked owl fast-tracked into a management position in Gregg's', Nick Griffin. The Anglo-American playwright and critic has been confirmed as a guest panellist by the BBC, along with Justice Secretary Jack Straw, due to appear on the programme on Thursday 22 October. Anti-fascist campaigners are planning a protest against the BNP leader's presence on the show outside the BBC's Television Centre in west London. So, let's see if I have this right? Anti-fascists are intending to picket Bonnie Greer? Isn't that self-defeating? A statement on the Unite Against Fascism website said: 'We are calling a demonstration outside Question Time at the BBC's Wood Lane centre to show our opposition to Griffin and the shameful decision to grant him a platform. We encourage all anti-fascists in the London area to come to the demonstration and to apply for tickets to the Question Time audience.' I'm kind-of with them in principle, I too find the idea of an odious little creep like Griffin being given air-time by a publicly-funded broadcaster to be abhorrent. But, my protest will simply be that I won't be watching it. It's far cheaper and less hassle than actually going to television to stand about in the cold for two hours.

ITV has revealed that the improvement in the TV advertising market is gathering momentum - but has warned there is no recovery yet. The broadcaster, which has been boosted by the return of hit show The X Factor, said advertising revenues across its portfolio of channels were expected to be down by three per cent year on year in October, with current forecasts pointing to a similar figure next month. The performance represents an improvement on its last trading update in early August, when ITV forecast a twelve per cent fall in quarterly revenues and a seven per cent drop in September. In a brief statement, the company said: 'ITV remains on course to outperform the TV advertising market across the second half and the full year.' Chief operating officer John Cresswell, who has agreed to become ITV's interim chief executive once a new chairman is appointed and Michael Grade departs, added: 'While we are not yet seeing a recovery in UK television advertising, the trend is improving across the second half and into the fourth quarter. We continue to outperform the market and are on track to deliver the substantial cost savings we have set out.' ITV revealed on Monday that neither Sir Michael Bishop nor Sir Crispin Davis, would become its next chairman. The pair had both been widely touted as strong candidates.

David Beckham was lined up to perform a rap interlude on New Order's proposed 2006 World Cup song. The Los Angeles Galaxy player had agreed to provide the hip-hop style middle section in a re-recording of the Manchester band's 1990 football anthem 'World In Motion', a song that originally featured a famous John Barnes rap. However, The FA stepped in at the last minute and ruled that I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! presenters Ant and Dec should be used for the national team's song instead. New Order bass player Peter Hook told TalkSport: 'I think for the last World Cup, [late music mogul] Tony Wilson lined up Beckham to do the rap and we were going to redo the song. But The FA then reconsidered it, saying, "No, no, no, we're going with Ant and Dec." I would have loved to have heard Beckham do a rap and he was up for it.' Hooky also branded Morrissey 'a twat,' declaring that he never liked The Smiths. The fifty three-year-old was speaking at a Q&A session in Bristol at the weekend, where he was promoting his book How Not To Run A Club. 'There's no way I could have liked The Smiths as they were our competition. Morrissey's a twat anyway. He makes Mark E Smith look popular!' NME quotes him as saying. Hook added: 'What I do love about Mozzer though, is that any time anyone has any legal problem with him, the only person you can speak to about it is his mother! That's true. So if you have a problem you have to deal with Morrissey's mother. And the first thing she says is, "Our Steven wouldn't do that!"'

Liam Gallagher has described the late Michael Jackson as 'a bit of a nut job.' Fair comment, although that's still a bit pot-calling-the-kettle-black, Liam love. The former Oasis frontman made the comment during an interview with the Daily Mail. 'He was genius, without a doubt. Not my kind of music, though,' Gallagher said. 'I preferred him when he was in the Jackson Five but then he turned into a bit of a nut job.' The singer went on to suggest that the Thriller star's demise was 'always on the cards. Anyone who has their own fairground in the back garden has to go nuts,' he added. 'I have a couple of trees and a garden shed so it keeps me well on the ground.'

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