Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Victim Culture

Jeremy Clarkson has added his thoughts on the television industry's diversity policies. In the new issue of Top Gear Magazine, the presenter suggests that TV bosses are obsessed with having 'black Muslim lesbians' on shows to balance out the numbers of white heterosexual men. So, how long do we reckon it will be before some enterprising scum-journalist tries to somehow fold this comment - which does nothing more than suggest that hiring for a job (any job) should be done on the grounds of ability rather than mere tokenism - into the already rumbling Strictly Come Dancing race-row? Oh, somebody's done it already. Now there's a surprise. A very well-deserved pat on the back for Linda Bellos of the Gruniad. And, especially for doing so with a singular po-faced lack of any inherent humour of the sort that really does give 'political correctness' a bad name despite the fact that it, for the most part, doesn't even exist. That takes real talent. Knew we could rely on you, Linda. In response to questions about the lack of female presenters on Top Gear, Clarkson said: 'The problem is that television executives have got it into their heads that if one presenter on a show is a blond-haired, blue-eyed heterosexual boy, the other must be a black Muslim lesbian. Chalk and cheese, they reckon, works. But here we have Top Gear setting new records after six years using cheese and cheese. It confuses them.' In his column Clarkson went on to vociferously defend women drivers and ask why there are not more of them in Formula One. He said: 'Unlike furious thin-lipped feminists, I tend not to draw distinctions between men and women, apart from in bed where you really do need to spot the differences. At work, girls are just people. It's the same story at parties and it's especially the same on the road. The worst driver in the world is Top Gear's studio director. He cannot park without kerbing the wheels and he cannot get into his own drive without crashing into his house. And he has a scrotum.'

Octobeard: Day 12. Things are starting to grow in there. Sorry for being so graphic, dear blog reader, but it's as well you know in advance. They can, seemingly, even survive the shampooing of my face. So, let us move on to more weighty matters. Wasn't Harry Hill quite simply brilliant on TV Burp on Saturday? Keith Telly Topping particularly enjoyed Harry's long-overdue discovery that Hole In The Wall was only, ever, riotously funny in a so-bad-it's-brilliant kind of way whilst Dale Winton was doing it. Poor old Anton Du Beke, it's King Midas in reverse for him at the moment.

Which brings us too ... Complaints about Du Beke's racist remarks shot up over the weekend after Bruce Forsyth, put his great big clodhopping boots into the row. The BBC said it had now received a total of six hundred and eighty six complaints about Strictly as of Saturday morning, up almost two hundred on the previous day's total of four hundred and eighty seven. Complaints about the show – sparked by Du Beke calling his dancing partner Laila Rouass 'a Paki' in rehearsals – had been tailing off. But after Forsyth told the TalkSport that the nation should 'get a sense of humour' about the incident, viewers rang in again to complain. As with the Russell Brand thing there is something wonderfully British about waiting ten days after an incident has taken place and then complaining about it. The BBC said that some viewers had also been registering their support for Du Beke, with a total of sixty three saying they believed the row had been blown out of proportion, more than double the thirty who had called the day before. The BBC were quick to stress that Forsyth's views were not those of the corporation. 'Racially offensive language in the workplace is entirely unacceptable,' it said. 'Anton was right to apologise quickly and without reservation and Laila has wholly accepted his apology. Everyone is very clear that there can be no repetition of this behaviour.'

Coronation Street star Antony Cotton has claimed that Dannii Minogue's controversial X Factor remark deserves praise rather than condemnation. Minogue was slammed at the weekend for commenting on contestant Danyl Johnson's bisexuality live on air. She spoke out on Saturday night's show after the schoolteacher changed the lyrics to 'And I Am Telling You' to refer to 'the best woman I'll ever know' instead of 'the best man.' She told Johnson: 'If we're to believe everything we read in the papers, there was no need to change the gender references.' Gay actor Cotton, who plays Weatherfield's camp factory worker Sean Tully, has now suggested that fans' debates should focus on why the lyrics were altered. Writing on Twitter, he commented: 'Dannii Minogue is the least homophobic woman in the world. And personally, I think she made a very pro-gay comment.' Cotton continued: 'Just watched again. Cheryl [Cole] began the slot by saying, "He's singing a woman's song - it's ridiculous." So the lyrics must have been changed because it must be a problem for a man to sing a song about another man. That is not Danyl's fault and it certainly isn't Dannii's fault for flagging it up.'

Veteran Coronation Street actress Maggie Jones is in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital, according to reports on Digital Spy. The seventy five-year-old, who plays Blanche Hunt, was admitted to Hope Hospital in Manchester at the weekend for life-saving surgery. It is believed that the soap star has now undergone an emergency operation, though full details are yet to emerge.

FOX has confirmed that it plans to air all thirteen episodes of Dollhouse's second season. The news comes as the Joss Whedon series is currently recording its lowest ever ratings in its Friday night slot (despite the undoubted quality of the show). 'We're going to run all the episodes,' FOX scheduling head Preston Beckman told The Hollywood Reporter. 'We're not saying we're happy with those numbers, or accept them, but we don't have to overreact. We plan on completing the order for this show.' Beckman also confirmed that the network had not ruled out the possibility of ordering more episodes, or a third season, but will make the decision after the thirteen ordered episodes of season two have aired. Meanwhile, Whedon told the magazine that he is planning for episode thirteen to be a potential series finale. 'We'll definitely have closure, but will leave some doors open. When we got our first [ratings] numbers, which were bad, the first thing [FOX president] Kevin Reilly said was, "You'll have all thirteen," which was great. They're not going to pull the rug out from under us.'

ABC has ordered a full season of new drama FlashForward, it has been announced. The back-nine pickup includes the episode that marks the six-month point foretold by the titular events of the pilot episode. ABC has also given full season orders to three freshman comedies: Courteney Cox's Cougar Town, faux documentary Modern Family and Patricia Heaton's The Middle.

David Tennant will star opposite Simon Pegg in the forthcoming black comedy movie Burke And Hare, according to the website Bloody Disgusting. The Doctor Who actor will play murderer William Hare, who along with William Burke (Pegg) operated in Edinburgh in the early Nineteenth Century and sold the corpses of seventeen people to the city's medical college for research purposes. John Landis (An American Werewolf In London) is directing the feature from a script by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft. Tennant can next be seen on the big screen in Stephen Poliakoff's war drama Glorious 39, opening on 20 November. After that, there's a certain date with regeneration around Christmas time, which should be quite interesting.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has slammed the BBC for a 'hatchet job' documentary on his airline on last night's Panorama programme. Both O'Leary and the budget airline refused a request to participate in the documentary due to what was perceived as a negative approach by the production team. The Dublin-headquartered operator is so incensed by the 'blatant lies' in the show, titled Why Hate Ryanair?, that it has taken the unusual step of publishing twenty five pages of e-mail correspondence with producers on its website. Chief among concerns for the Irish carrier was an alleged refusal by the programme makers to use an unedited version of any pre-recorded interview with O'Leary. Ryanair claimed that the BBC wanted to edit O'Leary's answers or simply cut the responses which did not suit the programme's agenda. The airline also objected to claims of 'hidden charges' imposed on passengers and that O'Leary once called his staff 'lemons.' It further accused Panorama of trying to provoke a row with manufacturer Airbus over an alleged broken purchase agreement from 2001. 'BBC Panorama know that they have no case in this hatchet job programme. We have already rubbished their false claims about hidden charges and an agreement with Airbus,' said O'Leary in a statement. 'It is a pity that Panorama, with all their resources, investigative journalists and the power of the BBC, were not honest enough to agree to a "live" or an unedited interview with Ryanair, which would have provided Panorama's viewers with balance and facts, instead of Panorama's false claims and fiction. It is a shame that the BBC waste so much licence payers money on investigating why Ryanair is Britain's favourite airline, when all they need do is take a couple of low fare, on-time flights like sixty six million other consumers will do this year. These clowns even wasted licence payers money flying to Dublin on high-fare, frequently delayed BMI instead of flying with Britain's favourite airline Ryanair.' Keith Telly Topping has flown Ryanair a few times (mostly to Lubeck in Germany from Stanstead) and, all jokes aside he found it to be a reasonable enough service. It's certainly cheap and no-frills, exactly as advertised and, for short-haul that's really all you want.

French TV firm Banijay Entertainment has acquired production house Nordisk Film TV just days after agreeing a majority stake in UK independent Zig Zag Productions. Nordisk, which has been acquired from multinational media group Egmont, is one of Northern Europe's largest producers, generating a consolidated turnover of more than fifty million euros and producing about one thousand five hundred hours of television content annually. Genres include entertainment, serial drama, factual and reality. International formats adapted by Nordisk include Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Wipeout, Singing Bee and Farmer Wants a Wife. Shows created by Nordisk include 71 Degrees North, My Fat Parents and 2,900 Happiness. The deal also includes the firm’s international distribution arm, Nordisk Film TV World. As part of the Banijay group, Jacob Houlind and Peter Hansen will continue to manage and develop the company on its core business area under its current brand name Nordisk Film TV.

Roxanne Pallett has claimed that her Emmerdale exit sent out a positive message to victims of domestic violence. The twenty six-year-old actress argued that the time was right to leave her role as Jo Sugden due to the serious nature of her storyline on the Yorkshire-based soap. Pallett bowed out from her part last year after viewers had seen Jo being tormented by her husband Andy (Kelvin Fletcher) for months. Speaking to the Press Association, she explained: 'It was me that said I need to go and leave, and not just for my own sake as an actress before I start becoming repetitive. I needed to leave for the character's sake, for the storyline.' She continued: 'Women across the country were waiting to see what happens to Jo because it was almost like it was their own dialogue as well. If she had stayed, what kind of story would that be telling? The ending had to be that she left him, to set a positive example.'

Kandy Rain star Coco Lloyd has confessed in a lads' mag video that she slept with a teacher. The X Factor contestant, who was voted off the show on Sunday revealed the story in a video she filmed in 2006, delightfully titled Naughty Newcomers Strip For The First Time. Speaking to the camera, Lloyd said: 'The naughtiest thing I've ever done was probably when I started seeing a teacher for about two weeks. I followed him on his break into the classroom. We thought no-one was in. But as we started getting jiggy some people had seen us coming in so it was a bit of sex education for all those kids.' An X Factor spokesperson told the Sun that the singer was 'simply being cheeky' in the film. Is a polite way of saying 'lying'?

Julian Clary has revealed that he rejected an offer to star on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! The comedian and writer, who appeared on the second series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, said that he could have been tempted to enter the jungle if he'd been offered a larger fee. 'I've been asked to do I'm A Celebrity, but no thanks,' he told the News of the World. 'I like sleeping in my own bed. The only temptation would be the cash, and it certainly wasn't a sufficient offer. I took one look and thought, "Oh, is that all I'm worth?" The cheek!'

The regulation of hypnotherapists in the UK is so lax that even a cat can become accredited, the BBC has discovered. Chris Jackson, presenter of Inside Out in the North East and Cumbria, registered his pet cat, George, with three industry bodies. Each one accepted a certificate from the non-existent Society of Certified Advanced Mind Therapists as proof of George's credentials. It follows a similar investigation by an American clinical psychologist. Dr Steve Eichel suspected industry bodies in the US were not running checks on their members. He said: 'I felt I'd test my hypothesis and I did that by getting my cat certified by a number of the most prominent lay hypnosis organisations in the United States. It was a frighteningly simple process.' In the UK, George was registered with the British Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming, the United Fellowship of Hypnotherapists and the Professional Hypnotherapy Practitioner Association. I'll have to ask Chris if George is taking any bookings in the forseeable future.

A pensioner who showcased his breakdancing skills on television whilst he was receiving disability benefit is paying back three thousand pounds after his claims were reinvestigated. Fred Bowers, seventy four, of Sutton Bonnington near Loughborough, appeared on Britain's Got Talent before being knocked out in the semi-finals. The Department of Work and Pensions found that he should not get cash from the Motability scheme. He is repaying the cash at ten pounds a week - and is still performing on dance shows. Mr Bowers said: 'I've agreed to pay the money back which I said I would in the first place. I just want to get on with my life now. I've got some shows coming up and I want to be able to do them without being upset by what people are saying,' he noted.

Rod Blagojevich is to make an appearance on the next series of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Earlier this year the former Illinois Governor Blagojevich, who was indicted on 1 April on federal corruption charges, was denied a request to appear on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! His wife, Patti, later stepped in to compete on the reality show. It is not yet known if Blagojevich - the butt of a thousand Jon Stewart jokes on The Daily Show - will compete or simply appear in The Celebrity Apprentice. NBC declined to comment, saying only: 'NBC doesn't comment on casting until there's an official announcement to be made.'

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