Monday, October 12, 2009

Will The Apologists For Anton Never Cease?

There was a perfectly extraordinary episode of Dollhouse broadcast last week - Belle Chose - which managed to tell about three, rather complex and unusual, stories at the same time (cunningly interweaving them all towards the climax). The script found time for a bit of - excellent, and unexpected - humour (Paul and Victor's clubbing excursion, for instance) amid one of the darkest of dark plots the series has attempted concerning a John Fowles-style collector of woman. It saw Enver Gjokaj and Harry Lennix's first big contributions to the season. The latter, in particular, getting some wonderfully dry and pithy one-lines. Keith Telly Topping particularly enjoyed the moment when he said 'Topher has moral qualms!' in a voice dripping with sarcasm. All this, and Eliza Dushku in yet another disturbingly sexy outfit. Fascinating, morally ambiguous, beautifully acted ... It's developing into a really good little show, this. What a shame nobody's watching it.

So, anyway dear blog reader, it's now Octobeard Day Eleven. And it's not getting any easier for Keith Telly Topping's smooth and delicate skin, he'll have you all know. Somebody else suffering from the barbs of outrageous fortune is Dannii Minogue - the less-talented-by-far of the Minogue sisters - who has been forced to apologise for a comment that she made about Danyl Johnson's sexuality on Saturday night's edition of The X Factor. The bisexual contestant had altered the lyrics of 'And I Am Telling You' by Jennifer Hudson so that he was singing about a woman, rather than a man. Minogue stated: 'If you're to believe everything you read in the papers, then you didn't need to change the gender references in the song.' The thirty seven-year-old judge's remark was met with apparent outrage by Johnson's mentor Simon Cowell, who replied: 'You can forget playing any of those games with him. I'm not having that. This guy sang his heart out. Give him some credit.' An X Factor statement issued on Minogue's official blog afterwards explained that the judge had not meant to cause any offence. It read: 'Dannii is mortified if her comments have been misinterpreted as she has always been hugely supportive of the gay and bisexual community for her entire career.' Yep, that's certainly true - and a large proportion of her fanbase also comes from those communities so it's really difficult to try and paint Dannii as a homophobe. The statement also revealed that Minogue had spoken to Danyl after the show and that Johnson himself did not seem to have a problem with her comments. The X Factor's producers, meanwhile, have insisted that Minogue will not be sacked from the show following the incident. Of course, as anybody who's been watching Strictly recently knows, nothing sells a few tabloid newspapers like a decent bit of contrived controversy. Accordingly, the Daily Star has reported today that a survey of three thousand viewers (that's three thousand out of an overall audience of approaching thirteen million, remember) carried out by the website Onepoll found that eighty two per cent of those fans who expressed a preference, wished to see Minogue sacked as 'punishment' for her behaviour. Depends on which website you go to, I suppose. One would imagine that there's a fair few dodgy websites out there who'd very much like to see Dannii getting a different sort of punishment. Again, without in any way wishing to minimise the obscenity that is homophobia or any other form of gender-based bigotry, Keith Telly Topping simply notes that the lass has said she's sorry and the guy has accepted that. Good on 'em. Let's move on.

And, where else in the wide, wide world of Top Telly Tipping could we move to, but ... Strictly Come Dancing where judge Len Goodman has said that Anton Du Beke should keep his job on the programme. Yes, I think we've actually established that he's probably going to now, Len. So why bother to comment at all? Around four hundred viewers complained to the BBC recently when it emerged that Du Beke had described his dance partner Laila Rouass as 'a Paki.' However, Goodman defended the dancer. 'Anton says one word and people want to crucify him,' he told the Mirror. Well, it rather depends on the word, doesn't it? If he'd called Laila 'an orange' Keith Telly Topping doubts that too many people would've had much of a problem with it. 'You get to the point where you're paranoid about opening your mouth in case you're offending people,' Goodman continued. Again, that depends on what you say. But, by and large, past experience has shown us that publicly describing someone of a different ethnic group with a hugely derogatory name isn't, perhaps, a good way to achieve a long, and controversy-free career in showbiz. 'I've never felt offended when my mates are taking the mickey out of the length of my nose,' he continued. Then Len, you are a better man than all of us. 'Why should Anton go? He's been fantastic in seven series of Strictly. An absolute star. The thing is, as far as I'm concerned, he's apologised, she's said, "You're forgiven." Let's draw the line under it.' Now, you see, that, I think you'll find most people actually agree with. And again, if he'd just shut up at that point ... Unfortunately, most people in the industry just love the sound of their own voice and Goodman promptly went on to also defend the show's host Bruce Forsyth, who recently claimed that Du Beke's comment would have been found amusing a few years ago. 'You try and come to someone's defence and you end up making the situation worse,' Goodman said. Yep, that's generally the way it works. 'The trouble is a certain age group. If you go back forty or fifty years, as he is, there wasn't so much political correctness in the world. Things have become taboo, which I understand and I'm not trying to say what Anton did was correct - it wasn't. But I do understand things were different in those days.' Oh, for God sake, can't you guys just shut the hell up about it? This would've been a three day-story the second that Du Beke apologised and Laila accepted that apology if it had just been left to the tabloids to rant in the darkness. A bit like Dannii's faux pas over the weekend, today's news is tomorrow's fish and chip paper, we all know that. Or we should know it. But every single time one of you clowns opens your big gob you do nothing more than provide the story with more oxygen. Or, does the production actually welcome the opportunity to keep itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons? It's a question worth asking. However once again, this time for Len's benefit, finding racist (or racially negative) language completely abhorrent is not 'political correctness' or anything even remotely like it and it doesn't matter if you're eighty one years old and a broadcasting legend, it is still wrong to use it and wrong to, in any way, shape or form, excuse the use of it. Things 'become taboo', by and large, because they are wrong, it's very simple. They always were wrong and the fact that some people in the past casually accepted them didn't make using them right then and doesn't make using them right now. So, does anybody else on Strictly want to put their size tens in the muddy water and stir things up a bit more or are you just going to let it lie now? Expect Tess Daly's 'exclusive' take on the fiasco any day now.

Bruce Forsyth, meanwhile, is thought to have looked round a nine million pound property in Surrey. According to the Sunday Telegraph, he is believed to have viewed Hollow Lane House on the Wentworth Estate. The five-bedroom property features a sauna, gym, spa, indoor pool and staff quarters. How the other half lives, eh? However, it seems the Strictly host may have competition for the house, as the Jackson family, Formula One star Lewis Hamilton and ex-footballer (and failed football manager) Graeme Souness have also shown interest. Where the hell did Sourpuss get that kind of cash from? Maybe his pay-out when he got the heave-ho at my beloved (though still seemingly unsellable) Magpies was bigger than Fat Freddie Shepherd ever let on? Perhaps we'll never care. In addition, the newspaper reported that Sheikh Thalid bin Totan, the son of the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has also been to see the property.

UKTV has commissioned a new batch of Red Dwarf scripts after reviving the BBC SF comedy at Easter. Robert Llewellyn, who plays android Kryten in the show, confirmed on his Twitter feed that writer and co-creator Doug Naylor was working on new scripts for UKTV's comedy channel Dave. Filming is pencilled-in for next year, though Llewellyn and fellow star Chris Barrie are 'still signing,' he said. The first episode of two-parter Back to Earth delivered Dave's best ever ratings, with 2.4m tuning-in across the channel and its time-shifted counterpart Dave Ja Vu, almost ten times the slot average. Viewers tailed away for the second part, but it still attracted over a million viewers across the two channels. Red Dwarf originally ran for eight series on BBC2 between 1988 and 1999 and was initially written by Naylor with Rob Grant, who left after series six.

Jessie Wallace has admitted that she misses her EastEnders character Kat Moon. However, in an interview with This Is Lancashire, the actress said that she has no immediate plans to return to the soap. She stated: 'I left four years ago now and people are constantly asking me if I'm going back. I've done a lot since but I do miss her. Other people tell me they miss her too. She was a great character to play and I miss working with Mo because I love her dearly. I don't have any plans as yet to go back. But yesterday someone came to the stage door saying they'd heard on the radio that Kat and Alfie were coming back. I said, "That's news to me."' Wallace added: 'Every day people still call me Kat. I can't really get away from it, no matter how many characters I play, but I was in people's living room four times a week. I'm flattered that people still remember her.'

Another former EastEnder, Jimi Mistry, has voiced surprise that the soap is doing another storyline featuring a gay Asian. The actor played Fred Fonseca in Albert Square in 2000 and said that he was surprised by the current plot featuring Muslim Syed Masood (Marc Elliot) and Christian Clarke (John Partridge). He told the Press Association: 'It's amazing, isn't it? It was ten years ago when we did it and they're still going down that path. We call them "gaysians." It's like its own genre. They like these parts of being gay and Asian. I can't really comment though. I did my stint and I did see they were going along that road again but it's their choice. They must think that people have forgotten the last time they did it, so maybe they're just redoing it in a different way.'

Donny Osmond has joked that he thought he went 'too far' when he planted a kiss on Dancing With The Stars judge Bruno Tonioli in the latest episode of the US version of Strictly. The entertainer embraced Tonioli during last Monday's live show after hearing the panel's comments about his rumba with partner Kym Johnson. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, he joked: 'Everybody is talking about me and Bruno! Something snapped in my mind when I heard [him] say, "You have airy, fairy arms." Something snapped and I went there.'

BBC2 has commissioned a six-part run of Grandma's House from Tiger Aspect Productions, written by and starring Simon Amstell. The series, piloted earlier this year, is based on Amstell's own life and his visits to the family home in Essex. He co-wrote the series with Dan Swimmer, his colleague on PopWorld and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and will start filming in February. Producer Ben Cavey said: 'Simon and Dan have brought their razor-sharp wit to the family sitcom genre and the script is an absolutely modern take on family.' Janice Hadlow, who ordered the series for BBC2, added: 'Simon Amstell is a great comic talent and I am looking forward to his venture into sitcom. The script is very funny and I can't wait to see it brought to life.' Amstell will star alongside Linda Bassett as Grandma (East is East, Larkrise to Candleford), Geoffrey Hutchings (Benidorm) as Grandpa, The Day Today's Rebecca Front as Amstell's mother and Keith Telly Topping's beloved favourite ex-MI5 agent Nicola Walker ([Spooks], Touching Evil) as Auntie Liz. The show will be script edited by Jeremy Dyson.

ITV's John Cresswell will become its interim chief executive and lead its search for a new boss - but he will then leave the company. Cresswell, currently chief operating officer and one of the broadcaster's longest-serving senior executives, has informed ITV he will 'seek a fresh challenge' once a new chief executive is appointed. His own, interim spell as chief executive will begin once ITV appoints a new, non-executive chairman to replace Michael Grade - a process which has become even more confused after two more widely-touted names ruled themselves out. Neither Sir Crispin Davis nor Sir Michael Bishop will be taking up the role after informing ITV's nominations committee that they are not interested in the job. ITV said the committee had 'revised its shortlist accordingly' (and it's getting shorter all the time) and was 'continuing its search with all due speed.' ITV's talks with Tony Ball about becoming its next chief executive broke down last month, partly because of disagreements over the indentity of the new chairman. But, mainly over money. At the time, ITV revealed that Michael Grade would step down as chairman whatever the outcome of the chief executive search.

The legendary drama Upstairs Downstairs is to be brought back to life by the BBC. Award-winning Heidi Thomas (Cranford, Madame Bovary, Ballet Shoes) is writing two new feature length scripts for transmission on BBC1 in 2010. Set in 1936 in the same iconic house 165 Eaton Place in London's Belgravia, the sumptuous drama is set to delight fans old and new according to the BBC's press release. Jean Marsh will reprise her role of Rose, the parlourmaid, returning to the house as housekeeper to its new residents, the wealthy and well-connected Holland family. Heidi Thomas will create a new role for Dame Eileen Atkins. We rejoin the world of Upstairs Downstairs in the years leading up to the Second World War. Times are changing and servants are no longer cheap and obedient, Rose soon finds she has her work cut out. Meanwhile, in the wider world, Edward VIII has ascended the throne, fascism is on the rise and Europe is inching towards catastrophe. Originally co-created by Marsh and Atkins in 1971, Upstairs Downstairs became one of the most-loved and enduring TV shows of all time. A huge hit with British and with international audiences (particularly in America), it won countless awards, including seven Emmys, two BAFTAs and a Golden Globe.

Julie Benz has revealed several teasers on the season four finale of Dexter. The thirty seven-year-old actress, who plays Rita on the Showtime drama, told Cinemablend that the last episode of the season 'shocked the whole cast' when they read the script. 'Obviously at the beginning of the season we see Rita has it all,' she said. 'She has everything she's ever wanted. She has the perfect husband, the great kids, the new baby, the dream house in the suburbs but you know, just like anything, nothing great lasts forever. We have an amazingly shocking ending this season. It shocked the whole cast.' Asked if Dexter may let her in on his killer secret, she added: 'Oh! I don't know about that. I don't want to give away any spoilers but you know, you definitely see worlds collide; everybody's world collides in this season.'

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks has married her boyfriend at a restaurant in New York, according to People. The actress, who plays Joan Holloway in the drama, reportedly tied the knot with Geoffrey Arend at Il Buco restaurant on Sunday. A representative for Tacori, who designed the couple's wedding bands, said: 'The rings are simple and lovely - so much like Christina and Geoffrey.' Hendricks, thirty four, and Arend, thirty one, became engaged in December 2008 after they were introduced by her Mad Men co-star Vincent Kartheiser.

Southland star Michael Cudlitz has revealed that he is 'pissed off' over NBC's decision to cancel the show. The series, which stars Cudlitz alongside former OC actor Ben McKenzie, has been hit with several problems recently. Earlier this year, ex-Prison Break star Amaury Nolasco abruptly departed the project after filming just three episodes. Despite Nolasco's decision to leave, NBC announced that the new season of the cop drama was due to begin on 25 September. However, it was then delayed until 23 October and last week, NBC confirmed Southland's axing. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Cudlitz said of the cancellation: 'We had all the pre-season stuff, all the dinners and parties. They told us they loved and believed in the show. They said the [delay] would be good for us. On paper it all made sense so I was willing to believe I was being told the truth… I don't just walk in one day and go, "Eh, I'm not going to act today. I know I told you I was going to act, but I'm not going to do my thing."' He added: 'But I guess because they own the ball and the ballpark they get to do that. It's kind of cheap.' So, don't expect to see Michael appearing in any NBC products for a while.

The next Ashes series will be broadcast live on free-to-air rather than pay-to-view television, according to a senior government source reported by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. The unnamed official is quoted as saying: 'It's a no-brainer. This is one thing we can do that chimes with the wishes of millions of voters.' The decision follows a review led by David Davies, the former Football Association executive director, of leading sporting events that ministers are expected to support. This summer's deciding Test at the Oval was watched by two million viewers when it was broadcast on Sky. This compares with seven million viewers who saw the finale in 2005 on Channel 4. Mind you, to be fair, it compares also, with the two million viewers who watched the fifth day of a boring drawn test in 2004 against Sri Lanka also on Channel 4. Sky, which acquired the rights to screen the next home Ashes series as part of a three hundred million pound deal last year, is reported to be unhappy the latest development. To say the least. This at a time when relations between the government and Rupert Murdoch, owner of Sky and the Sun newspaper, are already strained by the latter's decision to withdraw support for Labour and back the Conservatives at the next election. Still, it'll be interesting to see who wins this one. My money's on Murdoch, personally.

Fewer than half-a-million people watched England's first football game to be broadcast exclusively live over the Internet and no detailed viewing figures will be released, the firms behind the move said yesterday. Online sports specialist Perform, which streamed the live match, said the webcast was Britain's biggest Internet pay-to-view sports broadcast to date, though it has declined to issue precise numbers for commercial reasons. And embarrassment? Perhaps we'll never know. James Richardson presented the live coverage, alongside ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, with commentary from David Pleat and Tony Jones. The match was initially offered for £4.99, rising to £11.99 on the day. However, fans who paid to watch the match online complained about the lack of atmosphere, slow streaming speeds and the lack of licensed premises showing the game. But international football agency Kentaro and media group Perform insisted there were 'no technical issues.' The firms described the number of viewers as 'close to half-a-million' but this includes figures for the British Forces Broadcasting Service, which screened the game free for troops, as well as those who watched it in cinemas and online. In addition to a dedicated website, the match against Ukraine was also hosted on newspaper websites including the Sun, The Times, News of the World, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Daily Star and the Independent. Perform also struck a deal for fans to watch for free if they opened an account with online bookmaker bet365.com.

The late actor and comedian Kenneth Williams has been honoured with a blue plaque at the central London site of his father's barber shop. The Carry On movie star, who died aged sixty two in 1988, lived at the Marchmont Street address between 1935 and 1956. The plaque was unveiled by actors Leslie Phillips and Bill Pertwee and radio presenter Nicholas Parsons, Williams' Just A Minute co-star for twenty years. Williams began his career in 1948 with theatre roles before being cast in the BBC radio series Hancock's Half Hour. He went on to perform in numerous radio and TV shows including the legendary Round The Horne as well as starring in the Carry On movie series. Williams lived in a flat above the Marchmont Street shop with his father Charles Williams and mother Louisa. More than eight hundred blue plaques have put on London buildings by English Heritage to honour public figures.

A newly discovered handwritten letter has revealed that Ernie Wise wanted to 'break-up the act' with Eric Morecambe. He blamed pressure at home, dissatisfaction with his work and because he had lost his 'zip.' The two page memo, written around 1950, came to light as Eric's son Gary researched a new book about the comic duo, which is published this week. But Morecambe urged Wise to think again and the partnership continued. The note is understood to have been written long before Morecambe and Wise made their TV debut, but after they had first made a mark on the variety circuit. In it, Wise made clear how much he values his friendship with Morecambe. In his letter, Wise wrote: 'I feel it would be better if we parted. I know that this will be quite a shock to you but I had to come to some decision. I can't go on as things are... I'm not satisfied with my work. I feel it's a great pity after we had planned so much.' It is signed 'your best pal.' Gary Morecambe said: 'I knew that Ernie had written the letter - my father had mentioned it to me before his death. But it was only when researching this book that I found out it still existed. I'm touched by Ernie's affection and respect for my father, it's almost impossible to believe that we could have been deprived of all the fun and laughter they brought to people's homes in the years following.'

Coronation Street bosses will not face charges over a car accident that injured a show director earlier this year, it has been announced. Crew member Kay Patrick was taken to hospital in May after a car collided with her during filming. An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive has now found that the incident was an unfortunate accident which could not have been avoided. A HSE spokesman said: 'We have completed our investigation and there will be no charges.'

Peter Andre has asked Alex Reid to 'respect' him and not cross-dress in front of his children. The singer was speaking to the Sun after it was claimed, by Adnre's ex-wife Katie Price, that her new boyfriend Reid sometimes dresses as a woman and dubs himself 'Roxanne'. Andre said: 'Whatever people are doing in their private lives, and that goes for them or anyone, can you please not do it in front of the kids.'

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