Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Action Transvestites

The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, is said to be ready to rally the troops by telling some of the corporation's highest earners that recent 'political correctness' rows should not stifle their creativity according to reports. He will tell an audience including the likes of Bruce Forsyth, John Humphreys and Jeremy Clarkson that the corporation has not lost its creative nerve and will cite the decision to invite the BNP leader, Nick Griffin to appear on Question Time, the political comedy The Thick of It and the Iraq War drama Occupation as evidence that the BBC does not fear controversy. His morale-booster follows the row over comedian Mad Frankie Boyle being rebuked for describing Rebecca Adlington, the double Olympic gold medallist, on Mock The Week as looking like 'somebody who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon.' Boyle is still steadfastly refusing to apologise, telling Time Out magazine recently that 'the number-one priority in TV comedy today is "don't frighten the horses." And it's probably number two and three as well. If you look at the scheduling nowadays, it's all just celebrities meeting meerkats.' You might have a point somewhere in there, Mad Frankie but, take some advice. When you're in a hole, stop digging, mate.

London-based BBC staff are being bribed with taxpayers' money to relocate to Manchester, according to the shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt. He says that four hundred and twenty seven staff moving from Television Centre in London to rented premises in Salford Quays have been told they can keep the London weighting payment of up to four thousand and eighty pounds. This could cost the corporation as much as forty million pounds on top of the one hundred and seventy million it is believed to be paying to rent the MediaCityUK premises from Peel Holdings. It's also, as a matter of pure disinterest, exactly what the civil service do with regard to any employees who have been transferred out of London unless it's at their own request. Hunt said: 'For the BBC to be using licence-fee payers' money in this way beggars belief. Money should be spent on producing great programmes, not bribing people who want to stay in London to move to Salford.' Quite why anybody would take any notice of a single thing that Jeremy Hunt says when he has already broken the law by stating that the BBC should be employing journalists based on politic preference rather than ability is a mystery, however.

Ofcom has criticised Top Gear over the bloodiness of a sketch which portrayed a man committing suicide, sparking an alleged fifty viewer complaints. Personally, I don't believe for a single, solitary second that even five of Top Gear's audience would have complained about the sequence in question, unless they were plants from the Daily Mail and, therefore, it is the belief of this blogger that Ofcom are a bunch of scum-liars. Go on, prove me wrong, Ofcom. I dare you. I double dare you. The regulator said the spoof Volkswagen ad – which depicted a man shooting himself because he had bought a petrol rather than a diesel car – was 'so comically exaggerated and preposterous' that it was justified by the 'overall context' of Top Gear. However, it upheld complaints that the scene was too graphic to be allowed before the watershed. 'Whilst the shooting scene was only a few seconds duration, it was Ofcom's view that the spoof suicide was graphically depicted on screen with the man holding the gun to his temple and firing and blood spattering into the air after the bloody impact of the gun shot. Its realistic depiction meant that the violent imagery was not appropriately limited,' it said. The BBC tried to re-edit the show for a 7pm repeat by removing footage of the gun shot - but fell foul of its own popularity with younger viewers, as more children were believed to have watched the first Sunday 8pm broadcast than the subsequent repeat. Ofcom noted the attempt but said the BBC should have taken Top Gear's 'strong child audience… into consideration when including the scene in the later broadcast' in any case. It also criticised the corporation for failing to issue a warning about the bloody nature of the scene. In its November bulletin, Ofcom cleared Top Gear on three other counts that drew a total of thirteen complaints. Quite why the BBC didn't tell these humourless unelected nobodies to go stuff themselves and the horse they rode in on is, at this time, unknown. Ofcom also upheld a complaint about the use of the word 'fuck' in Farmer Wants A Wife on Five, as it was repeated in an 11am slot on 20 September. The broadcaster apologised to Ofcom, putting the expletive down to 'human error.'

In related news, Ofcom has formally held off publishing a ruling concerning BBC1's Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary after reportedly sparking 'unprecedented' anger from the corporation over the way in which it handled the investigation. According to informed sources, quoted in Broadcast magazine, Ofcom told the BBC last week that it had upheld three of nineteen complaints about the documentary - which, infamously caused a rift between the BBC and the Kennel Club - and said it would publish the decision on 9 November. The documentary, by Passionate Productions, identified serious issues which it said affected the health and welfare of some pedigree dogs and led to a decision by the BBC to suspend its annual coverage of the Crufts dog show. The Kennel Club subsequently changed its 'breed standards' and banned the breeding of close relatives. But the Kennel Club took issue with the documentary and hired law firm Schillings to make a series of complaints. It is understood that two of the complaints centred on misrepresentation of specific dog breeders and one was about a comparison between dog breeding and Nazi eugenicists. However, the BBC reacted furiously to Ofcom's decision, privately complaining about the way in which the investigation was conducted and heaping pressure on the regulator to overturn its judgement. 'I've never known such anger inside the BBC about a ruling. Very senior figures were furious. Judicial reviews were considered. Ofcom have given in to the pressure,' an insider told the magazine. Even as late as Sunday night, it seemed that Ofcom would still publish its ruling on Monday – but its fortnightly bulletin was eventually issued with no mention of Pedigree Dogs Exposed. BBC sources claimed Ofcom had asked 'odd' questions in its call for evidence, and then would not allow the corporation to submit any additional material which would have supported its argument. They also raised concerns that Ofcom's Kath Worrall oversaw both the initial complaint and the appeals process as a member of the media regulator's content board as well as chair of its fairness committee. 'They got the same person to be judge and jury. It took a record time for Ofcom to rule on and there was an unprecedented level of protest to Ofcom, right up until the last minute,' the source said. Broadcast says it understands that has Ofcom restructured its appeals process following the complaints but maintained that it would stand by its decisions on Pedigree Dogs Exposed. It is not clear whether Ofcom will use the extra time to reconsider its ruling.

Anthony Horowitz, the creator of ITV's headline autumn drama Collision, which launched yesterday, has criticised Scottish broadcaster STV for refusing to air the show. Horowitz, the writer of Foyle's War, said he was 'absolutely staggered' that STV, which holds the two Scottish ITV licences, had decided not to broadcast the show, particularly given that Scottish actor Dougie Henshall is one of the stars of the five-part drama running every night this week. 'I know that money is tight but if you don't show quality programming - and I can assure you Collision is high quality - you are going to drown, you are going to go under all together,' he said in an interview with the Scottish Big Issue. 'I don't know what STV are playing at.' STV is currently involved in a thirty five million pound legal stand-off with ITV over supposed unpaid network programme budget contributions. The Scottish broadcaster is also refusing to run many ITV network dramas, preferring to run cheaper programming - STV-produced shows and repeats of movies and US imports. The broadcaster has chosen to air a series this week called The Greatest Scot instead of Collision, following a strategy that has seen it ditch most of ITV's non-soap peak-time dramas this year, including The Bill, Lewis, Midsomer Murders and Kingdom. Horowitz said that he thought it was 'a great shame' that STV had ignored the show particularly because the lead actor, Henshall, is Scottish. 'Dougie Henshall seems to me to be a very good reason to be showing it,' he added.

Eddie Izzard has maintained that he is still a transvestite, despite being in 'boy-mode' for the past several years. And, in other news, the Pope is still Catholic, apparently. Eddie - one of the funniest lady-boys on the planet and a particular hero of this blogger - told the South Wales Echo that he has stuck to male clothing in recent times to help his continuing acting career, especially in America. He said: 'I believed that if I had turned up for the auditions for The Riches or Valkyrie in make-up and a dress, I would not get the roles. I tell everyone I'm a transvestite over and over again. I insist and I beg people to believe it on TV - and I never thought that I would be on TV begging people to believe I'm a transvestite. But I am being strategic about this. I've been in boy-mode for the last few years, but I know I can be in girl-mode if I want to.' He added: 'If I wanted to, I could throw on a dress right now and if I went out in the street and people insulted me, then I would insult them back. I would know what to do. It's all still there. It's in my toolbox. I am a card-carrying transvestite. Always have been, always will be. The thing is, if you are a straight transvestite like me, you have all this boy-stuff going on - mainly boy stuff in fact - as well as the girly stuff. I like football. I was going to join the Army when I was younger. And I just ran forty three marathons, which is not a terribly girly thing to do.' Well ... tell that to Paula Radcliffe, baby. Mind you, at least Eddie ran them without getting injured (or, papping his own pants), unlike Paula.

Britain's reputation for 'libel tourism' is driving many American and foreign publishers to consider abandoning the sale of newspaper and magazines in Britain and may lead to them blocking access to websites, MPs have been warned. Publishers, human rights groups and campaigners have expressed 'substantial and increasing concern' because comments which would be protected under the freedom of speech amendment in the US constitution are actionable in London courts once published here, no matter how small the readership. A memorandum submitted to a Commons select committee, ahead of a meeting with US publishers, states: 'Leading US newspapers are actively considering abandoning the supply of the two hundred-odd copies they make available for sale in London – mainly to Americans who want full details of their local news and sport. They do not make profits out of these minimal and casual sales and they can no longer risk losing millions of dollars in a libel action which they would never face under US law. Does the UK really want to be seen as the only country in Europe – indeed in the world – where important US papers cannot be obtained in print form?' The submission, on behalf of a number of US media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and MacMillan (US), as well as Human Rights Watch, Global Witness US and Greenpeace International, added: 'The consequences of making media organisations liable for putting articles – perfectly lawful by the law of their own domicile – on websites which are occasionally accessed in England should be obvious. The cost of fighting libel actions may lead Internet publishers to build "firewalls" against access from the UK, in order to avoid such actions.'

Derek Acorah's controversial - some might argue, sick and disgraceful - attempt to 'rouse the spirit of Michael Jackson' was a qualified ratings hit for Sky1 on Friday night. Shame on you, Great Britain. According to overnight ratings figures released over the weekend, Michael Jackson: The Live Séance - hosted by the truly earache-inducing June Sarpong and featuring Acorah (and his insubstantial pal, Sam) - was watched by six hundred and seven thousand viewers. In the programme, the late singer - speaking, so it was claimed, through Acorah ... and, therefore, in a strangely gutteral Scouse accent that he'd never previously demostrated when alive - allegedly complained that he had not been buried next to Marilyn Monroe. Acorah, meanwhile, has told Digital Spy website that he will attempt to contact Michael Jackson again. Indeed, that pair are said to be planning on going on holiday together next summer. Corfu, apparently. Or, maybe Malaga if they can get a cheap flight with EasyJet. Let's all hope those crazy kids really make something of it.

And speaking of things being raised from the dead, Gary Glitter is reportedly threatening to sue Channel 4 over last evening's screening of a fictitious account of his life (and death). The Execution Of Gary Glitter saw a depiction of the convicted paedophile hanged for his crimes. According to the Mirror, Glitter's lawyers have said that the drama will unfairly put him back in the spotlight. A source is quoted as saying: 'Glitter complained he hadn't seen an advance copy of the film and it would unfairly raise his profile. There was widespread incredulity when his letter landed. There are no plans to shelve the show.' And you can check out Charlie Brooker's brilliant review of this abomination here dear blog reader. 'What with this and the previous Killing Of George Bush drama-doc a few years ago, the Channel 4 family is establishing itself as the home of thought-provoking celebrity death fantasises. Now they've whacked a president and strangled a paedo, what next? How about a two-hour drama-documentary that wonders what Britain might look like if al-Qaida attacked the BAFTAs? Lots of detailed close-up slow-motion shots of bullets blasting through the rib cages of absolutely everyone off Coronation Street, that kind of thing. It'd really kick-start that debate about terrorism we're all gasping for. Perhaps it could solve it altogether.'

Movie-themed songs and the promise of John and Edward Grimes singing 'The Theme From Ghostbusters' brought The X Factor its highest average audience for a Saturday so far this series, with 11.8m tuning in - but Cowell's huge audience didn't stay around for Simon's mate Piers Morgan. The singing competition once again trounced everything else on the network between 8pm and 9.35pm, peaking with over thirteen million viewers at 9.10pm. But the show's huge lead-in failed to help Piers Morgan's Life Stories, which this week featured comedian Ronnie Corbett. The audience fell from just below thirteen million at 9.25pm to just over four million twenty minutes later. To lose one million viewers might be regarded as misfortune, Mr Morgan, to lose nine million looks like carelessness. Overall, Life Stories averaged 3.9m for the hour, with viewers opting instead for The Festival of Remembrance on BBC1. The tribute concert, which featured Hayley Westenra and jazz singer Jamie Cullum averaged 5.4m between 9.15pm and 10.50pm, picking up a million viewers as The X Factor drew to a close. Earlier in the evening, Strictly Come Dancing continued to shine when out of The X Factor's spotlight, winning its slot for all but the last fifteen-minutes where it was set against the ITV juggernaut. Between 6.25pm and 8.25pm, Strictly averaged 8.7m, peaking with 9.4m at 7.55pm, just before The X Factor began.

Simon Cowell consulted The X Factor's executive producer, Richard Holloway, before making his controversial decision to vote against Lucie Jones on Sunday night, a tabloid report has claimed. This was the second time in two weeks that Coewll had let the public vote decide who should stay and who should go on the popular singing competition rather than make a decision himself. According to the Sun, Cowell and Holloway were seen 'in deep discussions' during an advert break following the announcement that Jones would compete against the twins John and Edward. A source said: 'They [Cowell and Holloway] seemed to be discussing what to do. Should they get rid of Lucie, who can obviously sing really well, or finally get rid of the twins?' Jones was later eliminated after Cowell took the judges' verdict to deadlock. John amd Edward were saved because they had polled higher than their rival in the earlier viewer vote. The insider added: 'The producers always claim that Simon doesn't know how the voting goes before he makes his decision. But after the intense conversation with Simon, Holloway was seen whispering in the ears of Dannii, Cheryl and Louis.' Cowell insisted that he had been surprised by the outcome while speaking on The Xtra Factor later in the evening. He also claimed that Jones's axing was not his fault.

Meanwhile, according to Sinitta, Cowell 'wishes the twins were his.' Once again, sometimes no punchline is even necessary.

And, a final bit of X Factor tittle-tattle, Louis Walsh has reportedly apologised after he was seen sticking two fingers up to The X Factor's live audience on Sunday's live show. Well, indeed. Because, that's normally Simon Cowell's - metaphorical - job, isn't it? The Irish judge turned around to flash a V-sign at the crowd after his act John and Edward received a mixed response to their sing-off performance of Robbie Williams's 'Rock DJ'. Similar to the photo on the right but, you know, just different enougth so as you'd notice. A spokesman for Walsh told the Sun that 'Louis apologises if any offence was caused.' Walsh has complained about audiences booing the twins in previous weeks, branding those responsible 'disrespectful' and 'rude.'

Strictly Come Dancing producers have reportedly criticised the show's budget cuts. The News of the World reports that the programme's makers are angry they could not afford higher-profile celebrities this series. 'They put a fifty thousand pound cap on celeb fees this year, so we couldn't sign up big stars like Kelly Brook or Penny Lancaster-Stewart,' a source claimed. 'And ITV splashed out on a new set and live results show [for The X Factor]. Our set looks tired in comparison and we dropped our results show.' The insider continued: 'Next year the BBC needs to invest properly and sign some major stars or Strictly won't be around forever like we hoped.' Nothing lasts forever, guys. Echo and The Bunnymen told you that.

Marks & Spencer is poised to launch its latest celebrity-packed Christmas TV advertising campaign with an piece starring Wallace and Gromit, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes actor Philip Glenister, Stephen Fry and James Nesbitt, alongside M&S commercial regulars including Myleene Klass and Twiggy. The TV campaign is part of a reported ten million pound marketing push by Marks & Spencer in the critical sales period leading up to Christmas. M&S's 2009 Christmas campaign, by WPP-owned advertising agency RKCR/Y&R, features a string of celebrities – also including Absolutely Fabulous stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley – describing things they would miss at Chrismas. The advert, which uses the tagline 'Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without ...', is due to its public debut on Wednesday. It pushes products including 'that perfect little black dress,' mince pies, toys, tableware and features a plug for M&S's online shopping service. At the end of the commercial Glenister, in a nod to his unreconstructed male chauvinist detective Gene Hunt, dispenses with Christmas niceties and says it would not be the same 'without the girl prancing around in her underwear.'

Philippa Gregory's novel The Little House is set to be adapted for an 'atmospheric and chilling' two-part drama on ITV. The book revolves around a young woman named Ruth, and her battles with her domineering mother-in-law after she and her husband move into a cottage on his parents' property. To outsiders the lifestyle seems idyllic, but internally Ruth struggles to cope with the psychological warefare being waged by her mother-in-law and post-natal depression. The drama has been commissioned by ITV's director of drama Laura Mackie and controller of drama Sally Haynes. It will be produced by TXTV in Bristol, who previously produced the exceptional ITV drama Torn which starred Holly Aird and Nicola Walker. Identity and Waking The Dead writer Ed Whitmore is in charge of the script. Production will begin in May and June next year.

Jesse Spencer has said that a 'new team' has formed since Jennifer Morrison departed House. In an interview with TV Guide, the actor, who plays Morrison's on-screen husband Chase, said that her departure had opened up more storyline possibilities. 'We sort of have a new team again because now basically Chase joins the team. It's a slightly new dynamic with him on the team. He asks to come back on the team because he feels like it's the only way he's going to be able to face his demons and what he's done. So it will be Chase, Foreman, Thirteen and Taub. I still keep doing the surgeries, which is kind of fun because I like doing that stuff.' Asked if anyone new would be coming into the show, he responded: 'I don't think anyone will take Cameron's place.'

Sarah Michelle Gellar has revealed that she went into labour with her first child while she was at the gym. Blimey. Keith Telly Topping isn't half glad that he wasn't doing a bit of bike work at the time. Otherwise, he may have fainted.

FlashForward's executive producer David Goyer has revealed that several new characters will be introduced later this season. Speaking to MTV News, Goyer confirmed that the Somalian boy from episode three will be making a return as an adult. 'We have already written that character as an adult,' he said' "We're hoping to have a certain actor play him. We haven't nailed it down yet, but we're crossing our fingers.' Michael Ealy will also be arriving in the role of Miles Fogel, who Goyer said will be a 'new thorn in Detective Benford's side.' The character is expected to become a series regular from around episode ten. The ninth episode, titled Believe, will explore Bryce's vision and introduce viewers to the Japanese woman that he saw in it. 'That's the subject of episode nine, which is almost entirely his episode. We introduce another of our cast members in that one - her name is Keiko. She's from Japan, and I can't say too much more about who she is, but she's involved in Bryce's story.'

The executive producer of Coronation Street has defended the show's affair storyline. Kieran Roberts claimed that the relationship between Molly Dobbs and Kevin Webster is a plausible plot. Answering viewers' questions in the Radio Times, he denied allegations that the affair was out of character for Dobbs. 'In Molly's eyes Tyrone is a lovely lad, but also immature, even boring,' he said. 'In Kevin, Molly sees a more mature man who can bring romance into a life that's become dull. I don't imagine many viewers will sympathise, but I think Molly's behaviour is understandable and consistent.'

Tina O'Brien has reportedly brought her three-year relationship with Ryan Thomas to an end. The former Coronation Street star is said to have been driven to the decision after Thomas, twenty five, was questioned by police in relation to an early morning road crash in Manchester, according to Sunday Mirror reports. Thomas, who plays Jason Grimshaw on the soap, was released without charge. Another man was later charged with driving under the influence of drink or drugs. A friend of O'Brien said that the twenty six-year-old actress is livid and told Thomas to 'grow up. When Tina found out about the crash she went absolutely ballistic. She is madly in love with him but she can't let something as big as this slide,' they stated.

Graeme Hawley has admitted that he felt like he was in movie Groundhog Day when he filmed his Coronation Street prison scenes. The thirty five-year-old actor joked that he is having sleepless nights due to worries that his controversial character John Stape could return to jail again in the future. On Wednesday, viewers will see John being released from pokey after serving a sentence for abducting Rosie Webster (Helen Flanagan). In an interview with the Sunday Mail, Hawley commented: 'I wake up at night and there's my prison outfit at the end of my bed! Acting my scenes in prison did become a bit like Groundhog Day. I was sitting in jail for about four months. It was the same set - the same tables, the same chair and the same pale blue jumper and grey jogging bottoms. I'm not particularly fashion conscious, but I was craving a different kind of top. I kept trying to accessorise, but they wouldn't let me!'

Steve McFadden's four-month-old daughter Amelie has been taken to hospital suffering with breathing problems. The EastEnders actor has been at her bedside since she was diagnosed with bronchilitis at London's Whittington Hospital last Tuesday, reports the Sun. The baby is said to be 'very sick' and is currently being fed through a tube. Amelie's mother, Rachel Sidwell, stated: 'It's extremely worrying. Amelie is very ill and I'm devastated. I just want her to get better.' Again, Keith Telly Topping believes that he's speaking for all of From The North's readers when he sends our warmest wishes to Steve and Rachel and all of our hopes for Amelie's speedy recovery.

Heather Mills may pull out of the forthcoming series of Dancing On Ice because training for the show has left her in agony, a report in the Sun has claimed. This blogger is rather betting that she won't, however. Too much publicity potential, he thinks.

A film about the impact of a wind farm in the Highlands of Scotland has reportedly been 'banned' by the BBC on the grounds that it breaks the corporation's strict objectivity rules. However, the BAFTA-nominated documentary maker David Graham Scott, who made the film, said: 'This was not meant to be a political film. It is more about the impact of modernity on an ancient landscape. I don't have a problem with the BBC's impartiality guidelines, but I think my film has been misinterpreted. I wouldn't want to alter the film to get it broadcast, as that might ruin it.' He is also angry that the film has been banned whilst BNP leader Nick Griffin was given a platform to express extremist views according to Broadcast magazine. Scott says on his website that he received an e-mail from the BBC telling him it would not broadcast the film. He wrote: 'While Nick Griffin speaks freely on the BBC, Douglas Graham Scott is banned.' I don't, actually, think it was the same person making both decisions though, Douglas. Or, that it's an either/or situation. I'm not especially keen on the 'talking about yourself in the third person' thing either but, then, Keith Telly Topping's in no position to cast aspertions on that score. Shot in Caithness, the film includes footage of protests against a new wind farm development in Thrumster, near Wick, including a sequence where local residents burn a large 'wicker-man' style wind farm turbine to the ground. Yeah, that sounds totally balanced and impartial.

Documentary producers are to lobby politicians to offer tax relief for public service programming as part of a shortlist of demands to bolster factual output according to Broadcast magazine. Again, though, can somebody please define exactly what 'public service broadcasting' is because, most of the occasions when I've seen the phrase used it basically seems to be verbal shorthand for 'stuff I produce.' At a Question Time-style panel session at the industry's Sheffield Doc/Fest, leading documentary makers and investors voted for five recommendations to incentivise the genre that will be presented to the main political parties. Their chief wish was for MPs to consider enabling makers of public service documentaries to access tax relief by borrowing charitable status from an umbrella organisation. Wall to Wall chief executive Alex Graham said: 'This has some merit. It's a neat way of trying to attract new investment into the business rather than another subsidy.' However, he was not hopeful of the idea's chance of success in the current economic climate. Or, indeed, in any economic climate, if he's got half an ounce of sense in his brain. 'The prospect of any kind of tax relief for anyone, let alone documentary makers, in the next five years is unlikely,' added Graham. Century Films managing director Brian Hill added that the tax relief model would have to be 'an addition rather than a replacement' of existing funding bodies. So, you want more money from government at a time when every single one of the main political partiers wants to cut TV funding to the bone? Hmm ... Good luck with that.

Carphone Warehouse boss John Gildersleeve and chairman of Standard Chartered John Peace have emerged as front-runners for the ITV chairman job, sparking rumours that the broadcaster's long search may finally be nearing its end. HMV chairman Robert Swannell and former banker John Nelson are also understood to be in contention to become non-executive chairman of the commercial broadcaster, along with Yell chairman Bob Wigley. ITV brought forward its interim results unexpectedly on Sunday to announce an improvement in trading conditions and its first projected year-on-year profits since early 2008. Michael Grade announced in April that he would step down as executive chairman, and the company has been searching for a new chief executive for nearly six months. The favoured candidate HMV's Simon Fox, turned down the job over the summer and talks with the former BSkyB boss Tony Ball broke down in late September due in no small part to Ball's outrageous salary demands.

The most radical shake-up of sports broadcasting rights for more than a decade seem likely to trigger a strong backlash from sports governing bodies this week as events including the Ashes, Wimbledon and international football qualifiers appear set to be added to the list of those reserved for live coverage on free-to-air television. Inspired by viewing figures of up to twelve million for Andy Murray's fourth-round tie at last year's Wimbledon, the whole of the tournament will now be added to the list, rather than just the finals. And rugby union internationals in Wales, which can attract more than seven-in-ten viewers, are also due to be included, according to sources close to the independent review led by the former FA executive director David Davies. The sources revealed there had been a 'radical' shake-up, resulting in a shorter but more coherent list of events – those with a 'special national resonance' – that must be available on free-to-air television in either highlights or live form. The Epsom Derby and the Rugby League Cup Final are expected to be dropped from the list, which could reduce their chances of attracting sponsorship and maintaining their visibility beyond core fans. Governing bodies are preparing to go on the attack, arguing the new rules will severely damage their ability to fund grassroots sport. The England and Wales Cricket Board has argued that the three hundred million pounds Sky pays them for exclusive rights has enabled a huge investment programme in state schools, community clubs and the women's game. The Scottish Football Association has claimed it will lose twelve million a year if it is forced to show the Scottish FA Cup final on the BBC or ITV rather than Sky. While the likes of the FA Cup final and the Olympics will remain on the live A-list, the so-called B-list, for highlights, is likely to be axed. The panel wants to introduce a radical reshuffle to the list by making it shorter and more focused on the events which have 'special national resonance.' A more regular review could also be among its recommendations as the current ten-year cycle is viewed as too long.

Popular factual commissioners at the BBC, Channel 4 and Five have outlined their wish-lists for the coming year. Five's head of factual entertainment Steve Gowans said the channel lacked its equivalent of The Secret Millionaire, adding that he faced a 'constant battle to find a constructed documntary series that works.' He added: 'We still haven't cracked it. Farmer Wants A Wife was a massive hit across Europe, yet for us, it didn't stick.' That's because it wss crap, Steve. Gowans said he was open to new ideas as most of his big shows are returning formats, including two new runs of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green next year. In particular, he is keen to find a big consumer show for 7pm to sit alongside The Gadget Show. With Channel 4 gearing up to fill the void left by Big Brother's conclusion in 2011, factual entertainment editor Alistair Pegg promised 'less of a scattergun approach to commissioning.' He said next year would be difficult with fewer commissions and longer runs but said he would be piloting ideas that could come back in a big way in 2011. 'We want a long-running series that has some of the appeal of the first series of Big Brother,' he said. Echoing Martin Davidson's comments in a specialist factual session, BBC Wales executive editor, factual and music Meredith Chambers said the corporation was looking to reflect 'a time of austerity. It's about what you can do that's simple and free and helps you enjoy your life,' he said. 'We want ways into family life that doen't feel exploitative, such as through gastronomy in our cookery shows or the upcoming Village SOS, which tackles rural regeneration.' With MasterChef moving to BBC1, BBC2 is on the lookout for a new 'big, life-changing format with a competitive element,' while pre-watershed BBC1 should be the home of 'simple, appealing alternatives to soap operas. These are things that on BBC2, might feel like more of the same, but on BBC1 feel like more of a treat.' Above all, he said, the BBC wanted viewers to take away a lot of new information from factual entertainment. 'That means simple and uncynical. We're less interested in the colour of the curtains, more in the history of how they are made.'

Britain's lyricist for the common man Ray Davies has reportedly confirmed that he is writing a musical on The Kinks and is looking at ways to find its perfect cast. The singer, who founded the group with his brother Dave in 1963, said that the stage piece will cover the band from its humble beginnings to international success. The sixty five-year-old said he was 'excited' about the project and was probing the idea of creating a televised talent hunt to find suitable performers. Ray told WENN: 'It's about the band. People think of The Kinks as these guys in red hunting jackets who sang 'You Really Got Me' and made these weird records, like 'Lola', but it's about us, how we evolved and a certain time in my life when I confronted many of my demons. The issues involved in the show are things that most people are dealing with in their lives and I'm hoping it can connect with audiences on many levels rather than being just a jukebox musical.'

ITV's Michael Grade has said that the government's review of TV product placement regulations will put UK broadcasters on a 'level playing field' with global rivals. In September, the government confirmed plans to relax the rules controlling commercial product placement on British TV shows, in a move which could generate up to thirty five million pounds per year for the industry. In response, outgoing ITV executive chairman Grade stated that the new regulations, if approved, would bring the UK in line with rival nations around the world. 'UK viewers are already used to product placement in the imported content they watch on UK screens, and product placement has been rolled out across the EU,' said Grade in a statement. 'Allowing product placement in UK broadcasting would place UK producers and broadcasters on a level playing field with their international counterparts, as well as bringing new revenue directly into original UK production - which can only be good news for UK viewers and advertisers.'

Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is alleged to have acted like 'a diva' on the set of Melrose Place. The twenty five-year-old was recently confirmed to be leaving the CW series along with actor Colin Egglesfield. The pair will make their final appearances in a January episode. It has been widely reported that the actress - who played Violet Foster on the show - was asked to leave because she was 'deeply disliked' by her co-stars, FOX News reports. 'Ashlee was kicked-off Melrose Place because she was a total diva on set, late all the time, and deeply disliked by fellow cast members. It created a lot of discord among the cast [and] she could barely act,' a source said. The insider also claimed that the firings were brought about to bring back Heather Locklear and to allegedly meet her salary demands to reprise her role as Amanda Woodward from the original FOX series. 'They basically trimmed the fat and made it possible for Heather to join the show. Heather is a much bigger name than Ashlee,' the source concluded.

Richard Herring has complained about the increasing regulations on radio shows since Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's controversial phonecall to Andrew Sachs. The comedian told Metro that greater censorship was the reason for his new series of online gigs, which are written on Sunday, performed on Monday and released as a podcast on Tuesday. He said: 'Radio shows can take two years to get on air and there are so many restrictions about content now. Most people don't need nannying in that way. It's got worse since the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand thing but even on my last show, there were battles. I wasn't allowed to use Schopenhauer's quote about history being a whore with syphilis as it was deemed offensive.' He added: 'I'm enjoying being able to do what I want. Executives rather than creative people commission TV and radio comedy. There's a lot of stuff which isn't very good. Sketch shows are very samey and sitcoms are fairly crappy. I can be more contentious. I want to make people laugh, not offend them. The show Hitler's Moustache is only offensive to racist people.'

Simon MacCorkindale has reportedly revealed that he is battling with terminal cancer. The former Casualty star said that doctors gave him five years to live when he was daignosed with the disease in 2007. MacCokindale, who has been married to actress Susan George for twenty five years, told the Mail On Sunday that they kept the prognosis quiet because he 'didn't want to make a fuss. We are very private people and wanted to deal with it on our own,' he added. That's appalling news and, once again, From The North sends the - collective - good wishes of our readership to Simon and Susan at this most difficult of times.

And, finally Lindsay Lohan has asked her fans to ignore her father Michael's recent media appearances. Okay. Is it all right if we also ignore you, as well, Lind? The star's father has called for his daughter to go into rehab and claimed that God is punishing her. Sounds bit dubious, he normally does all that malarkey with lightning bolts. Or, if you believe various right-wing Christians, AIDS and Hurricane Katrina.

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