Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's A Ruddy Jungle Out There

The BBC have issued the press release for this year's Christmas highlights. This, obviously, includes David Tennant's final farewell in a two-part special of Doctor Who called The End Of Time. Just in case you'd been reading some other blog. The Doctor's oldest enemy – The Master (Mad, Crazy John Simm) – returns alongside former companion Donna (Catherine Tate) and her grandad, Wilf (Bernard Cribbins), as the entire human race faces its last ever Christmas – unless the Doctor can save the day. Which, of course he can. Even if it kills him. Which it will. But, the moment has been prepared for. Meanwhile, David Tennant has been confirmed to read five tales to pre-school children on the CBeebies channel this Christmas. Tennant will be seen reading stories including The Christmas Bear by Henrietta and Paul Stickland on Christmas Eve. Ah, bless.

The Producers Guild of America will honour Dollhouse and Buffy creator Joss Whedon with its Vanguard Award, reports Variety. The accolade, which recognises achievements in new media and technology, will be presented to Whedon at the Twenty First annual PGA Awards ceremony on 24 January in Hollywood. 'Joss Whedon has mastered the art of melding the newest technology with inspired storytelling, truly exemplifying the spirit of the Vanguard Award,' said David Friendly and Laurence Mark, co-chairs of the PGAs. Whedon's Dr Horrible web series won the 2009 Hugo Award for 'Best Dramatic Presentation', a People's Choice prize and a 2009 Creative Arts Emmy.

Residents of X Factor finalist Joe McElderry's home boy turf have reportedly accused TV bosses of 'deliberately showing the area in a bad light' according to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. People in the South Tyneside town of South Shields have 'reacted with anger' after the teenager was pictured in a run-down back lane, despite the site being close to a conservation area and miles of stunning coastline. Viewers of the hit programme saw footage shot last week of Joe spending time with his family, who live in the Westoe area of the town, before the eighteen-year-old was seen strolling though the alley, with a discarded sofa and litter in the backdrop. Joan Anderson, sixty three, from Harton, South Shields, said: 'When I saw it I thought they had deliberately done it to make it look like this is a poor area. Joe lives in a lovely little street, so I don't understand why they had to show him in a horrible alley with a settee in the background. I don't think it’s a very good advertisement for the town.' It's South Shields, darlin', what the hell do you expect? Herds of majestic Wildebeest sweeping by? 'Most people I know were really shocked when they saw it and quite ashamed about what people are going to think.'

Louis Walsh has claimed that 'the fun has gone' from The X Factor following John and Edward's departure. The Grimes twins were voted off the show on Sunday night after ending in the bottom two with Simon Cowell's Over-Twenty Fives act Olly Murs. Speaking on The Xtra Factor, Walsh said: 'I feel sad for the boys, but I'm happy because they had a great a run, we had great fun.' So, happy and sad, eh? Isn't that a contraction in terms? 'They left on a high. I thought it would have been Lloyd in the bottom two. Olly so didn't deserve to be in the bottom two,' Wlash added: 'Jedward were the best of my acts this year and that's why I picked them. Kids loved them. All the fun has gone. Talk to the young children, they are going to miss them.'

Ratings news: BBC1's Children in Need telethon extravaganza ruled the rockin' schedules on Friday night, edging out Coronation Street and near-enough flattening I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! The annual charity event - which featured performances from Westlife, the BBC News readers and Britian's Got Talent winners Diversity - peaked with twelve million viewers around 8.20pm, according to overnight figures. The peak came at about the same time that viewers were given a sneak peak at the Doctor Who Christmas special. Overall, the programme drew an average of 9.8m (an audience share of almost forty per cent) between 7pm and 10pm, before it broke for thirty five-minutes for BBC News. I'm a Celebrity… was back with a bang on Saturday night, however with an audience of ten million viewers after recording it's lowest figures of the series so far on Friday. The reality series had dropped to seven million when up against the telethon. But an additional three million viewers tuned back in on Satuday, between 9.20pm and 10.20pm, following The X Factor. A huge audience of just under sixteen million viewers watched the end of John and Edward on The X Factor on Sunday. The peak audience at 8.50pm drew a share of over fifty per cent. Overall, the results show drew an average audience of 13.8m across the 8pm hour, the lowest average audience the programme has had since 25 October.

The executive producer of Fringe has likened the show to licorice. What, black and stringy? And rather sour? Speaking during a conference call, Jeff Pinkner, who has also worked on Alias and Lost, attributed the show's recent ratings difficulties to its time-slot. 'I think that Fringe, Lost, Alias, absolutely there's a time-slot issue, but at the end of the day, it's more important to us that people fall in love with the shows,' he said. 'I've said before that these shows to me are like licorice, not everybody likes licorice, but the people that like licorice, love it.' Hmmm ... convoluted. He continued: 'I think it's always been more important to us that we create shows that people can get passionate about. And the truth is, there's only so much time in the day to get passionate about something, and there's a lot of really great shows on. We never take it as a indication of the quality of our shows, how many people watch. It's more important to us that the people that watch, really care about it deeply.'

David Cross has revealed that he loves British sitcoms. The Arrested Development star told the Guardian that he enjoys the work of both current and past British comedy writers. Cross said: 'I was heavily influenced by Monty Python. The Office was a revelation. Alan Partridge, Saxondale. I love Pulling, Peep Show, Spaced. I love Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci. I could go on.' He added, concerning his own forthcoming sitcom pilot The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret: 'It's about an inept American salesman who fortuitously falls into an opportunity to go to London. He's in way, way, way over his head. He keeps telling little white lies to help him in the short term but they cause him havoc in the long term.'

Gavin & Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones has landed her own BBC1 Christmas chat show. The one-hour special will be titled Ruth Jones's Christmas Cracker, according to the Sun. Guests will include her sitcom co-stars Joanna Page and James Corden (oh, Christ is that tub of lard never off the television?), Russell Davies and opera singer Katherine Jenkins. So, I'm speculating this is going to be rather ... Welsh? The programme will apparently also feature roving reporter segments with Jones's Gavin & Stacey character Nessa. 'It was a bit like The Charlotte Church Show,' an audience member told the newspaper. And that's a good thing, is it? 'Everyone was in stitches when they saw Nessa as the roving reporter. It worked really well.' And, the rest ... not so much, I'm guessing?

Meanwhile, Joanna Page has expressed an interest in working alongside her husband James Thornton in Emmerdale. The thirty one-year-old actress, who plays the titular Stacey in the BBC comedy series, revealed that her interest stems from her partner's praise of filming in the soap's 'gorgeous' Yorkshire location. Page told the Press Association: '[It] could be quite good fun because James says it's just gorgeous filming out in the fields. I'd be able to do a good northern accent if I did Emmerdale.'

Peter Kay has said that he will never leave the North West of England and move to the capital. Reports that this announcement brought the biggest street parties to London since VE day cannot be confirmed at this time.

A newsreader is suing ITV for five million quid on the grounds of race, sex and age discrimination. ITV West Country anchorwoman Lisa Aziz claims that her co-presenter, Steve Scott, regularly put on Pakistani and Irish accents to 'demean' his colleagues and former News at Ten anchor Sir Trevor McDonald. In legal papers submitted to Bristol Employment Tribunal, Miss Aziz said: 'Mr Scott is a racist and regularly makes derogatory remarks about or otherwise demeans [black ITV weatherman] Alex Beresford.' Aziz, 'the first Asian presenter of a national terrestrial news programme' according to Digital Spy (which is technically true since Zeinab Badawi is of African-Asian parents), co-presented ITV West Country in Bristol with Scott until she was suspended from her one hundred and sixty thousand pounds-per-year post in July, pending an investigation into alleged 'misuse' of some of her expenses. The newsreader claims she was 'set up' by senior ITV managers on a false charge as part of a cost-cutting exercise. She is alleged to have made a false dry cleaning claim for a child's top. Aziz also alleges that she has become the victim of 'a culture of youth' at the commercial broadcaster. The compensation she is claiming includes money for loss of earnings, punitive damages, aggravated damages and 'hurt feelings.' An ITV spokesman described Aziz's claims as 'baseless.' Which they may be. But, if they're not, and she wins her case, I hope she sues the spokesman as well. On general principle.

The producers of NBC's Law & Order are reportedly considering a storyline inspired by the forthcoming criminal trial of 9/11 conspirators. Producer Rene Balcer spoke about the idea at The Paley Center during a recent program celebrating the show's Twentieth anniversary, reports the New York Post. Earlier this month, the US Justice Department announced that five 9/11 conspirators will be tried in the murders of the nearly three thousand who died in the 2001 attacks. Law & Order has a reputation for featuring stories based on current news events. The series has aired instalments inspired by Mel Gibson's 2006 drink-driving arrest and has also included characters largely based on US reality show personalities Jon and Kate Gosselin.

Former Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher - you know, the talented one - is reportedly being considered for a cameo in Coronation Street next year. The ITV show is due to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in December 2010 and the soap's bosses are apparently looking to mark the occasion by including several guest appearances by celebrties fans of the show. Producer Kim Crowther recently said in a web-chat with the programme's official site: 'We are planning lots for the fiftieth anniversary; it will be must-see television. It would be fab to see Tracy Barlow back, wouldn't it? I would love to bring Hilda back – and Mavis. Noel Gallagher would be great. There are also plans for some new faces in the factory.' Manchester-born Gallagher has previously confessed to being a lifelong fan of the soap, saying: 'Why they've never asked me to be in it is really one of the scandals of our age!'

Corrie actor Bill Roache's wife died of natural causes, the coroner's office confirmed. The seventy seven-year-old's partner, Sara, died suddenly earlier this year at the age of fifty eight, following a suspected heart-attack. A spokesperson for Chershire's Coroner's office confirmed that an inquest into Sara's death was conducted on 5 November, where a 'natural causes' verdict was recorded. Evidence verified that the cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia. Heart rhythm charity Arrhythmia Alliance said that the condition - which causes the heart to beat either too fast or too slow - affects around two million patients in the UK. In March, Roache - who plays Ken Barlow in the Weatherfield serial - paid tribute to his 'loving, loyal, devoted beautiful wife [of] thirty five years' during her memorial service.

Kim Woodburn has admitted that she does not get on with her How Clean Is Your House? co-star Aggie MacKenzie. And, in other news, who bloody cares? Woodburn, sixty seven, told her campmates in the I'm A Celebrity ... jungle that she felt like she was 'selling [her] soul' by working on the fifth and sixth series of the programme. 'When we finished this series in May, funnily enough I really wanted to go it alone. I knew I did but they don't want any more How Clean Is Your House? but I'm very proud of that show,' she told camp Colin McAllister. 'I nurtured that show, I put my guts in and I was proud, but after the fifth I said no more because there's problems. I said, "I can't, I just can't." I gave my soul for it, I was selling my soul to keep doing it and even for the fifth [series]. I was miserable with Aggie.' So, we should be looking forward to another series featuring the pair sometime next year then, Kim?

Katie Price has said that she had 'tried her best' during her short-lived stint on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! The glamour model walked out of the show on Sunday after the public - amusingly - voted for her to do yet another bushtucker trial. Price had completed six consecutive challenges but left the jungle after being ordered to do a seventh. She wrote on her Twitter page: 'Hey thank you for all your support.' I'm not exactly sure if this includes all of the people reading who had consistantly voted for her to eat kangaroo 'nads, and the like. But, if so, may this blogger merely note that it was nothing but a pleasure, Katie. Can we have an encore, please?

Meanwhile former X Factor contestants John and Edward have reportedly been offered fifty grand to enter I'm A Celebrity... According to the Sun, Louis Walsh has flown to Dublin to meet with the Grimes twins' parents and persuade them that entering the jungle will boost their sons' careers. Walsh has been given a 5.30pm deadline by ITV to confirm the deal. 'ITV are determined to get the twins. A flight can be arranged in time so they could be in camp by this weekend,' said a source. 'It would be a nailed on ratings-winning coup if Louis manages to persuade them it's a good move for their career. Louis still believes ITV haven't offered enough money. But the twins were completely unknown a couple of months ago and everyone around them is saying they should make hay while the sun shines.' Simon Cowell has allegedly described it as 'a great idea' for the brothers to head to another continent. When asked about appearing on the show yesterday, Edward told GMTV: 'I'm A Celebrity...? We're up for any challenge, we've got to think about it together and see if it's for us.' Once upon a time you had a steal a sheep or 'look at a rich person in an funny way' to get transported to the colonies and live off cockroaches. Now, they'll send you First Class and pay you to go... No justice.

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