Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Licence To Be Killed?

A review of Conservative media policy - led by the former BBC director general Greg Dyke - will recommend scrapping the licence fee to save more than one hundred million pounds a year the Guardian has claimed. Under the proposal, the money which the BBC spends on administering and enforcing the annual fee would, instead, be ploughed into a fund to pay for public service broadcasting on commercial channels – possibly including local news. The BBC would still be publicly funded, but its annual three and a half billion pound income would be drawn from general taxation or via a government grant. Radical idea. And, not one that Keith Telly Topping is, necessarily, wholly opposed to although in either case there would need to be a cast-iron, set-by-law, guarantee of the BBC's independence in matters of political coverage from whoever is the government of the day. Otherwise, it would, effectively, become Pravda. 'This is definitely an area that Greg is interested in and thinks needs to be raised and explored,' a review source told the grotty Communists at the Gruniad. 'It will be in the report.' The BBC would oppose any attempt to break the historic link between the corporation and the licence fee on the grounds that it would threaten the corporation's independence from the government. Yeah, that's the drawback. Dyke is heading a panel of twelve senior industry figures including production company boss Elisabeth Murdoch. The panel was asked to formulate policy proposals on the creative sectors by David Cameron, the Conservative party leader, and the resulting report is expected to be published next month. Dyke has refused to comment before publication, but the former BBC, LWT and TV-am boss has criticised the licence fee in the past, describing it as 'a desperately unfair tax' in a speech last year. He also argued the availability of TV programmes online would make the charge more difficult to collect.

Gregory Itzin is to return for a multi-episode stint on the upcoming eighth season of 24. According to Entertainment Weekly, Itzin's hugely popular character - the maniacal former President Charles Logan - will return towards the end of the season at the request of President Taylor (Cherry Jones). To do sneaky underhand stuff that Jack Bauer won't approve of, no doubt. Excellent. Logan's assistance will apparently be required to help resolve 'an escalating diplomatic crisis.' Logan was last seen, briefly, in season six being stabbed - apparently to death - by his crazed ex-wife, Martha.

As mentioned in passing on this blog last week, BBC4 is to turn the recent MPs expenses scandal into a comedy-drama directed by Simon Cellan Jones. Jones, whose previous credits include Generation Kill, The Trial Of Tony Blair and Our Friends In The North, will direct The Heather Brooke Story (still a working title). The sixty-minute drama aims to tell the story of a journalist's five-year campaign to get MPs' expense claims disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. Research and development has already begun on the film, which is written by Tony Saint (Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley, Micro Men). Shooting is scheduled for December and broadcast is expected in early 2010. The story follows Brooke, an American living in London, who was writing a book on the Freedom of Information Act. In 2004 she approached the House of Commons asking about MPs' expenses, and found her legitimate requests declined.

Well-known face-ache and drag Arlene Phillips has admitted that she was shocked by the latest Strictly Come Dancing result. Well, so were lots of other ordinary viewers who - like you - are not judges on the show, love. What's your point? Saturday's show saw Zöe Lucker being eliminated from the competition after she was voted to dance-off against Ali Bastian. Phillips has now suggested that viewers backed the wrong contestants on the night, claiming that neither star deserved to be in the bottom two. So there's somebody else telling their viewers they're morons. Do all people in television really have the tact of a mollusc or is it just this particular show? She told the Sun: 'It was an absolute shocker of an exit. How they ended up in the bottom two is baffling.' Because people voted them that way, Arlene. You know, like they kept on voting for John Sergeant last year because they knew it made your lip curl in a very amusing way. The choreographer also confessed that she is not a fan of former Coronation Street actor Craig Kelly, who was saved by voters after receiving just twenty four points from the judges on Saturday. Phillips asked: 'Could the public be voting for personality rather than ability? Unlikely when Craig Kelly has the personality of a sand dune.' Oh, excellent. We've got ourselves a bit of a pot-kettle-black situation here, kids!

Meanwhile, the head of the Strictly judges that didn't get sacked, Len Goodman has accused his fellow (non-sacked) judge, Craig Revel Horwood, of acting like a bully. Goodman rowed with Horwood and Bruno Tonioli on Saturday's live show, after the duo criticised soap star Ricky Groves's performance on the dancefloor. Tonioli said that Groves was 'terrible' and Horwood claimed that 'the entire routine was very conceited.' Annoyed by their comments, Goodman poked his finger at Horwood and defended the ex-EastEnders actor and his professional partner Erin Boag. Speaking on It Takes Two about the spat, he stated: 'What I felt bad about was with Ricky and Erin - Ricky had a really tough dance with the rumba. Alesha had a moan, Bruno had a moan and then Craig went at it again. I felt sorry for Ricky. Bullies are my worse people. Don't be a bully, Craig.' Horwood insisted that he behaved correctly with his criticism, commenting: 'I'm entitled to my opinion and so is Bruno. That's why we're there. Then out of nowhere, Len has this big old argument. I'm not trying to be personal, we've discussed this before. Len has a right to argue and defend Latin and ballroom, I'm from a very different world of directing and choreographing, but I'm still entitled to my opinion.'

Rachel Adedeji become the fourth act to be voted off The X Factor on Sunday. Adedeji found herself in the bottom two for the third time after the public vote. She was joined by Lloyd Daniels and both acts were required to perform a song of their choice in an effort to win the judges' votes. Adedeji was first to perform, choosing the Noel Gallagher song 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out'. Daniels, who was suffering with a sore throat, followed her with a rendition of 'You Are So Beautiful.' During his performance his voice cracked, causing him to shake his head and say 'Sorry.' The judges then had to decide who to save. Dannii Minogue decided to save her own act, Adedeji, as did Louis Walsh. Cheryl Cole saved her own act, Daniels, leaving Simon Cowell with the final vote. 'Undoubtedly, Rachel sang better than Lloyd,' he said. Actually, he didn't, he said she's sang 'better than Olly' before Louis pointed out that Olly, actually, wasn't in the sing-off. 'Having said that, [Lloyd] can't even talk, let alone sing. The thing is you've been in the bottom two three times now, Rachel, which tells me the public aren't getting you. I'd like the public to decide.' And, the public did. As a result, the decision went to deadlock, meaning that the act with the fewest public votes would be sent home. Host Dermot O'Leary announced that Adedeji received the fewest votes. After hearing the decision, Rachel burst into tears and said: 'Thank you to everyone who has supported me. It's been amazing, I got to meet so many amazing people and great judges. I'm so grateful.' Or, at least I think that's what she said.

Meanwhile, it is alleged that Cheryl Cole hit Simon Cowell after he poked fun at her dress on Saturday night. The Girls Aloud star was - allegedly - 'left furious' after Cowell warned her live on-air that she was in danger of falling out of her frock. According to the Sun, Cole went on to 'belt' the music mogul when the show went to an advert break. Did anybody happen to film that, by any chance? Cos I'm pretty sure a fair number of viewers would rather like to see it. She is also said to have shouted: 'Why did you do that? What did you do that for?' A source said: 'Cheryl tried to compose herself, but she was furious at Simon. She felt there was no need to mention it on air - he could have waited and said something discreetly. But the dress was risqué. From the side you could see everything. Some of the risqué outfits just don't work outside of a fashion shoot.'

Simon Cowell has said that he does not consider himself to be a nasty person. In a bit of minority of one there, Sime. The X Factor boss made the comments after he was interviewed by children on the day of his appointment as the new patron of Children's Hospices UK, BBC's Newsbeat reports. Cowell said: 'I think one of them asked if I wore Y-fronts or boxers or something. My favourite question was at the end - "Why are you evil?" And the answer, "It's more fun than being nice." I've never honestly considered myself to be nasty. Whatever people think of me genuinely is sort of irrelevant. Judging a talent show is a job, this is the real world.' He added of his new appointment: '[I wanted to give] a little bit back. Let's be honest, I've got a lot out of what I've done basically from support from the public. They've given me an awful lot. I have a great life, I enjoy my jobs but everything that's happened to me has happened through public support.'

Heather Mills is to compete against a relative of her ex-husband Sir Paul McCartney on the next series of Dancing On Ice, a report has suggested. According to the Sun, show producers have signed up nineteen-year-old actress Emily Atack, who is the daughter of McCartney's cousin Kate Robbins. Mills has already been linked to the ITV skating show in a number of recent press reports. She has also been spotted by pro-celebrity stalkers training at an ice rink close to her home in East Sussex. A source said: 'Heather is currently unaware that Emily is also going on the show. Emily's involvement in the show is supposed to be top secret, but she has been practising. She has never skated before, but touch wood the training is going well and she's not had any accidents so far. Emily's extended family are all very close. She'll have met Paul many times. She'll have met Heather too - though it is doubtful Heather will react well to learning that a relative of Paul's will be competing against her on Dancing On Ice.' Atack is best known for playing Charlotte Hinchcliffe in Channel 4 sitcom The Inbetweeners. Talented family that. Except to Ted Robbins, of course.

Former European and Commonwealth boxing champion Joe Bugner is being lined-up to take part in the new series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, a tabloid report has claimed. The reality show's producers are hoping that the fifty nine-year-old hard man will put in impressive performances in the Bushtucker Trials, according to the Daily Star. A source commented: 'He's still rough and tough.' Bugner (seen right about to get a proper chinning off Muhammed Ali) moved to Australia after retiring from boxing in 1977 (although he did make an - initially quite successful - comeback in the 90s). He went on to open a vineyard with his wife. So, he'll be used to dealing with (and possibly eating) insects. Not an Ant and Dec reference in case you were wondering.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer's legendary queen-of-the-pithy-one-liner, Charisma Carpenter, is to guest-star on a forthcoming episode of Legend of the Seeker. The thirty nine-year-old actress (and pin-up for an entire generation of spotty geeks, including Keith Telly Topping) was best known for her role as Coredlia Chase on Buffy and its spin-off Angel. She will play the warrior Triana in the Sam Raimi-produced Seeker, reports Entertainment Weekly. Since Angel ended in 2005, Charisma has guest-starred on a number of US series as diverse as CSI, Greek, Charmed, the short-lived Back To You and, most memorably, a recurring-role on Veronica Mars.

Elsewhere in Hollywood, the great Robert Wagner will guest star on a forthcoming episode of CBS drama NCIS. The former Hart to Hart actor will play the father of Michael Weatherly's Tony DiNozzo, reports Entertainment Weekly. Wagner most recently had a recurring role on Two and a Half Men. The seventy nine-year-old is slated to appear on the one hundred and fiftieth episode of NCIS, which will be broadcast in January. Interesting, Weatherly once portrayed Wagner - in the 2004 TV movie The Mystery of Natalie Wood.

ITV has said they are 'disappointed' after the Office for Fair Trading raised concerns about its sale of Friends Reunited to Brightsolid Group and have referred the deal to the Competition Commission. The OFT said it did not believe there would be enough competition in the genealogy market now or in future to prevent the merged company from reducing services or raising prices. The other main competitor in the UK is Ancestry.co.uk. The Competition Commission is expected to make its report by 16 April 2010. OFT senior director of mergers Amelia Fletcher said the growing interest in genealogy 'made this an increasingly important market. The proposed acquisition would see the three main providers of online genealogy services reduced to two and we are concerned this could lead to a reduction in choice or service for consumers.' In a statement to the stock exchange, ITV said it noted the decision and was 'disappointed by the outcome.'

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have defended their decision to kill off Juliet Burke on Lost. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the show's producers described writing the character out as 'really painful. As the story is now nearing its conclusion, some characters just aren't going make it all the way to the end,' Cuse said. 'Even beloved characters aren't going make it all the way. And sometimes we have to do things that are painful, like killing Juliet, because that's what makes the story feel like the stakes are genuine, and people feel invested that characters who are beloved can actually perish on our show. It was an enormously powerful story that concluded the entire season of the show. So she was sacrificed in service of the story, and I think was hugely responsible for the season being viewed as successful because that was how it ended.' The pair then went on to praise Elizabeth Mitchell, with Lindelof declaring that 'we just love working with Elizabeth.' Cuse added: '[Juliet] will always loom as one of our favorite characters, and even more importantly, favorite people that we've ever worked with on this show.'

EastEnders actress June Brown has said that she cried when she heard castmate Barbara Windsor had decided to leave the soap. Windsor announced that she had decided to leave earlier this week, explaining that she wanted to spend more time with her family. Brown, who plays Dot Cotton on the programme, told the People: 'It really feels like a death in the family. When Bar told me, we both broke into tears and gave each other a big hug. I really can't face life on the show without her. There will still be a few months with Bar around, but when she finally leaves it will be a very sad day for us all. She was more like a sister than a colleague. It will be strange walking into the Queen Vic and not seeing her beaming smile behind the bar.'

Meanwhile, the EastEnders executive producer, Diederick Santer, will step down in February and will be replaced by former Hollyoaks producer Bryan Kirkwood. Santer, who has held the role for almost three and a half years, will leave the soap after its Twenty Fifth anniversary celebrations in February and March. He will continue to work for BBC Drama production as an executive producer with special responsibility for developing new shows that can be internationally co-produced. Santer will be tasked with identifying and developing dramas that can be made in-house in conjunction with BBC Worldwide in Los Angeles. Santer said he had had a fantastic time working in 'the best job in telly,' and that he was delighted to be passing the show on to Kirkwood. 'Bryan's a vastly talented and original producer with a brilliant storylining mind,' he said.

Former Coronation Street actress Angela Griffin has reconfirmed her interest in being part of the soap's Fiftieth anniversary celebrations. The thirty three-year-old, who played hairdresser Fiona Middleton for five years in the mid-1990s, told the Press Association that she would like to attend the show's birthday party at the very least. Asked if fans could expect to see her back, Griffin replied: 'If I get invited. Hopefully they'll just have a big party. I love a party.' The actress added that Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald), Tracy Shaw (Maxine Peacock) and Glen Hugill (Alan McKenna) are among the former co-stars she has been in contact with recently. She said: 'I saw Simon at the TV Quick Awards, I don't know if he remembers anything about the conversation that I had with him. I speak to Tracy Shaw every so often and the lovely Glen Hugill was at the TV Quick Awards and we text each other as well, so I keep in touch vaguely.' In March, Griffin claimed that she was a 'terrible' actress in Coronation Street and wanted to redeem herself with a new stint.

The expedition guide for a BBC children's programme tracing the footsteps of African explorer David Livingstone has died after being charged by an elephant, the corporation has announced. Anton Turner, aged thirty eight, was assisting with the filming of an episode of the CBBC series Serious Explorers in Tanzania on Saturday at the time of the tragedy, a spokeswoman said. 'We understand at this stage that he was charged by an elephant and was mortally injured,' she added. A doctor was travelling with the expedition and treated the British citizen and former army officer at the scene, but it was understood that he died shortly after the incident. Three children were also with the party at the time of the elephant charge, but were airlifted from the area soon after the incident. The BBC spokeswoman added: 'Their safety remains a priority…We are also consulting their parents and production of the programme has ceased. Four other children who were also in Tanzania in connection with the programme will also return home. Anton's relatives have been informed and the BBC is arranging for them to fly to Africa as soon as possible. We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Anton's family and friends.'

Kelly Brook has claimed that TV personalities benefit from 'being mediocre.' The model and occasionally medicore actress told the Guardian that she had been encouraged to tone down her personality when working on TV and in cinema. Errr ... what personality, Kel? Brook said: 'I'm quite loud. When I was in film and TV, people were always saying, "Oh Kelly, make it smaller."' Are you sure they were talking about your performance and not your breast implants, babe? 'I think TV is all about not turning off the public, it's about not being too sexy, not being too much of anything really.' She added: 'The more mediocre you are the better you do because people need to think you're their friend, they don't want to be threatened by you, you've got to be warm, you've got to be not too smart, not too pretty, not too anything.' On the subject of her short-stint as a host on The Big Breakfast in 1999, Brook commented: 'I was eighteen, I've got big boobs, it was my first TV job and people literally sat and scrutinised everything I did and wrote down every mistake. At that age it's hard to deal with. Maybe it was because people thought I hadn't earned it, which I completely respect and understand, but it still was a bit harsh.' Regarding her sacking as a judge after an equally short space of time on Britain's Got Talent, she continued: 'It upset me a bit but it didn't really change my life. I find it really hard to work in TV in this country. It's never worked out for me. There's a lot of jealousy, a lot of egos, a lot of backstabbing, it's not a very nice environment. That's what I've found.' So, hired twice, fired twice and that's because you're not 'mediocre' is the general message, if I understand you correctly? Hmmm ... interesting theory.

Coastal Productions, the Robson Green-owned independent production company behind Place of Execution and Wire in the Blood, is to make its first foray into feature films with an adaptation of the children's book Ways to Live Forever. The film will star Greta Scacchi, Ben Chaplin and Emilia Fox, and focuses on a young boy with leukaemia who wants to live out his dreams that will include drinking beer and kissing a girl and before he dies. The two million pound movie will be filmed in the North East and is one of the first projects that will be supported by Northern Film & Media's North East Content Fund. Other funding will come from Life & Soul Productions and El Capitan Pictures in Spain. Principal photography on the project began on Monday. Ways to Live Forever is an adaptation of the debut novel from Teesside author Sally Nicholls, which won the Waterstones' children's book prize in 2008. Executive producer Sandra Jobling said: 'We are very excited about facilitating on this feature film, and particularly proud that the Spanish and English Production companies readily embraced the idea of shooting in the North East, where the original novel is set. The initial plan was to shoot a week of exteriors here. But with Will and I showing the way of what was possible, they decided to come and shoot the whole film here.'

The Beatles' entire back catalogue has been made available to buy digitally for the first time. The US-based download site BlueBeat is currently selling the songs, which include the band's recently remastered albums, as well as streaming them for users to listen to as many times as they wish, for free. It is currently unclear as to whether EMI or Apple Corps - who must give permission for The Beatles' music to be sold online - have sanctioned the website to sell the songs, NME reports. A spokesperson for Apple Corps said that she didn't believe BlueBeat had the permission to make the band's back-catalogue available.


Mietek said...

I know you don't like Strictly viewers being called morons, but I'm a bit surprised to find participants from the top of th etable in the dance off week after week. It certainly hints at the possibility that talent isn't the biggest consideration of those voting. Perhaps the format needs a re jig. It's too late for Xfactor, but I like Strictly and would be sad to see it go the way of X factor and other such programmes.

Keith Telly Topping said...

Problem is, and it's the same for ANY TV show, you alienate even a portion of your audience at your absolute peril. The rules on the public voting for Strictly (and X Factor for that matter) are the same this week as they've always been, if those taking part don't like it, then they can lobby for changes for the next series. What you don't do is publicly whinge about it because the public voted to keep someone you didn't want them too. That's the quickest way possible of giving any audience an excuse to say "bugger this for a lark, I'm off to watch something else." Len Goodman said it himself: 'I know the public can vote for whoever they want.' Well, yes, they can. So why question whom they *have* voted for? That's self-defeating and, ultimately, rude!

DanielB said...

Demetri is John Cho, Keith - Mark is Joseph Fiennes! Apologies from Pedants' Corner.