Friday, November 13, 2009

A Rumble In The Jungle

Among the numerous excellent performances in Collision over the last four nights - and, we're talking about people like Douggie Henshall, Paul McGann, Phil Davis, Claire Rushbrook, Lucy Griffiths et al here. So those should hardly be a surprise - yer Keith Telly Topping was delighted to see one of his favourite comedy actors turn up in episode four playing hugely against type. The excellent Ben Crompton, from Ideal, put in a haunted, oddly sympathetic, and quite superb performance as the man who caused the traffic collision which killed John Tollie's wife and crippled his daughter a year ago. Yet another finely observed jigsaw piece in what is rapidly turning into one of British TV's drama highlights of the year. It took an episode to get going, admittedly, and you've got to concentrate on it because there are so many stories running into and out of each other but the pace of Anthony Horowitz's complex, multi-layered script has really picked up and seems to be heading towards a thrilling conclusion tonight. Well done ITV - this blog has criticised the network a lot over the last year for much of its output, and it'll probably do so again before the week is out! And not undeservedly, either. But credit where it's due, when they get it right, it's usually worth watching.

And, still on the subject of Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, wasn't it great to see Stephen Fry turn up for another dry and stylish turn (his fifth) on Bones this week? And, in an episode that also featured a cameo by Dan Castellaneta to boot. This particular episode could almost have been a keystone for anyone who has only briefly interacted with the show previously in demonstrating just what makes it tick. In the middle of a completely ridiculous murder case about the discovery of the corpse of a wrestling dwarf was a very serious, and sympathetically handled, psychological profile of the two leads relationship with each other. Boreanaz and Emily were, as usual, on top form. And, again, it's well-worth mentioning just how good the supporting cast is in this show. One of the finest on TV in many ways. In this particular case we had John Franics Daley getting pushed slightly more to the forefront than usual. It remains a constant amazement - and a salutory lesson on first impressions - that when Bones started, many critics expected it to last one season, if that. It was CSI-lite and its male lead was a pretty boy who couldn't act. Never - never, dear blog reader - take anything in the wide, wide world of Top Telly Tipping for granted.

Russell Davies has insisted that the upcoming Doctor Who special, The Waters Of Mars, is 'completely child-safe.' The executive producer told ShortList that parents could be more scared than their children during the broadcast. Davies said: 'It's dark in comparison to some episodes but it is completely child-safe. There's no blood or gore but there's a lot of emotion and [psychological] fear, so I think the kids will be alright, but Mum and Dad will be so scared they'll need their hands held!' He added: 'Drama's not safe and it's not pretty and it's not kind. People expect the basic template of television drama where there might be naughty villains, but everyone ends up having a nice cup of tea. You've got to do big moral choices and show the terrible things people do in terrible situations. Drama is failing if it doesn't do that.' Rusty also used the interview to defend the BBC against calls to abolish the licence fee. He said that the BBC is desperately needed in a climate where commercial broadcasters are struggling, noting: 'It makes me laugh that every politician in the land is queuing up to axe the licence fee, when right in front of their eyes a commercial channel can barely afford to broadcast. No-one is putting two and two together. We need a licence fee, you dumbos.' On the subject of negative comparisons made being made between American and British television, he added: 'It's a fucking ridiculous argument. People always say that it's so much better in the US. Listen, they've got brilliant stuff in the US and they've got rubbish stuff in the US, just like over here.' Davies has also confirmed that a fourth series of Torchwood is in the works. Speaking to TV Guide Magazine, the show's creator revealed that he is hoping to get started on the new batch of episodes in January 2010. 'The recession has hit British television, but fingers crossed, it will be a go,' he stated. 'We expect things to start to move in January. We've got great ideas for the show. I think there's a further lease on life for many years to come, but certainly for a [fourth season].' Davies previously said of a possible fourth series: 'I could write you scene one of series four right now. I know exactly how to pick it up. I've got a shape in mind, and I've got stories. I know where you'd find Gwen and Rhys and their baby and Jack. And I know how you'd go forward with a new form of Torchwood.'

Ex-EastEnders actress Lucy Benjamin, American actor George Hamilton and Hollyoaks star Stuart Manning are among the celebrities taking part in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! series nine. They will be joined by TV chef Gino D'Acampo, Strictly Come Dancing champion Camilla Dallerup, snooker player Jimmy White and former Page Three model Sam Fox. Interior designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, ex-Mis-Teeq singer Sabrina Washington and How Clean Is Your House? presenter Kim Woodburn complete the line-up. Christ almighty. That's not even Z-list. That's triple 'who?'-list. 'I am delighted with the celebrities that have agreed to take part this year. They are a fascinating and fun group, who have no idea of what's about to hit them,' said ITV's factual entertainment controller Natalka Znak. I think, what she actually meant to say was 'yes, I know you've probably never heard of half of these people but we've spent most of our money on our big, surprise 'Bringing Jordan back in episode three' strategy that, sadly, the tabloids got wind of in advance. So, this bunch of nobodies were all we could afford.' Or, something like that anyway. 'The surprises come thick and fast in this series and there's a shock in store right from the word go. I can't wait to see how they cope with it all and how they will get on with each other,' she added. Ant and Dec return to host the main show and 2008 'King Of The Jungle' Joe Swash will team up with comic Russell Kane and Caroline Flack for ITV2 spin-off I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here Now!

And, on the subject of the worst kept secret in TV, the female contestants of I'm A Celebrity... have reportedly decided to adopt 'a no-nonsense approach' to Katie Price if and when she deigns to join then in the jungle. According to the Daily Star, former glamour model Sam Fox has formed 'a secret pact' with Camilla Dallerup and singer Sabrina Washington after hearing that Price may join the camp as a late arrival. So, it's not really a secret then, is it? A source said: 'To say Jordan is going to be met with some hostility is an understatement.' That's all right, pal, she's used to it by now. 'She's already put people's noses out of joint and she hasn't even set foot in Australia yet. If she thinks she is going to strut in and run the show, she is in for a massive shock because these lot, especially Sam, are not going to bow down to her. Sam has been there, done that and got the T-shirt, so she's not going to be a pushover.' That'd be the wet T-shirt she got, presumably?

Camilla Dallerup herself, meanwhile, has insisted that she will not shower naked on I'm A Celebrity... Oh, you want to try it Cammy, love, it was one of your new friend Sam's favourite pass-times in the 1980s. However, the Danish professional dancer, thirty five, confessed that she is packing a bikini in an attempt to emulate 2006 contestant Myleene Klass. 'Myleene looked fantastic and I think she did come across so lovely on the show. I think it is important to get a bikini because I certainly will not be showering naked,' she said. 'I shall find one that doesn't fall down when you're showering. But, I have heard that the water is quite cold.' You're a Dane, you should be used to all that malarkey.

Snooker played Jimmy The Whirlwind White has admitted that he would love to win I'm A Celebrity... White claimed that he will use his 'competitive nature' to his advantage whilst he is in the Australian jungle. 'I'm obviously very competitive when I'm playing snooker. This is a competition so I will try and win, I will try and use a few strategies of, you know, staying composed,' he said. 'I shall be going in there to try and win it for sure.' White, who has a phobia of snakes, also stated that entering the reality show does not signal the end of his snooker career. 'I've survived through my love for the game. I've gone off the boil quite a bit through different reasons in life and I've sort of nearly walked away, but I never have because I've always had the love for the game,' he continued. 'I never abused anybody but myself. I did abuse the game a bit because I didn't give it the respect sometimes. During tournaments I'd be drinking and gambling and when I was preparing for tournaments I would be doing the same thing, which was my own fault and I've had to pay the price for that because the talent I've been given and worked on I've not got the full potential from.'

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here Now! host, Caroline Flack, has said that she would love to see Simon Cowell enter the jungle. You, and Dannii Minogue. And Lucie Whatsherface (see, I've forgotten her name already). And about three thousand whinging malcontents on the Internet. And Sting. And ... Anyway, the presenter claimed that the fifty-year-old X Factor judge would be her dream contestant to watch performing bushtucker trials. 'If I could put anyone in the jungle I would pick Simon Cowell,' she said. 'He always seems so prepared for everything so it would be quite nice to see him in a situation where he's completely exposed - warts and all.' Don't be silly, girl. You can't put Simon Cowell in the jungle. He'd frighten all the snakes. Flack also said that she was hoping was some 'jungle romance' on this year's show. 'It would be great to see some romance in the jungle again this year - it's always exciting to see sparks fly on screen and it really gets people talking.' Oh, I'm sure the production can manufacture some if they really want to. Wouldn't be the first time.

And, speaking of Dannii Minogue, the least famous of the Minogue sisters has attempted to rally public support for her last remaining X Factor act, Stacey Solomon. The Australian singer confirmed that she is still optimistic about her chances of being the winning mentor this in year's series, despite losing Welsh singer Lucie Jones (ah yes, that was her) in controversial circumstances on Sunday. Minogue told Metro: 'Don't be angry, get voting for the only girl left in the competition. Pick up the phone - you know you want to vote for Stacey Solomon. I've been a good girl this year and have asked Santa to put Stacey's number one single in my Christmas stocking.' By the way, eagle-eyed blog readers may notice the small bruise of Stacey's left thigh in this photo. Can it be that cruel, wicked, black-hearted Dannii treats her acts as badly as Simon Cowell treats her? We cannot know for certain, we can only speculate. And, perhaps, write some saucy fan fiction about just such a scenario. Anyway ...

BBC2 has picked up US comedy series Nurse Jackie. The Edie Falco-fronted Showtime comedy-drama, which follows the drug-addicted titular character in her job in a New York City emergency room, will make its British terrestrial debut early next year. BBC2's controller, Janice Hadlow, said of the acquisition: 'It's great to be able to bring one of the best quality, intelligent US comedies featuring actors of the very highest calibre to a discerning British audience.'

Natalie Cassidy has revealed that she is worried about how she will balance her Strictly Come Dancing commitments with EastEnders when she returns to the soap. The actress, who is due to begin filming next week, said that she did not expect to still be in the dance contest by the time she started back at work in Walford. She told Radio1: 'I'm going to be so busy - when I said I'd go back [to EastEnders] for a little while I didn't think that I'd still be dancing. I really thought I'd be gone by now. It's going to be a bit manic.' Well, there's one really easy way to solve all of your scheduling problems, Nat. Make sure your dance with Vincent on Saturday night is really rubbish. Then, I think, you'll find the British public will happily do the rest. Let's face it, it's either her or Ricky Groves going this week.

EastEnders favourites Ricky Butcher and Bianca Jackson are to tie the knot on the soap for a second time. The show's producers have confirmed that the divorced couple's latest love-twist will begin at Christmas when Ricky, played by Sid Owen, decides to pop the question to his childhood sweetheart with the paint-tripper voice. Their wedding will take place in February to coincide with the soap's Twenty Fifth anniversary celebrations. A source told the Mirror: 'Ricky and Bianca getting hitched again is what viewers have been dreaming of from the moment they arrived back in Albert Square. This will hopefully be the happy ending everyone is waiting for. We could well be looking at the greatest love story ever told. It's going to be emotional.' So is the end of Apocalypse Now, what's your point? The new storyline is expected to be the cause of the Jackson family's forthcoming Walford reunion. It was announced last month that Lindsey Coulson (Carol), Natalie Cassidy (Sonia) and Dean Gaffney (Robbie) will all be returning to EastEnders in the early part of next year. Meanwhile, the programme's producers have also confirmed that a spin-off DVD focusing on preparations for the nuptials is to be released in February. The one-off release, titled EastEnders: Last Tango In Walford, will see Bianca's daughter Tiffany (Maisie Smith) arranging the Jacksons' Albert Square comeback. It will also feature archive footage charting Ricky and Bianca's (Patsy Palmer) rocky romance and interviews with cast members. Order your copy now. Or, wait till about April when you'll be able to pick it up anywhere for £2.99.

Minnie Driver has signed up for a guest role on ABC's Modern Family, according to Entertainment Weekly. The thirty nine-year-old Riches actress will reportedly play a friend and former co-worker of Claire in an episode scheduled for broadcast in January. The pair will apparently meet up after years of being out of contact only to discover that things are not how they remembered.

BBC4 is to investigate the truth behind the cliché 'every child needs a father' in a series of films about fatherhood. In the sixty-minute documentary Who Needs Dads?, child psychologist Laverne Antrobus, who previously fronted the series Growing Babies for the channel, will explore the psychological impact of a father-figure on a family and the 'extraordinary hidden biological changes' that occur in fathers and their children. Gabriella Polletta will direct the film for Pioneer Productions. The company's managing director Stuart Carter will executive produce the film with the BBC's Cassian Harrison. Century Films is also about to enter production on a single documentary examining Contact Centres - the institutions in which divorcees who do not live with their children can spend time with them in a safe environment while avoiding direct contact with their former partners.

The creators of Kath & Kim have announced that they are currently working on a new show. Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who write and star in the Australian comedy, said that although they are writing material for the hit characters, they are not sure what form the new series will take. Turner told AAP: 'We've laid low for a couple of years. I've been trying to live down Kath. I can't live her down so she's just come back.' She added: 'We love doing them so we'll find a spot for them somewhere hopefully again.'

BBC2 has ordered a second series of Monty Halls' Great Escape from Tigress Productions. The marine biologist will head to the Outer Hebrides to become a countryside ranger on remote archipelago the Uists, where he will combine running his own croft with a variety of conservation projects. Knowledge commissioning executive Nick Shearman ordered the six episode series with head of documentaries Charlotte Moore, ahead of the show's expected transmission sometime in 2010.

BBC's head of science John Lynch is to step down from his post at the end of this year and will leave the BBC altogether in 2010 after delivering a major landmark series about the history of science. Horizon editor Andrew Cohen will take over Lynch's role and is looking to expand BBC3's science slate in particular. Lynch, who has headed the science unit for nearly a decade, has yet to decide on his next move, but is said to be likely to mix 'passion projects' for television with writing books and other roles that 'bring media and science to a better mutual understanding.' He will remain with the BBC into the spring to executive produce the six-part BBC2 series Science Story.

The Writers' Guild has advised TV executives to 'Google' writers they have not worked with before, give feedback within eight weeks and to leave their 'internal politics' out of script editing, in a new 'good practice guide to working with TV writers.' The seventeen-point code, penned by The Baker Street Boys writer Anthony Read, updates the Guild's 2002 guidelines and touches on issues raised over the summer by writers who complained BBC executives were issuing too many, often contradictory, notes because of fears over compliance breaches. Great. God only had Ten Commandments, this bloke's got seventeen. Writers, see. More verbose than the almighty! As you will have read in this blog the other day, dear blog reader, dramatist Stephen Poliakoff added his voice to the debate this week, writing in the Radio Times that the BBC's 'Kafkaesque' committees are in danger of obscuring 'deeper poetic truths' in historical dramas through their obsession with factual accuracy. Once again, Keith Telly Topping wonders if Stephen wouldn't, perhaps, prefer working in a sodding Call Centre instead of his current job - being given a lot of money by someone to write a piece of fiction for them and then complaining when he's asked if he can do something a bit differently. The Writers' Guild guide tells executive to 'take the time to edit and prioritise [notes] into one coherent and logical set,' and warns against unnecessary comments: 'Beware of imposing changes solely for reasons of personal taste or internal politics; a script is like a knitted jumper - start pulling what seems to be a loose thread and you may end up unravelling the entire garment.' And the problem with that, is...? Surely it's a writer's job not to leave any loose ends dangling, as it were? It also reminds executives to acknowledge draft scripts and to respond quickly. 'It is unprofessional to make a writer wait for long periods while you accumulate other stories from which to choose. The producer should agree a response time - ideally no more than six to eight weeks,' states the guide. Of course, the BBC's likely repose to receiving this 'guide' is, rightly, to park it in the nearest bin and carry on doing exactly what it has been. Some people just do not seem able to grasp how privileged they are to work in television in the first place.

Being Human will move to Wales if a third series gets the greenlight, in line with plans by Touchpaper Television to open a new office in Cardiff. However, Touchpaper Scotland's head, Kate Croft, is leaving the company to work for Shed Media, which means that the RDF-owned drama specialist is now in search of a new head for its Scottish subsidiary. Touchpaper Wales will open its doors at the end of the year and will be overseen by newly promoted Head of Drama Phil Trethowan, who will report to Touchpaper managing director Rob Pursey. The company has already started work on the third series of Being Human and has held talks with the BBC about relocating the BBC3 show from its current Bristol base if, as expected, it gets the greenlight for more episodes.

Charlie Brooker has been named as the writer and host of a new comedy panel series for Radio 4. The five-part So Wrong It's Right is the first radio show to be commissioned by Endemol UK. Each episode will see Brooker awarding points for the most absurd or incorrect responses to his questions.

Fears are said to be mounting among ITV Studios staff that more job cuts are imminent, with a meeting to announce a restructure of the production unit expected to take place next Tuesday. Whilst the extent of the changes is as yet unclear, senior figures have told Broadcast magazine that millions of pounds need to be saved. Measures could include merging the factual and entertainment departments into one unit and cutting dozens of back-office roles. The expected cuts follow the eighteen staff made redundant from the production unit's Tonight team late last month, the departure of director of factual and entertainment Jim Allen in June and the closure of ITV's Leeds office in March this year. Despite the challenges, ITV Studios has been one of the few divisions of ITV to maintain its revenues in 2009, helped by sales of successful formats such as I'm A Celebrity..., Dancing on Ice, Coronation Street, Four Weddings and Come Dine With Me.

The CW will package the forthcoming two-part Justice Society-themed episode of Smallville as a TV movie. The episodes, titled Society and Legends, will air on 29 January according to Entertainment Weekly. Comics author Geoff Johns has written the episodes, which will feature DC Comics characters Stargirl, Hawkman, Dr Fate, the Martian Manhunter and Amanda Waller. Pam Grier, Stargate's Michael Shanks, Brent Stait, Britt Irvin and Phil Morris are to guest star.

EastEnders favourite Charlie Clements has decided to leave the BBC soap after nearly four years, it has been revealed. The twenty two-year-old, who has played Bradley Branning since January 2006, is to leave in a 'sensational storyline' that will play out as part of the soap's Twenty Fifth anniversary celebrations in February. Clements said of his decision: 'I have been at EastEnders for nearly four years and I have enjoyed every minute with some fantastic storylines. But I feel that now is the time to take on some new roles.' EastEnders' executive producer Diederick Santer added: 'Viewers will miss Charlie hugely and I can promise a big exit. I know he'll go on to great things.'

BBC2 plans to broadcast regular thirty-minute dramas at 10pm and is on the hunt for more 'smart' returning series to stop the channel's drama output feeling 'too bitty.' The extra hours will be funded by the new seven million pound injection of cash for BBC2 drama over the next three years. BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow also called for more 'character-led' pieces with the potential to become long-running fixtures in the schedule, comparable to This Life or Our Friends In The North. She also reiterated her plea for genre dramas in the vein of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and singled out the Ecosse Films adaptation of Kate Atkinson's Behind The Scenes At The Museum as a particularly promising drama in development. Ben Stephenson, controller of drama commissioning, said he wants to bolster the corporation's roster of 'sophisticated' returnable series to fill out the middle-ground between its highbrow, short-lived singles and serials, and the more populist continuing drama series. BBC2 had a hit with the six-part Desperate Romantics, but its drama slate is otherwise dominated by so-called 'event dramas.' The highlights of its winter/spring drama season are Royal Wedding, a one-off by Tiger Aspect, and the two-part adaptation of Martin Amis' Money, produced in-house.

The war of words between STV and ITV appeared to have entered a new phase, with both sides declaring that the current networking arrangements should be torn up to make way for a strictly commercial partnership. STV's chief executive Rob Woodward told Broadcast that he wanted to see a complete overhaul of the current networking arrangements to bring STV, Channel TV and UTV in line with Ireland's TV3, which enjoys 'a straightforward commercial relationship' with ITV. 'TV3 buys access to the ITV schedule, it can schedule as it wants, it can weave in its own programming or acquired programming - that to me looks like a productive template,' he said. 'We need to have a more straightforward way of working which, at the same time, would address some of the tensions within the current structure.' An ITV spokesman 'warmly welcomed' Woodward's 'sensible suggestion,' adding that STV was currently 'attempting to get the full benefits of being a member of the network without carrying its fair share of the financial obligations.'

Wife Swap and How Clean Is Your House? have become the latest Channel 4 formats to fall victim to the broadcaster's plan to clear the decks for new shows over the next eighteen months. The shows, made by RDF Television and Talkback Thames respectively, have aired since 2003 but will not return next year. Their demise follows Channel 4's decision in August to end Big Brother, freeing around two hundred and thirty hours for 2011. The move echoes C4's last 'creative renewal' in 2007, when Julian Bellamy cleared 9pm slots by resting Celebrity Big Brother and ending shows such as You Are What You Eat and Brat Camp.

Coronation Street veteran Liz Dawn has thanked doctors for saving her life as she opened a research unit for patients with lung diseases. The actress, who played Vera Duckworth in the soap, said that she owes her life to staff at Wythenshawe Hospital, where she unveiled the new three million pound centre. Dawn was diagnosed with emphysema in 2004, but she thought that the symptoms were just asthma until she paid a visit to the clinic. She reserved particular praise for professor Ashley Woodcock, who she claimed was instrumental in her treatment and recovery. 'I only had a third of my lungs working when I first came here. I was in a bad way and I had pneumonia twice,' she told the Mirror.

David Dimbleby missed chairing BBC1's Question Time for the first time in more than fifteen years last night after being injured in a 'minor farming accident.' How very Spinal Tap! The seventy one-year-old presenter was loading whilst a bullock onto a trailer at his farm in Sussex when it reared, resulting in Dimbles being briefly knocked out. He also received a cut to the head which required stitches at a local hospital. John Humphrys replaced Dimbleby in the chair on Thursday, while he remained in hospital for observation. 'I haven't missed a Question Time in over fifteen years,' Dimbleby said. 'Trust my wife's bullock to take me out. I'll be giving bullocks a wide berth in future,' he added. Probably not bollocks, though. The BBC stressed that the presenter's stay in hospital was 'just a precaution,' and that is not unusual for a patient suffering concussion. He is recovering well, they said, and should return home shortly. Personally, I'd prefer to wait until a doctor gave me a diagnosis on the expected recovery time rather than a TV company spokesperson.

Head of Channel 4 Julian Bellamy has promised a 'memorable' end to Big Brother. The broadcaster announced in the summer that next year's series would be the last of the reality show. The Guardian quotes Bellamy as saying: 'Both Celebrity Big Brother and Big Brother will go out with a bang. We are playing our cards close to our chest. Rest assured it will be a memorable exit.'

Bobby Davro has reportedly signed up to compete in the next series of Dancing On Ice. The comedian (well, I suppose if we stretch a point) and former EastEnders actor has been training for the ITV skating show since July, according to the Sun. A source said: 'Bobby is a well-known figure from his comedy days and built up a whole new fanbase on EastEnders. It will be great to see how he fares on the ice.'

Sharon Osbourne has reportedly apologised for getting 'a cheap laugh' at the expense of Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle. Osbourne recently said that Boyle 'looked like a hairy arsehole' and 'slapped arse' and also suggested that God had hit Boyle 'with the fucking ugly stick.' According to the Daily Mail, Osbourne has since said: 'Susan Boyle is a lovely gracious woman and I took advantage of that by poking fun at her. I would never want to be responsible for hurting Susan and I must apologise for getting a cheap laugh at her expense.' Big of you, Shaz. Particularly considering that your own boat-race isn't, exactly an oil painting.

The Sun's Jeremy Clarkson, the Guardian's Charlie Brooker and the Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn are the UK national press's most 'valuable' columnists online, according to a new report. The report, by Continental Research, argued that micropayment systems would be more palatable to consumers than monthly or annual subscription systems. But three-quarters of consumers who would consider paying for digital newspaper content would be willing to pay only ten pence or less per article. Continental asked respondents to choose which columnists whose content they would be most to likely pay for online. Clarkson came out on top, followed by Brooker, Littlejohn, The Times's Giles Coren and Simon Heffer of the Daily Telegraph. people are willing to pay to read Littlejohn? Why? All you need to do is go into your nearest pub and seek out the aggressive bigotted mouthy bastard at the bar and you've got access to everything he has has to say for himself for free.

Almost thirty thousand people across the UK still tune into their favourite programmes on black and white TV sets. The figures were released by TV Licensing to mark the Fortieth anniversary of the first colour transmissions on BBC1 and ITV. The twenty eight thousand black and white licence holders included one thousand nine hundred and fifty in Scotland. The figures showed the black and white sets have not yet been consigned to history despite the rise of flat-screens and the iPlayer. While the figures show there is still some life in the oldest TV equipment, BBC statistics show that emerging technologies are changing the way many of us watch television. In September, the BBC iPlayer attracted more than one million unique users a day, who watched a total of sixty million TV programmes on the Internet using computers, smart phones and games consoles, as well as on televisions equipped with the Virgin Media set-top boxes.

Six teenage pupils have been taken to hospital with ethanol poisoning after copying a storyline they saw in Waterloo Road. Five girls and a boy are currently being treated after they found and consumed the pure alcohol on the premises of Aldridge School, Walsall, the council said. They told their head teacher they had watched an episode of Waterloo Road in which pupils made ethanol cocktails. A BBC spokesman said the BBC1 series tackled issues of the day responsibly.

Johnny Lydon has admitted that Public Image Ltd's upcoming tour is only going ahead because of the money he made from starring in a Country Life butter TV advert. The frontman of the recently reformed group said that he is 'living on the lucky end of a shoestring' until the band receive the funds for their first gig, scheduled to take place in Birmingham on 15 December. 'The money I got from that advert is the advance on this,' he told the Camden New Journal. Lydon went on to defend his appearance in the commercials, saying that people should understand that he agreed to the advert as it allowed him to bankroll the group's tour.

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