Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Vote For We

David Tennant is set to make his American television debut in the lead role of a comedy legal drama. The former Doctor Who will star as a Chicago lawyer who suffers from panic attacks and coaches his clients to represent themselves in court. The NBC hour-long pilot is titled Rex Is Not Your Lawyer. David Semel, who directed the pilot for successful TV series Heroes, will helm the production. Tennant's last episodes as the Doctor will be screened within the next two months. 'I think it's better to go when there's a chance that people might miss you, rather than to hang around and outstay your welcome,' he said. Tennant made his name in TV dramas such as Blackpool and Casanova. He started his career in theatre and in recent months has returned to the stage with well-received performances in Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Meanwhile, Tennant's appearance boosted ratings for The Sarah Jane Adventures by around thirty per cent last week, according to overnight viewing figures. The Doctor's role in The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith - which also starred Nigel Havers - was watched by 1.14m at 4.35pm on Friday. The first half of the story, in which Tennant appeared in the final scene, had brought in 1.27m the day before. The previous week's episodes had managed figures of around seven hundred thousand.

And, speaking of series with unexpectedly impressive ratings, Benidorm is currently becoming something of a surprise hit for ITV on Friday nights. Which is great - it's a jolly good (and very funny) show - but it does, sadly, mean that the audience of The Armstrong and Miller Show on BBC1 is being squeezed as a result. And, it has to be said that, despite Benidorm's many excellent qualities, of the two, yer Keith Telly Topping vastly prefers Xander and Ben's effortlessly witty little sketch show. With its array of smart random jokes and wry genre pranks and all that stuff. And shit. Isn't it? And he's not lying, neither.

MasterChef is said to be finally heading to the States - featuring Gordon Ramsay. The FOX network has picked up the rights from Reveille, part of the Shine Group whose subsidiary Shine Television produces the long-running cookery show in Britain. The series will run either twelve or fifteen hour-long episodes and will be co-produced with Ramsay's US production company, One Potato Two Potato. Ramsay will appear on the show in a role that has yet to be specified. The celebrity chef, who already features in FOX's Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, will also host a live hour-long special, Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live, for the network on 15 December. The details of the MasterChef show are still in the process of being finalised but it is expected to resemble Australian MasterChef, which shares more in common with The X Factor than the BBC version of the show. Australian MasterChef invites amateurs from around the country to audition for a slot on the series by creating a new dish for a panel of three judges. The successful candidates then proceed to a knock out competition. MasterChef Australia was always seen as a potential way of launching the franchise in the US, but it also performed phenomenally well in its own right. The series final secured more than a seventy per cent audience share down under when it was broadcast earlier this year, the biggest audience share of any non-sporting event that the country has even seen. Shine has been looking at a US launch for MasterChef for some years, and appears to see this as a key to launching the format worldwide. The group has been building the MasterChef brand in the UK with a trio of spin-offs: MasterChef the Professionals, Celebrity MasterChef and most recently Junior MasterChef for CBBC.

Zöe Lucker has admitted that she was 'gutted' over the circumstances of her dramatic exit from Strictly Come Dancing at the weekend. The Footballers' Wives actress made a surprise departure from the show after finding herself, unexpectedly, in the dance-off with Ali Bastian. Lucker, and her professional partner James Jordan, had earlier scored thirty two points out of forty for their samba routine. Speaking on It Takes Two, she said: 'It's such an emotional, amazing journey and experience. And then it just stops. It's a weird thing to come to terms with. You get so used to working with this person everyday, and me and James get on so well, we're very sad and we're grieving.' When asked why they thought the public didn't vote for them, Jordan replied: 'It is a dancing show, but at the same time it is about popularity. I don't mean that in a horrible way. People are just trying to save the celebrities in a vulnerable position - like Craig Kelly - to make sure they come back next week. When you are near the top of the leaderboard, people think you are safe and don't vote. That's the way it works unfortunately.'

Strictly producers have reportedly decided not to separate warring judges Craig Revel Horwood and Len Goodman. The experts clashed on Saturday night's show after Horwood claimed that ex-EastEnders actor Ricky Groves had danced in 'a very conceited' manner. Goodman was seen pointing his finger angrily towards his fellow judge before branding his remark unconstructive. Public hopes that the pair would take it outside for a rumble in the car park were, however, dashed by the intervention of Brucie saying 'leave it, Len, he's not worth it.' Sacked Strictly judge, Arlene Phillips (remember her?) has since called for the pair to be kept apart in future. However, according to the Mirror, show producers do not intend to change the seating order. An insider joked: 'We might keep a bucket of water handy in case sparks fly.' Goodman accused Horwood of acting like a bully on It Takes Two earlier in the week. However, the choreographer made no apologies for his criticism. Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast programme, Horwood said: 'Len gets very attached to the contestants and I, of course, try to avoid that so I can judge properly. When you're dancing like a robot, as Ricky was, I think that's got to be mentioned.' Subsequently, in an interview with Heat magazine Goodman mocked his fellow judges for wearing too much make-up. He that he does not understand why Revel Horwood and Tonioli are 'so obsessed with eye shadow and eyeliner and God only knows what. Bruno and Craig have the most make-up on, I really don't get it and would rather have nothing on if I could. They go to town, though, and when they get back to their dressing rooms, they slap on even more of their own.'

So, Len and Craig won't be separated. But, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue were on The X Factor's judging panel at the weekend because Simon Cowell found their interactions boring, a report has claimed. Minogue was ordered to swap seats with Louis Walsh before Saturday's show. The new seating order remained in place for the following night's episode. A source has now told the Daily Record: 'It was on Simon's say-so. He wasn't that happy with the show a week ago. He felt it was a bit boring and decided it needed shaking up a bit. So he opted to move Louis up the panel this week and Dannii down to the end. He just doesn't think there is enough banter and interaction between the girls - they lack chemistry. It's certainly ruffled feathers - Louis is quite relaxed about the move but Dannii was not at all happy.' Cowell was said to have 'raged' at Cole and Minogue backstage after a recent live episode. Press reports at the time claimed that he had ordered the pair to stop treating The X Factor 'like a fashion show.'

The X Factor's terrible-twins (allegedly) John and Edward Grimes will sing Ray Parker Jr's hit 'Ghostbusters' on this coming weekend's show. The Irish brothers have been rehearsing the song, which was used in the Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd film of the same name, in preparation for Saturday's Songs From The Movies theme. According to the Mirror, the duo will wear the jumpsuits made famous by the film. Songs From The Movies was last used on The X Factor in 2007, when winner Neon-Leon Jackson performed Michael Bublé's 'Home.' The year before, Leona Lewis memorably sang 'Lady Marmalade' and gave all the lads watching the horn. Well, she did. What you all looking at me like that for? Producers have reportedly denied suggestions that John and Edward have been 'set up' to win The X Factor from the earliest phases of this year's show. The twins won their place at Boot Camp after auditioning in Glasgow in May, but Irish TV footage has also shown the duo present at the London O2 auditions three days earlier, the Sun reports. However, a show spokeswoman said: 'There is always a pre-audition in front of the judges. They did a pre-audition in London then were asked to audition for the judges. They were given a choice of Glasgow or London. They couldn't make London so they went to Glasgow.'

The mother of X Factor contestant Danyl Johnson has defended her son against allegations of bullying. Marie Burgess told New magazine that she is 'surprised and disappointed' by the tabloid rumours that Johnson has faced in recent weeks. Louis Walsh publicly accused Johnson of bullying the girl group Kandy Rain last month. The group later described the singing schoolteacher as 'fake and arrogant.' Meanwhile, celebrity X Factor fan Derren Brown has said he hopes Danyl wins the competition. The illusionist, who appeared as a guest on last weekend's Xtra Factor, wrote on his blog that he is a big fan of the singer. Brown said: 'Danyl is delightful. If he is at all cocky then he shares it with the other over-twenty fives. All the contestants have been thrown into the same revolting world of instant celebrity that ruins so many and they all deal with it according to their means. The older singers just seem to lap it up a little more. They are already acting like celebrities in a way that the younger ones are not.' He added: 'Of course to a public that feels (probably wrongly) that they are creating these stars, there is something more endearing about the baffled humility of the younger contestants.' Meanwhile, another pro-celebrity X Factor commentator, Ian Wright, has described the judges as 'a joke.' Well, you'd certainly know all about that, Wrighty. Stick to trying to improve your own show's three hundred thousand audience before you start criticising something that's getting over thirteen million.

Heather Mills has responded angrily to a newspaper journalist who accused her of using the fact that she has a prosthetic limb for sympathy. The ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney was pictured with her left trouser-leg rolled up as she trained for ITV skating show Dancing On Ice last week. Daily Mail columnist, and right nasty piece of work, Amanda Platell commented: 'Heather Mills is so desperate to get on to the TV series Dancing On Ice that she has recruited a trainer and is out practising on the local ice rink. One question: Why does she roll up one trouser leg to show her prosthetic limb, yet leaves the other leg covered? Not still milking the sympathy vote, are we, pet?' Mills has hit back at the journalist on her Twitter page, accusing Platell of being offensive and ignorant. Yep. Sounds about right. The former model complained: 'Amanda Platell is why women are given a bad name. Ignorant and lazy journalist Amanda Platell slates me for trying to skate with one limb. She said I kept my trouser leg rolled up to show off my prosthetic, UNTRUE. It was rolled up so Bob Watts the prosthetist could see the alignment and work out why I could not do crossovers without catching my blade and falling over. If the lazy woman did her homework, she would understand how near impossible it is to skate with one limb to raise money for a needy charity programme, and she would know this was a private lesson, no cameras allowed, someone obviously sneaked a pic and she presumes the worst. How about a face to face, Ms Platell?' Are you offering her out for a fight, Heather? Cos, I've got to say, I reckon Amanda could probably chin you with one hand tied behind her back. You're a welterweight, she's a bit bigger. Not that beating up a cripple is a particularly nice thing for anyone to do or, indeed, for anyone to even contemplate doing. However, unlike most people who get abused by the Daily Mail, most individuals actually couldn't give a monkey's stuff about what they say about Mills, who lost her left leg after being hit by a police motorbike in 1993.

Unlike, say, the Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet who has accepted twenty five thousand pounds libel damages over a claim made by the Mail that she lied about her exercise regime. Now, that's more like the Mail we know and loathe. The settlement was reportedly agreed at London's High Court on Tuesday, but the actress was not present for the hearing. In May, the thirty four-year-old filed legal papers saying she was 'distressed and embarrassed' by the feature. In a statement Kate said: 'I am delighted that the Mail have apologised for making false allegations about me.' She added: 'I was particularly upset to be accused of lying about my exercise regime and felt that I had a responsibility to request an apology in order to demonstrate my commitment to the views that I have always expressed about body issues, including diet and exercise. I strongly believe that women should be encouraged to accept themselves as they are, so to suggest that I was lying was an unacceptable accusation of hypocrisy.'

David Walliams has revealed that he and Matt Lucas are working on a new series. Which will, hopefully, be a bit funnier than the last one they wrote together. The Little Britain duo are currently scripting a combination sketch-comedy and sitcom, which is expected to broadcast in late 2010, BBC News reports. He said: 'We're really, really excited and just sort of starting work on that now, so hopefully that will be on towards the end of next year. We're confident about it and really pleased with how it's going. But it's very early days.' HBO, which aired the wretched Little Britain USA last year, will co-produce the as-yet-untitled project along with the BBC. Walliams continued: '[HBO] really loved Little Britain USA and wanted us to do more but we felt we wanted to do something fresh. Especially for our audience in Britain.' The thirty eight-year-old added that the creative process is his way of helping Lucas cope with the death of ex-husband Kevin McGee, saying: 'We try and make each other laugh.'

Debra Stephenson has revealed that she had sleepless nights after signing up for her Impressions Show project. The former Coronation Street actress recently teamed up with Jon Culshaw for the eight-part BBC1 Saturday night series. Stephenson told the Mirror that the idea stemmed back from their time on Comic Relief Does Fame Academy in 2005. She explained: 'I did a few impressions in the Fame Academy house in front of Jon and we really connected. It was his idea to do the show, and after I left Corrie he got in touch and it went from there. I feel so deeply flattered that he even wanted to work with me. It's really great fun, but I have been worried too. I've had many sleepless nights worrying about whether I'll be able to pull it off.'

BBC World News is now attracting a larger peaktime audience in Europe than American international channel CNN. Figures from a survey of Europe's top earners and decision makers show that in the 6am-9am slot the average audience for World News has risen by twenty four per cent year on year, from fifty one thousand to sixty three thousand. CNN's audience on the other hand fell from sixty four thousand to sixty thousand. In the 7pm-8pm slot, viewing figures for BBC World News rose by forty seven percent year and it is now Europe's most popular news channel, in both morning and evening peak. A delighted Sian Kevill, director BBC World News, said: 'It's a terrific milestone in our relatively short life as a global news channel. This proves that European audiences are now actively seeking our content at the most competitive time of day.' Kevill attributes the audience growth to a strengthened schedule, which includes extending World News Today with Zeinab Badawi to an hour and putting presenters like Jonathan Charles on the road in places like Moscow and Frankfurt. 'I think that has helped to create underlying credibility and illustrate our commitment to international reporting,' she added. The channel has come a long way over the past five years, she continued, but there is still 'more to do' and further schedule changes are planned in the New Year. BBC World News, which attracts seventy four million viewers a week, is available in more than two hundred countries and territories worldwide and reaches two hundred and ninety two million households and more than one-and-a-half million hotel rooms. Its content is also available on eighty cruise ships, forty two airlines, thirty five mobile phone networks and a number of online platforms.

Over seven million viewers in the Granada TV region will make the transition from analogue to digital television on Wednesday in the biggest overnight change in UK TV history to date. Shortly after midnight on 4 November, analogue BBC2 will be switched off at the Winter Hill transmitter and its seventy local transmitters covering households in five major North West cities, including Manchester and Liverpool. On 2 December, the remaining analogue channels - BBC1, ITV, Channel 4 and Five - will be permanently switched off, with Freeview signals boosted in their place. Around five hundred thousand viewers will gain access to the Freeview platform in the process. After it started a year ago in Cumbria and the Scottish borders, the digital switchover has transferred TV services of over four million viewers in the UK. However, that will increase dramatically with the switch of over seven million viewers in the Granada TV region alone. Research conducted by Digital UK has indicated that the North West is well prepared for switchover, with ninety nine per cent of adults claiming to be fully aware of the change.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has questioned the size of salaries paid to BBC stars like Jonathan Ross, but said 'entrepreneurs' like Simon Cowell 'deserved' their money. Speaking to Piers Morgan in GQ magazine, Brown - on-record as being 'a fan of The X Factor' - said Cowell deserved the millions he earned because 'entrepreneurs had ideas, then put them into practice.' But he added there was a feeling of 'unfairness' over the sums of money being paid to some TV stars at the BBC. Nothing like the feeling of ferocious anger that most of the population have of lice-scum politicians fiddling their expense claims and then trying to weasel their way out of it, of course. Just, you know, for a bit of perspective there for you Mr Prime Minister. Sir. When asked: 'Is it right that someone like Jonathan Ross gets eighteen million pounds from the BBC?,' Brown said: 'The BBC has got to seriously consider its salary structure.' Instead of, as he should have asked, 'how much are you paid then, Piers?' Sycophant. ITV and BBC have both said that stars' salaries would be cut this year as part of an ongoing efficiency drive when their contracts came up for renewal. Last week the BBC also announced it would cut the amount it spends on the salaries of some six hundred and forty senior managers by a quarter over the next three-and-a-half years, and shed eighteen per cent of its senior managers to save twenty million pounds a year. Separately, Brown claimed that he was not bothered by Andrew Marr asking him if he took medication for depression, but added: 'I've been honest about it. I really dislike the trivialisation of politics.' Interesting comments from someone who's likely to be on Jobseeker's Allowence within the next nine months.

NBC's 30 Rock scored a zero audience rating in its German television debut on Sunday night. The Emmy-award winning comedy had fewer than five thousand viewers in Germany, reports Variety magazine. The series' debut was allegedly lower than the lowest forecast of German broadcaster ZDFNeo. The niche digi channel made the Tina Fey-starring programme its flagship show for its relaunch which promised 'cutting-edge television' in an effort to attract more young male viewers. It is unknown at this time if ZDFNeo will continue airing 30 Rock. The show is currently in its fourth season in the US.

Fiona Phillips has admitted that she does not want to become a full-time mother. The presenter had decided to leave as a GMTV anchor last December because, she said at the time, she wished to spend more time with her sons, Nathaniel and Mackenzie. Asked if she was enjoying being at home more often, Phillips replied: 'Yes, but I'd be lying if I said I wanted to be a full-time mum, because I don't. I adore my sons, but I've worked since the age of eleven and need to be stretched." The forty eight-year-old told New magazine that she will soon be seen fronting a festive-themed ITV show which is due to broadcast in December.

Lost actor Naveen Andrews has reportedly signed up for a guest stint on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. According to TV Guide, the forty-year-old London-born star - nice-guy torturer Sayid Jarrah on the ABC series - will begin shooting his scenes in the next week in New York. Details of his role are yet to be revealed, but his episode is scheduled to air in early January 2010.

Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement has revealed that the musical comedy show may not return for a third season. The actor, who stars in the HBO show alongside Bret McKenzie, said that the future of the programme needs to be discussed with director James Bobin. Clement told Reuters: 'It very likely might not [return for a third season]. It could come back in a shorter season or like a special.' HBO spokeswoman Nancy Lesser added: 'We've left their future entirely in their hands. We would love to have more.'

Mel B is said to have 'angered' residents of her home city of Leeds by describing it as 'intimidating and depressing.' Well, if it is (and, Keith Telly Topping's been there a few times and had somewhat mixed experiences, frankly) then you don't really wanna be pissing off the locals by telling them that they're all a bunch of scum. The Spice Girl, who now lives in Los Angeles (now, there's somewhere that is intimidating and depressing, in parts!) recently returned to the Yorkshire city for a week as part of television programme Seven Days On The Breadline. She told the Daily Mail: 'Despite the fact that I was born in Leeds and grew up on another council estate in the city, I was genuinely shocked at the level of deprivation and the absence of hope I found when I went back.' She added: 'It's certainly a world away from the glamour of Los Angeles where I now live what is, admittedly, a very privileged life.' Just thought you'd mention that to rub it in, did you Mel? One local ranted to the Daily Star: 'As far as I'm concerned, she's ain't [sic] welcome here anymore. You only have to see the way she behaved while she was here to realise it's her who has changed, not us.' And, that was the Mayor.

Kirstie Alley is reportedly preparing to make her TV comeback in a new reality show based on her life. The former Cheers star, who has struggled with her weight over the past few years, has designed her own weight loss plan for the A&E network show.

A luckless Indian romeo is suing Lynx after he failed to land a single girlfriend during seven years of using their products. Vaibhav Bedi, aged twenty six, is seeking twenty six thousand pounds from parent company Unilever for the 'depression and psychological damage' caused by 'the lack of any Lynx effect.' Court officials in New Delhi have agreed to order forensic laboratory tests on dozens of his half-used Lynx body washes, shampoos, anti-perspirants and hair gels. Lynx - marketed as Axe in India - is famous for its saucy adverts showing barely clothed women throwing themselves at men. But Bedi says in his court petition: 'The company cheated me because in its advertisements, it says women will be attracted to you if you use Axe. I used it for seven years but no girl came to me.' But, Vaibhav, think if you hadn't used it, you'd've stank. When contacted Unilever declined to comment on the case. But India's leading compensation litigator Ram Jethmalani warned: 'There is no data to substantiate the supposition that unattractive and unintelligent men don't attract women. In fact some of the best looking women have been known to marry and date absolutely ghoulish guys.' Oh, name names, please! 'I'd suggest that the company settles this issue out of court.' I wonder if Carter-Ruck know about this guy, he sounds like he'd be their sort of lawyer.

A passenger on an air force display team shot himself one hundred metres into the sky when he accidentally activated the ejector seat. The man was reaching for something to steady himself during a mid-air manoeuvre when he pulled on the black and yellow emergency handle between his legs. As soon as it was activated, the ejection sequence activated two rockets attached to the back of his chair, shooting him through the jet's perspex canopy. The man, who has not been named, later floated back down to Earth on a parachute which opened automatically. South African Air Force bosses scrambled a helicopter to pick up the passenger after the blunder near Langebaanweg airfield, eighty miles north of Cape Town. The incident happened shortly after he took off for a joyride in the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II jet with an experienced pilot from the Silver Falcons air display team. Experts said the man was lucky to escape unharmed following the bizarre incident.

A US wildlife officer's decision to bring a five foot alligator into his daughter's school for a 'show-and-tell' lesson backfired when it escaped. Dave Brady had recently captured the reptile and thought he'd bring it into his daughters class, with its mouth taped shut, in Florida. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Stan Kirkland said it proved a hit with the class: 'They were impressed,' he said. Things started to go wrong when Mr Brady loaded the alligator back into his truck after the school visit in Panama City Beach. 'Most people don't think they can jump, but they have an amazing ability to jump,' Mr Kirkland said. 'They can not only jump, they can run!'

Baffled bank staff refused to fork out cash when a robber threatened them - with a spoon. The ginger-haired crook burst into the branch in Lublin, Poland, brandishing the cutlery shouting: 'This is a stick up.' Only, presumably, in Polish. Staff and customers threw themselves to the ground until they realised the robber was simply packing a stainless steel spoon. The would-be robber fled empty-handed with the laughter of his would-be victims ringing in his ears. But police are not taking the incident lightly and have launched an investigation and a manhunt into the attempted robbery. Police spokeswoman, Renata Laszczka-Rusek, said: 'It's a weird one but he broke the law and we want to find him.'

The BBC are understood to have received a number of complaints about Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth - transmitted on 26 October. The complaints have, seemingly, been from people who claimed to have been offended by a joke about Anne Frank's last diary entry stating that her father had bought her a drum kit for her birthday. Well, it made me laugh.

1 comment:

Tarquin said...

Masterchef Australia does not have a public voting system, just judges - they occasionally had games and team challenges where they voted for each other, but the public were never involved

and there's no studio audience