Thursday, November 05, 2009

Will The Next Customer With A Crass Complaint Kindly Join The Queue

Gosh, but wasn't that a fine start to the new series of [Spooks] last night? I particularly enjoyed the fact that Malcolm, after seven seasons of loyal service, got to leave without dying. I'm sorry to see the excellent Hugh Simon go, of course - his lovely little nuanced performances were often one of the best things about the show - but at least (unlike his friend Colin) he got see his retirement. Meanwhile Hermione Norris confirmed that the new series will feature several new characters. Speaking on This Morning, Norris noted 'They set a very high bench mark for last year so I hope we don't disappoint. It's starts exactly where it left last year with Harry going into the boot of the car and has he gone to the Russians, we don't know. We are sent a video of his execution and wonder, "Is it real, is it not?" So the whole of the first episode is our pursuit and the race against time to see if Harry is still with us.' She added: 'It is a hugely loved show. Since I did Cold Feet, I would say that this is the show that people now get excited about and enthusiastic about and really want to know what's going on and what's happening. It's about keeping it current and moving it forward and we've got some lovely new characters coming to this series - we've got Sarah played by the lovely Genevieve O'Reilly, who is a real baddie - she's someone to look forward to. And lovely Ruth is back in episode one.' The latter, Keith Telly Topping has to confess, was The Big Thing for him in the opening episode (apart, obviously, from the sheer pace of the thing and Peter Firth being as brilliantly complex as ever). Nicola Walker is such a good actress, she fills the screen.

Jeremy Clarkson has joked (although, with Jezza, one can never be certain) that a completely silent episode of Top Gear would likely get the go-ahead from the BBC in an effort to stop Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slow from 'offending' someone. Oh, I dunno Jezza. I reckon some of your harsher criticis would probably still find something to moan about even then. You 'looking at them in a funny way', possibly. The forty nine-year-old presenter suggested that an instalment in which he and fellow hosts James May and Richard Hammond keep entirely quiet for the entire hour would be a perfect way to avoid complaints from the Communists and the hippies who seem to make their living finding something in Top Gear to moan, loudly, about, the Daily Star reports. Jezza noted: 'One day we'll do an episode of Top Gear in which none of us speak. It's the only way they will have nothing to complain about. I don't think I've done anything naughty this year, though, have I?' You probably have. But that's why we love you and want to build plinths to you in Trafalgar Squarre, geezer.

From The North has heard news of a new Poirot currently being filmed: The Hallowe'en Party (adapted by Mark Gatiss) will feature Zöe Wanamaker, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Eric Sykes, Fenella Woolgar and Timothy West among others.

Cheryl Cole is allegedly 'being pursued' for a guest spot in the next series of Doctor Who, according to a report in the Mirror. The X Factor judge has yet to sign a deal with the show but could play 'a big part' in the fifth series, which is currently being filmed in Wales according to the tabloid. Sounds like a completely made-up story to Keith Telly Topping - a bit like the Sun's 'exclusive' from three years ago that Zöe Lucker was going to play The Rani - but, you never know these days. An 'insider' told the newspaper: 'If she can find the time, a part will be written for her.' A BBC spokesperson refused to either confirm or deny the speculation, saying: 'The BBC will not be commenting on casting or storyline speculation for the new series of Doctor Who.' Oi, Moffat - NOT cool. Any of her band mates, fine, but not the Heaton Horror, please!

Rumours of a very unexpected telly team-up are currently circulating on the Internet. Stephen Fry is alleged to be joining with legendary comics writer Grant Morrison and Push director Paul McGuigan for a new BBC TV series that's being described as 'Doctor Who-esque.' Not sure if this isn't a load of hot air and make-believe too but, if it's for real, this blogger is somewhat excited by this.

The three North Eastern stars of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet have teamed up again, for the first time since the series ended, to make a charity record in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Actors Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately and Tim Healy were yesterday in a recording studio performing a new version of the Tyneside anthem 'The Blaydon Races,' written by the legendary Geordie Ridley in Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Two (on a summer's afternoon, in case you were wondering) and which has been sung by The Toon Army at St James's Park for decades. And, by the Mackems as well, who change the lyrics much to the annoyance of those north of the Tyne! Anyway, this version has a new verse, written in honour of Sir Bobby, whose battle against cancer inspired many thousands.

Colin Hanks has reportedly landed a leading part on FOX's forthcoming action-comedy Jack And Dan. The thirty one-year-old actor, the son of Tom Hanks and previously best known for his role in The WB's teen-SF drama Roswell, will appear as the titular Jack in the straight-to-series project opposite the former West Wing star Bradley Whitford. The thirteen-episode Matt Nix drama centres on a young by-the-book rookie detective called Jack who is partnered with Whitford's Dan, a lecherous, wild-card veteran officer who has only managed to hold on to his job for this long because he once committed a heroic act some years earlier. Sounds a tad formulaic to be honest, although with Hanks and (especially) Whitford in it, it'll likely be watchable and will, hopefully, find an audience.

Olivia Wilde has claimed that her House co-star, Jennifer Morrison, will return to the series after a break of indeterminate length. Earlier this year, it was announced that Morrison - Allison Cameron in the FOX medical drama - would be departing the series mid-season. This led to much speculation concerning friction behind the scene and all that malarkey. However, Wilde, who plays Huntington's sufferer Remy Hadley on the show, told E! Online that her co-star will be returning. 'As far as I know she's coming back,' Wilde said. 'I think now she's not in a few episodes. None of us really knew what was going on, but at this point, I've heard the same information as you.' Wilde also said that she was unsurprised by the producers' decision to write characters out of the series at regular intervals. She explained: 'We're used to them being unpredictable. My character went to Thailand for a little while. You never know! That's what makes the show great and makes us really appreciate the shows we have.'

Scott Peters has stepped down as showrunner on V, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reports suggest that Peters will be replaced in the position by Scott Rosenbaum, who is currently executive producer on NBC's Chuck. Peters will, apparently, continue to work on V in a different capacity. The remake of the 1980s SF schlock classic, which premiered last night on ABC, has been plagued with several problems in recent months. Over the summer, reports surfaced which claimed that production on the show had been halted owing to 'a creative hiatus.' ABC later announced that the series will take an extended break after its first four episodes have aired this month. The remaining episodes of the initial thirteen-part order are scheduled for broadcast in Spring 2010. Meanwhile, Tuesday night's 8pm screening of the pilot episode - which stars Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell, Firefly's Morena Baccarin and Joel Gretsch - pulled in an impressive 13.95m audience, making it the biggest scripted series premiere rating for a new show this year.

Britain's cultural leaders are 'sleepwalking into a Conservative election victory that will threaten the BBC's independence' and the funding of controversial political plays such as Enron, the culture secretary, Ben Bradshaw, has warned. In a speech to a Labour audience, he said Tory culture policy was totally aligned with the commercial interests of Rupert Murdoch's News International and predicted the central tenet of British cultural policy – the arm's length relationship between the arts and government – is about to be swept away. Bradshaw said: 'We need a few more luvvies to be jumping up and down about it because that is not happening at the moment. I am trying to provoke them into doing it.' He warned of the impact of David Cameron's media policy, especially on the BBC, and the extent to which the Tory leader had followed the commercial interests of Murdoch's empire. 'There are far too many people sleepwalking towards the next election, too many people thinking lazily it might have to be time for a change without realising you cannot have change to the Conservatives without negative consequences,' Bradshaw said. So, whose fault is that exactly, Ben? Ours or yours? He used his address to Labour pressure group Progress to claim that the Conservative pledge 'to tear up the multi-annual charter and licence fee represented an unprecedented assault on the BBC's independence that no previous government, not even Margaret Thatcher, had contemplated.' We know. And, despite that, they're still going to get in because you clowns have spent the last five years rewriting the book on how not to govern. And, another thing. This is the same Ben Bradshaw who has been taking cheap shots at the BBC at every given opportunity for the last few months, not to mention top slicing the licence fee, yes? It's a strange world we're living in, people.

In related news, award-winning documentary maker Norma Percy launched a passionate plea to the government last night, urging politicians to protect the BBC and its licence fee. Collecting two awards at The Grierson Awards including the prestigious Trustees prize, Percy said that if organisations like the BBC didn't exist, she would not be able to produce high-end documentaries like The Death of Yugoslavia and recent BBC2 documentary series Iran and the West. Ah, right - so this isn't so much concern for the industry as a whole, as for your own future job prospects, Norma? 'When we made End of Empire, that was a fourteen-part series for ITV. Well, Mrs Thatcher destroyed that,' she said. 'We are lucky in that we have the support of the BBC for our big series, and Janice Hadlow has just asked Brook Lapping to make another two. But I would like to say this, if people are listening. Please government, please Ben Bradshaw, please don't make it easier for some future Mrs Thatcher to come in and destroy the BBC. We need it.' It's a bit late for all that now, sweetheart, thanks to the crass mismanagement of the country by Ben and his colleagues, the next government is, sadly, going to be Cameron-shaped. And, we already have, on-record, comments from both him and his pal Jeremy Hunt about just what exactly is in store for the BBC the second that they get into office. A machete.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron himself has admitted that he is 'addicted' to X Factor's John & Edward. Don't you have more important things to do than that? Cameron said that he considers the Grimes brothers 'an amusing act' and claimed that he prefers the ITV talent show to BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. 'You only need to watch a few minutes and suddenly forty minutes later, you're still nailed to your chair, waiting for the terrible twins to appear,' he told the Sun. This, ladies and gentlemen, is your next Prime Minister speaking. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and dispair. Earlier this week, the current holder of that particular office, one Gordon Brown apparently, also revealed that he is a fan of the talent competition. 'I'm an X Factor fan and Peter Mandelson looks after Strictly," said the Labour leader. I'm pretty sure both shows are sodding delighted about those endorsements.

X Factor twins John and Edward are still virgins, a report this week has claimed. The eighteen-year-old brothers have only ever had one girlfriend between them because they prefer to concentrate on 'their unique sense of style and dreams of stardom,' according to a wretched and worthless piece of tittle-tattle printed in, yes you've guessed it, the Daily Star. A 'source' from the pair's hometown of Lucan commented: 'Some people round here see them as village idiots. They didn't get much female attention before the show. John had a girlfriend for just three days when he was fifteen and that's the only time we've seen either of them with a girl.' So, that'd be not so much a source as 'some bloke we met on the street'? Not sure what any of that has to do with whether they can sing or not (general concensus is, they can't) but, I'm sure the Daily Star will have a rationale for it. Somewhere.

Strictly Come Dancing competitor Ali Bastian has revealed that her injured foot has gone 'the colours of the rainbow.' The actress had to perform with an injury last weekend, when she ended in the bottom two after the public vote along with Zöe Lucker. 'The foot is going to have to be okay. It's going all the colours of the rainbow at the moment, so hopefully the bruises will go down a bit,' Bastian told It Takes Two. 'We're just getting on with it.' Speaking about her dance-off performance, she said: 'I did become a complete bag of nerves. I was terrified and just thought, "Oh no, I can't dance on the foot again." I was in a lot of pain every time I stepped on it. I thought it was over, I really did.'

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! producers have reportedly approached 'party promoter and fashion journalist' Henry Conway for the new series. That's his job? Blimey, that's a significant contribution to society by the sounds of it. Conway is said to have 'entered talks' with show chiefs at the last minute and is now alleged to be 'keen to join the jungle,' according to that temple of truth and reliability, Daily Star. The rumoured contestant is the son of soon-to-be-former Tory MP Derek Conway. Last year, the pair faced controversy when a newspaper revealed that Mr Conway junior had been paid over thirty thousand pounds a year to be his father's 'research assistant,' despite him being at university at the time. Former heavyweight boxer Joe Bugner, Lizzie Cundy (who is the wife of some ex-footballer or other, apparently), Playboy model Bridget Marquardt and How Clean Is Your House? presenter Kim Woodburn have also been tipped for this year's run of the reality series. Bit more Z-list than usual, the jungle this year by the sounds of it.

Former Eternal singer Kelle Bryan and ex-Coronation Street actor Danny Young are the latest celebrities tipped to appear on Dancing On Ice. According to the Sun, Holby City's Jeremy Sheffield, former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and The Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack have also signed up for the ITV show. Again, we're talking not some much C-list as W-list, here. The celebrities were spotted training with skating star and show mentor Jayne Torvill at an East London rink earlier this week.

Coronation Street's executive producer Kieran Roberts has defended the soap's use of smoking scenes. He told Radio Times that life in Weatherfield would appear wholly unrealistic if he bowed to calls for cigarettes to be banned on-screen completely. He commented: 'While we have a duty not to glamorise the habit, it wouldn't be realistic to see nobody smoking at all - but only a few regulars do.' Roberts added that Street smokers like Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride) are usually seen puffing on a fag outdoors since the smoking ban was introduced in England two years ago. 'Just as in real life, that makes the habit more visible, but it's not actually more prevalent,' he explained.

Channel 4 Head of Drama Liza Marshall is the latest senior executive to quit the broadcaster for a job in the independent sector following the recent departure of Head of Comedy and entertainment Andrew Newman. Marshall is stepping down to become Head of Film and TV at Scott Free, the London and Los Angeles-based production company owned by Hollywood directors Ridley and Tony Scott. An announcement was made internally to C4 staff earlier in the week. Julian Bellamy, the head of Channel 4, said: 'Channel 4 drama under the leadership of Liza Marshall has consistently punched above its weight with challenging and ambitious work including The Devil's Whore, Boy A, Mark of Cain, Skins and Shameless. We wish her well in her exciting new role and the search now starts for her successor.' Marshall was responsible for all drama output at the broadcaster, including award winning productions like The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall, Death of a President, Clapham Junction and Red Riding. The latter is now in development at Scott Free to be remade as a major movie with Sony. In her new role, Marshall will manage the development and production of a growing number of new titles the company has on its slate.

Fern Britton has landed her own series on BBC1, it has been announced. The four-part series, titled Fern Britton Meets ... will see the former This Morning presenter conduct in-depth interviews with several high-profile figures in the run-up to Christmas. Confirmed guests include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dolly Parton, Sheila Hancock and Tony Blair. Britton will explore how the faith and beliefs of each have shaped their lives and what is important to them about Christmas time. Britton commented: 'All the interviewees come from very different backgrounds but what binds them together is the fact that, although their faith has been challenged, they've emerged with strong spiritual beliefs.'

Meanwhile, Fern's nemesis Holly Willoughby was presented with a British Sausage Week 2009 'Banger Award' on This Morning yesterday. The Xtra Factor host received the sausage-shaped trophy for her 'services to the meat product.' Willoughby, who claimed that the title was her 'finest hour,' told viewers: 'Amazing! Bangers and mash for tea I think!' Writing on Twitter about the incident, her co-host Phillip Schofield said: 'Wait 'til you see Holly's award. I'm very jealous. Holly is really rubbing my nose in this award, which is not a pretty sight.'

Channel 4 has commissioned a new drama series which will focus on disabled characters. The - if you will - mockumentary, titled Cast Offs, follows six people with disabilities who have been sent to a remote British island for a fictional reality TV show. The mini-series will star disabled actors Victoria Wright, Kiruna Stamell, Peter Mitchell, Sophie Woolley, Tim Gebbels and Mat Fraser. Their disabilities range from cherubism to blindness. Commissioning editor Camilla Campbell said of the series: 'I'm enormously excited to be working on a show that feels as ground-breaking as Cast Offs. With the fantastic talent behind and in front of the camera, this confirms Channel 4's commitment to bold and distinctive programming.'

BBC2 has signed Sir Gerry Robinson to present a new six-part series called Legacy. The series, which is currently in production, will take a look at the emotional dilemmas people face when writing a will. Businessman Robinson aims to help people put their affairs in order and will steer them through the process of writing their wills. He will be joined in the show by an expert lawyer. 'I was astonished to discover how many people in this country haven't written a legally-binding will,' said Robinson. 'I want to help people put their estates in order. It's tempting to put off addressing issues like this. But in the long-run, that only stores up trouble. Would you rather write your will yourself, or have the government write it for you by default?' BBC controller of entertainment commissioning Mark Linsey said: 'This promises to be exciting, must-watch television with real purpose at its heart. It will be a fascinating insight into an often taboo subject, reflecting the wide range of diverse and distinctive factual entertainment the BBC continues to offer viewers.'

The BBC has found itself at the centre of yet another - and wholly manufactured - race-row after a guest presenter on Have I Got News For You described the Queen and her husband as 'that Greek twit and his Kraut wife.' The comments, made by comedienne Miranda Hart, first aired on Friday and drew a reported fifty complaints from viewers. One, on the BBC's Points of View message-board, said: 'I am very disapproving when the participants make derogatory personal remarks about public figures.' It's Have I Got News For You, pal. It's what they do. 'Some of these verge on hateful racial prejudice,' the complainer continued, 'for instance Miranda Hart referred to the Queen as a "kraut."' The quiz show's panellists were talking about the latest in a number of public gaffes made by Prince Philip. At a recent Buckingham Palace event in honour of Indian president Pratibha Patil, the prince reportedly said to businessman Atul Patel: 'There's a lot of your family here tonight.' Miss Hart joked: 'There is no place for racism in the modern world and the sooner that Greek twit and his Kraut wife realise it, the better.' A BBC spokesman said: 'Have I Got News For You is a topical, satirical news quiz and as such tackles issues of the week in a comedic and challenging way. The joke Miranda delivered was about abusive racist language following on from the news story that Prince Philip had made what were considered offensive remarks at a meeting of Indian representatives.' Quite why the BBC felt the need to even justify the comment - which should have been self-explanatory to anyone who hasn't had a humour bypass - is unknown although the fact that the issue has become the subject of various troublemaking stories by a selection of wretched scum-lice journalists writing for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail who somehow managed to fold Anton Du Beke and Carol Thatcher into paragraph four probably explains part of it. Brown-tonguing the Royal Family? Do you guys still do that? You do realise it's the Twenty First Century, don't you?

John Sergeant has revealed that he paid back a book advance worth tens of thousands of pounds because he could not face writing another set of memoirs. The former political journalist told the Radio Times he returned the money back to his publisher because the book would have been 'too boring. You can't go on writing the same book - not only is it boring, it's a terrific strain too,' he said. As well as a memoir, Sergeant has also written a book about Margaret Thatcher. 'What I was really expecting to do when I left ITN was to write books, because I had a two-book contract with Macmillan,' the sixty five-year-old said. 'Had I been less well-known, I could have written a book on the history of the police, or something that would have interested me hugely, but all they really wanted was my memoirs.' He added that he felt an enormous sense of relief when he had paid back the advance, saying he 'felt incredibly free.' A spokeswoman for Macmillan told the BBC News website: 'We cancelled the contract early three years ago by mutual agreement. Books only work when authors feel passionate about their subject, but sadly we couldn't find a subject that John felt sufficiently excited about,' she added.

Dannii Minogue has revealed that she was once forced to take a HIV test after a newspaper threatened to print false allegations which claimed that she had the virus. The X Factor judge was seen speaking candidly about the incident in an uncut version of her Life Stories interview with Piers Morgan, which was broadcast on ITV2. According to Minogue, a journalist sent her flowers and a note which read: 'We have tried to contact you to speak to you with no luck, and if you don't speak to us, we have it on good authority that you're HIV positive and we're running the headline.' The singer explained: 'I drove down to my doctor's office, sat there, put my arm out and said, "I need this test done immediately," and all I could do was have this piece of paper slapped on their desk to say, "No I'm not HIV positive, there is no story" - and it quickly and quietly went away.'

Former EastEnders actor Joe Swash has been declared bankrupt by London's High Court. The twenty seven-year-old's financial setback came after he failed to pay a final twenty thousand pounds instalment of a one hundred and twenty thousand pound tax bill, the Sun reports. Swash's bankrupt status was made official at the court yesterday. The Official Receiver will now take charge of swash's assets for the time being.

Nicole Kidman has revealed that she has explored different types of sexuality in her past and current relationships. The actress wed Tom Cruise in 1990 and they divorced in 2001. She later married country singer Keith Urban in 2006. Kidman told GQ: 'I've explored obsession. I've explored loss and love in terms of being in a grief-stricken place. I've explored strange sexual fetish stuff, I've explored the mundane aspect of marriage, and monogamy.' She added: 'You work on it. It's a very extraordinary, adventurous place to be - incredibly raw, incredibly dangerous and you're very much out at sea. You're exposed. You could drown. When you commit to someone like that, you live and die together by that decision.'

Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon has offered a bid of ten thousand dollars to acquire the rights to the Terminator movie franchise. In a light-hearted post on his website, Whedon suggested making a 'Terminator of the Rings and giving a lozenge to gravel-voiced actor Christian Bale. But the screenwriter later said he 'loves the franchise' and had 'learned a lot from it.' The company which acquired the rights in 2007 for around twenty five million dollars has recently declared bankruptcy and is likely to auction off the franchise next year. Whedon's ideas for rebooting the Terminator series included, he said, 'more porn' and stopping the series from 'getting less cool.' Whedon wrapped up his 'bid' to take the Terminator to the next stage by declaring: 'End this bloody bidding war before it begins, and put the Terminator in the hands of someone who watched the first one more than any other movie in college, including Song of Norway.' In his subsequent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the film-maker denied his open letter was a 'slam' on the movies, 'even the later ones. Not since they auctioned off frames from The Little Mermaid have I wished I had more money this much. So you know what, it never hurts to ask.'

As mentioned in the last blog, the Beeb has reportedly received nearly fifty complaints after David Mitchell joked there was 'absolutely no truth in the rumour that the last line in Anne Frank's diary reads: "Today is my birthday, dad bought me a drum kit.'" Mitchell made the joke on Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth in which panel members slip untruths into statements. One listener complained: 'Making humour out of the suffering of an innocent young girl at the hands of bigoted fascists has no place on the BBC.' Err ... except that he wasn't. He was making a joke about the loud noise that drums make when you play them. That's actually quite a different target, I'm sure you'll agree. Gillian Walnes, of the London-based Anne Frank Trust, said she was 'very surprised' that the BBC had yet to make a statement of regret. The BBC promptly went one better and issued a statement of 'bite me.' 'The joke was a ludicrous and far-fetched way of illustrating the rules of the game. Regular listeners are familiar with its style and tone.' Which, of course, anyone with half an ounce of basic bloody common sense in their brains would have known anyway. Still, you know, why be sensible and laid back out these things when, with a little bit of effort, you can raise a load of fuss over nothing and get your name in the sort of newspapers that just love people like you?

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