Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Put It Away, Nod! Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit's Christmas!

The last episode of Ashes To Ashes will explain the ending to its predecessor Life On Mars, co-creator Matthew Graham has promised. The final episode of the former series, which aired in 2006 and 2007, had an ending which seemingly saw John Simm's, Sam Tyler, commit suicide in the present day, only to subsequently return to his coma-induced 1970s life. The ambiguity of the storyline - as well as the questions raised in its sequel show - will all be resolved by the end of the upcoming third series of Ashes, Graham claimed. 'The idea is to unify the two shows,' Graham told the Digital Spy website. 'Series three unifies Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes and makes them one show. By the time you get halfway through series three of Ashes To Ashes, you will actually feel like you're watching series five of Life On Mars!' He added: 'In a way, what we're saying is that we're going to finally explain the mythology we've created. And in theory, there will be no mystery left.' Graham also confirmed that there are no plans for another spin-off show following the conclusion of Ashes. 'This is it, this is the end and I've written the last ever lines I will ever write for Gene Hunt. There's no way we could do another series after this. There would be no mystery left.'

The actress Su Pollard is being investigated by police after allegedly launching 'a foul-mouthed tirade' on a disabled motorist whose car the taxi in which she was a passenger had crashed into according to the Sun. The former Hi-de-Hi comedienne is said to have brought traffic to a stand-still when she confronted the other driver. Sue Sanderson said that the actress got out of the taxi and went to a cashpoint while she exchanged details with the taxi driver and then 'exploded' on her return. Mrs Sanderson said: 'She just lost the plot completely and went into the most shocking tirade I have heard. As she came back across the road she said to me: "I'm going to punch my fist down your fucking throat." I laughed and said: "Come on then - at least I'm not mutton dressed as lamb."' Nice comeback, Ms Sanderson. 'She then said she'd pay the taxi driver and she stormed off. I never thought she was going to hit me. It was all mouth and no action. But she exploded in fury.' Mrs Sanderson said she called the police and the above exchange was related to them in interview. Police were called to the scene in Bournemouth, Dorset — where Pollard is currently appearing in panto as the Wicked Witch - and are now alleged to be investigating. Watch this space for further development ... and, you'll probably be disappointed.

Zooey Deschanel has said that her sister, Emily, was her boss when she appeared on her sibling's popular crime drama Bones. The Almost Famous actress told Parade that, despite having the same career as Emily, they did not compete with one another. Zooey said of her guest-starring role on Bones: 'I was hesitant. I just wanted to make sure that everything was right. But, it ended up being really fun. I was glad I did it. We had a really good time and we definitely cracked up a lot. Unfortunately, sometimes it was on camera.' She added: 'She was essentially my boss for a couple days because she's one of the producers of the show. But we've never really competed because we're so different and we're attracted to different things. I know that if we were up for the same thing, I would be happy if they chose her and she'd probably feel the same way about me.'

ITV claimed its best November performance figures since 2006 in terms of audience share, as the other terrestrial channels were hit by a reality TV onslaught. The popularity of The X Factor and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! helped ITV to bumper ratings last month whilst BBC1, BBC2, Channel 4 and Channel Five posted their lowest November audience share for several years. ITV had an all-day audience share of 18.6 per cent and a 28.4 per cent share of the peak-time audience, its best November performance since 2006, according to the broadcaster's figures. The X Factor had its biggest audience across all six series so far for the results on Sunday 8 November, when 14.4 million viewers and a forty nine per cent share tuned in to see John and Edward Grimes survive at the expense of Lucie Jones. The jungle reality show averaged eight and a half million viewers and a thirty four per cent share across its three-week run and was the most popular series of the reality show since 2005. Collision, the channel's complex and highly-regarded drama which was stripped across five nights in a single week also rated very well. News at Ten relaunched on 1 November and, helped by a big inheritance from I'm A Celebrity ... averaged three million viewers last month, up from 2.4 million in the first ten months of the year. BBC1 remained in the lead in terms of all-day share with twenty one per cent, but was behind during peak time with a twenty three per cent share of the audience, according to the corporation's figures. BBC2's all-day and peak time shares were 7.1 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively, said the corporation. It is understood to be the two channels' lowest all-day November share since at least 1993, the earliest date from which comparable audience figures are available. BBC2 said it only had figures going back to 2001. Channel 4 also had its lowest all-day audience share since 1993, with 6.6 per cent of viewing. Five was also down. There is some differential between rival channels' share figures because ITV defines peak time as between 7pm and 10.30pm, whilst the other broadcasters' use a wider time bracket of 6pm to 10.30pm. ITV's digital channels, ITV2 and ITV3, were the top two multichannel networks in all time and prime time in November. A BBC spokesman said: 'BBC1 and BBC2 had a rich and varied month in November which saw great successes with Doctor Who, Gavin & Stacey, Jimmy's Food Factory, Top Gear, Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain and Miranda to name but a few ratings hits. Both channels delivered high on their public service credentials, with two hugely successful nights with Children in Need on BBC1, whilst BBC2 ran a major arts season in peak, Modern Beauty, and an impactful contemporary documentary, Iranian Martyr. As multichannel continues to grow it is inevitable that terrestrial share will decrease over the years and highlighting one particular month is not a significant indicator of quality, range or long-term performance. The BBC remains committed to providing its audiences with a unrivalled range of quality public service programming across all genres throughout the year.'

MasterChef is finally going to teach the French how to cook. TF1 has ordered a remake of the classic BBC competition for amateur chefs from the French production office of the Shine Group. The show, which is currently in pre-production, will launch in a prime time slot early next year and has already garnered a flurry of press attention, comparing it to Le Diner Presque Parfait (Come Dine With Me) which is a major hit on M6. Shine is still in talks to secure a host for the series. It marks the first major commission for Shine France, which was established this past summer. Chief executive Thierry Lachkar will executive produce the series. He said: 'We're thrilled that MasterChef will be Shine France's first commission and aim to replicate its international success for TF1 by adopting a distinctive French approach to this involving and increasingly popular format.' The TF1 deal is the latest in a string of commissions for local versions of MasterChef. Earlier this year, the final of MasterChef Australia won a seventy seven per cent local audience share, and last month, FOX gave the green light for a US version for 2010, starring Gordon Ramsay.

Luke Haines has said that The X Factor is the legacy of punk rock. The former Auteurs frontman told The Quietus that the reality talent contest offers young people a chance of escape which might not otherwise exist. Haines said of the show: 'I've always sort of insisted it's the legacy of punk rock, really. The kind of idea that anyone can do it. And obviously X Factor and stuff like that are an end result of all that. There's no difference between audience and performer which is ... essentially what punk rock was saying only with a three chord backing. And now it's just the hits of the day. But I think it's pretty good.' He added: 'You know, there's no real music industry left anymore, so the old kind of escape of rock 'n' roll and football - well football's still there, but rock 'n' roll isn't really there - so it's like reality shows are a means of escape instead. It's better than working in Dixons. I saw [John & Edward] as two Billy Fury types. Only Jedward's hair got more ridiculous each week and Billy Fury had a heart attack and died.'

Ofcom has ruled that a BBC documentary, which exposed health problems in pedigree dogs, showed no 'unfairness' to The Kennel Club. Last year the club lodged a complaint about the programme saying it had been treated unfairly. Ofcom said the Kennel Club was 'not deceived about the purpose of the programme' and that the editing was fair. However, it also said that the club had not been given 'a proper opportunity' to respond to the allegations. Pedigree Dogs Exposed was broadcast in August 2008 and looked at health and welfare problems in pedigree dogs. It said physical traits required by the Kennel Club's breed standards, such as short faces and dwarfism, led to inherent health problems. It also contained criticisms of other dog clubs and individual dog breeders. The Kennel Club claimed that the documentary was unfairly edited and did not properly reflect its 'deep commitment to the health and welfare of dogs.' The row over the programme led to the BBC dropping Crufts from its schedules, after forty two years. The Kennel Club said the decision followed 'disputes' over the inclusion of certain breeds of pedigree dog in the competition. In a statement, Ofcom said that the BBC had shown no 'unfairness to the Kennel Club in the editing of the programme and that the Kennel Club was not deceived about the purpose of the programme.' It added that programme makers had given the Kennel Club an 'appropriate and timely opportunity to respond' to some of the allegations.

Dundee-born actor Brian Cox is to take on the role of fellow Scot, Michael Martin, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, in a forthcoming BBC satirical drama about MPs' expenses affair. Martin, who was forced to resign in May this year over his handling of what became the biggest political scandal for years, fought to keep details of MPs' expenses out of public view. After the Daily Telegraph revealed a litany of questionable claims amid a public outcry, he stepped down from the Speaker's chair, quit his Glasgow seat and has since been ennobled as Lord Martin of Springburn. The satirical BBC4 drama, Bringing Down the House, tells the story of freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke's five-year battle to force MPs to reveal details of their expenses. Brooke, who has acted as a story consultant on the drama, will be played by Anna Maxwell Martin, the actor whose roles include Esther Summerson in the BBC adaptation of Bleak House and Sally Bowles in Cabaret on the London stage. The BBC production will be directed by Our Friends in the North's Simon Cellan-Jones. The writer will be Tony Saint, who was also behind Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley and Micro Men.

Audience members - including the Queen and young children - were left 'stunned' after comedian Patrick McGuinness delivered a number of examples of crude sexual innuendo during his stand-up routine at The Royal Variety Performance. At least, according to the Daily Mail, anyway. Another day, another wholly created Daily Mail scum-exclusive. Interestingly, this one doesn't involved the BBC at all. How unique. Now McGuinness is, seemingly, on the list of people who'll be up against the wall for their last fag come the Glorious Middle-Class Revolution. It could have been worse, of course, if this was the 1930s they'd've just set Oswald Mosley on him. Big fan of Mosley, the Mail was. Anyway, according to the notorious right-wing tabloid, the comedian's conduct 'placed ITV under pressure to censor the series of lurid jokes he made during his time on stage' during the popular annual show. McGuinness, who grew up in Bolton, made references to his genitalia and included a jibe at presenter Paul O'Grady's sexuality. One member of the audience described the comic's risque jokes as 'toilet humour', while industry pressure groups have said ITV must cut the smutty gags from the show ahead of its broadcast at 7.30pm next Wednesday.

Arlene Phillips has admitted that she suffered a confidence crisis and 'doubted herself' after being axed from Strictly Come Dancing. That's all right, chuck, many of us doubted you long before that. See, that's what you get if you develop a career out of being a harsh, bitchy and merciless critic. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

A controversial Dispatches investigation into Britain's relations with Israel proved the most divisive show on Channel 4 last month. Inside Britain's Israel Lobby, in which Daily Mail journalist Peter Oborne investigated the influence of a pro-Israel lobby of political and media interests was the most praised Channel 4 show in November, with four hundred of eleven messages of support. A typical comment read: 'I would like to applaud C4 and all the Dispatches team for their courage in tackling the issue of Israeli lobbying. Finally the five hundred pound elephant in the room can be discussed openly. Top marks.' However, a further one hundred and forty viewers argued that it the programme anti-Semitic. One viewer likened it to a 'Hezbollah TV programme' and accused the documentary's makers of 'a lack of journalistic integrity.' The viewer added: 'It was full of unfounded suggestions instead of facts and singled out one of the existing legitimate lobbies as a sinister conspiracy against the freedom of policy in UK.'

Radio producer Karl Pilkington, best known for working with Ricky Gervais, has been given his own travel series for Sky1. Pilkington, who became a figure of fun during Gervais' radio shows and podcasts, will visit the Seven Wonders of the World as part of the series. The idea was born after Pilkington told Gervais he did not appreciate the Seven Wonders, despite having never visiting them. Gervais and comic partner Stephen Merchant will monitor his travels. 'I can't wait to get started. Not because I'm excited but because the sooner we start, the sooner it will be over,' Pilkington said. Gervais said Sky was the best place to screen Pilkington's series. 'It's apt that the home of The Simpsons has made room for another bald-headed buffoon. The terrifying thing is this one's real,' he said. Commissioning editor Clare Hollywood said: 'Karl is a fantastic rising comedy star.' Pilkington's thoughts have already been published in a number of best-selling books including The World Of Karl Pilkington and Happyslapped By A Jellyfish.

BBC3 is on course to increase its share of sixteen-to thirty four-year-olds to 4.4 per cent by the end of the year – in line with growth for all the BBC's digital channels. Series like Being Human, Russell Howard's Good News and the channel's Adult Season have helped BBC3 to nine per cent year-on-year growth, making it the strongest performer among the sixteen-to-tirhty four demographic, according to the BBC. Overall, the broadcaster's reach to that age group is up across the BBC's channels from to 75.3 per cent Meanwhile BBC4's share has edged up in a year which saw the channel record its highest ever ratings. The Women We Have Loved dramas were particularly successful, with Gracie! drawing 1.4m viewers and Enid attracting a further 1.3m. BBC Vision director Jana Bennett said: 'Ten years ago we had no BBC3, BBC4, CBBC or CBeebies. Now these channels are enjoyed in the majority of British homes, delivering award winning public service content to young audiences and a wealth of high quality arts and culture programming that the free market would simply not provide. And with BBC HD and the iPlayer we continue to pioneer the use new technologies to add even greater value to the licence fee and accessibility to BBC programmes.' She added that BBC1 and BBC2 have also performed strongly, noting public service series like Criminal Justice, Small Island, Poetry and Modern Beauty as well as comedies Psychoville, Miranda and The Thick Of It.

CBS has pulled the plug on As the World Turns after more than a half-century on the air. The long-running soap was once graced by actors Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, James Earl Jones and Parker Posey. After cancelling Guiding Light earlier this year, the announcement leaves the network with only The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful as its two remaining daytime dramas.

A new TV set which offers people the chance to view the BBC iPlayer directly, has launched. The iViewer, from British firm Cello, has built-in internet access, and requires a broadband or wifi connection in order to view net channels. It will be sold exclusively in Marks and Spencer stores until March 1 2010. Currently the BBC catch-up service is only available on television via set top boxes, games consoles or a digital TV subscription with Virgin Media. Other internet channels available on iViewer will include Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food, YouTube and video podcasts by news providers CNN and chat show host Larry King. The set has taken a year to develop, said Brian Palmer, owner of Cello Electronics. A delay in the delivery of an essential chip manufactured in the US set back the software writing process by four months. 'We start manufacturing the sets in County Durham this weekend,' he told BBC News. 'But they will be in short supply before Christmas.' The LCD sets are available in twenty six and thirty two inch models (priced £399 and £499 respectively) and are designed to be upgraded remotely by Cello when BBC iPlayer starts broadcasting in HD.

Susan Boyle has reportedly caused problems for producers of her one-off TV special. According to the Daily Record, the Scottish singer did an unplanned disco dance as she sang the ballad 'Who I Was Born To Be' during filming for the sixty-minute show. It has been alleged that Boyle went on to do the same thing again after being asked to stay still for a second take. A source said: 'It was odd and very out of character with the song. Susan looked like she was doing it as a break from the seriousness and the pressure of having to sing throughout a show. It's going to give us a bit of a headache so we will edit around it.' I Dreamed A Dream: The Susan Boyle Story airs on Sunday at 9.30pm on ITV.

New research suggests that women have born the brunt of cutbacks in the television industry in the past three years, with the number employed in the sector falling by twenty per cent. While there has been an overall ten per cent drop in total employment in TV, women appear to have borne the brunt, and seen their numbers cut by a fifth over the same period. The 2009 census by creative industries training body Skillset shows that there are five thousand three hundred fewer people working in the sector now, compared with its last study in 2006. Then, fifty five thousand eight hundred and fifty people were working across the sector, compared with around eight thousand fewer this year. There is a huge disparity by gender, with five thousand fewer women working in television and just three hundred fewer men. The TV sector as defined by Skillset covers staff and freelance employees in terrestrial (the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five), cable and satellite (including Sky, UKTV and Virgin Media), independent production and TV distribution. Skillset's researchers have warned against taking the raw data and figures too literally. But the disproportionate exodus by women has surprised the company's experts, who are still digesting the data before publicly releasing it early next year.

Bobby Davro has reportedly claimed that he left EastEnders because he found his role as Vinnie Monks boring. According to the Mirror, the actor revealed that he felt the character lacked direction when he chose to quit the Walford soap. Davro signed up to play Monks in August 2007 and was tipped to fill the gap left behind by the popular Alfie Moon charcter played by Shane Richie. However, Davro later announced his decision to leave the programme after just a year. The actor - and former alleged comedian - is quoted as saying: 'I wish it could have been longer. But the writers didn't develop him as much as I wanted and I got bored.'

Charlotte Church's revamped Channel 4 show will not feature any celebrity interviews, a report has claimed. According to the Sun, the twenty three-year-old singer and presenter will instead team up with two Welsh comedians (please God don't let it be anybody involved in Gavin & Stacey) and provide 'a humorous take' on the week's news when the programme returns next year. Church is still expected to sing at the end of every episode and play pranks on members of the public. Speaking about the show's previous format, a source said: 'Charlotte had a lot of fun doing it, but wasn't particularly comfortable with the chat. We'll record a pilot next week and plan to air in the New Year.' In September, Church had announced that changes were likely to be made for the new series, promising 'more music and entertainment.'

And, finally Lord Noddy Holder OBE has promised to expose his genitals if Slade beat The X Factor winner's song to the Christmas number one spot. Holder's former band scored a festive chart topper in 1973 with 'Merry XMas Everybody' and the frontman has complained about the ITV reality show's dominance over the Xmas top spot in recent years. 'It's generally some big middle-of-the-road ballad type of song that they do as their first release,' he told Spinner. 'There's no experimentation at all, there's nothing new in it. These records they release, they could have been released thirty years ago and they would have found a place there just the same. They're not moving forward and they're not giving off-the-wall acts the chance, they're all very safe and middle-of-the-road. The chase for fame overshadows the thirst for music.' When asked whether he thought a Slade re-release could beat this year's winner, he joked: 'If 'Merry XMas Everybody' beats The X Factor winner to number one, I will stand on top of Broadcasting House and get my cock out for all the world to see.' A quick tip for the very Nodster himself. It does get quite cold in December, mate. Even if you do keep your top hat on.

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