Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grotesque

The great Alun Owen probably didn't actually invent the word 'grotty' when he wrote the script for A Hard Day's Night in 1964. The term - a shortened form of 'grotesque' - had, apparently, already been a part of Merseyside slang vocabulary for some years prior to that. But Owen was - via George Harrison's deliciously dry delivery of it in that scene where some fashion salesmen think he's a shirt model - the first person to push it into a far wider arena. This blogger mentions this because, sadly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, himself, feeling pure dead grotty at the moment. He has been for some days if truth be told, ever since going out for a - very nice - Chinese meal with Mama Telly Topping, Our Terry Telly Topping and Our Gudi Telly Topping on Saturday night. It was an eye-watering Chilli King Prawn, incidentally, which has also conspired to make my sinuses feel clearer than they have for some months past. Which was a bonus. At first I thought it was just the two glasses of wine I'd had and the first signs of 'getting older' but it's gone on a bit longer than I'd've expected for a simple case of 'bad with the beer' roughness. I think, therefore, somewhere along the line I've contracted a touch of The Dreaded Lurgy. But, I'll live. Hopefully.

And so, to television. You know, 'the drug of the nation' and all that. It has to be said that Jack Duckworth's sage-like advice to young Tyrone on the subject of women in Monday night's Corrie was, as advice of the subject of women is concerned, pretty much bang on the nail. 'Nuns, widows and lesbians,' said Jack, with a tinge of hollow regret in his voice as though from sad and bitter personal experience. 'Avoid 'em all!' I know where you're coming from Jack, baby. And now, tragically, so does poor old Tyrone after Molly dumped him. The cow!

24 returned via a four-episode blast-off on Sunday and Monday night in the US with poor old One Man Armoured-Plated Killing-Machine ex-Agent Jack Bauer once again having to deal with that old 'how can the same shit happen to the same guy eight years running?' thing. Surely he's getting a bit goddamn pissed off with the whole 'being a terrorist-magnet' by now? This time around he's being aided by Mr Freddie Prinze-Michelle-Gellar-Junior-III (who was, actually, very good in the first couple of episodes) and Whatsherface Starbuck out of Battlestar Galactica (who, spectacularly, wasn't). Elisha Cuthbert turned up, briefly, in the early episodes too, whilst villain of the piece, already, appears to be Forrest Gump's Mykelti Williamson. Not because he's planning some serious carnage on the mainland US from his position as CTU's new boss. Oh no. But, rather, it's because the bastard made Chloe pout to the verge of tears within ten minutes of the first episode starting. There's just no mercy deserved - or given - for that crime. No trial, recidivist, just straight to execution. A damaged, stone-eyed Renee Walker finally reappeared in episode three, her dialogue in the first two episodes having been given, pretty much wholesale, to Jack's four year old granddaughter. All that said, there were some great moments of tool-stiffening violence on display (including the series' first blown-up helicopter in a good while) and a body count that is, already, dwarfing that of the last three series. At times it was almost like the golden days of series two and three. Except this time we had to wait until the end of episode four before somebody got their hand chopped off.

Russell Davies is reportedly writing the script for a US version of his Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the FOX network is developing the project, three seasons of which have run on the BBC in the UK and on BBC America. As well as Davies, ex-Doctor Who production partners Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter are also said to be involved. It is not yet known whether the UK cast, including John Barrowman, will feature if the show makes it as far as a pilot, but the US version will reportedly tackle global rather than local storylines. Davies has previously suggested that he has already planned a fourth season of Torchwood in the UK. I reckon you might have to cut down on the old naughty gay agenda doodah if you want to get this one off the ground, Rusty. The US media, by and large, aren't really all that big on sodomy.

Elliot Fogel, a former Sky Sports news producer, bombarded Claire Waxman with Valentine cards, late-night phone calls, messages and flowers, twice breaching a restraining order. He was jailed for sixteen weeks at Wood Green Crown Court. The thirty four-year-old turned up jogging on the spot outside Mrs Waxman's home one Christmas, posed as a prospective parent to visit the nursery attended by one of her children and even used the Waxmans' wedding photos as his computer screensaver. Which is all certainly weird, but not, necessarily, illegal. 'We have been left like sitting ducks waiting for something to happen,' said mother-of-two Mrs Waxman, who said she suffered a miscarriage and nearly emigrated because of the stress. 'He has no moral compass. To him this is a game. He has nothing in his life but pursuing me and my family. My life has been ruined.' But his lawyer said Fogel - who already has a three thousand five hundred pound compensation order waiting to be paid to the Waxmans - was simply 'socially inadequate' and had not meant to cause harm or distress.

The BBC is to make forty years of astronomy content available to the public – drawing together material from Tomorrow's World, Horizon, QED and The Sky At Night. The archive content will be released online alongside BBC2's landmark science series Seven Wonders of the Solar System, and is one in a raft of initiatives planned for the corporation's 2010 'year of science' project. The corporation has also committed to run at least one major experiment per quarter through Lab UK, its groundbreaking experiment site, and has ordered a slew of new science programmes for radio and television. Highlights include Radio 4's The Age Of The Genome, in which Richard Dawkins details the project to map the genome as well as the latest research in DNA, and So You Wanna Be A Scientist? which aims to engage members of the public with science by giving them the opportunity to carry out experiments alongside professionals. Director of BBC Vision Jana Bennett said: 'Science is at the heart of everyday life, life itself and the universe. It's also a deeply human pursuit. In 2010, the BBC aims to illuminate, celebrate and evaluate science in the Twenty First Century and how its shaped our history and culture. The BBC is committed to a broad range of quality science content, offering entry points for everybody, from the definitive Story of Science and the spectacular geology series How Earth Made Us on BBC3, to hands on science in Bang Goes The Theory on BBC1 and delving into Beautiful Minds on BBC4.'

The BBC is to come under attack over its coverage of religious and ethical issues in a debate at the General Synod of the Church of England. Former BBC local radio producer Nigel Holmes will call upon the BBC and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to 'explain' why British television - once 'exemplary' in its coverage of religious and ethical issues - now allegedly 'marginalises' the few that remain. Emphasis on 'the few that remain', pal. I think you've just answered your own question, there. Nevertheless, I'll be interested to see what, exactly, the BBC's reply to your 'call' will be. A slightly more polite version of 'Sod off, Godbotherer', I'm guessing. He went on to note that he will ask members of the Church's governing body meeting next month in London to back his Private Member's Motion accusing BBC television of ignoring Good Friday 2009. Except, of course, that they didn't 'ignore' it. It was clearly marked on the calendar between Thursday and Easter Saturday. They had programmes on and everything. Maybe you were just in bed that day, Nigel? In a background briefing paper for the General Synod, Holmes, of Great Corby, near Carlisle, said over the past twenty years the output of general programmes on BBC Television had doubled. Yet BBC figures for the same period show there has been a reduction in religious television output from one hundred and seventy seven hours to one hundred and fifty five hours a year, he said. Holmes said ITV appeared to be a 'lost cause' in terms of religious broadcasting - or, indeed, anything else for that matter - with an even steeper fall from one hundred and ten hours a decade ago to next to nothing now. A spokeswoman for the BBC said: 'The BBC's commitment to religion and ethics broadcasting is unequivocal. We would like to stress that the two figures presented by Nigel Holmes relating to our television hours broadcast over the last twenty years do not give an accurate picture of our output. For the last five years the BBC's total religion and ethics hours broadcast across all its television portfolio have remained constantly above the 2004-05 figure of one hundred and fifty five hours - increasing to one hundred and sixty four for 2008-09.' Asked for a further comment, she noted 'blimey, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.' Ah ... few do, love. Their chief element is cakes, apparently.

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has said that he 'may go after' Bruce Springsteen for a guest stint on the show. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Murphy admitted that he is worried about doing too much stunt-casting, but revealed that Springsteen is a favourite artists of the producers. 'Brad Falchuk is obsessed with having Bruce Springsteen on the show, so I'm sure we'll go after him at some point,' he said. Discussing previous guest stars, he added: 'We got Olivia Newton-John. She's going to come on and do 'Physical' with Jane Lynch. In the past couple of months, a lot of people are coming out saying they love the show and would I meet with them and write something. But I don't want to stunt-cast too much, because I think the [musical] numbers are already so extravagant.'

Danny Dyer has said that ITV spends too much money on entertainment rather than quality drama. And, you just noticed this last week, did you Danny? That's remarkably observant of you. Writing in his Zoo magazine column, the Football Factor actor dismissed ITV reality series Dancing On Ice. 'I can't believe there's more Holly Willoughby on the box,' he wrote. 'It's a shame because they're chucking money at this shit and not making decent dramas.'

Commentator Bill McLaren, known popularly as the 'voice of rugby,' has died at the age of eighty six. Bill, from Hawick, retired in 2002 and was awarded OBE, CBE and MBE for services to the sport and broadcasting. He began commentating on radio in 1953 and moved on to television six years later. He went on to earn the respect of players, fans, and spectators by being the best-researched commentator that televised rugby had ever seen. Former England captain Bill Beaumont recognised the importance of McLaren's contribution to the sport. 'Bill McLaren is synonymous with what is good about the game,' he said. 'Every player respected Bill, they respected his judgement. To sit alongside him you just admired the professionalism and homework that he put into his commentaries and also his passion for the game.'

ITV bosses have been given just two weeks to convince the Competition Commission to relax its Contract Rights Renewal scheme, after the watchdog yet again rejected the commercial broadcaster's plea to loosen its advertising 'straightjacket.' In a provisional decision published this morning, the Competition Commission indicated that the scheme should only be expanded to include an HD and catch-up channel, rather than undergo more radical changes. That finding was identical to the conclusion drawn by the panel four months ago, but a final decision was delayed until this month to allow ITV to change the commissions mind, with bosses proposing a new advertising model. Chairman Diana Guy said the commission 'looked carefully' at the new deal which aimed to 'include greater flexibility into negotiations whilst retaining some protection for advertisers.' But she said: 'It has, however, become clear that other variations are not likely to be either practicable or effective. We found that it would not provide adequate protection for advertisers and its practical application would raise too many uncertainties and questions.' The Contract Rights Renewal scheme was introduced as a result of the Carlton and Granada merger in 2003, and limits the money ITV can receive from advertising if its audience falls year-on-year.

Jay Leno has explained his version of the recent shake-up in programming at NBC. The network has confirmed that The Jay Leno Show will be moved from its prime-time slot next month, with the hope that it will return to the 11.35pm slot currently occupied by Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show. O'Brien later suggested that he will not accept a move to 12.05am. Speaking during his Monday evening monologue, Leno explained that executives made the decision to hand O'Brien The Tonight Show in 2004 because he had received offers from other networks and they were unsure that Leno could sustain his ratings. 'Don't blame Conan O'Brien,' he said. 'Nice guy, good family guy, great guy. Through all of this Conan O'Brien has been a gentleman. I have no animosity towards him. This is all business.' Isn't that a line from The Godfather Part II? Leno went on to say that he wanted to retire 'just to avoid what happened last time' but the network instead offered him a prime-time show. He claimed that it 'didn't seem like a good idea at the time' but he decided to accept. He continued to say that he again asked to be released from his contract when the network cancelled The Jay Leno Show but was instead offered the 11.30pm slot, reportedly being told that O'Brien was ready to move to 12.05am until he saw O'Brien's statement in the news. '[NBC says to me if Conan] decides to walk and doesn't want to do it, do you want the show back?' Leno said. 'I go, "Yeah, I'll take the show back. If that's what he wants to do. This way, we keep our people working, fine." So that's pretty much where we are.' He added that he 'might be back at 11.30pm' but that it has not been confirmed yet.

Hat Trick co-founder Denise O'Donoghue is reported to be stepping down from her senior role at NBC Universal – just four months after starting the job. O'Donoghue, who left Hat Trick in 2006, began as President of International Television Productions for the US studio in September last year. But a statement from the US studio, issued today, said that O'Donoghue and NBCU had 'mutually agreed to exercise an option' for her to exit the role.

Dollhouse's series finale has been delayed for a week due to the Hope For Haiti telethon. FOX recently announced plans to broadcast the event - organised by George Clooney - this coming Friday between 8pm and 10pm, meaning that Dollhouse will not air as originally planned. Instead, FOX has rescheduled the series finale for the following Friday, 29 January. That just about sums up Dollhouse's time on this earth. It couldn't even slip quietly into that endless night without getting pissed about by some exterior force or other. Sometimes, Joss, it just clearly isn't meant to be.

Billie Piper has admitted to using body doubles for some of the sex scenes in Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. However, the former Doctor Who star told Heat magazine that she is happy to show her body on film and does not mind the thought that some men will watch the show closely for that reason. Well, they're certainly not watching it for the dialogue, or the finely crafted characterisation, are they? Piper said: 'I only use body doubles for certain things - just some stuff which I couldn't do for sheer embarrassment. Usually it's just the intense grinding scenes I can't do. In the third episode there's an entire scene in which I'm being done from behind and I had to make a series of animal noises at the same time. I did leave work that day feeling a bit sordid and a bit wrong.' I don't know about anybody else, but if I was doing an interview with a widely read magazine and I left it having used the phrase 'being done from behind' I might feel a bit sordid and wrong about that in and of itself. She added: 'I felt quite low about myself - like I had to have a shower before I went home and fed my child. But it was funny as well. Everyone on set found it very funny, anyway. I felt wrong afterwards, but when I watched it back I did think it was funny too.' You heard it here first, folks. Billie Piper thinks buggery is 'a right good laugh,' apparently.

A British student living in China has won the country's version of The X Factor. Mary-Jess Leaverland is now a local celebrity and has been stopped by Chinese fans wanting her autograph in the Jiangsu province, where the show was aired. It's just like Joe McElderry, isn't it? And, just like Joe McElderry, she'll be back serving behind the tills at Morrison's in eighteen months.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will film in Hawaii this summer. The islands of Kaua'i and O'ahu are to host the fourth instalment of the Johnny Depp's pirate saga, Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle and Disney CEO Bob Iger announced yesterday. Nine director Rob Marshall is at the helm of the blockbuster, which will again be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. 'We've always sought out the most extraordinary and exotic locations for the Pirates Of The Caribbean films and previously shot briefly on both Maui and Moloka'i for At World's End,' said Bruckheimer. 'Hawaii provides an amazing range of both land and seascapes, and we're delighted to return for On Stranger Tides.' The production is expected to pump an estimated eighty five million dollars into the local economy.

Amy Adams has revealed that she used to behave 'like a five-year-old.' Well to be fair, so did most of us, chuck. When we were five.

Katie Price reportedly reduced Danielle Lloyd to tears at the model's engagement party after making a nasty jibe about her dress. According to the Mirror, Lloyd was thrilled after choosing a twenty six thousand pound gown encrusted with Swarkovski crystals for the event in London's Mayfair. However, it is thought that she was left upset on the night when Price laughed at her and boasted that she had worn the same frock for the wedding of friends Gary Cockerill and Phil Turner last August. A source said: 'Danielle thought she'd found a really special dress. She wanted to look like a princess. And she did - until Jordan walked in and ruined it all.' It is claimed that Price later refused to pose for pictures with Lloyd and her footballer fiance, Jamie O'Hara, at Saturday's party, which had photographers present as part of a magazine deal. All this and Ollie Murs was singing. What a terrible way to ruin the poor girl's big day. Mind you, the poor girl in question did once say on national television that she thought Shilpa Shetty should 'fuck off home,' adding that 'she can't even speak English properly.' So, frankly, this blogger couldn't give a toss if her big day was ruined by another crass gobshite or not. Swings and roundabouts, innit?

And, speaking of celebrity-by-non-entity, Amanda Holden has denied reports that she has had a boob job. It was suggested that the Britain's Got Talent judge - and sitcom flop - had undergone cosmetic surgery after new photographs of her in a bikini emerged in the press. However, Holden told Heat: 'I've had fun and put on four pounds over Christmas. I definitely haven't had boob job, but my New Year's resolution is to start running again.' Holden has previously said that she would be happy to have cosmetic surgery when she grows older, but she added: 'The only thing I want to avoid is breast implants because I am a size eight and could overbalance and fall flat on my face!' Well, at least that would be funny. Funnier than anything in Big Top, anyway.

X Factor judge Dannii Minogue is the odds-on favourite to depart the ITV reality show. Oh dear. How sad. However, the least famous of the Minogue sisters has also been tipped to become the new 'face' of Marks & Spencer. The thirty eight-year-old, who recently announced her pregnancy, is apparently being lined up to follow in the footsteps of Myleene Klass. According to STV, the British shopping chain is keen to secure Dannii's services. However, a store spokesperson was unable to confirm the reports.

Former EastEnders actress - and fatty - Hannah Waterman has defended her high-profile diet following criticism from her estranged husband, Ricky Groves. In a newspaper interview earlier this month, Groves was said to have described Waterman 'an obsessive dieter' who owned four sets of scales. His comments came after the couple, who played Walford's Laura Beale and Garry Hobbs, split up on New Year's Day following three years of marriage. The thirty four-year-old actress recently slimmed down from a size sixteen to size six after undertaking a new food and fitness regime. She has since released her own Body Blitz workout DVD. Responding to Groves's reported comments, Waterman told Closer magazine: 'I did the DVD routine three times a week with a trainer and some weeks it was only once or twice a week. Obsessive is the last thing it was. As for having four sets of weighing scales - that's because three of them were broken! I lost the weight at a steady rate of two pounds a week or less, directly in line with government health department guidelines. This was no crash diet regime.'

A woman accused of stalking Kerry Katona has reportedly been ordered to stay away from the obese reality TV regular and cocaine taker. Last month, it emerged that Katona had contacted police after a 'fan' she had befriended on Facebook turned up uninvited at her Cheshire residence. Katona later made a further allegation of harassment. A police spokesman has now confirmed that the poor deranged woman, who is thought to be from Greater Manchester, has received a 'formal warning' over her behaviour. Meanwhile, a source told the Sun: 'Kerry hopes it's all over.' Police had previously said that Katona was given advice on how to maintain 'personal security and privacy' online in the aftermath of the incident. Well, stop releasing a new story for the tabloids every couple of days telling them about all of the most intimate details of your life and how many TV shows you're hoping to be appearing on might, one would suggest, be a good place to start. Mind you, the woman in question wants locking up, frankly. All of the people one could imagine being stalked by those with mental problems in the world and the best that she can come up with is Kerry Katona. I mean, that's sad.

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