Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gossip, Slander & Bitchery

I wonder, dear blog reader, when one becomes a Page Three model, does one automatically begin receiving sleazy texts from Vernon Kay and Ashley Cole or do you have to fill in a form first? Maybe at the bottom of the contract, you can tick a box to opt-out?

David Mitchell has criticised the BBC over its decision to block its newsreaders and journalists from appearing on his new comedy quiz show. The series, The Bubble, contains real and fake news-clips which celebrity contestants are asked to distinguish. The BBC decided that it will not endorse its reporters, such as Nick Robinson who featured in the pilot, to such a show - despite Fiona Bruce appearing in a fake news-clip on EastEnders Live: The Aftermath last Friday. After using the news story as part of Friday's edition, the Peep Show actor said wryly: 'Big round of applause for those guys. Apparently it would undermine BBC News.' He added: 'We've had to modify our production plans. The BBC does not act like an entity, it acts like a warring federation.' Speaking on Radio 4 prior to the programme's broadcast, Mitchell said: 'BBC News has decided that there's a risk that if people turned on and saw a bit of the news report, [they] might believe it. Even though there will always throughout the show be The Bubble logo in the corner which you don't get with the news and even though on plenty of television drama like [Spooks] you have a little news insert, and there's no fear as a result of that. But for this show [it is not the case], despite the fact it worked well in the pilot.'

A revelation, dear blog reader, from this week's audience appreciation index figures. Deal or No Deal scored an above average eighty two whilst The Bible: A History only got a below average seventy five from viewers. Does this mean, therefore, that the Beard of Despair Noel Edmonds is now, officially, more popular than Jesus?

A judge on the ITV talent show Dancing on Ice was 'justified' in comparing celebrity contestant Sharron Davies' performance to 'faecal matter' despite more than four hundred complaints from viewers, media regulator Ofcom ruled yesterday. Jason Gardiner made the comments about the former Olympic swimmer Davies after she danced with her professional partner, Pavel Aubrecht, on the show, broadcast on 31 January. Ofcom received four hundred and forty three complaints about the comment from viewers who said it was offensive and upsetting and unsuitable to be heard by children. But Ofcom said today the remarks were justified by the context of the show and did not breach broadcasting regulations. The regulator said Gardiner was 'well established as the acerbic "nasty" judge' on the show, and the comparison played up to his 'pantomime villain' image. Ofcom added that 'faecal matter' was 'unusual language' and a 'medical term' with which most children would be unfamiliar. 'The word is an accepted medical term rather than a commonly-used form of offensive language,' the regulator concluded. Gardiner told Davies: 'I'm giving you a two for improved leg lines and arm lines – absolutely – but for me this is also about performance and your skating is on one level; and I don't know what it was – it was just like – the brown costume and everything. It was like watching faecal matter that won't flush – it goes around and around and around and in the end it doesn't go anywhere. You've got to give me a performance level, there's got to be some sort of a journey with you.' Ofcom recognised that the reference to 'faecal matter' was potentially offensive to some people, but said the remarks were 'fleeting and seemed to be a passing reference to a combination of the colour of Sharron Davies' costume and a comment on what Jason Gardiner perceived to be the poor standard of her performance.' The regulator added that talent show audiences have 'come to expect negative comments being expressed by the judges about some contestants, and that this would have been particularly the case concerning comments made by Jason Gardiner.' Gardiner's fellow judges distanced themselves from his comments, and presenter Holly Willoughby swiftly moved on from the comparison, Ofcom added.

There was a lovely little piece in yesterday's Gruniad by my old mate Andrew Cartmel about his recent Doctor Who-related appearance on Newsnight.

Comedian Frank Skinner has signed up to front his first BBC2 series since Fantasy Football League in the 1990s. Frank Skinner's Opinionated will be a weekly topical show discussing issues in the news 'from Frank's unique perspective,' the channel said. Each week, the show will come from a different part of the country and feature two comedians as well as 'a very opinionated audience.' The show, due to go out in the 22:00 time slot, will broadcast later this year. Skinner said: 'It's me, two guest comedians and, most importantly, the citizens of Great Britain sharing our opinions on stuff in the news. On a good week, I will probably crowd-surf.' BBC entertainment commissioning controller Mark Linsey said: 'Frank is one of the funniest faces on TV and his own individual style and unique humour is guaranteed to keep audiences laughing.' Fantasy Football League, a quite brilliant (and influential) mixture of chat show format, sports critique and sketch-based comedy, which Skinner fronted with David Baddiel, ran on BBC2 from 1994 to 1996 and attracted a regular audience of three million viewers. It later tranferred to ITV, where the comedians also had a hit with - the far less impressive - Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned.

Lucy Davis has said that she would like to join the cast of FlashForward. 'I've been watching FlashForward at the moment with Joe Fiennes. I've really enjoyed it! Maybe I should try for a part in that and wade in with my ideas!' she said. You'd better hurry up then, Luce. Hate to be the one to break it to you, but FlashForward has been doing piss-poorly in the ratings and, if I read the signs correctly, it's a cancellation just waiting to happen.

It appears as though the fat lady may have started singing for Popstar to Operastar which, according to the ever-reliable Sun, is 'set to be AXED after just one series.' And AXED is in capital letters so it MUST be true. Bosses have 'privately admitted' that ratings for the talent show fell well below par. The final last Friday night fizzled out with around four million viewers and was even beaten in the ratings by BBC3's EastEnders Aftermath show. The newspaper claims that 'top brass' wanted more than five million. One ITV insider joked last night: 'It died on its arias.' He (or she) added: 'Ratings did pick up towards the end but the reality is it just didn't capture the public's interest. We thought it would be like Soapstar Superstar, which bagged seven million. But it just proved that people weren't fussed about it.' It also emerged that bosses had hoped to get much bigger names on the show - which saw pop singers learning to perform operatic hits. The source said: 'Last year there was talk of getting massive names like Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud as a contestant and Charlotte Church as a judge. But in the end the "stars" were of a much lower calibre.' As if to prove their point, Darius Campbell beat Bernie Nolan in the final. A spokesman for ITV said: 'In a competitive schedule, Popstar to Operastar performed well and built its audience over the series. As the run has only just finished, no decision has yet been made on a re-commission.'

Actress Rachael Leigh Cook has reportedly landed a leading role in a new FOX comedy pilot. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cook will star in Nirvana, about two Indian-American brothers living in the US who clash with their controlling parents. The thirty-year-old has signed to play the girlfriend of one of the brothers. The She's All That star recently had a recuring role on USA network drama Psych.

Ant and Dec have said that they want their upcoming TV show to represent the British viewer. The presenting duo told Heat that the programme is inspired by classic family-friendly Saturday night fare. Dec Donnelly said: 'We came up with the format a little while ago. We like making shows that all the family can enjoy, so we tried to create a show that a whole family can take part in - a really traditional Saturday night game show. We've got a huge catalogue of games that we'll rotate every week. All of them are pretty daft, but enormous fun.' Ant McPartlin added: 'The Generation Game, Blind Date and Barrymore's My Kind Of People are the inspiration - shows which had great British eccentric family members on. We wanted to represent the viewer on telly.'

Jeremy Paxman apologised to viewers during Newsnight on Monday night after he used a naughty swearword in the programme. The presenter read quotes from Andrew Rawnsley's book, The End of the Party, which has controversially accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of bullying. Seconds after reading the passage, Paxman said that his editor had ordered him to apologise for using the offending word. A BBC spokesman said the language was used after the watershed and Paxman 'apologised immediately.' In a full statement, the BBC said: 'During a post watershed interview with Andrew Rawnsley, Jeremy read a direct quote from his book which contained an expletive. He apologised immediately to anyone that may have found it offensive.' During the live programme, Paxman said: 'Apparently I'm told by our editor that I have to apologise for quoting what you said the Prime Minister said. So honour [is] satisfied now.' Bloody hell, that editor's a far braver man than I! He doesn't suffer fools gladly does Paxo.

Five has secured the participation of television stars from major Hollywood studios for a new marketing campaign to promote its US crime dramas. Titled The Drama Continues, the segment shifts between actors from leading TV shows in 'one continuous piece of action, capturing each star in his or her iconic environment.' Filmed last month in Los Angeles, the campaign features separate spots from CSI's Lawrence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger and Gary Sinise, along with FlashForward's Joseph Fiennes, The Mentalist's Simon Baker and NCIS star Mark Harmon. Directed by Richard Hart and Keith Gray from London creative agency Power Animal, the film was shot by American cinematographer John Barr (whose work includes Frost/Nixon and Capote). The promo premiered yesterday on the main Five channel and will now run for an indefinite period. According to Five, this represents the first time that Warner Bros, CBS Television Studios and Disney's ABC Studios have released their talent for a single promo. 'The participation of different actors from different shows made by different Hollywood studios in a single marketing spot is unprecedented,' said Five's creative director Nol Davis.

Ofcom has criticised Sky for 'encouraging purchases' during Curry's sponsorship of its flagship show The Simpsons. The TV regulator has ruled the sponsorship credits overstepped the mark by advertising services including Curry's home delivery, recycling and installation services. Ofcom upheld a breach of rule 9.13 of its code which states, 'credits must not encourage the purchase or rental of the products or services of the sponsor.' Sky hit back at the initial ruling during its response, claiming Ofcom had confirmed the credits were 'compliant' ahead of broadcast. Curry's started a twelve-month sponsorship of The Simpsons in June 2009, after a ten-year deal with Domino's Pizza ended.

Coldplay will reportedly release a new album in 2010. Oh bugger, as if this year hasn't been ruddy miserable enough already what with all the snow.

Filming for Norris Cole's new Coronation Street storyline was yesterday halted due to snow, it has been confirmed. A location shoot in the Yorkshire Moors for scenes involving Norris (Malcolm Hebden) and his admirer Mary Taylor (Patti Clare) was abandoned after poor weather conditions made it too difficult to film. Norris's new Misery-style plotline sees Mary holding the newsagent captive in a remote cottage near Haworth after they go off on holiday together. A show source told the Sun: 'Snow made filming impossible. It wouldn't have been safe.' A Coronation Street spokeswoman confirmed: 'We did have to abandon some filming yesterday up on the Moors. It will be rescheduled.' Filming at Corrie's Granada Studios base in Manchester was previously disrupted last month due to heavy snowfall.

Departing EastEnders boss Diederick Santer has promised that Stacey Branning's murderous secret will remain 'an active storyline' over the next few weeks. In Friday night's live episode, Stacey was seen confessing to her father-in-law, Max (Jake Wood) that it was she what killed Archie Mitchell to death on Christmas Day with the bashing and the blood and the horror. She revealed her guilt after seeing her husband, poor naive Bradley (Charlie Clements), fall to his ultimately death from the roof of the Queen Vic while he was running from police who believed he was the culprit. So, that's the blood of two men you've got on yer hands, Stace. Wicked woman. Lacey Turner, who plays the troubled Stacey, was only informed of her alter ego's heinous crime minutes before the anniversary instalment went on-air last week. Episodes which will be transmitted over the coming days were all filmed before Stacey's live confession. Explaining how the forthcoming editions will work in a BBC blog post, Santer confirmed: 'Monday's episode picks up with Stacey and Max both distraught at the loss of Bradley, and to some extent blaming themselves for what's happened. But the audience now know something more than the actors did when playing those scenes - that Stacey is the killer and Max knows it. Here's where it gets tricky! With the greatest respect to those two brilliant actors, their sadness and guilt plays both ways. Upset at their loss and at encouraging Bradley to run, or upset at their loss and the fact that Stacey's actions may have led to it - these two sets of feelings and emotions more or less look the same.' He continued: 'With Stacey and Max, it's all helped by the fact that Stacey mysteriously disappears quite soon too. We won't be filming new scenes [today] - although we are doing some sound editing - but we will be dropping some quickly shot material in before too long. So I can assure viewers that the story doesn't become conveniently forgotten about, but rather stays active.'

Having let ITV off but given Sky a right trousers-down spanking yesterday, and with The Power it now wields causing it to get the biggest collective hard-on in its history, Ofcom also took MTV, ITV2, ITV4 and Dave to the woodshed over instances of naughty pre-watershed swearing in pre-recorded programmes. This made Ofcom feel like A Man, apparently. The regulator upheld complaints about broadcasts on all four channels over the use of the word 'fuck' during daytime programming. All four instances related to pre-recorded material that had been inadequately complied for a daytime broadcast. ITV4's case was unusual in that it was a repeat of a live boxing match. Despite commentators offering a live apology during the original Big Fight Live, ITV had sought no compliance advice prior to its second broadcast. It has subsequently reviewed its compliance procedures for live sports events and has appointed a compliance advisor to liaise with the production team prior to their broadcast. MTV's breach centred on a pre-recorded performance by the group Glasvegas. Due to human error, the wrong song had been copied onto the tape for broadcast and mislabelled. The human in question has now, reportedly, been thrashed to within a inch of his life. And then thrashed some more. The song broadcast was, in fact, the only one which was deemed unsuitable for a pre-watershed slot. The channel was recently upheld over swearing in a live broadcast of a Lady Gaga concert. Other instances upheld included a caption in an episode of Have I Got News For You, broadcast on Dave at 2.40pm and ITV2 documentary The Passions of Girls Aloud, broadcast at 8.30am.

Rob James-Collier has been confirmed for upcoming ITV costume drama Downton Abbey. The actor, who played Liam Connor in Coronation Street, has been cast alongside Dame Maggie Smith. Collier also joins Benidorm actress Siobhan Finneran, Robin Hood's Joanne Froggatt, Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton and Jim Carter. The drama, said to be 'a subtle remake' of Upstairs, Downstairs, has been written by Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes. Fellowes told What's On TV: 'In 1912, England was teetering on the brink. Apparently placid, still rooted in the traditions of many centuries, it would be less than ten years before the First World War and the Jazz age had ripped every certainty to shreds. This is the moment when we enter the world of Downton Abbey, the great house of a great family, where the Granthams and their daughters preside over a household in the charge of Carson, the butler, and Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper. All these people must, in their different ways, deal with the changes that are coming.' ITV's director of drama Laura Mackie said: 'We're delighted with the stellar cast who have come together for Downton Abbey. It's testament to the quality of Julian's wonderful scripts and the calibre of the production team that some of the brightest and best of the UK's leading actors have come on board.' The show, which is seven episodes long, plans to launch with a special ninety-minute film in the autumn.

Meanwhile, Holly Willoughby is about to cast her spell as an actress - by playing a Seventeenth Century witch in a new Miss Marple. The Dancing On Ice and This Morning host has landed her first acting role in ten years as Goody Carne in ITV's latest Agatha Christie offering, The Pale Horse.

BBC Worldwide is taking Glastonbury around the world after signing an exclusive deal to distribute footage from the music festival across television and radio. The BBC has covered the music event for a decade and its commercial arm has held the radio rights since 1985 – but has never held the TV distribution rights. Stephen Davies, director of BBCW Audio and Music, said: 'It's a real feather in our caps, especially as Glastonbury is in its Fortieth year. We understand the music market but we are also able to tap into BBCW's global sales infrastructure.' Head of content development Jon Mansfield added: 'With headliners including U2, Muse and Jack Johnson, Glastonbury 2010 promises an exceptional year [and stands to attract] the festival's biggest global audience ever.' BBCW Audio and Music launched two years ago and already distributes around one hundred hours of programming to sixty five broadcasters in fifty different countries. As well as Glastonbury, it holds the distribution rights to Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Top of The Pops.

BECTU is urging Siemens staff working at the BBC to strike over pay. The union has balloted for strike action after Siemens' imposed a salary freeze on all staff – including those who provide all the BBC's technology, transmission and IT services. By contrast, BBC employees below senior manager level are entitled to a small salary increase. Siemens' decision follows a major redundancy operation in which seventy staff lost their jobs, and is likely to come ahead of another round of restructuring as fifty jobs in 'server operations' are outsourced to Romania. Bectu national official Suresh Chawla described it as a 'real double whammy' of bad news for its members. 'With the level of redundancies that we’ve already endured, and continue to face, it's not even as if a pay freeze is safeguarding jobs. Whilst colleagues within the BBC, and in other service partner companies, are receiving modest pay increases and with inflation now hitting 3.7 per cent Siemens' position is untenable. 'We have no option but to ballot our members for industrial action. We hope to be able to resume talks with the employer once they're able to make an offer.'

Johnny Marr was delighted last night after getting back a cherished guitar which was stolen over a decade ago. The 1964 red Gibson SG - worth in the region of thirty grand - was pinched by a fan, Stephen White. White told a court that he was 'disgusted' with himself for taking it. Marr had offered a reward for its return but White kept the instrument for over ten years. He even had it repaired after he stood on it. The theft was eventually uncovered when police had a tip-off. White, from Enfield in North London, was sentenced to two hundred hours community service at Highbury magistrates court last week. PC Chris Swain said that Marr - currently on tour in New Zealand with The Cribs - didn't bear White any ill-will over the theft which had occurred at the Scala club in King's Cross, where Marr was playing with his band The Healers in 2000. Swain added that the former Smiths guitarist was 'ecstatic' about getting the instrument, which held great sentimental value, back.

Danniella Westbrook has revealed that she has been suffering from diarrhoea during Dancing On Ice rehearsals. Earlier in the series, Gary Lucy and his professional partner Maria Filippov were forced to miss a day of training due to a 'twenty four-hour vomiting bug.' Speaking about her bout of illness, Westbrook told Star magazine: 'You mean the sickness and the diarrhoea? I've got it now! I have a dodgy tummy but I thought it was the KFC I ate.' Westbrook and professional partner Matthew Gonzalez finished second on the judges' scoreboard on Sunday with twenty four points. Except Colonel Sanders to sue Westbrook on general principle.

Dave Gorman has rejected criticism that his TV programmes are 'contrived.' The stand-up comedian told Metro that he often rejects strange ideas for shows sent to him by members of the public. Gorman said: 'People assume I do things thinking they'll become a project but the events in Googlewhack Adventure weren't contrived. They actually happened and it only looks like a project because I gave it a title. While I was doing it, it was pretty unpleasant and I was having a bit of a breakdown. I'm proud I managed to turn it into a show but don't look back on the events as a fun time.' He added: 'I get e-mails from people saying: "Why don't you go to every country in Europe and meet its highest scoring Eurovision contestant and go up its highest mountain?" I don't because they're ridiculous ideas and contrived. I'm proud of the truth of my shows.'

The glamour girl at the centre of Vernon Kay's sex-text row has admitted that she is facing a backlash over her behaviour. Earlier this month, Kay confessed that he had sent a number of racy text messages to model Rhian Sugden. The married TV host later confirmed that he had also been involved in flirty exchanges with four other women. In an interview with Heat, Sugden explained that she has experienced two unpleasant encounters with members of the public since the news broke. She said: 'A girl threw a drink at me and another spat in my face.' Yeah, at least one of those'd be Tess Daly, love. Never rub a married man's rhubarb, you're only asking for trouble. She added, somewhat self-pityiningly 'Vernon has been inappropriate and I shouldn't have egged him on. But I'm fed up with people saying I put this story out for media attention. He's obviously got more to lose than I have, but it's still my life and my job and I'm getting shit for it as well.' Yeah, yeah, isn't life tragic?

Amanda Holden has claimed that Katie Price should have arranged a pre-nuptial agreement before marrying cage fighter Alex Reid. Price has declared that she has a joint bank account with her new husband and that she wants their relationship to be completely 'equal.' However, writing in her Fabulous column, Holden remarked: 'I like Katie, but I worry she's married Alex on a whim. I don't think sharing a bank account like they've decided to do is wise either. A woman of her means should have a pre-nuptial agreement. It's silly and naive of her not to. While I believe in love, she should protect her assets - and by that I mean her money, not her bosom!' Witty. I mean, far wittier than anything in Big Top, for instance. The Britain's Got Talent judge - and Big Top failure - also commented on Peter Andre's emotional Sky News interview, which saw him break down when host Kay Burley quizzed him over his children. Holden said: 'I feel for him and am disgusted at Kay. Asking how he'd feel if Alex adopted his kids was cheap and callous. It must be hard for Pete, but I hope he and Katie keep doing the best for their kids.'

Martin Amis has hit back at claims made by Anna Ford that he is 'a whingeing narcissist' who smoked over her husband’s deathbed. The best-selling author disparaged the former newsreader's 'surprise attack' against him as an 'unworthy farrago' and accused her of shaming the memory of Mark Boxer, her late husband. Miss Ford claimed in an open letter last week that 'narcissism and inability to empathise' was at the root of Amis's anger about 'chaotic perceptions' of him in the press.

Dancer Derek Hough spent seven hours 'comforting' Cheryl Cole in her hotel room on Sunday night, a report has claimed. According to the Sun, the Dancing With The Stars professional arrived at Cole's Los Angeles hotel early in the evening and was not seen leaving until 4am yesterday morning. An 'onlooker' (what, at 4am? Well, it is 'the city that never sleeps', I guess) told the newspaper: 'He looked very pleased with himself.' A 'source' told the Mirror: 'Derek has been like a rock for Cheryl.' Hmm... yes, we've all heard that rumour. 'As you can imagine, she's having trouble sleeping.' Oh, one can so well imagine.

Meanwhile, notorious full-of-his-own-importance gobshite ex-footballer Ian Wright has claimed that Cheryl Cole 'could be partly to blame' for her current marriage problems. Writing in his column for the Sun, Wright said that the X Factor judge should 'consider trying to work things out' with her husband, Ashley. The couple's relationship is alleged to be 'on the rocks' following fresh allegations that Ashley is a love cheat as well as a footballer with a long and disgusting record of getting his fellow professionals sent off by feigning-injury, which as far as Keith Telly Topping is concerned is, actually, a much worse crime in the great scheme of things. However, former Arsenal player Wright, now an - alleged - presenter of Five's appallingly dreadful Live From Studio Five, commented: 'I know Ashley.' Oh well, that's all right, then. 'I would like to see his marriage survive. I am sure "Brand Cheryl" will be advising her to ditch the bloke immediately. But I would like them to give it one last go with a marriage counsellor. Some people will say he is a piece of shit.' Yes. Some people probably will. 'Equally, there are two sides to every story. There have been two totally unrelated women who have said how intimate he was with them.' Actually, it's reportedly up to four now, Ian. And rising. 'Something was obviously missing from his relationship at home, so he has decided to go elsewhere.' So, to sum up, then; it's all her fault that he went walkabout, is it Ian? Interesting theory. 'Maybe Cheryl has been at fault as well, with her work in a band, on hit TV shows and flying all over the world. It seems Ashley may have felt lonely and neglected and this might have been the reason why he has had to look further afield.' So, again, if I can follow this train of thought, what you're basically saying is that if she'd been back in the house, making sure his tea was on the table after training and meekly lying back and thinking of England three or four times a week then he might not have found it necessary to give it out to several bits of passing skirt? However, perhaps realising that these ludicrous and piggishly provocative comments might just seem like crass excuse-making for a young man who, seemingly, can't keep it in his pants despite being, you know, married, Wright quickly insisted in his column that he 'does not condone' Cole's alleged behaviour and said that the sportsman is 'a bad example' for youngsters at his club, Chelsea. To sum up, then ... err, sorry, what was the question again? Jolly well done, Wrighty. Clear as effing mud, that.

Choreographer Arlene Phillips has claimed that her breasts are her best physical feature. Well, it's certainly not yer face, darlin'.

1 comment:

Mietek Padowicz said...

Cogent as usual Mr Topping. I finally broke down and watched The Bubble, much to my surprise, it was good, even funny. There is little chance I or any body else will mistake the stories on Bubble as real. Though I must admit to being briefly taken in by the Mumster story. I hope the BBC changes it's mind and get's itself a sense of humour. Apropos of nothing, I am really missing Top Gear. Any news from our favourite Automotive "Journalists"?