Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mind The Gap & Cut The Crap

One of the God-bothering squad turned up on yer Keith Telly Topping's doorstep the other evening, dear blog readers. He was a very nice lad, as it happened. Certainly knew his ontological onions. Once I'd checked the collar of his shirt to make sure it wasn't made from polyester and cotton (which had it been would've meant, according to the Book of Exodus, that I have the right to stone him to death) I let him into Stately Telly Topping Manor to give me the spiel. 'What would you do if Jesus came to Newcastle?' he asked, not unreasonably. I thought about this for a moment. 'Probably I guess I'd move Andy Carroll to inside-right and go back to a four-four-two system,' I said. He seemed to approve.

[Spooks] creator Stephen Garrett has reportedly stated he fears the worst for BBC drama following the budget cuts that the broadcaster currently faces. The founder and head of production company Kudos, which also produces Law & Order: UK for ITV, believes that successful drama produced in this decade will be near impossible to reproduce in the future. Garrett is quoted by the Guardian as saying: 'Everyone is waking up to the fact that quintessentially British productions, with cultural integrity, are the ones likely to fall through the cracks. [Spooks], Hustle, Life on Mars - they are all funded in the old-world way.' The fifty two-year-old implied that the publicly funded broadcaster has had its creative priorities in the wrong place. 'Occupation is exactly the sort of thing the BBC should be fully funding. It is a completely British story. British - that is what the BBC is about. But it very nearly didn't happen. We had to be extraordinarily flexible. Instead of being shot in Manchester and Iraq, we went to Belfast to take advantage of Northern Ireland screen subsidies, and Morocco. Everyone involved was under huge financial pressure. The whole thing, pre-production and production, was very stressful,' he added However, Garrett surmised that the BBC has become aware of the issue, concluding: 'I genuinely believe they now recognise there is a problem and are trying to resolve it. They were trying to bring the average cost of drama down. But that meant applying the same rules to everything and there is no logic to that. Not everything has the same value.'

Cy Grant, the Guyanese actor, singer and writer who was one of the first black people to be seen regularly on British TV, has died at the age of ninety. Grant served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and qualified as a barrister before turning to acting. He became best known for his role on the BBC's daily topical programme, The Tonight Show. It made him a household name but he left after two and a half years to avoid being typecast. He went on to star in the award-winning TV drama Home of the Brave in 1957 and played the lead in Othello at the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester in 1965 at a time when white actors still routinely 'blacked-up' for the role. Cy returned to the Bar - briefly - in 1972 but left after six months. Two years later, he helped create the Drum Arts Centre in London - which was considered to be hugely important in the development of black theatre. He went on to set up multi-cultural festivals across England in the 1980s. Alongside his acting and activism work, he recorded five albums, having performed Caribbean folk songs and calypso across the world. Two of his best known singles were 'King Cricket' and 'The Constantine Calypso', in celebration of Gary Sobers and Learie Constantine respectively. He also recorded many shows for radio and wrote several books including a collection of poetry.

The BNP leader - and plucked-owl fast-tracked into a management position in Gregg's - Nick Griffin has said the ejection of a journalist from a meeting proved his party had not 'gone soft.' Times reporter Dominic Kennedy was manhandled by BNP security guards - or 'thugs' as we used to call them - as he tried to cover a vote on the party changing its whites-only membership rules. Griffin said: 'That's not the actions of a snivelling PC party, but of an organisation that has had enough of being lied about.' He made the comments in an e-mail to BNP supporters. Kennedy was at an extraordinary general meeting of the BNP, which had been threatened with an injunction by the Equality and Human Rights Commission if it did not change its membership policy to admit black and Asian people. In a front page article for his newspaper, Kennedy describes how he was ejected from the meeting at an Essex pub. 'Although I had been invited, one prominent BNP politician had taken exception to an article in Saturday's edition of The Times. After he lost his temper with me I was quickly shoved and lifted out of the building, hit in the back and had my face squashed.' Kennedy ended his piece by saying: 'I never thought I would actually get my nose bloodied trying to cover a press conference for a political party - but that is the true face of Nick Griffin and his BNP.'

Clerks director Kevin Smith has revealed he was asked to get off a plane in the US because he was 'too big for the seats.' The thirty nine-year-old claims a pilot ejected him from the Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland to Burbank, saying he did not fit in a single seat. Smith complained about the incident on his Twitter account saying: 'I'm way-fat, but I'm not there just yet.' Southwest issued an apology to the director via Twitter and on its website. In a statement titled Not So Silent Bob - a reference to the character Smith plays in several of his films - the airline said: 'We would like to echo our tweets and again offer our heartfelt apologies to you.' The statement continued: 'Our pilots are responsible for the safety and comfort of all customers on the aircraft and therefore, made the determination that Mr Smith needed more than one seat to complete his flight.' It added it accommodated the director on a later flight, offered him a one hundred dollars voucher and apologised by phone. The airline said its customer of size policy states travellers must be able to fit safely and comfortably in one seat or must purchase an additional seat. However, Smith insists that he was able to put both armrests down and buckle his seat belt. He challenged the airline to bring a row of seats on to a US chat show for him to prove he fit into them.

Christina Hendricks recently confronted media criticisms concerning her weight. The Mad Men actress attracted much - rather ignorant - media scrutiny over her appearance at the Golden Globe awards and later when she appeared in lingerie on the cover of New York magazine's Spring Fashion issue. The thirty four-year-old claimed that she was 'embarrassed' that her voluptuous physique drew more attention than her acting skills. 'It kind of hurt my feelings at first,' she told People. 'Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body!' To be fair, though, it is a very nice body.

Detectives are to launch an investigation after a BBC presenter told TV viewers that he gad carried out a mercy killing on a former lover who was suffering from AIDs. Ray Gosling revealed on Monday night that he had smothered the unnamed partner as he lay in hospital 'in terrible, terrible pain.' A spokeswoman for Nottinghamshire Police said the force had not been aware of the issue until the broadcaster made his revelation on BBC East Midlands' Inside Out programme. She added: 'We are now liaising with the BBC and will investigate the matter.' The BBC said it would 'co-operate fully' with a police investigation. Gosling said he was not 'making a cause' of assisted dying but said there was a case for changing the law. Speaking on the Inside Out show, which was broadcast on Monday, Gosling said: 'Maybe this is the time to share a secret that I have kept for quite a long time. I killed someone once. He was a young chap, he'd been my lover and he got AIDs.' Gosling, a highly-respected freelance broadcaster and presenter of hundreds of radio and TV documentaries, said he had no regrets about his actions, adding: 'When you love someone, it is difficult to see them suffer. We'd got an agreement, if it got worse, the pain, and nobody could do anything. He was in terrible pain, I was there and I saw it. It breaks you into pieces.' Interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he later said: 'Sometimes doctors do it on their own. Sometimes people do it on their own. And if it happens to a lover or friend of yours, a husband, a wife, and I hope it doesn't, but when it does sometimes you have to do brave things and you have to say - to use Nottingham language - bugger the law.'

Former Soccer AM host Tim Lovejoy has signed up to be a guest presenter on Blue Peter. Lovejoy (seen, left, with the Goddess that is Helen Chamberlain back in the days when Soccer AM was the only decent reason to get out of bed on a Saturday morning) auditioned for the long-running BBC children's show ten years ago, but failed to land the job. He has now been asked back to fill in for presenter Helen Skelton, who is embarking on a two thousand mile kayak trip for Sport Relief. 'I auditioned in 1998 when I first started presenting. But I don't think my skills at making things were quite up to scratch,' Lovejoy told the Sun. 'Despite being turned down then, I am delighted that Blue Peter has asked me on.' Angellica Bell, Radio 1's Scott Mills and Dick and Dom will also reportedly do spells as guest presenters on the show.

Asked about Gordon Brown's recent TV interview, David Cameron reportedly told the Evening Standard 'I'm not sure that Piers Morgan is going to be in line for a Pulitzer Prize, given the line of questioning.' No. Nor a National Television Award either.

John Thomson is leaving Coronation Street, it has been revealed. The actor reached the 'mutual decision' with producers of the show after they agreed that his character Jesse Chadwick has 'run his course,' the Mirror reports. A source said: 'Everyone thinks Jesse has done all he can, so it's time to move on.' Thomson joined the ITV drama in September 2008 and appeared on-screen towards the end of the year. The former Cold Feet and The Fast Show actor is expected to say farewell to his colleagues tonight at a party in Manchester, where the show's cast are planning to celebrate their recent success at the National Television Awards. Ah, the National Television Awards. Piers Morgan has never won one of those. Stephen Fry has. Or, two, in fact. Anyway ... Yer Keith Telly Topping is, of course, a huge fan of Thomson's work - particularly his stand-up. Eagle-eyed readers may spot that the illustrating photo (right) is of John doing his Bernard Rite-On character. 'An Englishman, an Irish and a Pakistani walk into a bar ... What a marvellous example of an integrated multi-racial society, ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure you'll agree!'

Following the success of his first series, Russell Howard will be returning to BBC3 with two more helpings of his topical news show, it has been announced. According to the BBC, the first series was the best performing studio-based entertainment show BBC3 has ever launched.

Noel Edmonds is said to be developing a quiz show format with the working title Beat the Monkey in which the master of ceremonies is a real monkey according to the Guardian. I say, that's a bit unkind. I know the Beard of Despair isn't to all tastes but he's hardly a ... Oh. I see. In an echo of the fictional TV character Alan Partridge's idea for a programme called Monkey Tennis, Edmonds' contests is for a quiz show in which questions are asked but are chosen at random for contestants by a monkey picking up stones, filmed as pre-record. Beat the Monkey is one of five ideas being touted to broadcasters by Feel Good Television, a new TV formats joint venture between Edmonds' Bucket Management and Crystal Entertainment. Hopefully, the other four are a bit less crap.

David Van Day has admitted that he was 'disappointed' by the last series of I'm A Celebrity... So were lots of other normal viewers, pal, but they don't get to go in the papers and tell everyone about their disappointment and how it t'were better in t'maaaa day.' The former singer of desperately twee eighties pop duo Dollar - who entered the jungle himself in 2008 (only to be swiftly booted out again by viewers) - said that he wasn't impressed by the return of Katie Price and confessed that he was 'underwhelmed' by the show. 'I thought Gino [D'Acampo] was very entertaining, but I think overall it wasn't as entertaining as my year in 2008,' he told the Digital Spy website. Which feigned interest in his views on the matter. 'It wasn't as exciting and it didn't have people saying, "I need to get home to watch it." There was nothing to race home for.'

Everyone's has it in for Katie at the moment, it would seem. And, hey, whyever not? Holby City actress Amanda Mealing has said that she cannot understand why Price is constantly promoted in the media. The actress, who plays Holby's Connie Beauchamp, told Radio Times that she is tired of hearing about Price's personal life. Asked to name one TV programme she would change the channel to avoid, Mealing replied: 'Anything with Katie Price. I'm sorry, I don't have anything against her, it's just the machine that surrounds her. I don't want her in my newspapers and magazines, and I don't want her on my TV. Why should we celebrate someone like that? What happened to talent?' It died, Amanda. It was very sad.

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