Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Pop Stars' Fear Of The Poverty Count

X Factor winner Alexandra Burke has revealed that she 'begged' for the opportunity to 'help out' in earthquake-hit Haiti. The singer is to visit the troubled country later this week after recently taking part in Simon Cowell's Haiti charity single. As if those poor Haitians haven't got enough to deal with. Speaking to the News of the World, Burke explained: 'For me, singing two lines on a single doesn't mean I have really helped. I wanted to go out and physically help the kids. I'm not a doctor, but I can give clothes, food and love. At least I'll be able to make a couple of kids smile.' She added: 'It hurt me when I saw the photographs of dead bodies on the streets. I was really angry, thinking "what is this world coming to?" That is when I begged my label to let me go out there. Their immediate answer was that I was doing my part by singing on the Helping Haiti single. But I said that wasn't big enough.' Burke has previously said that she will 'try to be strong' during the visit. Yeah, if you could. I'd suggest you dress a bit less ostentatiously also otherwise the locals might think that you're, somewhat, taking the piss. But, this brings up an important question; what are you going to do when you get there, Alexandra, chuck? Actually, properly help - you know, hand out blankets and food, help build temporary shelters, put up tents and generally get your hands dirty? Or, rather, get driven from the airport in an air-conditioned limo to some refugee camp, swan around with a posse of press trailing after you, get your photograph taken with a few of the more photogenic orphans, cry at a dramatically appropriate juncture and then come back home and tell everyone what a 'life changing' few hours it was? Which might be regarded by some as not, actually, 'helping' in the slightest. Because, if it's the former then I have to say more power to your elbow, love. Knock 'em dead with your blanket-giving-out skills you're an inspiration to us all.

And now for what I think may possibly be a From The North exclusive. A 'source close to the production' tells me that the next, sixth, series of Ideal is currently filming in Manchester for broadcast later in the year. And that it will contain eight episodes this time rather than the six we had last year. Tremendous news.

Piers Morgan has reportedly criticised Elaine Paige for her recent comments about Susan Boyle. Hang on ... Piers Morgan has the gall to accuse anyone of being 'bitchy' and 'mean-spirited.' This is the man who, just yesterday, was describing Louie Walsh in an interview as 'a giggling, fawning leprechaun whose critiques carry the weight of a two ounce gherkin', yes? He really is a deeply unpleasant and loathsome oily little bastard, is he not dear blog readers?

The final Hustle episode of the current series included a long-overdue Usual Suspects visual gag amidst the show's standard Mission: Impossible conceits and Ocean's Eleven lifts. And, very entertaining it was too. No news yet as to whether it's likely to be recommissioned for a seventh series but I'm sure that the show's regular six million plus audience will all be more than a little hopeful for more grifting escapades from Mickey and the gang in the future. On a similar theme, Hustle's US counterpart, Leverage, aired a superb episode last week concerning the team exposing the activities of a ruthless fake medium (an excellent guest performance by Luke Perry). Derren Brown would've well-approved. The only drawback was a singular lack of any Gina Bellman in the episode. Boo.

The BBC's accounting is 'sloppy' and its refusal to open its books to the National Audit Office looks 'inexplicably evasive and self-indulgent,' the House of Commons public accounts committee has said. The accusations came in a heated session in Westminster, where BBC director general Mark Thompson and BBC trustee Jeremy Peat were repeatedly called to justify their decision to have KPMG audit the BBC's finances instead of the NAO. The pair said they chose and intend to stick with KPMG because the firm has both international experience and other clients in the broadcast sector – but the committee refused to accept their answers. Chairman Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, said: 'Why don't you just tell the truth? You don't want poxy parliamentarians like us crawling all over your programmes.' Absolutely. Poxy parliamentarians with their own flawed financial idiosyncrasies, it would appear. Don't you think it might be idea for you to just quietly pay back that three grand you owe the country from your excessive expenses claims and then, maybe, lie low for a bit before you start having a go at anyone else, Teddy? The irksome Leigh also scolded Thompson and BBC director of London 2012, Roger Mosey, for allowing coverage of certain events to go over budget, saying: 'We think you are a bit sloppy.' Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the irony of a member of parliament criticising the financial affairs of others is not lost on this blogger either. Keith Hill, Labour MP for Streatham, pointed out that the NAO audits government departments 'all over the world,' many of which are bigger than the BBC and ridiculed any potential concerns over confidentiality. 'The NAO is used to dealing with secrets. For example it audits the Secret Service. Are you saying the BBC has more important secrets than the Secret Service?' Well, there's the whole who killed Archie Mitchell, malarkey. I mean, that's surely a state secret if ever there was one. Thompson disagreed that the BBC chooses to open its books to KPMG for confidentiality reasons. Alan Williams, Labour MP for Swansea West, added: 'Can't you see that in the present circumstances about openness about finances, this does look at the very least inexplicably evasive and self-indulgent?' Oi, pot, there's a kettle calling you black over 'ere. And, he's asking if you've got any moats you want clearing out by any chance. For a fee. Williams later told Thompson to 'stay out of it' whilst he turned his anger on Peat – whom he branded as 'the one who is being bloody minded' and accused of 'obfuscating' instead of answering the committee's questions. Peat repeatedly said he 'reserved the right to inhibit [the NAO's] access' where he believes they might compromise the BBC's editorial independence but Williams responded by asking Peat when he was due to retire. When Peat responded that he has until the end of the year, Williams replied, 'Oh, there's hope next year then.' Given that there's an election coming later this year Mr Williams, pal, I imagine he's saying something similar about you. However, the BBC did not leave the grilling without scoring a few points in return. Thompson and Mosey said the NAO claim that the BBC 'blew two hundred and fifty thousand pounds' on a new studio for its Euro 2008 coverage was totally misleading – because two hundred thousand pounds of that figure was unavoidable. The BBC would have had to spend that amount on a studio if it broadcast from the International Broadcasting Centre, so it should only be held to account for the fifty thousand pounds extra it cost to build one in the centre of Vienna.

Neil Dudgeon is to replace John Nettles in ITV's Midsomer Murders according to the Gruniad. Dudgeon, who appeared alongside Caroline Quentin in the BBC comedy Life of Riley, will play a cousin of Nettles' character, John Barnaby, who also works in the police force. Nettles is retiring after appearing in more than eighty episode of Midsomer Murders over thirteen years in the small Somerset village with a murder rate higher than Baltimore. Dudgeon will make his first appearance in tomorrow night's episode of Midsomer Murders and then take over permanently when the fourteenth series of the long-running police drama begins filming at the end of July. Nettles said: 'I wanted to die in noble fashion in the service of my country and then be buried with full military honours in Westminster Abbey. In the event, Tom and his long-suffering wife Joyce will simply retire. It's always better to leave when people want more. It has been a joy to be involved in such a long running series, with so many good actors and great story lines. If Neil has half the good times that I have had on Midsomer then he will be in seventh heaven. I am only worried that he is much younger than I am and a much better actor!' Producer Brian True-May added: 'Although we will miss the huge contribution that John has made to the series, the brand of Midsomer is so strong that I am confident of its continuing success. We look forward to our new Barnaby tackling more murder and mayhem in Midsomer.' Peter Fincham, the ITV's director of television said: 'We're delighted Neil will carry on the Barnaby name.' Dudgeon's other credits include BBC1's Survivors and forensic drama Silent Witness.

Sunday night's Super Bowl rated as the most-watched programme in American TV history. CBS's coverage averaged one hundred and six million viewers between 7pm and 10pm, easily topping (or, should that be Telly Topping?) last year's ninety eight million for the Arizona Cardinals versus Pittsburgh Steelers game. It also overtook the previous most-watched TV event, the 1983 series finale of M*A*S*H (just short of one hundred and six million).

Emilie De Ravin has revealed that she feels like she is playing two different characters on the final season of Lost. The actress, who starred as a regular on the show until her character Claire mysteriously disappeared during season four, has recently reprised her role for the sixth and final run. 'I really get to play a whole other side of Claire, along with the old Claire though, which is pretty sweet - as an actor - to get that challenge of basically playing a couple characters at the same time,' she told the website Zap2it.com. De Ravin refused to divulge whether she was referring to playing the alternate universe version of Claire. She recently teased that Claire would be returning to the island in an 'unexpected way.'

Alison Janney has admitted that The West Wing took over her life when she appeared on the popular and influential political drama series. According to WENN, the actress felt 'adrift' after the drama ended. 'It was relentless. We did eighteen-hour days - and we were so happy to be where we were. But as the years went by, we started to be less happy,' she confided. The actress, who played the beloved White House press secretary, CJ, also said that she realised how much she had missed when the show finished its run in 2006. 'There are so many things I missed out on in my friends' lives. When it ended, I felt kind of adrift because I slept, ate and breathed West Wing. I really didn't have too much else to define who I was.' And, bless you for it, my love. You kept us entertained for seven years so don't think we weren't grateful.

Michael Shanks has admitted that landing the part of Danno on the new Hawaii Five-O remake would be a 'dream come true.' The Stargate: SG1 actor told Scifiwire that he hopes the programme will be updated for the Twenty First Century, after auditioning for the detective role. 'I'm sure there's some updates, because I don't think we could pull off that kind of brow furrowing with a straight face in this day and age. I'll tell you one thing, to go to Hawaii to shoot a series would be a dream come true, that's for certain,' he said.

BBC director general Mark Thompson has hinted to staff that in-house production will not be significantly affected by the current 'size and scope' review. Chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, who is leading the review, has previously said it would explore ways of spending more money on content in a way that will 'provide a further shot in the arm for our creative industries' – prompting speculation it would recommend downsizing the in-house production base and be farming more business out to the independent sector. However, Thompson reportedly told a production management conference last week that the BBC will still need a sizeable in-house production base after 2012. According to BBC magazine Ariel, Thompson said: 'It is obvious that we should have a strong production base [where people can continue] to learn their trade.' He added that a BBC production base is 'enshrined in the charter of a balanced economy,' alongside competition from independents and the Window of Creative Competition commissioning system.

EastEnders actress Charlie Brooks has admitted that the secrecy surrounding the show's forthcoming live episode has made filming more difficult in recent weeks. Cast members only received the script for the special event last Friday and are still unaware of who will be revealed as Archie Mitchell's murderer in the episode. The secrecy has meant that the soap's cast have faced extra challenges when filming scenes which are to be broadcast after the Twenty Fifth anniversary production. Brooks, who plays Janine Butcher, told The Times: 'It has been very hard. In the episodes to be shown afterwards, you're being told to look or speak a certain way, but not why.' Meanwhile, executive producer Diederick Santer explained that Archie's killer 'may be revealed to the audience rather than the Square' in the live episode. He added: 'It's been a challenge for the cast. They are as desperate to know who did it as the viewers.'

Meanwhile, former EastEnders favourites Kat and Alfie Moon are to be reunited on-screen later this year after the BBC confirmed that Jessie Wallace is returning to the soap following the earlier revelation about the return of her screen husband, Shane Richie. The thirty eight-year-old - who was last seen in the soap on Christmas Day 2005, when she and Alfie left for a new life in America - recently signed a new deal at the same time as Richie. On Sunday, show executives announced that Richie is to make a comeback as loveable rogue Alfie Moon. The news led to immediate speculation that Wallace would also return. On her decision to come back, Wallace said: 'I've really enjoyed playing different roles over the last few years but am excited to slip back into Kat Slater's stilettos. I've missed her.' Richie commented: 'More than anything I'm looking forward to getting my face covered in Kat's lipstick again!' Nice work if you can get it!

BBC2 has given the green light a second run of Dave Gorman's show Genius. The comedian is inviting members of the public to submit their ideas for 'genius' inventions, schemes and policies, which will be put to the test in the studio with a celebrity guest. The show began on Radio 4, where it ran for three series and a Christmas special before transferring to TV. Last year's series featured guest turns from the likes of Catherine Tate, Stewart Lee, Frank Skinner and Germaine Greer. Winning ideas included making the Isle of Wight symmetrical to increase tourism, placing prisoners on exercise bikes attached to the national power grid and a two-hooded coat to protect your date from the rain. Gorman said of the new six-part series: 'In times like this we should remember that ideas – clever ideas, hair-brained schemes and the downright daft – are perhaps this country's greatest natural resource. I'm looking forward to celebrating more of this nation's most eccentric thinkers soon.' Paul Schlesinger takes over from Armando Iannucci as executive producer for this year's run.

It has, reportedly, been dropped on the floor, plonked on a sideboard and generally ignored for many years. But over the weekend Wendy Jones's old dinner plate was the dish of the day - after being valued at an amazing one hundred thousand pounds. The rare piece of porcelain survived in tact to become a star on The Antiques Roadshow. Wendy, sixty eight, had no idea of its worth as she shoved it into a Tesco carrier bag and took it along to show the BBC experts. But it turned out the twenty two inch platter was specially created for Prussian king Frederick II around 1750 and decorated with the Hohenzollern arms. Wendy said: 'I was speechless. It actually belongs to my son Michael because he was left it by his grandma.' She only attended the roadshow event near her home in Aberglasney, Wales, because her husband wanted some books valued. John Axford, an expert from Woolley and Wallis auction house in Salisbury, based his estimated value on a much smaller soup plate from the service which recently sold for thirty one thousand pounds. He said: 'It is the most valuable thing by far that I have seen on the roadshow. It is a fantastic piece of a very rare Royal service and is very unusual.'

The Minister for Women, Harriet Harman, is alleged to have received twelve nominations - possibly from cheeky fellow MPs - for the Rear of the Year award. The annual award's organiser, Tony Edwards, said: 'A dozen nominations in a week usually indicates an organised group effort.' Mad Hatty is apparently the first MP ever to be nominated for the coveted prize (Ann Widdecombe would have been, but they didn't have an open space big enough to accommodate a display of the item in question), and is reportedly up against Holly Willoughby, Strictly Come Dancing Flavia Cacace and Katherine Jenkins. Well, she often talks out of her arse in relation to her views of broadcasting so it's to be expected.

Tess Daly has admitted that she nearly vomited on live TV when she was pregnant with her second child. Blimey, I know Bruno's spangly jackets are a bit garish but that's, surely, overstating matters. The Strictly Come Dancing host claimed that she struggled throughout a Children In Need appearance in 2008, when she performed a ballroom routine with Anton Du Beke. 'It was a great night, we raised a record amount of money and I finally got the opportunity to partner up with Anton and become one of the Strictly girls for one evening only,' she told the Mirror. 'The only problem was I felt absolutely dreadful. I was about nine weeks pregnant and had come down with a horrible bout of 'flu. On screen, thanks to one hot little dress and my brilliant make-up artist, I just about got away with it. But underneath the make-up and the frock I was sweating and horribly nauseous.' She continued: 'I remember thinking, if I can just make it to the news I'll be able to sit down or vomit but at least I won't do it on screen. There was a bit at the end of the dance when Anton twirls me around and around. I could hear the crowd cheering as I counted to twenty and tried not to think about throwing up on live TV. I managed to get through the evening and six hours of live TV - I don't think anyone noticed. I don't mind being green in the comfort of my own home, but inflicting myself on ten million viewers twice in two nights in this lurgied state was a bit much!'

The tenor featured on Go Compare's TV advertisements has claimed that the firm's current campaign is 'a huge success.' Welsh opera singer Wynne Evans plays the role of Gio Compario in the commercials, which see him belting out a variant of George M Cohan's 'Over There' with lyrics which celebrate the business and its price comparison service. Despite being branded 'hugely annoying to the point that you just want to punch someone's lights out' and Evans himself as 'a man you'd, genuinely, like to see killed - as painfully as possible - on general principle' or 'someone who should be hit in the face with a shovel until he is, quite simply, dead. And then hit some more' by some members of the public, Evans told the Glasgow Sunday Mail: 'I still enjoy every living second of the ads. If people claim it's irritating that means it's stuck in your head - therefore it's a successful campaign.' Well, no mate. It's only 'successful' if the company make more money back in fresh sales than they spent on making the adverts in the first place. Then, one can clarify it as a success. That's, sort of, a measure of an advertising campaign, not whether people remember it. Many people can still recall every arse-clenching moment of the Shake-and-Vac adverts of the 1970s, but the product ultimately died a death. Rightly. Compare, for example, with meerkats. Simples. Discussing how the adverts have changed his life, the thirty eight-year-old singer explained: 'I knew the Go Compare commercials would be high profile but I had no idea the enormous impact they would have. It was a bit of a surprise when people recognised me or van drivers would shout out, "Go compare ... go compare."' Well, at least they didn't get out of their vans and give you a ruddy good fisting in the chops, pal. Be grateful. They're a curious breed, van drivers. Prior to his Go Compare infamy, Evans provided a singing voice for Gary Lineker in a Walkers crisps advert.

The groovy auld Modfather himself, Paul Weller, will win the 'Godlike Genius' award at the NME Awards held later this month. A matter of just three days after yer Keith Telly Topping used one of his song lyrics as the title for a daily entry on this very blog. Were the two events mere coincidence, dear blog reader? You decide. The 2010 ceremony will take place at London's O2 Brixton Academy on 24 February and will be hosted by former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, the Press Association reports. Weller said: 'I'm very happy to accept the award, I don't feel Godlike or a Genius but I'm happy to have it. You get your rewards in other ways too like playing live and seeing people's reaction, but it's nice to be recognised.' He added: 'I'm very flattered. I shall find a special place for it. A little altar to myself with garlands of flowers around it.' Former winners of the 'Godlike Genius' prize have included Massive Attack, U2, The Clash, New Order/Joy Division, Primal Scream and The Manic Street Preachers. Weller first came to public attention as - an eighteen year old angry young man - as the frontman, guitarist and main songwriter of the greatest band ever to walk God's good earth, The Jam, before forming the less mighty, but-they-made-had-a-few-decent-singles-in-their-time Style Council and then having a successful solo career.

And, another of yer Keith Telly Topping's musical heroes Edwyn Collins has recorded his first songs since suffering from a stroke in 2005. The former Orange Juice singer has written a song called 'I'm Feeling Lucky', which is included on the forthcoming MAVIS CD. The record, which is inspired by soul singer Mavis Staples, also features songs by Candi Staton, Sarah Cracknell and Cerys Matthews. Edwyn's nineteen-year-old son William plays lead guitar on the recording. 'I'm Feeling Lucky' will be performed live at the CD's launch at London's Luminiare on 18 February. According to the NME, The Cribs's Ryan Jarman and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols have been collaborating with Collins on new material for his forthcoming solo comeback.

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has likened Doctor Who to an eclipse. The writer-producer, who replaced Russell Davies as the series' showrunner last year, said that he was initially confused over the job. 'There was definitely an element of "This is the time I'm supposed to do this..." But having said that, I wouldn't derail my whole life or anything. I'm too selfish. When I really cleared my head, I thought, "I just want it." I couldn't quite say yes, but I knew I wasn't going to say no.' He added that taking on Who means that he is unable to pursue other projects. 'There will be a number of things I'll never, ever write, because I'm doing Doctor Who. There will be a number of things I'll never do because I'm doing Doctor Who. I know what they are! There will be things that won't happen. Doctor Who is like an eclipse. It blocks out the sun. It's knackering.'

Katie Price has said that she will sue the Daily Star over the newspapers claims that her marriage to Alex Reid is 'nothing but a sham.' In a radio interview, the glamour model claimed that she does not buy newspapers - and if you believe that, you'll believe anything - and described the repeated allegations in the red-top as 'a joke,' STV reports. Price told Chris Moyles Radio 1: 'The Daily Star are the worst, I advise no-one to ever buy it. We're going to sue them.' However, further allegations have surface today that Price reportedly planned to break up with Reid until his popularity increased during his time on Celebrity Big Brother. According to Heat magazine, Price kept something of a low profile early in the run of the show, before allegedly deciding to marry Reid 'for financial gain' according to the article, after he became the favourite to win. A 'source' is reported to have told them: 'When he first went on, Katie was certain he'd make a fool of himself. All her friends thought he was embarrassing her and she was seriously thinking about dumping him. But when she realised that the public tide was turning and that he might win, she did a massive U-turn. She's so predictable. You can see what she's doing and planning. The engagement deal, the marriage deal, the baby deal, the book deal and sadly, almost inevitably, the split.' The source added: 'She knows that it's Alex who is popular at the moment and and is her best way of making money. She doesn't even care that much about being liked herself - she wants money. She hates seeing Peter [Andre] doing so well. She wants it to be all about her and everyone else has to come along for the ride. She'll chew him up and split him out when she's finished.' Have your lawyers at the ready, Heat, I think you might be getting a call later today.

And finally, speaking of litigation. Following on from yesterday's report on this very blog about the Press Association being successfully sued (and rightly so) by a poor man who just happened to share the name of a convicted paedophile whom the Press Association had incorrectly identified as the convicted man, comes news that a Mr A Hitler (no relation), from Yeovil, is also seeking legal redress from the media in general.

No comments: