Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Chester Chainsaw Massacre

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's TV moment of the week, dear blog reader, almost came during, of all things, Sunday night's episode of Antiques Roadshow. Yes, I was as surprised as I'm sure you are. It occurred when yer actual Fiona Bruce noted that: 'I think this must be the first time we've ever had a collection of whips on the show. Tell me, why do you collect them?' Sadly, the lady to whom the collection of whips belonged - who, as it happens, looked uncomfortably like Siouxsie Sioux if she'd been at the cakes for a few months - didn't reply with something along the lines of 'a lifelong interest in getting my bare ass spanked, Fiona.' It turns out that, actually, she breeds horses instead. How vastly disappointing. Anyway ...

Matt Smith has suggested that his Doctor will be more reckless than David Tennant's. After featuring in a regeneration scene in The End Of Time Part II on New Year's Day, Smith starts his career in Doctor Who this Easter. Probably 3 April, though that still hasn't been confirmed yet. Smith explained to the Gruniad that his Doctor is 'a little reckless. He'll walk into a room and have a million things to do. And, as opposed to knowing exactly how to get out, he'll take it up to the precipice: don't know, don't know, don't know, and boom, there's the idea. It's a bit mad and reckless. It's very doof, doof, doof.' What, you mean like that annoying advertising campaign to get people to watch EastEnders? 'He's got a companion who I think is the hardest to handle. And she's quite mad. But The Doctor's quite mad as well. So together...' When asked if his incarnation of the Time Lord will be melancholy, he replied: 'I think it's impossible to escape that with The Doctor. He's lost so many people and devastated so much, bad or good, he's brought whole empires down. He's seen a lot, and that's part of his personality. But that's also what gives him such joy and effervescence.' Smith also said that it would be a mistake for him to have a romantic relationship with Karen Gillan. Gillan will debut as The Doctor's new companion, Amy, in the opening episode of the upcoming series. Smith said of his co-star: 'She's very beautiful and mad as a box of cats. In a brilliant way. We're both pretty mad, I think, which is why it's cool.' When asked if he fancied Gillan, Smith replied with a question: 'Me, Matt Smith, or The Doctor?' Heh! 'Well, you'll have to see, won't you? Noooh! She's my mate, Kaz, I just take the mick out of her every day. She's a beautiful woman, but we work together - that would be an error.'

Ofcom has criticised BBC1's Saturday Kitchen Live for broadcasting the f-word, months after escaping censure for a similar slip-up. In an edition broadcast on 5 December, chef Tom Kime said 'fucking hell' under his breath during a cookery challenge in which his omelette became stuck to the frying pan. That's nothing to what yer Keith Telly Topping would've done under such circumstances, dear blog reader. I'd've beaten the omelette to within an inch of its life. And then, made it into scrambled eggs. One viewer, who seemingly didn't have anything better to do with their time, complained about the swearing, which was broadcast live in the show's regular Saturday morning slot. The production team failed to spot that the word had been uttered and subsequently issued no on-air apology. The BBC said it became aware of it only after transmission when a guest was asked about the incident. As guests are reminded about the no-swearing policy prior to taking part, the BBC will not invite Kime to appear again. In May last year, the BBC faced complaints over chef Vivek Singh's use of the same word, but was not censured by Ofcom as it had issued two on-air apologies and immediately withdrew the episode in question from BBC iPlayer. In the latest case, the regular said that, due to the lack of apology, it would uphold the complaint.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has criticised the rules governing audience participation in the forthcoming TV election debates. Oh, God is that woman off again? Last week, Sky, the BBC and ITV confirmed that they have reached an agreed debate format with the prime minister Gordon Brown, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and the Conservative leader David Cameron. Under the plans, the two hundred-strong audience at each debate will be prevented from applauding, jeering, booing or heckling while the leaders are speaking, but will be able to make noise at the start and end of each ninety-minute programme. Anyone who coughs and breaks wind during the broadcast will be taken out and shot. Speaking on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show, Harman said: 'Why do we have to control the British audience? I mean are Brits going to sit there and be told: "Don't groan, don't laugh, don't clap." I don't think people will do that, I think people will engage.' The shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox, said that the rules will make the programmes 'incredibly sterile' in a similar way to 2008's US presidential debates between Barack Obama and John McCain. 'You were not allowed to applaud, not allowed to cough, not allowed to laugh, not allowed to do anything,' he said. 'Even the temperature was controlled to a degree that it wouldn't get too hot for the candidates under the lights.' Under the agreed schedule, ITV will host the opening debate from the North West of England, with Alastair Stewart acting as host under the theme of domestic affairs. Sky News will carry the second programme from the South West, with Adam Boulton moderating discussion around foreign policy. David Dimbleby will present the final debate on BBC1, which will be filmed in the Midlands and carry the theme of the terminal decline of the economy. Sky and ITV will not run any commercials during their debates. Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping has some problems with the proposed format of the debates too. I'd've much sooner seen Brown, Cameron and Clegg take on the Total Wipeout course myself. Or, as suggested a few months ago on Mock The Week, maybe a naked cage fight.

George Galloway has attacked a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into his relationship with the Islamic Forum of Europe , branding it 'a dirty little programme.' Has anybody else noticed that George Galloway seems to be turning into Harold Steptoe? Just me then? Galloway claimed Britain's Islamic Republic attempted to smear him and accused Channel 4 and the production company, Steve Boulton Productions, of 'having a pop at Muslims. Like the previous tales they [C4] have put out about the supposed enemy within, plotting to turn Britain into some rainy and windswept Islamic republic.' The programme, broadcast last week, featured undercover footage of a speech given by Galloway to the IFE's mosque shortly after he was elected as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005, in which he thanks the organisation for their support to his campaign. Dismissing the investigation as 'another camera-up-the-jumper film' from the 'tiresome and fevered' current affairs strand, Galloway wrote in his Scottish Daily Record column: 'The IFE were, in fact, one of several groups who helped in my successful anti-war campaign and I credited them for their help. As I did to all of the other groups, from Greens, Liberals, Tories to Trotskyists, who helped my defeat of a pro-war MP.' In correspondence with producer Jane Drinkwater prior to its transmission Galloway elaborated on his concerns about the documentary. He claimed that he was only featured to 'sex up' the programme's exploration of the IFE – a reference to its presenter, former Today correspondent Andrew Gilligan, who used the same phrase relating to the government's dossier on weapons of mass destruction. Galloway claims that 'enemies' of the IFE within the Tower Hamlets Labour Party have influenced the programme's argument. 'You are clearly going to claim that my victory was somehow a victory for the IFE,' he wrote. 'That is ridiculous. From the day of that speech until this, I have had no approach whatsoever from them seeking anything, still less to exert influence on me. Your programme intends to smear me weeks before an election and it will be seen as such.' Drinkwater told Galloway: 'We can assure you that it is not our intention to "impeach" you, nor to "smear" you, as you suggest.' She said the programme complied with Ofcom rules regarding fairness and responsible journalism. After seeing the programme, which was watched by just under a million viewers last Monday night, Galloway e-mailed Drinkwater to add: 'My disgust at your dirty little programme is matched only by my absolute certainty that it has proved a long very damp squib. Tell Gilligan he ought to be ashamed of himself.' Galloway's office has yet to confirm whether he will seek legal action against the producers following his warning in his Record column, in which he concluded: 'My lawyers are watching.'

BSkyB is showing 3D content at Westfield this Friday to promote the launch of its new channel Sky 3D next month. Shoppers at the Shepherd's Bush retail centre will be given 3D glasses to view footage such as last month's Burberry London Fashion Week show and the Arsenal versus Manchester United match, which became the first ever 3D broadcast of a live sports event when it aired in January. Other 3D footage includes tennis, golf, boxing, ballet, movies and live music. Sky plans over one hundred 3D shopping centre demonstrations over the next twelve months around the country. Shoppers can also enter a competition to win 3D TV, Sky+HD box and subscription to Sky. Sky 3D is launching with a range of movies, sport, documentaries, entertainment and arts content. Sky's existing customers with Sky+HD boxes are already equipped to receive Sky 3D and the channel is compatible with '3D Ready' TVs which will be introduced over the coming months. BSkyB plans to roll out Sky 3D in pubs in April, featuring a weekly 3D broadcast of live Premier League football.

Martin Clunes has confirmed that Doc Martin will return for a fifth series. The popular forty eight-year-old actor, who stars as Martin Bamford in the ITV comedy drama, announced that a new run will air in 2011. Of his hopes for his character's development, Clunes told the Press Association: 'I'd like to see him being a father - I think he would be awful and there might be some fun there. I think we're going to experiment with them cohabiting with an infant in tow, which is going to be disastrous. I like to see him fail and be punished. If things are going too well, I'll walk him into a door frame or something just to punish him. We hoped people would like it but it's been gratifyingly successful. It's all been a lovely surprise.' However, Clunes was pessimistic about a possible sixth series, saying: 'We've talked about a sixth series - they talk quite firmly about it but we'll see. It'd be awful if it just got bad because we're flogging it out and churning things, but we do it every other year because it takes so long to get written so we can keep it fresh.'

GMTV bosses have reportedly started considering the possibility of moving the programme into This Morning's studio. According to the Mirror, the 'secret proposal' has sparked fresh fears of job cuts as slots on the show which focus on fashion and real-life stories are similar to those broadcast later on This Morning. A source told the newspaper: 'There are genuine fears researchers and producers may find themselves working on both. The cuts just keep coming.' An ITV spokesman confirmed that the broadcaster is currently 'reviewing all aspects of the show including studio space,' but added that it is 'much too early to confirm any plans.' Meanwhile, CITV presenters Anna Williamson and Jamie Rickers have reportedly been axed from their GMTV weekend slots. The Mirror claims that the pair, who presented Toonatik every weekend morning, were told of their fate shortly before last Saturday's broadcast. Lorraine Kelly's weekday morning slot has also been cut back as staff are thought to have lost their jobs. Tragically, Kate Garraway remains in full time employment. For the moment.

Men appear almost twice as much as women on TV, with factual programming and news the worst offenders, according to research ordered by Channel 4. A pilot study, published to mark International Women's Day on 8 March and undertaken as part of Channel 4's leadership of the Cultural Diversity Network, also revealed that fifty four per cent of women on TV were aged between sixteen and thirty nine, compared with thirty six per cent of men. The findings, according to a report on them by Broadcast magazine, among others, 'gives context to the BBC's appointment of four older female newsreaders and also cast new light on the furore that greeted the BBC's decision to replace Arlene Phillips with Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing.' Sadly, they didn't then go on to add that Phillips' next TV job was fronting the youth-orientated So You Think You Can Dance. Still, why let something as trivial as a fact that doesn't fit in with your clear pre-set agenda get in the way of a good story, eh? That way lies anarchy. In an analysis of three hundred and eighty six hours of UK programmes aired in peak over three weeks on BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4, Five and Sky1, Channel 4 found that sixty five per cent of people in the TV analysed were men and thirty five per cent women. Women were best represented in soaps, where forty nine per cent of characters were female and in scripted TV in general, including comedy, where forty seven per cent of roles went to women. Across light entertainment, comedy and drama, around four in ten participants were female, but in factual, this dropped to thirty four per cent and in news, to thirty one per cent. Further analysis of women's role in news revealed that while women accounted for fifty two per cent of 'major' presenters such as anchors, they were under-represented as minor presenters, major contributors and minor contributors. Researchers also found that women tended to be chosen for 'soft' rather than 'hard' news reports. Among major contributors, sixty two per cent of men fronted 'hard' reports while sixty nine per cent of women presented 'soft' ones. 'This pilot research measures the gap between what we see in the real world, and what we see on TV, and is the first step in developing a comprehensive measurement of how well TV represents and portrays different groups on screen,' said Channel 4's head of diversity Oona King. Who, we have to suspect, is still smarting from getting beat by George Galloway in the 2005 election. Oona, chuck, not all men are like him. My sister is not my enemy. 'Our ambition is to commission a fuller study, with a more expansive sample size of weeks, and we are looking for partners in the television industry and beyond to help us fund this project. Fundamentally, this is about how we view our world and which groups are hidden from view or significantly under-represented. The gender gap here is quite startling. This ambitious research project is intended to help broadcasters to re-evaluate who they put on screen.' The pilot study was led by Dr Guy Cumberbatch. A man. Enough said.

And, in today's blood-soaked carnage in the TV industry, part two, the new Hollyoaks producer Paul Marquess has 'culled' another eleven cast members as part of the Channel 4 soap's mass shakeup, according to the Digital Spy website. Not literally, of course. Paul isn't currently roaming the corridors of Channel 4's headquarters, a bloodied axe in his hand, looking for another pretty twentysomething who can't act to disembowel. Although, if he was, that would certainly qualify as news as far as this blog is concerned. And, it would probably be a lot more entertaining than Hollyoaks has been of late. A month after his arrival, Marquess 'took his axe' to Josh, Suzanne and Neville Ashworth - played by Sonny Flood, Suzanne Hall and Jim Millea respectively - and subsequently replaced three of the serial's leading producers in a bid to streamline the production's creative team. In the coming months, a further eleven characters will be written out of the soap. 'Those on the chopping block', according to the website, include the entire Valentine family - Sasha (Nathalie Emmanuelle), Lauren (Dominique Jackson) and Leo (Brian Bovell) - whilst Calvin (Ricky Whittle) will be written out towards the end of May at the climax to the ongoing 'Who Shot Calvin?' 'flashforward' storyline. Whittle, of course, had already publicly stated his wish to get the hell out of the show as quickly as possible. Kent Riley will also exit after a decade playing student Zak Ramsay, while Warren Fox's foster brother, Spencer Gray, will also depart the teen soap at the end of actor Darren Langford's current contract. Kevin Sacre and Melissa Walton - who play screen lovers Jake Dean and Loretta Jones - will also leave at the end of their ongoing story arc. Additionally, Nico Mirallegro's character Barry Newton, will leave the village later in the year and relative newcomers Dave Colburn (Elliot James Langridge) and Des Townsend (Kris Deedigan) will also be written out. Gerard McCarthy, who plays bisexual transvestite Kris Fisher, recently indicated to bosses that he wanted to move on of his own accord, as he prepares to embark on a West End stint in the Arlene Phillips-choreographed Flashdance - The Musical. The McQueen family, however, will remain. Stephanie Waring - who plays Cindy Hutchinson - recently signed an eighteen-month contract in September. Belfast-born Marquess is 'renowned for his cut-throat decisions to cull sets of characters' from the shows that he works on. In 2002, he took control of ITV police drama The Bill and almost immediately cut six regular characters. A year later, he went to revamp Five's Family Affairs, before it was cancelled in 2005. Over the years, Marquess has also produced Brookside, Footballers' Wives and The Bill spin-off MIT: Murder Investigation Team.

A fan of the recently axed digital station, 6 Music, has cut together clips of the BBC director general's disastrous Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman last Tuesday with some bits of The Thick of It. To highly humorous effect. Check it out.

A fourth series of Benidorm is being written for transmission in 2011, the show's creator Derren Litten has confirmed. Writing on his Twitter page, Litten also revealed that a one-off special will air later this year and that a live show is being plotted for next year. 'I'm writing a one off special for 2010 and a fourth series for 2011. Also planning a LIVE show for 2011!' he wrote. The ITV comedy started in 2007 and has since run for three series, with the most recent switching to an hour-long format from its initial thirty minutes.

BBC Worldwide is to produce a spin-off ice dancing show for ABC based on its successful Dancing with the Stars format. The idea is based on a long-mooted Strictly Ice Dancing format, which was shelved after Dancing on Ice debuted on ITV in the UK. However, the show will now be able to come to fruition in the US. Jane Tranter, the former BBC Fiction controller who is now based in the US as BBCW Productions' executive Vice President of programming and production, told The Hollywood Reporter: 'ABC has become an incredible partner for us - we mirror each other's vision in attaining production excellence and we look forward to taking our relationship to the ice.' The untitled series will see six celebrities paired with professional skaters. It is expected to debut later this year, with Izzie Pick set to executive produce. And, Keith Telly Topping can confirm that it was worth having this story to carry purely because it gives him the opportunity to mention the name Izzie Pick again.

ITV has cancelled crime drama Blue Murder after six years. The series, which starred Caroline Quentin as Janine Lewis, first appeared in 2003 and was last seen in October when the final episode of series five aired. Speaking to the Gruniad about the show, Quentin confirmed: 'It's been axed, which is a big disappointment.' To you, love. Not to anybody else. She continued: 'The last series was the best we'd ever made. I thought it was fantastic. It took us a long time to get it right but we all felt we'd finally cracked it. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to finish the series. But I understand how it works. TV has got to move on. We did five or six years of it. That's a good innings and we had a good time. It's time for something different.' The news follows ITV's decisions to cancel other long-running drama series including Kingdom, Wire In The Blood and Where The Heart Is.

Ashley Cole is reported to be 'feeling terrified' over rumours that his estranged wife, Cheryl, is planning a 'tell-all' interview with Piers Morgan. According to the Daily Star, the Chelsea footballer has been 'desperately trying to contact Cheryl' so that he can 'convince her to keep quiet' over the details of their break-up.

Meanwhile, Katie Price has confirmed that she is 'speaking to producers' about a film based on her life. Rumours about a potential actress to play the main role immediately hit the Internet when this news was announced, with Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds an early favourite. The dog out of Beethoven is said to be a close second.

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