Monday, March 22, 2010

Rock, You Sinners!

Just a small update on the story - widely reported last week, including on this very blog - that series six of Doctor Who had been officially confirmed. Lost, somewhat, in the general maelstrom of - mostly very positive - media comment over this was a minor little matter that, in addition to Matt Smith and all of the production team, Karen Gillan will also be returning for this. Which is, of course, great news. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat is confirmed as writer on the 2010 Christmas special and as show runner on the 2011 series. As previously announced, noted fantasy author Neil Gaiman is developing a script. Ashes to Ashes co-creator Matthew Graham is also understood to be in the frame for writing an episode. Graham has previously written one Doctor Who episode - Fear Her, part of David Tennant's first season as the Doctor in 2006. Mind you, that wasn't a very good one. Although it was a late replacement for another script which had fallen through and Matthew has a undoubtedly fine TV record. So, let's give him another chance, eh?!

And, there's an amazing trailer for the forthcoming series five currently doing the rounds on BBC America. Check it out. It'll have you creaming in your keks!

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, meanwhile, has claimed that there is something essential to Doctor Who which makes it a programme for children. The writer told the Gruniad Morning Star that this remains true despite the number of adults who watch the show. Moffat said: 'For me, Doctor Who literally is a fairytale. It's not really science fiction. It's not set in space, it's set under your bed. It's at its best when it's related to you, no matter what planet it's set on. Every time it cleaves towards that, it's very strong.' He added: 'Although it is watched by far more adults than children, there's something fundamental in its DNA that makes it a children's programme and it makes children of everyone who watches it. If you're still a grown up by the end of that opening music, you've not been paying attention.' Moffat suggested that while he does not have a different agenda from previous executive producer Russell Davies, 'these things happen as a matter of instinct' and his show would have more of a 'storybook quality.'

The former BBC boxing commentator Harry Carpenter has died at the age of eighty four. Carpenter was the BBC's voice of boxing for almost half a century after joining the corporation in 1949, when he first began commentating on the sport on radio. Known for his double act with British 1980s heavyweight Frank Bruno, Carpenter also presented Sportsnight, Grandstand and Sports Personality of the Year. He retired in 1994 and died in his sleep at King's College Hospital in London in the early hours of Saturday. Carpenter's lawyer David Wills said: 'He had been unwell since last summer when he had a minor heart attack. The funeral has not been arranged but will be a family funeral, to be followed by a memorial service in London.' The world of boxing has paid tribute to Carpenter, with promoter Frank Maloney describing him as 'probably one of the greatest commentators of all time.' No "probably" about it, I'd've said. The man was a true broadcasting legend. Maloney added: 'His voice was so distinctive and I remember all those Ali fights and Bruno fights he commentated on. It's like a piece of boxing history has been taken away.' Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan told BBC Radio 5live: 'Harry Carpenter was an amazing man with an amazing voice.' Carpenter, who also wrote for the Greyhound Express and Daily Mail in the early years of his career, was on-air for the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. He labelled the end of the contest - underdog Ali winning by a knockout in the eighth round to reclaim the world heavyweight crown at the age of thirty two - as 'the most extraordinary few seconds that I have ever seen in a boxing ring.' And, if you ever get the chance to actually hear Harry's commentary on it, it's every bit as thrilling as the fight he was describing. Of Ali himself - whom he first interviewed in 1963 before the then Cassius Clay's fight with Henry Cooper - Carpenter said: 'He is not only the most remarkable sports personality I have ever met, he is the most remarkable man I have ever met.' Carpenter had the privilege of presenting Ali with the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century award in 1999. A year later, Carpenter recalled: 'It was a wonderfully poignant moment. I was very flattered and pleased that I was asked to do the tribute to him. It was such a shame to see the old boy tottering about, but we had a chat afterwards and he is still very, very sharp. He remembers all those old days.' Carpenter was a regular Sports Personality of the Year co-host throughout the 1970s and 1980s, having first worked on the programme in 1958, and also covered a wide range of sports for the BBC, including rowing, tennis and golf. His immediately recognisable, warm broadcasting style earned him plaudits beyond the UK. In 1989, he received American Sportscasters' Association and International Sportscaster of the Year awards.

Live coverage of Liverpool's Europa League win over Lille made Channel Five the second most-watched network in the 9pm hour last Thursday. Five's live coverage attracted 3.69 million viewers and a fifteen per cent share in the 9pm hour, according to overnights. Over two hours of live coverage from 8pm, the match averaged just over three and a half million. The Europa League coverage was Five's most popular live football since Newcastle's UEFA Cup quarter final in April 2005 and helped the network to a bigger daily share (just over seven per cent) than BBC2 or Channel 4. Five scored a rare ratings victory over ITV in the 9pm hour, with the football nipping ahead of The Bill, which had 3.51 million. BBC1's Sport Relief special, Million Pound Bike Round, took top spot for ratings in the slot, attracting just under five million viewers.

Meanwhile, out in Bangladesh, as England's crickets toil in the sun, spare a thought for the poor old commentators. One of yer Keith Telly Topping's particular favourites from the Sky team, the witty and likeable David Lloyd, has been struck low by the dreaded Dengue Fever and, after missing a few days of the first test because of a raging temperature (Mark Butcher filled in), David has had to be repatriated back to Blighty to recover. Fortunately, he's seemingly on the mend as evidenced by the latest posting on his lively blog. Everyone at From The North sends their best wishes your way, Bumble. Get well soon and get the car started.

If you're in the mood for a marvellous example of the Daily Mail's thoroughly obnoxious shit-scum anti-BBC agenda, check this out. What a collection of odious lice those people are. (A clue: Whenever the word 'fury' is included in a Daily Mail headline - especially if it's in capital letters - it usually means that this is an issue which nobody other than the disgraceful scum journalists at the Daily Mail and the narrow-minded thugs who read it are actually bothered about.) This, I must say, is almost a textbook example. Round up a couple of rent-a-quote minor celebrities (one of whom is Esther Rantzen, fer Christ's sake, which should give dear blog readers a fair idea of how seriously to take the rest of this) and find a couple of quotes from a website to perpetuate the disgraceful lie that only men watch sport. I know as many women who are avid viewers of football, cricket, rugby, athletics and tennis than I know men who aren't. Still, why let that little piece of fact get in the way of a good piece of spiteful gender-based back-stabbing. Of course, if anybody said the opposite - that only women watch soap operas, for instance - they would, quite rightly be accused as sexism. But, hang on ... remind me. Aren't the Daily Mail one of the cheerleaders for the campaign to get the BBC to bid for coverage of test cricket (and, specifically, The Ashes) to get it back onto terrestrial TV and away from Sky? I'm fairly sure that they are. So, is this an example of outright scummish hypocrisy? From the Daily Mail? Surely not? They're not like that.

Strictly Come Dancing will continue to go head-to-head with The X Factor when both shows return to screens later this year, a tabloid report has claimed. The ballroom contest repeatedly clashed with its reality rival on Saturday nights last year. Although the move was criticised at the time, the Sun reports that the arrangement will continue this autumn. A BBC source told the newspaper: 'ITV expect us to back off this year but that's not going to happen. We aren't just going to roll over and do what they want us to.' Strictly lost out to The X Factor in the ratings battle last year, usually by between two and three million, but it is thought that the show's producers are hoping to 'up-the-ante' by recruiting bigger-name celebrities to dance in the next series. At least, that's what the Sun say. So, it must be true.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has criticised Channel 4's output saying the core channel, at times, appears composed largely of non-PSB programming. The Channel 4 Annual Report, published by the government's Culture, Media and Sport Committee, cited the TV listing for Channel 4 on 1 December 2009 which included a range of US comedies such as Will and Grace and Friends as well as acquired programming such as Deal or No Deal and The Paul O'Grady Show. Blimey, maybe they ought to get Channel 4 News to do one of their 'concerned' reports about it? According to the report, in 2008 Channel 4 spent one hundred and fifty three million pounds on first-run UK-originated programming on key PSB genres, such as including news, current affairs, education, comedy, single dramas, drama series, religion and arts, on its core channel. The CMSC noted the money spent on UK PSB content was a minority of the three hundred and ninety million pounds expenditure on UK-originated programming and an even smaller proportion of the total expenditure of five hundred and sixteen million pounds on programme and other content on the core channel. A Channel 4 spokesman said: 'Channel 4 is publicly owned but commercially funded. We do not receive any cash subsidy to support our public service delivery and have to earn all our revenues in competition with other media companies. By necessity that means our schedules are a mix of commercial and public purpose programmes. The public value that Channel 4 delivers cannot be fairly judged from a single day's programmes – as the Select Committee's report acknowledges we spend in excess of one hundred and fifty million pounds a year on programmes from traditional public service genres and deliver a public dividend worth well in excess of that figure.' Quite why Channel 4 didn't tell the Culture, Media and Sports Committee to go screw itself and claim some dodgy expenses whilst they're at it instead of telling broadcasters what shows they can and can't make is unknown. But, once again, we appear to have the curiously narrow definition of 'public service broadcasting' as 'stuff I want to watch.' Politicians, eh? They're a laugh, and no mistake.

Couple of bits of casting news for the sixth series of Ideal, currently filming in Manchester. The great Sean Lock will be appearing in an episode and - this is one I've had to keep under my hat for a bit but it now seems to be common knowledge - the brilliant Jeanane Garofalo (Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, The West Wing, 24) will also be turning up in at least one episode. She's playing Moz's new neighbour, Tilly, apparently. Reports from the set indicate that she is (and I quote) 'lovely!' Ah, bless.

Former Doctor Who, Bergerac and Cutting It actress Annette Badland is to make another guest appearance in BBC1's daytime medical drama Doctors. The fifty nine-year-old takes on the role of Angela Lombard, a parish secretary at the centre of a hate campaign against a new female vicar.

Siemens staff working at the BBC are set to strike unless the IT company caves on its pay freeze. Some sixty five per cent of Siemens staff voted to strike in a ballot by the union BECTU, which closed at the weekend. An additional fifteen per cent voted for action short of a strike in protest over the pay disparity between BBC and Siemens employees, and the union has called a meeting next Wednesday to re-enter negotiations. The pay freeze was imposed on all Siemens staff who work at the BBC to provide all the technology, transmission and IT services, despite the fact BBC employees below senior manager level are entitled to a small salary increase. It 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. National official, Suresh Chawla, who has previously criticised the situation as 'a double whammy,' said: 'Our members have clearly demonstrated that this situation is unacceptable and we’re hopeful that by getting back round the table with the employer we can avoid industrial action and reach an amicable settlement.' Up the workers. From The North supports you.

Keith Duffy has reportedly announced that he will be quitting Coronation Street later this year. The Boyzone singer said that his decision not to renew his contract in November was a 'hard choice' and came despite pleas from producers to stay. According to the People, Duffy, who plays the Rovers' Ciaran McCarthy, said that he needs to concentrate on his music commitments. Brother, the boyband's first CD since Stephen Gately's death last year, went to number one in the UK charts last Sunday and a tour and promotional work in South East Asia has been lined up for 2011. Duffy said that he has made friends on the Weatherfield soap and will be sad to leave, but added: 'I need to concentrate on being with the boys. We've got a lot coming up so I've decided they'll take priority. I love the show so it's been a hard decision. But I know it’s right.' He earlier revealed that Coronation Street proved a much-needed focus following Gately's death.

And, in further Shock! Horror! Corrie news, Tracy Barlow is to concoct a false story in order to frame innocent Gail McIntyre for murder, it has been reported. The character, played by thirty two-year-old Kate Ford, will tell police that Gail (Helen Worth) caused the death of husband Joe by battering him with a rolling pin before hiding the 'weapon', according to the Sun. It is thought that jailed Tracy comes up with the lie after Gail tells her that she hid a rolling pin on top of a bedroom wardrobe in order to stop Joe from baking potato pie. In later scenes, police are expected to find the kitchen instrument exactly where Gail left it at the lakeside holiday cottage she shared with Joe before his death - making Tracy's tale appear true and the case against Gail grow stronger. A Weatherfield source said: 'Gail is terrified. She has to find a way to prove Tracy is lying.' As previously revealed, Tracy ends up sharing a prison cell with Gail after police enlist her to extract a confession from her former neighbour in return for an early release.

ITV's bullish start to the year looks set to continue, with its TV advertising revenue in May expected to be up as much as twenty five per cent year on year. Rupert Howell, managing director of brand and commercial at ITV, said that the TV market for May was looking 'very strong' but cautioned that this did not necessarily indicate a sustained recovery. 'May is looking very good but it is against easy comparables [with the same months in 2009],' said Howell, speaking at the annual conference run by UK advertiser's body, ISBA. 'Our problems are by no means over. Last year's progress [ITV returned to profit in 2009] just means we now have a significant platform for changes that have to be made.' ITV, which said in early March that the channel would be up eighteen per cent year on year in March and as much as twenty per cent in April.

Matthew Kelly has reportedly been 'snubbed' as the possible presenter of a new Channel 4 game show. According to the Sun, which gave no further details other than this flat statement, the fifty nine-year-old former Stars In Their Eyes presenter has now ruled out returning to light entertainment. He also apparently hinted that he would like a role in Coronation Street. Kelly previously hosted popular Saturday night ITV series You Bet!, but has focused on his acting career in recent years. His TV roles have included appearances in Bleak House, Where The Heart Is and, most memorably, his astonishing performance as a serial killer in Cold Blood. 'I'm fascinated by people who chop people up. I've always been fascinated and read up on serial killers,' he commented at the time. 'The worse they are, the better I like them. I think we make a mistake about killers who become celebrities. The whole point is these people are not monsters. The media use them in that sense - "This is the personification of evil" - when they're not.'

Danny Dyer has reportedly admitted that he is unhappy over the prospect of working alongside Kelly Brook for a forthcoming movie. Speaking to Daily Star, Dyer is quoted as saying: 'She can't act.' And, in other news, the Pope remains Catholic.

Edie Falco has claimed that her character in Nurse Jackie hasn't learned from her mistakes. At the end of Nurse Jackie's first season, Jackie's boyfriend lost his job and discovered she was married with children. Meanwhile, she became increasingly addicted to prescription drugs. 'You would have thought a more profound lesson might have been learned,' Falco told USA Today. 'But for the most part it takes her very little time to kind of get back to where she was. Sometimes the most dangerous addicts are the ones who are high-functioning. The lucky ones are the ones who fall apart, who still have time to fix their lives.' Falco added that Jackie tries to 'straighten things out' but admitted that she believes it's 'not the lowest she can go.'

The legend of King Arthur is to be retold in a major new drama series from Ecosse Films, with the creative team behind The Tudors on board. Ecosse will shoot the ten-part series, entitled Camelot, for broadcast on US cable network Starz in the first half of 2011. It will be co-produced by Dublin's Octagon Films, Los Angeles' GK-TV and Toronto's Take 5 Productions. Filming will take place in Ireland this June and post-production will be handled in Canada. Chris Chibnall, who has worked on Life on Mars, Doctor Who, Law & Order: UK and Torchwood, will write the series based largely on Thomas Malory's fifteenth century book Le Morte d'Arthur. In 2005, Chibnall developed BBC1's fantasy series Merlin. Graham King, who won an Oscar for his work on The Departed, will executive produce alongside Tim Headington and Craig Cegielski, president of GK-TV which will distribute the series around the world. Morgan O'Sullivan and Michael Hirst, the masterminds behind hit period drama The Tudors, will also executive produce alongside Octagon's James Flynn and Ecosse Films' Douglas Rae. Casting is underway. And, however bad it is, you still just know it's going to be about a million times better than Merlin!

Constructed factual shows which feature children, such as Boys and Girls Alone, will require the same licensing as talent shows, comedy and drama, under new government plans. Former Ofcom advisor Sarah Thane's review of the 1968 Children's Entertainment Act, published on Friday, calls for a new definition of 'performance' relating to children in TV, on stage and in films. Currently, productions need a licence for under-fourteens if the children are required to sing, act or dance. Thane wants to broaden this to reflect changes in TV in the past forty years and to 'futureproof' it for further new formats. Factual output such as news and documentaries that do not create situations for children to appear in currently do not require a separate licence and this remains the case under the currrent proposals. She has also called to scrap the 'arbitrary' age barrier and replace it with more stringent care measures for all ages of children in all genres that will require the new licence. In particular, she wants to introduce national criteria and possible accreditation of chaperones accompanying children during production, describing the role as the 'guardian of the system.' Some stakeholders in the review have called for a national chaperone register, though she admitted this needed 'further work.'

BBC Radio 4 has commissioned a documentary about the musical genius behind the iconic Doctor Who theme music from Made in Manchester production. Sculptress of Sound - The Lost Works of Delia Derbyshire will feature a range of recordings from the late composer as well as study of how she created her music with the BBC Radiophonics Workshop. The show will include a recently discovered interview with Delia, her collaborations with poet Barry Bermange and a 1971 piece for the Institution of Electrical Engineers. The sixty-minute documentary will air as part of the Archive on 4 strand and was ordered by Radio 4 commissioner Mohit Bakaya. Producer Phil Collinge said, 'Delia's realisation of the Doctor Who theme is just one small example of her genius and we'll demonstrate how the music was originally created.' If any blog reader hasn't previously heard any of Delia's astonishing range of sound collages, check out some of the samples here - including the mesmeringly beautiful Blue Veils & Golden Sands from a 1967 BBC2 The World About Us documentary. Further details of this extraordinary lady and her extraordinary body of work can be found here.

Raymond Blanc has praised hospital food after being treated for a broken leg. Blanc was taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after a fall at his home. The star of BBC2's The Restaurant said: 'I'm pleased to say it was edible. Their best dish was a spicy chicken tikka, which was fun, and I gave that seven out of ten.'

Cabinet ministers have condemned former colleagues who were secretly filmed apparently offering to try and influence government policy in return for cash. In the Channel 4 and Sunday Times film, former minister Stephen Byers apparently says that he will try to change policy for up to five thousand pounds a day and is 'like a cab for hire.' Patricia Hewitt allegedly says she would need up to three thousand pounds. Both firmly deny any wrongdoing. Chancellor Alistair Darling says what happened was 'ridiculous.' And Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Sky News Sunday Live that he was 'appalled' by the apparent actions of his former colleagues, saying 'there is absolutely no room for anyone to trade on their ministerial office.' Miliband said Labour had tightened up the rules on lobbying by former ministers already. 'But the Labour manifesto is going to say more about the need for a statutory register of the lobbying industry, because there is absolutely no room for the sort of innuendo or promises that seem to have been floated in this case.' Byers was secretly filmed offering himself 'like a sort of cab for hire' for up to five grand a day. The former trade and industry minister told an investigative reporter that he had secured secret deals with ministers, could get confidential information from Number Ten and was able to help firms involved in price fixing get around the law. He also suggested bringing clients to meet former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the investigators claim. The next day Byers retracted his claims, saying he had 'never lobbied ministers on behalf of commercial interests' and had exaggerated his influence. The investigators claim that on two separate occasions Byers put pressure on the relevant minister to change policies on behalf of rail and bus operator National Express and of supermarket giant Tesco. Tesco denied any links with the former minister. A spokesman said: 'We did not speak to Mr Byers on food labelling, regulation or indeed any other issue. These claims are completely fictitious and Mr Byers has acknowledged this to us.'

The ban on video clips of sessions in the House of Commons being broadcast on YouTube could be lifted in the coming weeks, it has emerged. Current regulations stop the Google-owned YouTube or any other website, including newspapers, from carrying video footage of parliamentary proceedings. Under the approach, the public are forced to rely on news clips from the main broadcasters or material hosted on the Westminster or BBC Parliament sites. MPs are allowed to place clips of their own speeches on YouTube, but they have to ensure that third parties cannot embed the material. The ban was implemented to protect copyright of the footage, which is jointly owned by broadcasters and the Palace of Westminster. According to the Gruniad, MPs are also wary that users could 'mash up' parliamentary sessions to make the speakers appear foolish. Hang on ... any more foolish than they already appear after the expenses scandal? In 2007, a clip of Gordon Brown picking his nose during Prime Minister's Question Time was viewed almost half a million times on YouTube, despite the authorities trying to get it removed. Liberal Democrat MP for Dumbarton East Jo Swinson has actively campaigned for a relaxation of the ban, which she describes as 'absolutely nuts.' She added: 'What we are told is that officials are concerned about video being taken out of context or abused - but you can do that with the text of Hansard if you wanted, so the ruling is not consistent.' All policitians are scum, but they would also seem to be vain and paranoid too.

Sarah Palin has reportedly asked for one million dollars an episode for her new television show. According to Perez Hilton, there is speculation that many of the major networks, including the Discovery Channel, have passed on Palin's series. Earlier this month, the producer of the former Alaska governor's show has insisted that it will 'not be salacious.'

Katie Price is to pay 'substantial' slander damages to her former manager over a claim that she had an affair with Price's ex-husband, Peter Andre. The damages relate to a comment made on The Graham Norton Show last October in which Price accused Claire Powell of having an affair with Andre, also a client. The allegation was not broadcast but was later reported in the tabloids. Powell's solicitor said the accusation was 'very damaging and distressing' as well as being 'completely untrue.' 'Quite apart from the obvious attack on her professionalism, the claim was particularly upsetting and deeply embarrassing,' Mike Brookes said at London's High Court on Friday. He said that Price, who was not in court, had apologised unreservedly and agreed to pay substantial compensation and Powell's legal fees. Outside court, Powell - whose company Can Associates Limited still represents Andre - said she was 'glad' the matter had been resolved. 'I didn't really want to be in court but if something bad is said, which is going to trash your reputation, you have to clear your name,' she told reporters. Price made her allegation - edited out before transmission - in front of Norton, fellow guests Jackie Collins and Jo Brand and a studio audience of around six hundred punters. Her solicitor said the glamour model - who has since remarried - 'greatly regrets what has happened.'

No comments: