Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Standing On The Shoulders of Giants

Matt Smith has revealed that he tried to make his Doctor Who audition 'crazy' and 'silly.' Speaking to Esquire magazine, the actor likened the role to playing Hamlet. Only, you know, less brooding and using a skull as a prop. 'I tried to make it as funny as it should be but it's a bit like playing Hamlet,' he said. 'It has to be your version. The Doctor is so committed, whoever plays him. So I tried to be creative and artistic, and silly, and crazy, and also the cleverest man in the world, and part of that is there's a rapidity to the way he speaks.' He added: 'He's an intergalactic genius, a superhero-ish, mad, fumbling, bumbling, science geek. He's everything you can pluck from any universe and put into him.'

Andy Hamilton will be replacing Sue Perkins on this week's The Bubble. According to Twitter, poor Sue had a nasty fall over the weekend and injured her ribs.

John Barrowman has defended Andrew Lloyd Webber's BBC talent shows, arguing that they benefit the West End. Not to mention Lloyd Webber himself. The actor and singer claimed that programmes such as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do had given unprecedented exposure to musical theatre. 'It's a formulaic way to find someone that works and that creates a sixteen million pound advance. It gave the West End and musicals exposure that no other TV programme or network would have done,' he told the Daily Telegraph. 'It was massive because, as I've been saying for years, there's a market out there in the general public for musicals. I understand why people go, "Ugh, we don't like it," but I look at it this way - all the shows that I was involved in have now hired thousands of people.' He added: 'All I'll say to that is, for those who complained that the Joseph, Maria and Nancy programmes were detrimental to the West End, shove that down your throat. It brings people into the theatre who might not have been introduced. And I've had company managers complaining, "Oh, we've got people sitting in shell suits in the theatre." Well, you've got people in the theatre, bums on seats, your cast is being paid and you're being paid because your house is full, so don't complain.' It was confirmed last month that Barrowman would not be involved in Webber's latest talent hunt, Over The Rainbow, which will air in late spring on BBC1.

David Morrissey has signed up to star in Sky1's adaptation of Mark Billingham's novels. Morrissey will star in the title role as DI Tom Thorne in Thorne: Sleepyhead and Thorne: Scaredy Cat, which will air as a six-part drama series this autumn. 'I am delighted to be bringing Tom Thorne to the screen,' said Morrissey. 'Having been a fan of Mark Billingham's books for years, it's a great privilege to be able to play such an exciting character. I'm also chuffed to be reunited with Stephen Hopkins who is one of the best directors I've had the pleasure of working with.' Sky1's commissioning editor Huw Kennair-Jones added: 'We're really excited to be bringing Mark Billingham's iconic Tom Thorne to life here on Sky1 and it's a testament to the ambitions of the channel that we've secured such a fantastic line up both on and off screen. The combination of Mark Billingham, Stephen Hopkins and an amazing cast headed by David Morrissey means that Thorne is going to be a brilliantly original detective series that'll constantly astound and surprise the audience - it's going to be incredible.' Production on Sleepyhead commenced in London today.

Miranda leads the nominations for the 2009 prestigious Royal Television Society awards. Miranda Hart's BBC2 sitcom has been nominated for best comedy performance, whilst she and fellow writers James Cary and Richard Hurst are also nominated for the best comedy writing section. The show is also in the running for best scripted comedy with competition from E4's The Inbetweeners and BBC2's The Thick of It. In drama, Julie Walters' performance in A Short Stay in Switzerland has been recognised as she is nominated for best actress. Based on the true story of a terminally ill woman who ends her life in a Zurich clinic, the drama won Walters the best actress award at the International Emmys last year. Naomie Harris is also nominated for her role in BBC1's A Small Island along with ex-Coronation Street star Suranne Jones for ITV's Unforgiven. Hart's six-part series began on BBC2 in November and is semi-autobiographical. She plays a social misfit who lives above the joke shop which she owns and is often at loggerheads with her overbearing mother, played by Patricia Hodge. Andrea Levy drama A Small Island receives another nomination, this time for best actor for David Oyelowo. He is joined by Tom Hardy for Sky1's The Take and Stephen Graham for his portrayal of an alcoholic who finds out he has a son with Down's Syndrome in Jimmy McGovern's The Street. The Thick of It star Peter Capaldi and Gavin and Stacey's Ruth Jones are in the running for best comedy performance alongside Hart. Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are nominated for best entertainment performance for both Britain's Got Talent and I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! They are up against Harry Hill for Harry Hill's TV Burp and Michael McIntyre for the BBC's Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow. BBC1's Occupation and The Street and Channel 4's Red Riding will battle it our for best drama serial, while ITV big-hitters Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor take on BBC4's Newswipe with Charlie Brooker in the entertainment category. Casualty and EastEnders face The Bill in best soap and continuing drama. The award ceremony takes place on 16 March at the Grosvenor Hotel in London and will be hosted by Rob Brydon.

Piers Morgan has revealed that Simon Cowell has banned him from speaking about the new series of Britain's Got Talent. Which, if it means we're going to be hearing a bit less of oily Piers in the future can only be a good thing. The disgraced former tabloid editor explained that his fellow panellist wants viewers to be surprised by this year's acts rather than hearing every detail before the show returns. Confirming that Amanda Holden is also under instruction to keep quiet, Morgan told the Daily Star: 'Simon has banned us from revealing anything. He thought too many stories were leaked too early last year so he's warned us to keep our mouths shut.' Hopefully, this instruction also extends to Morgan's crass newspaper column and Holden's pontifications on how great her latest sitcom vehicle is. But, I wouldn't bank on it.

Former EastEnders actor Larry Lamb has been accused of making 'no effort' when he took part in new BBC show Famous, Rich and Jobless. The forthcoming 'life-swap' documentary series challenges famous faces to deal with being out of work in a bid to raise awareness of what it is like to be unemployed in the UK. Lamb was reportedly dispatched to search for work in Hartlepool on the programme. However, the show's presenter Emma Harrison soon spotted him strolling along the beach when he should have been job-hunting. '[Larry] just came up with a host of excuses not to engage with what we were trying to do,' Harrison commented. And you're, what, surprised at that? 'He hadn't earned a penny and he didn't even make an effort to try and find work. Trying to demonstrate to him the harsh truths of unemployment was exasperating.' Makes one wonder why they bothered. Which is, actually, a pretty decent description for the entire enterprise. Harrison is the founder of employment agency A4e and is currently working as the government's 'Back to Work Tsar.' That should be Tsarina, surely? She added: 'Larry really disappointed me. The programme succeeds in highlighting the huge problems faced by the unemployed but he made no real effort to respond to the challenge.'

Suranne Jones has admitted that she received a 'kicking' in the press for her role in ITV's Harley Street. The former Coronation Street actress starred alongside ex-EastEnders actor Paul Nicholls in the medical drama, which was axed in 2008 after just one series. because it was crap and no one was watching it. Reflecting on the programme's failure to win over viewers and critics, Jones told the Glasgow Sunday Mail: 'Yes, I did get a kicking with Harley Street and it just goes to show that you don't always make the right decisions. When I decided to do it I wanted to do something so different to who I am but perhaps it was too different. You've always got to have a part of you that you can find in a character. It was unfortunate because Harley Street had a great cast with Paul Nicholls and brilliant guest players such as James Fox and Leslie Phillips. But not everything works and maybe viewers didn't want to see posh people treating other posh people in a posh surgery.' Since leaving Coronation Street in 2004, Jones has won much praise for her work on ITV's Vincent and Unforgiven. She returns to screens this week with the lead in BBC1's strip-scheduled drama Five Days.

The presenter Kristian Digby has died under 'unexplained circumstances' at home in Stratford according to reports. The thirty two-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics arrived at his flat at approximately 7.45am yesterday morning. His next-of-kin have been informed. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed: 'Police were called to reports of a body of a man in his thirties found at an address in Richford Road, E15. Ambulance services attended and life was pronounced extinct.' Digby is best known as co-host of BBC1 daytime property programme To Buy Or Not To Buy. His previous credits include That Gay Show, Open House and Buy It, Sell It, Bank It.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson may have to end his long-running boycott on speaking to BBC reporters from next season after the Premier League reinforced its new media relations policy. Last November, a motion was passed at a league board meeting which made post-match interviews with all media rights holders mandatory for club managers. The new rule, titled Q17, states: 'With effect from season 2010/11 all managers are required to attend in person and participate in post-match interviews held by or for the benefit of a UK broadcaster or radio broadcaster and failure to do so without just cause shall be a breach of these rules.' Any managers failing to make themselves available for TV or radio interviews will face penalties, starting with a warning and moving to fines of increasing weight. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp and Blackburn's Sam Allardyce have also previously refused to give interviews to BBC reporters, but not for as long as Ferguson. The Manchester United manager has not spoken to the BBC since 2004 when his son Jason, a football agent, was the subject of a Panorama documentary alleging that he used his father's status to exert influence on the transfer market. Despite Jason never being found guilty of any wrongdoing, Ferguson pledged never to speak to the 'arrogant beyond belief' BBC ever again. Currently, the ban means that Ferguson's assistant, Mike Phelan, is tasked with giving interviews to the corporation on shows such as Match Of The Day. In response, the Match Of the Day production team has long argued that the reason for Ferguson's boycott was never of their making, while 'off-court' relations with the dour Scot remain 'cordial.'

Martin Clunes travels the world to unlock the secrets of man's partnership with horses in Horsepower, a new documentary series for ITV later in the year5. His journey will take him from remotest Mongolia to the deserts of Arabia; to see the enigmatic wild Mustangs in Nevada, and watch the thrills and spills of rodeo in Las Vegas. He finds out what life in the saddle is like for cowboys out west and rides into battle on horseback in a suit of armour at Warwick Castle. He is given in a crash course in snow polo in Colorado and joins the pomp and ceremony as horses and carriages are prepared for the State opening of Parliament. Martin is a special guest at the world's most glamorous and lavish racing event in Dubai, and watches the colourful Palio horse race in Italy, which dates back to the 1200's.

Jessie Wallace has admitted that she always 'had a feeling' she would be asked to reprise her role as Kat Moon in EastEnders. The actress last month announced that she had signed up to return to the BBC soap following a break from Albert Square. Speaking to Bang Showbiz about being recruited for the comeback, Wallace commented: 'I was surprised. But I think there was always a hope. I used to get asked "When are you going to go back?" all the time. But now it's like, "You're going back!" I get called Kat every single day. So I just had a feeling because she's a remembered character. I left EastEnders five years ago, but you know, I suppose it was always going to happen.' Wallace's return to EastEnders was confirmed shortly after the announcement that Shane Richie had agreed to reprise his part as Kat's husband, Alfie. The pair will be back on screen later this year. Alfie and Kat recently secured the top two positions in a poll which named EastEnders' best-loved characters of all time by the general public.

Frank Skinner has spoken about losing half his life savings with US insurance firm AIG. The stand-up comedian lost a substantial amount of his estimated six million pound fortune when he was advised to invest in AIG by his bank Coutts. 'I've got a lot less money than I used to,' he told the Guardian. 'I'm not broke or anything. I've got half of it back.' When asked whether he would ever recoup the rest of his money, he added: 'That's the big question. When you ask them they say "We are very confident." I was angry with the bank but I wasn't crying into my pillow. It didn't upset me as much as I thought it would. It's not like I've had a call from my doctor and been told I'm not funny anymore.' Thankfully. Although, apparently, Frank's old mucker Baddiel got one of those.

The debut of Michael Winner's Dining Stars failed to rise like a soggy souffle on Friday night, beaten by Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies and Wales' rugby showdown with France on BBC1. According to overnight figures, the new food show, where Winner travels to homes around the country and judges amateur chefs' cooking, was watched by just 2.6m viewers over the hour from 9pm. The show, which had originally been piloted as a daytime show for ITV was well below the usual slot average of 4.2m. Meanwhile, ITV's much-trailed Married, Single, Other dropped around two and a quarter million of its audience following its debut. The second episode of the romantic 'dramedy' (a horribly pretentious tag, for a horribly pretentious series, it would seem), which stars Lucy Davis, Ralph Little and Dean Lennox Kelly, managed a smidgen under four million compared to the 6.22m last week. It was comprehensively beaten during the hour by BBC1's Five Days, which had an impressive 7.39m.

NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker has admitted the attempt to move The Tonight Show host Jay Leno to a new slot was a big mistake - but said the outcry it caused was evidence of viewers passion for the show. Leno returns to The Tonight Show at 11.30pm tonight and the NBU president and chief executive told the BBC World Service: 'In hindsight, clearly [moving him] was not the right call. We took a programming swing, a risk and it didn't work out how we wanted it to.' Leno was moved from the coveted The Tonight Show to front a new 10pm show, making way for Conan O'Brien. But there was a severe public backlash and seven months later it was announced that Leno would return to The Tonight Show and O'Brien would move to 12:05am. O'Brien announced in an open letter that he would leave NBC if this was done and NBC agreed to buy-out his contract, believed to be worth forty five million dollars. Zucker said NBCU 'stepped up' and 'made the right business decision in the end,' by moving Leno back. He added that the episode pointed to the importance of fixed viewing patterns in a market where programmes are available on demand. 'Viewing patterns are important and you probably need to respect them. On the other hand, given what is going on in television and all of the media, we have to think about new ways to programme, new ways to reach the viewer and the consumer,' he said. Zuker acknowledged the negative publicity that NBC has received, but focused on the positives of the situation. 'A tremendous amount of unfortunate things were said and threats received. Here's the good news: people care about network television. We've been in an era where people have questioned the viability of network television. This showed that people care deeply about the programmes and the people they love.'

MTV has reportedly dropped the MTV2, MTVR and VH1 Classic brands as part of a 'refresh' of its music channels designed to keep viewers 'engaged' with the network.

Sir Ian McKellen is to play the title role in a BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Ian Fleming's Goldfinger. The James Bond drama will also star Die Another Day baddies Rosamund Pike as Pussy Galore and Toby Stephens as Meezda Bond himself. Impressionist and actor Alistair McGowan will play the caddie, Hawker, during the famous golf scene. The feature-length Saturday play follows Radio 4's 2008 adaptation of Dr No, which marked the one hundredth anniversary of Fleming's birth. Classical actor and film star Tom Hollander, Alice in Wonderland actor Tim Pigott-Smith and American star Hector Elizondo will all perform cameos as New York gangsters. Martin Jarvis, who is also directing the play, is the voice of Fleming, while John Standing appears as M, the head of MI6.

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