Saturday, March 06, 2010

Week Eleven: The Norman Inquest

Yer Keith Telly Topping had a right epic - ninety minute - discussion-cum-rant with the great Jamie Wilko (pictured, right) about the old 6 Music thing when I was in the office on Thursday recording the latest batch of Top Telly Tips. For this debate, I used most of the arguments which I'd previously highlighted on this very blog on Wednesday - too much money for not enough listeners, etc. Plus, the fact that Coldplay and Radiohead are against it and, therefore, it has to be a good thing, logically. Jamie, by contrast, used the well-practiced 'I like it, I sometimes listen to it, therefore, they should leave it alone as a statement if nothing else' stratagem. Which, to be fair to him, he acknowledged was self indulgence and, actually, was by far the better argument! I didn't change his mind, ultimately. Which, I was quite glad about in the end. Even I have some limits on my powers of persuasion.

As a licence fee payer, I freely acknowledge that the BBC isn't perfect. And, collectively it doesn't always exactly help itself by not making more robust counter-arguments to criticism - and, in particular, not slapping down some of the more prominent trite, self-serving garbage that James Murdoch and his scummy ilk spout. The logical end to such arguments are that, to such people as Murdoch, the Daily Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star, the BBC should not be allowed to be popular (or, heaven help us, populist) and should not make programmes that anybody actually wants to watch. I'd love to see a value comparison between the BBC and say, the price of a Sky subscription or relative cultural contribution from the News International owned channels. And I say all that as a licence fee payer and a Sky subscriber so I'm the kind of person that both sides should be looking to convince on this matter. I know which of the two I consider that I get better value from. As should anybody with a smidgen of common sense in their skulls. But then, it's not just the BBC's job to defend itself from small-minded glakery, it's ours - as a nation - too. All of us need to grow a pair, frankly. The BBC is - conceptually, as well as literally - ours and we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to defend it - robustly against the ranks of darkness. Because, if it goes tits-up, as many of these shrill voices would like, then we'll never see anything even remotely like it again. And, as we all know, if you stand up to bullies they usually shat in their own pants and run a mile.

And, speaking of crass, ignorant bullies, the new boss of ITV has used his first broadcast interview since taking up the role to lambast the BBC's dominance of UK television. In the interview - with Sky's totally impartial Jeff Randall - Archie Norman said he will take his complaints to the media watchdog. 'We will be talking to the regulator. I've had a conversation with (BBC chairman) Michael Lyons about it. We talked to the secretary of state about it,' he said. 'I think it's a very serious problem for Britain.' Err... no. No, it really isn't, Archie. I'm sorry, but you're dead wrong. Global warming and the recession and knife crime and unemployment, they're 'very serious problems for Britain.' People trying to interfere with the independence of the BBC - a genuinely world-class broadcaster with a universal reputation (except in parts of its own back yard, and some bits of the Middle East) for quality and integrity - that's 'a serious problem for Britain.' I'm not sure that anyone, however, could make a decent claim for TV scheduling ever being such a thing or anything even remotely like it. The former Asda chief executive, who became ITV's chairman in January, also spoke out about the BBC's policy of chasing ratings over its public service remit. Or, in other words, of 'making popular programmes like EastEnders and Doctor Who that get more ratings than the garbage ITV tries opposite them.' Just so we know exactly what he's actually talking about here. 'They schedule their programmes to come up directly against us.' Well, how very dare they, sir? Can I ask you a, possibly overly-simple question, Archie me auld china? Where else do you suggest they schedule their programmes other than opposite ITV? Or, would you prefer it if the BBC didn't schedule anything against ITV but showed twenty four hours of the test card instead? Oh, you would? Fair enough. You're a cretin. You know, it's all very well to have a go at the Daily Mail and the Gruniad for their constant anti-BBC agenda as we on this blog do. It can, occasionally, be quite funny to watch. But, I have to say, in all seriousness these comments just take the biscuit. I look forward to further examples of The Wit and Wisdom of Archie Norman in the years to come; if future comments are anything like the comedy gold of this example, Mock The Week will be wanting him as a panellist before too long. The guy's bloomin' hilarious.

TV quote of the week, from BBC2's still-excellent The Bubble: David Mitchell's reply to Andy Hamilton's question if a positively filthy - if extremely funny - bit of sly badinage between Mitchell and Clive Anderson was actually broadcastable. 'Oh yes, this is just innuendo. We haven't said the word "fuck"!' And, the second best TV quote of the week was also from The Bubble and also from Mitchell: When Anderson expressed the hope that the licence fee payers would think the cost of an animated fake news report from Taiwan on David Cameron's alleged use of fake-tan was worth the cost. 'Oh God, not them again? They're never happy!' Many a true word spoken in jest, David.

Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke is recovering after being rushed to hospital yesterday. According to the Mirror, the professional dancer had been due to perform at a tea dance in Kingston-upon-Thames hosted by She magazine but was taken ill. Early reports that he had been crushed to death when his ego fell on top of him, crushing him, were soon confirmed to be erroneous. Which was nice. However, du Beke's agent Louise Badger said that her client is now 'absolutely fine' and is resting at home. 'He was taken unwell suddenly and they did a variety of tests,' she explained, adding that the incident was probably because of low blood pressure and was 'nothing untoward.' Du Beke's Strictly colleague, Erin Boag reportedly, stood in for him at the tea dance event with a 'fantastic solo routine.'

If one ever needed a finer example of the way in which television now completely dominates all considerations with regard to football in this country - to the often maximum inconvenience of many of the game's supporters - then I give you, dear blog reader, the forthcoming fixture between Plymouth Argyle versus Newcastle United. One of the longest round-trips for the supporters of any club in this country - eight hundred and forty miles and, as Paul Whitehouse says in that Aviva insurance advert, 'a long old poke' - has been moved from the original kick-off time of 3pm on Saturday 17 April to 7:45pm on Monday 19 April to fit in with Sky's TV schedules. Thus meaning that any Newcastle fans wishing to travel to the game (and, there 'd probably be a couple of thousand of them - there usually are) will now have to sacrifice two days off work for ninety minutes of football. The club, reportedly, for once actually stuck up for its fans and asked Sky and the Football League if they could, just this once, pass up the opportunity to appear on TV. They were turned down flat. Haven't you stupid bastards at Sky and Lancaster Gate ever looked at a sodding map? Tragically, this is merely the latest illustration of the way in which football supporters are constantly the last people ever to cross the minds of administrators and broadcasters when they're proposing stuff. Not a single, solitary bit of consideration is ever given to the people who - in theory at least - keep these blokes in a job. But, of course, as we all know from the bitter experience of listening to any of the greasy urban pimps who now run our clubs, actual supporters mean nothing in football now. Gone are the days where clubs depended on cash-through-the-turnstiles to fund the majority of their operations. Now, it's all a question of how many replica shirts you can sell in Malaysia. I'll tell you what, though. Imagine for a second what would happen if one Saturday nobody turned up to any game in this country? Just once. You can bet a pound to a bucket of diarrhoea that every American absentee landlord, every fake-sheik, every fly-boy entrepreneur of mucky books or cheap sports gear and every one of the other dodgy scum that now run the game we all love in this country, would be crapping in his own pants at the missing millions and the thought that the punters might not be back. The moment that football forgets who, exactly, the game is primarily for, it's doomed.

Ooo, yer Keith Telly Topping is pure dead vexed after all that, so he is. I should get my angry on more often, clearly. Let's have some Top Telly Tips:

Friday 12 March
Eurovision: Your Country Needs You - 8:30 BBC1 - sees Graham Norton presiding over what is alleged to be 'one of the year's most important votes': who will represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest. And come twelfth. Err... Okay. If you say so. Taking on the Eurovision challenge for 2010, after Lloyd Webber's brave-but-futile go last year, is 'legendary hit-maker' (it says here) Pete Waterman. Six acts fight for the right to sing his song. Not literally, of course, because that would be awful; little more or less than legalised bear-bating or dog fighting. Although, to be fair, it'd also be a lot more entertaining than this crud is likely to be. Also performing on the show are the Sugababes - or, at least, the three latest Sugababes, anyway - and last year's Eurovision winner, the Norwegian superstar Alexander Rybak.

Saturday 13 March
This week's Qi XL - 9:15 BBC2 - is the first of the episodes from earlier in the series in which the extended repeat wasn't scheduled at the time. So, get ready for fifteen minutes more than you saw last December of Stephen Fry glancing gleefully at gardens and various other subjects starting with the letter G. He does so with a 'dream team' panel of Davey Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Dara O Briain and Alan Davies. It's one of the best episodes of the latest run so, if you missed it latest time around, definitely make a date tonight.

Sunday 14 March
Seven Ages of Britain - 9:00 BBC1 - features the story of the golden age of the British Empire from 1750 to 1900, revealed through its art and treasures plundered for the four corners of the globe with some considerable glee. And, if you think you're getting yer marbles back, Greece, you've got another thing coming. What you gonna do, throw some plates at us? Your soldiers all wear skirts, we're not scared of you ... Ahem. Anyway, David Dimbleby travels through Britain, America and India, tracing the Empire's descent from the early years of adventure, inspiration and blood-curdling oppression and slavery into subsequent moral bankruptcy as it became a self-serving bureaucratic machine which exploited the natural resources of the dominions whilst Britain, collectively, got bloated and indolent on the profits. Although, to be fair, we did give them democracy. And, they gave us curry, lager and the potato - and, thus, also obesity - in return. So, I'd say in the long run, they won. In Britain, David looks at William Hodge's paintings of Captain Cook's famous voyages, Sir Hiram Maxim's original machine gun and the relics of General Gordon brought back from the Sudan. Before the cut his head off and stuck it on a spike.

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby host the celebrity ice dancing competition Dancing On Ice - 7:10 ITV. The five remaining contestants will find their skating skills tested to the limit today because they must perform with not only their partner, but also a prop chosen by coaches Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. With only two weeks to go before the final, the 'stars' cannot afford any mistakes. Although, if they make some, that would be pretty funny. Viewers have the chance to vote for their favourite couple to save them from the skate-off. I don't know about anybody else but I really haven't been grabbed in any way, shape or form by this one. Unlike Britain's Got Talent and The X-Factor which, almost in spite of oneself, it's difficult to avoid having some sort of opinion on, Dancing On Ice has just been something of a non-entity this year.

In Tropic of Cancer - 8:00 BBC2 - roving reporter Simon Reeve starts yet another epic journey around the world, this time following the Tropic of Cancer, the northern border of the tropics region. In this first episode Simon travels from the beautiful Pacific coast of Mexico, where he visits the luxurious holiday resorts of Baja California (yer Keith Telly Topping's been there, dear blog reader), before crossing the country's rugged, non-touristy interior. Never been there. The first stage of his journey ends in the Bahamas, where he discovers the hidden menace on the beautiful coral reefs.

Monday 15 March
Bang Goes the Theory - 7:30 - the Tomorrow's World for the Twenty First Century returns to BBC1. Liz Bonnin, Dallas Campbell and Jem Stansfield put science to the test. Engineer Jem tries to smash a land speed record with a fire extinguisher, a go-kart and a well-oiled spanner. Okay ... Most people in the past have tended to use a rocket car of some description, so this should be novel. And, possibly fatal. Dallas, meanwhile, looks at the future of oil explorations. And Liz goes behind the scenes of the real CSI to meet the scientists working with the police to solve real crimes.

It's Joe's funeral on tonight's Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV. Will Tina be able to hold it together? Will the Barlows receive any good news about Simon? Will Molly have some important news for Kevin? And, if she does, will he listen? Will Norris smile this week? These questions, and others, may be answered. But, they probably won't be. Except the last one, that'll be 'no.'

In Women - 9:00 BBC4 - the acclaimed film-maker Vanessa Engle turns her attention to sexual politics in a three-part documentary series about feminism and its impact on women's lives in society today. The second part looks at the consequences of feminism for today's mothers. It documents the daily lives of several ordinary women with children, interviewing them as well as their partners, to discover whether feminism has had an impact on specific gender roles within the family and the division of labour in the home. Tragically, the answer is probably going to be no. It's funny, you know because yer Keith Telly Topping has always considered himself to be something of a feminist in his admiration of strong, confident women and - particularly in the region I come from - their often unsung abilities to hold their families together, usually with a staggering lack of support from their oaf of a husband. Mind you, even I draw the line somewhere. I hear, for instance, that a group of feminists have form a football team and want to get into the Premier League. The stupid bastards, they've already got Chelsea, what more do they want?

Tuesday 16 March
Richard Hammond explores the world of detail hidden in the blink of an eye in Richard Hammond's Invisible Worlds - 9:00 BBC1. The human eye takes about fifty milliseconds to blink. But it takes our brain around a hundred and fifty milliseconds to process what we see. In those few milliseconds, there are extraordinary things happening that simply pass us by. But what if we could break through this speed limit? Using the latest high-speed cameras, Richard goes on a journey beyond our eye's limits, to see secrets hidden in every element of our planet. Odd choice of presenter for this. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like the Hamster a lot, and he is very popular but it doesn't seem the kind of thing that you'd automatically associate the majority of his regular audience with having much time for. I hope I'm wrong, cos it sounds quite good. It does, rather, make you wonder what's next for the Top Gear boys. James seems to have carved out a nice career for himself. I'm currently petitioning for Clarkson to do a guest presenter slot of Springwatch. That, I'd watch.

The writer Bill Buford dons a white hat and works in a series of French kitchens to investigate whether French food is all it's cracked up to be in the brilliantly named Fat Man in a White Hat - 9:00 BBC4. Bill starts in one of the best French restaurants in America before moving, with his family, to Lyon, where he enrols in a cookery school and works on the line for one of the most demanding chefs in France, Matthieu Viannay. Can Bill survive in a restaurant where one of the signature dishes consists of garlic snails on a bed of crusty veal ears? Urgh. And, they eat horses as well. I went to a very nice restaurant the other night. Strange mix of styles, though. German-Chinese. I mean, the food was lovely, but half an hour later I was hungry for power.

It's a veritable Clash of the Titans in EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - where it's Mitchell v Mitchell at the beauty salon auction. But, will the loser find a way to get even? Phil, meanwhile, tries to 'woo' Shirley. With mixed results I'm guessing cos, you know, Phil - not so much with the wooing. And, the garden makeover plans gather momentum, much to Lucas' horror. I wonder if there's any more dog killing for people to complain about on the horizon of whether he'll stick to just murdering people? Which viewers don't, really, seem to mind.

Wednesday 17 March
In The Business Inspector - 8:00 Five - self-made millionaire Hilary Devey gives advice to struggling businesses. On how not to struggle we have to presume. I mean, the advice could be 'pink and blue? Not this season, love' for all we know. But no, seemingly Hilary puts her keen business mind to good use as she comes to the aid of two ailing companies. For her first venture, Hilary travels to Milton Keynes to help a pair of florists who have yet to earn enough money to take a wage. Elsewhere, in Warwick, she assists an entrepreneur who has created illuminated table centres. So, this is another in Five's range of 'interfering busybody television'? Sort of Ruth Watson-lite, only without the scowling.

Sex scandals, divorce and a brutal assault in Milan in which he got he nose smashed meant that 2009 was, on the whole, a tough year for the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as detailed in The Berlusconi Show - 7:00 BBC2. Although, at least AC got back into Europe after finishing third in Serie A so, that'll have put a brief smile on his face. Mad Frankie Boyle's description of him on Mock The Week as 'a man who, if you told him to go fuck himself, he'd probably give it a try', on the other hand, probably went down like a lead balloon with El Presidente. Anyway, in this reporter Mark Franchetti returns to the country of his birth to assess one of the world's most controversial and flamboyant leaders. Franchetti finds an Italy divided down the middle between those who rather admire Silvio and consider his alleged corruption and philandering as somewhat charming and endearing traits which merely prove that he is a character and those who hate his guts and want to see the scummy old right-winger consigned to the dustbin of history. Forza Italia. Berlusconi seems to thrive in the face of such adversity and conflict. Few other leaders could survive the financial and sexual scandals that he has - can Berlusconi continue to defy his critics? In Italy, where the attitude of many seems to be 'yeah, so he's got an eighteen year old girlfriend? So what, so's Ronnie Wood!' who would bet against it.

Psychologist Pamela Connolly presents a series of unconventional in-depth interviews with some of the world's most fascinating people in Shrink Rap - 10:00 More4. Joan Rivers, the world's highest-paid comic, discusses her lengthy career on stage and the important factors in her life that have shaped her personality. Among the subjects on the agenda for his chat with Pammy are her betrayal by chat show host Johnny Carson, a period of bulimia, and her enduring anger that husband Edgar committed suicide, leaving her in financial ruin. I find Joan Rivers comedy rather crude and one-dimensional, to be honest, but there's no doubt that she's a fascinating character and I'm quite looking forward to seeing her interviewed by a woman who, thirty years ago, could've been said to be Britain's answer to her.

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA - 9:00 Channel 4 - sees Gordon Ramsay still stuck deep in the badands of America in a bid to rescue failing restaurants and, at the same time, to increase his own media profile, Stateside. Tonight Gordon visits Fleming, a Danish restaurant in Miami. The trick is to cook the bacon on both sides, mate. Just in case you didn't know.

Thursday 18 March
In Museum of Life - 8:00 BBC2 - Jimmy Doherty goes behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum to join the people who are uncovering secrets, solving mysteries and making discoveries among the seventy million items in the historic collections. In the first of this new series, Jimmy gets to grips with Darwin's finches, Dippy the Diplodicus and a radical project aiming to hold back extinction. Now, yer Keith Telly Topping is a huge fan of the Natural History Museum, I often visit whenever I'm down in London. There's a real sense of Victorian grandeur and endless possibilities about the place. A statement, not so much of their taste but, rather, of their eternal optimism and their certainty of their own - and, indeed, man's - place ni the world. If you're ever down in South Kensington and you're bored with the idea of an afternoon shopping at Harrods, take a trip round the corner to the NHM, you won't be sorry.

Million Pound Bike Ride: A Sport Relief Challenge - 9:00 BBC1 - sees David Walliams recruiting Miranda Hart, Davina McCall, Jimmy Carr, Russell Howard, Paddy Kielty and Fearne Cotton to attempt a non-stop cycle relay between John O'Groats and Lands End, for Sport Relief. The gruelling four-day challenge involves cycling almost one thousand miles through day and night, during Britain's coldest winter for thirty years. And, if the thought of six foot something Miranda Hart on a bike isn't enough to have you eagerly anticipating this show then, frankly, you're a lost cause.

And, speaking of Sports Relief, last year's big news story regarding this was Eddie Izzard's, frankly insane, efforts in running forty three marathons in fifty one days around Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Well, not only did he manage it - an out of condition forty seven year old action transvestite who'd previously never run further than 'for the bus' - but, in doing so he also managed to create, with his support team, one of the great feel-good TV documentaries of recent memory, Eddie Izzard - Marathon Man which you can see the final part of tonight at 10:30 on BBC3. A study of obsession and sheer bloody-mindedness on the one-part, it also details the astonishing generocity and goodness that lies in the hearts of the majority of the people that Eddie encounters on his vast, bafflingly strange journey. Except for the grumpy jobsworth of a park keeper in episode one who wouldn't let them film beside a lake without the required bit of paper, of course. David Tennant's soothing commentary adds another layer of whimsy - and occasional drama - to the story of just how magnificent humanity can be if it simply puts its mind to it. And, what a curse blisters are. As I've said before many times on this blog, yer Keith Telly Topping is a huge admirer of Eddie as comedian, as an actor and, indeed, as a human being - someone who has fought intolerence and bigotry on a personal level all his life. What I didn't realise until watching this programmes - although, possibly the clues were always there - was what a determind, hard individual he can be if he sets his mind to do something. With that sort of spirit, he could lead the country if he wanted to. He's certainly popular enough. Go on, Eddie, mate - enter politics and show 'em how it's done. I'd vote for you.

The excellent documentary series Storyville - 9:00 BBC4 - tonight chronicles the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition, in which sixteen French pastry chefs gather in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared one of the best by President Sarkozy. And his lovely wife. The blue, white and red striped collar worn on the jackets of the winners is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef - it is a dream and an obsession. This rather offbeat little film follows some of the competitors as they prepare for what could be the single most important three days of their lives.

And, so to this latest batch of TV news. And the revelation that the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is reportedly shopping a reality series about her home state to TV networks in the US. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Palin (seen right during his Strict Schoolma'am phase) has teamed up with Survivor producer Mark Burnett to pitch the project to major broadcasters. The ex-US vice presidential candidate has met with NBC, ABC and FOX (with whom Palin already has a close working relationship) about the show this week. Palin would appear on the series alongside her - really very weird - family. 'There's an awful lot of interest in her,' an unnamed executive said. The insider added: 'As a short-order series, it might work. It would depend on what kind of footage you get.'

A photograph of Jessie Wallace partying with a friend and what appear to be several lines of cocaine has been discovered in the most curious of circumstances according to tabloid reports. The pictures reportedly show the EastEnders star and 'a friend' posing 'suggestively' with two porcelain cats whilst the alleged 'substance' lies on a nearby table. At least, this is all according to the Sun. The photos of Wallace, who will reprise her role as Kat Moon on the BBC soap this autumn, were found at a car boot sale in a two pound box of bric-a-brac. John O'Sullivan made the discovery in Ashford, Kent, in December. He said: 'There were things like a handbag and a pair of boots. Then I saw photos of the EastEnders cast and hundreds of scripts from June 2002 when Jessie appeared. At the bottom were some film negatives. Curiosity got the better of me and I got them developed. I was stunned by what they showed.' In 2006, Wallace confessed that she had taken illegal susbtances in the past but that she was not proud of this, adding that it was 'a social thing.'

Debra Stephenson has admitted her surprise at learning what became of her Coronation Street character Frankie Baldwin after she moved away from Weatherfield. Although the plotline never made it to the screen, Baldwin was the basis of the idea that became spin-off DVD Romanian Holiday, which saw the Croppers fly to Romania to attend her wedding to a footballer. Stephenson said that she was stunned to hear of her alter-ego's marriage, telling Metro: 'That's hilarious - I can't imagine how she'd marry a footballer. She's far too old! She's actually the mother of a footballer in the show.' However, despite her initial surprise, she added: 'I'm deeply flattered that my character lives on in some way. I'm not in touch with anyone from the show. Bless her, I'm really pleased for her.'

BAFTA has blamed 'human error' for a mistake that saw 'a number' of eligible shows left off a list circulated to members voting for its 2010 TV awards. It said it had acted to inform the seven per cent of members who had already voted of the omissions and would give them a chance to submit their vote again. The Independent reported Alan Carr's Chatty Man and Chris Moyles' Quiz Night were among the missing shows. So, nothing actually important, then? However, a BAFTA spokesperson would not confirm which programmes were affected. The first round of online voting, which decides the nominations for this year's awards, opened on Tuesday.

ITV chairman Archie Norman - remember him? - has said that the broadcaster is not ready for a move to pay-TV services, but such a strategy is definitely under consideration. Norman also confirmed yesterday that incoming itv chief executive Adam Crozier will run a strategic review of the firm when he starts on 26 April. And then, he made some ruddy stupid comments about the BBC. See above. Despite Norman previously dismissing talk of a pay-TV move, the chairman has now admitted that it could be a 'good idea in the future.' Yeah, that's what your old boss Mrs T used to call a u-turn, Arch.

Angela Griffin has suggested that her Waterloo Road character will not bow out of the show in dramatic fashion. Which, if she had would've surely been a first for Waterloo Road? The actress confirmed last year that she was leaving her role as Kim Campbell on the BBC school drama in order to concentrate on other projects. Speaking to What's On TV about how her exit will come about, Griffin explained: 'When the next series of Waterloo Road comes on, I'll be in it - I've shot another ten episodes. But after that, [Kim leaves].' Asked whether her alter ego's final storyline will be explosive, she replied: 'No, it's not. It's not going to be dramatic. I don't die, I can tell you that much!' Griffin is currently presenting talk show Angela and Friends, which airs as part of Sky1's daytime schedule and has an audience of about four. Denise Welch's character, Steph Haydock, is also leaving Waterloo Road later this year because the actress wants to concentrate on Loose Women and writing her autobiography.

The Commercial arm of the BBC has agreed a deal to buy out the remaining forty per cent of the DVD business 2entertain it did not previously own in a deal worth seventeen million pounds. The sale, negotiated with the administrators of Woolworths, BBC Worldwide's partner in the venture, started at the end of 2008. The BBC said the move secured the future of 2entertain, which publishes DVD titles include Gavin & Stacey, Doctor Who and Fawlty Towers. BBC Worldwide said the acquisition ended a period of uncertainty brought on by the collapse of Woolworths, and protected its investment in 2entertain, which was set up in September 2004. John Smith of BBC Worldwide, said: 'I am pleased that we have finally concluded these negotiations, and have secured the future of 2entertain.' He added that the deal was funded from existing cash at BBC Worldwide, a division of the corporation which does not receive income from the licence fee. The seventeen million pound price tag was deemed 'fair value' after the group exercised its right to buy the outstanding shares in 2entertain following Woolworths' administration. 'Licence fee payers will continue to benefit from 2entertain's contribution to BBC Worldwide, which helped us return a total of one hundred and fifty three million pounds to the BBC in the last financial year,' Smith added. 2entertain distributes DVDs to over sixty countries around the world. It sold almost fifteen million DVDs last year and contributed over twenty eight million pounds in profits to BBC Worldwide between 2008 and 2009.

FOX president Kevin Reilly has admitted that the network is yet to make a decision about whether 24 will be renewed or not. Rumours have surfaced suggesting that the show may not return next year due to the high costs involved in running the series and a run of relatively poor ratings in its Monday night slot. However, Reilly said that the network is 'still proud' of the show and its recent performance. 'It's a very tough call. It's a huge part of our legacy, and there's not a lot of shows that could do a nine-share against the Olympics,' he told The Hollywood Reporter. 'Tremendous sales asset for us still; a show we're so very proud of creatively. So it's not an easy call.' And if you're wondering, yes, that last quote is, indeed, accurate and, yes, he does sound just like Yoda.

Scott Caan has reportedly been contracted to co-star in the upcoming remake of Hawaii Five-O. The Ocean's Eleven actor will play Danno Williams on the CBS pilot, says The Hollywood Reporter. The thirty three-year-old is to appear as a guest star in the pilot due to his commitment to HBO's Entourage. He will officially join the cast if the project goes to series. Caan joins Alex O'Loughlin, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park in the project, produced by Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Robert Kurtzman. There's previously been much Internet speculation about the role after Stargate's Michael Shanks made his mouth go about screen-testing for it.

Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks has announced that its celebrity football team is to release a charity single for the 2010 World Cup. The team's members, who include the soap's longest-serving actor Nick Pickard, will release their song, 'Sing For England', on May 23 to show support for the national side and raise money for charity. All profits from the song will be donated to the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, which treats over two hundred thousand children and young people each year. Speaking of the plan, Pickard commented: 'All the lads in the team are passionate about football and we love playing regularly to raise money for charity, so it only seems natural to show our support for the England football team in South Africa by releasing 'Sing For England'.' The song will be available for pre-order in May ahead of its release on CD on the Swee Music label. Now, I know this is two months before the song's been released and I know it's for a very good cause and all that. But, I feel fairly confident in saying the following: It's a group of actors, doing a charity single with a football song. It's gonna be crap, isn't it? Any one of those reasons would have screamed 'NO!' to all potential purcahsers. But, all three...? Anyone thinking of buying this, please, give your two quid directly to the charity and save yourself the embarrassment of, in a couple of years time, finding the CD at the back of your cupboard and thinking 'My God, what was I on?'

The UK Border Agency is investigating whether some of its staff are racially prejudiced towards asylum seekers. Former worker Louise Perrett told MPs that one of her ex-colleague had ordered young African men to demonstrate 'shooting' to prove they had been child soldiers. She added that another had sung a derogatory song about the Congo, whilst staff also mocked one another whenever asylum applications were approved. UKBA boss Lin Homer said an inquiry into the claims was 'under way.' Perrett was an agency worker at the organisation's Cardiff office for three-and-a-half months during the summer of last year. She described how one member of staff adapted a famous 1980s TV advertisement's wording, when she told him about an application she was handling. She said: 'When he asked me where the lady was from. I said the Congo. He said "Um Bongo, Um Bongo, they kill them in the Congo."'

Keith Richards has denied reports that he has given up drinking alcohol. Well, thank God for that. Come on, there's some things in the world that just need to stay the same. For the sake of stability if nothing else. The Rolling Stones guitarist also suggested that his band may record new material soon but cast doubt on the possibility of another world tour. Richards told Rolling Stone: 'Listen, the rumours of my sobriety are greatly exaggerated. And we'll leave it at that.' On the possibility of a new Stones CD, he added: 'There's no definite plans, but I can't see any of them stopping. I wouldn't be surprised if we did some recording later this year. I don't know how the rest of them feel about roadwork at the moment. Maybe we'll search for a different way for the Stones to go back on the road. Maybe not the football stadiums anymore. Maybe something different. You can't go around there in lemon-yellow tights forever.' If anybody can pull it off, Keef, baby, it's you.

Ashley Cole - seen left, looking 'a bit shifty' - was alleged to have been visited by a psychologist this week after his bosses at Chelsea FC reportedly 'became concerned' over his mental state. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall of that conversation. 'So, Mr Cole. When Arsenal played Newcastle United in 2002 and Craig Bellamy ran past you and you fell down clutching your face like you'd just been fisted by Muhammed Ali when, in actual fact, you hadn't even been touched, could you tell me what, exactly, you were trying to achieve by that ostentatious display of play-acting? Besides getting a fellow professional sent off, of course? Take your time...'

1 comment:

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