Wednesday, March 03, 2010

You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone

It's been a damned curious start to the top telly week. This current season of 24 is starting to meander rather alarmingly. It's not, entirely, without merit and there's some very good actors taking part, admittedly. But, whole subplots are whizzing by without so much as impacting on the viewer's brain. And those that do linger for a while (the entire Starbuck-and-Mr-Buffy's-travails-with-the-scumbag-robbers thing) just don't have the necessary punch to actually draw much audience empathy. I mean, don't get me wrong, there's nothing that's taken place this year which is even remotely as bad as Kim-and-the-mountain-lion, or Jack-robs-a-convenience-store-to-fill-two-hours. But, it remains all rather inconsequential. A bit ... blah, frankly. Lost, on the other hand, carries on its merry way, as barmy as ever and, this week, with a particularly impressive Sayid-based episode that included at least three genuine 'but ... but... but!'' moments for the audience to gasp at. Anyway, CSI returns later in the week, and House next Monday.

Meanwhile, comes the news that an upcoming episode of Lost will not feature any of the series regular cast, as confirmed by Michael Emerson. The actor described episode number fifteen as 'kooky and unprecedented' during an interview with E! Online. 'It's unusual. They're pushing the envelope with this one,' he explained. 'It's set in a time and a place that you will never have seen on a network series before, I would venture to say.' Wow. Bold claim! He added: 'When was the last time you saw a network drama episode where none of the series regulars were in the episode?' Emerson also dispelled widespread Internet rumours that his alter ego will be killed off in coming episodes saying that 'Ben continues, as far as I'm concerned!'

Coronation Street's Gail McIntyre is to be framed for murder by former neighbour Tracy Barlow in a forthcoming storyline of the Manchester soap, it has been revealed. According to reports yesterday, jailed Tracy - played by Kate Ford - will be offered an early release deal later this year in exchange for extracting a confession from Gail, who is wrongly suspected of killing her husband, Joe. It is believed that the plot twist begins when Gail (Helen Worth) is held on remand over Joe's death. After reaching her deal with police, Tracy is placed in a cell with the mum-of-three and starts encouraging her to open up over her predicament. A source told the Sun: 'Viewers will have forgotten how manipulative Tracy is. She'll convince Gail they need to trust each other and offers to watch her back.'

Simon Cowell has admitted that he is often shocked by his criticism of talent show wannabes. Speaking during his episode of Piers Morgan's Life Stories, the X Factor and American Idol judge said he has been 'appalled' when he watches the shows back. Yeah, me too. Odd that, innit. So, stop doing it, then. You're obviously a knowledgeable man, you don't have to be Charlie Brooker as well. He does it so much better than you, anyway.

Police in New York have said that Naomi Campbell's chauffeur will not press criminal charges after he accused the supermodel of punching him. Campbell is alleged to have hit the driver hard, from behind, causing his head to hit the steering wheel, as they drove through New York. I say, that's a bit chuffing dangerous, isn't it? Police said they did not expect to make any arrests after the incident. The thirty nine-year-old model has been sentenced to community service over previous incidents of assault. A spokesman for Campbell, Jeff Raymond, had that said she would co-operate voluntarily with the police, adding: 'There is more to the story than meets the eye.' Although Campbell did not speak to the police directly, her assistant went to the police station where the driver gave his account, the Associated Press reports. Police issued a harassment report, which carries no penalty.

John Barrowman has revealed that he is to enter talks for a possible forthcoming role in Glee. The Doctor Who and Torchwood actor told the Mirror that he feels 'honoured' to have been invited for a meeting with the musical comedy-drama's producers in Los Angeles. Barrowman explained: 'I absolutely love the show. What would I play in it? I'm not sure what kind of character I'd like to play, maybe I could be a teacher, you know, another teacher who comes in and helps out. That's me just kind of brainstorming, but the fact that they want to have a meeting with me is really quite nice in itself, it's so exciting!' In January, it was revealed that the star is joining the cast of Desperate Housewives for a six-episode stint as a villain. Discussing his Wisteria Lane role, Barrowman added: 'I just got the script last night. He is the most evil character they've ever introduced to the series. And that's saying something!'

Holby City actress Tina Hobley has given birth to her third child. Hobley's husband, Oliver Wheeler, confirmed that the couple had welcomed a baby boy, Orson, on Monday. 'Mummy and baby are both very well and happy,' he told the Sun. Hobley and Wheeler already have a daughter, Olivia. The actress also has another daughter, Isabella, from her first marriage to Steve Wallington.

US broadcaster HBO is to begin filming its epic fantasy adventure series Game of Thrones in Belfast in June. The series pilot was filmed at locations around the city. Nine more programmes based on the first book of George RR Martin's multi-volume A Song of Fire and Ice series have now been commissioned. Rather than focusing on special effects, the series is said to feature realistic battles and is pitched as 'The Sopranos in Middle Earth.' Location filming has also taken place in Scotland and Morocco, amid fevered Internet anticipation among the more rabid end of fantasy fandom. It will star Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Alfie Allen (Keith son and Lily's brother). The makers' long-term ambition is for each novel in the series to fuel a season's worth of episodes. HBO has been behind a string of popular programmes including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Veteran magician Paul Daniels will appear in an Ashes To Ashes special for Sport Relief. According to the Sun, Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee will play suspects in a case about a missing golf trophy. After which they will, hopefully, do a disappearing act from our screens again. Preferably, for a long time. The BBC show's stars Philip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and Dean Andrews will interrogate the pair. 'Philip and Keeley were only too happy to take part for Sports Relief. The support from the cast and guest stars was overwhelming,' said a source. 'It was a very cold day but everyone pulled together. It's going to be a real highlight of the money-raising effort and Gene's got some great put-downs for Paul.' Spandau Ballet's singer Tony Hadley, Michael Parkinson, ex-England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, bald snooker player Willie Thorne and golfer Sam Torrance also have short cameos in the film.

Coronation Street's Kym Marsh has expressed disappointment over the news that Popstar To Operastar is unlikely to return. Something, nobody else has done. Writing in her New magazine column, the actress said: 'I read that the show isn't going to be recommissioned. It's a real shame. I thought it was fantastic Friday night entertainment.' Again, I think you're in a minority of one there I'm afraid, Kym.

BBC 6 Music DJ Adam Buxton has 'jokingly' invited the BBC director general Mark Thompson 'out for a fight.' At least, one assumes that he's joking. That'd certainly be one way of sorting out, for good, whether the station will be facing closure or otherwise. And, of ending your career with the corporation for a good long while. Hang about. Adam Buxton? The small bloke from Hot Fuzz? Yeah, I think Rambo Thompson's got that bout in the bag. Buxton was speaking on Channel 4 News in a debate about Thompson's confirmation that 6 Music and The Asian Network are facing closure at the end of 2011. Defending his current employer, the comedian claimed that 6 Music was a station which created shows 'you couldn't find anywhere else.' Well, that's possibly true (although, not all of its output is - some of it is not that dissimilar to parts of Radio 1 and Radio 2). That isn't, necessarily, a good thing, it should be noted. I have to say that with regard to 6 Music I don't listen to it a huge amount myself. Which, to be honest, is something that 6 Music should be rather concerned about; I'm a fortysomething kiddie with (even if I do say so myself) a pretty decent - and diverse - record collection and a reasonably wide knowledge of popular culture as well as someone who grew up listening to John Peel, Kid Jensen, Andy Kershaw and Richard Skinner. I should be their target audience, pretty much and 6 Music could almost be said to have been created for me, specifically, and for people like me. And yet, I've hardly listened to it at all - I do catch Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren Laverne's show occasionally and, some of Maconie's stuff and a few other bits and pieces. And, by and large, what I have heard I've really rather enjoyed. But, I suspect, that many of the thousands of people who are currently signing up to Facebook protest petitions and being quoted in the press calling, publicly, for 6 Music not be to binned are in a similar position to me. They don't really listen to it all that much, they just like the idea of it being there. Which, again, ain't necessarily a bad thing. But is it, really, a decent reason to keep the station going simply as 'a statement.' I mean David Bowie, for one. Great to see an articulate bloke like David sticking up for the principle of 6 Music but, does anybody believe for a second that he actually listens to it? Pull the other one, it's got a laughing gnome on it. And as for Lily Allen's ringing endorsement, if that lass told me the Pope was a Catholic, I'd want a second opinion. This conundrum was, possibly, best summed up by comments made by Ed Vaizey, the shadow culture minister and - co-incidentally - one of the few Tories that I've actually got a bit of time for. Last week Vaizey said that he welcomed the BBC's package of cuts and then, suddenly changed his tune on Monday and called for 6 Music to be saved. Vaizey commented in the Guardian last Friday that the BBC's proposals to cut Internet, radio and TV services were 'intelligent and sensible.' But then, it seems, he actually heard a few hours of 6 Music and was, of a sudden, singing a very different song. 'Having not listened to 6 Music, I took it on trust that the BBC knew what it was doing in this regard,' said Vaizey in response to an e-mail reportedly sent by a member of the public who took him to task over his support for the package of cuts. 'Several things have happened since I spoke out. I had no strong views on 6 Music on Friday, I now know it is brilliant with a passionate and articulate fan base – I am now an avid listener to 6 Music. I strongly suspect 6 Music will be saved.' See ... that, there, is the entire problem. As Ed Vaizey proved, too few people even knew 6 Music existed, let alone that it was any good. Until it was announced that it wasn't going to be there any longer at which point, loads of people suddenly want to save it. Now, that's all fine - I don't have any problem with that, more power to their elbow - but, by and large, many of the same people wanting to save 6 Music are now suggesting, as an alternative, that BBC3 would be a more suitable target for the chop. This, despite the fact that 6 Music has a weekly audience of about seven hundred thousand and BBC3 has one of approximately ten million. Just to put that into some perspective, the small BBC local station that Top Telly Tips is broadcast on gets about three hundred thousand listeners a week. I really don't like the way that the decision to scrap 6 Music has brought out a lot of examples of rather selfish and spiteful 'don't chop that, chop this instead' desperation. Suggesting, for example, that someone else take a pay cut just so that Lauren Laverne doesn't have to. Double standards? It's not helpful in the slightest and, frankly, it makes people making such comments look small. BBC3 does tend to get something of a hard time from its critics – possibly, in part, because the programming that it broadcasts isn't aimed at such critics. It's a bit like adults criticising the content of CBeebies. You might be right, but - unless you're eight - it's really not your place to comment, frankly. And, of course, let's not forget that BBC3 has been used as a testing ground for some of the BBC's most interesting recent successes, Gavin and Stacey, Little Britain, Torchwood, That Mitchell & Webb Look, Being Human and Ideal among them. Not to mention Doctor Who Confidential. Yes, true, it's very hard to forgive it for the sin of Horne & Corden, but we should all be open to the concept of redemption. Again, I suspect that many of those suggesting BBC3 face the chop have never, actually, watched so much as a second of its product - at least, not on BBC3, anyway. This is exactly what I don't like about the majority of the criticism of BBC3 - it's crassly stereotypical. Chances are, if you don't like much of the broadcaster's output then that's mainly because it's not meant for you, anyway. It's for, if you will, scum twentysomethings on council estates. And they seem to quite like it. Who are we to tell them they're wrong and to tell the BBC they shouldn't be catering to a slice of their licence-fee payers? And not an especially small one, either. That's arrogant and, also, uncomfortably close to this ludicrous idea that I've so much time ridiculing on this blog over the last couple of years - that 'public service broadcasting' means, essentially, 'what I want the BBC to make'! Where does that train of thought end? I'm an agnostic does that mean I don't believe the BBC should be making Songs of Praise and The History of Christianity because I don't, necessarily, agree with the basic worldview on which both programmes are based? Of course not, that would be ignorant. I'm not a huge listener of classical music, so does that mean I think Radio 3 should be abolished? No, that would also be crass beyond words. When you start going down that road, it can become a very slippery slope very quickly. Because, before long you'll get somebody saying 'the BBC shouldn't be making any of that there rubbish science fiction nonsense, like Doctor What they should be spending it on serious dramas and more Shakespeare.' Yes, you Tony Garnett. Yes, you Richard Eyre. The BBC, whatever we all think of it, has a charter commitment to at least try to satisfy all of its licence fee payers - not just the ones with nice teeth who live in North London. It'll never succeed, of course, we know that because such a thing is utterly impossible. But that doesn't mean it should, ever, stop trying. I, for one, am glad that BBC3 (along with BBC1) has emerged, largely, unscathed from the review. It's not for me, I realise that, it's for other people. That's what the BBC should be doing - making programmes for as wide an audience as possible. So long as they carry on making Doctor Who, Qi, Top Gear, Waking The Dead and Match of the Day (and thirty or forty other TV and radio programmes that I greatly enjoy) specifically for me, then I couldn't really give a monkeys what else they make for other people!

Anyway, back to 6 Music and the BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons has said that the 'strong reaction' against the proposed closure of the station could possibly lead to a U-turn in the BBC's plans. And, again, I have no problem with that happening either. I kind of hope it does, not just because 6 Music is mega-great, but also from sheer mischief value in so much as it will probably give the Daily Mail something else to complain about. But, I'd also hope that the Beeb attach a small rider to such a reverse-decision to say that they'd like everybody who's complained about the 6 Music closure announcement to, as a consequence, actually listen to at least two hours of it every day as a price for such a U-turn. I think that's a perfectly fair bargain myself. Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this story were the comments of one Dan Bull, a songwriter apparently (sad to report that I haven't, actually, heard any of your work, Dan), who urged the BBC the keep 6 Music in the form of Dear Auntie, an open letter to the BBC. Couldn't you afford a stamp, mate? 'You need to appeal to the people that feel John Peel, and want to keep it real. So please pretty Beeb, we appeal for a new deal.' In a rub-a-dub-style(e). Well, yeah, again fair comment, I know where you're coming from. But, let's all remember, John Peel was on Radio 1, he wasn't working away on the margins of the music business he was right at the heart of the beast doing something genuinely subversive with it. Every time I hear John Peel's name being evoked in relation to some twentysomething DJ who's, supposedly, 'the heir to Peelie's genius' who basically plays a bunch of safe indie rock with a few slabs of techno I want to scream. John Peel's genius was that he played stuff no one else would dare to (or, in many cases would even want to). And he did it with a daily audience bigger than 6 Music can manage in an entire week. So, you know, yes to the 'save 6 Music' campaign and all that. But, please, have a bit of respect for the guv'nor and ask yourself when was the last time anybody on 6 Music - or anywhere else, for that matter - played speedcore metal, dub reggae, shoegazing, ragga, 78s of 1930s blues and Half Man Half Biscuit all on the same show. According to the brown-tongued hippie Communists at the Gruniad, Bull, who seemingly 'got his first break' on 6 Music, 'summed up the feeling of many of the protesters in his lyrics' arguing the BBC was 'spending money like it was never ending' on big name presenters. 'Pay me half what you pay Clarkson – I'll be laughing like I can't keep a straight face. Straight up. If there is a budgetary deficit to make up. Then wake up and give Jeremy a pay cut.' Notice, the chosen target - all the 'rite-on kiddies' nice, comfortable hate figure, Jeeza. Not, just say for example, 6 Music's own Lauren Laverne whom, I imagine, isn't exactly on a poverty-level contract with the Beeb. Again, Dan, if 6 Music was pulling in anything like the sort of audiences that a single episode of Top Gear does then I don't think, for a second, that there'd be any danger whatsoever of it being binned. And, that's a necessary difference, even if you can't see it is. You get nowt for nowt in this world, and very little for sixpence. So, where does the problem lie here, exactly? With the BBC or with the listeners who aren't listening? Try getting a few more people tuning-in to 6 Music before you start shouting the odds about why it should be kept and at the expense of what. I believe that should, pretty much, be a mantra for every TV viewer and every radio listener the world over; enjoy what you've got whilst you've got it because, if you're in a minority then, like as not, you won't have it forever. Here endeth the station.

PS: Yer Keith Telly Topping's own open letter to the Beeb about 6 Music: Dear Auntie, if you can see your way clear to finding a loophole and keeping 6 Music around beyond 2011 then I know a lot of people would be rather grateful for this. Myself included. One or two of them might even start actually listening to it. Thank you in advance. See - you don't have to be rude to get your point across.

Dannii Minogue - someone who never gets her records played on 6 Music, probably - has reportedly decided not to respond to Sharon Osbourne after her former co-star launched another series of highly personal attacks on her in the media. In an interview published earlier this week, Osbourne claimed that Minogue was 'fucking useless' when they worked together on The X Factor's 2007 series. The fifty seven-year-old has also advised Minogue to 'get a life" and move on from their rivalry in a separate magazine article this week. The Daily Telegraph now reports that Minogue is 'bewildered', but ultimately unconcerned, by Osbourne's latest outbursts and does not consider herself to be part of a feud. A source close to the pregnant star said: 'It's all one way from Sharon. But there's so much good going with Dannii right now that she doesn't worry about it and never has.' A spokeswoman for Minogue confirmed that the thirty eight-year-old does not intend to speak publicly about the matter.

Sir Michael Parkinson has reportedly accepted twenty five thousand pounds in libel damages from the ever-reliable Daily Mail over an article which accused the former chat show host of lying about his family upbringing. The piece, published in May last year under the lovely title Who's Telling Parkies?, made a number of serious allegations in response to the way Parkinson had described his background in his 2008 autobiography. The Mail article claimed that Parky had lied about having 'a harmonious family history' and had behaved in a 'grossly insensitive' way towards his elderly uncle, Bernard Parkinson. However, the newspaper has now accepted that the allegations were 'entirely false.' In a statement, Parkinson explained: 'As a journalist myself, I have been reluctant to take legal action against any newspaper. Where defamatory allegations have been published about me, I have always, until now, turned a blind eye.' The TV legend, who was at London's High Court for the settlement earlier today, added that he believed the Daily Mail had 'crossed a line' in its reporting. How unusual, because it's normally such a thoughtful, sensitive organ of the media. Parkinson confirmed that he will donate the full twenty five grand payout to charity, splitting the sum between the Alexander Devine Children's Cancer Trust and a school for orphans in South Africa.

James Corden has claimed that test cricketer Andrew Flintoff punched his friend whilst on a night out. The comedian said that Flintoff was so drunk when he lashed out that 'he couldn't remember the act the next morning.' Freddie, mate, next time you're oot on the razz, could you do us all a favour lamp Mr Corden as well? You're a pal.


DLJ said...

I think the problem with BBC3 is that there's very little programming on there that couldn't have been commissioned by the main channels in the first place. Why couldn't Gavin and Stacey or Being Human, for instance, have debuted on BBC1 or 2?

Keith Telly Topping said...

Valid, yeah. I guess Ideal is the one that it's difficult to imagine the BBC having commissioned for one of its main two channels. But, the thing is Gavin & Stacey and Little Britain and Torchwood wouldn't, probably, have been commissioned in the first place if there hadn't been a BBC3 because, I think, they'd have been seen as too big a risk.

DLJ said...

Blimey, a response to my post from the great Keith Topping (and I mean that sincerely - I love your books).

I haven't even seen Ideal so can't comment on that, but given that BBC1 commissioned Apparitions (blimey that was a disappointment) and Survivors I reckon they could well have gone for Torchwood or Being Human.