Thursday, April 08, 2010

Beware Of Careless Whispers

Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys was allegedly heard 'ranting' in online streams of Arsenal's Champions League match against Barcelona earlier this week. Fans listening to streaming commentary of the Tuesday night game could - according to reports - hear the fifty two-year-old hairy-handed TV anchor in the Sky studio criticising Theo Walcott for his poor performance in the match. Speaking about the forward, it is claimed that Keys said: 'Get up, you stupid little boy ... You've been shite, son, in your daft pink boots - absolute rubbish.' His muffled comments were apparently broadcast alongside the regular Sky commentary featuring pundit Andy Gray, according to the Sun. Earlier in the broadcast, it is also alleged that Keys could be heard asking the studio team who had 'farted.' A Sky spokesperson said: 'There were no technical issues with the audio on the night. On Sky coverage no conversations could be heard behind the live match commentary, and we did not supply any feeds to outside broadcasters. Richard has no reaction.' So, in other words, the people who claimed to have heard this are lying, is that what you're suggesting? Hmm ... Interesting theory.

And, finally, comes the news that the long-awaited - and four months overdue, frankly - news that the seventeenth series of yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved Time Team will be on your screens at 5:30 on Channel 4 on 18 April. So much for Channel 4's press office insisting that the series would be back in March and in a 7pm slot. I'll never trust anything they tell me again! In the first episode of the new series Tony Robinson, Professor Mick Aston, Phil Harding and the rest of the team investigate one of Britain’s greatest historic landmarks - Westminster Abbey. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of Parliament Square, the archaeologists have three days to pin down the location of a lost sacristy, a stronghold which was built by Henry III almost eight hundred years ago and is said to have housed the biggest collection of treasure this side of the Alps.

The MasterChef finale was watched by the show's highest ever audience for BBC1 last night, early viewing figures indicate. The 9pm episode, which saw Dhruv Baker win the title pulled in just over five and half million viewers (an audience share of around twenty one per cent). Earlier, Waterloo Road was watched by 4.38m. ITV's coverage of the UEFA Champions League Live with Bayern Munich, very satisfyingly, knocking out The Scum of Humanity averaged just under seven million between 7.30pm and 10pm, making it the most-watched programme during prime time.

Meanwhile, MasterChef semi-finalist the divine goddess of Mod cooking that is Stacie Stewart has opened an online bakery company. Sunderland-based Stacie's Beehive Bakery, delivers throughout the UK and specialises in cupcakes and 'puddings for all occasion.' I think yer Keith Telly Topping might just order one of them sticky toffee puds. Goddamn, it sounds good! Actually, so does the lemon drizzle cake. Anyway, I'm digressing. And salivating at the same time. Stacie, twenty five, has also spoken out on the subject of the lack of a female finalist in this year's competition, defending judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace from accusations of sexism. 'It's got nothing to do with sex. Absolutely nothing. If it were, if anything they'd have put me through because I'm a girl. I just had a bad day at the office,' she told the Independent. She continued: '[Professional cooking] a high-pressure environment. Hard work and long hours, late into the night. If you want to have kids and start a family, I don't see how you can do that and be a chef. I'm not saying women can't be top chefs. Of course they've got the ability. But I think people think that because more women cook at home, more women should have made it to the top, but that's not how it works. A lot has changed in recent years, there's more of them breaking through, but it takes time.' Speaking about her career plans, she added: 'I'd love to get my own restaurant, get a book published, get on the TV circuit. But I don't want a Michelin star, it doesn't interest me. [I'd rather] teach people how to be really good home cooks. I'm very traditional and, dare I say it, I believe a woman's place is in the home.'

Doctor Who fans not content with merely seeing Matt Smith in the new series of the show will now get the chance to play him as well with the announcement of a series of Who-themed computer games. Billed as 'interactive episodes' of the series, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games will let players control the Doctor and his assistant as they travel across time and space and meet both new and existing characters in four new adventures. Piers Wenger, Head of Drama at BBC Wales and the Executive Producer of Doctor Who, emphasised that the online games would form an integral part of the series. 'There aren't thirteen episodes of Doctor Who this year. There are 17 - four of which are interactive,' he said. 'Everything you see and experience within the game is part of the Doctor Who universe.' Oh, canon debate. Don't go there, Piers, trust me it's a minefield! 'We'll be taking you to places you've only ever dreamed about seeing - including locations impossible to create on television,' he continued. The project - which will be available to download free for PC and Mac computers from the Doctor Who website - has been commissioned for online by the Vision Multiplatform team, driven by BBC Wales Interactive, and developed by UK game designer Sumo Digital. It also features a number of people involved with the television series including executive producer Steven Moffat and scriptwriters Phil Ford and James Moran. The show's central protagonists - the Doctor and Amy Pond - have been digitally recreated, with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan providing the voices. 'Establishing new forms of drama is exactly what the BBC should be doing,' said Simon Nelson, head of BBC multiplatform in Vision. 'By aiming these "interactive episodes" at the broad audience of TV show - unique in British television, in that it encompasses at least three generations - we're aiming to encourage the family to gather round the PC or Mac in the same way they do the television.' The first episode of the Doctor Who: The Adventure Games will be released in June. More details about its content will be released later this month.

Ciarán McMenamin, Alexander Siddig and Ruth Kearney are among the new faces joining the cast of Primeval, ITV has announced. Last year, the Saturday night family drama was recommissioned for a seven-episode fourth run and a six-episode fifth under a new co-production deal between ITV and UKTV. Hannah Spearritt (Abby Maitland), Andrew-Lee Potts (Connor Temple), Ben Miller (James Lester) and Ben Mansfield (Captain Becker) will be reprising their roles but the story sees the ARC recruiting new members to take the place of their alter egos after they became trapped in the past at the end of season three. The premieres of seasons four and five of Primeval will be split between ITV and UKTV's new entertainment pay TV channel Watch. ITV will be the first to broadcast season four in early 2011, while Watch will premiere the fifth run later that year, before ITV goes on to broadcast the season. ITV's Laura Mackie said of the recommission: 'We're delighted to have agreed this new deal with Impossible to return Primeval to ITV. The innovative nature of this partnership will allow the show to maintain its high production values and deliver the fantastic programme that our viewers know and love.' Paul Moreton, Channel Head of Watch, added: 'We are really excited to be part of this truly innovative deal that guarantees the continuation of this fantastically entertaining series. I know Primeval is going to be a massive hit with Watch viewers and the perfect complement to other popular sci-fi dramas such as Doctor Who and Torchwood.'

Henry Ian Cusick has dismissed claims that his character, Desmond, is the key to Lost. During this week's episode, Happily Ever After, Desmond realised that he has a mission in the parallel world to inform other Oceanic 815 passengers that another reality - the island - exists. However, speaking to TV Guide, Cusick said 'There's not one character that is the key. There are many characters that will have to step up and do things before this is resolved. Desmond has a part to play, a significant part, but there are many others that will step up.' He added that Desmond is not everyone's constant. 'In the flash-sideways, the characters are all slightly different from the characters on the island. They're all slightly hypnotised or haven't seen the truth. Like Desmond, he's slightly dead in this life. He's just a hollow corporate guy until Charlie comes along. Desmond also recognises that everyone in that sideways world - there are clues when you look in the mirror - when they look at their reflections, they go, "Hang on, what is reality?" They're aware something is not quite right, but they can't put a finger on it. Desmond now knows he's alive again and knows his purpose.'

Louis Walsh has said that eighty two-year-old Bruce Forysth is 'finished' in the entertainment industry. The X Factor judge was responding to recent remarks from Forsyth that the reality talent show was 'not entertainment' and 'can be embarrassing at times.' Walsh told the Evening Standard: 'Brucie is too old. He's from a different era. He shouldn't even be alive at his age. He doesn't know anything about young people or modern entertainment. His time is finished.'

A second series of EastEnders' online teen spin-off E20 has been greenlit by the BBC. Following the success of the mini drama's initial twelve episodes, the broadcaster has ordered a further ten for a second run. Series two will focus on a fresh set of four yet-to-be-cast youngsters as they settle into Walford life living in the flat above Roxy's salon. The episodes are to be written by the thirteen young writers who scripted the first series.

Ali Bastian has admitted that she feels 'very sad' over ITV's decision to cancel The Bill after twenty seven years. The actress, who played Sally Armstrong in the police drama, told the Sun that the broadcaster's move was 'a heartbreaker.' She added: 'I'm very sad. It's such an institution and so many people will lose their jobs.' Bastian bowed out from her role in the show last year and went on to compete in Strictly Come Dancing.

The BBC is said to be eyeing a new home for Strictly Come Dancing as part of plans to 'supercharge' the BBC1 format - and it has yet to secure Bruce Forsyth as host for this year’s series. The corporation is understood to be keen to retain Forsyth, but negotiations have yet to be finalised and are expected to place a heavy emphasis on the creative direction of the show. Forsyth's agent, Jan Kennedy at Billy Marsh Associates, said: 'We need to make sure that if there are changes, they are not too great and that they are for the better. It is important to him that the show is right, that it keeps getting better.' She added that the BBC was 'usually very open' with Forsyth, but did not talk to him about last year's decision to remove Arlene Phillips as judge - a move which Forsyth later publicly criticised. He is currently in Puerto Rico, but has a meeting with BBC chiefs planned for later this month, at which the 2010 format will be discussed. A BBC spokeswoman said it was 'far too early to be talking about the next series of Strictly,' but Broadcast magazine claims that the corporation has held a meeting to discuss potential changes and is mulling ways to expand the studio audience for Strictly to give it the same sort of scale as The X Factor. The magazine goes on to suggest that the BBC has discussed taking the show on the road following the episode filmed at Blackpool Tower last year, and is also considering a bigger permanent home for the show, although there are few traditional TV studio alternatives of a suitable size. The programme is usually filmed at TC1 at Television Centre in front of an audience of more than five hundred. Should Forsyth not sign up for the next series, the BBC may use the opportunity to rework the show more dramatically, and it is keen to improve the calibre of contestants. One source said: 'Whether it is a one-off or a regular thing, the problem we have got with [moving the show] is financial. It's cheaper having it in TVC. They are looking at how they can create more space in the [current] studio because they also need to pay for the contestants.'

Moves to put the Ashes on the so called 'Crown Jewels' TV sports list have been derailed thanks to lobbying from the English Cricket Board and the timing of the general election. The process of reviewing sport's listed events began eighteen months ago, but time has now run out to implement a government-backed proposal to list home Ashes tests between England and Australia before 6 May. A factor in the delay was the extension of the Department of Culture, Media & Sport consultation on the proposal, which was reportedly granted at the request of sports governing bodies last month. The DCMS extended the consultation from 5 March to 19 March, and, on the final day of the extension, the ECB submitted a strong statement outlining 'the devastating collapse in the entire fabric of cricket in England and Wales' that the proposals would cause. The ECB's economic assessment, backed by research from the likes of Oliver & Ohlbaum and Deloitte, said the sport would lose over one hundred and thirty million pounds on its 2014-2017 domestic broadcast contract if the proposal - that the home Ashes should be reserved for free-to-air television and all other cricket should be removed from the B list that covers terrestrial highlights - was implemented. The proposal was put forward in November by an independent panel led by former Football Association executive director David Davies, but is unlikely to find favour with the Conservative Party, should it win the election.

Panorama staff are said to be 'demoralised' following 'a steady onslaught of criticisms' of its journalism – with reporters claiming that the BBC Trust rulings are 'flawed' and threaten investigative output. According to Broadcast, the latest attack on the flagship current affairs strand has come from the BBC's internal editorial complaints unit, which has criticised the quality of reporting in its 2008 Primark expose. The unit cleared the programme of 'faking' a scene that showed boys in Bangalore making Primark clothes, but found that the footage was 'no subject to sufficient scrutiny by the Panorama team … and should not have been relied upon in the programme.' The criticism comes just over a month after the BBC Trust ordered an on-air apology for the 2007 Panorama, What's Next For Craig, which also relied too heavily on one set of evidence and 'distorted known facts.' It also follows a high profile libel case over the 2007 programme IVF Undercover, in which the BBC agreed to pay a reported one million pounds in costs to doctor Mohamed Taranissi. The corporation withdrew part of its defence of qualified privilege for responsible journalism in the public interest during the High Court case. The barrage of criticisms has, it would seem, 'riled' some Panorama staff, who feel the complaints processes are weighted against them and threaten the corporation's ability to carry out important investigations. Shelley Jofre, one of the reporters on the criticised What's Next For Craig programme, criticised BBC Trust judgment as 'flawed' and claimed that it will 'blight' the rest of her working life. 'I have to live with the effects of this ruling for the rest of my career but I would like my colleagues in BBC News to understand that if this can happen to me, it can happen to you too under the present deeply flawed complaints procedure,' she wrote in the BBC's in-house magazine Ariel. 'The programme team had no legal advice and simply responded to requests for information while making programmes at the same time. It was only after the Trust's draft findings were published last month that the team discovered we had not been shown much of the material used as evidence against us, or indeed, that we had been denied the same opportunity as the complainant to make our case directly to members of the ESC.' However, the BBC Trust strongly rejected the allegations and other BBC staff expressed their disappointment that Panorama is not operating to a high enough standard. Andrew Hill, part of the news picture editing unit, wrote to Ariel: '[Deputy director general] Mark Byford needs to consider urgently whether there should be a broadcasting equivalent of "peer reviewing" programmes on important scientific issues before broadcast.' He also attacked new Panorama editor Tom Giles' plans to up the amount of 'reactive' journalism on the strand. 'Complex science stories do not sit easily in this rapid turnaround model – they clearly need time space and money,' he said.

Ofcom has launched an investigation into the Dispatches programme Britain's Islamic Republic, which has attracted more than one thousand complaints to the regulator and Channel 4. Andrew Gilligan's investigation, which was branded 'a dirty little programme' by MP George Galloway before it even aired, has attracted eight hundred and seventeen direct complaints to C4, topping its list of criticised shows in March. A comment that Channel 4 singled out as typical of the complaints accused the programme of levelling 'wholly inaccurate and defamatory accusations' against the organisation The Islamic Forum of Europe. Ofcom confirmed that it has received a further two hundred and six complaints and is now investigating whether the undercover investigation breach its code of conduct in terms of fairness and accuracy. The documentary, produced by Steve Boulton Productions, also received fifty messages of support for Channel 4. Dispatches occupied the top three places in C4's top ten list of most praised shows in March. True Vision's Children of Gaza received one hundred and four messages of praise – though it also received fifty six complaints, for what one viewer described as its 'manipulative' use of 'tear-jerking scenes.' A third film, Vera Productions' Politicians for Hire, which made waves in the national media for its undercover expose of MPs' lobbying interests, received thirty messages of support. Crufts presenter Clare Balding divided viewers. More 4's coverage of the dog show attracted fourteen compliments, with one viewer saying Balding 'truly tells it as it is and doesn't make our hobby look foolish.' However, one hundred and two viewers criticised the coverage, with one noting: 'We saw constant chatter from Clare Balding and her sidekick, neither of whom are particularly interesting.'

And, still on the subject to whinging, an edition of ITV's Alan Titchmarsh Show featuring a critical discussion of violent video games has attracted one hudnred and thirty one complaints - but will not be investigated by Ofcom. The show, which aired on 19 March, saw host Titchmarsh debating the 'perils' of violence in computer games with former Sun editor, the vile and wretched Kelvin MacKenzie, the actress Julie Peasgood and computerandvideogames.com editor Tim Ingham. Peasgood said interactive games were 'addictive' and promoted 'hatred, racism, sexism and reward violence.' MacKenzie raised fears about 'a tsunami of violence in the home, which is going to corrupt a generation of children.' Ingham defended video gaming, explaining that makers of the home entertainment ensure children are protected from inappropriate content. Accoridng to Broadcast a number of viewers felt the discussion was not impartial, portraying an overly critical view of video games. The chat show attracted thirty three complaints between 30 March and 5 April, according to figures released by media regulator Ofcom. This was in addition to the ninety eight it had received between the 23 and 29 March.

ITV gameshow The Door has sparked an animal cruelty row after dogs were placed in tiny cages for one of the programme's challenges. The two-part celebrity show, which aired over Easter with Chris Tarrant and Amanda Holden as hosts, saw some alleged celebrities crawling between the cages with pieces of raw meat attached to themselves. According to the Sun, Ofcom has since received one hundred and seventy three complaints from viewers over the matter. Some complainants are said to have alleged that the dogs appeared 'greatly distressed' during the challenge, while others have reportedly criticised Tarrant for describing the animals as 'rancid and savage.' However, an ITV spokesman denied any wrongdoing, explaining: 'The dogs were ones that are supplied for TV and film work and are used to being in a studio environment. Their handlers were present. At no time did the dogs show discomfort.' In February, an Australian court issued ITV with a one thousand six hundred pound fine for animal cruelty after contestants on I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! killed and ate a rat during their stay in the jungle.

Richard Bacon has revealed that he would like to bring back late-night Channel 4 show Flipside TV. Bacon, who hosted and executive produced the series in 2003, argued that the programme was 'exciting' and 'a great platform' for young comics. Flipside, which featured early TV appearances from Justin Lee Collins, Alan Carr and Karl Pilkington, focused on a panel of guests providing a live running commentary on the various TV shows airing at the same time. It was broadcast on Channel 4 between midnight and 2am and also aired for a ten-week run on Paramount.

Hugh Dennis has revealed that the new series of Outnumbered will feature a 'sex text' storyline. However, the comedian, who plays dad-of-three Pete Brockman in the BBC sitcom, insisted that the scripts were written before recent tabloid text scandals involving Ashley Cole and Vernon Kay. Speaking about the plot, he told the Sun: 'There is marital discord. I have been bad on a night out and texting way. It's not entirely like Ashley Cole. I didn't text a picture of myself in my pants. But that is the sort of territory. It is a very pale version of that. I have let myself and my family down. I have been texting a mum, a new character who you don't get to see.'

Ashes To Ashes actor Dean Andrews has promised that fans will be 'really happy' with the show's final episode. The actor, who plays thuggish-but-loveable Ray Carling on the cult sci-fi/crime drama, confirmed that he was pleased when he discovered how the show's many mysteries were to be resolved. Speaking on GMTV, he explained: 'Everything is tied up. You get all of the answers from Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes. I think they're all given within this final series and you realise what it was all about.' Asked about the moment he read the final script, Andrews commented: 'You kind of look at it and go, "That is genius - I'd not thought of that at all." I hadn't, anyway - but maybe I'm a bit stupid! I just thought it was a great ending. I thought, "That answers everything." I think everyone will be really happy.' Well, hold you to that, Dean! Little trivia fact for you here, dear blog reader, did you know that Dean Andrews was in the same class at school as James May? You did? Oh ...

Brian Cox told his Twitter readers recently that 'sometimes the Beeb do daft things. The iPlayer page for last night's [episode of Wonders of the Solar System] is a picture of my soundman's back!'

Olivia Wilde has hinted that her House alter ego faces 'a crisis' during the season six finale. The actress, who plays Huntington's sufferer Remy Hadley on the medical drama, told Entertainment Weekly that her character will 'need her strength' as the storyline progresses. '[She] is really going to need her strength at the end of the season but I will not say anything more because it could give something away,' she said. The season six finale, which is reportedly entitled Help Me, will air 17 May on Fox in the US.

A stuntwoman who had worked on shows such as True Blood and CSI has died after a motorcycle crash. April Stirton was riding her motorcycle west on US Highway 101 on Tuesday morning when she attempted to pass a tow-truck, the Associated Press reports. She was going about fifty five mph when she lost control, fell off her bike and was struck by the back wheels of the truck. The former acrobat died at the scene.

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