Friday, April 30, 2010

Power, Corruption & Lies

Coldplay have reportedly expressed their 'regret' that they turned down an invitation from the producers of the US musical comedy-drama Glee to showcase their songs in an episode. Of course, it would've meant the show needing to change its title for a week - from Glee to Utter Misery.

Strictly Come Dancing judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli have revealed that they would like the BBC to increase the show's budget. Well of course you would, guys. So would those involved in just about every other show on TV. But it's not going to happen. Don't you know there's a recession on? Speaking to the Mirror, the pair admitted that the programme fails to match its US counterpart Dancing With The Stars in its current format. Goodman commented: 'The US set is amazing. Some weeks the professionals come down out of the sky in a cradle with smoke and steam. They're showing us how it's done when it's a British show.' Tonioli added: 'Dancing With The Stars is like a theatre show. The reaction you get from a thousand people is different from two hundred.' The duo, who appear as panellists on both versions of the dance competition, also believe that extra cash would help Strictly to better compete with The X Factor in the annual ratings war. Tonioli said: 'ITV put so much money into The X Factor, their production values are incredible.' However, Goodman conceded that the BBC would be accused of 'wasting money' if a costly revamp ever went ahead.

The BBC's Creative director Alan Yentob has given a ringing endorsement of BBC3 and rebuked those who dismiss the channel without sampling its output. 'A lot of so-called critical friends do not hesitate to criticise BBC3 when they haven't even watched it,' he told yesterday's Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in London. 'Well, I have watched it, and by and large am very impressed. Thoughtful, intelligent programming is becoming its hallmark.' He conceded that some of the programme titles might not be to everyone's taste – Blood, Sweat and Takeaways; Snog, Marry, Avoid; Fuck Off, I'm A Hairy Woman; Young, Dumb And Living Off Mum et cetera – but said that they spoke to the target audience. Controller Danny Cohen's 'ardent wooing' of the BBC3 audience was 'not a trivial pursuit' said Yentob, but part of a determined effort to reach people who otherwise might lose out on public service broadcasting. He drew particular attention to recent programmes Girls On The Front Line and The World's Most Dangerous Place For Women, and to BBC3's recent election specials in which it interviewed the main party leaders as further examples of serious thoughtful programming. However, while BBC3 was doing well, the same could not be said for BBC Switch – the service aimed at teenagers – which was why the strategy review had proposed closing it. 'BBC Switch hasn't quite done the job,' said Yentob, admitting that older children and young teenagers were currently underserved by the corporation. 'The audience that sits between the different services [CBBC and BBC3] is a problem for the BBC and we need to think hard about it. Switch isn't working but that doesn't mean we don’t need to serve that audience – because we do.' During a lively question and answer session after his speech Yentob was asked whether BBC executives were thinking harder about their expenses, now that they were being made public. The answer was 'yes.'

Neil Gaiman has confirmed that he has completed writing the latest draft of his script for the next series of Doctor Who. The author told his Twitter followers that he would now continue to work on an adaptation of his own 2005 novel The Anansi Boys. Gaiman wrote: 'Doctor Who episode next season draft done and in. Now I work on Anansi Boys script and then try and get to see fiancee on her birthday.' Earlier this year, Gaiman teased readers that his planned Doctor Who episode was originally called The House of Nothing but added that it has since been retitled.

Oily toerag and all round offensive globule of phlegm Piers Morgan has been reportedly fined six hundred and sixty six pounds by Brighton magistrates for speeding. Who said the judiciary don't understand the concept of irony?

Christopher Biggins has launched the search for Britain's best pudding on Market Kitchen. The veteran entertainer and reality TV contestant is the face of the Good Food TV campaign, which will feature Rachel Allen and Bill Granger as judges. Viewers of all ages can apply for the contest, with the winner taking home a trophy and an invitation to the BBC Good Food Show. Biggins, sixty one, has admitted that he is a 'pudding fanatic,' claiming that he sometimes even takes one to bed with his partner. Which, I'm sure you'll agree dear blog reader is a horrible image at the best of times. Not the puddings so much, but the idea of Christopher Biggins in bed with a partner. I mean ... brrrrr. I think I need a shower.

Production crew on The Bill have vowed to end the ITV police drama on an all-time high when filming completes in June. Members of the crew told Broadcast they were out to prove ITV made a poor decision to end the show this autumn, and that some freelancers had turned down better-paid alternative work to be involved in the final episode. 'You might think there's a sense on set of "Oh, it doesn't really matter any more," but it's actually the complete opposite,' one long serving crew member Copper's Narked to the magazine. 'We want to stick our fingers up to ITV and show it made the wrong decision to end the show.' Ooo, somebody's getting all stroppy and discombobulated, it would seem. Another - nameless - insider 'with many years experience' on The Bill according to Broadcast added: 'I don't care if I have to bust my balls to the last shot, I will. I have a sense of loyalty to the senior people on the show.' However, the show's twenty six-year run is unlikely to end with a big-bang finale. The last script is being closely guarded, but an insider said: 'We're not going to blow up Sun Hill or kill everybody off.' There is still anger among the crew at how they claim The Bill has been treated by ITV, which first moved it from a twice-weekly 8pm slot to once a week at 9pm, and then from Thursdays to Tuesdays. 'They've turned a golden goose into a golden turkey,' another source said. 'It has been very successful and there was still plenty of mileage to be had.' But ITV sources pointed to a major advertising campaign to relaunch the series at 9pm and said that the show was failing to win back audiences after twenty six weeks in its new slot.

Comedian and actor Alan Davies is to make his debut on Channel 4 with a personal journey exploring the political and social changes during the 1980s that underpinned his teenage years. In his first factual series, Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution (working title), he will reflect on life growing up in the east London suburb of Loughton, and how it fitted into the Thatcher era. Davies' narrative of the decade will unfold in three parts, picking up the themes he explored in his memoir, Rebel Without A Clue: How The 80s Made Me. Channel 4's head of specialist factual Ralph Lee said: 'The book helped us use him as a way into a period of history I've always been interested in. C4 documentaries have covered a lot of single events in the 1980s - from Shergar and the Brighton bomb to the Brixton riots and the housing crash - but this is trying to offer the twitching net curtain view of what it all meant.' Davies is best known for his regular appearances on the BBC quiz Qi and for the drama Jonathan Creek, but has also presented episodes of Great Britons and science strand Horizon.

A new survey has claimed that there are now more TV sets in the average American home than people. According to results from Nielsen Media Research's annual Television Audience Report, the number of TV sets in the typical US household is 2.93 but the number of people is 2.5. The company observed that the rise in televisions has bucked the wider industry downturn heralded by the recession and that television sales figures for 2009 have been larger than at any time since 2006. Only seventeen per cent of US households now have just one TV, falling from twenty one per cent in 2005.

Nigella Lawson is to return to BBC2 for a new thirteen-part series - ending suggestions that she has effectively been replaced by former model Sophie Dahl. Nigella's Kitchen will look at cooking 'for modern living,' and will see Lawson present a mix of recipes for leisurely weekends and speedy week-days, as well as tips for using leftovers. And, the difference between this and The Ludicrous Ms Dahl is what, exactly? Oh yes, I forgot, Nigella is a proper bloody cook. How silly of me. The series will also examine gadgets, and reveal which Nigella 'can't live without, and which have been bought late at night on the Internet and are now gathering dust.'

Actress Katie Holmes is to play former US first lady Jackie Kennedy in a TV mini-series about President Kennedy and the events surrounding his family. Greg Kinnear has been cast as JFK in the drama, which is the first scripted series on The History Channel. Oscar winner Tom Wilkinson will play Kennedy's father Joe in the programme, which will look behind the scenes of the famous clan. The serial is due to be aired on the US cable channel next year. It will cover the early years of Kennedy's presidency until 1963, when he was assassinated in Dallas. Jackie Kennedy, who later married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, was considered one of the world's most stylish women during her lifetime. Holmes, who has been married to Tom Cruise since 2006, appeared in 2005 blockbuster Batman Begins. The actress appeared in one hundred and twenty eight episodes of television drama Dawson's Creek from 1998 until 2003, as the character Joey Potter.

Lacey Turner, who plays Stacey Branning in EastEnders, is leaving the soap later this year, the BBC has confirmed. The actress, who has been in the role for five years and collected numerous awards, said 'the time has come to try something different.' EastEnders new boss Bryan Kirkwood has said the door will be left open for the character to return in the future. Stacey's on-screen mother Jean, played by Gillian Wright, will also make her exit from Albert Square.

Tamara Taylor has admitted that she has no idea what will happen in the next season of Bones. Taylor, who plays Cam in the show, told the Zap2It.com website that she is curious about future episodes. 'The writers are always surprising me,' she said. 'It's interesting, because I don't know how they're going to start season six.' She continued: 'Wait until you get to the season finale. We flash back... I think we sort of cover a lot of distance between the one hundredth episode and the finale.' Speaking about the current series' final episode, Taylor added that Booth will continue to struggle with his health. 'There are interesting hints,' she said. 'There are sort of allusions to Booth's brain tumour. It's still floating around, so that story hasn't died. So it's going to be interesting to see what you think of the finale.' Taylor explained that the episode has 'quirky little silly nods' to the season four finale and suggested that Cam will face 'love and loss. Not the loss of love, but you will see,' she said. 'There's not much more I can say. The season finale is going to leave people wondering what happens next.'

Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka has branded a BBC documentary about the slums in Lagos 'condescending' and 'colonialist.' Aired on BBC2, three-episode mini-series Welcome To Lagos tracked people living in the poorest areas of the Nigerian city to celebrate their industriousness. Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, Nobel Laureate Soyinka said that the documentary was 'the most tendentious and lopsided programme' he had ever seen. What, more tendentious and lopsided than Love Thy Neighbour? Despite the series receiving much critical praise in the UK, Soyinka said that he believed it demonstrated 'the worst aspects of colonialist and patronising' attitudes towards modern life in Africa. Soyinka, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, said: 'There was no sense of Lagos as what it is - a modern African state. What we had was jaundiced and extremely patronising. It was saying "Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation." There was this colonialist idea of the noble savage which motivated the programme. It was patronising and condescending. It surprised me because it came from the BBC which is supposed to have some sort of reputation. It was not worthy of the BBC.' The seventy five-year-old writer, who splits his time between homes in the US and Nigeria, said that it is 'deeply frustrating' to see such a 'negative and reductionist overview' of the city. 'What I saw I found very unjust and sensationalist. What I saw was not an honest reportage. The problem is the title - it programmes the mind of the viewer in advance and sets the overall context,' he said. 'One could do a similar programme about London in which you go to a poor council estate and speak of poverty and knifings. Or you could follow a hobo selling iron on the streets of London. But you wouldn't call it, Welcome to London, because that would give the viewer the impression that that is all London is about.' Whilst not directly responding to Soyinka's comments, a BBC spokeswoman defended the documentary as a valid portrayal of modern day Lagos. 'Welcome To Lagos explores the impact of the massive rate of global urbanisation in one of the fastest growing mega-cities in the world,' she said. 'Its aim was to give a voice to those living at the sharp end of this ever-expanding population, and highlight the resourcefulness, determination and creativity of those adapting to life in this most extreme of urban environments. The series has generated a broad range of comment, but it has been well received by both viewers and media commentators, many of whom have specifically highlighted the positive and un-stereotypical portrayals within the film.'

ITV is working on an adaptation of Philippa Gregory's bestselling novel The Little House. Collision and Robin Hood actress Lucy Griffiths will take on the lead role of Ruth in the drama, while Emma's Rupert Evans will play her husband Patrick. BAFTA-winning actress Francesca Annis, who previously starred in Cranford, and Foyle's War and The Chief actor Tim Pigott-Smith will also join the cast as Ruth's interfering in-laws Elizabeth and Frederick. The story sees Ruth struggle to cope after moving into her in-laws' road and giving birth to an unplanned baby. She finds being a mother difficult and eventually starts to believe that Elizabeth is unnaturally obsessed with her grandson. The novel has been adapted by Ed Whitmore, who has previously worked on Silent Witness and - most notably - Waking The Dead, while Survivors and Ashes To Ashes director Jamie Payne will helm the project.

The executive producer of Ashes To Ashes has claimed that the series finale is 'terrific.' Ashley Pharoah told the Digital Spy website that he believes it is time for the show to end. 'I thought I was going to feel a bit melancholy but it feels exactly the right time to be doing it,' he said. 'It's interesting. When we finished Life On Mars it didn't feel the right time to end it, which is why we did Ashes, but now, five years of those two shows combined - it's been a fantastic journey.' Pharoah added that he is unsure how fans will react to the show's finale. 'You want to please everybody, don't you?' he said. 'We all do, but it won't please everybody. The ending of Life On Mars didn't please everybody - some people loved it, some people hated it. I remember the fansites the next day were rivers of blood! Some people will be upset, I'm sure, but it's the ending Matt [Graham] and I wanted to write. We didn't double guess anybody, we didn't try to please anybody apart from ourselves, so if people don't like it I would be sad, I suppose, but I think it's a terrific ending.' Pharoah also claimed that the finale is more 'definitive' than the end of Life On Mars. 'I think you learn who Gene Hunt [Phil Glenister] is and where he's from and what he's doing in the world which is the bigger picture and it does wrap up both series,' he said. 'I love a bit of ambiguity so I don't think that every "i" is dotted or every "t" crossed but it's certainly the end of the road. There will be no more spin-offs after this series and when you watch the ending you'll see why.'

ITV Studios USA are working on a new project based on Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The mini-series is being developed with Open TV and Film, Deadline reports. Open's chairman Simon Shaps explained that the show will be based on a book by Richard Woolfe, who had access to Obama during the campaign. Shaps added that the book, Renegade: The Making of a President, is a complex portrait of the President rather than a simple tribute. 'It is early days, but we are sure there will be no shortage of ideas for who plays the President,' Shaps said. 'The questions that have since emerged about what he's going to do with the presidency were, to some extent, already there during the campaign. We will get to the root of what Obama wants to do with America.'

Former X Factor contestants John and Edward are to appear as guests on the final series of Big Brother, a report has claimed. That's not Celebrity Big Brother. Just normal Big Brother. The twins will take a break from promoting themselves this summer to enter the house for a short stay, according to the Sun. A source told the newspaper: 'They will make compulsive viewing. It might be for a night or maybe longer.' Keep 'em as long as you like, guys. Months. Years, even. The pair were previously tipped to appear on January's Celebrity Big Brother series, but the idea never went ahead amid rumours that Simon Cowell had banned them from the show.

Meanwhile, former-Oasis rythmn guitarist Bonehead Arthurs has revealed that he was asked to appear on the final series of Celebrity Big Brother. The guitarist, who appeared on the rock group's first three studio LPs, claimed that he was offered one hundred thousand smackers to appear on the Channel 4 reality show alongside music mogul Alan McGee. 'I got an email before Christmas from Alan McGee he just said, "Bonehead, do you fancy doing Celebrity Big Brother?"' he told Oasis blog StopCryingYourHeartOut. 'I just said, "No, fuck that mate. I think they offered us about one hundred thousand pounds each to do it. But I wouldn't do it for one hundred fucking million. Sad.' He added: 'I watched it about twice when Terry Christian was on it as I used to co-present a radio show with him. I watched it as I knew him, I watched about twenty minutes of each show. It's rubbish. I've been approached once and no, I would not do it.'

Marks and Spencer is making unproven claims about anti-cellulite knickers, consumer group Which? has said. The £29.50 Anti-Cellulite Firm Control Waist and Thigh Clincher pants contain vitamin E, aloe vera and caffeine. The label says they are 'independently proven to reduce visible signs of cellulite,' but experts told Which? that any tight pants would have the same effect. M&S dismissed the allegations and said the ingredients were 'widely used in creams to reduce signs of cellulite.' On the M&S website, the knickers are listed as containing 'three active natural ingredients.' So, the obvious question is, now this has been revealed will they have to take the knickers down?

Come on, I'm working with limited material here.

The most recent episode of Britain's Got Talent attracted thirty complaints, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, the majority of these from viewers upset about exotic dancer Tia Brodie's topless fire-eating display. Ofcom also reporteldy received ten complaints about a lesbian kiss on Coronation Street last Friday. Sorry, what Century is this again?

And, finally ... Ah, yes. It would seem that it's true what they say - the old ones are still the best.

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