Monday, May 03, 2010

Conflict, Compassion, Resolution: A Different Kind Of Tension

Sophie Dahl's alleged cookery show is, reportedly, close to cancellation. So, it would seem that there is a God, after all. How very comforting. The Ludicrous Ms Dahl struggled in the ratings and lost over a million viewers during its run, the Daily Mail reports, accurately for once. Which is very interesting as just a few days ago, Toby Young was claiming in the self-same newspaper that the show had been 'a ratings success.' Obviously some new use of the word 'success' that none of us had previously come across. Maybe it's one of those street-word things? You know, like how 'good' can sometimes mean 'bad' these days if it's a cool and wick-ed young person saying it? 'Sophie is undeniably watchable, but this cookery show has not really worked out,' a source explained to the newspaper. Yer Keith Telly Topping begs to differ concerning the 'really watchable' part. On the contrary, he'd more describe Sophie - seen right during her 'lard' phase - as 'ratings poison.' But, never mind that for the moment. BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow refused to confirm whether or not the programme will return but a BBC spokesperson described Dahl as 'a real talent.' And again, we have a basic difference of opinion here. In so much as the BBC seem to think that she is, and pretty much everybody else appears to believe she isn't. The representative added: 'Now her series has come to an end we'll be talking to her about a number of new ideas. Some will be food-based and some may venture into new territories.' Can I suggest Outer Mongolia?

A second series of BBC1's Walk On The Wild Side has been confirmed by Jason Manford earlier this week. Jason notes that he's currently writing new material for the show.

Idris Elba has admitted that he doesn't want to be typecast. The actor explained that he keeps being offered roles similar to Stringer Bell in The Wire. According to the Mirror, he said: 'I could have played Stringer Bell-type characters forever. I could be on the telly right now, in my own show, earning one hundred and fifty grand an episode.' Elba also revealed that he has not been impressed with the movie roles offered to him recently and added that he would much rather appear in the new BBC1 drama Luther. 'The truth is, the films coming my way do not bear any resemblance to the writing I've been accustomed and privileged to do, The Wire obviously being the flagship of that,' he said. 'Here I am, a boy that grew up with the BBC and ITV, then Channel 4. If you had a show on BBC1 where you were the lead man, you had made it. And here I am - all the movie offers in the world couldn't top being offered Luther. How could you not take that?'

And, here's proof that dear old Graham Norton has a far better sense of humour than six thousand whinging Doctor Who viewers. Including yer Keith Telly Topping. Good on yerself, Graham. Particularly after some of the spectacularly nasty and borderline homophobic tripe that's been flung in your direction from the darker corners of the Internet over something that was, let's remember, not your doing in the first place. You're a credit to your profession, my friend.

The Cheeky Girls' management have accused the Britain's Got Talent producers of not taking health and safety seriously. The Romanian twins Monica and Gabriela Irimia, who originally found fame on Popstars: The Rivals, have claimed that one of their dancers slipped during their audition because they were not provided with a dance mat. According to the Mirror, their mother and manager Margit said: 'I had a huge argument with the producers to put down the carpet that they use for other dancers but they shouted at me, saying it was too late.' However, a spokesperson for the programme dismissed the claims. 'Health and safety is of paramount importance to us and we conduct strict risk assessments before each act appears on stage,' the representative said. 'The Cheeky Girls appear to be being cheeky girls as we have no record of them ever asking for a dance mat.' Footage from the Cheeky Girls' audition may now be scrapped because of the argument.

Top Gear will return for its fifteenth series - seven episodes - on 20 June. This is good news. Now, let all the hippies and the Communists tremble and froth at the mouth in their mighty path.

ITV has recommissioned detective drama Lewis for a new series. The broadcaster has ordered four new episodes of the Inspector Morse spin-off. Controller of drama commissioning Sally Haynes said: 'Lewis is always one of the highlights of the year on ITV and features not only a great partnership between Lewis and Hathaway but some great plot lines and twists that keep the audience gripped. I'm thrilled it's returning and I know our viewers will be too.' The series will see Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox reprise their crime solving partnership. Executive producer Damien Timmer confirmed that Stephen Churchett, Russell Lewis and Alan Plater would return to write the new episodes. Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter will again work as a consultant on the series.

TV viewers in the UK are watching more than four hours of programmes every day, the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board has said. Is that all? I'll tell you what, someone, somewhere is not pulling their weight because I watch at least double that. I'm doing my own share and half a dozen other peoples it would seem. Hey, what can I say? It's my job. Barb said figures from January to March 2010 showed people watched, on average, four hours and eighteen minutes daily, up from three hours, fifty six minutes in 2009. Two-thirds of those hours were spent watching commercial channels, it said. Commercial TV marketing body Thinkbox said the rise was partly down to cash-strapped Britons staying at home. A spokesman said just under ninety four per cent of households now had digital television - which meant viewers had a greater choice of channels - and almost half now had digital TV recorders. They equate to the average viewer spending a day and a quarter of every week watching TV. The number of daily advertisements the average viewer watched also rose from forty five to forty eight. Thinkbox chief executive Tess Alps said: 'Anyone who doubted the continuing importance and popularity of broadcast TV in the UK should hopefully be convinced by these new figures. However, record levels are unlikely to continue. We are nearing the peak, if we are not there already. Once analogue signals are finally turned off in 2012, the figures are likely to stabilise, but hopefully will remain at these high levels.' The Barb figures only included shows viewed while they were being broadcast or recordings watched - without fast-forwarding - within seven days.

But, is all this TV watching good for you? Not according to research carried out by people with letters after their name. Apparently. The more TV a toddler watches, the higher the likelihood they will do badly at school and have poor health at the age of ten, researchers warn. The study of one thousand three hundred children by Michigan and Montreal universities found negative effects on older children rose with every hour of toddler TV. Performance at school was worse, while consumption of junk foods was higher. UK experts said parents could allow young children to watch 'some' high quality TV. Who decides on the definition of 'high quality', we are not informed. As with all of these kind of surveys, I'm a bit suspicious of some of the findings. Quite apart from the fact that they often seek to place human beings roughly on the same level as Pavlov's Dogs, if watching too much TV as a child does, indeed, turn young people's brains into mush then, why is it yer Keith Telly Topping isn't a simple-minded cretin. No, hang on. On second thoughts, don't answer that.

Africa, a major new series for BBC1 which celebrates the wildlife and landscapes of the great continent, has been commissioned. Scheduled for 2012, the six-part series will use the latest in filming technology to explore previously unseen landscapes - from Angola to Mozambique and Libya to Sudan. Africa's wilderness is facing massive and irrevocable change and, for many places, the series could be the last chance to experience the planet's greatest animals within their natural habitats. From the Atlas Mountains in the north, to the Cape of Good Hope in the south, from the roof of Ethiopia in the east, to where the forest meets the sea in the west, the series aims to encompass the wildest places left on Earth. BBC executive producer Mike Gunton says: 'The series combines the epic power of Africa's landscapes with intimate and dramatic moments in the lives of individual creatures that struggle to survive there. Each episode focuses on a different region, unearthing the elements that have given each place its own unique character. With this series we have the chance to bring about a step-change in the way we use new photographic technology to enhance the intensity of the audience's experience and offer new perspectives on this amazing continent. That means there's everything from previously unseen landscapes filmed from the air; seven hundred day time-lapses; joining vultures as they soar over equatorial glaciers; following camels to an oasis hidden inside an extinct volcano; or capturing the microscopic detail of the strange behaviour of sand grains.' Kim Shillinglaw, Commissioning Editor for Science and Natural History, who will oversee the series, says: 'Africa is going to look different and is going to be special. The BBC's Natural History Unit is thriving by innovating, creating the very best wildlife filming which viewers love and remember for years to come. Other treats in store from this world-class unit include Human Planet and Frozen Planet, for BBC1. And, starting soon on BBC2, the ever popular Springwatch, followed by Wild Night In - a fundraising extravaganza with the same presenting team.' Recent TV series made by the Bristol-based Unit include Life, Nature's Great Events, Lost Land Of The Volcano, David Attenborough's Life In Cold Blood, Wild China and Galapagos. Live presenter-lead series, such as Springwatch and Autumnwatch and multi-platform content, such as the hugely popular Big Cat Diary.

The stars of Flight Of The Conchords have reportedly signed up to appear in an episode of The Simpsons. The Stuff.co.nz website suggests that Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have agreed to star in an edition of the long running comedy cartoon later this year. The duo have allegedly already rehearsed their lines on the telephone with Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice of Bart. However, it is unclear whether the pair will be joined by their co-star Rhys Darby, who plays band manager Murray in Flight Of the Conchords. Conchords manager Mike Martinovich refused to comment on the rumours, saying: 'I don't know whether there's anything I'm allowed to tell you about that.'

Former Arsenal trainee Michael Sheen will captain the Rest Of The World team at this year's Soccer Aid. The annual charity football match, which has been organised by Robbie Williams, takes place on 6 June at Old Trafford. It will be broadcast live on ITV. Sheen, whose film credits include Frost/Nixon and The Damned United will line up alongside Gethin Jones, Boyzone's Ronan Keating, Joe Calzaghe and Heroes actor James Kyson-Lee. 'I fully anticipate this to be the greatest moment of my life. The Rest of the World is a big place and to be Captain of it is a huge honour and one I take very seriously,' said Sheen. 'I now have a team of specialists monitoring my every movement. And I have a lot of movements for them to monitor, believe me. For me to play alongside the likes of Zidane is an extraordinary honour and privilege and one I'm sure he never dreamed would be possible for him when he started off as a footie-mad kid.' Former Liverpool idols Kenny Daglish and Ian Rush will manage the Rest Of The World squad, which also includes footballers Zinedine Zidane, Henrik Larsson and Jens Lehmann, cricketer Brian Lara, Westlife's Shane Filan and Nicky Byrne, comic Patrick Kielty and Gordon Ramsay. Robbie Williams will be joined in the England squad by TV presenters Ben Shephard and Jamie Theakston, actors Bradley Walsh Damian Lewis, boxer Ricky Hatton and ex-footballers The Godlike Genius That Is Alan Shearer, David Seaman, Teddy Sheringham and Jamie Redknapp. The latter, providing he hasn't got a groin strain.

Billie Piper has reportedly signed up for a fourth series of Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. The Daily Star reports that the actress will be paid two million pounds to reprise her role as Belle de Jour. The fourth series will follow Belle as she continues to juggle her double life as an author and an escort. Filming for the show will reportedly begin later this year and ITV2 is hoping to screen the series from January 2011.

David Boreanaz has revealed that he has cheated on his wife of eight years. The forty-year-old Bones and Angel actor, who has children Jaden and Bardot with Jaime Bergman, said that he was forced to admit to being unfaithful after a former mistress threatened to contact media outlets. Boreanaz told People magazine: 'Our marriage has been tainted with my infidelities. I just want to be open and honest. I was irresponsible. I was associated with a woman who I was involved with and had a relationship with. She asked for money. I felt as though I was being blackmailed or there was some sort of extortion. We're working on our marriage. We're working on repairing what has been damaged so badly.'

Chris Evans has reportedly refused to take part in Chris Moyles' new documentary. Moyles has worked on a new programme about the history of the Radio 1 breakfast show, the Sun reports. Former presenters including Tony Blackburn, Zoe Ball, Mike Read, Mike Smith, Simon Mayo and Sara Cox all agreed to sign up for the documentary. However, Evans, who now hosts the Radio 2 breakfast show, has allegedly decided not to feature in the programme. 'Chris doesn't want to talk to us, which is a bit of a shame as his breakfast show was massive,' Moyles said. 'It kind of changed the way breakfast shows are done.'

Davina McCall has signed up to host a new Channel 4 game show. The Drop will be broadcast live across six nights at the end of this month, the Sun claims. Contestants, who will be chosen from social networking sites, will be given one million pounds but will then have to answer questions to hold onto the money. If they reply incorrectly, some of the cash will fall through a trapdoor. Sounds ... rubbish, frankly. Then again, this is a Davina McCall vehicle we're talking about so, perhaps that's no surprise. McCall will also host the final series of Big Brother, which is reportedly expected to begin in the second week of June.

Shy, retiring Kelly Brook has criticised Ant and Dec for writing about her in their autobiography. Brook explained that she was disappointed the pair chose to document her short-lived stint on Britain's Got Talent. 'I thought, "Oh come on, do you really need to use me to sell your book?"' she told the Daily Star. 'There was a point when I just went, "No, fuck off." But I wasn't going to have two of the most powerful men in TV kick me when I was down.' Brook also insisted that it had been her decision to leave the ITV show, adding: 'The reason I responded is because Ant and Dec chose to write about me.' I'll tell you what, though. I'll bet shy, retiring Kelly have also been in the newspaper complaining if they hadn't mentioned her in their autobiography.

Christopher Eccleston has admitted that he would like a role in a comedy. The actor, who starred in Doctor Who in 2005, explained that he has always picked his jobs carefully as anyone who's followed Chris's career since Cracker will know. 'I haven't worked since December because I'm choosy,' he told the Sun. 'I'd like to do comedy for the rest of my life and surprise everyone and myself. My entire personal life has been a comedy, so I have experience.' Chris will star as self-confessed wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon in a one-off BBC4 drama later this year.

The BBC has revealed plans to project the general election results on St Stephen's Tower, which houses Big Ben, for the first time ever. Over the course of election night on Thursday, the number of seats gained by the largest Westminster parties will be beamed onto the London landmark. The projection will commence when the first results come in and keep updating until the final result is declared at around 5.30am on 7 May. According to the BBC, the initiative is designed to deliver a clear, simple and also visually striking source of information on one of the most interesting elections of recent times. With just three days of campaigning left before voting begins, the opinion polls still suggest that the election is finely balanced, with no party holding an overall majority, although the Tories getting mighty close to one. The projected graphic, which is to be beamed onto the side of St Stephens Tower close to the Houses of Parliament, will show a tally of seats won by Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, along with wins by smaller parties. Speaking to BBC News, BBC Election Night editor Craig Oliver said: 'We're delighted Parliament is joining with the BBC to project the results onto Big Ben for the first time ever.' Under a joint deal between the BBC, ITN and Sky News, details of an exit poll by NOP/Mori will also be beamed onto Big Ben shortly after voting closes on 6 May. A 'winning line' will further show the three hundred and twenty six seats required for any party to secure an outright victory. The projection has been approved by parliamentary authorities and will not carry any BBC branding.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday launched a broadside against the 'BBC machine' for his party's exclusion from the televised prime ministerial debates. The Scottish National Party has recently suffered a sharp fall in the Scottish polls, indicating that the party will fail to reach its target of twenty seats at the election. After being asked about the SNP's decline in support, Salmond pointed to the debates as a contributing factor, reports the Scotsman. 'I reckon we went into this election with thirty per cent of the vote. The day before the first TV debate we were sitting on twenty eight per cent and looking at our greatest ever showing in a Westminster election,' he said. 'The debates have set us back, but we've now got a ground campaign going, because there's a groundswell of feeling in Scotland that the SNP and Scotland have been done down by being excluded from the broadcasts.' Salmond claimed that the SNP will now try to use the sense of injustice felt in Scotland 'against the BBC machine' to its advantage. 'We feel if we can ride the wave of rage against the machine, rage against the BBC machine and the Westminster machine, then I think it might carry us a very, very long way in this election campaign,' he said. That's a lot of raging against many machines, Alex. The last person to do that, I recall, was Simon Cowell. He lost. Before that, the Luddites also had a go at that. They lost an'all. You reckon you'll make it third time lucky? The SNP has waged a fierce campaign against Salmond's exclusion from the BBC's prime ministerial debate alongside Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. However, the party saw an appeal rejected by the BBC Trust and then failed in a legal bid at Edinburgh's Court of Session, meaning that the first debate went ahead without SNP involvement on 29 April. Salmond is upset at the upsurge of support for the Liberal Democrats following Clegg's strong showing at last week's BBC debate, along with the preceding editions on ITV and Sky News. He believes that it is unfair for the Lib Dems to gain additional backing in Scotland from a campaigning platform which is unavailable to the SNP.

Tony Blair has been linked to the next season of Dancing With The Stars. The show's executive producer Conrad Green told the Mirror that he would pay the former Prime Minister two hundred and fifty thousand pounds to appear on the show. He said: 'Tony, you've done everything you can do as PM, you've done your bit for the Middle East, now come and put some sequins on and have a real life.' Green also revealed that he would partner Blair - seen left with a previous partner doing the military two-step - with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff for the competition. 'I think she would be very happy with him,' he explained. She might, though I doubt Cherie would, pal. 'Tony is very popular in the States and I think he may as well come out here and give it a try. Hopefully he might be able to squeeze it in between solving the Palestinian problem and all those other things he's got on.' Green added that he once tried to convince former President Bill Clinton to join the show, saying: 'We rang his office but the conversation lasted as long as it took to say, Dancing With The... before they hung up.'

Keeley Hawes has admitted that she stole a prop from the Ashes To Ashes set. Naughty, bad Kelley Hawes. Stealing is wrong. Very wrong. The actress, who plays Alex Drake, confessed that she took a framed Annigoni portrait of the Queen from behind Gene Hunt's desk. However, she added that her husband Matthew McFadyen was unhappy that she brought the picture home. 'The portrait is now in my bedroom,' she told the Mirror. 'I've got lots of Coronation-ware from the 1953 Coronation. I really love it. I've got tea sets and all sorts of things.' She continued: 'And then I brought that picture home of the Queen, stuck it in the bedroom and Matthew said, "Right, that's the final straw!" I've been banned by my husband from having any more pictures of the Queen in the house.'

Alex Reid has defended his wife, Katie Price, after her parenting skills were criticised by the TV host Kirstie Allsopp. Writing in his Star magazine column, Reid asked: "Who's Kirstie Allsopp?' Well, Alex, she's actually the presenter of the Channel 4 housing show Location, Location, Location - and various other lifestyle programmes of a sometimes watchable but often twee nature - and, if the Tories win the election on Thursday, she's likely to end up in the House of Lords because Cameron's a BIG fan. Haven't you ever picked up a newspaper in your life, pal? No, of course not. I'm sorry, that's a stupid question. You only look at the pictures. Of yourself. 'And why is she slagging off my wife?' he continued to whine. Because ... she wants to. And, that's her right, to voice a sincerely held opinion, publicly, in a free and democratic society. Just a thought. 'What motivated her to criticise how Katie brings up the kids?' Err... ditto, basically. 'I really don't understand why Katie gets those criticisms,' he concluded. Perhaps, just perhaps, it's because a lot of people really don't like her? They think her constant self-promotion and lack of any obvious talent is an affront and they take great pleasure in any misfortune that befalls her. Again, I'm just speculating here. Might be a completely different reason. Anyone else got any ideas to help Alex understand this baffling situation? Personally, I suggest getting Katie and Kirstie in a ring and letting them sort it out Marquess of Queensbury-style.

Peaches Geldof admits that she needs to 'find a career.' Yeah. Damn right, get yourself a job you waste-of-space parasite. 'I look at all kinds of options,' noted Saint Bob's daughter. 'But, truthfully, I like the idea of acting. But then, the day after, I want more tattoos - that's the way I am,' she reveals. What, spoiled, indecisive and stupid? We'd noticed, chuck. Hang on, though. Having a job and having tattoos aren't, actually, mutually exclusive you know, Peaches, darlin'. Some people manage to carry off both quite nicely and live a useful, productive life.

And finally, Trinny and Susannah did nothing of any consequence this week. As usual.

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