Monday, May 17, 2010

Creeping To The Cross

A Doctor Who arena tour has been announced. The Sun reports that the live show, set in wartime London, will feature The Daleks and The Cybermen battling on stage. The Weeping Angels, Judoon, and The Ood will also appear on the tour, which is being written by showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat. Thou shalt worship no other Gods before he. The programme's stars, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, will not join the event but are filming clips which will be broadcast during the show. 'This is everything I ever wanted since I was eleven,' Moffat explained. 'A live show, with all the coolest Doctor Who monsters, a proper story, and brand new material for Matt Smith's Doctor. I'll be writing scenes for it - and probably attending every single night.' Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, who has written new music for the tour, added: 'The live element always adds something extra.'

Meanwhile, Karen Gillan has revealed that she would like an episode of Doctor Who set in Scotland. Yeah - they've done more than a couple of those in the past, chuck. And neither of them were much cop (although, Terror of the Zygons did have some redeeming features). The actress told the Daily Record that she has already suggested the idea to showrunner Steven Moffat. 'The Scots are taking over,' she said. Not at the World Cup, though. Cos ya didnae qualify. 'I said to Steven that we should do something with the Loch Ness Monster in Inverness.' And, again, that's been done before. Twice. She added: 'I would love to see someone like Billy Connolly in the show. I just think we should have someone who's a big character and who is really funny. Someone like that, who is Scottish.' Is he? Blimey, I'd never have known if you hadn't told me.

The BBC and The BBC Trust are said to be 'working together' to define 'distinctiveness' – the buzzword which lies at the heart of its strategy overhaul. The Putting Quality First review committed the BBC to prioritising distinctive, quality content over quantity, in a bid to do more to differentiate its output from its commercial rivals. However, sources raised fears in advance of the review that the word is far too vague and can be used to justify pretty much anything. A BBC News insider said in February: 'We know what it is getting at, but you can imagine it being bent to anyone's needs, whether it is defending a shiny-floor show or another quiz.' A BBC Comedy source added: 'It's just bollocks.' Always nice to hear from the comedy boys, isn't it. They can reduce pretty much anything to a load of old bollocks. Including the vast majority of sitcoms they produced for, ooo, the last two decades. Questioned by Broadcast, BBC1 controller Jay Hunt identified So You Think You Can Dance as distinctive, and BBC3 controller Danny Cohen said the same of Coming Of Age. None of the controllers whom the magazine spoke to would identify any shows that do not live up to the billing, but collectively they will be tasked with clearing out four hundred million pounds worth of 'less distinctive' content – in a bid to 'reprioritise' cash for more obviously 'public service content.' But, given that part of the BBC's public service remit, as this blogger never gets tired of reminding everyone who uses it to mean 'still I want to see' is 'to entertain.' Which, again, brings us back to 'it means what you want it to mean.' The BBC Trust's March minutes reveal a 'joint project Trust/executive project to define distinctiveness and agree how it applies to the BBC's content and services.' The project team have already identified high editorial standards, 'creative and editorial ambition, range and depth, indigenous talent and UK-focused content,' as key factors, but The Trust has now it to look in more detail at how 'distinctiveness' varies for each division. It will report back in September, in line with the BBC Trust's plans to publish the approved Putting Quality First plans.

Ruth Jones has signed up to play Hattie Jacques in a new BBC biopic drama. Jones has agreed to appear as the Carry On star in Hattie, the Press Association reports. The programme will examine Jacques' secret affair with a younger man, which took place while she was married to Dad's Army actor John Le Mesurier. 'Hattie Jacques is a comedy hero of mine and I'm thrilled to have been asked to play her,' Jones said. 'She was an incredibly talented and fascinating woman both on and off screen and so much more than just the "funny fat lady." I can't wait.'

Lord Alan Sugar has volunteered his services to help the Football Association with their World Cup bid offer. The Apprentice megalomaniac said that he would be 'open to offers' about replacing Lord Triesman, who resigned yesterday as the head of the campaign to bring the football event to England in 2018. This came after the Scum Mail on Sunday reached a new level of journalistic integrity. It's always good to know, isn't it dear blog reader, that any time anyone loses their job, there's usually some publicity-hungry disgrace waiting in the wings to selflessly offer themselves up for the vacant post. Back to bullying teenagers and producing crap home PCs for you I reckon, Alan.

Emma Bunton is to front Five's new reality show Don't Stop Believing, it has been announced. The former Spice Girl has had a number of hosting roles over the years, but the new singing contest will be her first major presenting job. Don't Stop Believing - billed as 'Glee meets The X Factor' - will follow the search for Britain's best musical performance group. Speaking of her new position, Bunton commented: 'Like millions of others I'm currently obsessed with musical performance groups so I am beyond excited. It'll be an unmissable, all-singing, all-dancing spectacle.' According to the Sun, more than three thousand groups have already applied to take part in the programme, which is to air over the summer.

Len Goodman has revealed that he has no plans to quit Strictly Come Dancing - because he does not want to upset his mother. The judge's ninety three-year-old mum, Louisa, is said to be an avid follower of the BBC ballroom show and is hoping to see her son back on the judging panel this year. Speaking to the Mirror, Len commented: 'She would really smack my bottom if I said "no." She's a huge fan of the show. She's always telling me off for this, that and the other. If I'm nasty to a couple she'll phone up and vote for them!' The sixty three-year-old added that he would only leave the programme if BBC bosses decided to axe him. He said: 'I'm not going to be here forever, am I? If they ask me I will definitely be coming back. But I do understand they like to revamp things and tweak it.'

Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell are to front an ITV series which, they claim, 'goes beyond the family history' of Who Do You Think You Are? to reunite estranged relatives. Both series are produced by Wall to Wall, but while WDYTYA? focuses on the process of discovering family history, Long Lost Families is about dramatic reunions with living relatives. The six-part series follows people who have spent years trying to track down a long-lost family member, usually as a result of adoption, but who have hit a brick wall. They are interviewed about the circumstances of the separation, how it has affected their life and what it would mean to meet the missing person - before being reunited in stages.

The BBC is in danger of 'losing sight of its essence' if it cancels any more religious programmes, the Church of England has warned. Church leaders claimed that the BBC's reputation for quality television could face a 'serious deterioration' if it cuts the number of hours put aside for faith programming. As part of a BBC consultation on its future and funding cuts, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, told the Daily Telegraph: 'We are concerned that religious broadcasting is one area where output could not sustain further cuts without serious deterioration of the BBC's proud record of providing engaging content.' Secular groups had recently claimed too much BBC air time is given over to religion after the church appealed for a regular Radio 1 slot to target a younger audience. While refusing to comment directly, a BBC Trust spokeswoman said: 'The Trust welcomes any contribution to the ongoing consultation.' Which, hopefully, means what I think it means - 'no.'

Boy George has criticised the quality of last night's BBC2 biopic Worried About The Boy. Writing on Twitter at the time of the drama's broadcast, the former Culture Club singer said that the programme, which centred around his early career, was 'badly written. It's on in the background, the make-up is the best thing about it,' he said, before adding: 'Verdict, beautifully shot & styled but badly written, it lacks heart and soul!' George did insist that he is 'glad' the programme was made, although the singer later added that 'all of it' was penned 'with poetic licence.' However, critics were generally far more positive about the show, with the Daily Telegraph describing it as 'a stunning, sensitive and surprisingly moving production.'

Lisa Edelstein has revealed that she likes fans having such strong feelings about her love triangle on House. Edelstein's character, Lisa Cuddy, is currently in a relationship with Lucas (Michael Weston), although many 'shippers want a romance between Cuddy and House himself. 'I think it's fantastic that people are so passionate about it,' Edelstein told TV Guide. 'It's very hard to watch two people that you think should just get together not get together. It's very painful because you get attached to an idea. But I don't think the exploration of House and Cuddy is over by any stretch of the imagination. I just think she could not go further with him until she tried something else. There's no way. She has to try to live the life that she thinks is the more correct way of doing this. This is the woman who is very responsible. Until she's done going in that direction, which I don't know when that will be, she's got to do what she's got to do.' Edelstein also revealed that she would like to see House and Cuddy begin a relationship in the future but admitted that it might change the show. 'I do think they need to do something about it,' she said. 'And I would trust [executive producer] David Shore to never make it actually work. It has to be tortured and painful. I mean, these are not happy people. If they suddenly became happy, the dynamics of the show would change. Would I like to see something go on? Yeah. But how it will happen, I have no idea.'

BBC in-house production is facing - anonymous - accusations of 'a lax attitude' to budgetary overspends, with producers who work for the independent community calling for 'a level playing field.' At least, that's what Broadcast magazine has to say on the matter. Nobody else gives much of a monkey's chuff, frankly. Although BBC Vision Productions works to the same tariffs as independents, sources (nameless in the article, of course) claim the way it accounts for overheads conceals the real overspend costs. They also say in-house can draw on central funds without severe penalties. By contrast, any overspend by independents directly affects their bottom line, and it is rare - but, the article admits, not unknown - for the BBC to grant extra funds. One senior in-house source told Broadcast: 'Because we have no float, no profit and no production fee, if you go over, the only place you can get the extra money is centrally. It is a pretty tortuous process, but there are various pots of money lying around the BBC. The channel will have money. BBC Worldwide will have money. They will get it somewhere and make a business case for it.' In-house ascribes overheads to a production based on that production's official tariff, but it does not increase that contribution if the production goes over budget or over-runs. The - again, it's worth stressing, nameless - source added: 'There are so many things that are not accounted for on an in-house production: things that are above the line and things that are below the line. It wouldn't matter if we occupy an office for an extra month. In an indie, you would regard that as a cost, but in in-house, it doesn't matter. If you go over by five hundred thousand pounds, you don't take off an additional percentage.' Which might have carried a whole hell of a lot more credibility had this individual put their name to such comments and not hidden behind anonymity. In-house productions understood to be running overspends, again, according to the magazine (and, presumably, the nameless 'source') include Doctor Who and Luther, although both budgets have yet to close. The former is officially less than one hundred thousand pounds over budget and is expected to balance the books across a two-series contract. It's also, just as a matter of pure disinterest, one of the BBC's biggest three money-spinners worldwide via overseas sales, merchandising and so on, making it one of only a handful of BBC shows that actually pay for themselves. The latter is understood to have run over budget after certain scenes were re-shot, extending the production by two days, but a spokeswoman said it was still due to come in more or less on target. This is the second time in just a couple of weeks that Broadcast have given space to the pathetic whinging of unattributed sources from the independent sector with regard to in-house BBC spending. In a story that was subsequently picked up on by a couple of the tabloids one - unattributed - source criticised Doctor Who Confidential for flying Matt Smith to Venice to do some filming with Francesco da Mosto. A - clearly irritated - BBC spokesperson said: 'Doctor Who Confidential is highly successful and is fantastic value for money.' Instead of, as they should have said, 'Who the Hell are you? We don't comment on non-stories given to you by scum who don't even have the courage to put their name to the criticisms they make. Now stop wasting my valuable time.' And, probably, uttering some - entirely justifiable - swear words as well. Pat Younge, chief creative officer of BBC Vision Productions, pointed out that each of the in-house genres came in on or under budget last year, but also argued that it is sometimes worth the extra spend to deliver a better show. 'We aim to take on indies on quality, not cost. There are no BAFTA categories for coming in under budget,' he said. 'If people go over budget, I'll give them a bloody good talking to but let's not fetishise this: sometimes it is completely justified to deliver better productions, or because of unforeseen circumstances, or because of a change in the exchange rate. At the end of the day, we fully account for overheads within budget.' He later added: 'It's impossible to reply properly to unnamed sources alleging unspecified overspends on unnamed productions, but the idea of pots of money lying around for Vision Productions to dip our hands into is just not true; it's a fantasy. We include overheads in our budgets, work to tight financial constraints with strict accounting procedures, and last year we came in under budget. Of course there are overspends, for a variety of reasons good and bad, but the idea they're not treated seriously is misguided.' I must say, I really do hate this kind of thing. Bitter, nasty little - anonymous - people who don't, seemingly, realise the great privilege they have in working in the media industry in the first place, all stabbing each other in the back and fighting over the size of their piece of pie.

Over-sexed dachshunds, incontinent llamas and narcoleptic horses are to get the Embarrassing Bodies treatment in a new Channel 4 series. Maverick, the production company behind the C4 medical show, is producing a six-part series, Animal Mad House and has called for people to come forward with pets and other animals with extreme conditions. As with Embarrassing Bodies, the series will be fronted by three veterinary experts, who will present from a vet surgery and from people's homes, as well as animal habitats from fields to zoos. The series will feature extraordinary case studies and handson advice for a wide range of pet ailments and conditions, and has invited submissions from pet owners, zoo keepers, farmers and anyone else in charge of animals. Debb Swindells is the series producer. 'We want jaw-dropping behavioural problems, medical marvels, births, deaths and breeding problems. Anything goes,' she said.

Sonya Walger has admitted that the upcoming finale of FlashForward will leave several questions unanswered. The show was recently cancelled by ABC. Walger, who plays Olivia, admitted that the series' abrupt end means some things about it will remain mysterious. 'There's some closure to it,' she told E! Online. 'But there's an awful lot left unexplained.' However, Walger promised that fans will enjoy the last episode, saying: 'It was so satisfying to read the finale because there are still glitches in the system. There are anomalies - it's like a beautiful map puzzle that just rounds itself out. There's another flash-forward brewing, but it remains to be seen if it happens or not. The finale is just brilliantly written. It's so satisfying to watch how everybody ends up - or doesn't - in the positions that they saw themselves in the pilot. Watching these chess pieces move into position so that everyone is where they saw themselves being is ingenious. And by the end of the penultimate episode, they've pushed everyone as far away from their final positions as they could possibly be. It's a brilliant device.'

The executive producer of Desperate Housewives has praised John Barrowman. Bob Daily explained that he enjoyed working with Barrowman when he joined the show as Patrick Logan. 'He was great,' Daily told zap2it.com. 'He was so easy to work with. He came in the first day - I think he had flown in the night before and was completely jetlagged. You know, he was so easy to work with and so fantastic.. He did bring a very different kind of creepy energy and intensity to the show. He and Drea [De Matteo] play well off each other.' Daily also revealed that he would like De Matteo, who plays Angie, to return to the programme in the future. 'We would love that,' he said. 'I'm not sure where we stand at that, you know. That's kind of a business affairs question maybe, but yeah, we loved her. We would love to figure out a way to get her back some day.'

I'd Do Anything runner-up Jessie Buckley has landed a role in romantic comedy Join My Band. The twenty-year-old, who lost out to Jodie Prenger in the 2008 Andrew Lloyd Webber talent show finale, will play 'rebellious rock-chic' Stella in the short film. Buckley, who starred in the West End production of A Little Night Music, will star opposite Max Fowler in the boy-meets-girl tale about a nerdy boy's attempts to win favour from his school crush by starting a punk band. Shooting starts next month. The project has been written and directed by Naomi Wright, who produced the ITV series Fearne Cotton And... Christ, that sounds like it'll be worth paying good money to see.

George Lucas has written a letter to the executive producers of Lost praising the show. According to the zap2it.com website, the message was read out at last week's Lost Live: The Final Celebration event. 'Congratulations on pulling off an amazing show,' Lucas wrote. 'Don't tell anyone but when Star Wars first came out, I didn't know where it was going either. The trick is to pretend you've planned the whole thing out in advance. Throw in some father issues and references to other stories - let's call them homages - and you've got a series.' Lucas added that the way the series has developed over its six seasons is 'impressive. You managed to span both time and space, and I don't think I'm alone in saying that I never saw what was around the corner,' he said. 'Now that it's all coming to an end, it's impressive to see how much was planned out in advance and how neatly you've wrapped up everything. You've created something really special. I'm sad that the series is ending, but I look forward to seeing what you two are going to do next.'

Students at a British university are apparently being offered the chance to study The Wire. The University Of York has crafted a ten-week module on the US drama as part of its sociology degree. Looking at the HBO series, which follows the fortunes of drug dealers and police officers in Baltimore, the course discusses issues such as race, class and political process, reports Sky News. Professor Roger Burrows, head of sociology at the university said: 'It's a contrast to dry, dull, hugely expensive studies that people carry out on the same issues.' He added: 'It's easier to get students to use The Wire as a way of looking at the current political system than it is to get them to read a dull book on it.'

Former boxer Chris Eubank has said that he wants a role on The X Factor judging panel. The eccentric forty three-year-old claimed that he is 'the best person' to stand in for Dannii Minogue during this year's audition stages. 'I was mates with Louis and Simon in the '90s so who else can you imagine doing it other than me?' he told the Daily Star. Do you want a list, Chris? Let's start with Freddie Parrot-Face Davies and work from there, eh?

And, still on the subject of delusional comments, former Hollyoaks actress Sarah Jayne Dunn has revealed that she is keen to land a stint on Strictly Come Dancing. The actress, who played Mandy Richardson on the teen soap apparently, confirmed that BBC1's ballroom show is one of the few reality contests she would 'want to compete on.' Yeah. I think you might find that the last series of Strictly was, generally, considered to have less than successful mainly because it was full of non-entities, largely drawn from soap operas like Hollyokas, whom many viewers didn't know and didn't really care about. Do you really think it's really a good idea for the BBC to go down the same route again, Sarah m'love?

And finally, here is today's sample of Keith Telly Topping's World Cup Trivia. One of the most famous 'Colemanballs' in the history of football commentary came from the man who invented the sub-genre, David Coleman. In the opening game of Group C at the 1970 World Cup, the much-fancied Brazilians were taking on a hard-working and occasionally brilliant Czech side. Brazil dominated the opening moments of the game at Guadalajara and Pele missed a sitter after being set-up by Rivelino who sold a Czech defender an outrageous dummy. Then, after six minutes, the Czechs broke away and a couple of bits of sloppy defending by the Brazilians – specifically Brito and the goalie, Felix - allowed Ladislav Petras to sneak in and score. Coleman, who'd so far had his tongue rammed so far up the collective Brazilian arse there was no room for anyone else, was momentarily stunned. 'Everything' he screamed, 'that you have ever heard about the Brazilians has come true.' This referred to the widely-held opinion in the European football media that, yes, these Brazilian boys knew a few nice tricks but, in all seriousness, they were a bunch fancy-dan-wankers who didn't like it up 'em. That they were, defensively, rubbish and when they came up against some decent (and hard) European teams like West Germany, or Italy, or England, they were going to get a right good hiding. There was something almost gleeful in the way Coleman said it. Pfft, skill/schmill, these blokes can't even defend. Brazil promptly went on to win the match 4-1, beat England in a classic in their next game (keeping a clean sheet into the bargain), massacre the Romanians, Peru and Uruguay and then hammer the Azzurri in the final. Yeah, it was essentially true, they weren't be best defenders in the world but, so what? It didn't matter - you score three, they'll score five! For David Coleman 'for those of you watching in black and white, Zaire are in the light shirts' was just four years away. And, also on the subject of 1970 World Cup commentary, the career of Niccolo Carosio, Italy's most famous football commentator since the 1930s (firstly on radio – when he was alleged to be a particularly favourite of Mussolini - and then on TV), ended in embarrassing circumstances during the 1970 tournament and a match between Italy and Israel. The Italians seemed to have taken an early lead thanks to a Gigi Riva close-range effort. However the linesman, an Ethiopian, raised his flag for offside. 'What the bloody hell is that damned blacky doing?' shouted Carosio. 'He's disallowed the goal. He's mad, this damned stupid blacky.' Even in the less-than-PC world of Italy in 1970, that was still considered a wee bit over-the-top and Carosio was ushered into retirement with almost immediate effect.

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