Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Fantastic Life

With a mixture of blood-soaked carnage and achingly sad dramatic tension, the fourth-to-last episode of Lost - The Candidate - did something wholly unexpected this week. It killed off three characters who've been regulars since episode one. Well, killed them off in one parallel universe, anyway. Added to which, the futures of two other characters of the same vintage aren't looking over clever; one with a bullet in her side, another having been bashed on the bonce with a piece of exploding submarine. I have to say at this point, whilst I love Charlie Brooker in a way that's probably against all laws of God and Man, his assertion the other week on You Have Been Watching that the last three seasons of Lost have, largely, been the product of random hitting of a typewriter is way off target. You're wrong, King Charlie. Dead wrong. I've said it before but it bears repeating, there have been better TV shows during the last decade - The West Wing, The Sopranos, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Life on Mars were all more consistent - but there's been almost nothing that has kept me as intrigued, fascinated, occasionally annoyed but, always coming back for more, as Lost. Next week, there's an episode called Across The Sea that's said to explain much of the series' mythos and the back-story of who, exactly, Jacob and Not-Locke are. Then, there's one more episode before the final - two and half hour - coda. It's been quite a ride.

Next up, a couple of quick - and hugely self-indulgent - Keith Telly Topping-related announcements for y'all, dear blog reader. On Tuesday of this week, yer Keith Telly Topping did a brief interview with the lovely Jon Harle on BBC Newcastle's drive-time Jon & Anne show on the subject of the Barb survey about British viewing habits which this blog covered earlier in the day. You can catch the interview - about three minutes of it - for the next few days here. It's just before the end of the show, approximately one hour twenty two minutes in. Also, this week Scunthorpe Stevie and Simon Logie Logan managed to persuade me read the 'mystery lyrics' which are part of the daily Time Of Our Lives segment on Simon's afternoon show. Not that I took much persuading, sad to report. They're mildly amusing if you have a particular fetish for hearing yer Keith Telly Topping doing a - very bad - Leslie Phillips impression. Anyway, the first two examples can be heard here (at one hour twenty eight minutes) and here (at one hour thirty two minutes). The second one's marginally funnier.

Meanwhile, I have had literally some requests (two, actually) for further details on the House 'Midnight Train To Georgia' parody alluded to on the last blog. The episode - The Choice - as I understand it will be shown on Sky1 this coming Sunday night (9pm). But, if you can't wait that long, here's the Goddamn Empress Of Soul herself Gladys Knight and Her Pips doing the song on US TV circa 1973. That's stone soul groove. And, nice threads.

John Simm and Philip Glenister will reunite for a new Sky1 drama. The Gruniad Morning Star reports that the duo, who formed a cult double-act on Life On Mars, will appear in Mad Dogs alongside Survivors' Max Beesley and Hustle's Marc Warren. The show follows a group of school friends who travel to Majorca for a retirement party. However, the celebration becomes a 'labyrinthine nightmare of lies, deception and murder.' Sound terrific. The four-part series has been written by Cris Cole and filming is expected to begin on location in Majorca this week. It will be broadcast on Sky1 in the spring of 2011.

EastEnders bosses are to drop a last-minute scene into its first post-election episode, citing the result, according to the Digital Spy website.

Sir Alan Sugar is, reportedly, angry about Andrew Lloyd Webber being allowed on the BBC during the general election campaign. The millionaire businessman is apparently annoyed that Webber, who is a well-known Conservative party supporter, has been allowed to continue with his talent show Over The Rainbow. Sugar's own BBC reality series The Apprentice was pushed back in the schedules from its traditional April and May slot over fears that the broadcaster would be breaching rules on impartiality. Conservative MPs had previously called for the BBC to axe the series after the Labour party appointed Sugar as an enterprise tsar in the House of Lords. According to the Mirror, Sugar sent BBC director general Mark Thompson an e-mail explaining that he had not been allowed to be 'seen anywhere near' Labour leader Gordon Brown. He allegedly requested 'an answer' over Webber's presence on the channel during the election coverage.

Ofcom has confirmed that it received twenty five complaints about the manner in which Sky News reported Gordon Brown's 'bigoted woman' gaffe last month. The media regulator intends to assess the situation to judge whether Sky News was biased against the prime minister in its coverage of the story on 28 April. Ofcom has also received a further eleven complaints - on top of the six hundred and fifty two already logged - about Sky News political editor Adam Boulton's 'heckling' of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during the second prime ministerial debate on 22 April. Despite specific rules stipulating the role of debate moderators, Boulton was seen to directly quiz Clegg about a front-page Daily Telegraph article concerning monies allegedly paid into his private bank account by three businessmen. The watchdog received nineteen complaints about the 'offensive' nature of the British National Party's election broadcast on 26 April on BBC2. A Labour party election broadcast, which was shot by 24 director Stephen Foster, also attracted fourteen complaints last Wednesday for its 'scaremongering' portrayal of a future under the Tories. The media regulator will now evaluate all of these complaints to judge whether more thorough investigations are required into possible breaches of the broadcasting code or whether to tell the complainants to 'go live in Russia' if they don't like democracy. So, basically, everybody's complaining about something, essentially. Must be a normal day in Great Britain in that case.

John and Edward have insisted that they will not be appearing on the final series of Big Brother. So, a non-story follow-up to an initial non-story there, dear blog reader. Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Producers were reportedly forced to intervene on the election special of Come Dine With Me after what was described as 'a drunken row.' According to the Sun, filming of the show was halted when Derek Hatton and former Today editor Rod Liddle had a heated argument. The duo clashed when Hatton heard Liddle make a rude comment about him while he was delivering his final scores. Hatton described Liddle as a 'fucking fat, useless lump' and a 'pathetic bully,' and producers were forced to step in after Liddle called Hatton's political views 'fucking bonkers' and threatened to 'twat him in the mouth.' I wasn't going to bother watching this but, actually, it sounds quite jolly. Hatton also argued with another contestant, Edwina Currie, while the fourth guest Brian Paddick has previously described the experience as traumatic. 'Producers were hoping for a debate to rival the election coverage on the other channels,' a source said. 'But it all descended into drunken hate-filled chaos.' Oh, just like the real election, then? 'I suppose with four egos that size it was to be expected.' The insider added: 'It turned into the dinner party from hell. The behaviour was the worst we have seen in five years of the show.'

Noel Gallagher has claimed that he will be voting for Manchester City footballer Carlos Tevez at tomorrow's general election. The ex-Oasis guitarist, who has previously always backed Labour, said that he wouldn't be supporting any of the major parties this year. 'Me and the missus were talking about it because we've got to vote this week,' Gallagher told the FA website. 'She was going, "Who are you voting for?" and I said, "I'm not voting for anyone." I'm just going to take my voting card and I'm going to put in massive letters "Tevez is God" and throw it in the polling station. I'm voting Tevez.' Valid. But, when your taxes are too high in a couple years time, Noel baby, don't even think about complaining because you're likely to get precious little sympathy. Gallagher backed Tony Blair at the 1997 election and visited No. 10 after the Labour party took power. He also supported Labour in 2005, claiming that a vote for the Conservative party risked enticing Genesis star Phil Collins back to the UK. 'Vote Labour, if you don't and the Tories get in, [Collins] is threatening to come back from Switzerland, and none of us want that,' he said. So, what's changed?!

In the interest of balance, From The North should point out that among those supporting the Conservatives this year will be the multi-millionaire Simon Cowell. Which was wholly unexpected.

BBC director general Mark Thompson is to deliver the keynote address at this year's Edinburgh TV Festival. Thompson is to give the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the MediaGuardian event on 27 August. The lecture often sets the tone for what has been described as 'the biggest TV industry talking shop in the UK.' He has given the speech before, in 2002, when he was the chief executive of Channel 4 - when he called British TV 'dull, mechanical and samey.' The last director general to deliver the speech at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival was Greg Dyke ten years ago.

Nick Knowles has ruled himself out of the race to secure Adrian Chiles's old job on The ONE Show. The DIY SOS host confirmed that he had been approached over the possibility of fronting the early evening programme, but told bosses that he was not interested because he is happy with his current BBC projects. Knowles is quoted by the Daily Express as saying: 'There was a conversation about whether I would or wouldn't take the job. I have done the show a few times when Adrian has been away. It's a great show and it's nice - it reminds me of [the] magazine programme Nationwide in the '70s when I was a kid. It has a regular feel to it, some great reporters and I think they've done a great job with it.' However, he added: 'No, that job is not my cup of tea. I'd have to be stuck every day all year in London just doing that show which would mean I couldn't do DIY SOS, I couldn't do Real Rescues, it would be difficult to do Who Dares Wins. I've got another Saturday night show coming out soon and I have three new series in production at the moment. I just haven't got time to do it all.' Chiles defected from the BBC to ITV last month. His position on The ONE Show is currently being filled by guest presenters.

The BBC has received a number of complaints about the last episode of Doctor Who. According to the Daily Scum Mail, forty three people contacted the organisation complaining about an 'overtly sexy scene' in Flesh & Stone on Saturday. In the episode, companion Amy Pond kisses the Doctor and him about how long ago he last had sex and suggests that she would not mind having a one-night stand. In the hysterically overblown article from the Scum Mail - entitled Scantily-clad vampires and a pass at Doctor Who... the BBC's idea of family viewing - Vivienne Pattison from Mediawatch UK, who always seems to get her name in the papers every time anybody complains about pretty much anything, is quoted as saying: 'I have to say the scene was slightly out of place in a children's programme. I thought it sailed pretty close to the wind.' Vivienne, love. A quick note for future reference: You do not speak for me, or anybody else I know. So kindly take your opinions and tell them to someone who's interested. Just so we're clear about this. A BBC spokesperson confirmed that forty three complaints had been received - out of an audience of just under seven million - but said: 'Millions of Doctor Who fans watched and enjoyed last Saturday's episode, including the lighthearted and humorous scene in which Amy kissed the Doctor.' Personally, I'd like to congratulate The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and all at Upper Boat. Well done guys. If the Daily Mail disapproves of you, you must be doing something right.

Derek Acorah has ruled out returning to the alleged paranormal documentary series Most Haunted, describing it as 'weak in content.' Plus, there's the fact that the executive producer of the show, Yvette Fielding, told Metro in 2006: 'Unbeknown to us, Ciaran O'Keeffe [the show's resident sceptic] had suspicions about Derek and decided to plant some information to see if it would be repeated. He left a piece of paper around with the name "Kreed Kafer" on it and said, within earshot of Derek, that he was a nasty South African jailor. When we started filming, Derek decided to get possessed by this fake person. The name is actually an anagram of "Derek Faker." We tell people everything is real, then it turns out he was a fake, so he had to go. I was more angry than anything. I was upset that someone we considered to be close could do that. And then we had the possessions but we were getting three every show and, in every one, Derek would have the same voice. He'd also attack the crew members when he was supposedly possessed so it could have got dangerous for us.' So, yeah, I'd've said a return is probably unlikely.

The man who attempted to blackmail David Letterman has been sentenced to six months in jail on the charge of grand larceny. Robert 'Joe' Halderman, formerly a producer at CBS, had demanded two million dollars not to reveal details of affairs that the chat show host had with members of his staff. Letterman subsequently confessed to the infidelities live on air in October. Halderman, who was a producer on 48 Hours Mystery, had discovered the information by reading the diary of his former girlfriend, Stephanie Birkitt a Letterman show staffer. As well as the six month sentence, the blackmailer received one thousand hours of community service. Letterman recently said in a TV interview that that case had badly shaken him, saying, 'You take a look at the explosion, and it knocks you down.'

Robert David Hall is to release his first solo CD. The actor, known for playing Doctor Al Robbins on CSI, is also a guitarist, singer and songwriter who names music as his first love. 'Music is part of my everyday life and was my first art form. I want to play, sing and write songs until I can't anymore,' the TV star said. He co-wrote nine of the twelve songs on the disc including the title cut, 'Things They Don't Teach You In School.'

Fearne Cotton has claimed that she ignores criticism of her work on Radio 1 and described TV critics as 'very negative people.' True. Though, by and large, only to those that really deserve it, sweetheart.

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