Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Got Dem Old Rainbow Coalition Blues. And Yellows. And Reds. And Greens.

The BBC has apologised after Jeremy Paxman swore during a Newsnight election special apparently in frustration at the prospect of a hung parliament. At the end of the current affairs programme in the late afternoon of 8 May, the presenter uttered the word 'bollocks' whilst introducing the rock band The XX, who have been providing music for the BBC's election coverage. 'We play out with the band of the moment, whose music you may recognise from some of the BBC's election coverage, The XX' said Paxman. 'It's not just because we seem to have made such a bollocks of the simple act of putting an "X" on a piece of paper. Goodnight.' That's pretty funny, actually. What the hell is there to apologise for? The BBC yesterday declined to confirm the exact number of complaints received following Paxman's profanity, but a spokeswoman did apologise for the occurrence. 'We are sorry if anyone has been offended,' she told the Daily Telegraph. Oh, God - it's getting worse. Are we really so scared of offending anyone that crap like this warrants so much as a second of our time, let alone an actual apology? Do you know what this is, dear blog reader? It's utter bollocks. And this blogger does not apologise for his use of that word since he considers it perfectly accurate in this context. Earlier in the year, Paxman was also forced to apologise on-air during Newsnight for saying the word 'fucking' whilst quoting an extract from a book.

Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping has been stuck in his gaff since Friday morning, dear blog reader, just waiting from a phone call from either Gordo, or Davey, or Nick, to come down to London and form a government with them. Nothing. Not a sausage. Now, that's just mean. And, I was ready for government this time an'all...Anyway, seems I'm not alone in getting all uppity about politics and politicians. Cheryl Cole is, apparently, 'not speaking' to her X Factor co-star Simon Cowell after they allegedly had 'a heated discussion about politics,' a report has claimed. The pair, it is suggested, 'fell out' last week after Cowell publicly declared that Conservative Party leader David Cameron was the best man to run the country, according to the Sun. Cole has made no secret of the fact that she is not a fan of Cameron. In an interview last year, she suggested that the politician was 'slippery' and said that it would feel 'wrong' not to support the Labour Party due to her working class background. It is thought the talent show judges discussed their opposing views in a recent phone call, but that the debate turned nasty. A source close to Cheryl said: 'Their phone banter got heated and she isn't speaking to him until she calms down about it.' Cole and Cowell will have to work it out before next month when The X Factor's live audition rounds begin. Otherwise, heaven forbid, we might end up with the hung jury. And, that would never do.

Sky News political editor Adam Boulton and Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell clashed yesterday over the current stalemate in British politics. The two men exchanged angry words live on Sky News following Prime Minister Gordon Brown's announcement that he will resign his position after failing to lead the party to victory at the general election. In a six-minutes and twenty seconds sequence, Boulton angrily challenged Campbell as he discussed possible ways forward in the hung parliament. Following some testy exchanges, Campbell told Boulton that he is 'obviously upset that [Conservative leader] David Cameron didn't get in.' The interview's tone then started to deteriorate significantly as Boulton squared up to Campbell and said: 'I'm fed up with you telling me what I think.' 'I don't care what you are fed up with, you can think what you like,' Campbell replied curtly. Host Jeremy Thompson then told Campbell that he was being 'a bit provocative' and tried to calm the situation. However, the two men continued arguing as Thompson introduced a repeat of Mr Brown's resignation statement from earlier. Check it out here. It's effing hilarious. Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping was watching BBC News 24 for most of yesterday afternoon and was very impressed with their detailed and insightful coverage of unfolding events and their proper grasp of the historic nature of what was happening. But, for about ten minutes I had the misfortune to flip over to Sky News just to see how they were covering the drama. Now, I used to watch Sky News quite a bit a few years ago - in small bite-sized chunks - but, not so much recently. I genuinely hadn't realised just how much it's turned into clone of FOX News until this week. From the BBC's rather considered and well-balanced coverage to Sky's idea of covering the same malarkey which was, essentially, to round up every right-wing commentator they could lay their hands on (plus Diana Abbott) and give them time and space to be sarcastic and derisory about ... well... pretty much everything and everyone. God, it was thoroughly depressing.

Claire Sweeney has revealed that she is joining the GMTV team. The former 60 Minute Makeover host will start working on the morning programme in the summer, appearing as a roving reporter. Speaking to the People, Sweeney commented: 'I'm thrilled. I won't be on the sofa but I can't wait to hit the road.' Sweeney's appointment follows the recent news that Adrian Chiles is to become one of the breakfast show's main anchors later this year. The ex-Brookside actress added: 'I'm so glad Adrian is joining. He's like a young Eamonn Holmes. Viewers will love him.' If I was Chilesy, I'd be God damn insulted by such a description.

Mary Lynn Rajskub has signed up for a role in Royal Pains. Rajskub, who enjoys a widespread following from her role as twisty-faced-but-loveable Chloe on 24, confirmed on her Twitter page that she will be appearing in the medical drama. 'I'm filming a guest starring role on the show Royal Pains on USA [Network] starring Mark Feuerstein,' she wrote. 'I play a girl who does yoga on diet pills.' According to Entertainment Weekly, Rajskub's character is the stepdaughter of Newberg (Christine Ebersole). Her episode is expected to air in the US on 10 June.

Michael Weatherly has admitted that he would like to be involved in a musical episode of NCIS. The actor, who plays Tony DiNozzo in the show, explained that talks about a special edition have already taken place. According to Splash News, he said: 'If there's a crime show that can get away with it, we're it. We have talked about it, but there are certain people that think it would be a disaster and it's Fonzie jumping the shark tank.' Weatherly, who explained that he would like to cover Tom Jones' 'What's New Pussycat', added that his co-star Mark Harmon has done some 'cowboy singing' in the past. He continued: 'If it's a NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles episode, because of LL Cool J it'd be a two-hour musical extravaganza.' Fringe recently aired a musical episode, Buffy famously did an award-winning one - Once More, With Feeling - and the creator of Psych has also admitted that he is considering the possibility.

Andrew Castle has become the latest presenter to be linked in the media to The ONE Show. The vacancy arose when Adrian Chiles decided to leave the BBC to become the main anchor on GMTV. Previous reports have suggested that Castle's future on the morning show is in doubt and the Daily Mail claims that he is now planning a move to the BBC. 'Andrew's always enjoyed working for the BBC during Wimbledon and they know him very well from it,' a source explained. The insider added that ITV have offered to keep Castle as a 'B-role,' meaning that he would provide cover for Chiles, but continued: 'Andrew is not sure that would be the right move for him. He might think it's time to make a change rather than being, in effect, a stand-in. The ONE Show have made enquiries, and Andrew is interested. After all, it is a hugely successful programme and it would be a new challenge for him. It would also be one in the eye for GMTV.' However, Castle's spokesperson said: 'Andrew is currently under contract with GMTV. I can neither confirm nor deny that we have had approaches from anyone else.'

John Hurt has been nominated for a TV BAFTA for reprising the flamboyant role of Quentin Crisp, which won him his first BAFTA thirty four years ago. Hurt is up for best actor for his role as Crisp in An Englishman in New York - he previously won the award playing Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant in 1976. ITV's Britain's Got Talent has received a nomination for best entertainment programme. But The X Factor misses out, having won the same category last year. Britain's Got Talent is up against Charlie Brooker's Newswipe, The Graham Norton Show and Harry Hill's TV Burp. Hurt will take on Kenneth Branagh for his role as TV detective Wallander, Brendon Gleeson for Into The Storm and David Oyelowo for Small Island. Julie Walters, David Mitchell, Harry Hill, Sophie Okonedo and Miranda Hart have two nominations each. Hill has also been nominated for entertainment performance for TV Burp for the third year running - he has won the BAFTA the previous two years. This year, he faces first-time nominee Michael McIntyre for Comedy Roadshow, Stephen Fry for Qi and Ant and Dec for I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! Joanna Scanlan and Jo Brand are up for best female comedy performance for Getting On, alongside Miranda Hart for Miranda and Rebecca Front for her role as Nicola Murray in The Thick Of It. Front's co-star Peter Capaldi has been nominated for best male comedy performance for his role as the venomous spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, alongside Simon Bird for The Inbetweeners, Hugh Dennis for Outnumbered and last year's winner Peep Show's David Mitchell. In his second nomination, Mitchell's That Mitchell and Webb Look will compete with The Armstrong and Miller Show, The Kevin Bishop Show and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle for best comedy programme. Coronation Street returns following a two-year absence in the continuing drama category, alongside The Bill, now in its final series, Casualty and EastEnders. Mo, A Short Stay in Switzerland, The Unloved and Five Minutes in Heaven will battle it out for best single drama. The nominees for best drama series are Being Human, Misfits, The Street and [Spooks]. Small Island, Red Riding, Unforgiven and Occupation will compete for best drama serial.

Taylor Momsen has caused controversy by swearing live on This Morning. The Gossip Girl actress was talking to hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby about fame when she said something well-naughty according to WENN. Asked if she felt pressure from online critics, she said: 'There is if you care, but if you do what I do, you just don't give a shit. Can I not say that?' Schofield replied: 'Not really, but we will apologise,' which caused Momsen to say, hurriedly, 'Sorry.' 3am reports that Schofield later claimed Momsen had been ill, writing on his Twitter page: 'Taylor has just left the studio and thrown up cos of food poisening [sic]!' However, he has since deleted the message.

Sky has begun a trial from yesterday which sees some of Sky1's most popular shows - including 24, House and Lost - time-shifted by one hour to sister channel Sky2. The broadcaster is keen to see how the performance of its channels are affected by the changes, which sees large parts of its schedule repeated on Sky2 one hour after their original transmission on Sky1. Sky is not understood to be preparing to rebrand Sky2 as a fully fledged +1 service, as launched by rivals including ITV, Channel 4 and Virgin Media TV. At least, not for the moment. Sky confirmed a trial was underway and said it was closely monitoring the channels following the changes. 'We are experimenting with different channel schedules to bring maximum value to our customers,' said a Sky spokesman.

Syfy has bought the rights to Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased). The ITV series, in which the ghost of prviate detective Marty Hopkirk helps his partner Jeff Randall to solve crimes, featured the great Kenneth Cope and Mike Pratt and was originally broadcast in 1969 to 1970. A remake - starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer - was made by the BBC and ran for two series in 2000 and 2001. Syfy has now signed a deal to develop a pilot for a one-hour scripted series based on the concept. Scrubs executive producer Josh Bycel and Jonathan Fener, who has previously worked on American Dad, will write and executive produce the project, which will be made by ITV Studios. The executive vice-president of original programming for Syfy Mark Stern said: 'Josh and Jonathan have found a great way to update the buddy cop formula with a supernatural twist. We look forward to working with them, [the other executive producer] Howard [Braunstein] and ITV to bring new life to this British classic.'

Brooke Vincent and Jennifer Metcalfe are involved in 'a real-life love triangle,' a report claims. According to Now, Coronation Street's Vincent and Hollyoaks actress Metcalfe - who play Sophie Webster and Mercedes Fisher respectively - are fighting for the affections of one Lincoln Warmington. 'He's quite a naughty lad and he's been playing them both off each other,' a source claimed. 'Jen's been saying he's her boyfriend and she took him to the launch of her clothing firm The Closet a few weeks ago,' the source added. 'But he was with Brooke on Valentine's Day and he's keen on her as well.' Responding to the speculation, a Coronation Street spokesperson said of the matter: 'Brooke does know Lincoln, but has never dated him and doesn't think of him in that way.' Which begs the question what 'way' does she think of him, then? Come on, the public needs to know.

Christopher Eccleston has admitted that John Lennon was never his hero. However, Eccleston, who will play the self-confessed alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie in an upcoming BBC4 drama, explained that he was 'drawn' to the musician. 'He's not been a hero of mine,' Eccleston told the Liverpool Echo. 'But I love him because he is so deeply flawed as a human being and he left so much for us.' The actor also admitted that he was anxious about stripping off to recreate the Two Virgins naked photo session Lennon had with Yoko Ono, played in the show by Naoko Mori. 'When you're going to shoot that scene you think, "Well, he did it,"' he explained. 'So you do it. And then you all have to look at it. I just held my stomach in.'

And, on a related theme, The Beatles are to be portrayed as zombies in new horror movie Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion, according to Deadline. Doubles Features producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher have snapped up the screen rights to Alan Goldsher's acclaimed illustrated novel, which tells the history of The Fab Four as if they were zombies. The book finds an undead Paul McCartney killing and then re-animating John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The group then travel the world performing and face off against zombie hunter Mick Jagger and a ninja Yoko Ono. 'I am a huge Beatles fan like the rest of the world and Alan's mash-up, which really showcases his love of music history and his appreciation of the zombie world, is a fun, funny read,' said Sher. 'The illustrations are fantastic, and how can you not love a book where Jesus agrees with Zombie John Lennon, that The Beatles are in fact bigger than him?'

And, we return to politics. There's currently a fierce argument raging on the BBC's potential future role in the event of a Tory government - even a minority one that's tempered by some form of Liberal alliance (rainbow shaded or otherwise). You might have noticed. Something that you'll often hear from the right of the political spectrum - both inside and, especially out of, parliament - is the notion that the BBC is 'not supposed to chase ratings.' They have a public service mandate, this idea suggests, and therefore they should be producing drama, documentaries and educational-type programmes which would not be produced by the market if the BBC was not there. So, if it's going to make populist TV - Strictly, Over The Rainbow and so on - then it needs to have the licence fee taken away from it. Of course, sadly for those making this argument this only describes a part of the BBC's mandate; the full mandate (created, ironically, under a previous Tory government - something which David Cameron said last week the party should be very proud of) is summed up in this concise mission statement: 'To enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.' People critical of the BBC - yes, you Rupert Murdoch, yes you Daily Scum Mail - often focus on the first two and completely ignore the third. The BBC's Royal Charter actually breaks down the delivery of the mission statement into six 'Public Purposes'. These are:-
- Sustaining citizenship and civil society.
- Promoting education and learning.
- Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence.
- Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities.
- Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK.
- Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services.

The third aspect - 'Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence' - breaks down further into a number of sub-categories: -
- Establish a leading reputation for creative and innovative programming.
- Ensuring enrichment for all audiences by covering a wide range of cultural activities.
- Encouraging active participation in cultural activities.
- Provide a wide range of enjoyable and entertaining content.
- Foster creativity and nurture and support UK talent across a wide range of genres.

There's absolutely nothing in the BBC's remit anywhere that says the BBC exists only to 'fill the gaps' or 'produce what wouldn't be there without the market providing.' There's also nothing which suggests that 'public service broadcasting' equates to 'stuff I want to see,' despite just about everybody who ever uses the phrase using it in exactly that context. Indeed, the BBC could easily justify making a Britain's Got Talent or an X Factor, say, though probably not at the expense of something like the Andrew Lloyd Webber shows - which arguably meet a greater range of targets than the Cowell formats do. The idea that the BBC should leave populist shows to ITV in nonsensical. The BBC, after all, invented TV light entertainment in the first place - a decade of more before ITV even existed. It's the network which created The Billy Cotton Band Show, The Black & White Minstrals (for which we must try to forgive it), The Morecambe & Wise Show, The Generation Game, et cetera. Et cetera. Just something to bear in mind the next time you hear some witless old Nazi droning on about what the BBC should, or should not, be forced to make.

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