Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In This Case, The 'N Word' Being Nincompoop?

Unlike what Morrissey once said, we don't really hate it when our friends become successful. In actual fact, most of us think it's pretty cool: Pulse, a pilot for a potential TV series written by yer Keith Telly Topping's old and talented mucker Paul Cornell, will be broadcast on Thursday 3 June on BBC3 at 9pm. The press release tells us that St Timothy's is one of the UK's top teaching hospitals, home to some of the country's most promising trainee doctors. But beneath its veneer of medical normality lies a secret network of dangerous experiments pushing back the boundaries of science with potentially horrifying consequences in this one-off sixty-minute medical-horror-drama-comedy gestalt. Hannah Carter's mother was a consultant at the hospital, but died suddenly a year ago. Grief left Hannah (played by Claire Foy) teetering on the edge, but following a year off, she's now back to resume and her training. But Hannah remains fragile, so when she starts glimpsing peculiar events in the hospital and unsettling behaviour from her ex-boyfriend and star surgeon Nick (Stephen Campbell Moore), she's unsure what to believe. Ignoring the pleas of those around her, Hannah puts her sanity on the line to uncover the truth about the hospital. Sounds like one of Paul's, that - suitably darkly comedic and it has, apparently, been creating quite a bit of a buzz among those who've seen a preview tape of it. Paul, of course, in addition to having the beginning of his career dreadfully hindered by co-authoring several factual books with this blogger and Martin Day(!) has previously written for Doctor Who and Coronation Street and is a novelist and comics author of considerable regard. There's an official fan page on Facebook for Pulse with lots of cast photos and the like, here. So, watch this one when it's on or yer Keith Telly Topping will be forced to come round your house and smash up your toys. That is all.

The popular satirical panel show Mock the Week is to return for a new series next month. The ninth series of the show, which has regularly returned viewing figures of three million, will be back in its 9pm BBC2 slot on 17 June and will run until the middle of October, with a break in mid-August. Dara O'Briain will once again host the series with Hugh Dennis, Russell Howard and Andy Parsons all to make regular appearances as panel members. Rising stand-up comedians will feature in the guest panel spots, with the excellent John Bishop, Kevin Bridges, Andi Osho and the terminally unfunny Jack Whitehall all expected to feature during the series. Mock the Week was created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, who were also behind hit improvisational comedy Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The executive producers of Lost have ruled out making a movie version of the series. Speaking to E! Online, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse explained that they want the show to stand on its own. 'The chances [of a movie] are very little,' Cuse said. 'We don't have any intentions of doing that. This is the story we wanted to tell, and it ends next Sunday night, and we were incredibly grateful that we got a chance to do it.' Lindelof added that the pair have no plans to create another television series similar to Lost. 'The thing that made Lost Lost was the idea of doing something different and unique and the idea was special and unexpected,' he said. 'We could never even try to replicate this thing. We would both die happy if Lost is the greatest television achievement of either of our careers. I hope we work together again, but who knows what it'll be.'

Jonathan Rhys Meyers reportedly used a racial slur during a drunken altercation with staff of United Airlines at New York's JFK airport yesterday. According to Radar Online, the Tudors actor - he's Henery The Eight he is, he is - who was recently banned from flying with the airline, was stopped by employees from boarding a flight to Los Angeles after they noticed that he had been drinking. The actor then became 'furious' and, according to the report, 'flung the N-word around,' though it is unclear whether it was specifically directed at anyone in particular. Rhys Meyers was previously arrested at Dublin airport for alleged drunk and disorderly conduct in 2007.

CBS has reportedly picked up four new series for the forthcoming 2010-11 season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network has ordered Hawaii Five-O, a remake of the crime drama starring Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett. The show, as previously reported, also features Lost's Daniel Dae Kim and Scott Caan. Elsewhere, CBS picked up legal drama Defenders, which stars Jim Belushi, and Tom Selleck's family police show Blue Bloods, which was previously called Reagan's Law. The network has also ordered Mike & Molly, a comedy from Two And A Half Men producer Chuck Lorre.

Meera Syal has admitted that she was 'thrilled' to land a role in Doctor Who. The comedian, actor and writer, who will appear in Saturday's episode as geologist Nasreen Choudhry, confessed that she was desperate to appear on the show. Speaking to What's On TV, she explained: 'I told my agent I'd do anything to be in it. It's one of the things I had to do.' She added: 'I was chuffed I got to go in the TARDIS. Not everyone does.' The actress also revealed that The Silurians, who reappear in this week's episode for the first time since 1984, look 'amazing. They're creepy but they're not totally evil,' she continued. 'They have wisdom and knowledge. They're not enemies like the Daleks or Cybermen, but I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of them!'

Matthew Graham has revealed that Gene Hunt and Alex Drake will kiss in this week's Ashes To Ashes finale. According to the show's co-creator, the two characters - portrayed by Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes - are to finally share the truth of Sam Tyler's (John Simm) death. Graham told Metro: 'The last ever episode of Ashes To Ashes was never going to be about blags and villains, it was always going to be about Gene Hunt. Who is he? What is the meaning behind this world that he so likes to stride through the middle? Can he help get Alex home? Does he want to? What did he do to Sam three years ago?'

And now - drum roll - Top 20 programmes, 3 May 2010 - 9 May 2010
1. Britain's Got Talent - 12.17 million*
2. Coronation Street - 10.28 million (9.32 average)
3. EastEnders - 10.08 million (9.37 average)
4. Lewis - 8.23 million*
5. Doctor Who - 7.68 million*
6. Emmerdale - 7.47 million (7.07 average)
7. Luther - 6.54 million*
8. Casualty - 6.31m
9. Holby City - 6.21m
10. Ashes To Ashes - 6.09 million*
11. Over The Rainbow - 5.94 million (5.90 average)*
12. Outnumbered - 5.90 million
13. Midsomer Murders - 5.88 million
14. Waterloo Road - 5.43 million*
15. Countryfile - 5.33 million (5.31 average)
16. BBC News - 5.33 million (5.25 average)
17. Have I Got Election News For You - 5.28 million
18. Ten O'Clock News - 5.17 million (4.81 average)
19. DIY SOS - 5.06 million
20. Antiques Roadshow - 5.00 million*
[Programmes marked '*' also include BBC and/or ITV HD viewers.]

Simon Cowell is reportedly worried about UK talent 'drying out' with the increasing number of talent shows. And, whose fault is that, exactly, mate? According to the Mirror, Cowell has told friends that he is concerned 'the pond has been fished dry.' So You Think You Can Dance, Got To Dance, Over The Rainbow, upcoming Five series Don't Stop Believing and Sky1's Must Be The Music have increased the competition for reality talent contests considerably in 2010. Britain's Got Talent's overnight viewing figures dropped below ten million on Saturday for the first time this year. Last year's series peaked at 19.2 million for the final. An ITV representative commented: 'With well over ten million people watching every episode this year, Britain's Got Talent is by far the most popular programme on a Saturday night.'

Mastermind producer Jon Kelly has denied claims - from unspecified individuals - that the show has been 'dumbed down.' The quiz series, hosted by John Humphrys, sees contestants answer questions on general knowledge and a specialist subject. However, Kelly dismissed rumours - again, the source of which is not specified - that the contestants' areas of expertise are becoming too focused on popular culture. 'We've had this accusation before,' he told the Radio Times. 'The show reflects the interests of modern Britain and they can be popular culture subjects. I think there's a common misconception that the previous Mastermind didn't have any popular subjects, but it did. Punk rock was once a subject, as was Doctor Who.' And, indeed, the chap who had Doctor Who as his specialist subject - Gavin Fuller - was the overall Mastermind champion in 1993. Kelly added: 'People like to think that the olden days were better. We are making a Champion of Champions series, which will pit older winners against more recent winners. The proof of the pudding will be seen when that's played out.' Kelly also revealed that the show's producers sometimes reject contestants' choices of specialist subjects. 'They have to be subjects that we can set questions on that are interesting and engaging to the viewers,' he said. 'We rule out things that we have done too recently and the subject has to be sufficiently dense that we can write enough questions. One man wanted to do The History of the World Since Jesus Christ. We told him he'd better narrow it down. He came back with The History of Europe Since Jesus Christ. We realised then that he wasn't for us.'

Sir David Jason is to go back to his cockney roots in a new drama for ITV. The drama, Come Rain Come Shine, will see Jason reprise his Only Fools and Horses accent as working class Londoner, Don. It is his first role since A Touch of Frost ended earlier this year. The story, written by Jeff Pope, is a commentary on the bad debt that contributed to the economic crisis in 2008. It focuses on Don's determination to keep his family afloat emotionally and financially, while his high-flying son David enjoys the finer side of life. What Don doesn't realise is that his son is on the verge of financial meltdown as a result of excessive borrowing. Don is initially blissfully ignorant of David's problems, but his wife Dora – played by Alison Steadman – is more sceptical of her son's wealth. The two hour drama was commissioned by ITV's director of drama commissioning, Laura Mackie and will be executive produced by Jason, Pope and David Reynolds, who was responsible for producing A Touch of Frost.

The latest projects from Armando Iannucci, Stephen Fry and screenwriters Peter Morgan and Abi Morgan have been revealed in Cannes, where it has also been announced that Dustin Hoffman will make his directorial debut for the BBC. Hoffman is to helm a 'life-affirming' comedy involving BBC Films, starring Dame Maggie Smith, Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. Quartet will follow events that culminate in the one-off reunion concert of a once world-famous foursome of opera singers. Speaking in Cannes, the film's producer, Stewart Mackinnnon, said: 'It's a story about people, as he (Hoffman) puts it, in their third act. Although their faculties may be diminishing, their foibles, their flaws, passions for life are in no way reduced, so in that sense it’s a positive, life-affirming film.' Fresh from his Oscar-nominated success for In The Loop, Iannucci is teaming up with writers Will Smith and Roger Drew for his latest film comedy, Out The Window. The projects are being promoted at the Cannes Film Festival. The 'little-known' story of author Charles Dickens' long relationship with a young actress named Nelly Ternan will be brought to life by screenwriter Abi Morgan, whose Royal Wedding drama aired on BBC2 on Monday. Morgan, who also wrote Sex Traffic and White Girl, is adapting Claire Tomalin's award-winning biography The Invisible Woman, an account of 'hidden life' in Victorian England. Also in development is Hallelujah!, co-written and directed by Stephen Fry. The film is described as a 'thrilling' recreation of the build-up to the first performance of Handel’s Messiah. Screenwriter Peter Morgan, who recently worked on The Damned United, the biopic of Brian Clough, is returning with a new project, Three Sixty, described as a 'multi-stranded tale of love and sexual obsession.' My Week With Marilyn, starring Hollywood actress Michelle Williams, is in the pre-production stages. The comedy centres around writer and producer Colin Clark's 'secret week' with Marilyn Monroe, while she was in London in 1956 being directed by Laurence Olivier in The Prince And The Showgirl. Clark, the son of Lord Kenneth Clark, producer and presenter of the ground-breaking BBC documentary series Civilisation (1969) and the brother politician, diarist and historian Alan Clark, is also working on the film. BBC Films is in negotiations with the Weinstein Company to finance the film. Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West will star in ghost story The Awakening, while Ewan McGregor will be among the stars of romantic comedy Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, based on the best-selling novel by Paul Torday.

Kiefer Sutherland has revealed that he was a big fan of Coronation Street as a youngster. The 24 actor first started watching the when he was growing up in London, and he continued to follow the serial after moving to Canada in the seventies. Speaking to Radio Times about his favourite British TV shows, Sutherland - seen right proving he can count up to four - confirmed: 'When I was a kid there was always Coronation Street.' More recently, the forty three-year-old has enjoyed Ricky Gervais' hit BBC sitcom The Office. He said: 'I love it, but find it very difficult to watch - especially when I see myself in David Brent and think, "I've done that." I also watch BBC News because the American news is so shit.' Sutherland also said that he 'definitely' has the British 'stiff upper lip' thanks to being born in the UK.

The BBC has apologised 'unreservedly' after one of its regional DJs joked on air that The Queen had died. In his weekday afternoon show yesterday on BBC WM, Danny Kelly - not the famous one who used to work with Danny Baker, but another Danny Kelly - told listeners that he had an important announcement, before saying: 'Queen Elizabeth II has now died.' The programme's producer immediately interrupted to warn Kelly 'you can't say that,' before the thirty nine-year-old played the national anthem to listeners in the West Midlands and South Staffordshire. Kelly claimed later that the joke was made in reference to a listener's Facebook page, which bears the same name as The Queen. However, a BBC spokesman said that the comment was 'entirely inappropriate' for broadcast on the airwaves. 'We can confirm that Danny Kelly made an inappropriate remark about The Queen during his radio show on BBC WM,' he said. 'Although made as part of a light-hearted piece about social media friends, and corrected on-air immediately after it was made, the comment was entirely inappropriate and the BBC apologises unreservedly for it. There was no intention to offend. BBC WM takes this comment very seriously. Action is being taken.' The spokesman did not confirm what punishment, if any, had been imposed on Kelly. Although staff at the Daily Mail are said to be keen on a public flogging. Or, is that just a dodgy Internet rumour? Anyway, from The North can confirm that the Queen most definitely isn't dead. Allegations that Her Majesty's response to all this trivial nonsense was to note 'that Smiths song was funnier' cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Which is probably just as well, really.

John Hannah has laughed off the controversy surrounding his show Spartacus: Blood And Sand. The comically blood-splattered gore-fest and expletive-ridden US cable series, in which he plays Batiatus, has been criticised for its explicit scenes of sex, nudity and extreme violence. What it should be criticised for is being mind-numbingly crap and entirely designed for the purpose of giving thirteen year old boys A Towering Horn, but we'll leave that to one side for the moment. However, Hannah told the Sun: 'For all the hypocrisy, and all the people saying, "Oh, it's very violent" or, "Oh, it's very sexy," they're all sitting glued to it, aren't they?' The actor joked that he 'censored' the show at times, saying: 'I mean, you can kill and decapitate as many people as you like, and kebab as many slaves as you like, but language is a bit of a risk.' Hannah, who described his character as a 'devious, lying, cheating, ambitious motherfucker,' also claimed that he wasn't nervous about filming so many sex scenes. 'There's only so long you can stare at breasts - in my case eighty years,' he joked. 'There's nudity and sex, because it deals in a fully grown-up way with that debauched and immoral world. The funny thing is, you've got your choreography, because that's all it is - a dance. A bit of titillation. A wee bit of boob, a wee bit of bum.' He added: 'But I was the oldest guy there. I was the fattest, oldest, grumpiest, most grizzled, lined, miserable, with bad teeth because I'm Scottish. I'm in there with all these people who are babes - fit and gorgeous - and that's just the guys.'

Jimi Hendrix's central London home is to open up to the public to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of his death. Handwritten lyrics, clothing and other memorabilia will go on display for the Hendrix in Britain exhibition. It will be hosted by the Handel House Museum at 25 Brook Street, in Mayfair, in September. Hendrix lived at 23 Brook Street in 1968, now one property with number 25, where the composer George Handel lived for thirty six years until he died in 1759. Hendrix moved into a top floor flat with his English girlfriend Kathy Etchingham in 1968. The rock star, who died on 18 September 1970 at the age of twenty seven, rented the property for thirty pounds a week. Which was a hell of a lot of bread in those days. Handel House Museum staff now use the flat as administrative offices and it has previously been open only for guided tours on one-off occasions. But to mark the anniversary, the museum said staff would move out temporarily - taking office furniture with them - to allow visitors to tour the flat for twelve days during the exhibition. Sarah Bardwell, director of Handel House Museum, said: 'We are excited to be celebrating the life of Jimi Hendrix. After moving to Brook Street in 1968, Hendrix learned of the Handel connection with the building and headed to One Stop Records in South Molton Street and HMV in Oxford Street to pick up whichever records of Handel music he could find. Clearly he was intrigued by the connection and we're pleased to be celebrating his own legacy today.' Hendrix in Britain will run at Handel House Museum from 25 August to 7 November.

Kate Garraway has insisted that she will not mind working with ex-husband Ian Rumsey on GMTV. Earlier this month, it was announced that Rumsey is to become the breakfast show's new editor in June, taking over from predecessor Martin Frizell. Writing in her New magazine column, Garraway commented: 'A lot has been made of the fact that my ex-husband Ian Rumsey is the new editor of GMTV, but I can assure you, it won't be as awkward as it sounds. Ian and I split up eight years ago after three years of marriage, and while we've obviously had some differences in our personal life, I've always had total respect for him professionally.'

It suddenly occurred to me last night after posting yesterday's Keith Telly Topping's World Cup Trivia segment that the term 'Colemanballs' may require a note of explanation for non-British readers. It goes like this. David Coleman was a sports commentator (football and athletics, specifically) for the BBC for over forty years who was famed for his minimalist style ('One-nil!') and occasional, amusing, verbal slips. As a presenter and commentator on Grandstand, Match of the Day, Sportsnight With Coleman, A Question Of Sport and various other live sports events, David could usually be relied upon to, at some point, say something quite remarkably stupid to entertain the viewers. For instance, he once memorably noted after a World Cup game, 'Don't tell those coming in the result of that fantastic match. Now, let's have another look at Italy's winning goal...' Perhaps his finest moment occurred during the 1974 World Cup when Scotland were playing Zaire. As the two teams lined-up, one a bunch of extremely famous and familiar white men like Billy Bremner, Dennis Law and Joe Jordan in dark blue shirts and the other, a team of unknown Africans playing in yellow, Coleman helpfully told the viewing public '... and, for those of you watching in black and white, Zaire are in the light shirts!' He was also the subject of the song 'Quite Remarkable' by I, Ludicrous which included the memroable couplet 'There's too many songs about sport these days, let's get back to more familiar ways/Let's have more songs about politics and sex but, first of all, Emlyn, What Happened Next?' The satirical magazine Private Eye started a 'Colemanballs' section in the early 1970s, to highlight some of David's more ludicrous moments. This has since extended to cover the gaffs of other commentators and indeed people in other walks of life such as politics saying indescribably stupid things. It has also spawned a series of – very funny – books (twelve at the last count).
Classic – original - Colemanballs include the following:
- 'If the ball had crossed the line, there, it would definitely have been a goal...'
- 'He is even smaller in real life than he is on the track.'
- 'He just can't seem to believe what's not happening to him.'
- 'And, with an alphabetical irony, Nigeria followed New Zealand.'
- 'The line-up for the final of the Womens' four hundred metres hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman.'
- 'Nottingham Forset are having a really bad run. They’ve lost six matches now without winning.'
- 'In fact, that's Swindon's first win of any kind in nine matches.'
- 'He's one of the great unknown champions because very little is known about him.'
And of course, the immortal
- 'She's not Ben Johnson. But then, who is?'
Tragically, David retired from commentating in 2000. But, in his day he was, as they say, err ... quite remarkable. Back to the studio.

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