Saturday, May 29, 2010

Week Twenty Three: A Black & White World

Downing Street refused to allow a government minister to appear on Question Time unless Tony Blair's former policy adviser Alastair Campbell was removed from the panel, the BBC has claimed. The programme's editor said that the request to replace Campbell with a shadow minister was refused as 'a point of fundamental principle.' No 10 said it questioned Campbell's appearance instead of an opposition front bencher. No representatives from the coalition government appeared on the show but Tory backbencher John Redwood was on the panel. The other guests were former Lib Dem MP Susan Kramer and Piers Morgan and Max Hastings. Hang on, they complained about Alistair and not those two? Bloody hell, if I was Campbell, I'd sue. Introducing the programme, host David Dimbleby said he would have 'expected' to have had a government minister on the panel in the week that it unveiled its legislative agenda for the year ahead in the Queen's Speech. He explained that Downing Street had made it clear that a cabinet minister was 'available' to appear but only if Mr Campbell was replaced by a member of the shadow cabinet. He said it was 'up to us on Question Time to decide who should be on the programme not Downing Street.' Campbell said it was 'extraordinary' there was no member of the government on the show in the week of the Queen's Speech 'regardless of who else is on the panel.' And, so it begins ...

About twenty five thousand homes may watch the World Cup on black and white television sets, the TV Licensing authority has said. Some of the highest numbers of black and white licences are in London with - almost five thousand - and Birmingham - with twelve hundred. It is forty years since the 1970 Mexico World Cup became the first to be broadcast in colour. The numbers of black and white licences have been dwindling for decades. In 2009 the figure was twenty eight thousand, falling steadily from two hundred and twelve thousand in 2000. John Motson, the BBC's football commentator since the 1970s, said: 'Colour television had only been introduced two or three years before I joined, and many of the techniques that now entail merely the push of a button had not yet been developed. I still have memories of trying to pacify angry viewers in the 1970s who still watched black and white, and saying "for the benefit of those watching in black and white, Spurs are in the yellow shirts."' A TV Licensing spokesman said: 'Technology has come a long way since Geoff Hurst scored the winning goal in the 1966 World Cup, and people look set to view this year's World Cup in more ways than ever before. However, the law remains the same - you need a TV licence to watch or record programmes as they are being shown on TV.'

And, with that, let's have a look at the next batch of yer Top Telly Tips:

Friday 4 June
When Romeo Met Juliet - 9:00 BBC2 - has an intriguing premise. One city, eight weeks and two contrasting schools coming together to put on a professional production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In a unique experiment, each school is cast as one of the two feuding families: Romeo and his Montague clan come from a Coventry city centre comprehensive while Juliet and the Capulets are from a Catholic school in the city's northern suburbs. Trying to get the show on the road is artistic director of the National Youth Theatre, Paul Roseby.

Saturday 5 June
In Doctor Who - 6:40 BBC1 - The Doctor and Amy Pond meet Vincent van Gogh in an episode hopefully written by Blackadder's Richard Curtis and not Four Wedding & A Funeral's Richard Curtis. Because, there is a crucial difference.

After weeks of highs and lows, but mostly lows, Ant and Dec present the final of this year's Britain's Got Talent - 7:30 ITV. Ten acts have made it through the auditions and semi-finals to compete for the prize of one hundred thousand smackers and the chance to appear in this year's Royal Variety Performance. And then have their lives ruined by press intrusion and, two years later, be a washed-up has-been whom Simon Cowell is suddenly no longer taking phone calls from. Each act will perform one last routine for the judges, Cowell, oily twat Piers Morgan and Big Top's Amanda Holden before the public vote. Then comes the moment that everybody has been waiting for. The end.

Sunday 6 June
Graham Norton hosts the Philips BAFTA ceremony from the historic London Palladium in The British Academy Television Awards - 8:00 BBC1. The show kicks off with all the glamour from the red carpet, it says here, as the stars arrive for one of the most prestigious TV awards ceremonies of the year. In Britain. And, since it's only got the NTVA and the Soapies to beat, that's really not saying much. The action continues inside, as Graham Norton takes to the stage to introduce this star-studded event as the awards are handed out to their recipients.

We've also got Soccer Aid 2010 - 6:00 ITV. Or, a kick-about in the park as we used to call it. Dermot O'Leary introduces the 'star-studded charity match' between England and The Rest of the World live from Old Trafford. Playing in aid of UNICEF, two squads of celebrities and ex-footballing legends will battle it out for the prestigious Soccer Aid Trophy. Taking part this year include the likes of Robbie Williams, Gordon Ramsay (seen kicking Alan Shearer up a-height at last year's event to the right), Mike Myers, Zinedine Zidane and Paolo Maldini, while Dermot is joined in the studio by Orlando Bloom and Gary Barlow. I love the way they try to build this thing up as thought it's the World Cup final, or something. Just a word to the organisers, however - it's called football, lads, not socher - that's a type of Latin salsa music. Only numpties and Americans call it 'socher'.

Monday 7 June
Father & Son - 9:00 ITV - is a brand-new 'hard-hitting' drama showing over four nights this week. Former organised crime lynchpin Michael O'Connor (played by Dougray Scott) is trying to forge a new life for himself and his pregnant girlfriend in Ireland. Things get complicated when he is called back to his old stamping grounds in Manchester after his estranged teenage son Sean is accused of murder. Barrington, Michael's former partner-in-crime, offers to look after Sean in jail - for a price. Will Michael risk his new life in order to protect his son? Written by the late Emmy-winning writer Frank Deasy and also starring Sophie Okonedo, Stephen Rea and Ian Hart. Looks excellent.

In David Jason: The Show Must Go On! - 9:00 Five - Sir David (remember him, he used to be on telly a lot) helps an amateur dramatics group stage a performance in the West End in this 'heart-warming' documentary. That presumably means that it'll be either sentimental, trite and mawkish or, that it'll give the viewer painful indigestion. The aspiring actors from Ruislip in North London have just three weeks to rehearse and prepare a one-act comedy at the Playhouse Theatre. Will Sir David's sage advice and words of encouragement be enough to marshal a professional performance from the enthusiastic but untried Argosy Players?

Police Interceptors - 8:00 Five - is a new series of documentaries profiling the work of a high-speed police interception unit in Essex. Three police units unite in an effort to stop an out of control four-by-four as it careers dangerously through the streets of Basildon. The officers also have a mystery on their hands when they investigate what appears to be a phony ambulance. As in Edgar Lustgarten's Tales From Scotland Yard, 'the police are baffled.' And the ever-reliable Eurocopter is on the trail of a pair of delinquent teenage car thieves. As usual, it'll feature at least one copper who seems to think he's missed his natural vocation in life as a sharp-talking Bradley Walsh-style cheeky chappie wit. Leave it to the professionals, guys and stick to trying to find my video recorder that got burgled in 1993.

Tuesday 8 June
Inside Nature's Giants - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a science series which uncovers the anatomical secrets of some of the animal kingdom's most extraordinary species. In this particular episode, experts travel to South Africa to dissect the corpse of a great white shark, which weighs in at almost a tonne and is nearly fifteen feet long. Joy Reidenberg uncovers the shark's incredible array of senses, including the unique ability to detect the electro-magnetic field given off by other creatures. Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins explains how sharks' teeth and jaws evolved from their outer skin and gill arches. Of course, it's worth pointing out at this juncture that shark attacks on humans are, actually, very rare and that you're more likely to be killed sitting under a tree and being hit on the head by a falling coconut than you are of being eaten by a shark. As ever with fascinating facts of this kind, yer Keith Telly Topping learned that on Qi, dear blog reader.

There's a second series of Tribal Wives starting tonight at 9:00 on BBC2 . It's a show which very much divided opinion last year, being seen as heart-warming and interesting by some and culturally patronising and rather sad by others. I was in the latter category myself but I know a lot of people who really did like it - and, interestingly, the split seemed very much to be on gender lines. Anyway, six British women swap their everyday lives for life as tribal wives with some of the most remote communities on earth. Tonight, Charlie Brades from Hampshire goes to live with the Yoruk, a tribe of nomads who live in the mountains of southern Turkey. Living in a one-roomed tent with a Yoruk family of seven - including the father's two wives - proves quite a challenge for Charlie, but ultimately forces her to confront some home truths.

Volcanic Ash: The Ticking Timebomb - 8:00 Five - is a documentary exploring the likelihood and potential global effects of the eruption of Katla, a huge volcano lurking under the Icelandic ice. Katla is five times the size of its neighbour, Eyjafjallajokull, which recently caused so much travel disruption when it blew clouds of volcanic ash into the atmosphere. Historically, every time that Eyjafjallajokull has an eruption, it has been followed soon afterwards by a flare-up at Katla. If such an eruption were to happen now, it is predicted that European airspace could be closed down for as much as eighteen months. Well, plus side, at least that would sort out the BA strike once and for all.

As part of a series of programmes in the run up to the start of the World Cup BBC3 asks the question Who Is Nelson Mandela? at 9:00. Well, I think that yer Keith Telly Topping can field that one; he's the president of South Africa. The Specials did a song about him, you might remember it. 'Twenty one years in captivity, shoes too small for to fit his feet' and all that. It was pretty good. There you go, that's saved you all the trouble of watching the programme now. Anyway, in this the actress Lenora Crichlow - her off Being Human - sets off to discover the story of how Nelson Mandela brought peace to his country and what he means to people of South Africa today. She uncovers a more complex and fascinating picture of Mandela and his country than she ever imagined, discovering a vibrant Rainbow Nation but also learning more about the horrors of apartheid and the extent of poverty and violence which still exist beneath the surface. On her journey she unlocks the secrets of who Mandela really is and why his achievements are so special and so admired.

Wednesday 9 June
In Come Dine with Me: WAGS Special - 8:00 Channel 4 - the cookery-based reality show visits the glitzy world of the Wives-and-Girlfriends of some media darling footballers who could transform the English game if only they could get up off the treatment table for long enough to play a few games. Going for the charity prize are tonight are Chantelle Tagoe, Jude Cisse, Jessica Lawlor and Nicola T. None of whom I've ever heard of or know anything about so, frankly, the idea that this is some sort of celebrity special is a bit of a none-starter for me. The pre-publicity tell us that their homes feature one of the UK's largest private fish tanks, a gigantic games room and a jacuzzi. It's all right for some, isn't it? And, all because they've got a boyfriend who can - usually - kick a ball in a straight line. Mark Lawrenson must be turning in his grave. Oh, apparently he's not dead. he just sounds like it.

Florida: Paradise Lost - 8:00 ITV - is a documentary looking at the half-a-million British expats who are thought to be living in Florida. They go on holiday, fall in love with the climate and make it their home - but there is another side to the dream as, of course, there usually are with dreams. Florida may be a land of opportunity, but it is tough on economic failure - especially for those whose right to permanent residency is dependent upon continuing business success. The programme looks at some of those who are doing well and those who are campaigning to change the visa system so that they can stay in their homes.

Tonight also sees Big Brother: The Launch - 9:00 Channel 4 - as Davina McCall introduces this year's housemates direct from the Big Brother complex.

Thursday 10 June
On the eve of the World Cup, South Africa throws its biggest party ever to celebrate the greatest football show on earth and the whole shebang begins, tonight with World Cup Kick Off Concert - 9:30 BBC2. This historic concert, which we are promised will be 'the largest entertainment event ever seen on the African continent,' takes place before a capacity audience of thirty thousand punters at Soweto's Orlando Stadium. The line-up includes, according to the show's pre-publicity, 'major African artists' including Alicia Keys (born in that well-known part of Africa, New York), Angelique Kidjo, Amadou and Mariam, Black Eyed Peas (from Los Angeles which, I think, is a small town in Ghana), John Legend (from Springfield, Ohio ... which is in Mozambique, isn't it?), Shakira (see left, who's Colombian, which I always thought was in South America but, obviously I was wrong on that), The Soweto Gospel Choir, The Parlotones and Vusi Mahlasela. That's quite a line up of major African artists.

In EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - Denise's suspicions are aroused when she makes a startling discovery about Lucas, and she anxiously awaits his explanation. A scheming Ryan and Janine are up to their usual tricks, and Darren hopes to get closer to Jodie.

The latest of BBC3's drama pilots is Stanley Park - 9:00 BBC3. Set in a south London suburb, this is alleged to be a character-based ensemble drama with comedic overtones about a group of young friends enduring 'poignant, painful, hilarious and confusing emotional upheavals.' Sounds suitably This Life. All living on the same street, it's hard to really keep secrets, and it seems everyone has something they're hiding, or hiding from. In a time when the temptation to focus on the negatives of young people has never been greater, it shows the more sympathetic and comedic side of the suburban youth experience. Features a good cast, including Morwenna Banks, Nick Blood, Joe Cole and Holliday Grainger (see right).

And, so to this week's Top Telly News: Charles Dance has admitted that he didn't feel under much pressure while working on Going Postal. The two-part drama is an adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel but Dance told TV Choice that he wasn't worried about pleasing the author's fans. He explained: 'It's very nice for Terry Pratchett and for us that there are so many fans of the piece, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. I believe Jeremy Irons played [my character] Lord Vetinari before, so there's probably a whole legion of fans who mourn the fact that Jeremy isn't doing this one. I'm cheaper, probably.' Dance also revealed that he likes playing a variety of roles, adding: 'The more against type the better. We're all victims of what we look like - you are what you are seen to be.'

Arthur Darvill has admitted that he feels 'privileged' to have a role on Doctor Who. Darvill, who plays Amy's fiancé Rory Williams, explained that he is pleased with the storylines he has been given so far. Speaking to TV Choice, the actor added that he is happy his character has travelled in the TARDIS. 'I feel privileged every day,' he said. 'I think Steven Moffat has written such a brilliant storyline for Rory. I was really excited every time you opened the script, because you never know what's going to happen.' Darvill continued: 'I do think it works really well. It's so different to what's come before. I wish I could tell you what happens, but I really can't!' However, dear blog reader, if you tun in tonight at seven o'clock, you'll find out.

The executive producer of Veronica Mars has admitted that he does not expect a film version of the show to be made. Joel Silver explained to MTV News that there is simply not a big enough fanbase for a movie. Aye. That's always the problem with cancelled TV shows, there'll be a clamour from fans, and possibly, from the makers, for a movie to be made to continue the story but the first question to be asked is, always, who exactly is going to watch it apart from the TV audience. Which wasn't big enough to keep it running on TV in the first place. The flop of Joss Whedon's Serenity movie should have demonstrated that there's a huge risk involved in such spin-off projects. 'It's not me, there's just nobody that wants to make it happen,' Silver said. 'I'd love to see it happen. We talked to [creator] Rob Thomas about it and he had an idea of what to do.' He continued: 'It'd still be on the air if people want to see the movie or the show. It just didn't happen.' Silver also claimed that the movie was too difficult to pitch to executives at Warner Bros. 'We analysed all these areas about it,' he said. 'I talked to [the Warner Bros.] home video people about it, because a movie like that would be driven by home video. But the home video itself didn't do that well for Veronica Mars so [the department] didn't feel there was a need or an audience for a direct-to-video Veronica Mars, which could have driven a theatrical release.'

Kiefer Sutherland has admitted that he feels 'indebted' to 24. Sutherland described working on the show as 'the greatest education [I've] ever had as an actor,' according to the Press Association. 'I don't know why, but somewhere in the early 80s the adage of less was more really took hold with regard to actors and how they would map out their careers,' he explained. 'It took something like 24 to get me out of the mindset that less was more, and the reality of working fourteen hours a day, five days a week, ten months of the year for nine years straight - it gave me everything.' Sutherland also revealed that his role on the show gave him more confidence as an actor. 'It allowed me to break down a script in a way that I certainly wasn't capable of doing before,' he said. 'It allowed me to see pitfalls and traps that I could not identify as clearly as before and then, most importantly, it gave me a sense of confidence. I will be indebted to the experience that is 24 for the rest of my life.'

CNN has apologised after it broadcast the word 'nigga' during a news report. According to the Daily Mail, the news channel was running a story about a one hundred and three-year-old African-American lady who still drives. However, the network opted to use the Coolio rap 'Fantastic Voyage' to accompany the piece. The lyrics in the record include the words: 'Ain't no punk-ass niggas set tripping.' Which, you know, fair comment I suppose. The station's anchor, Kyra Phillips reportedly apologised for the use of the song around twenty minutes after it played - or, in other words, about five seconds after the first set of complaints arrived. She said: 'We aired some music just a few minutes ago, and obviously for those of you that heard it, it was the wrong music that aired. We apologise for that. It was a terrible mistake. And we're working very hard to make up for it.' Just be thankful some of the homies didn't come round yo turf and put a cap up yo ass, whitey. They take that sort of thing very seriously down in the 'hood. With their ho. Apparently.

Adrian Chiles has revealed that Des Lynam helped him make the decision to move from the BBC to ITV. Lynam, who also defected from the BBC to ITV, urged Chiles to make the move. According to the Sun, Chiles explained: 'Des said it as it was. I've spoken to him a lot over the last couple of months. He's been incredibly supportive over my new role.' Hang on, though, Des Lyman's move from the BBC to ITV was an unqualified disaster. The programme he was poached to front, The Premiership, was a ratings disatser and ended up getting shunted from a prime time to a late-evening slot. Thereafter, the best Des could manage was a stint on Countdown and then working for a broadcaster that ended up going bust. To use him as rationale for a job-switch is like using the Duchess of York as an example of how to be finanically secure. Chiles continued: 'It was a difficult situation at the BBC. One day we were in a restaurant and he said, "You've got to be brave and you've got to do this. But don't blame me if I'm sitting in this restaurant next year and you shuffled back past with four carrier bags and a long beard and it's all gone horribly wrong."' Blimey, that is telling it like it is. Is that what poor old Des is reduced to now? 'In the end I said, "I'm going," and he said, "I think you're doing the right thing." To me, that's as good as anything.' Chiles also revealed that Lynam had congratulated him on his coverage of the England and Mexico game earlier this week, adding: 'Now he's suggested that I've kind of got it right, then the pressure is kind of off.'

Poirot star David Suchet has claimed that it is 'a great shame' when actors are branded 'luvvies.' The sixty four-year-old luvvie, who has played Agatha Christie's fictional detective on screen since 1989, said that the term is only used in England and has damaged the country's acting industry. No it hasn't! By and large it's used with affection more than anything else - except when it's in connection to John Sessions, then it's a prejorative. Speaking to The Stage, Suchet remarked: 'The worst thing that ever happened to our profession - and it's only happened in England and it certainly wouldn't happen in America - is the word "luvvie," because it's a derogatory word to denote an actor and, as a result of it, the public generally has lost a great respect for the acting profession. The role of an actor in America, Eastern Europe and in Western Europe - everywhere apart from this country - is considered a very serious job and a very necessary function. Here we are just luvvies, which is a great shame.' Interestingly the first recorded use of the word 'luvvie', according to the Oxford English Dicitionary, was in a piece in the Grunaid Morning Star by dear old Stephen Fry. 'Acting in a proper grown-up play, being a lovie, doing the West End, "shouting in the evenings," as the late Patrick Troughton had it.'

Little Britain stars David Walliams and Matt Lucas are to write and appear in a new BBC1 comedy based in an airport. Filming on the six-part series, which will feature new characters played by the pair as well as a number of guest appearances, has yet to begin. BBC head of comedy Mark Freeland said the new show, provisionally titled Come Fly With Me, would mean 'boom time for dress, wig and make-up suppliers.' The programme is expected to be broadcast later this year. Jay Hunt, controller of BBC1, said: 'It's thrilling that Matt and David's next big show will be on BBC1. They are uniquely talented comic writers and performers and Come Fly With Me is a wonderfully exciting idea.'

Georgia Bradford has been crowned the winner of Junior MasterChef 2010. The precocious thirteen-year-old secured her trophy following a final task which saw the contestants preparing a three-course meal for judges John Torode and Nadia Sawalha. Georgia's winning dishes were tomato soup with a swirl of basil pesto and mushroom fried toast as a starter, a main course of fried sea bass with salsa verde and crispy potatoes, and a stack of scotch pancakes with blueberry compote and chantilly cream for dessert. Speaking of her victory, the schollgirl from Leigh-on-Sea said: 'It means everything. This is the best time I've ever had in my life and it's going to be ever - when I'm getting married I'm not going to be able to say "I do" without thinking about this!' Ah, bless. Praising the winner, Torode commented: 'Georgia is a culinary dynamo. She has a huge amount of energy and it shows in her food. From cannelloni to salmon in a bag, right through to a classic pear, almond and blackberry tart - the girl delivers food that tastes fantastic. Georgia is a real talent, truly gifted, and this journey has been amazing.'

Terry Pratchett has described Doctor Who as 'gripping.' The author previously stated that whilst he is a fan of the show he didn't consider it to be science fiction in the strictest sense of the term. Which, to be fair, is something which the majority of the show's fans would probably agree with - it's never been SF. Pratchett has now explained his criticisms of the series in an interview with Sky. 'I keep thinking I ought to dislike Doctor Who,' he said. 'Because it's made of "makeitupasyougoalongeum" and he has a screwdriver that can repair marriages and launch boats.' He continued: 'I think there was an episode where the TARDIS towed planet Earth. What I liked was the teacups were rattling. If the teacups are rattling, how high is the tsunami in the Pacific at this point?' However, Pratchett explained that he does enjoy watching the programme. 'It's hugely gripping entertainment,' he said. 'But it's totally pants science fiction. Because there really isn't any science.'

Ben Miles has claimed that the new BBC3 pilot Pulse 'defies genre.' The drama, written by Doctor Who's Paul Cornell, follows a young woman, played by Claire Foy, who returns to her medical training after her mother's death but starts to notice strange occurrences. 'There's the central story of the cover-up, and this pioneering cancer treatment, which is obviously very controversial,' Miles told TV Choice. 'But as to who knows about it, and what side of the fence people are on, that's kind of up for grabs, which I think is a great way to leave a pilot.' Miles added that he signed up for the show because he was impressed with the script. 'When I read it, I thought it defies genre,' he said. 'I didn't know how it would look or how it would turn out. Things are often more scary if they aren't in environments like spooky houses or foggy marshes and this is set in a place that everybody knows. We've all got an opinion about hospitals - some people can't go in them because they hate them, some people like them - it's a great setting. It makes it more horrific because it's in a familiar environment but unfamiliar things are happening.'

Former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, is, for the first time, to guest host Have I Got News For You for the last show in the current series, to be shown on the BBC on Thursday 3 June. He commented: 'After working with Brown and Blair for more than thirteen years, Hislop and Merton should be a doddle. I promise it will be a belter. And the show should be pretty good too.' A former seaman and union activist, John was Member of Parliament for Hull East from 1970 to 2010 and Labour's Deputy Leader from 1994 to 2007. The son of a railway signalman and Labour councillor and grandson of a miner, he left Wales at the age of four and was initially brought up in South Yorkshire. He became a steward and waiter and worked for Cunard. And, to be honest, he still works pretty hard now. What? What?

Ashley Cole has been left 'a broken man' after his wife Cheryl filed for divorce, press reports has been claimed. Oh dear. What a shame. Still ... the weather's quite nice this last week don't you think?

1 comment:

chas_m said...

I always enjoy reading your column, even for those shows I'm not able to (or interested enough to) watch, but your line about Richard Curtis may be the truest thing anyone has ever said *ever.*