Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fables Of The Reconstruction

It's been fifty years this week, dear blog reader, since the BBC's Television Centre first opened for business. The studio and office complex in West London has played host to some of the most famous moments in broadcasting history in the five decades since, although its future is now said to be in doubt as the BBC look to save costs and decentralise away from London. The BBC's Media Correspondent Nick Higham takes a look around the Centre with former staff members in this entertaining video clip.

ITV had its lowest ever all-day audience share on Sunday. The full figures were: BBC1 - 32.6 per cent. BBC2 - 11.5 per cent. ITV - 8.8 per cent. C4 - 5.4 per cent. Five - 3.5 per cent. Multichannels - 38.2 per cent. An ITV 'insider' allegedly told the Sun that Sunday was a'"disaster waiting to happen.' They claim he or she added: 'No one was expecting us to do particularly well on Sunday and when the mercury started rising earlier in the week, we expected the worst. You could say it was the perfect storm - great weather and great football on the BBC. People were faced with two choices - stay in and watch the Beeb or go out and get a tan.' ITV's previous worst ever ratings were on 9 July 2006, the day of the last World Cup final. The newspaper described the day as 'ITV's darkest for fifty five years.'

Actress Jessie Wallace, who played Kat Moon in EastEnders, is to star in a drama about the birth of Coronation Street, the BBC has announced. Wallace will play Pat Phoenix, who starred as feisty Elsie Tanner from the early days of the soap, which marks its fiftieth anniversary this year. Lynda Baron will portray Violet Carson (Ena Sharples) and Celia Imrie is Doris Speed, who played Annie Walker.
The drama, being filmed in Manchester, will air on BBC4 later this year. It will tell the story of how Coronation Street creator Tony Warren (played by David Dawson) brought his characters to the small screen in 1960. Warren has acted as a consultant on the drama, which is written by Daran Little, a writer on the ITV soap opera for the past twenty years. Jane Horrocks will play Granada's casting director at the time, Margaret Morris, while former Cold Feet star John Thomson - who recently appeared in Coronation Street - is also among the cast. The Street's longest-serving cast member, William Roache, will be played by his son James Roache. Roache began his portrayal of Ken Barlow as a student, and fifty years later is a retired grandfather in the soap. The drama, which is being made by ITV studios, will form one strand of the Great Northern season on BBC4 this autumn. Christian McKay will play Tony Warren's Canadian boss, Harry Elton. Other cast members include Steven Berkoff, Sophia Di Martino, Shaun Dooley, Henry Goodman, Michelle Holmes, Phoebe Nicholls and Tara Moran.

Doctor Who actor Matt Smith will do battle with his show's spin-off Torchwood and its star, John Barrowman, in the best actor category at this year's TV Choice awards. Smith's assistant, Karen Gillan, has also received a best actress nomination, while the show itself has been shortlisted for best family drama. EastEnders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street are up for best soap. Alexander Armstrong will host the ceremony on 6 September. Smith and Barrowman share their nominations with last year's winner Phillip Glenister, who played Ashes to Ashes' Gene Hunt, and Jack O'Connell from teen drama Skins. The E4 series drama also picks up nods for Kaya Scodelario in the best actress category and best drama series, where it's up against Ashes To Ashes, Torchwood and Shameless. Glee follows its BAFTA nomination earlier this year with a nod in the the best new drama category. The US musical comedy is in competition with Married Single Other, The Vampire Diaries and superhero show Misfits for the prize. Harry Hill's TV Burp and Alan Carr: Chatty Man are named in the best entertainment show shortlist, against Celebrity Juice and Qi.

Really nice to see the great Richard Chamberlain turning up as Parker's thief mentor in this week's Leverage. Terrific episode, as well. It's really good to have both that fine show and Lie To Me back just at a point in the year when virtually anything - non-sport related - worth watching is at a premium.

Larry David has claimed that he would be happier if he was more like the fictionalised version of himself that he plays in Curb Your Enthusiasm. The writer and actor told the Gruniad Morning Star that he appreciates the honesty of the character and also did not originally think that the show would make people uncomfortable. David said:'"I don't find the character to be cranky or rude. I find the character to be honest. And honesty comes off as cranky or rude, I suppose. But that character is way happier than I am. I'm cranky. He's not cranky. I'd be much happier if I were more like him.' He added: 'I never thought for a second that anything I ever did was going to make someone cringe. That never occurred to me. When people started to tell me that sometimes they had to leave the room, I didn't even know what they were talking about. I thought people would want to stay and watch it. Because it's funny. Not that it's so painful to them that they have to leave. But, you know, I don't mind that. I kinda like it.'

Steve Carell has revealed that he is 'excited' to be leaving The Office. The actor, who has won a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of boss Michael Scott in the American comedy, said that he will miss all the cast members when he leaves at the end of the season. Carell, who has two children with his wife Nancy, told Us magazine: 'It's the last [season] on my contract and I want to honour my contract. I am excited - just so I can spend more time with my family. I'm sure I'm going to be very nostalgic [when filming finishes]. I mean, these are some of my best friends in the world! But it will be good - it will be good for everybody.' The NBC show is believed to be continuing in Carell's absence.

Kate Garraway has predicted that the new-look GMTV will be 'a corker' with Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles at the helm. Yeah. Possibly it will - jury remains out of that one. But the fact remains that you can lick your bosses' arses all you like, Katie, but I still think you're history.

Construction work has begun on the BBC's new drama production village in Wales, which will eventually be home to Doctor Who and Casualty. The new site at Roath Basin, near Cardiff, will also house productions of Welsh drama Pobol y Cwm and The Sarah Jane Adventures, along with providing a base for a range of creative media firms. Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures are due to move to the new studios in 2012, with the first episode of Casualty produced in Wales to air in the same year, reports BBC News. The Roath Basin centre is part of the BBC's commitment to double the amount of its television network production in Wales by 2016. The production base will also consolidate current sites at Llandaff in Cardiff and Upper Boat, near Pontypridd, along with various other locations around Wales. Speaking yesterday, BBC Cymru Wales director Menna Richards said that the start of construction at the Roath Basin site is an 'important milestone' towards creating a dynamic new community to benefit Wales. 'As a centre of excellence for drama it will bring a brand new buzz to this historic part of Cardiff and will offer fantastic facilities and filming space to some of the BBC's best-loved productions,' she said. Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said that the BBC's new drama village will position the Welsh capital at the 'forefront of the creative industries. Cardiff is already home to Doctor Who and Torchwood, with Casualty to follow and I know the drama village is seen by the BBC as part of its ongoing plans for increasing its production and development presence in Cardiff which can only be a massive boost for the city,' he said. 'Cardiff is developing a very strong reputation as a creative industries hub. The development of this sector is becoming an increasingly important part of our local economy, benefiting not just the city but the whole of the region.' In January, it emerged that Casualty would move from its long-running home of Bristol to the new BBC Wales drama village. The third series of Being Human is also being filmed in the Welsh capital.

A network of commercially viable television news companies could completely revitalise the local media, culture minister Ed Vaizey has claimed. He said their creation, coupled with a new regulatory regime and 'significantly relaxed' local cross-media ownership rules, could lead to 'thriving' multi-platform providers. Far from being a threat to local newspapers, there was a 'huge opportunity' for them to embrace new technology and potentially become profitable media companies, he added. Vaizey, speaking in a Westminster Hall debate, said when TV news was too often regional rather than genuinely local. The content could be 'not entirely relevant' to where viewers lived, as providers covered large geographical areas, he said. He added that in much of western Europe, and particularly America, local TV news companies thrived and were able to respond to their communities while being profitable. The minister stressed that regional news would remain both on ITV and STV as an obligation on the channel three licence holders. The government's vision for local TV news was in addition to existing regional news services, he said. On cross-media ownership he said: 'We are going to significantly relax local cross-media ownership regulations and I hope that relaxation will be in place by the end of this year. We would like to go further, that is why we have asked Ofcom to look at the scope for removing the remaining rules and what the implications of this would be.' Vaizey said culture secretary Jeremy Hunt - if he survives the Hillsborough fiasco with his job in tact, that is - had asked Nicholas Shott, head of UK investment banking at Lazard, to look at the potential for commercially viable local television stations and report back in the autumn.

Susan Sarandon is reportedly planning to produce a reality show about her table tennis club SPiN. The Oscar winner is said to want to put the spotlight on the club's growing business and the community that is forming there, including the players who hope to compete in the Olympics. 'It won't be Jersey Shore. It's more of an episodic documentary. We're trying to invent something you haven't seen before that follows a bunch of people in this crazy little subculture,' Sarandon told People. The actress also said that the project is still in its early pre-production stage. She added: 'I'm not sure where we're going to land in terms of our home because we want the tone of it to be funny and quite different than anything else that anybody's seen before.'

Proposals for introducing product placement to British TV programmes have been announced by media watchdog Ofcom. It follows the previous government's decision in February to let independent broadcasters be paid for displaying commercial products during shows. Broadcasters will have to tell viewers if a show produced in the UK contains product placement through the use of an on-air symbol at its start and end. Placement of alcohol, tobacco and junk food products will not be allowed. There will also be restrictions on what shows can have product placement, with all children's and news programmes ruled out. Following consultation, revised rules for TV and radio will be issued at the end of 2010. There are currently strict rules against product placement and this ban would remain in place on BBC shows. Ofcom said its proposals were designed 'to enable commercial broadcasters to access new revenue streams where possible, whilst protecting audiences.' Product placement will be allowed in films, TV series, entertainment shows and sports programmes. Under Ofcom rules, though, it must not impair broadcasters' editorial independence or play a part in storylines on TV dramas. The proposed on-screen logo - a P or PP in a red, white or yellow circle - would only appear on shows produced in the UK. Product placement is already rife on television thanks to programmes imported from other countries where the practice is allowed. Ofcom's proposals also suggested loosening regulations on paid-for references to products and services in shows on commercial radio.

Sky has confirmed plans to offer Sky Sports customers nearly six months' free access to its mobile and online TV services as competition for digital TV subscribers intensifies. From 12 July, all Sky Sports Pack subscribers will be able to access the Sky Mobile TV and Sky Player services without charge until 31 December. The deal will mean that subscribers can watch a range of content, including Premier League football and Sky Sports News, live on devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, along with PC, Mac and FetchTV Smartbox. Subscribers will only be permitted one offer per service per household and after 31 December they will be automatically charged the standard Sky Mobile TV subscription price if they have not cancelled the package first. The same situation will occur for anyone who cancels their Sky Sports Pack subscription at any time throughout the year.

Young black comedian Jason Lewis has won a pilot from BBC3 that will mix sketches and musical parodies. Ordered by BBC3 controller Danny Cohen and BBC comedy commissioning controller Cheryl Taylor, The Jason Lewis Experience - rubbish title notwithstanding - is a thirty-minute show that will poke fun at the nuances of race and culture in everyday modern life, as well as looking in on the world of celebrity. Sketches include Jay-Z trying to deal with one of his with his ninety nine Problems, and Tinchy Strider lamenting the challenge of getting with the ladies when you're a tiny pop star. Sounds hilarious. if I actually knew who Tinchy Strider is. The bbc.co.uk/comedy website has been showcasing Lewis’s work over the last few months, after discovering him on YouTube. The pilot will see the return of characters such as kick ass granny Nanny Discipline, and new additions including David Cameron, Prince Harry and Dizzee Rascal. Taylor said: 'Jason is an incredibly talented young comedian, who has so far starred alongside some comedy veterans as well as building up a loyal online fan base for his own work. We are delighted to have commissioned a pilot featuring some of his best characters and look forward to a host of new ones.' The show will be filmed in September and air later this year.

Channel 4 is reportedly planning to revamp its news and current affairs operation as part of a wider creative overhaul following the decision to axe Big Brother. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the broadcaster has allocated half-a-million pounds to develop an integrated news website bringing together the Channel 4 News output. The new site will feature special reports and commentary on the day's news, along with a fact-checking facility. Under the revamp plans, stories about culture and the arts will be given greater prominence under a new culture editor, who will be named later this week. Greater profile will also be allocated to economic and political stories, including regular debates on policy issues connected to the two areas. Channel 4's head of news Dorothy Byrne said that the planned revamp will not impact the on-screen graphics, the set or main presenter Jon Snow. Channel 4 News editor Jim Gray will also remain in his post. The audience for Channel 4 News fell by five per cent last year to eight hundred and fifty thousand, but the programme also crucially saw a decline in younger viewers and those from ethnic minorities. Channel 4 is currently undergoing a major overhaul of its programming to utilise the seventy million pounds annual saving gained from the decision to cancel Big Brother. The surplus cash will be redirected into funding around two hundred and fifty hours of new programming, including one hundred hours of peak time shows and selected spin-off programmes on E4. There will be funding for pilots and new series, such as reality soap format Notting Hill, as the broadcaster attempts to strengthen its grip on the sixteen to thirty four-year-old audience.

Nikki Blonksy has revealed that she doesn't mind being filmed in her swimsuit for her new series Huge. The show will focus on a group of overweight teenagers at a weight loss camp. The actress told People that she doesn't care what anyone thinks about her body and feels proud of who she is. 'I'm just comfortable and confident in my body,' she explained. 'I could care less that the world is seeing me in a bathing suit right now. I think they finally know what I look like in a bathing suit, if they were wondering.' She added that she admires her character Willhelmina for standing up against those who bully her about her size. 'She's awesome, she's totally against the grain. She doesn't want to lose weight. She thinks fitness camp is stupid and that's why I love her, because she doesn't want to do anything that the camp wants her to do,' she said. 'I feel awesome. I think there's nothing better than just showing by confidence and showing that I love my body. Why not share it with LA, New York, everywhere?'

David Tennant - remember him? - has begun shooting his upcoming film The Decoy Bride. The story centres on a famous couple's wedding on a remote Scottish island that is sabotaged by the paparazzi, reports the Press Association. Tennant plays James, a British writer engaged to movie star Lara (played by Kelly MacDonald). The pair hire a stand-in bride in hopes of distracting photographers from interrupting the event.

X Factor judge Simon Cowell made a 'no Jedwards' plea when the show's auditions reached Dublin yesterday. The music mogul was joined by Cheryl Cole, Louis Walsh and guest panellist Katy Perry to judge hopefuls at the city's National Convention Centre as filming for series seven continued. However, speaking to the Irish Independent, Cowell claimed that he was not interested in any act that was similar to Dublin duo John and Edward, who were mentored by Walsh in the last series. Asked what he was hoping to find, the fifty-year-old replied: 'The opposite of Jedward. Someone I can sell records with.' It is thought that the search for Irish talent got off to a slow start, with only three acts having been put through when the day was already half over. However, during a filming break, Walsh insisted: 'I think we're going to get a winner. The standard is incredibly high, because everyone watches The X Factor. It's our seventh season and at this stage people know what we're looking for."

Channel 4 managing editor of commissioning Janey Walker is leaving the broadcaster after fourteen years, following David Abraham's overhaul of the broadcaster. Walker, who is also C4's head of education, will reveal her future plans 'in due course.' Abraham has restructured C4 after a review initiated when he joined the business in May. As part of the changes a single content division is being created from C4's TV and online commissioning teams, which will now encompass the education department. Walker led a strategic shift in the broadcaster's education output away from television and into online over the last eighteen months.

I just want to quote Metro's TV reviewer Keith Watson and his review of the Doctor Who season finale in full. It's a bit shorter than my rambling effort, but it gets to the point with a terrific lack of verbosity: 'Doctor Who went out with a bang not a whimper, yet for all the Daleks and Sontarans, talk of cracks in time and hurtling about, the real reason this latest series of TARDIS adventures has been such a success is down to the quiet moments head writer Steven Moffat and crew have stitched into the fabric of a franchise that goes from strength to strength. Matt Smith has been a marvel and if the Van Gogh episode – still lingering in my memory weeks after the event – doesn’t bag a fistful of awards, then I'll eat my Cyberman.' Yes! Yes, I say to thee, Keith Watson. Well said that man.

Kylie Minogue has 'hit out' at Louis Walsh for his past treatment of her and sister Dannii. During an interview on This Morning, Kylie was asked who she would 'call, text or reject' from Walsh, Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan. Kylie confirmed that she would 'call' Cowell and Morgan, but added of Walsh: 'Now there lies a conundrum, because that little snit has been rather offensive to my sister and I over the years but then he comes back and decides that he's on board, so I think that I would just have to reject.' In 2008, Walsh and Dannii publicly fell out while working on The X Factor and last October, Walsh said that Kylie was not a great singer. Kylie has dismissed Walsh's comments about Dannii as 'pathetic.' Dannii and Walsh later reconciled. Quizzed about her own experience on The X Factor, Kylie confirmed that she would relish a return.

James Corden is likely to become one of ITV's main faces after being lined up for a lucrative 'golden handcuffs' deal, a report has claimed. Couldn't they given him a Golden Shower deal instead? That would have been much more fitting for his quite unique talents. Such as they are. According to the ever-reliable Mirror, 'bosses at the commercial broadcaster' are keen to sign up the Gavin & Stacey actor and writer for a chat show and a comedy series - well, as close as James Corden will be able to get to comedy, anyway - following the 'success' of his nightly World Cup programme. Fantastic. That may well mean I'll never have the misfortune of having to watch him ever again. Bargain. And, whilst I'm about it, what 'success'? The World Cup show's been regularly getting audiences of between two and three million per night and its AI scores have been in the mid seventies. There's no way on earth either of those can be spun as 'success' or anything even remotely like it. Anyway, it is suggested by the paper that an agreement has not yet been made because Corden allegedly wants to ensure that his deal is worth more than Adrian Chiles's six million pound four-year contract. 'Sources' - nameless and, therefore, almost certainly made-up - suggest that the comedian could also land a multi-million pound contract, but one which will tie him to ITV for three years. One 'insider' said: 'James's football show was a roaring success.' Which, as noted, it wasn't. Not even a little bit. 'ITV are desperate to get him on an exclusive deal. But he's a canny businessman and will only accept if it's worth more than Chiles's six million over four years.' So, greedy and competitive as well as unfunny and full-of-his-own importance? That's, if you believe this story as far as you can spit, of course. I'll leave that one up to you, dear blog reader.

Two girls aged sixteen left a thirty thousand pound trail of devastation after taking a souble decker bus on a joyride — and filmed it for YouTube. The hoodie-wearing girls and a twenty one-year-old man broke into a bus depot in the middle of the night and smashed into four other buses as they steered the vehicle on to the road, according to the Sun. They crashed into a tree, shattering the windscreen and nearside as they went on a terrifying twelve-mile country rampage. Blimey. Are you sure this wasn't a Top Gear filming session? Police caught the three scallywags near the scene in Amesbury, Wiltshire, and later released them on bail pending further inquiries. The mobile phone footage of the joyride - called stolen bus solstice 2010 hoodies Amesbury if you want to go looking for it - was posted online and has already been viewed more than twelve thousand times. The video begins minutes after the theft last Friday night and shows a teenage girl at the wheel of the bus on the A345 whilst the other girl and the man brag about having stolen the vehicle. A spokesman for Wiltshire and Dorset bus company described the incident as 'a foolish crime.' A Wiltshire police spokesman said that three suspects were arrested on suspicion of aggravated vehicle taking and released on bail pending further inquiries. He said: 'Considerable damage has been done to the bus, some other vehicles and a wall. The three arrested have been helping with our inquiries but have now been released on bail.'

Danielle Lloyd has spoken about her epidural and birthing pool plans. Urgh. I've just had me tea, darlin', cut it out! The twenty six-year-old model and reality TV regular who is expecting her first baby next month, claimed that she wants to 'feel the pain' when the time comes. 'Whatever happens, I don't want an epidural - I want to be able to feel the pain when I give birth,' she told Closer. be careful what you wish for, baby, it might just come true. Speaking about her birthing pool, she added: 'I'm going to get into the water when the contractions start, then I might get out for the actual birth. 'It's a great source of comfort to know that Jamie [O'Hara] is going to be by my side, holding my hand. He's getting really excited.' Lloyd, of course, garnered significant negative publicity when thousands of complaints were filed with Ofcom after she, Jade Goody, and Jo O'Meara, bullied and made racist remarks towards their fellow Celebrity Big Brother housemate Shilpa Shetty three years ago. Specific comments Lloyd made about Shetty include 'she's a dog' and 'they eat with their hands in India, don't they? Or is that China? You don't know where her hands have been.' On 17 January 2007, Lloyd declared that she thought Shetty should 'fuck off home,' adding that 'she can't even speak English properly.' Which, coming from Danielle Lloyd is a bit of pot-calling-the-kettle-black type situation. Think we'd all forgotten about that little malarkey, did you Danielle? I'll tell you what, when she does, eventually, drop her sprog, I really hope it bastard-well hurts like tearing flesh. Natural justice, and all that.

And, speaking of waste-of-space non-entities with the mental capacity of a mollusc, Katie Price is to quit ITV after signing a new exclusive deal with the Living TV channels according to reports. Price's narcissistic 'me, me, me, me, me, me, me' fly-on-the-wall documentaries have been a mainstay of the ITV2 channel for several years. But her production firm, Pricey Media, has now struck a deal with Virgin Media Television, making it the broadcaster's biggest independent supplier, when her ITV contract runs out in November. Centrepiece of her programmes will be an observational series for Living which will pick up from ITV2's What Katie Did Next, due to boradcast next year. Bet that'll be worth waiting for. There will also be a new six-part 'factual entertainment' series fronted by Price, as well as pilot shows for Living and Bravo to be created by the production company. The move will be a blow to ITV2, which pulled in up to 1.8 million viewers with her shows. Pricey Media was set up by Price with former ITV Studios executive Mark Wagman. Pricey Media's joint managing directors, Wagman and Jane Robinson, said: 'Viewers continue to be fascinated by Katie Price, and we are delighted that this new deal offers the perfect springboard to evolve her television career as well as grow and develop our media business in partnership with VMTV who have given Pricey Media the creative freedom and scope to develop some really exciting new projects for their channels.' I hope mothers are both very proud of you, Mark and Jane. The new two-year deal is thought to be worth in the region of ten million pounds, including production costs. You know, some stories need no editorialising, dear blog reader. They just stand on their own for what they are.

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