Friday, June 04, 2010

A Fair Share?

Hugh Laurie has claimed that his titular character in House was 'undone' in the recent season finale. The actor told Entertainment Weekly that he was shocked when House admitted that he wishes he had decided to have his leg amputated. 'It sounds fanciful, but I was very shaken by that sudden vulnerability, the truth he reveals because there is no alternative,' Laurie said. 'He has to be open with this woman in order to save her. There is no more game-playing, no more trickery. He just has to tell her the truth. So you see sort of a naked House there in a way that is very startling.' He added: 'It was, for all of us, a very harrowing few days when we shot those scenes, including the one in the ambulance. Very powerful stuff.' Laurie also suggested that House has changed following the death of his patient. '[He was] suddenly rendered powerless,' he said. 'He suddenly [became], as we all are, that tiny little speck of dust floating in the cosmos, and he [realised] his smallness, insignificance, his inability to heal and save a life. He [was] undone at that moment, because he is someone who clings so fiercely to his own abilities that when those abilities just aren't enough, he becomes nothing - or at least has to confront the possibility that he is nothing, as we all are in the grand scheme of things.'

Coronation Street was, once again, postponed from yesterday evening's schedules in the wake of the Whitehaven murders earlier in the week. The commercial broadcaster decided not to broadcast the soap's fourth episode of Siege Week 'out of respect' for those who were killed during Wednesday's incident. See yesterday's blog for further context on this decision. The 9pm slot - sandwiched between the Britain's Got Talent performance and results shows - was, again, filled by a repeat of Harry Hill's The Best of TV Burp. An ITV spokesperson said: 'Following the tragic events in Cumbria yesterday, both Wednesday's and Thursday's planned Coronation Street episodes have been postponed.'

The second semi-final of Britain's Got Talent dominated prime time on Tuesday night, according to early viewing figures. The programme, which featured performances by dance troupe The Ruby Girls and Connected, achieved an audience of 9.82m on ITV from 7.30pm to 9pm. The show's half-hour results update later pulled in a further 9.52m for the channel from 9.30pm onwards. On BBC1, the detective drama Luther saw an almost one million week-on-week drop in its audience to just under three million at 9pm. The success of Britain's Got Talent also impacted on the BBC's Holby City, which saw a similar sized decrease from the previous episode to 3.81m in the 8pm hour.

Wintry weather and the odd Icelandic volcano helped to increase the total audience for British television during the early months of 2010 but, commercial broadcasters still felt the icy chill of reduced audiences. The year began with a new BARB panel in place and the most wintry of winters in at least a couple of decades. Viewing was up significantly compared with 2009 but how much of this was down to the weather? The answer seems to be ... some of it. In peak time (7pm-10.30pm), 2010's early weeks saw double-figure year-on-year percentage increases as the snow moved in for a long stay. By March, those increases were calmer, between five and six per cent. Overall, between January and April, viewing in general increased by 6.4 per cent compared with 2009 - that's approximately one-and-a-half million more people tuning-in daily. The biggest increase in volume was among the over thirty five age group, up more than one million. Broadly, the total available audience so far in 2010 appears to be a bit older - and slightly more 'downmarket' - than in the corresponding period last year. In so much as the increase in viewers appears to come from the C2DE demographic. Or, you know, 'people from council estates' as we call them in the 'real world.' In peak time, all of the big five channels lost share, apart from BBC1, whose peak time share was broadly level. The volume and consumption story is slightly different. BBC1 was by far the winner here as it increased its volume of individuals by more than six per cent, chiefly amongst the desired ABC1 demographic. That's 'nice people with jobs' to you and me. With overall TV viewing up by roughly the same amount, this helps to explains why BBC1's share was so steady year-on-year. Five's Europa Cup football coverage probably helped it head the down-less-than-the-others list, with growth in volume of 1.6 per cent but a drop of four-and-a-half per cent in share. ITV will note, ruefully, that while its volume was largely steady, it suffered a share decline of over five-and-a-half per cent, spread across the sixteen to thirty four demographic. Channel 4's share decline was the worst of the commercial channels at 6.4 per cent (including figures from Channel 4's '+1' channel), with volume also down. The valuable ABC1 audience showed an alarming 8.7 per cent decline. 'Nice people with jobs', it would seem, do not like wall-to-wall Big Brother. BBC2 brought up the rear with a seven per cent decline. ITV's big hitters - Britain's Got Talent and Dancing On Ice - were the best performers between January and April. Of the many new formats they launched during the period, only Take Me Out managed to attract more than five million viewers for an episode, which will be very disappointing to ITV's management. Comedy Rocks' four million, behind Popstar To Opera Star, was the second best new 9pm Friday programme. However, the breakthrough smash to calm nerves in a post X Factor/BGT world, whenever that may be, remains elusive. BBC1's top entertainment shows were the final episode of Gavin And Stacey on 1 January and Sport Relief in March. Both were to be expected. What will be encouraging in a more strategic way for the BBC is the performance of So You Think You Can Dance. Its top performance was in freezing January, with 7.1 million. An across-season average of 5.7 million appears to give BBC1 something to build upon when the show returns next year. Channel 4's best entertainment performance was the launch of the last Celebrity Big Brother. Looking to the future, though, C4 will be pleased with its Comedy Roasts, critically panned, though they were. The best was Bruce Forsyth's 2.4 million in April. BBC2's University Challenge continued to gain very impressive audiences, hitting 3.6 million for the final. ITV's first Leadership Debate on 15 April was watched by nearly ten million viewers. For a commercial broadcaster, however, that night was frustrating - the debate was broadcast without any adverts. Elsewhere, ITV's factual successes lay in the rarely trumpeted early slots. Lion Country's five million at 7.30pm on 6 January was impressive, but on 4 January at 8pm, The Lakes' 4.9 million was more so as it was up against EastEnders. Joanna Lumley's Nile was ITV's 9pm factual hit of the winter and deservedly got 4.8 million on 12 April. For BBC1's PM debate, perhaps some of the novelty had worn off, but 7.4 million remains a very good figure. Antiques Roadshow continued to be a regular ratings winner on Sunday evenings with more than seven million on 21 February. Countryfile proved the move to peak-time was a clever one with its best performance of nearly seven million in April. And Richard Hammond's Invisible World opened the door for popular science at 9pm with an average of four-and-a-half million. Cutting Edge's My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding topped C4's factual list with 6.4 million. Embarrassing Bodies' move to Friday proved a bonus with a high of 4.2 million in February. One Born Every Minute feels like it's done enough for a second series and a top performance of 4.1 million is testament to that. Ice Road Truckers - of course - was Five's best of the winter, just pipping Paul Merton In Europe, while regular top performer The Gadget Show was also steady with a solid audience of between one-and-a-half and two million. Excluding soaps, BBC1's biggest drama hits were the final David Tennant Doctor Who (11.8 million) and Silent Witness. Its 7 January broadcast was BBC1's top performer with 8.6 million. Five Days and Five Daughters, with highs of 8.4 million and 5.9 million, show stripping dramas continues to work. And, Ashes to Ashes ended strongly with an audience of seven million for the finale. The last ever Touch Of Frost topped the non-soap ITV drama list, followed by Wild At Heart. Above Suspicion proved itself a worthy successor to Prime Suspect with 7.9 million in January. Law And Order: UK quietly moved from minor hit to major hit, the best episode attracting 6.5 million in mid-January. BBC2's Blood And Oil attracted much good publicity and the first of the two episodes on 29 March was watched by 2.6 million. Gracie!, first broadcast on BBC4, also did well gaining 1.4 million viewers on 1 April. Shameless continues to be Channel 4's best drama performer with the Mo Mowlam biopic Mo second with a splendid 4.2 million. Glee, a smash for E4, proved its terrestrial worth with 1.4 million in February. Five's drama staple remains CSI, with the best at nearly four million on 23 February. Nine o'clock continues to be the slot where most money is spent, the biggest risks are taken and competition is at its most fierce. BBC1 was the winner for the period January to April, while BBC2 was down only one per cent on previous years. ITV, Channel 4 and Five will be more rueful as they ponder hefty percentage declines. C4 saw a decrease in share of ten per cent, Five eight per cent and ITV six per cent. BBC1 increased its 9pm volume by more than three hundred and fifty thousand. On average, across the week, two million more people watched TV than the equivalent period last year, with the vast majority encamped in 'other viewing,' most of which is commercial - a concern for the terrestrial commercial channels. ITV's scorching Autumn 2009 quickly cooled and reality rudely barged in. Only Wednesdays and Thursdays nights showed any increases, with Wednesday by far the most successful, improving 9pm by more than four share points with a mix of Midsomer Murders, Champions League football and one-off events such as the National TV Awards. Its increase was largely at BBC1's expense, but this was the corporation's only weak spot. ITV's entertainment-led Friday hasn't worked so far, with too many shows below the four million mark. Declines of more than three points have reduced ITV to a 13.4 per cent share, nearly ten percentage points behind BBC1. BBC1 challenged ITV with drama, thus avoiding accusations of being too competitive by offering a genuine, but strong, alternative. Ashes To Ashes, Silent Witness and Five Days all contributed to a firmer Friday line-up than last year's mixture of comedy and entertainment.

John Nettles has reportedly been lined up to appear in a new ITV drama. The actor announced last year that he had decided to quit his role in Midsomer Murders and will shortly film his final episode. However, the Gruniad Morning Star reports that Midsomer Murders producer Brian True-May is now developing a new project for Nettles. 'I've got one of our Midsomer writers, Michael Aitkens, working on it, in collaboration with ITV who are very keen,' True-May said. 'We're hoping to start something next spring.' He continued: 'John will probably be a justice of the peace and he won't be Mr Ordinary living in an ordinary house. He'll probably be much more middle class, living in a country mansion in a farm area.' True-May added that ITV has expressed an interest in the project but is waiting to see what budget the series would need. 'It's in development now,' he said. 'It won't be commissioned until they see the script and decide on how much it's going to cost. ITV have to survive and they need as much as they can get out of it as well. So we've been, I think, quite reasonable and generous with ITV for the new series. Hopefully they'll make money and we will.' However, true-May ruled out taking the show to the BBC, saying: 'I don't want to alienate the BBC but I've given up working for them a long time ago. There's too many chiefs and not enough Indians.' So, that's you not wishing to alienate the BBC, is it, pal? I think you might find that's ship's pretty much sailed already.

Pulse producer Simon Heath has revealed that filming for the BBC3 pilot had to be stopped so that dead bodies could be moved around the hospital in which it was filmed. The Sun reports that the cast and crew initially believed that they were shooting in a disused morgue. However, the filming at Calderdale Royal Hospital in West Yorkshire was reportedly interrupted so that staff could transfer corpses. 'It was surreal,' Heath admitted. 'One minute we were staging a fight, the next the porters wheeled another corpse in.'

Carla Gallo has confirmed that she will return for the next season of Bones. Gallo's character Daisy broke up with Sweets (John Francis Daley) in the recent season finale but the actress told Entertainment Weekly that the producers are planning future storylines for her. 'I will be back on Bones because the pilot I shot [The Station] did not get picked up,' Gallo said. '[The producers] told me they would find a place for me.' However, Gallo added that she has no idea what will happen between the characters of Daisy and Sweets in the next season. 'My hope is that Lancelot doesn't totally punish me for having left for a year and that he hasn't moved on,' she said. 'I am so worried that we will not be a couple anymore, [but] I think it would be totally justified for him to be mad or consider it over. Basically his fiancé said, "Peace out. See you in a year. My career is more important than our relationship." So I could understand the resentment. In real life, I would certainly be upset if someone did that to me. So I am so nervous. I don't want him to move on. I love them together. They are great for each other.' She continued: 'I think what will happen is that I will come back and be like, "We can be together now." And he'll be like, "Uh, no. You crushed my heart and this is who I met over the summer. Actually, who I did over the summer."'

Zöe Lucker has admitted that she felt 'grateful' when EastEnders producers decided she would not need to use a cockney accent when she joined the soap. The West Yorkshire-born actress signed up to play glamorous businesswoman Vanessa Gold on the Walford serial earlier this year and will make her first appearance in the role tonight.

Channel 4 is said to be planning a stripped successor to The Eleven O'Clock Show to launch new talent, and has put a six-month production contract out to tender. Princess Productions, Objective Productions, Graham Norton's So Television and Paul O'Grady's Olga TV have all pitched to produce the series, which will be trialled with an initial three-week run and extended to six months if successful. The move is the latest attempt by Channel 4 to replicate the success of the cult 1990s hit, which got mixed reviews at the time but helped launch the subsequent careers of the likes of Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mackenzie Crook, Daisy Donovan, Charlie Brooker and Iain Lee. Shine Group-owned Princess is tipped as the most likely frontrunner, partly because it owns its own studio and is able to keep costs down - a formula which has proven successful in winning long-running contracts to produce Channel 4's teen slot T4 and Five's The Wright Stuff. It is thought the show will be forty five minutes long, amounting to close to 100 hours of business if it is taken to six months. C4 originally began developing the project as an advertising-funded proposition but has now cooled on that idea and decided to fund the show itself. C4 last experimented with the formula in 2008, when it also put out a tender. The resulting show was Tonightly, produced by Objective and designed 'to promote a new generation of comics.' The stripped show was also trialled for a three-week run but was never extended. Although, it did give Jason Manford, new co-host of The ONE Show, his first big break. Mind you, it also featured the 'funny as a kick in the knackers' Jack Whitehall so, let's not laud it too much.

Historian Robert Beckford has launched a stinging attack on Channel 4's 'pathological' attitude towards ethnic-minority content, whilst a raft of producers have voiced fears that the broadcaster is moving backwards in terms of multicultural output and working relationships according to Broadcast magazine. Independent production companies have reportedly claimed to be 'in the dark' about how Channel 4 is allocating its ring-fenced two million pound multicultural fund and say that C4 has 'lost focus' since commissioner Aaqil Ahmed left for the BBC last year. Ahmed has not been replaced as multicultural editor. Almost one in five C4 commissioners is from an ethnic minority, a far higher percentage than many of its rivals, yet a number of producers who contacted Broadcast said that none has championed multicultural issues as much as Ahmed did. Of course, few of these producers chose to be named in the article. Which is just as well because Broadcast, it would seem, loves using quotes from unattributed sources. Remember this one, for example? Channel 4 announced in July 2008 that it had ring-fenced two million notes for 'multicultural programming' in peaktime. The fund remains in place, under Julian Bellamy's control, but producers have claimed they are unclear where the money is being used. Simone Pennant, a producer who heads up the multicultural producers' forum The TV Collective, said: 'When Aaqil took on the role, there was a big fanfare, but C4 has taken so long to respond to any questions about the fund and no one knew how it worked. If they can't tell us what programmes it has been spent on, people will lose faith as it just seems like a talking shop.' That's all a bit whingy, frankly, Simone. But, hey, at least well done for having had the courage to actually put your name to your comments. Unlike, say, 'another producer' who is quoted in the article thus: 'There's a real malaise within the multicultural indie community that not enough is being done to tap into their expertise.' Aye. What a snivelling little coward you are, hiding behind your anonymity like a cloak of snot. I'll bet your mum's really proud of you, mate. Channel 4 managing editor of commissioning Janey Walker told the magazine: 'It's a perennial issue - when you have a multicultural editor, people say they don't want to pitch just to one department; and when you don't, they say there's no one individual who is tasked with the job.' Instead of saying, as she should have, 'who the hell are you and why are you using unattributed sources and still pretending to be a real journalist?' She did add, however: 'Our commissioning team is much more diverse than it has ever been and there are lots of points of entry to commissioners who come from ethnic-minority backgrounds. In the end, there is more diverse content on screen now, so something is working.' Walker said that four million pounds was spent on multicultural content between 9pm and 10pm in 2009, more than double the ringfenced two million. She cited the likes of Skins, The Family, Misfits and the forthcoming Bloody Foreigners as examples of shows with diverse casting or addressing multicultural issues. The concerns from producers, alleges the magazine, follow a 'multicultural networking event' last month, held at Channel 4 prior to the arrival of chief executive David Abraham. At the event, Beckford, who fronted an instalment of Channel 4's The Bible: A History, criticised Channel 4 for a loss of 'cultural literacy' since the departure of Ahmed. Beckford said that a Martian viewing C4 would come to the conclusion that it had a 'pathological' view of black people. Some of those who attended the event apparently told Broadcast that it became a platform for Channel 4 to 'celebrate recent programming rather than discussing the issues,' and the broadcaster's Indian Winter season, which featured contributions from Gordon Ramsay and Kevin McCloud, 'came under fire.' But, of course, none of these 'people who attended the event' and then went off grassing like a Copper's Nark to the press were brave enough to actually have their names attached to their criticisms. Julian Bellamy, meanwhile, said that he stood by the programmes, which performed well, but did concede that the season would have benefited from having a person of Indian descent as a consultant.

Former Apprentice participant Ben 'I've Got a Scholarship to Sandhurst' Clarke has described fired Junior Apprentice candidate Hannah Cherry as 'useless.' Pot-kettle-black and all that ... ? Cherry was 'fired' by Lord Alan Sugar on this week's show after her team lost out in an art selling task. Ex-stockbroker Clarke argued that the student has been 'bottom of the class' for a number of weeks. 'I've been saying she's useless for a while now - bear in mind she's only sixteen so we can't really say she's useless but I didn't really like her,' he told the Digital Spy website. So, one can't says she's useless, but you're saying she useless anyway, is that right? 'When we've been talking to people in and around Newcastle and Edinburgh they always seem to highlight the fact she just seems a little bit stupid. A lot of the time when you ask the public they're making impressions of her - really stupid, idiot impressions - which is a bit harsh on a girl who's only sixteen, seventeen years of age.' Cocky, full-of-his-own-importance Clarke, of course, appeared in series five of The Apprentice and lasted until week nine before Lord Alan Bullyboy decided he'd seen enough of Clarke's mush said he felt Clarke was 'too sure of himself' and promptly kicked his ass out of the door. Clarke next turned up in a News of the World three-in-a-bed-sex-and-drugs-romp 'exclusive' in May 2009 when he was quoted as saying 'I've slept around with loads of women - but probably less than a hundred. I've had two in a bed with me at the same time - it was fun.' Ben, chuck, trust me on this one. Very few people like someone who verbally abuses schoolgirls - even really annoying ones - but even less people have much time for chaps who brag about how many birds they've shagged. Gotta level with you, mate, it's really unbecoming.

The BBC is said to be 'beefing up' its action replay technology ahead of this month's World Cup to show three hundred and sixty-degree rotating freeze-frames of incidents using actual footage rather than computer graphics. The Libero system, developed by replay specialists LiberoVision, will be available exclusively to the BBC throughout all of its games to analyse controversial decisions such as tight offsides and goal line issues. Libero will largely draw on footage from three cameras, positioned above and behind the players, on the eighteen-yard line and behind the goal. The freeze-frame takes up to five minutes to render and will only be used at half-time and in post-match analysis, when the BBC takes control of the footage broadcast. Former Arsenal right-back Lee Dixon has received extra training on the tool ahead of the World Cup to make sure he is familiar with the system. Fellow pundit Alan Hansen described it as 'the most exciting technology in years' following a trial during the Carling Cup final. Presumably, they're not letting Shearer near it in case he decides to elbow it in the face? Did I just say that? Anway, Phil Sibson, the producer for BBC Sport, said the new system would be 'very noticeable' and give the studio pundits extra confidence when analysing tight decisions. 'The system is now far more realistic and merges multiple camera angles rather than using CGI, which really excites our pundits,' said Sibson. 'They find it tough when they have to go on the CGI, which can distort things.' But Sibson ruled out the technology being rolled out on Match Of The Day because the positioning of the cameras does not allow it. Libero will be used in conjunction with the BBC's existing replay system, Piero.

Adrian Chiles' 'spontaneous and informal' presenting style will be a hit with ITV viewers during this month's World Cup, according to the network's controller of sport, Niall Sloane. Although, possibly not with those viewers who are also members of BBC middle-management. Or Christine Bleakley. Just a guess.

1 comment:

Andrew Barton said...

Hi Keith.

Corrie's also been postponed tonight- a decision I'm agreeing with you on. TV Burp takes it's place.

The Corrie omnibus this Sunday morning has been replaced by the Hayley Mills movie Pollyanna, and ITV have announced when the affected episodes will air.

Information here: