Thursday, June 24, 2010

Give 'Em Enough Rope

The greatest British comedy double act since Morecambe and Wise, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie will reunite on television for a new special. The Sun reports that the pair will appear on GOLD to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary of their first collaborations at Cambridge. Fry and Laurie are expected to talk about their old sketches and chat to guests including Jo Brand and Jack Dee. The duo have not worked together on the groundbreaking comedy show A Bit of Fry & Laurie since its fourth series ended in 1995, although they remain close friends and Laurie did appear on the first episode of Fry's quiz show Qi in 2003. They've just both been a bit busy. You might have noticed. Stephen doing all sorts of stuff and Hugh doing something around the house. Apparently. 'It was a great joy reminiscing,' Fry said. 'I hope GOLD viewers enjoy watching us grow older and older.' Fry & Laurie Reunited is expected to be broadcast on GOLD in the autumn.

Chris Tarrant has revealed that two major format changes are to be introduced to his long-running game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Speaking to the Sun, the broadcaster confirmed that contestants will soon be forced to play against the clock when attempting to secure lower cash values in the show's early stages. The shake-up is a significant change as participants have always been granted as much time as they like to answer questions. In a further twist, Phone-A-Friend helpers will start appearing on screen rather than simply being heard over the phone. Discussing the revamp, which will take effect in new episodes filmed later this summer, Tarrant commented: 'I was wary of changing it as I was of the view that it was perfect, so why interfere with it? Yet the changes will work. One of the things that slows the show down is when people are struggling with a question and they just stare at the screen. So in future we will be doing all the early rounds against the clock. Thirty seconds against the clock will really change it.'

Wor Robson Green has reportedly landed a guest role in the new season of Being Human. According to the Mirror, the actor will play a werewolf when he joins the show. 'Robson's a huge admirer and was delighted to get involved,' a nameless 'source' claimed. 'It's a big departure from dramas he's been in like Wire in the Blood and Northern Lights.' Certainly would be, which is why I'm suspicious of this story, particularly as it relied on an unattributed quote from a nameless source. Love to see it, however. One of yer Keith Telly Topping's very favouritest actors is Wor Robson.

The Lord thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before he) has admitted that he felt under a lot of pressure when he became the showrunner for Doctor Who. Well, dear blog reader, I do have to confess that yer Keith Telly Topping - who has a very mild passing acquaintance with the Moffster himself (friend of a friend, basically) did send him an e-mail shortly after it was announced he was taking the job saying 'congratulations. Excellent news. Now, make it good!' So, sorry, it's all my fault. According to the Mirror, Moffat explained that he was worried fans wouldn't enjoy the new series. 'I have never done a job that has had so much pressure,' he said. 'It is extraordinary pressure.' However, Moffat added that he feels much better now because of the positive reaction to the show's new stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. 'The pressure lifted in another sense quite recently,' he said. 'When Matt Smith's first episode went out and Matt and Karen became the toast of the nation, I thought, "Well, that's a relief." Because up until that point I was thinking, "I could be a novelist at the end of the year."' Thankfully, Steven, you did what I (and millions of others) wanted. You done good, soldier. Now, make the Christmas special and next year's series good as well.

Some scheduling news: It appears as though the new - main-trailed- crime drama (starring Keeley Hawes) Identity will be going out on ITV in six parts in the 9pm slot from Monday 5 July.

Syfy is asking viewers for input on an upcoming original TV movie. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the US cable network is teaming with entertainment website IGN to launch a new site called B Movie Mogul, where fans can pitch and vote on ideas for its next Saturday night film. Viewers are being asked to contribute concepts for all aspects of production, including the movie's title, plot, wardrobe, character deaths and taglines. 'We constantly have fans e-mailing with compliments, complaints and questions about our movies, and this is a way of involving the fans in a new way,' said Syfy executive Thomas Vitale. He added: 'This is where entertainment is going and just the start of many more things of this nature for Syfy.'

BBCW has sold two drama series to a major broadcaster in Russia. The distributor has sold two series of BBC1's Survivors and three series of the Canadian drama Being Erica (see right) to Russian terrestrial channel TV3. It builds on previous BBCW sales to TV3 such as Primeval and Doctor Who. Being Erica, produced by Temple Street Productions in Toronto and is distributed by BBC Worldwide, has been sold to eighty seven countries whilst Survivors is now broadcast in one hundred and forty three countries.

David Dickinson's chat show has reportedly been cancelled. The programme launched on ITV earlier this year and was billed as 'a mix of celebrity guests, topical debates, cookery and antiques.' However, the Sun says that the show has been axed after just one series. 'Bosses thought they would try David out as a talk show host but it didn't really work,' a nameless 'source' allegedly explained. 'The feedback they got wasn't great.' Executives at the channel were said to be trying out shows at 3pm which could eventually share the 5pm slot. Other celebrities, including Michael Ball, are now being considered as potential hosts. An ITV spokesperson confirmed that the programme had been cancelled but said that the channel is still 'very much committed' to the personality's other show David Dickinson's Real Deal. It was never going to work, was it? I must admit, I don't really mind Dickinson. I think he's self-parodied a version of himself rather well and certainly seems to have a sense of humour. And his episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was a genuine piece of TV gold. But, he's not a chat show host. Then again, neither is Titchmarsh but, seemingly, nobody's told Titchmarsh this yet.

A former bodyguard to Michael Jackson and his family has dropped his libel claim against a Channel 4 documentary the day before High Court proceedings were due to begin. A libel trial brought by martial arts expert Matt Fiddes against the broadcaster, the programme's producers Studio Lambert and director Jane Preston over its documentary The Jacksons Are Coming was set to start at the High Court on Monday. Fiddes had claimed that he had been defamed in the programme which was broadcast in November 2008 and followed Michael's older brother, Tito, and his family as he searched for a home to buy in Devon. The documentary showed the breakdown of the relationship between the Jacksons and Fiddes, whom the programme claimed had portrayed himself as a family friend but had, in fact, betrayed their trust by leaking information to the press against their wishes. However, Channel 4 have said that a drama involving the alleged production of 'highly significant' last minute evidence by Fiddes – and claims by the defence that these documents were in fact faked – has seen Fiddes abandon his 'meritless' legal action at the eleventh hour. According to a Channel 4 statement Tito, his mother Mrs Katharine Jackson and other members of the Jackson family had all given detailed witness statements supporting the documentary and were due to give supporting evidence at the High Court. Channel 4, Studio Lambert and Jane Preston always vigorously maintained that they could defend the documentary in any legal hearing. Head of C4 Julian Bellamy said that Fiddes ability to pursue the claim on a Conditional Fee Arrangement – a so-called 'no win, no fee' basis – also showed up the failings of the UK libel system. 'This case illustrates the chilling effect that exorbitant legal costs in CFA funded libel claims can have on broadcaster's freedom of expression,' Bellamy said. 'The claim was flawed from the outset and it is a damning indictment of the current libel system in the UK that the Claimant has been allowed to tie up the Court's valuable time and the Defendants' resources for so long.' Hopefully, this will be enough to convince Channel 4 to stop running those bastard annoying Injury-Lawyers-4-U adverts, in that case. Stephen Lambert, the chief executive of Studio Lambert, and Jane Preston said in a joint statement: 'We are delighted that, after nearly two years of fighting this libel case, these false allegations against us have been withdrawn and our reputations have been vindicated. We wish to thank Channel 4, our legal team and the Jackson family for their considerable and unwavering support throughout this time.' The Jackson family also issued a statement which congratulated the broadcaster following the collapse of the upcoming case. Katharine Jackson said as part of the statement: 'Jane's documentary showed what happened to us; that Fiddes, who said he was a friend, let us down badly. He tried to use us to his own advantage, and when things didn't go his way, he behaved badly. Fiddes tried to pretend that he was a close friend of my son Michael, but when I spoke to Michael about him, he could not remember who he was. The whole family was deeply upset by interviews he gave shortly after Michael’s death which no friend would have done.'

Belfast-based Waddell Media has won a nightly religious slot on Channel 4 – part of more than one and a half million pounds worth of new commissions from Northern Ireland. The independent production company will make, a series of short studio-based films in which a single speaker will reflect on religious, ethical and spiritual issues centred on a weekly theme. Channel 4's head of specialist factual Ralph Lee has ordered three hundred and sixty five films, which will each air in a three-minute slot. They will be broadcast each night after Channel 4 News - the home traditionally occupied by the Three Minute Wonder strand. The two strands will alternate throughout the year in mini-seasons. As well as personal testimonies and reflections, Channel 4 said viewers would be confronted with unconventional approaches to the material, including songs and jokes.

A complaint that Radio 4's Today programme treated Lord Ashcroft unfairly has been rejected by the broadcasting watchdog. Lawyers Harbottle and Lewis complained to Ofcom on the deputy Conservative chairman's behalf about an edition of the early morning BBC Radio 4 news show on 17 December last year. They felt the programme had wrongly and unfairly stated that during Prime Minister's Question Time the Liberal Democrats had accused Lord Ashcroft of tax evasion and therefore implied that he was guilty of a criminal offence. But Ofcom found the report was 'a fair reflection' of the discussion which made clear that while the Liberal Democrats had initially raised a question about tax evasion they had not directly accused Lord Ashcroft of this. The show's Yesterday in Parliament item discussed questions put to Harriet Harman, standing in for the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, during Prime Minister's Question Time. The item was introduced with the words: 'The Liberal Democrats have targeted the Conservative Party donor and deputy chair Lord Ashcroft in a row about tax evasion. The Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Vince Cable, used parliamentary privilege to name the peer as a non-dom, accusing him of not paying tax in the UK on overseas earnings.' The BBC said it did not accept that the passage made the allegation claimed by the complainant. The corporation did not agree it meant Lord Ashcroft was accused by Cable of tax evasion, that the accusation was true or that there were reasonable grounds for it. It did not believe listeners would have taken this meaning from it, whether taken in isolation of the broadcast or as a whole. The BBC said the transcript showed the debate grew following an initial question posed by Cable on tax which had not been collected and was 'being evaded.' It said shouted interruptions from the Labour benches introduced Lord Ashcroft's name into the row. The BBC said the exchange between Cable and Harman and the comments which followed were described in the the full piece which followed the cue. Ofcom found that the introduction provided a fair reflection of the parliamentary discussion and included an explanation of what being 'non-dom' actually meant. The regulator said listeners would have 'been able to understand that the Liberal Democrats did not accuse Lord Ashcroft of tax evasion, but instead named him as a "non-dom" in a debate. 'Ofcom concluded that the BBC presented the matter in the report in a way that ensured that material facts had not been presented, disregarded or omitted in this report in a way that caused unfairness to Lord Ashcroft.' Ofcom said it did not uphold the complaint of unfair treatment. Vince Cable, meanwhile, now had a new job. Working for The Man. Which would be ironic most of the time but, in a week when the British public has discovered, via the budget, exactly what it's like to be shafted with ones pants on, I personally don't feel like laughing. Hope the new lifestyle of the rich and famous is working out for you, Vince.

The BBC scooped a hat-trick of prizes at this week's One World Media Awards - recognising excellence in media coverage of the developing world. The popular features award went to Tuna, the first programme in BBC3's Blood, Sweat & Takeaways series, which exposed the realities of Indonesia's fishing industry. Radio 4's Crossing Continents strand picked up the Radio Documentary Award for a programme in which journalist Tim Whewell investigated child sacrifices in Uganda. The Local Media Award went to BBC1's regional slot Inside Out London for an edition in which Mark Jordan investigated what happens to the four thousand TV sets which are discarded each day in London and often dumped illegally in Africa. Presented in London by Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow the awards also saw Channel 4's Dispatches strand win two prizes. The Children's Rights Award, judged by a panel of young people aged between sixteen and twenty one, was given to Dispatches: Orphans of Burma's Cyclone which followed the lives of eight Burmese orphans as they struggle to survive the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The TV Documentary Award went to Dispatches: Behind Enemy Lines in which Afghan reporter Najibullah Quraishi investigated the ongoing conflict in the north of the country. More 4 was also recognised for its documentary The End of the Line. The programme about effects of overfishing won the Environment Award.

Channel 4 made a small profit of three hundred thousand pounds in 2009 as a strong performance from digital TV and cost cutting helped offset a sixty one million pound loss on its main network. Last year's recession, described by Channel 4 as the worst in its twenty eight-year history, led to a fourteen per cent year-on-year decline in advertising revenues for the broadcaster's main terrestrial network. The main channel's loss widened from almost ten million in 2008 to sixty one million last year, according to Channel 4's annual report for 2009, published this week. However, Channel 4's digital TV services – E4, Film4, More4 and 4Music – helped the broadcaster weather last year's recession, increasing revenues by four per cent year on year.

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is to play a German soldier in a new film version of All Quiet on the Western Front, according to Variety. The twenty-year-old will play Paul Baumer, a young infantryman fighting in the trenches of France during World War I. Shooting will begin in spring 2012, following Radcliffe's Broadway run in How to Succeed Without Really Trying. Erich Maria Remarque's novel was first adapted for the screen in 1930, with Lew Ayres in the Baumer role. The US film won an Oscar for best picture, with a second Academy Award for director Lewis Milestone. Radcliffe has now finished shooting on the final two films in the Harry Potter series, to be released this November and next July. Earlier this year, it was announced he would be making his Broadway musical debut next year - his first New York stage role since Equus in 2008. According to producer Ian Stokell, Radcliffe will bring a 'vulnerability and innocence' to the film's lead character. 'We know he can tap into the delicate balance between intensity and believability that is critical for this demanding role,' he is quoted as saying. Radcliffe previously portrayed a World War I soldier in the 2007 TV drama My Boy Jack, in which he played the son of author Rudyard Kipling.

Ofcom has censured Five for airing a trailer for US crime drama Numb3rs in between two childrens' programmes. The broadcaster is now considering the introduction of more rigorous checks to ensure trailers with restrictions attached are not shown during the daytime at weekends. One viewer complained to the broadcasting watchdog that his child had been scared by the Numb3rs trailer, which featured dead bodies covered by a tarpaulin, a hostage situation and a gun being pointed at someone's head. It was aired at 1pm on Saturday 27 March in between Zoo Days and Kermit's Swamp Years. Five admitted its mistake for failing to detect that the trailer would run alongside children's shows via its manual checks and apologised for any upset the scheduling error caused. Ofcom warned that special care must be taken by broadcasters when they air trailers around childrens' programmes because the content is not clearly signposted. But the regulator took into account Five's apology and decision to put in place new procedures to ensure the mistake is not repeated.

Channel 4 is reportedly planning to order another series of The Million Pound Drop. The quiz show was a relative success in the ratings (certainly given the slot it was shown in) when it aired live over six consecutive nights last month, the Gruniad Morning Star reports. The programme, hosted by Davina McCall, sees contestants being given one million pounds at the beginning of the game. Players then have to answer eight multiple-choice questions by placing their money on the right trapdoor. If they answer incorrectly, the cash drops and they lose it. American broadcaster FOX has reportedly also expressed an interest in the format.

ITV has kept hold of the rights to the National Television Awards. According to the Sun, the broadcaster has signed a deal to air the ceremonies for the next three years. The last event, hosted by Dermot O'Leary, was reportedly watched by six million viewers. The next ceremony is currently scheduled to air on 19 January 2011.

Denise Van Outen has confessed that she is not a fan of 'sugary' female TV hosts, claiming that they often have dark sides. The former Big Breakfast presenter - more than a little sugary herself on occasions - spoke out ahead of her forthcoming guest hosting stint on Channel 4's The Five O'Clock Show, which will see her teaming up with her friend Melanie Sykes. Speaking to TV Times about Sykes, Van Outen remarked: 'She just says it how it is and I like that, because I hate women who pretend to be sweet and actually you know there's a dark side.' The thirty six-year-old continued: 'She's upfront and she's genuine, whereas you get a lot of women in television who seem so nice and then you think they can't be that perfect, it's not possible. That's why Mel's really good on TV and I think we're missing that now - there's no edge. When we were presenting years ago on The Big Breakfast, the presenters were all very real. You had Zoë Ball and Sara Cox and we just said it how it is. We got labelled "ladettes" but we were just opinionated women. Suddenly there's this whole turn, especially on prime time TV - you have to be sugary and just read the autocue and smile.' Myleene, Christine et al, take note, please. Denise is on the case. And, in any scenario involving naked mud-wrestling (which, in my head, is how all of this should be sorted out), I reckon she'd kick both your asses. She's from Essex, they build them mean down there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Robson confirmed via Twitter on 5 June that he is in Being Human. He's been posting pics of himself made up as a werewolf the last few days! Check his tweets @extreme_fishing