Friday, June 18, 2010

Junk In The Attic

Mock The Week returned to BBC2 on Thursday night and reminded us all why we miss it so much when it's not on. Effortlessly funny, a bit predictable at times, maybe (the Robert Green jokes in particular - Andy Parsons told one that Gary Lineker had cracked on Match of the Day last week, for God's sake!) but, when it's on song, when it's just joke-after-joke-after-joke there really is nothing better on TV in comedy terms. Diane Morgan, unfortunately, suffered a problem that many female Mock The Weekers often do. She could barely get a word in edgeways. And, when she did, she was about as a funny as an afternoon at the genital torturers. Any possible chance you guys could just have done with it and invite the divine Sarah Millican on every week? Mind you, Chris Addison - who can be something of an acquired taste - was pretty good. But, the highlight for this blogger, as ever, were Milton Jones' little atom bombs of acid-wit being lobbed in from the sidelines. 'Do you know what they really need to clean that up?' he asked in relation to the Florida oil spill. 'Lots of seabirds!' Aw, I'm so glad it's back.

Speaking of good stuff being back, Lie To Me continues to impress with this week's episode concerning a dodgy part of Cal Lightman's past with the Department of Defense coming back to haunt him and revealing the details of the first time he crossed paths with Gillian. It was a rather good episode right up to a slightly too obvious denouement but that's a minor criticism. Albeit, American takes on Irish politics ... this was better than most but that really isn't saying much.!

Kylie Minogue has reserved special praise for the FOX series Glee. Kylie, Kylie, Sweet and Smiley, sing us a song in a rub-a-dub-style(e) has now joined the likes of Britney Spears, Victoria Justice and Wayne Rooney (no, honestly) in paying homage to the musical comedy. Speaking to Australian radio station 2DayFM, she said: 'I love Glee, are you kidding? If I didn't watch that show the world would stop spinning on its axis.' Actually, Kyl, I don't think it would, you know. Laws of physics and all that. Get the Doctor to explain it to you next time you're on the Titanic.

Zöe Lucker has revealed that fans often remind her of her stint in Footballers' Wives. Personally, I always remind her of the 'exclusive' printed in the Sun in 2006 that she had signed on to play The Rani in Doctor Who and, ask her, when those episodes are likely to be shown? But then, that's just me. The thirty six-year-old actress portrayed Tanya Turner in the ITV drama, which she starred in for five series between 2002 and 2006. 'There isn't a day goes by that someone doesn't want to talk to me about Tanya, but that feels like a privilege still,' she told Radio Times. 'At some point, everyone accepts there are certain roles that people want to cast you in, and I'm happy that mine are roles in which I get to wear fantastic frocks and, more importantly, play strong, determined women,' the actress added. Lucker now plays Max Branning's love interest Vanessa Gold in EastEnders. But, not the Rani. Just in case anybody from the Sun happens to be reading and would like to drop us a note and tell us where they got the information contained in their 'exclusive' from. oh, and if you could do the same for the David Bowie story, that'd be a useful too. I mean, we'd hate anybody to think that you just, you know, made stuff up. Like the Daily Star were caught doing the other week over the Lady GaGa story. For example.

Sir Paul McCartney, the former Be-Atle who has written twenty four British number one hit singles, has said that 'Blackbird' and 'Here, There and Everywhere' are the songs which he is most proud of. Sir Paul, who is sixty eight today - happy birthday Macca, - chose two perhaps marginally lesser-known songs over more commercially successful tunes such as 'Yesterday', which has been covered three thousand five hundred times. Neither 'Blackbird' nor 'Here, There and Everywhere' were even released as singles by The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them). Mind you, neither was 'Yesterday' for a decade, for that matter. Macca said that 'strangely enough' he is not currently playing 'Blackbird', from 1968's The Be-Atles, on his current tour of Britain and Ireland. But he added that the song, in which the lyrics alludes to contemporary race issues in America, is one that he is often requested to play because it is a popular tune with guitar pupils. The beautiful, Beach-Boys inspired 'Here, There and Everywhere,' which he notes was about the heightened media interest he experienced whilst in a relationship with Jane Asher, first appeared on Revolver, released in 1966. It's this blogger's brother Colin Tely Topping's favourite Be-Atles song as it happens. And one of yer actual Keith telly Topping's also. But then, Revolver's hardly got a bad song on it.

Sir Sean Connery has returned to the Edinburgh street where he was born eighty years ago to unveil a plaque in the regenerated area. The James Bond actor - seen right, packing heat - visited the site of 176 Fountainbridge, a block which was demolished in the 1960s. The plaque has been erected at Springside, a new housing and office development just yards from the star's childhood home. Connery said the it was now 'a very different area' from when he grew up. The actor, who was knighted in 2000, said: 'Then, it was an industrial area which left a significant imprint on my life, as well as on the city of Edinburgh.' Except he pronounced it 'schignificant.' And 'schity.' Which is fair enough. 'Now it is a much more pleasant area in which to live, visit and work, with new homes, offices, businesses and open spaces replacing the old factories and tenements. And I am sure that the community spirit I remember will be maintained throughout this transformation.' He also met staff from the newly-created Centre for the Moving Image, which brings together the city's Filmhouse and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. He said: 'I am honoured that the Centenary of Cinema plaque recognises my work in the world of film. And it is fitting that film, which has played such a major part in my life, will play an important role in the regeneration of Fountainbridge.'

And, speaking of old relics, a number of props from Doctor Who will go on sale next week. The items available to buy at the Bonhams Entertainment Auction include the TARDIS exterior used in 2005 by Christopher Eccleston. It is expected to sell for between eight and twelve grand to some anorak with more money than sense. Lucky gits! The oldest surviving Dalek, which appeared in a 1964 episode, is also among the lots and has an estimate of between two and three thousand pounds. Elsewhere, a five foot model of the TARDIS is expected to reach between three and four hundred notes, while a Cyberman helmet from 1967 has a price tag of between three and four thousand. I've got a rock I pick up off the set of Resurrection of the Daleks at Butler's Wharf in 1984 which Peter Davison had just trod on if anybody wants to start the bidding on that.

Meanwhile, current Doctor Who star Matt Smith spent his first month on-set panicking that he was not good enough for the role, according to the Sun. Steady, somebody'll be bottling and selling the diarrhoea he passed during this period next. Matt says that he 'freaked out' when he realised how complicated the scripts would be and spent much of the first month 'terrified' and 'phoning his dad for reassurance.' Ah, bless him! Matt said: 'In my first week I rang my dad and went, "I'm in trouble. There's a lot of stuff to learn. The type of language it is and everything else." I talked to my dad a lot through my first month. I just tried to be brave and to be honest really, which is what every actor tries to do.' And, trust me, mate, it's worked. You're good. Smith was speaking at the London pre-screening of this Saturday's episode. Called The Pandorica Opens, it is the first part of the season finale.

Talkback Thames staff are bracing themselves for further job cuts as management consultants complete their review of the company. Consultancy firm Eden McCallum handed in its consultation document last Monday, the same day that chief executive Lorraine Heggessey left the company. Nameless sources 'close to Heggessey' have claimed to Broadcast magazine that the process descended into a 'witch hunt' and that she was 'consulted out of the business.' During their six-month review, the consultants held ninety-minute interviews with between ten and twelve senior staff, who had to grade projects' chances of being greenlit. In March, Heggessey sent a group-wide e-mail explaining that it was going to be 'a challenging year,' with pressure on programming budgets and ITV halving its order for The Bill - the company's biggest single commission. 'We need to find ways of reinventing ourselves and we need help from people with an outside perspective,' she wrote, adding the consultants would be 'reviewing the development pipeline and how to take projects forward.' Unfortunately, like BP's development pipeline, it broke. Following The Bill's cancellation, channel controllers and commissioners, including BBC1 controller Jay Hunt and Channel 4 head Julian Bellamy, were asked to assess Talkback's output and management.

Ministers have reportedly axed government spending on the BFI Film Centre planned for London's South Bank as part of the ten and a half billion pounds worth of spending cuts and project suspensions announced today. The announcement comes nine months after Gordon Brown personally stepped in to commit forty five million pounds to the one hundred and sixty six million cost. Yesterday, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced seventy three million quids worth of savings and the biggest chunk of that came from the contribution to the BFI centre. Arts minister Ed Vaizey said it was 'obviously disappointing.' I think it's more disappointing for them having been promised the money than it is for you, Ed. He added: 'Although we are unable to commit to some large-scale capital investment projects while tackling this unprecedented deficit, I am planning to fundamentally reassess how the government supports film in this country.' Well, I'm sure they're all effing well delighted by that. But, I think they'd still sooner have the cash. 'I want to make sure that we are supporting the film industry so that it is ready for the challenges it will face in the decade top come and that we make sure every pound of public money we spend gives the maximum benefit.' Although there was undoubtedly major disappointment at the news, in truth, the BFI had been prepared for the announcement. It said: 'In today's very challenging financial climate we understand the difficulty of making decisions of this kind and fully expect to play our part. We had already anticipated that the government would not be able to afford investment in the BFI Film Centre at this time and knew that we would face a challenge on the project, but we remain committed to taking it forward. We are concerned that film is bearing the brunt – over fifty per cent of the department's cuts that have been announced are coming from film. As has been said time and time again, film is a critical component of Britain's future cultural and economic prosperity, so we welcome the minister's commitment to reviewing government's support for film. Our one plea is that this is done very quickly.'

BSkyB have announced that Sky Sports News is to become a pay-TV channel, after eight years of being available on Freeview. Which is, of course, dreadful news for all them chaps that sit and on the sofa and crack one off to Georgie Thompson or Natalie Sawyer. Now, you'll have to pay for your thrills, like the rest of us instead of getting it for the price of a set-top box. Sky said the move would 'allow the channel to benefit from continued growth in subscription revenues.' Or, in other words, make more money. The move would take place 'later this year,' Sky added. So, sofa-chaps, you've still probably got a month or two. Enjoy it while you can. From then the channel will only be available via Sky, Virgin Media or Talk Talk TV. The twenty four-hour sports news channel will be replaced on Freeview by Sky3 +1. 'Sky Sports News has been a great success over the last twelve years and we have big ambitions to make it even better,' said Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports. Getting rid of Jim White and employing some real sports journalists might help, I'd suggest. Keep Georgie and Natalie, though, or you'll lose the majority of your audience. 'As part of a subscription service, customers can look forward to expanded coverage and the launch of Europe's first HD sports news service.' And, paying for the privilege.

A 'benefits cheat' is facing jail after claiming that she was a single mum and then going on TV show Wife Swap with her live-in boyfriend according to the Mirror. Mother-of-two Kelly Jones, twenty three, is said to have illegally claimed nearly ten thousand pounds over eighteen months when she was secretly living in a flat with bus driver Steven Jones. She was paid one thousand pounds to appear on the Channel Four show but the 'self-confessed slob' (the Mirror's phrase, not mine) was 'branded' Britain's worst mum after she was seen feeding her eighteen-month-old daughter with fast food. Not, literally branded because that's a bit medieval. Prosecutor Lynne Harvey said: 'Mrs Jones said she had not declared him at the address because his wages were too low to pay their rent and live. She panicked at the thought of losing their home. She said she knew once the TV programme was aired she would be caught.' The couple, who wed two months ago, moved in together in February 2008 but their home was repossessed. They rented a home in Fishponds, Bristol, but did not tell council officials they lived together. Let this be a lesson to those who think reality TV is 'a nicer little earner.' That way lies only misery, debt, public ridicule and a possible prison term. I mean, look at Kerry Katona.

A controversy-courting Italian ice cream maker is in hot water for running an advertising campaign featuring a heavily pregnant nun with the strapline 'immaculately conceived.' This comes after a stream of complaints to the advertising watchdog that it is offensive to Christians because it 'mocks the birth of Jesus' reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Hang on, they're all ruddy Communists at the Guardian, I didn't think they believed in God. The advert, which is featured in magazines The Lady and Grazia, features a pregnant nun enjoying a pot of Antonio Fedirici ice cream. The Advertising Standards Authority has launched an investigation to see if the campaign breaks the advertising code on the grounds of taste and decency. The ASA has received about forty complaints from members of the public that it is 'offensive to Christians,' especially Catholics, 'because it mocks the virgin birth of Jesus.' Matt O'Connor, creative director at the ice cream company, argued that it is an 'intelligent, challenging and iconoclastic piece of advertising.' O'Connor, who points out that he is an Irish Catholic himself, also argues that the advert 'tells a deeper story,' satirising the 'horrific stories involving thousands of pregnant Irish women enslaved by the Catholic church in convents and who had their children taken away from them by nuns because they were seen as "moral degenerates."' Oh, that's very good, Max. Playing the child abuse card to sell some ice cream. That's classy, that is! The advert is the latest in the company's 'Ice cream is our religion' campaign. Last year the ASA banned an advertising campaign by the company featuring a young nun and priest about to share a kiss after complaints that it was offensive to those working in a religious order.

Katie Price and Alex Reid have confirmed that their second wedding will be filmed for an ITV2 'special.' The couple have signed a deal for a three-part series called Katie & Alex: For Better For Worse, but mostly worse, I'm guessing, which will follow the preparations for the big day as well as the ceremony itself. I think, personally, everyone who is likely to want to watch this programme should, instead, turn up at the church on the day itself. That way, you'll be able to watch it live. And in 3D. And then, you can save yourself the toruble of watching the programme and, you know, do something constructive with your life instead. Just a little suggestion to pop into your toaster and see if it comes up brown.

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