Friday, June 11, 2010

Meet The Old Boss, Same As The New Boss

Russell Davies has said that he 'loves' the new series of Doctor Who. Well, he would do. He's a tuned-in guy is Russ. The former showrunner admitted that he now enjoys watching the show as a fan without having to worry about the 'hard work' that goes into it. 'The greatest responsibility the Doctor Who team has now is getting me a disc every single week out to Los Angeles, which I sit and watch every Saturday night and love,' he told the BBC. I say, is that strictly speaking not a breach of copyright, or something?! 'I don't miss it actually. I'm a viewer now. I watch the episodes and, apart from loving them, my overriding thought is, "Oh, that's hard work.' So part of me is very glad not to be sweating over that TARDIS again.' Davies praised the performances of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, adding: 'What a glorious new age. It's the show that'll never die.' He later joked: 'The only thing I'd change is I'd make twenty episodes a year. I'm sure they'll be glad to hear that. More Doctor Who, that's what we need.' Damn straight, Rusty.

Christine Bleakley has confirmed that she is planning to stay with the BBC. The ONE Show host spoke out to clear up crass and ill informed speculation about her future following a series of rumours linking her to ITV, where she was tipped to front GMTV with former colleague Adrian Chiles. Speaking to the Mirror, Bleakley vowed: 'I'm staying put, absolutely.' The thirty one-year-old also praised her new co-host Jason Manford, who was last month confirmed as Chiles' replacement on the sofa. She said: 'I love Jason. I've met him a few times and our rapport is getting better all the time. I love funny men, guys who don't take themselves too seriously. The first time I met him, we were interviewing him on the show and he was dressed as the Tin Man - you can't not like that, can you? He will be brilliant. I'm confident our chemistry will be as good as the one Adrian and I shared - we just need time.'

Lord Alan Bullyboy has hired seventeen-year-old Arjun Rajyagor as his first ever Junior Apprentice. The A-Level student won a twenty five grand fund, which will be used to kick-start his business career.

Bruce Forsyth has not yet signed up for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, according to a report. The show's host has been offered a six hundred and sixty thousand pound deal to return to the programme following a meeting with the BBC in April, the Daily Scum Mail claims. You know, the same newspaper that was saying yesterday that Christine Bleakley was getting two million. I'm not sure, exactly, where they get these figures from. Out of their own arseholes, possibly. Perhaps, we'll never care. However, it is thought that the eighty two-year-old Forsyth has been given a month to inform bosses about his intentions. A 'source' - remember them - said: 'It's up to Bruce as to whether he feels up to it. It is a long haul and gruelling for him.' Forsyth refused to be drawn on his Strictly plans in an interview last month, insisting that they were 'strictly confidential.'

Top Gear returns to BBC2 on Sunday 27 June. Great news for all fans of the show and really, really terrible news for hippie-beardy-Communists and Daily Scum Mail readers everywhere. Marvellous, so it is.

Talkback Thames' failure to find successors to its long-standing hits prompted chief executive Lorraine Heggessey's surprise departure, 'sources' have claimed according to the magazine Broadcast. While The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent are achieving massive ratings, it is understood that the company has been under immense pressure from parent Fremantle to find hits to which it wholly owns the rights. It shares the ownership of ITV's ratings juggernauts with Syco, while The Apprentice is licenced from Mark Burnett Productions. One source said: 'The feeling within Fremantle is that Talkback needs big new brands and franchises that it fully owns and can exploit. Just living off a production fee that is getting increasingly squeezed isn't enough.' The likes of Grand Designs, Qi and The IT Crowd have also all been around for several years and the feeling is that its new output has not produced comparable hits. 'There have been hits on BBC2 and Channel 4, but they aren't the big breakthroughs that are needed,' said another 'source.' Nameless, of course. The company's more recent successes include the wretched Take Me Out from the entertainment department, The Phone Shop and Celebrity Juice from comedy and Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys from the factual features department. Drama has delivered the award-winning Shooting Of Thomas Hurndall and the upcoming The Sinking Of The Laconia, by Alan Bleasdale. The pressure to prove itself less reliant on long-running shows was exacerbated by the loss of The Bill, which ITV cancelled in March after moving it to a 9pm slot. Heggessey battled to save the show but some industry insiders believe - at least, according to Broadcast - that she has been made a scapegoat for its demise. At the BAFTAs on Sunday, Heggessey admitted that The Bill's loss would have an impact on the company beyond the ninety job losses initially mooted, but said she was assessing how best to minimise the effects. There had been no indication that Heggessey's exit was on the cards. The former BBC1 controller has steered Talkback through a period of major success, with almost five hundred hours of programming on its slate, and has a reputation as a popular and inspiring boss.

Pineapple Dance Studios has been cancelled by Sky1, a spokesperson for the broadcaster confirmed this afternoon. BBC News reports that the 'docusoap,' which launched Louie Spence into mainstream culture, will not return for a second series. Spence had previously claimed that the show was coming back, whilst pop singer Andrew Stone also predicted another run. Despite the broadcaster's reluctance to admit the reason behind its decision, earlier reports signal towards a disagreement between Sky and studio owner Debbie Moore. Meanwhile, Celia Taylor - head of factual TV at Sky1 - confirmed earlier rumours that Spence has been signed up for another show. She said: 'He's warm, talented, honest and is a brilliant laugh. He's just the type of person we want to be working with.'

ITV has confirmed that GMTV anchor Andrew Castle has quit the breakfast programme. In a statement, the former British tennis player announced that he is to leave the show in the autumn. 'I have had a fantastic ten years fronting one of the UK's most-watched television programmes, but with all the changes taking place at GMTV I felt it was time for a new chapter in my life as well,' he said. 'I enjoyed both meeting and working with some very talented people at the programme and I wish all those at GMTV every success in the future.' Alison Sharman, director of factual, daytime and GMTV, thanked Castle for the work he has done over the last decade. 'He has been a vital and central part of the presentation team. And now he has decided to move on, I wish him good luck and best wishes with all the new projects that he will be taking on,' she said. The forty six-year-old, who will present his last show in early September, will return to ITV later in the year as presenter of peak time entertainment series 71 Degrees North.

EastEnders' Rita Simons has revealed that forthcoming episodes of the soap will revisit the relationship between her screen sister, Ronnie Mitchell, and their late father, Archie. In the BBC soap's live instalment earlier this year, viewers learned that Ronnie (Samantha Womack) had been raped by Archie (Larry Lamb) when she was a teenager. The dark secret emerged as Ronnie had a heated argument with Simons's character, Roxy. Although the storyline has been put on the backburner since the revelation, viewers can expect it to be brought back to the forefront in the weeks to come. Speaking on This Morning yesterday, Simons confirmed: 'It is being revisited and I'm very glad. We've actually filmed it already. Sam Womack was phenomenal. I think she's had to keep replaying - I don't think she gets enough credit for it - this tragic heroine over and over. Just when we think it's over, she's got another revelation, so she was just incredible.' She continued: 'It was so important to me that when we shot it - and I'm not a diva and I never do this - I asked the director, "Please can we do it again?" because I wasn't happy. It was just that important to Sam and I, and I hope we've nailed it.'

TV is dropping the GMTV brand and will splash out one and a half million pounds on a shake-up of the flagship morning show according to industry whispers. The show will be renamed and rebranded in what ITV director of factual and daytime Alison Sharman told staff in an e-mail was 'the biggest change' in its seventeen-year history. It will be given new music and graphics, moved to a new studio overlooking the River Thames and kitted out with technology for high-definition broadcasts. The overhaul comes as a result of ITV viewer research, where it was agreed 'almost universally' that a new look and feel would be paramount to the show's future success. The commercial broadcaster has not yet decided on a new name for GMTV as director of group marketing David Pemsel works through the rebrand with his team. Staff were talked through the plans on Monday, when new editor Ian Rumsey and deputy editor Paul Connolly were introduced. It was also revealed that after nearly eighteen years running GMTV's output, deputy editor Malcolm Douglas will step down. At the meeting, Sharman admitted that the speculation over whether Christine Bleakley would join new GMTV front-man Adrian Chiles was 'the elephant in the room,' but declined to give staff any update. There could also be changes to Lorraine Kelly's spin-off show, LK Today. It is currently filmed live on Monday and Tuesday, while Wednesday and Thursday's editions are pre-recorded. Broadcast states that ITV is considering airing each episode live. Sharman also confirmed that the show's integration process with ITV was 'almost complete' and executives are working to 'harmonise the terms and conditions' of GMTV employees with those of ITV. Almost one in five GMTV staff took voluntary redundancy or had their jobs placed at risk as part of the ITV integration review.

The BBC has enlisted Ewan McGregor and his RAF pilot brother, Colin, to recreate the experience of World War II fighter pilots for a major season to mark the Seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The brothers will fly across the skies of England in Spitfires in the one-off BBC1 documentary, The Real Battle Of Britain, guided by surviving pilots, radar operators and ground-crew from the war. The ninety-minute documentary sees Lion Television take to the skies again following its aerial geographical history series Britain From Above. BBC history and business commissioning editor Martin Davidson has assembled a series of programmes across the BBC to mark the September anniversary. Lion has also teamed up with Manray Media for BBC2's seventy five-minute drama-documentary First Light, which draws on the memoirs of nineteen year-old pilot Geoffrey Wellum. It will be accompanied by Maya Vision International's Battle of Britain: The Real Story, in which writer and historian James Holland draws on first-hand testimonies from British and German pilots, and BBC1's three-part series Dig 1940. The latter is produced by Northern Irish specialist factual production company 360 Production and sees Jules Hudson lead a team excavating wartime artefacts and aircraft wreckage. BBC4's coverage includes Wellington Bomber (Peter Williams Television) and Spitfire Women (Love West). The corporation will also air a Westminster Abbey memorial service as part of the season.

The Observer food critic and ONE Show contributor Jay Rayner is to join forces with Supersize vs Superskinny's Anna Richardson for a topical food magazine show for Channel 4. Remarkable Television's The Food Show (really rubbish working title) is a joint commission from the broadcaster's features and current affairs departments that will investigate the food consumed in the UK each day - where it comes from, what happens to it and how long it takes to get to the nation's dinner plates. Filmed in the week prior to transmission, it will aim both to break stories and to react to the news. Rayner, who previously fronted the Dispatches investigation The Truth About Food Prices, will be the journalistic face of the show, with Richardson representing the consumer point of view. The six part series sees Richardson again working with Remarkable, which also makes My Big Fat Diet Show. Managing director Colette Foster will executive produce alongside former Ready, Steady, Cook executive producer Annette Clarke. C4 head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne said: 'The spirit of current affairs can be sprinkled across other genres and in The Food Show, the attitude, the knowledge and the high standard of our investigations will be peppered throughout a magazine show to make it newsworthy, informative and agenda-setting.' Peppered. Very good. I almost smirked. Deputy head of features Andrew Jackson said the show would 'empower' viewers to be more 'savvy' food shoppers. Nice misuse of the word 'empower' there, pal. You haven't got a frigging clue what it means, do you? You just heard it used once in an episode of Buffy and thought 'wow, that sounds cool.' God, I loathe media-speak. 'It will provide informed investigations on issues such as how to eat on a budget and whether buying organic or local is worth the money. It will enable viewers to make clued-up decisions on how they spend their money and feed their families.' You forgot to include a few more media buzzwords in there, Andrew. Like synergy and zeitgeist.

The final months of production on The Bill are being filmed in a special behind-the-scenes documentary for ITV. The untitled sixty-minute show, made by The Bill's creator, Talkback Thames, will mark the end of the drama's twenty seven years on air by capturing the memories of established cast and crew. It will contain exclusive footage of this month's production on the final two-part instalment of The Bill, to be shown this summer. Cast and crew will talk about their highlights of the series over the years, as well as what it was like to be filming the final scenes. The documentary was ordered by ITV's commissioner for factual, daytime, Katy Thorogood and controller of popular factual Jo Clinton-Davis. It will be executive produced by Talkback's John Comerford and directed by Kim Duke. Alison Sharman, said: 'The Bill has been a part of all my adult life, as it will have been for millions of other people. We will mark its ITV retirement with a truly special and unique tribute that mixes eye-opening backstage access with memories of the many great highlights.'

The last three episodes of the 'H' series of Qi have been filmed. One is this year's Christmas episode, featuring Lee Mack, Graham Norton and Daniel Radcliffe. The other two have the theme of 'H-Animals' (with Sean Lock, Ross Noble and Ruby Wax) and 'humanity' (featuring Jo Brand, Jack Dee and Jimmy Carr).

Channel 4 aims to offer subtitles on all of its programmes and films across TV and online by next January as part of a package of measures to improve its access services. The core C4 channel currently subtitles about ninety per cent of its shows, but the broadcaster plans to step this up, with a pledge to move towards one hundred per cent across its whole portfolio from next month. The move is a significant step up for Film 4, which currently subtitles just thirty five per cent of its movies, More 4 and E4. All new content will also be subtitled on +1 channels and online via the 4oD service on C4's website and YouTube. The move is above the ninety per cent threshold that C4 and ITV are legally required to reach this year and will bring the broadcaster into line with the BBC, which has subtitled one hundred per cent of its shows since 2008. Meanwhile, C4 plans to more than double the volume of content that is supported by audio descriptions for the hard-of-hearing. From September, Hollyoaks and Deal Or No Deal will carry the service for the first time. The moves come ahead of C4's planned coverage of the 2012 Paralympic Games and have also been put in place in light of the reaffirmation of its public service role in the recent Digital Economy Act.

Oh, and in Corrie, Gail got a not guilty for murder. That fact that she never, actually, done it helped, of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, C4 plans to more than double the volume of content that is supported by audio descriptions for the hard-of-hearing."

Slightly inappropriate choice of words here, unless C4 are considering employing Brian Blessed for this service. Also I think the target audience is wrong, a bit like having subtitles for the visually impaired.