Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Should She Stay, Or Should She Go?

Will she or won't she? And if she does, or doesn't ... who bloody cares? Christine Bleakley is alleged to be signing a new BBC contract worth two million smackers after deciding against a move to ITV, a press report has claimed. This comes, of course, just a day after every newspaper in the country was chasing the story that she'd already 'secretly signed' for ITV for six million quid. Make yer minds up, guys, this is getting really boring. According to the Daily Scum Mail, the two-year deal will see Bleakley continue with her work on The ONE Show and also team up with Sue Barker to front the Beeb's 2012 Olympics coverage. In recent weeks, the thirty one-year-old has been heavily tipped to defect to ITV, where she was expected to host GMTV with her former ONE Show colleague Adrian Chiles. However, a - very talkative - 'source' allegedly told the Scum Mail: 'Christine knows that at the BBC she will be a major player now and will be in line to get big opportunities as well as being guaranteed to front the Olympics - which would have been Adrian's job, alongside Sue Barker. At ITV, she would have gone from hosting The ONE Show, which regularly pulls in four million, to suffering through 4am wake-up calls on GMTV, which is lucky to get a million viewers a day. Christine knew that it didn't make much sense.' I say allegedly because, frankly, I think that's a load of made-up diarrhoea. We shall await the next series of counter-claims, probably tomorrow with something approaching apoplexy.

Lie To Me returned in the use this week with a considerable bang and one of its finest ever episodes - Beat The Devil - in which Cal (Tim Roth on peak form) crossed swords a student whom he believes to be a psychopathic kidnapper. The latter was a quite stunning performance of controlled malevolence by Jason Dohring - first thing I've seen him in since Veronica Mars ended. Gosh, it's good to have Lie To Me back.

Wayne Rooney has revealed that he is a fan of Glee. D'you know what? I actually believe him, an'all! The England footballer, who is currently in South Africa preparing for the World Cup, and happily abusing referees for entertainment, explained that he likes the songs in the show. 'I like Glee,' he told Hello. 'I watch it as well [as his wife, Coleen]. I like musicals and I love music.' Christ, what a once-in-a-generation mind that kid has. Rooney, who was recently named the England squad's best dancer, also said that he likes a wide range of songs. 'The Stereophonics are still my favourite band,' he explained. 'I like Whitney Houston as well. I think her new album I Look To You is really good.' What is it about footballers and their crap musicals taste? Rooney's England teammate Steven Gerrard is also thought to be a fan of Glee. Which is probably something for all deejays at any pub, club, wedding or other event that he's likely to be at in the future to bear in mind if they want a quiet life.

Julie Walters has revealed that she would relish the opportunity to appear in Coronation Street.The veteran actress, who has often said that she is a fan of the soap, confessed that she would sign up if producers offered her a suitable role. Speaking to the Sun about her ambition, Walters commented: 'It depends on the part but I'd love a little something in Corrie. Someone once asked if it was true I was going to play Audrey's sister and I thought, "What a good idea," but nothing came of that.' She continued: 'I'm a big soap fan. I'm addicted - I had to give [them] up for lent.' On Sunday, the sixty-year-old received a BAFTA for her performance as Mo Mowlam in a recent Channel 4 biopic drama.

A theatre group staging a production of Dad's Army narrowly avoided the production going with a quite literal bang after using live grenades as props. The grenades had been found in a garage owned by a cast member's father-in-law during a clear-out after his death. The grenades were being used in a rehearsal when a Magor Players' cast member realised they could be live. Police were called and carried out a controlled explosion. The play was an adaptation of the popular TV comedy Dad's Army which was screened from 1968 to 1977. Keith Poultney, who was taking the role of Corporal Jones followed his character's advice and remained panic-free even as he realised the bomb in his hand was live. The grenades had been mounted on a display plate and it was only once they were removed it became apparent they still had the pins in. He told BBC Radio Wales: 'It was during rehearsals fortunately. It would have been a bit unfortunate in a crowd of one hundred people. It was in a rehearsal just prior to doing a live show. I held them several times and handed them around to friends. We'd driven down from Droitwich in Worcestershire with them rattling around in the back of the car.' Once Poultney realised the potential danger, he put them in a field outside his house and contacted the emergency services. 'The police just said "keep well clear and we'll get the bomb squad down,"' he said. The police blew the grenade partially apart to make it safe but much to Poultney's disappointment the group were not allowed to have them back as the World War I devices are crown property. In the end, they had to carve a replica out of wood. Mr Poultney said of the two-night play run: 'It was all done in good fun. I don't think anyone could be as good as the original one was but I think we paid a fair tribute to them.'

The BBC reportedly faced twelve sex discrimination cases brought by its staff last year, information released under the Freedom of Information Act has shown. The figure was a fourfold rise on the number for two years earlier, when three women took action against the corporation, and also exceeded 2008's total of nine. The BBC refused to say how many of the women received payouts, but said that the number of women with complaints was a very small proportion of its workforce. Three cases of age discrimination have also been brought against the BBC in the past three years. A corporation spokesman said: 'The BBC takes its responsibilities as a fair employer very seriously. Employing over seventeen thousand people means that on occasion there will be cases such as this but over the course of three years this represents a very small proportion of our workforce.'

Broadcast journalist John Simpson has claimed that the BBC is 'no longer doomed' following the formation of the UK's new coalition government. Speaking to an audience at the Hay Festival in Wales, the BBC's World Affairs editor expressed his belief that the corporation was under threat from the previous Labour government. He said that the BBC was not 'doomed as an organisation' due to its global reputation and profitability, but it was facing uncertainty from Labour's attempts to 'cut sections out of the licence fee and give them to other organisations.' Simpson also said that he was equally concerned about the Conservative Party's pre-election policy statements about the BBC, according to Broadcast. 'The Conservative policy was that they were going to go in and make them do things and announce how much people were earning and there was a big question about the licence fee,' he said. 'They weren't going to do anything until 2012 but there would be a lot of questions about it then.' However, the veteran broadcaster said that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition that emerged from the general election makes him feel more positive about the BBC's future. 'The British electorate spoke in a very interesting way and that all won't happen now,' he said. 'When you have a Conservative prime minister coming into office saying he is the best friend of the BBC a Tory leader has ever been, that is not saying much, but on the other hand you have some hope. I think the BBC will survive now.' Also at the festival, Simpson revealed his fears about how viewers perceive his weight and age during live broadcasts to massive audiences worldwide. 'When I do a report for the BBC now I have to recognise three hundred and fifty to three hundred and sixty million people are going to see it,' he said. 'They are all saying to each other: "Doesn't he look fat? Do you think he can go on for much longer?" When you think of all the languages that's being said in you go insane.'

Cypriot prosecutors have begun presenting evidence against a popular TV host, Elena Skordelli, accused of ordering the murder of a boss who sacked her. I wonder if Kate Garraway's going to try that when she's get the inevitable boot from GMTV? Probably not, I'd've thought. The glamorous forty two-year-old media star - Elena, this is, not Kate Garraway - is alleged to have paid for the contract killing of the millionaire head of the Dias media group, Andis Hadjicostis, who was shot in January. Skordelli's brother, Tassos Krasopoulos is also a defendant in the trial. They have both pleaded not guilty to murder and conspiracy to murder. Along with a third defendant, they could face a life prison sentence if convicted. A fourth suspect who allegedly carried out the shooting of Hadjicostis outside his house in Nicosia is believed to have fled Cyprus. Prosecutors have alleged that the murder was motivated by the decision to fire Skordelli. They also say Skordelli and her brother were trying to gain a majority stake in Sigma, the Dias station on which Skordelli had her show. They currently hold twenty per cent of Sigma shares. As the trial got under way on Monday, prosecutors presented items including a crash helmet, closed-circuit TV footage, and shotgun pellets. Observers say the alleged contract killing of a high-profile figure is unprecedented in Cyprus and that Cypriots have been gripped by the case.

Matt Lucas has reportedly signed-up for a guest role in a future episode of Glee. According to the Sun, the comedian will appear in the series as a British teacher with a hidden passion for musicals. It is also thought that Lucas could have a solo musical number during his cameo. Lucas and his Little Britain partner David Walliams recently announced that they are working on a new show, Come Fly With Me.

Husky-voiced Georgie Thompson has admitted that the attention she receives as Declan Donnelly's girlfriend has been unnerving. The Sky Sports News broadcaster and face of Gallo Rosé told Metro that she is still getting used to being in the public eye as the partner of the popular cheeky-chappie TV presenter. Thompson said: 'Dec has been so used to it for so long. For me, it's all quite new and strange but I wouldn't change anything.' Asked if Donnelly could convert her from a Fulham fan to a Newcastle supporter, she added: 'Newcastle have become my second team. We've not had any disagreements yet but while we've been together, they've been in the Championship and we've been in the Premiership. I'm sure there will be a few healthy, open debates next season, which I'll win.'

Three new men have joined the professional dancers lineup for the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing. Latin champion and US So You Think You Can Dance graduate Artem Chigvintsev, twenty one-year-old High School Musical dancer and Swing Youth winner Jared Murillo, and Burn The Floor star Robin Windsor will all join the Strictly family for the eighth series. There will be fourteen celebrities in this year's ballroom competition compared to sixteen last, but the professionals without a partner will still be part of the show in a new 'dance group.' Featuring Brian Fortuna, Darren Bennett, Lilia Kopylova, Ian Waite and Matthew Cutler, the troupe are to be joined by fellow professionals each week, depending on the style of dance that they perform. Competing alongside the celebrities this year will be new additions Chigvintsev, Murillo and Windsor alongside Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, James Jordan and Vincent Simone. The female dancers will be Ola Jordan, Flavia Cacace, Erin Boag, Kristina Rihanoff, Natalie Lowe, Aliona Vilani and Katya Virshilas. BBC controller of entertainment commissioning Mark Linsey said: 'Strictly will be back this autumn with more world-class dancers and more spectacular dancing than ever before. I'm delighted to be welcoming three new fantastic dancers to Strictly and am really excited about the introduction of a professional dance group, giving us even more opportunities to feature different areas of expertise and more genres of dance than in any other series.'

Ashley Jensen, star of Ugly Betty and Extras, is set to return to the BBC in a brand-new comedy called Accidental Farmer for BBC1 – a sixty-minute pilot is currently in production by BBC in-house comedy productions. Jensen's character, Erin Taylor, is a high-powered, London-based advertising executive who has it all – a successful career, a stunning flat and a gorgeous boyfriend, Mike. A control-freak, who plans every aspect of her life, nothing takes Erin by surprise – until she discovers Mike in bed with a woman half her age. She wreaks revenge by abusing his credit card buying, among other things, a run-down farm in Yorkshire. With Mike's scorn ringing in her ears, Erin decides to make a go of it. How hard can it be to run a farm? Little does she realise that she'd be sharing a bed with Olive, an octogenarian sitting tenant. Or fending off Clive, the inebriated handyman. Or being shouted at by Judith, the horsey neighbour. Or embarrassing herself in front of Matt, the dishy vet. Sounds effing rotten. I mean, seriously, I've heard some bad 'twenty words or less' pitches for TV shows in the past but I think this one might just be the worst ever. And, considering that includes Bobby Davro's Rock With Laughter, that really is saying something. Jensen said: 'I am really looking forward to working in the UK again on Accidental Farmer and getting my feet dirty in a farm somewhere in Yorkshire! It's a great script and I love animals, though I have never worked with them before!' Oh, I dunno. Ricky Gervais ... ?

David Mitchell was reportedly shaken after being attacked by a mugger near his home in North London early on Sunday morning. The actor and comedian was unhurt, but thieves made off with cash, credit cards and his mobile phone, according to the Daily Mail. 'I've just been mugged. And I'm fine thanks,' David wrote on Twitter moments after it happened. 'I was just shocked and now annoyed to have no cash cards or phone. But it could have been a lot worse.' A spokesman for Scotland Yard verified the incident. 'The victim, a man in his thirties, was not injured during the attack. No weapon was seen to be used. As yet no arrests have been made. Our inquiries continue.' Don't hold yer breath, David. I'm still waiting for them to find my video recorder which was stolen in 1991.

Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq is the new presenter of ITV2's spin-off show The Xtra Factor, it has been announced. The thirty-year-old, who hosted the BBC children's show for eleven years, will take over from Holly Willoughby. A statement on The X Factor website said Huq is 'well-equipped to take on the mayhem and madness of the audition tour.' Huq said she is 'delighted' to join the show and she 'can't wait' to start. As well as Willoughby, who now co-presents This Morning, previous hosts of the show have included Ben Shephard and Fearne Cotton. Huq will join the team as auditions for the talent search begin on Wednesday in Glasgow.

Some very sad news, now. The former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable has died at the age of forty. His body was found at his Aberdare home at 5.30am on Monday morning, WalesOnline reports. South Wales Police confirmed the death of a forty-year-old man and said that there are no suspicious circumstances at this stage. The cause of death has not yet been established. His mother, Mabel, said: 'Stuart has travelled all over the world with the band and I have worried myself silly. He is now settled down and then this has happens. It has not sunk in yet.' Stuart's brother Paul added: 'The family has no further comment to make at this stage. It is in the hands of the police.' Stuart was the original drummer in Stereophonics and played on the band's first four CDs. He was sacked from the group in September 2003 and went on to form a new band, Killing for Company. He had also established himself as a media personality. In 2002, Cable was given his own TV chat show, Cable TV, by BBC Wales. One of the reasons that he left the Stereophonics was because it was claimed that he was spending too much time on his media career at the expense of rehearsals.After that, he had another television series Cable Connects (2005) and had his own radio show on BBC Radio Wales, Cable Rock.

On Channel 4 News on Tuesday night, Jeremy Hunt - when pressed by a more-gobby-than-usual Jon Snow - gave a commitment that the coalition government had no plans to sell off Channel 4.

Paul Merton was reportedly unhappy that John Prescott was asked to host an episode of Have I Got News For You. Prescott fronted the programme for the final episode of the series but the Daily Express claims that Merton was worried that it would make the show too political. 'Paul wasn't that comfortable with the idea as he knew the show would end up being very politically charged with Ian Hislop at Prescott's throat,' a source said. 'Paul doesn't particularly like the shows when politics and personal animosity overtake the comic side of things.' The programme's executive producer Richard Wilson recently revealed that he has a wish-list of presenters including Joanna Lumley and Jeremy Paxman.

Chico has described The X Factor as 'a conveyor belt' for contestants. The singer, who reached the quarter-finals of the second series in 2005, told Heat that he does not regret going on the show. Chico said: 'It's a case of "next!" It's not a guarantee for a career. It just enables you to open a few doors. Or it could open a few windows. Or it could open some windows, but close a few doors. I was lucky enough to be on the second series where you could get a year or even two years out of it. But now it's not even that. It's just three or four months!' He added: 'I have nothing but praise for The X Factor. Without it I wouldn't have become a household name and knocked Madonna off the top of the charts!' Hang on a second ... Chico is a 'household name'? When did that happen? Did I miss that memo?

Katie Price has reportedly been warned that she does not have enough 'big-name celebrities' on the guest list for her forthcoming wedding. Well, isn't that a national tragedy? Sod Whitehaven, let's hold a day of national mourning for that. Christ, is there anything this woman does that isn't entirely driven by narcissism? According to the Daily Star, producers of the waste-of-space reality TV regular's ITV2 show fear that their coverage of the event will be 'dull' unless she pulls together a more impressive line-up. Is anybody else feeling sick at this point, or is it just me? It is thought that Price has only managed to recruit a handful of her 'showbiz friends' to attend the big day, including Dane Bowers, Danielle Lloyd and Emma B. However, show bosses allegedly told her: 'Dane Bowers isn't enough - we need more stars.' Sources say that Price is now being encouraged to find some famous bridesmaids to make the event more exciting. Can I suggest Kerry Katona and the Duchess of York? They're similarly desperate to get their faces on TV. For a price, of course.

Coleen Nolan has admitted that she would not be interested in joining the GMTV team. Not that anybody's actually asked her to, you understand, she just thought she'd mention it.

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