Thursday, June 17, 2010

We Do Not Condone Violence - But We Like Watching Some

Most people - who expressed a preference - do not believe that violence on TV is to blame for violence in real life, and a majority think that the amount and strength of violent content that is broadcast is perfectly acceptable. These are two of the perhaps surprising headline findings from new research into the acceptability of violence to audiences, commissioned by BBC Editorial Policy. Eleven groups of twenty people were shown thirteen clips, mostly from BBC programmes, judged to be at the edges of acceptability. Programmes viewed included EastEnders, Panorama, Waking the Dead, The Wire, The Bill and the BBC Ten O'Clock News. In general, most people thought violent content had grown stronger and some felt that they were becoming desensitised to TV violence because of levels of real violence, accessible online and, indeed, in society in general. Console games and the Internet were seen by some as directly affecting violence in society. Overall, there was little pressing concern expressed about violent content on any of the BBC platforms, in any genre. People expected the bar to be set higher for the BBC, but also that the corporation could 'fall behind the times,' competing with harder-edged content from other broadcasters.

Other key findings included that:
• A gulf exists between the under thirty fives, who watch US imports like The Wire and Dexter and view violence in certain contexts as 'entertainment,' and older viewers for whom that kind of content is incomprehensible.
• Audiences don't want to be 'ambushed' by extreme violence immediately after the watershed, or at the start of a show.
• There was less concern about violence in pre-watershed drama than anticipated, but some dislike of low-level, ongoing aggression, particularly in EastEnders.
• Respondents were surprisingly tolerant of violence in cop shows like The Bill and precinct dramas like Casualty.
• Most people didn't find sexual violence objectionable if it was essential to the story.
• 'Trusted' post-watershed dramas like BBC1's Waking the Dead raised tolerance of violent scenes that might not otherwise be acceptable.
• Established documentary strands like Panorama and Dispatches were also trusted, so given more latitude than news to show extreme content.
• There is a blurring in the minds of audiences between reality TV and fly-on-the-wall documentaries, with the cynicism felt about the motives of one being transferred to the other.
• People feel BBC News should probably push the boundaries a bit more on exceptional stories to 'shake up' audiences.
• Parents are most concerned about affects of TV violence on the ten-fourteen age group.
• Even when people thought boundaries had been pushed too far, most said it wouldn't stop them watching the show.
Presenting the research to programme makers at White City on Wednesday, David Jordan, director of editorial policy, said that two new resulting pieces of guidance – on violence in post and pre-watershed drama, and depiction of violence in news – would be published with the revised edition of BBC editorial guidelines this autumn. I must say, yer Keith Telly Topping is really rather heartened by this report. I've never subscribed to the view that audiences are in any way likely to react to violent imagery with violence of their own. I believe that theory equates humans to being little more than Pavlov's Dogs. Personally, no matter how scummy some individuals within it may be, I think we as a race are a little bit more complex than that. As a society, we tend to get the television that we deserve. Television does not create a violent society, it merely reflects it. Here endeth the lesson.

Inevitably following the reporting of Stephen Fry's comments at BAFTA, the press have got exactly what they were angling for - and, exactly what this blogger predicted they'd achieve, earlier - a 'war of words.' Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat was prodded into a response to Fry's criticisms of British television. Speaking after BAFTA's exclusive screening of this Saturday's Who episode The Pandorica Opens, Moffat laughed off the comments. 'Doctor Who's not for adults? I can count some here!' he joked. 'Let's be fair, Stephen Fry's one of the biggest Doctor Who fans in the world, he was just trying to sound grown up. Doctor Who was designed specifically to be a family programme. That's what it's for. It's the junction between the children's programmes and the adults' programmes. It's the one that everybody sits and watches.' He added: 'It's a rather brilliant idea. Why don't they make a television programme that everybody wants to watch? We should do that more often. It surprised me that it took me until I was forty seven to be working on a show like that. The comparison with chicken nuggets? This is very, very high-end, very, very high-quality show. It has absolutely no comparison with junk food at all and Stephen knows it. That's Twitter he's thinking about! Stephen loves Doctor Who so don't worry about it.' Moffat, baby, I love you and I want to have your babies. I'll need the operation first, of course...

Today, yer Keith Telly Topping arrived home from work to find that my beloved Gallifrey Base was still Jacob's Cream Crackered. (It's been down with a server problem of some description for the last few hours as, at the time of writing, remains out of action.) It just shows how utterly empty and pathetic my life had become that my inability to get onto an Internet Message Forum to talk to other sad bastards like myself about football and TV ratings actually matters to me. I am worthless and wretched. Although, happily, at least I'm not alone! It's farcical, isn't it? We're grown adults - Stephen Fry (and Steven Moffat) take note! - we should be better than this. Ah well, Argentina v South Korea was on the telly at the time, at least.

Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow has blamed the media's obsession with celebrity culture for holding back the international news agenda on British television. In an interview with Broadcast, Snow said the biggest barrier to success for foreign affairs broadcasting was the media's preoccupation with public figures who have become famous for achieving little. With footballers' wives making headlines around the World Cup launch, he said: 'They don't want it, and I'm not entirely sure the British public want it all the time. If the world folds up, it won't be because of footballers' wives, it will be because we didn't understand what was going on in the Middle East. And we perhaps need to.' Snow praised the UK's coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, which won ITV News At Ten a BAFTA this month. But he took issue with a tendency to 'package' news stories in a formulaic way due to fewer TV reporters on the ground. This dilutes the quality of journalism, Snow said, with less of a human interest angle. Now, let it be noted, I don't disagree with a single word of that. But ... is it just me or is there something astonishingly snotty about Jon Snow, who works for Channel 4, the broadcaster that has done more than any other - via Big Brother - to promote the culture of 'celebrity by non-entity' saying all this as though it's somehow 'someone else's fault.' If Jon Snow, seven years ago, had said to Channel 4, 'I'm unhappy to be in any way associated with this kind of programming, take it off or I'm leaving,' then I'd've had a lot more respect for him. As it is, sadly, this is just another crass middle-class self-interest whinge with a not-insignificant amount of prole-baiting at its core. But then, that's Channel 4 News down to the ground. They're a bunch of supercilious gits who think that they're better than us. And, they might well be, to be fair, but I don't particularly like them rubbing my nose in the fact. At least with Sky News, the agenda isn't hidden. It scummy, but it's clear for all to see.

GMTV host Big Fat Cuddly Lorraine Kelly - every students favourite pretend auntie - is being lined up to replace Christine Bleakley on The ONE Show, a report has claimed. This story just gets more bizarre by the day! According to the Daily Scum Mail, BBC bosses have 'already approached' the Scottish presenter as they 'prepare for the possibility of Bleakley quitting' the early evening programme. It is understood that Kelly had already been offered her own ITV daily show which was expected to launch alongside the revamped version of GMTV later this year. However, the fifty-year-old is not thought to have finalised any plans with the commercial broadcaster. An 'insider' allegedly said: 'Lorraine has been approached by the BBC to see whether she would want to take over from Christine. It is certainly an interesting offer. Lorraine has been doing daytime TV for the past seventeen years, so it would be an exciting move. She has still not signed her new deal for the new ITV breakfast show, so at the moment things are up in the air and open for discussion. The BBC know that whenever marketing research has been done at GMTV, Lorraine comes out as the favourite.'

Channel 4 has revealed plans for a new reality show. Is Jon Snow listening, by any chance? Come on, Lord Snotty, now is the time to 'make the stand'! The eight-part series, currently called The Village, will see city-dwellers move to a small Yorkshire town. The couples will all be given houses and jobs, but each week local residents will vote out the least popular pair. The winners of the series will be allowed to keep their home. Filming on The Village will begin in the beautiful North Yorks hamlet of Grassington in August. I was, actually, talking to Jamie Wilkinson about this very subject at work the other day. I think both of us reckon this one could go either way - as a genuinely interesting social experiment, or as freak-show telly. Either could, just, be entertainment. I guess this is, as usual, a case of wait and see.

The producers of BBC2 comedy Bellamy's People had an entire series' worth of material in the can when the show was cancelled, Broadcast has alleged. The BBC holds the rights to the footage and stands by the decommission of Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson's TV version of their award-winning Radio 4 comedy Down The Line, but is now weighing up using some of it on a planned commercial DVD release. Due to the lengthy shooting schedule and the improvised nature of the show, the first eight-part series used just a third of the material shot. Half of the characters intended to feature never made it to the screen. A source close to the production said the team worked on the assumption of getting a second series, believing the BBC would support the show. The team planned to use the existing material as a bargaining chip to show that they could deliver a low-cost second series. But the BBC voiced frustrations with the first series and claimed it did not want to base a second series on what it saw as off-cuts. 'We have some fantastic stuff waiting to be used and it's a tragedy that it might never see the light of day,' the unattributed 'source' allegedly said. 'It's some of our favourite material and there are some very funny characters, so we can't just let it die.' The show was jointly produced by BBC in-house and Down the Line Productions.

Len Goodman has admitted that he does not know whether he will be invited back to Strictly Come Dancing this year. if he doesn't, and Alesha Dixon is, then the world is, simply sick and wrong. The sixty six-year-old (Len, this is, not Alesha) has appeared as the BBC show's head judge since its launch in 2004, but said that he is currently unsure about his future involvement with the programme. Strictly bosses have already recently announced that a number of professional dancers will have reduced roles on the next series to make way for new faces. The shake-up has provoked a mixed response from fans. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph about his own Strictly future, Goodman commented: 'They have had a bit of a chop and a change, I have heard but, if it is my turn, so be it. I am waiting for the contract to come through. Of course, I would love to do it. The BBC usually get in touch around this sort of time. They haven't been in communication with me yet, so I am still waiting.' A spokesman for the BBC said that the corporation was unable to confirm whether Goodman will be invited back. Sounds ominous!

Louie Spence was reportedly turned away from the Hospital Club in Covent Garden on Tuesday after trying to meet the cast of Glee. The Pineapple Dance Studios mincing auld queen, who was at the club to film exterior shots for his upcoming TV show, was excited to learn that Glee actors were also shooting promos for Channel 4, reports the Daily Scum Mail. However, Spence was apparently turned away after trying to sneak in to meet the cast. Ah, bless him. I can imagine Louie'd probably be in tears over something like that! 'We allowed him to film a few shots in reception but then he tried to get down to meet them but he wasn't allowed,' a Hospital Club spokesperson said. 'And they were also far too busy so he was told to leave and he didn't get to see them.'

The Street creator Jimmy McGovern has voiced dismay at the scrapping of long-running drama series The Bill as cutting off a vital pipeline for emerging writers. McGovern, who started out on Brookside, told Broadcast - who, for once, actually had an attributed source and, probably, didn't know what the hell to do - that despite his reservations about The Bill, ITV was now without a home for aspiring writers to hone their skills outside of the soaps. 'The Bill was a tough place for new writers,' he said. 'But the less drama there is, the fewer opportunities there are. Ideally I'd like to see a Play For Today take its place, but that's not going to happen. It will probably be a reality show.' Speaking at a BAFTA/BFI panel discussion on TV drama this week, McGovern said: 'Commissioners have got to have confidence in who they're commissioning from, and they aren't going to take a chance on someone who has done nothing for a four-parter,' he said. Mark Of Cain creator Tony Marchant warned that continuing drama could stifle creativity. 'A lot of writers sign up to shows like Holby City and go through the sausage mixer and their voice is lost when what matters most is their singularity.' McGovern also used the debate to echo Melvyn Bragg's class divide concerns. BBC head of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson defended the opportunities available to young writers. 'Writing for EastEnders is not right for everyone, but it's really important to nurture those voices that don't want to do a Holby but can't hold down a six-part series.' The comments came as writers' development forum The Television Arts Showcase announced it could close after eighteen years due to funding shortages.

ITV weight-loss series, The Biggest Loser is set for a prime time slot in a bid to reach a fresh audience following its daytime debut. So that lots of couch potatoes can laugh at a bunch of fat bastards. Jon Snow, you need to make that stand now, baby. The channel has ordered an eight-part second run of the series from Shine TV. It will again see sixteen overweight lard-arses people live together while they battle to lose weight through dieting and exercise and massive loss of dignity in front of millions of viewers. The contestant who has loses the least amount each week is eliminated, with the person who ultimately loses the most winning a cash prize. The one who stays in longest, gets a ten thousand pound token. For Gregg's. The series originally aired on ITV in June 2009 during the day, following two series on Virgin Media TV's Living channel. It was commissioned by director of factual for ITV daytime Alison Sharman, who should be bloody well ashamed of herself, with Shine's Lisa Perrin and Karen Smith as executive producers.

Adventurers James Cracknell and Ben Fogle are to tackle a two thousand seven hundred-mile bicycle race for their next TV challenge. The Tour Divide - which stretches from Canada to Mexico - is the world's longest off-road race. Cracknell and Fogle want to break the course record by completing it in seventeen days. Christ, their poor little sphincters will be raw as a butcher's slab after that. Me hat's off to them. They will be filmed during their preparations and training for the four-part BBC2 series to be screened later this year. The pair will set off from Banff, Canada, in August, and will have to cover more than one hundred and sixty miles a day if they want to beat the current record of seventeen days and twenty one hours. Neither of the men have had any previous mountain bike training - Olympic rower Cracknell has ridden road bikes but Fogle has rarely cycled at all. 'I love a challenge, but as a cycling novice this is a huge test and could well prove to be the toughest yet,' said Fogle. To beat the world record, they must race unsupported so they will have no back-up team with equipment or supplies. They will also have to carry everything they need on their bikes, including camera equipment. The duo have completed other challenges including crossing the Atlantic in a rowing boat for TV series, Through Hell and High Water. In 2009, they endured a race to the South Pole which formed the series On Thin Ice. BBC executive producer Lisa Edwards said: 'We're delighted that James and Ben are returning to BBC2 with another inspirational challenge which, as their previous series' have done, is sure to keep viewers enthralled.' She did not allude to the likely state of their bottoms by the finish line. Which is probably just as well.

Kym Marsh has reportedly 'laughed off' claims that she is being groomed as Coronation Street's new 'flagship star.' Last month, a scum tabloid report suggested that Marsh's alter-ego, Michelle Connor, would soon become the most prominent character in the show after producer Phil Collinson handed the actress a new two-year deal. However, speaking to RTE, Marsh insisted: 'I did read that and I just laughed. The show is so much bigger than one person and that can't possibly be true. Maybe [Phil] has some ideas for my character, I don't know, but he certainly won't be thinking, "How can I make Kym the biggest star of the show?" I wish he was!' Can I just note that this point, that I'm glad he's not. Can't stand Kym Marsh. Too full of her own importance, that lass. Since Collinson took the helm of the Weatherfield soap earlier this year, a number of cast departures have been announced, including the forthcoming exits of Julia Haworth and Steven Arnold. Reflecting on the shake-up, Marsh commented: 'We're obviously sad at seeing Steven and Julia go, but I think that was very much a joint decision. I don't think anyone was particularly surprised. But the show won't be the same without Ashley!'

Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter has strongly denied claims that he stole the idea for the show. Earlier this week, it emerged that a former Hells Angel, Chuck Zito, is suing FX for five million dollars because he believes that he developed the concept for Sons Of Anarchy. However, Sutter has refuted the allegations in a post on his blog. 'Having the fucking idea is not the show,' he wrote. 'There have been dozens of outlaw motorcycle TV dramas pitched in the last ten years. None of them has made it to series, except SOA. Because they sucked.' He added that FX is 'not in the business of stealing ideas' and continued: 'I came up with the idea for the pilot, the first season, and the big mythology arcs. I generated a "pitch document" and registered it with the Writer's Guild of America. It's on file - the show, the characters, the narrative arc, the date, and the writer. It's all there, fully documented.' Sutter concluded: 'I'm sure this blog will get my ass kicked and begin a new wave of death threats, but fuck it. I'm tired of these fucking losers getting ink. Oh, and by the way - once, in 2004, I was in the lobby of AMC and complained to someone's assistant that there was a guy in the parking lot acting like a 'mad man'. AMC and Matt Weiner stole my idea. Clearly I came up with the concept for Mad Men.'

The two Dutch women accused of 'ambush marketing' at a World Cup stadium after using tickets allocated to football pundit and former Wimbledon player Robbie Earle to bring a group in orange mini-dresses into the stands have been released on bail. They were each freed after paying ten thousand rand and surrendering their passports, according to South African Police Service spokesman Colonel Vishnu Naidoo. They are due to appear back at Johannesburg Magistrates' Court on 22 June. The women face charges under the Merchandise Marks Act and the Special Measures Regulations, and are accused of the 'unauthorised use of a trade mark at a protected event' and 'entry into a designated area while in possession of a prohibited commercial object.' Their arrest on Wednesday morning came after a group of thirty six women were ejected from Soccer City in Johannesburg at the match between the Netherlands and Denmark. The women appeared in outfits which, it is suggested, promotef a brand of beer which is not one of the official sponsors. Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen has complained, strongly, about the charges. 'It is outrageous that the two women have a jail term hanging over their heads for wearing orange dresses in a football stadium,' he said in a statement. 'If South Africa or FIFA wants to take a company to task for an illegal marketing action, they should start judicial procedures against the company and not against ordinary citizens walking around in orange dresses.' Earle, who had his ass sacked, instantly, by ITV after 'a substantial number' of tickets allocated to him 'for his friends and family' (because, of course, he's got a huge family has Robbie) were found to have been 'passed to a third party,' has said he has no connection with the stunt. Earlier Colonel Naidoo said the women were 'suspected to be involved in organised acts to conduct unlawful commercial activities.' He continued: 'We view ambush marketing in a very serious light and we urge people not to embark on these ambush campaigns.' FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said: 'FIFA - that well know appeaser of bullies, torturers and fascists - has sold the very soul of football to the prawn-sandwich brigade of corporate lickerty-spittle greed. And, we intend to bleed the game and its billions of supporters dry to the bone. This year's World Cup final has been cancelled and will be replaced by a match between Coca-Cola and Snickers.' Actually, he didn't say that. But, it would have been a right good laugh if he had. Instead, he noted, 'FIFA has filed charges against the organisers of the ambush marketing stunt pulled during the Netherlands v Denmark match at Soccer City two days ago. No charges have been brought against the young women used in this illicit activity. The matter is now under criminal investigation and the South African Police Service is proceeding as per the normal legislation.' Earle, an ITV pundit since 2002, said on Tuesday: 'Call me naive but I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I hope when people hear the full story they will see me in a different light.' The former player, who also played for Port Vale and represented Jamaica in the World Cup in 1998, added later: 'I have absolutely no connection with any marketing ambush agency and have not profited in any way from these tickets.' Earle is also an ambassador for England's 2018 World Cup bid.

Meanwhile, the TV reporter girlfriend of Spain's goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, demanded he explain a blunder which lost his team their match against Switzerland, live on TV on Wednesday evening. The stunned keeper walked off when his girlfriend asked him after the game: 'How did you muck that up?' Spanish fans have reacted angrily saying that the presence of reporter Sara Carbonero, once voted the world's sexiest journalist and famous in Spain for her pitch-side interviews before and after matches, distracted Casillas during the game. In their opening tie of the tournament Switzerland beat Spain 1-0. Which was funny. After the unusual post-match interview, Spanish football websites erupted in indignation, blaming twenty five-year-old Carbonero for 'sapping his strength.' The wives and girlfriends of Spanish players, known as esposas y novias, are officially barred from accompanying the team to the tournament. Before the World Cup, when it was announced that Carbonero would be in South Africa doing her trademark post-match interviews, she dismissed claims that she would be a disruptive influence, saying: 'Can I destabilise the team? I think it's nonsense.' 'I don't know what to say,' said Casillas in the post-match interview. 'I don't know if this defeat will have consequences. The dressing room is fed-up.' Carbonero, who was voted Sexiest Reporter in the World by FHM USA last year, has been dating the Real Madrid goalkeeper since 2009. Whether she still is this morning, we'll have to wait and see.

Five has commissioned a - horrendous sounding - new dining reality show. The Boss Is Coming To Dinner will see job-hunters cook for their potential bosses instead of having an interview, the Press Association reports. Well they have to clean the kitchen afterwards by getting down on their hands and knees and licking it just to make it a bit more demeaning? The 'bosses' taking part in the show include casting and choreography agent Mark Summers, who works with Fifty Cent (who is a 'rapper', apparently) and Madonna, and 'professional dog trainer' Jill East. Julie Coates, who apparently owns a beauty parlour 'used by Katie Price,' will also take part in the series. So, some really huge names there then. Five's commissioning editor Greg Barnett said: 'I'm thrilled to be able to announce this exciting new commission. It's a unique format with some huge characters. Expect blood, sweat and panic as the week progresses and people fighting over a hot stove for the job of their dreams.' Greg, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, mate, and I'm sure you're a very nice chap and all that but, for commissioning this ghastly trash, I really hope you catch a very nasty - though, obviously, non-fatal - skin disease and suffer, horribly, as a result. You sick bastard. Let's make a TV show that wallows in the desperation and misery of some unfortunate people for the entertainment of baying voyeurs. I'll bet your mother is so proud of you. is this infantile enough for you, Stephen? Is this enough to get Lord Snotty Jon Snow threatening to get all stroppy? The twenty five-part series will air on Five in August. And, anybody who even considers watching it needs their effing head examined.

Matt Smith has insisted that he was not naked in a recent episode of Doctor Who. In The Lodger broadcast last Saturday, Smith dropped his towel, prompting rumours - from scum, mainly - that he had 'exposed himself.' However, a spokesperson later refuted the speculation and Smith has now also denied the claims. Smith told the Press Association: 'They give you these modesty trunks, they call them, or something. They are flesh-coloured trunks and I'm afraid I was wearing them. [Fans] definitely didn't see more. It goes out at 6.45 on a Saturday. It wouldn't be proper.'

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