Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bittersweet Sympathy

Matthew Perry has expressed his frustration at the continued interest in a Friends reunion movie. The actor - who played Chandler Bing on the hugely popular sitcom between 1994 and 2004 - used his Twitter account to deny that a film based on the show was in the works. Perry reposted a friend's message on his feed, which read: 'Can everyone fuck off and stop asking when a Friends movie will happen? It's over and he's moved on. So should you.' Perry himself added 'Although the f-off may be a tad strong...!' Perry's former co-stars Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow have both previously denied that a Friends film is in development.

The BBC's rather charming six-part wildlife show Penguin Island kicked-off last night with an opening episode introducing the cast of characters including a bizarre love triangle in which we wondered whether Spike the houseproud penguin or Rocky the big fat loner penguin would get the girl penguin. In fact, they ended up coming to blows after she put out with both of them, a barny in which she, gleefully, joined it. It was all a bit like an episode of EastEnders, but with much cuter animals than Phil Mitchell. Narrated by dear old Rolf Harris, yer Keith Telly Topping confidently predicts that this is going to be the new Meerkat Manor or Big Cat Diaries and that the nation will soon be hooked on the stories of Bluey and Sheila and their chicks. The first episode pulled in an overnight audience of just over three and a half million viewers and I can see word-of-mouth keeping the majority of those viewers and, possibly, even adding to them in the weeks to come. The Telegraph's Benji Wilson had it spot on when describing the show as 'brazen anthropomorphic schmaltzfest' and noting 'it is a simple fact that anyone who can watch penguins and their chicks waddling about like Manuel from Fawlty Towers and not go just a little bit mushy, is probably dead. Penguin Island was about as cutting edge as a glob of putty, but, to borrow a phrase, a man who is tired of nature documentaries about penguins is tired of life.'

Oh, and just to repeat, that isn't a paraphrase from Samuel Pepys, as one of my more insistent correspondents suggested when I used it a few weeks back and attributed it, erronously, to Oscar Wilde. It's actually from Samuel Johnson, as quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson. So, now you know.

From cars to caring. James May will set a group of men challenges in his new BBC2 series James May's Man Lab. The show will see the Top Gear presenter aiming to improve the reputation of modern men. May is expected to set the participants practical tasks, help them deal with romance and encourage them to work as a team. May will also face 'a breathtaking test of courage and skill' each week.

Steve Coogan is reportedly in talks to star in a feature film version of his 2002 BBC comedy one-off Cruise of the Gods. Screenwriters Michael Handelman and David Guion confirmed that they are working on a big screen adaptation of the special. The original version starred Rob Brydon as Andy Van Allen, an actor unable to move on from his brief success in an eighties science-fiction show. Coogan played Nick Lee, Van Allen's former co-star who has since established a successful acting career. Gavin & Stacey creator James Corden also appeared as an obsessive fan of the series. Handelman explained: 'Cruise Of The Gods was never shown here [in the US], so we are remaking it. Ours is called The Great Beyond and it's the same basic premise about two actors who were on a TV show some years ago. One became very successful and one has never worked again and has never been able to work out his hatred of the past.' Guion revealed that Coogan will switch roles for the new version, taking the part originally played by Brydon. 'Steve played the guy who went on to be a star in the original one, but will play the guy who did not become a star in the new one,' he said. 'We're still talking about [who his co-star will be] but I think the idea would be to find an American star to pair him with.'

Gavin Henson and Felicity Kendal have signed up to compete on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing, according to sources. The pair will join Patsy Kensit and Anne Widdecombe, who have also agreed to appear on the BBC talent show in September, reports the Daily Scum Mail. This year's celebrities are believed to be signing 'pay-as-you-dance' contracts instead of the previous flat-rate agreement of fifty thousand pounds each. 'The longer you stay in, the more you get,' a source told the Sun. 'If you're voted off in the first week you'll probably end up with ten thousand quid. If you make the final it's ten times that.' Rugby player Henson, who recently split up with long-term girlfriend Charlotte Church, has previously admitted that he would 'consider' any offer to appear on Strictly. The Good Life actress Kendal, last appeared on television opposite David Tennant and Catherine Tate in an episode of Doctor Who.

Bruce Forsyth, in the mean time, has agreed to scale back his hosting role on Strictly Come Dancing, a report had claim. According to the Daily Scum Mail, the eighty two-year-old entertainer has reached a deal with the BBC to back out of the results show, which is now reportedly to air on Sundays. 'Bruce has not signed his contract yet, but it all looks very positive,' a source claimed. 'We are still looking at some scheduling issues that would see Bruce take a reduced role on the show. But if this happens, he will still be very much part of the series. He is integral to Strictly.'

The executive producer of Bones has explained the resolution to the previous year's cliffhanger which will open the show's sixth season premiere. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Stephen Nathan explained that Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel) will be called back to the Jeffersonian seven months after the finale to help Cam (Tamara Taylor) with a case. 'The first episode begins with Brennan and Booth reuniting with the squints to save the career of one of their own,' he said. 'They each bring a new past with them as they forge their old alliances in new ways.' Meanwhile, reports have suggested that the programme will show Booth fighting in Afghanistan.

This summer BBC2, BBC4 and BBC Learning will be joining forces to highlight the effect that the Normans have had on British civilisation. Details of some of the programmes can be found here. The Norman Season also launches the Hands On History website, a two-year BBC Learning campaign offering audiences inspiring opportunities to take the next step from watching programmes to discovering the history around them. Hands On History will offer a range of events and activities as part of the Norman Season, including Norman walks. My Beeb colleague, Lynn, is heavily involved in the local part of Hands On History and From the North will feature details of some events taking place in the North East region a little bit closer to the time. Also on the BBC press office site there's details on BBC4's forthcoming Northern Season which looks really good - yer Keith Telly Topping is particularly looking forward to 1960: Year Of The North and The Road To Wigan Pie Shop. BBC2 have also this week released details of their autumn and winter highlights. The press releases notes that there is a new emphasis on drama this season, reflecting extra investment and the aims of the Strategic Review. Matt Smith takes on a very different role to the Doctor, playing the young writer Christopher Isherwood, as he set out on a process of self-discovery in the politically unstable world of 1930s Berlin with its thriving gay subculture, in a one-off drama written by acclaimed playwright Kevin Elyot, Christopher And His Kind (see right, below). Other single plays from the network include The Song Of Lunch, a dramatisation of award-wining poet Christopher Reid’s witty and poignant poem about a couple's ill-fated reunion in a Soho restaurant, starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson and transmitting around National Poetry Day. The previously-announced Morecambe And Wise is about the earliest days of one of the best comedy double acts of all time, starring Victoria Wood as Morecambe's mother Sadie and written by Peter Bowker (Desperate Romantics, Occupation). BBC2 also hosts the UK premiere of The Special Relationship, Peter Morgan's third film to examine the history of Tony Blair, starring Dennis Quaid and Hope Davis as the Clintons and Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory as the Blairs. The Crimson Petal And The White is a bold and original serial, adapted from Michel Faber's international best-selling novel. It tells the story of a young prostitute and a prominent businessman who embark on a dangerous relationship, set against the true underbelly of Victorian life. And there's Laconia, a two-part drama telling the true story of heroism shown by ordinary people in the face of extraordinary adversity, marking a return to the BBC for the acclaimed playwrite Alan Bleasdale. The story centres around the Second World War armed British vessel RMS Laconia, which was torpedoed and sunk before the German U-boat commander had a change of heart and came back to rescue survivors.

BBC2 will also broadcast a drama about the international charity event Live Aid later this year. The fundraising concert, which took place in 1985, featured some of the biggest bands from around the world, including Queen, David Bowie and Paul McCartney. A one-off ninety-minute feature, it will star Domhnall Gleeson as organiser and Boomtown Rats singer Saint Bob Geldof, while Ian Hart is cast as co-organiser and concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith. The duo's story has been described as 'humorous, warm, tension-filled and ultimately deeply moving.' Controller of BBC2 Janice Hadlow said: 'To mark the Twenty Fifth anniversary of Live Aid, BBC2 celebrates with an ambitious single drama which tells the story behind the biggest televised international charity event in history and the two inspiring men that made it happen.' Titled When Harvey Met Bob, the programme will be produced by Great Meadow Productions (Margaret Thatcher - The Long Walk To Finchley, Bradford Riots, Messiah). It is currently shooting in Dublin ahead of a scheduled transmission in the autumn.

Another potential highlight of BBC2's autumn line-up is the return of professor Brian Cox in a major new series, Wonders Of The Universe, and a Stargazing event exploring the skies live on-air over three nights. A big focus on history with new programmes and new presenters, including Ancient Worlds with Richard Miles, Pompeii with Mary Beard, Behind Closed Doors with Amanda Vickery, The Do-Gooders with Ian Hislop (see right) and programming to mark the Battle of Britain's seventieth anniversary, with a drama-documentary based on Geoffrey Wellum's best-selling book, First Light. Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC2 notes that 'This new season reflects BBC2 at its most ambitious and distinctive, bearing the early fruits of the extra investment in drama and offering viewers some fantastic new mainstream comedies alongside the greatest range of factual programming on TV.'

John Barrowman has revealed that he is 'ecstatic' that Torchwood will return. The BBC announced last month that there will be a fourth series of the show after teaming up with US cable network Starz. Barrowman, who plays Captain Jack, has now told TV Choice that he is thrilled with the deal. 'The show is now going to represent the BBC and the UK worldwide even more,' he said. 'And Starz, the American network, thought we were good enough to take this on board to collaborate and co-produce it with the BBC.' He added: 'It's just incredible that we've still got Russell Davies, Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter on board. I'm ecstatic. The fans who have stuck by waiting to hear are going to be heavily rewarded.' Details have been revealed of three new characters who will appear in the upcoming series. Entertainment Weekly reports that the new episodes will introduce new regular Rex Matheson, a 'CIA agent born to make waves' with 'a wicked sense of humour.' The show will also introduce two new recurring characters - Oswald Jones, a convicted murderer and paedophile and Esther Katusi, a young CIA agent 'who learns what she’s really made of only when she's forced to.' Both roles are said to be 'key to the new season.' Casting for all three parts is believed to be ongoing.

David Tennant is the latest actor to be rumoured for the role of the Incredible Hulk in Marvel's Avengers movie, reports the Los Angeles Times. The ex-Doctor Who star has been linked to the superhero role recently vacated by Edward Norton along with Predators actor Adrien Brody and Firefly's Nathan Fillion. Recent online rumours surfaced claiming that Joaqun Phoenix had been offered the role of Bruce Banner in the ensemble blockbuster. Marvel insiders have said that a 'name' replacement for Norton will be announced at Comic-Con or earlier. The Joss Whedon-directed Avengers is scheduled to be in cinemas by May 2012. Meanwhile, filming has started in Scotland on Tennant's feature film The Decoy Bride. It is set on the fictional Scottish island of Hegg. It tells the story of a superstar actress about to marry her British boyfriend - played by Tennant - away from the glare of the world's media. It is hoped the film can provide an economic boost to the region as previous movie projects have generated about two million pounds over the past two years. As well as Tennant, the film stars Kelly MacDonald, Alice Eve, Michael Urie, who played Marc in Ugly Betty, and Federico Castelluccio from The Sopranos. Some filming for the movie has already taken place on the Isle of Man.

Charlie Brooker is to host a new comedy show for BBC2 in which he compares television and films to real-life situations. The You Have Been Watching host will examine a different theme each week on How TV Ruined Your Life. The series will show Brooker comparing the ideals presented in movies and television shows to the reality of modern life.

Nigel Lythgoe has threatened to leave So You Think You Can Dance unless the BBC doubles the length of the next series and increases pay for the judges, it has been claimed. The sixty one-year-old wants the next series to last at least three months and is demanding more money for himself and fellow judges Louise Redknapp and Arlene Phillips, according to the Sun. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Nigel created the show so is looking for it to be as big and exciting as it can be. We were all set for a second series and were happy to have some changes, but Nigel being Nigel wants it to be bigger. He's looking for a longer run and more cash - not least for him. We're not ruling it all out though as he knows what he's doing when it comes to this show. It's one of the biggest shows in America thanks to him so he does know what he's talking about. I'm sure we'll come up with a plan to make everyone happy.' The talent competition has yet to appoint a fourth judge to replace Sisco Gomez, who is not believed to be returning. Louie Spence was reportedly keen on the role but has since signed a programme deal with Sky.

Former Joan of Arcadia star Amber Tamblyn will appear in a multi-episode arc on the upcoming seventh season of House. It was previously revealed that the show would be introducing a new female character to temporarily replace actress Olivia Wilde, who will miss several episodes of the season in order to star in new movie Cowboys & Aliens. Entertainment Weekly now reports that Tamblyn will appear in several episodes as a talented medical student who House recruits for his diagnostic team. The maverick doctor will reportedly employ Tamblyn's character despite her lack of medical qualifications.

Sherlock writer Steven Moffat has suggested that viewers should boycott ITV when the show is broadcast on BBC1. Doctor Who showrunner Moffat has collaborated with League of Gentlemen star Mark Gatiss on the new series, which transports the adventures of Holmes and his sidekick Watson to the modern day. Posting on his Twitter account, Moffat quipped: 'Tell the world, disable ITV with a big spanner.' In a second tweet, he wrote: 'Don't REALLY disable ITV with a spanner. Just score it out of listings magazines. And then, yeah, disable it with a spanner.' Oh, if only wishing made it so, Steven!

Paul O'Grady's new ITV show will begin in September. A Facebook page has been set up under the name Paul O'Grady Live inviting members of the public to get involved. 'Paul is set to return to the screens when his new ITV show kicks off in September and he wants you to get in touch if you want to be involved,' the information states. 'Do you have a crazy Nan, a chatterbox housemate, embarrassing dad or a know it all in-law? Are you the life and soul of the party or just looking for love?' Anyone interested is asked to contact O'Grady's production company Olga TV. 'We are looking for outgoing people nationwide of all ages and a tour across the UK to meet you all will be starting soon. So if you have an opinion on anything and everything, and you like games and surprises then drop us a line,' the page adds.

Talk show host David Letterman has jokingly apologised to retiring CNN newscaster Larry King for comments he made on The Late Show. Letterman had previously poked fun at King's decision to quit the network and made jokes about his private life on the programme. He had quipped: 'It's not easy [for King] juggling a television show, marriage, and an affair with [his] wife's sister. He was offended, and I’m not sure exactly why - well, I think I know why,' Letterman explained on a recent edition of the show. 'We got an irate call from someone on his staff saying Larry is upset, and with a guy like Larry, he could drop dead at any second!' He added: 'I don’t want to cause any greater trouble in his life. So, we’re sorry.' David Letterman making a joke about someone else having an affair. Oh, the irony.

Ulrika Jonsson has been criticised for making a joke about rape on Shooting Stars. The Swedish team captain was appearing with guest Camilla Dallerup, who is from Denmark. When co-host Bob Mortimer asked if the two women were getting on well, Dallerup replied: 'We're like Vikings, Ulrika and I.' According to the Daily Star, Jonsson then added: 'Yeah, we're going raping later.' Jonsson, who revealed that she herself had been sexually assaulted in her 2002 autobiography, has now been criticised by various rape campaigners. That's, obviously, groups who oppose rape, not groups who campaign in favour of it. Just want to make that absolutely clear.

Jonathan Ross has recorded his final chat show for the BBC and said he was 'grateful, lucky and honoured' to have worked at the corporation. He said his ten-year stint presenting Friday Night With Jonathan Ross had been a 'remarkable period of his TV career' and he thanked crew and guests. Guests on his final show include footballer David Beckham. Ross, who said in January he would not be renewing his BBC contract after thirteen years, is to present an ITV chat show. His Radio 2 show will also come to an end this month. Recording his finale, which will be screened on Friday, Ross thanked all the guests that had appeared on his show, saying 'at least ninety five per cent of them were great.' He said he had worked with 'just about the best crew' in the business. 'Everyone here at the BBC has always been terrific. I've been lucky to work over the ten years with the most fabulous teams. The experience I've had here at the BBC has been a blessed one. I've never come in here feeling anything other than grateful, lucky and honoured. So thank you,' he said. As he started the show for the last time, he admitted: 'I promised Morrissey I wasn't going to cry!'

George Eads will reportedly return to CSI next season. According to TV Guide, Eads has signed a new deal to reprise his role as investigator Nick Stokes. Earlier this year, Eads admitted that he would walk away from the show if the contract he was offered was not 'pleasing to [him] and fair. There can't really be a hierarchy when it comes to salaries anymore,' he said. 'I feel I deserve to sit at the table with the adults, and we'll see what happens.'

BBC spending on new TV programmes has fallen by thirteen per cent in real terms in the last five years, media watchdog Ofcom says. Spending dropped from £1.42bn to £1.24bn between 2005 to 2009. BBC1 spending fell by nine per cent and BBC2 by fifteen per cent in that period. The other terrestrial channels - ITV, Channel 4 and Five - spent twenty per cent less on new programmes in those five years. But, as a proportion of their overall revenue, spending by the three channels increased from forty trhee to fifty two per cent. ITV, Channel 4 and Five have all suffered from a fall-off in advertising revenues in recent years. The figures in Ofcom's annual report on public service broadcasting cover new programmes made for broadcast nationally. Spending on programmes made specifically for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions was down by a third between 2005 and 2009. Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said Ofcom's figures for 2008 and 2009 showed spending on BBC TV programmes was 'broadly stable' and acknowledged that 'high levels of quality' had been maintained. 'Despite an ongoing efficiency programme, the BBC continues to be the cornerstone of the production industry, ploughing savings back in to high-quality programming,' she added. Ofcom says that, although people are watching more TV than ever, viewing of the five main channels has slipped. In 2005, fifty eight per cent of people would regularly tune in but that figure has dropped by three per cent. Ofcom said the slight decline could be explained by a change in how people access TV, by watching online, using catch-up services or recording programmes. It said the number of people using the BBC iPlayer had risen from thirty million in January 2009 to almost seventy million a year later.

Katie Price has insisted that she does not always want attention. The reality TV star told the Sun that she is 'fed up' of the accusation. Some people may regard the fact that she issued this statement to the country's biggest selling tabloid newspaper as laughably ironic in and of itself. As Shakespeare noted, methinks the lady doth protest too much.


Paul Mount said...

Me confused...I've not seen the words "Jordan" and "lady" in the same sentence before...

gavin said...

That Ulrika story makes me feel like linking this:

It's up to you to decide the relevancy and deny the comment if you want! :)