Friday, July 02, 2010

Daddy? What Does Regret Mean?

And so, dear blog reader, we come to today's 'totally made up Daily Lies story about Doctor Who.' And, this one's a corker, trust me. Almost as good as the notorious and risible tabloid's memorable 2003 story about Holly Valance being 'in talks' to replace Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Eric Cantona is reportedly 'being lined-up to star in a future episode of Doctor Who' according to the tabloid who have more form than a dodgy racehorse over exactly this kind of nonsense. Dear blog readers may remember their wholly invented series of quotes to support a throwaway one-liner that writer Gareth Roberts made in an interview with the Doctor Who Magazine about Lady Gaga, for example. Then, even more ludicrously, they used the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine in which the mag's usual Production Notes column was written - for one month only - by producer Piers Wenger and Matt Smith and Karen Gillan because, they claimed, Steven Moffat had told them the Christmas special's script had 'disappeared.' And, again, the Star managed to make a story out of this joke. Or, a joke of a story out of this joke, if you prefer. Well, it appears they're at it again. Now, seemingly they've taken another casual aside, this time by Matt Smith, about how he'd enjoy seeing the French ex-footballer-turned-actor in the show and turned it into 'a thing.' They claim that a - nameless, of course - alleged BBC 'insider' allegedly told the alleged paper: 'Matt has made a huge impression. The writers and producers all value his input and give his ideas careful consideration.' This would presumably, be the same - entirely fictitious - 'insider' who fed the Lies all those juicy quotes about Lady Gaga appearing in the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama when no such plans existed or ever have done? 'They like the thought of a French baddie and Eric would be perfect. He's got acting experience and has charisma,' the insubstantial 'insider' allegedly continued. Cantona, of course, ended his professional career at The Scum in 1997 and has since taken up a - quite interesting and varied - acting career, appearing opposite Cate Blanchett in the 1998 film Elizabeth and playing himself (brilliantly) in the 2009 Ken Loach film Looking for Eric. The chances of him appearing in Doctor Who, therefore, aren't anywhere near as remote as those of Lady Gaga doing so, for example. But, that doesn't change the fact that the 'quotes' in this Daily Lies article are entirely mendacious. Unless, of course, they can produce their 'BBC insider,' to confirm the story. Over to you, Daily Lies.

Meanwhile, on the subject of things you will see in Doctor Who next year, Neil Gaiman has discussed writing for the next series on Twitter. Going under the pseudonym 'neilhimself', the acclaimed writer revealed that his episode will air third in the series. He wrote: 'I think I'll finish this draft of DR WHO (new season six episode three) tonight. A day ahead of schedule. Heavy lifting, but it's faster and better!' Gaiman previously confirmed to BBC News that his episode had the working title The House Of Nothing. It is believed that the episode will be filmed in August as part of the first recording block for series six.

Quote of the week, from Russell Howard on Mock the Week concerning England's defeat in the World Cup. 'We're four-one down and they bring on Heskey. That's like being lost in a maze and getting help from Stevie Wonder!'

Neil Sean's gossip column in Metro, The Green Room, isn't an organ of the print media that yer Keith Telly Topping normally uses as one of his regular sources for tittle-tattle, dear blog reader. But, a couple of items in today's edition caught my eye. Firstly, claims Neil, 'Frank Lampard and co. are keeping a lowish profile after a certain football tournament.' He goes on to suggest that this is 'not good news for Christine "Notice Me" Bleakley - she wanted dinner at the Dorchester.' A little further down, Neil has another (amusing) pop at the Bleakster. In a roundabout way. 'Rumours that ITV are luring James Corden with a megabucks deal have, apparently, not gone down well with ITV staff - cuts and job losses loom yet the likes of Chiles, Bleakley and now Corden take all the cash.'

Some very sad news, now. Dear old Robin Bush, the resident historian on Channel 4's Time Team archaeology series for nine years, has died at the age of sixty seven. An Oxford History graduate, Robin appeared in thirty nine episodes of the popular programme between 1994 and 2003, and presented eight episodes of the spin-off Time Team Extra in 1998. Robin first became involved with Time Team through his friendship with Mick Aston, Somerset's first county field archaeologist. Aston had discussed the idea of devising an archaeological television programme with another friend, the actor Tony Robinson, and a pilot episode was set up. After helping to devise the programme's format with the producer Tim Taylor, Bush was invited to take part in the pilot, which was shot at Dorchester-on-Thames in October 1992. Although the pilot was never screened (and, only a fragment of it is now known to exist), it persuaded Channel 4 to commission a four-programme series of Time Team, which was filmed in 1993 and broadcast early the following year. Seventeen years later, it's still running. Robin's most memorable experience on Time Team was taking the helm of the reconstructed Seventeenth Century sailing ship Dove, while filming in Maryland. He also sang Gregorian plain chant in Downpatrick Cathedral and established that the Teignmouth wreck which Time Team explored in 1995 was unlikely to have been a stray from the Spanish Armada (a revelation that obliged the local museum to adjust its display). Robin also appeared in Channel 4's series Joe Public, for which he researched the loss of a hat jewel by Henry VIII. He also featured regularly as the resident historian on Revealing Secrets, transmitted on Channel 4 in 2001. As a solo presenter, Robin filmed a series of six half-hour programmes called The West at War, which examined the impact of war on the south-west of England. Robin James Edwin Bush was born on 12 March 1943 at Hayes in Middlesex, the son of a schoolmaster. Educated at Exeter School, Robin became interested in historical research when he was thirteen. His first two papers were published by the Devonshire Association while he was still a pupil. He won a scholarship to Oxford, and graduated in Modern History in 1965. A keen amateur actor, he appeared on stage at the Oxford Playhouse with the future Monty Python actor Terry Jones. Upon leaving university, Robin was appointed assistant archivist at Surrey Record Office at Kingston upon Thames and two years later moved to Somerset Record Office, where he spent the rest of his working life. From 1970 to 1978 he was assistant editor of the Victoria History of Somerset, writing much of the content of three of its volumes. Later, he returned to the Record Office as deputy county archivist until taking early retirement in 1993. Robin wrote his first book in 1977, and produced volumes on the histories of Taunton, Exmouth and Wellington. His researches into Seventeen Century emigration from the south-west to New England led to the publication of three further books in the United States. During one of six speaking tours of America, he met President Bush at the White House. Between 1984 and 1996 he had a weekly spot on BBC Radio Bristol and then BBC Somerset, on which he featured stories of local history and folklore. He wrote and narrated son et lumières at Taunton Castle and Glastonbury Abbey and toured professionally throughout the West Country portraying the wheelchair-bound Michael Flanders — with his friend Chris Ball as Donald Swann — in At the Doff of a Hat. Robin, is survived by his second wife, Hilary Marshall, whom he married in 1993, and by two children from his first marriage to Iris Reed. From The North sends its sincere condolences to Robin's family and many friends.

Dealing with complaints and coping with budget cuts are hampering the BBC's efforts to produce hard-nosed investigative journalism, according to the broadcaster’s head of current affairs. Clive Edwards, executive and commissioning editor, current affairs, bemoaned resource-sapping demands on the factual team and described the current conditions as 'the most difficult time' he has encountered in twenty years of working in investigative television. 'It's a much, much more difficult climate these days. All budgets are being pushed downwards, lawyers are more aggressive, a lot more money has to go into compliance, and the complaints system we have means there’s a lot of time and energy going into fighting off complaints,' he said at the Sunny Side of the Doc festival in France. Edwards added that a single complaint about an unnamed Panorama episode had dragged on for two years and, as organisations fight to protect their reputation amid investigation from BBC reporters, the public broadcaster received legal letters that 'would make your hair stand on end.' Despite the difficult conditions, Edwards insisted that BBC would not be deterred from producing investigative current affairs programming. 'Across the whole industry, investigative journalism is going to be quite tricky in the future. We are determined to keep up the level of journalism, but undercover work, particularly, costs a lot of money.' Edwards has been BBC commissioning editor and executive editor of current affairs since 2008.

Coronation Street's Fiz Stape is to announce that she is pregnant in a forthcoming storyline, it has been revealed. The factory worker, played by Jennie McAlpine, shares her happy news with husband John (Graeme Hawley) shortly after the troubled teacher's dark new plot involving the demise of Colin Fishwick kicks off, according to reports. As previously revealed, Colin is to end up dead later this summer following a heated clash with John. In the aftermath of the tragedy, John is expected to conceal his former friend's body by burying it beneath Underworld. Fiz, however, is completely unaware of the sinister events and is thrilled at the thought of family life with her partner. Departing character Natasha Blakeman (Rachel Leskovac) is also expected to become involved in the storyline. After having an abortion in secret, the hairdresser reportedly panics when her baby's father Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) asks to see the child's scan, prompting her to ask Fiz to loan her own. A Weatherfield source told the Sun: 'Fiz is over the moon about her pregnancy and feels for Natasha. But she might wish she was the one who had the abortion when she finds out what John has done.'

House creator David Shore has revealed that a new female doctor may join the Princeton-Plainsboro medical team. The producer confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that casting for the new character is ongoing. 'We're working on it,' he explained. 'There's no definitive answer [but] it's something we're figuring out.' Original star Jennifer Morrison - Allison Cameron on the show - left in the sixth season, while Olivia Wilde, who plays Remy Hadley, will miss several episodes of the upcoming seventh season in order to star in new movie Cowboys & Aliens.

BSkyB has defended hiking its prices for Sky Sports packages, which it says are needed to fund the one hundred million pounds-a-year extra it now has to pay the Premier League. The multichannel operator's new Premier League contract is worth £1.6bn over three years. From 1 September, the bulk of its Sky Sports packages will cost three million pounds per month more than previously to fund this deal. This had the knock-on effect of raising wholesale prices to BT, which will now pay £19.07 a month for Sky Sports channels but will offer customers packages of channels for between £6.99 and £16.99 a month depending on the length of contracts and which additional services such as broadband they take. A Sky insider said BT's pricing policy showed that its argument for challenging wholesale prices was flawed. 'Throughout three years of pay-per-view, BT's justification has been that it felt that based on wholesale profit, it couldn't get a margin on these channels,' he said. 'They're now using Sky Sports as a loss leader, cross-subsidised by a broadband service. These figures don't stack up. The value is being stripped out of Sky Sports and you can see why sports bodies are worried.' Sky chief operating officer Mike Darcey added: 'We invest to bring customers a better choice of TV and use innovations like high definition and 3D to help them get the most out of their subscription. We believe our TV prices are great value and, with our money-saving broadband and phone options, we can put money back in customers' pockets.'

The BBC and Channel 4 are 'short-changing' viewers by not airing enough acquired documentaries, according to newly formed pressure group the Documentary Distributors' Association. The DDA has asked both broadcasters to supply figures on their factual acquisitions, including how many documentaries they were pitched and subsequently purchased last year, as well as the cost of documentaries that were commissioned versus those acquired. Some fifteen distributors attended the DDA's first meeting at the previously mentioned Sunny Side Of The Doc festival last week to discuss the issue. Representatives from overseas distributors in particular, complained that they found it difficult to crack the UK market. Tim Sparke, chief executive of Mercury Media and founder of the DDA, said: 'When a film is shown successfully in fifty countries and not in the UK, except theatrically and on DVD, then licence-fee payers are short-changed.' He also argued that the BBC's mechanism for submitting docs for acquisition was not as fully formed as it is for commissions. The BBC and C4 are both planning to supply the DDA with the data requested. BBC Vision executive producer, acquisitions, knowledge Carol Sennett said the DDA's questions would form the basis of a 'valuable exercise' and pledged to attend the group’s next meeting. 'We are open to all ideas on how things could be improved further. Our processes are under constant internal scrutiny,' Sennett said in an e-mail to the DDA's Sparke. More4 broadcasts acquired documentary strand True Stories, and head Hamish Mykura said C4 would engage in a dialogue with the DDA and provide the information 'as soon as possible. It's encouraging that the BBC and Channel 4 have engaged with us and we look forward to collaborating in the future,' said Sparke.

Bristol Palin has admitted that she does not plan to do any more acting. Palin, who became pregnant at the age of seventeen, recently landed a cameo in Secret Life of the American Teenager but has now revealed that she wanted to raise awareness of the issues surrounding teenage pregnancy and abstinence. 'I was excited to work with the cast and just contribute to this show's message,' she told E! Online. 'I feel obligated [to speak out] because I've lived through this experience. The more I talk about it and the more I can be hands on about it, the better I feel about myself.' Palin also revealed that she does not expect to star in more television programmes, saying: 'I'm not an actress. I'll leave that up to the experts, but I had a great time here. I don't think I'll be doing any more acting in the future.' She added: 'I don't even want to see myself on TV! That's so weird.'

Montserrat Lombard has admitted that she was concerned about how people would react to the Ashes To Ashes finale. Lombard, who played Shaz, told Female First that she was surprised when she found out how the series would end. 'At the beginning of season two we had a big sit down with the execs and the writers because we were just like, "What is going on?"' she said. 'So they explained it to us then and I was just blown away, and I think that it's just such a fantastic idea that I was really excited by.' She added: 'I thought that it would divide people but it's actually been a very positive response so I'm really glad that people liked the ending.' Lombard also revealed that she was happy with the finale, saying: 'It was great. It satisfied me completely. It all made sense to me.'

Five has made an impassioned plea for Ofcom to launch a full market review of TV advertising, as potential buyers circle the broadcaster. It believes a review is 'well overdue' and, according to Broadcast magazine, has been lobbying Ofcom to take on the project for months. The Competition Commission also urged the regulator to launch a market review in last month's CRR ruling, and - the magazine claim - Ofcom is now poised to reveal within weeks whether it plans to take on the initiative. Five head of corporate affairs Sue Robertson said it was 'high time' for a review. 'The whole point of commercial PSBs is to offer high-quality content, but how are we going to fund that content when we have a deflationary market dynamic?' she asked. Speaking at the Marketforce and IEA's Future of Broadcasting conference, Robertson said the explosion in competition for advertising and the consolidation of sales houses and media agencies had accelerated the problem, and that current rules should be relaxed. The other commercial PSBs are tight-lipped on the issue. Despite the potential for a rethink on CRR, an ITV source distanced the broadcaster from a push for a full market review. 'It wouldn't necessarily solve the problems and could simply kick the key issues into the long grass,' the source said. Channel 4 is understood to believe smaller reviews of issues such as CRR are too limiting, but has stopped short of calling for a full review, due to the lengthy process involved. Ofcom has admitted TV advertising regulations are 'complex and opaque,' but the regulator is likely to be cut as part of the government crackdown on quangos, and chief executive Ed Richards said he was wary of investing resources into a market review too readily. 'We'd need to be confident that there was a competition issue at the heart of it. It's a huge endeavour and a very significant resource commitment. We would live with it for two, three or possibly four years and it could end up in the courts.' Five is said to be looking to broader commercial deals after its portfolio of channels reported losses of thirty three million pounds last year as revenues plunged thirty per cent to two hundred and forty five million. It has aired seventy hours of AFP in the past six months and has an established partnership with Dixons Store Group for The Gadget Show.

Steven Moffat has joked that he can write storylines for Doctor Who because he is scared of everything. In a video posted on YouTube, Moffat's son asked him if he tries to make everyday objects like cracks and shadows scary. 'People say that about me, that I just go around looking for things to make frightening,' Moffat said. 'But I think it's actually that I'm just a very, very big coward and I look at things and I'm genuinely frightened of them. I've always been frightened of statues and shop dummies. Pretty much anything can frighten me, which is why I don't watch scary movies like The Exorcist.' Moffat was also asked whether he has been criticised for making the storylines too complicated. 'I think they more often say I'm being too stupid,' he joked. 'They might say that. I think I've probably heard that sometime. But then by far and away the most complicated episode of Doctor Who I've written was Blink and that seems to have been the most popular.' He also revealed that he avoids reading about Doctor Who online. Moffat explained that he used to keep up-to-date with the comments - indeed he was an infrequent, but witty and informative contributor to Outpost Gallifrey once upon a time - but stopped when he became the showrunner. 'I am very strict that I do not do it now,' he said. 'I don't go on the forums, I don't know what they're thinking.' Moffat explained that he tries not to look at the posts because he does not want to focus on what a small group of people think about the show. 'It's not because they're stupid, and not because I wouldn't agree with them,' he said. 'But because that's not the voice of the audience. That's the voice of a very atypical, tiny sliver of the audience and I need to keep the show appealing to a mainstream audience, not to people who are, let's be honest, a bit like me - obsessed Doctor Who fans.'

The independent production company behind Poppy Shakespeare and Ronan Bennett, who wrote Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies, are working together on a Channel 4 drama set among the gangs of a Hackney estate. Cowboy Films' four part Top Boy centres on a nineteen-year-old gang leader who sets out to take over the supply of drugs in the Summerhouse estate. The storylines are drawn from interviews Bennett and local fitness coach Gerry Jackson conducted with children in Hackney. Bennett said: 'I wanted to know about the lives these kids lived. I came to realise that the lives I was glimpsing on the supermarket forecourt were a lot more complex, deep and rich than I’d imagined.' Novelist Bennett has written films including Face and The Hamburg Cell, and his last TV script was BBC1's 2002 drama Fields Of Gold. Cowboy, which also made Film 4's The Last King of Scotland, is co-producing the series with Easter Partisan. Top Boy was ordered by C4 head of drama Camilla Campbell and will broadcast next year.

Idris Elba has reportedly said that he is eager to film another series of his recent drama Luther for the BBC. Elba's agent, Roger Charteris told The First Post that the former star of The Wire is 'definitely up for it. Idris had a great time making Luther and he loved playing that character,' he said. 'He is a very busy man both in the United States and in Britain but if the BBC wanted to make it he would make himself available.'

A new BBC1 comedy drama from the writer of Cold Feet was slayed in the ratings by a repeat of Midsomer Murders on ITV last night. Reunited, which follows the lives of six characters who roomed together at university, pulled in an average audience of 3.33m on BBC1 over the 9pm hour, according to overnight figures. The drama, starring Joseph Millson and Jemima Rooper, was nearly a million below the channel's slot average of 4.11m for the year so far. So, that's like to be the last we'll see of Reunited. Which, on the strength of the weak-as-pisswater pilot (which had Ed Byrne going for it and not a lot else) is probably just as well. It was beaten by a two-hour long repeat episode of Midsomer Murders on ITV and ITV HD from 8pm, which was watched by a total audience of 3.78m.

The BBC has apologised for a technical error which caused online viewers to miss the closing stages of Andy Murray's victory at Wimbledon on Wednesday. The corporation had streamed live coverage of Murray's match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on its website. However, a technical error led to almost the entire final set being replaced by an episode of The Hairy Bikers, according the Gruniad Morning Star. Viewers subsequently complained about the situation, which occurred in the wake of ITV's embarrassing recent transmission error which caused ITV HD to miss England's first goal at the World Cup. On a BBC comment site, one viewer said: 'This is infuriating because we are forced to pay our TV licence fee and want to get a good service. Having missed most of the entire last set I am so angry.' Well, try watching it on a television set like normal people, you stupid berk! The BBC acknowledged its mistake, which it claimed was due to a 'minor technical fault' when the live stream shifted programmes. 'While the live stream should have been flipped to the tennis, due to a minor technical fault this did not happen and the scheduled [BBC2] programme was shown instead,' said a BBC spokeswoman. 'While such errors are uncommon, we apologise to anyone inconvenienced by this.'

Channel 4 is planning a move into the TV talent show battleground with a format that replaces celebrity judges with votes from a studio audience. This week, Claudia Winkleman is hosting a non-transmission pilot of Wannabe, in which aspiring entertainers are pitted against each other in categories such as rappers, magicians, comedians and presenters. Wannabe will start with about three hundred performers hoping to be selected by computer to perform for a studio audience. The audience will vote on each performance from the moment it begins, and the act is ejected if more than fifty per cent of the audience vote them off. Any performer still on stage after about two minutes goes through to a final round. While ITV has The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, BBC1 has its West End star search formats and Sky1 has Got To Dance, this is C4's first attempt to tap into the resurgent genre. If the show goes to a series, a winner will be crowned each week and will be invited to return next time or to leave with a cash prize. The format has been developed by Magnum Media, the Chris Moyles Quiz Night independent founded by former C4 entertainment commissioner Andy Auerbach and ex-Princess Productions head of entertainment Dean Nabarro. C4 plans to pre-record the show rather than open it up to a public vote. A website would feature extra footage of contenders and, in time, would be home to applications. C4 head of entertainment Justin Gorman, who commissioned the pilot, said it would be 'fresh and hilarious. Wannabe will showcase some really diverse and alternative talent, but there are no judges - the power rests entirely in the audience's hands,' he said. C4's entertainment team is deep into piloting as part of chief executive David Abraham's desire for the back end of 2010 to be a 'test bed' for new ideas.

Shane Jacobsen has joined the lineup of Top Gear Australia. The actor, writer and director, who is most famous for playing toilet repair man Kenny, said that he is very happy about his new job fronting the Nine Network's version of the car show. Jacobsen told Your TV: 'I like many different types of cars. Now that I'm getting the chance to drive plenty of fast cars on other people's insurance, let me just say I'm as happy as Elvis in a room full of burgers.' He will be joined on the show by Top Gear Australia magazine editor Ewen Page and racing driver Steve Pizzati.

Justin Lee Collins has filmed a three-part series for Five following his travels in Japan. The show, called Turning Japanese, will feature the TV presenter examining the country's culture, people and gameshows. And, hopefully, following in some of its traditions. Like kamikazi, perhaps? Collins' previous shows on Five, Good Times and Heads Or Tails, have not been as successful as expected. Five controller Richard Woolfe said: '[Justin] is a fantastic people person and so I think finding the right format for him where he can explore those people skills, for me is a really, really, really big priority.' But then, this is the man who commissioned Live From Studio Five so, to be honest, anything he says has to be weighed against that.

Katy Perry has insisted that Russell Brand loves her more than the World Cup. The 'California Gurls' singer claimed that her abilities in the bedroom meant that Brand would always prefer her to football. 'Oh, I'm a World Cup widow. It's been tough,' she told Paul Harper on Real Radio. 'What did Russell say to me the other day. He did this little play on words and ended up saying that he loved the World Cup more than me. But I know that's not the case.' She joked: 'The World Cup does not give blowjobs. That's one thing I win.' What a delightful young lady she is.

And, speaking of the World Cup that well known soc-her fan Paris Hilton has apparently flown to South Africa to watch the final stages. The heiress left Los Angeles on a private jet yesterday and has been keeping fans updated about her journey on her Twitter account. 'All Packed and Ready for The World Cup! So excited!' she wrote. She has also posted photographs of her enormous stack of luggage, the plane's double bedroom and herself sitting in the pilot's seat. The former Simple Life host's sister, Nicky, is also thought to be attending the tournament. She previously wrote on her own Twitter account that she had just been vaccinated and was looking forward to going on safari and watching the football. Hilton previously declared her love for the sport during the last World Cup in 2006. Although it has been strongly suggested, by people obviously more cynical than I, that what she really likes about the World Cup are all of the photographers it attracts.