Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Never Too Late To Breakout

ITV has successfully retained the UK TV rights for the next two Rugby World Cups, it has been announced. The channel, which has shown every rugby World Cup tournament since 1991, will broadcast live TV and online coverage of every match from the event. Rugby World Cup Limited said several companies had submitted bids. Next year's World Cup kicks off in New Zealand on 9 September and the final will be played on 23 October. In 2007, an audience of sixteen million tuned in to watch England finish runners-up to South Africa in France. Niall Sloane, ITV Controller of Sport, said: 'ITV has a long association with the Rugby World Cup and we are delighted to have secured the next two Rugby World Cups free-to-air for ITV's viewers, particularly as the 2015 tournament takes place in England.'

Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted that he was afraid of becoming typecast before joining Sherlock. Cumberbatch, thirty four, played bank clerk Bernard Bligh in 2009 drama Small Island and starred as Stephen Hawking in 2004's Hawking, both of which aired on the BBC. 'I always seem to be cast as slightly wan, ethereal, troubled intellectuals or physically ambivalent bad lovers,' he told the Mirror. 'But I'm here to tell you I'm quite the opposite in real life. In fact I'm a fucking fantastic lover!'

Model Lara Stone, who married comedian David Walliams in May, has announced that she is taking legal action against the French edition of Playboy magazine. The Dutch model says the publication printed 'unauthorised photographs' of her in its June edition. She has instructed lawyers to commence proceedings against the magazine and photographer Greg Lotus in Paris. Stone said: 'It's not the kind of publication I would ever choose to appear in.' She added: 'Playboy had no right to publish these unauthorised photographs. I feel I have no option but to take steps to protect my reputation.' Walliams, best known for starring in the BBC comedy series Little Britain, married Stone at Claridge's hotel in London in May.

And so we come to today's bit of BBC scolding. Former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson has criticised the BBC for doing business 'a disservice,' resulting in 'grotesque' programmes such as Dragons' Den. Yes, that's right, dear blog reader - the man who was, ultimately, in charge of Big Brother for a year, is criticising another broadcaster for being 'grotesque.' Irony, dear blog reader. It's what Luke Johnson's mam does with his shirts after she's washed them, seemingly. Writing in his regular column in the Financial Times, Johnson said that the corporation has 'always regarded business with suspicion,' which it assumes is 'a ruthless, domineering and egotistical world.' Which, to be fair, it is, by and large. Johnson, who left Channel 4 in January and now runs private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, said that when the BBC does try to tackle business it produces 'grotesque shows' like Dragons' Den, which has 'more in common with broadcast wrestling than the real world of investing. The very idea that genuine venture capital takes place in such a ludicrous way is a farce. It is obvious that many misguided projects are encouraged to present because they provide a few cheap laughs,' he said. 'Does it serve the cause of enterprise to have multi-millionaires humiliate inventors, and cackle like schoolboys while treading on people's dreams? But the BBC - despite being a public service broadcaster - doesn't care. It all feeds the ratings monster, even if it does a disservice to innovation and the private sector.' Ah, and again, we have a definition of 'public service broadcasting' as 'stuff I want to see.' Johnson said that the bullying and superficiality portrayed in BBC programmes such as The Apprentice fails to reflect entrepreneurs as 'positive role models, who inspire others, and who help create jobs and accelerate our recovery from the recession.' According to Johnson, the millionaire investors on Dragons' Den are more interested in increasing their media exposure than backing budding entrepreneurs. All of which may well be true but I'll tell you what, dear blog reader, but coming from the source that it does, the argument is cheap to the point of being almost sinister.

Meanwhile, ITV is a load of crap. How do we know this? Because yesterday's Daily Express and Daily Star told us so, of course - devoting pages eleven and nine respectively to stories about the commercial channel's deficiencies. 'Absence of big stars makes ITV a turn-off for millions,' says the Express, while the Star adds: 'Star-free ITV is a massive turn-off.' Both refer to ratings figures which show ITV had a share of 13.6 per cent last week – allegedly the worst in its fifty five-year history, but actually merely the worst this year. A minor point but, we'll forgive them; after years of licking ITV's collective arse they've both, clearly, seen the light. Both reports quote 'industry insiders' who say this drop in audience share is because the broadcaster's biggest stars - including Ant and Dec and Simon Cowell - are currently off screen. Which is perfectly true. 'In contrast,' reporter Mark Reynolds wrote in the Express, 'Channel Five's share rose to five per cent last week and is continuing to increase,' echoing similar sentiments expressed by Peter Dyke in the Star. I wonder why these two are such big fans of Five all of a sudden? Anyone would think their owner had just bought the company. Brown-tonguing the boss is all very well, Mark and Peter I cast no aspersions. But, don't insult people's intelligence by trying to convince them that Live from Studio Five is worth ... well, anything, basically.

'Fat Slighty Scary Staring Bloke,' often seen standing behind Laura Kuenssberg on BBC News items from Parliament Square has been identified by the Gruniad Morning Star. And then, interviewed by the Daily Telegraph Uber Alles. Paul Yarrow, the man nicknamed The News Raider - at least, according to the papers, that's the first time I'd seen the phrase, personally - after a string of appearances on live television reports, has 'dedicated his appearances to the overweight.' Thanks, mate. Appreciate that. Although, Eamonn Holmes has been doing that with his TV appearances for several years. The thirty eight-year-old care worker from South London (Yarrow, this is, not Eamonn Holmes), whose identity had become the subject of some feverish online speculation, said that he wanted to 'make a statement' about 'the image conscious media. I am overweight and people like me are treated as unsightly because of the way they look,' he told the Evening Standard. 'Here I am. I am sorry I don't have a suit and that I am not lovely and slim. Being overweight I get ignored.' Yer Keith Telly Topping has exactly the same problem, Paul. Hence this blog. Well, it keeps me off the street I suppose. As the Gruniad notes, Yarrow has been spotted – usually wearing the same beige pullover – at Gaza protests, trade union rallies and even a ceremony commemorating the 7/7 bombings. He has made it onto live news reports on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky – and, just this week, he apparently made his debut on al-Jazeera as well. Sometimes he can be seen reading a newspaper. Sometimes he's on the phone. But, most often he just wanders aimlessly around in the background or stands still whilst a reporter is doing a piece of camera. 'The Twitterati' - a classic bollocks Gruniad word that - 'are fascinated by Yarrow's exploits' and spotting him has, the newspaper continue, 'become the Twenty First Century equivalent of Where's Wally?' Comedian Russell Howard regularly features Yarrow on his BBC show Good News, while a blog now chronicles Yarrow's appearances on television and he has his own thread on Gallifrey Base. The Daily Scum Mail also have their eye on him. But they claim he's forty two.

On a related note, I must record my gratitude that the Gruniad piece for providing a YouTube link to the hilarious sight of Newsnight political editor Michael Crick spending most of a pre-election OB report unaware that a man was goosestepping and doing silly things behind his back whilst Paxman comes over all schoolamsterly. Comedy gold, dear blog reader.

Smallville producers Kelly Soulders and Brian Wayne Peterson have confirmed that James Marsters will reprise his role as Brainiac for the show's final season. Marsters first appeared as the villain, Professor Milton Fine, in the fifth season and has made several guest appearances since. Soulders confirmed to Blastr that the character will return in the show's upcoming two hundredth episode, saying: 'There were things that we really wanted to encapsulate in the two hundredth, and we literally sat around for days trying to bring it together, and suddenly Brainiac popped in and it all fell into place.' Peterson added: 'It's the touchstone for the bigger theme this year, which is where we explore the past, the present and a little bit of the future. We get to touch on some memories and nostalgia, but as soon as we do that we explode into something nobody has ever seen on the show.' He promised that long-time fans will not be disappointed by the final episodes of the series. Marsters is also due to reprise another villainous role, on new CBS drama Hawaii Five-0.

Decathlete Dean Macey and Scrapheap Challenge's Dick Strawbridge won their Celebrity MasterChef heat last night. The duo impressed judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode and edged out fellow contestants Marcus Patrick, Kym Mazelle and Jennie Bond. In the final challenge Strawbridge cooked kidneys on a celeriac rosti with cream vermouth sauce, followed by pheasant stuffed with spiced meat and pear, red cabbage and swede. 'I love the sticky sauce,' said Torode. Wallace added: 'You have a fantastically cooked bird there with a nice hint of pear. It's big, honest and gutsy. I think it tastes great.' Speaking afterwards, Macey said: 'I am through and I am buzzing. I can't wait to tell my wife, she was like X Factor down the phone yesterday. She is going to blow my ears off now!' Strawbridge commented: 'I'm a mixture between relieved elated. It's a really good feeling. It's a cracking feeling.'

Sir Tom Stoppard is adapting a Ford Madox Ford novel for the BBC. Parade's End is set between the end of the Edwardian era and the end of the First World War and focuses on a love triangle between an aristocrat, his wife, and a young suffragette. Stoppard, who is returning to television for the first time in twenty years, explained that he was drawn to the project once he read the novel. 'The BBC came to me with the idea of adapting Ford's novel for TV two years ago,' he said. 'I had never read it and I fell in love with it. Parade's End has been my main pre-occupation since then. I confess I feel a bit proud of it, and now that Susanna White has come on board to direct Parade's End I'm thoroughly excited about it.' Meanwhile, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said: 'Tom Stoppard is without a doubt one of the world's finest writers and we are thrilled to welcome him back to the BBC with his extraordinary and witty take on a complex novel.' Parade's End, which will be a five-part series, is expected to broadcast on BBC2 next year.

New ONE Show presenters Alex Jones and Jason Manford posed together on Wednesday evening for the first time at one of Jason's comedy gigs. Alex has just been announced as the new female replacement for Christine Bleakley and will join Jason when the revamped show kicks off in a fortnight. Alex showed her support for her new colleague as she joined him backstage at The Pub Landlord's Southbank Jukebox in London where he was performing a stand-up set. This was the first time the pair have been pictured together since the former Welsh children's TV presenter was announced as Bleakley's replacement.

Being Human star Russell Tovey has admitted he is pleased that the show is being remade for the US by SyFy. The actor - who plays werewolf George - explained to io9 that a new version of the supernatural drama would benefit the original series. 'We're very proud Syfy is doing it,' he explained. 'It builds up the brand of Being Human.' He added: 'People do know we exist, but hopefully more people will know [now], because they're making comparisons in everything I've read about it. They've [always] said the English version is there and the Americans are doing a version of [it].' Tovey also had some advice for the cast of the US version, which includes former Smallville star Sam Witwer. 'Don't try and copy what we're doing,' he said. 'Find your own path.'

Sky has announced a major commitment to 'backing original British comedy,' with a raft of new shows coming to entertainment channel Sky1. The satellite broadcaster has set aside a multi-million pound investment fund for UK-produced commissions to complement its US imports, such as Modern Family and The Simpsons. Sky has already commissioned a slate of new British comedies for broadcast in standard and high definition. Former Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay will star in Mount Pleasant, which is about the 'not-so-perfect life' of Mancunian thirtysomething Lisa, while eccentric comedy This Is Jinsy will focus on the 'bizarre residents' of the fictional Island of Jinsy. Airing at Christmas, Little Crackers will feature a season of autobiographical comic shorts from Britain's best-loved stars, including Catherine Tate and Stephen Fry. The new comedy strategy is being led by Sky's head of comedy Lucy Lumsden, who joined the broadcaster in June 2009 from the BBC, where she helped develop hit shows such as Little Britain, Gavin & Stacey and The Mighty Boosh. But, we'll try to forgive her for the latter, at least. 'It's been an exciting time spreading the good news about Sky's investment in comedy and I'm delighted that we've been able to attract a wealth of comedy talent,' said Lumsden. 'Sky's investment in original comedy is testament to our long-term commitment to original and innovative programming.' Stuart Murphy, director of programmes for Sky1, Sky2 and Sky3, said that it is 'great to be working with Lucy again,' after the duo previously commissioned comedy together at the BBC. He added: 'She is the leader in her field and has made sure that customers benefit from her considerable experience and brilliant sense of humour. This really will be content worth paying for.' Sky's comedy announcement follows its commitment to drama in 2008, which resulted in commissions of Martina Cole's The Take, Skellig, Terry Pratchett's Going Postal and Chris Ryan's Strike Back.

EastEnders bosses have announced the four main cast members who are to star in the second series of the soap's online spin-off E20. Actors Tosin Cole and Heshima Thompson have signed up to play troubled Solomon and Asher Levi, a pair of brothers who arrive in Albert Square in need of a place to crash. Meanwhile, Emaa Hussen has taken on the role of Naz - who has problems of her own and is looking for somewhere where she can escape them. Amanda Fairbank-Hynes completes the main cast in the part of Stephanie Dickinson, who finds herself in Albert Square after being abandoned in the middle of Walford. As the Internet drama returns for its second run, the quartet of new characters all end up under the same roof - and it soon becomes clear that each one has something to hide. EastEnders' executive producer Bryan Kirkwood commented: 'EastEnders: E20 made a real impact the first time round, and this second series is set to do the same. The show is a fantastic platform for young, aspiring writers and actors to set the agenda. The audience are in for a real treat as these four exciting new characters will arrive in Albert Square with a bang.'

Ofcom is investigating a claim that Peter Andre publicised an airline and hotel on his ITV2 show. The media regulator received the complaint after an episode of Peter Andre: The Next Chapter in which the singer took his children to Dubai, according to the Sun. The show apparently featured shots of the Atlantis Palm resort brochure while Andre said to five-year-old Junior and three-year-old Princess, 'Look at this hotel!' Princess also dressed as an Emirates air hostess as part of the family's first-class flight with the airline. ITV has insisted that the content was 'not promotional.'

Ruth Jones will star in a new Sky1 comedy set in Wales. The Gavin & Stacey co-creator, who is writing the series, is expected to play the lead role. According to the Mirror, Stella focuses on a mother facing problems with life, love and her neighbours. The ten one-hour episodes are reportedly set in 'an authentic slice of the working-class Welsh valleys.' There's a surprise. One trick pony. Said it for a couple of years now.

1 comment:

nickcoulter said...

Just a comment re: Ruth Jones as a one trick pony. Not sure if it was tongue in cheek but if not, two thoughts -
1. As Graham Taylor once said of Tony Daley's one trick "But it's a good trick, isn't it?"
2. As a good actress as well as writer (see Saxondale where her character is quite different to Gavin and Stacey) she's already up to 2 tricks, but if you mean always setting things in the same cultural setting as G&S ie working class Wales, I can't see the objection. I rather like creators setting their work in one place they understand - and come from - rather than feeling obliged to migrate everything to an anonymous but basically Southern milieu. Apologies for use of milieu.