Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Side Kicks

The BBC has promised to launch an inquiry after it emerged that an impostor has been posing as Top Gear's The Stig. The fraudulent individual had, apparently, been travelling in a convoy of cars labelled with the Top Gear logo and had even stopped for photographs with fans, according to the Sun. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'It would appear there is an impostor going round pretending to be The Stig. An inquiry will be launched - we want to find out who it is. We do have a Top Gear live tour but it is not on until November. This man is nothing to do with the television programme.' The Stig's real identity remains a closely-guarded secret, despite Michael Schumacher appearing behind the trademark helmet and visor on an episode of the motoring show last year.

Martin Freeman has claimed that Sherlock Holmes and Watson are portrayed as equal partners in upcoming BBC drama Sherlock. The actor told Last Broadcast that his portrayal of Watson will not show the 'bumbling fool' seen in some past adaptations. 'In this version, Sherlock and Dr John Watson are both evenly weighed,' he said. 'John is not just a sidekick, he has a really good role to play. Every actor wants to play someone three-dimensional and this is as close as you get.' He added: 'I saw no reason to see him as anything other than very able. He's a military doctor, just returned from Afghanistan - he's somebody who can handle himself and makes life or death decisions on a daily basis.' Freeman also called the scripts for the series 'genuinely brilliant' and praised the performance of Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch. 'Benedict looks like you'd imagine Sherlock Holmes should be and he can really act,' he insisted. Always been one of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite characters in literature, John Watson, but he's one that is easy to get wrong in film adaptations. Murder By Decree, for instance, was a fabulous movie, but it was ultimately spoiled because they got Watson wrong - going down the Nigel Bruce/Nigel Stock route of playing him as an old duffer (and as good as James Mason is in that film, he's not any Watson I recognise). That was the great thing about the Jeremy Brett ITV series with first David Burke and then Edward Hardwicke. For the first time in a long time, they got Watson absolutely spot on. I remember Tim Pigott-Smith once saying that there's never been a character in literature who has been so badly served, so often, by film and TV adaptations than John Watson - he's supposed to be twenty nine in A Study in Scarlett for goodness sake! I always thought Colin Blakley was a wonderful - almost definitive and definitely not gay! - Watson in The Private Lives. Andre Morrell's opposite Cushing in Hounds was spot on too. And, recently, Ian Hart very good in the Everett/Richard Roxburgh adaptations. So, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Martin - an actor I greatly admire - brings to the role.

Robson Green and Mark Benton have joined Waterloo Road. The Northern Lights duo will begin filming with the rest of the cast in Rochdale from next Monday, a BBC spokesperson told the Digital Spy website. Philip Martin Brown, who plays Grantly Budgen in the show, broke the news to fans on his Twitter page. While Green and Benton have committed to the drama for two series, their characters have not yet been revealed.

The episode of Who Do You Think You Are? starring Bruce Forsyth was watched by over 6.6m on Monday night, according to the latest audience figures. The programme, which featured the entertainer and showbiz legend attempting to uncover his great grandfather's secret history, was viewed by 6.64m on BBC from 9pm. A further one hundred and fifty three thousand watched the simultaneous broadcast on BBC HD. Who Do You Think You Are? comfortably beat Identity in the 9pm hour, after the crime drama pulled in just 4.19m on ITV and an additional one hundred and forty thousand on ITV HD.

Former Last Of The Summer Wine actor Tom Owen has claimed that Kathy Staff 'bad-mouthed' him. The sixty one-year-old, who played the son of Compo in the long-running sitcom, admitted that he never liked the actress, who died two years ago aged eighty. He told the Mail on Sunday: 'I have huge respect for her and the way she brought Nora to life. I have no wish to speak ill of the dead, but she wasn't my favourite person. She bad-mouthed me to my father's second wife all the time.' Well, that is speaking ill of the dead, Tom. Hate to be the one to break it to you but it just is. Owen also branded Peter Sallis, who played Clegg, a 'rude old devil' at times. And this, dear blog reader, is the bloke who was whinging just last week about the series being cancelled? Sounds it should've gone the way of Crossroads and Game For a Laugh years ago.

JJ Abrams has revealed that he was pleased with the way Lost ended. Abrams, who was one of the show's creators, explained that he did not always know how the series would finish. 'There are little threads and elements here and there but truthfully, when we started it, we didn't know exactly what was in the hatch,' he told SciFi Now. 'We had ideas, but we didn't know to what extent it would be. The notion of The Others was there, but we didn't know exactly what that would mean. Damon [Lindelof] hadn't come up with the idea of flashforwards yet.' Abrams continued: 'To see where we are and what they've created is insanely gratifying and it's something that no-one could have predicted at the beginning of it. The evolution of it is really part of their glorious experiment of taking a show that we were all, at the beginning, saying, "How do you make this a series?" and to see what Damon and Carlton [Cuse] have done is amazing to me.' Abrams also praised the story that Lindelof and Cuse created, saying: 'They created this amazing narrative that is really just a result of that leap of faith and trusting that the characters will tell us what the show is, as much as anything. Damon and Carlton really did an amazing job.' However, Abrams explained that it is difficult to learn lessons from the success of Lost because it is 'a special example. You could say that you shouldn't get too intricately serialised because at a certain point it's difficult,' he said. 'But the truth is, I don't know if Lost would have worked if it had been anything else, and I don't know how you would apply that to another show.'

Being Human actor Aidan Turner has revealed that he was keen to return to filming on the show because he missed his co-stars. 'I missed the people,' he confessed, in a video interview on the BBC's Being Human blog. 'I missed Russell [Tovey], I missed Lenora [Crichlow], I missed [director] Colin Teague.' The actor - who plays the vampire Mitchell - also discussed the show's upcoming third series. 'Last year was a crazy journey for Mitchell. This year [the lead characters have] moved to a new house and there's new stuff to deal with,' he said. Turner also revealed that he is enjoying filming in Cardiff. The show moved to the Welsh capital after filming its first two series in Bristol. 'It's been really good.' he insisted. 'Cardiff is treating us well.'

Virginia Madsen has claimed that there are better roles for women on television. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the Scoundrels star explained that films no longer offer actresses good parts. 'We're becoming invisible in feature films,' she said. 'And I mean females of all ages.' Madsen revealed that she has been offered better roles as she has aged, saying: 'Younger girls may have the abundance of work, but we have the stronger characters to play. It's really hard for young girls, because not only are they judged and shamed and objectified and put into these ingénue roles which are not at all what real girls are like - and God forbid they should open their mouth and have an opinion about anything - but now they're even more so.' She continued: 'I feel we're becoming so Victorian in our society and we're all out of balance in that way, so we have this bizarre juxtaposition where you can get famous for making a private sex tape and it accidentally coming out, yet you're labelled a certain way if you show your breasts on screen.' Madsen explained that good actresses are now signing up to appear on television to take advantage of the more complex roles. 'The films are so male right now that it's becoming misogynistic, and [most of] the stories aren't about us,' she said. 'So many actresses like myself are flocking to television because they're still telling our stories.'

Mad Men's Jon Hamm has revealed that he almost quit acting to become a teacher. The actor - who plays the womanising Don Draper on the show - told W magazine that he worked as a waiter for five years before landing a part in Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers. 'I had given myself five years to be self-sufficient as an actor. I was already self-sufficient as a waiter. But I knew a lot of forty-year-old waiters and I didn't want to be one of those,' he explained. 'I had taught [at] school and I knew that I could always go back to teaching.' Hamm explained that he planned to give up on his acting dream if he failed to win a big part by the time he was thirty. 'I gave myself to my thirtieth birthday, and my thirtieth birthday actually happened on the set of We Were Soldiers, which was my first big Hollywood movie,' he said. Hamm recently received his third consecutive Emmy nomination for his Mad Men role.

Inbetweeners actor Greg Davies has landed a pilot for a new BBC comedy series. Davies, who also appeared in the BBC3 comedy We Are Klang and as a guest on Mock The Week, will host the currently untitled programme, which will feature comedians competing in 'ridiculous feats.' According to Chortle, twelve comics will attempt to win the title of 'funniest person in the room' by coming up with 'outrageous suggestions for their colleagues - which they must also be prepared to do themselves.' Comics confirmed for the show include Stephen K Amos, Russell Kane, Phil Nicol, Lee Kern, Rob Deering, Charlie Baker, Micky Flanagan, Katherine Ryan, Kirsten O'Brien and Holly Walsh. The usual suspects, in other words. Christ, do we really need more Holly Walsh on our TV screens? Have they no pity?

After months of speculation, Kate Garraway has been confirmed as part of the Daybreak editorial team. What a tragedy. I was so looking forward to her 'my GMTV heartbreak' exclusive in her shitty little magazine gossip column. Ah well, at least it's gratifying to know that she's gone from someone who could make outrageous demands over her pay to a distant second banana to Christine Bleakley. That's something. The presenter will join anchors Chiles and Bleakley from September as the entertainment editor. Garraway's role will include covering all the major showbiz stories, interviewing A-list stars and covering entertainment events around the world. Steve Hargreave will work alongside Garraway as the entertainment correspondent. Speaking about her new role, the forty three-year-old said: 'This is a fantastic opportunity to spread my wings in an exciting new role. Showbusiness is big business and Daybreak will be the place for all the big interviews and stories.' For which read 'thank you for not sacking me.'

Betty Driver has revealed that she will stay on Coronation Street beyond its fiftieth anniversary celebrations. The ninety-year-old actress, who had previously announced plans to retire, has recently been assured of her place on the show by new producer Phil Collinson. She told the Manchester Evening News: 'I'm not leaving. You'll have to shoot me to get rid of me. I'm ninety and I aim to be one hundred and still working.' Driver had been asked whether there was any likelihood of her alter ego - Betty Williams - being killed off in the show's tram crash storyline later this year.

The Office of Fair Trading is to look at whether BSkyB's one hundred and sixty million quid acquisition of Virgin Media Television, which operates channels including Bravo and Living, is likely to raise any regulatory issues in the UK. The OFT is aiming to gauge whether the deal, which BSKyB completed last week after receiving regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland, could constitute a merger situation under the 2002 Enterprise Act. The regulator has invited comment from interested parties today to assess industry views on the ramifications of the acquisition, which represents a consolidation of competition in the pay-TV market. If the OFT were to determine that there were a substantial lessening of competition, although this seems unlikely, then it would refer the case to the Competition Commission for a fuller investigation.

Justin Lee Collins's shows Heads or Tails and Good Times have both been cancelled, according to reports. The two programmes, shown on Five, were apparently axed after disappointing ratings. Heads or Tails failed to attract a million viewers, while Good Times was watched by fewer than half-a-million, according to the Sun. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Justin is a top bloke but finding him a hit has been an upward battle for Five. Heads or Tails was a reasonable format but it was a bit one-dimensional and viewers didn't stick with it. Good Times just never hit the mark. Let's face it, chat shows are ten-a-penny - you need to really stand out. It didn't play to Justin's strengths as he looked like he was constantly fretting about the next question.'

And finally, a thought for today. Round about now, Lindsay Lohan is 'slopping out.' There, that's made you feel better, hasn't it?

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