Monday, July 12, 2010

They Think It's All Over - It Is Now

The BBC's coverage of the World Cup final quite literally wiped the floor with ITV not only in terms of quality but also in the number of people that actually watched it. Match of the Day Live averaged 12.8m viewers from 18:30 on BBC1 and BBC HD simultcast - an almost fifty per cent audience share (virtually unheard of these days). The audience peaked with 17.9m at 21:55. ITV could only manage 2.9m (eleven per cent), with a peak of 3.7m at 22:00. This was the BBC's best audience for a World Cup final since France '98 and up by just over a million compared with four years ago, when a peak of fourteen million watched BBC1's live match coverage of Italy's victory over France. In 2006, 2.8 million watched ITV's World Cup final coverage. In terms of all day share, BBC1 achieved 33.8 per cent whilst ITV, for the third weekend running, was hit by its worst ever performance, a meagre 7.9 per cent. After the game, the wretched James Corden's World Cup Live averaged just 1.09m. You may remember just a few days ago an ITV 'source' allegedly telling a national newspaper that Corden's show had been 'a smash hit.' Oh, really? Meanwhile, on BBC2, the popularity of the final meant that the third episode of the current series of Top Gear saw a nearly two million week-on-week ratings drop to 3.09m in the 8pm hour. Clarkson even joked about the potential lack of an audience within the episode itself! However, the programme subseuqently pulled in a further nine hundred and seventy seven thousand viewers when it was aired on BBC HD from 10pm. The final itself was a vastly disappointing affair between a Spain side who seemed to want to pass the ball to death (pretty, admittedly, but not very effective) and a Dutch team who'd seemingly realised their most effective way of winning the cup was Plan B. Kick the Spaniards up a-height. Andres Iniesta struck a dramatic winner late into extra time to give Spain the trophy for the first time and condemn the Netherlands to their third defeat in a final. Earlier, the Dutch had been reduced to ten men after English referee Howard Webb - who had a rather inconsistent night - sent off Johnny Heitinga for a foul on Iniesta. One which, subsequent TV replays suggested the Spaniard had rather made a meal of. It was a bad-tempered, niggly match, Webb producing fourteen yellow cards in addition to the red. He also missed a foul on Elijero Elia seconds before Iniesta's winner which left the Dutch feeling particularly hard done by at the end. To be fair, Spain were much the better team although they were hampered by a lack of a finish to almost all of their good approach play. And what a tragedy it is that the Netherlands, the national team which for most of my life has epitomised everything that's good, maverick and innovative in world football, let the occasion get to them and will be remembered from this game as little more than a team of kickers. That being said, I have to note, in a mostly good day for the BBC, I thought Alan Hansen's general demeanour during and after the final was a sodding disgrace. I've been - rightly, I believe - highly critical of ITV's collective lip-trailing the floor when Uruguay beat Ghana controversially in the quarter finals and their lack of any sort of proper journalistic balance. So it would be crassly hypocritical of me not to find Hansen's sour-faced, one-sided myopia to this match in which two teams were taking part, extremely offensive. Doing away with any pretence of open-mindedness, Hansen whinged through half-time and full-time about Dutch tactics and what a manifest tragedy it was that the Spanish we're winning in a most unappealing way. At least Messrs Lineker, Shearer and Dixon tried to bring a modicum of balance and impartiality to their comments which was needed after the sour and rotten taste left in the mouth by Hansen. Mark Lawrenson also provided the night's one moment of genuine humour when Nigel De Jong's throat-high kick on Xabi Alonso was followed by Lawrenson advising the audience 'I hope none of you are having your tea at home!' It's been a long time since a BBC analysts comments have got me quite so pissed-off. Mind you, in all fairness, Andy Townsend can usually manage that by just opening his mouth so Lord Hansen of Morrisons still has a long way to go to get that annoying.

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have revealed that they would like to revive their old sketch shows. The comedy double act, who return to BBC2 this week with irreverent quiz series Shooting Stars, claimed that they would like to bring back their '90s hits The Smell Of ... and Bang Bang. 'We'd like to get in the studio next week and start doing a Bang Bang or Smell Of...' yer man Vic told the Digital Spy website. 'But until we get the green light, we'll just keep doing Shooting Stars.' Speaking about the latest run of the comedy quiz, he continued: 'I think what you'll see on Shooting Stars this time around is that it's heading that way anyway. What we do now with the show is more and more like Smell Of... The celebrity guests are getting less and less important.' Mortimer said: 'I think this new series is the furthest away from a quiz we've ever been. We like doing the sketches and the more surreal stuff. But as entertainers, you always want to do more, it's just what you do.' Reeves added: 'We always get people asking to bring back [Channel 4 series] Big Night Out. I think it's very pertinent to people of a certain age. It represents their youth and means more to them than anyone else. They want to be taken back to their childhood and brought out of their misery.'

And now, some truly awful news, Gavin & Stacey is set to return for a one-off special. They promised! They promised they'd done the last episode ever. The lying bastards. Ruth Jones, who co-wrote the alleged BBC comedy with James Corden, confirmed that the special will reveal what happened to the characters after the series ended. Jones told fans in Barry: 'It looks like there will be a Gavin & Stacey special some time in the future. It will show how things worked out for Gavin and Stacey - and for Nessa and Smithy.' A 'source' also allegedly told the Sun: 'There are no plans for a new series but talks about a one-off special - perhaps for Christmas next year - are well under way.' Rob Brydon, who played Bryn West in the sitcom, recently said: 'There may be a special one day - it's being talked about.' So, that's one to pencil into your diaries for Christmas 2011. And then, make an excuse to be out that night.

Peter Serafinowicz has joined the cast of Fox comedy Running Wilde. The Look Around You actor will reprise the role of wealthy neighbour Fa'ad Shaoulin, which he first played in the pilot episode. Running Wilde tells the story of a millionaire playboy who tries to win the heart of his humanitarian childhood sweetheart. The series stars Arrested Development's Will Arnett and Keri Russell.

The final season of Lost will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 13 September, alongside a complete series boxset containing all six seasons. In addition to deleted scenes and outtakes, both releases will reportedly include the previously announced bonus 'future' scene featuring the characters Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Ben (Michael Emerson), as well as a new featurette titled The End: Crafting A Final Season which will examine the show's final days. Other special content will include audio commentaries and documentaries exploring the show's characters and the 'flash sideways' universe. The complete series boxset will contain over thirty hours of bonus material in total.

Charlie Brooker is to host a new programme for BBC2 in which he will interview contributors about their life experiences. The You Have Been Watching host used his Twitter feed to promote the show, making an appeal to any of his followers interested in appearing on camera. Participants have been warned to expect 'confrontational questioning in Charlie's usual abrasive style.'

The producers of the long-running Scottish police drama Taggart have revealed that they would love former Doctor Who star David Tennant to make a guest appearance on the show. A new series of the programme is currently filming in Glasgow, with shooting expected to continue until late August. Executive producer Margaret Enefer told The Drum: 'We would love to have David on the show, in fact I can't believe he's never been in Taggart! It would be a treat for the audience and he is welcome anytime.' It was previously reported that Tennant had unsuccessfully auditioned for Taggart six times prior to his Doctor Who success and he joked that he must be the only Scottish actor not to have played either a murderer or a murder victim on the show! The actor is currently shooting upcoming film The Decoy Bride in Glasgow.

Sir Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins will appear in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special. You know, the one that the Daily Star claimed a couple of weeks ago wasn't going to happen because the script had gone missing! The daft believe-any-old-shit-we're-told bastards! Showrunner Steven Moffat previously described the sixty-minute episode as 'the most Christmassy Christmas special' yet. Sixty nine-year-old Gambon most recently completed filming his role as headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. Moffat said: 'Michael Gambon is as distinguished an actor as I can imagine and the fact that he was Dumbledore means that he is already known to millions of children.' Classical singer and Popstar to Operastar judge Katherine Jenkins will also appear in Matt Smith's first Christmas outing as the Doctor. Speaking about Jenkins, who previously made a cameo appearance as herself in Emmerdale, Moffat said: 'She is brilliant – she is a great singer and a great performer.' Writing on Twitter the thirty-year-old confirmed that filming began today. 'I can now tell you my news. This Xmas in the year 2010 I will be joining the Time Lord in the TARDIS. Filming starts today. Wish me luck!' she wrote. Controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson revealed that the episode will be based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novel A Christmas Carol. Stephenson said: 'Matt Smith and Karen Gillan captivated audiences in their debut series and Doctor Who's clever twist on the much loved A Christmas Carol will thrill BBC1 viewers.' Moffat also revealed that the episode will include a 'honeymoon' for Amy and Rory (Arthur Darvill) and be like 'all your favourite Christmas movies at once.'

Five could be turned into a twenty four-hour showbusiness channel under plans drawn up by OK! magazine tycoon Richard Desmond. This is according to the Mirror, mind, so it's probably lies. The struggling channel is up for sale for around one hundred million pounds and Desmond is in talks about buying, the tabloid claims. He wants to make Five an entertainment channel, with 'tell-all interviews with stars,' reality shows and exclusive footage of celebrity weddings for brain-dead morons. Hang on, isn't that ITV2? Big Brother producer Endemol is also in talks to buy Five from RTL.

The team behind The Chaser's War on Everything are scheduled to make a return to Australian television. The comedy group, who caused controversy when they breached the 2007 APEC conference cordon dressed as Osama bin Laden, will star in a series of five ABC election-related shows called Yes We Canberra! Executive producer and star Julian Morrow told 'It's really great to combine harsh policies that exploit people with comedy, it's a natural strength for us.' Fellow member Craig Reucassel also said that he hoped the politicians they include on the show will be 'happy to play along' with their jokes.

Bugged phone calls, secret Swiss bank accounts and an elderly L'Oreal cosmetics shareholder have landed Nicolas Sarkozy in hot water. The French president cancelled a weekend of sunbathing at his wife's mansion to prepare for Monday's live TV broadcast, in which he will defend his actions in the 'dirty money' scandal that has engulfed him. The fifty five-year-old has been accused of accepting 'brown envelopes stuffed with cash' from Liliane Bettencourt, France's richest woman, before his 2007 election victory. Bettencourt – who reportedly hid sixty five million pounds in Swiss accounts – got a twenty five million pounds tax rebate shortly after Sarkozy came to power. 'The president of the republic has cancelled everything,' said spokesman Franck Louvrier. 'He stayed to prepare as best he can for his TV appearance – and did not go out, except to play some sport.' Sarkozy insists he did nothing wrong – as does employment minister Eric Woerth, whose wife worked for eighty seven-year-old Bettencourt when he was budget minister. Financial advisers to Bettencourt were secretly recorded by her butler, encouraging her to donate to Sarkozy's campaign. Her staff withdrew four hundred thousand pounds from cash machines around Paris in the weeks before the election.

Actor Bobby Spillane has died after falling from a sixth floor window in New York. Spillane, who appeared in TV shows including Law & Order, is said to have fallen to his death from a Manhattan building on Saturday. He was forty five years old. There is no foul play suspected, according to Spillane's father was legendary mobster Mickey Spillane, who was gunned down in 1977.

And now, I suppose, I have to mention a story I've avoided like the plague so far, despite the fact that it's been taking place virtually on my doorstep. Dramatic footage showing the stand-off between armed police and wanted gunman Raoul Moat has been obtained by the BBC. Filmed from a building overlooking the scene in Rothbury it shows Moat holding a shotgun to his head hours before he died. Former bouncer Moat, thirty seven, shot himself on Saturday after a six-hour stand-off, bringing to an end a manhunt which had lasted for a over week. The footage shows about nine armed officers standing just metres from Moat. He is seen lying on the grassy bank beside the River Coquet as officers train their weapons on him. Moat can be seen holding the gun believed to have fired the shot which subsequently killed him. It appears to be pointed directly at his temple. The gunman's family have criticised the police's handling of the case and also the media's coverage of the manhunt. Moat's thirty nine-year-old brother Angus, from Gateshead, said: 'He was just sitting there in the open, in no cover, crying about the fact he had no family and no dad and that nobody loved him. That was not true. He had loads of people but died believing he had none. The media aren't helping. You've got this constant round-the-clock rolling news. It's like they're working up to what could be a public execution in modern Britain of my little brother.' The family is considering asking for a second post-mortem examination after the first revealed Moat died from gunshot wounds consistent with a weapon he was carrying, but showed no signs of marks from two Taser gun shots which police say they fired at him. The hunt for Moat began on 3 July after he was suspected of shooting his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, and murdering her partner, Chris Brown. They were both shot in the Scafell area of Birtley, near Gateshead. Moat is also suspected of shooting police officer David Rathband as he sat in his patrol car in East Denton, west of Newcastle, the next day. Police have been searching the River Coquet in Rothbury for a weapon believed to have been carried by Moat. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has begun two investigations into Northumbria Police. The first centres on how the force responded to a warning from Durham Prison - from where Moat was released on 1 July - that he had issued threats against Miss Stobbart. The IPCC is also looking into the hunt for and subsequent death of Moat.

The Raoul Moat armed stand-off also took a thoroughly bizarre turn when former England footballer Paul Gascoigne arrived in Rothbury mid Friday evening claiming to be a friend of the fugitive. Gascoigne turned up at the police cordon and asked to talk to his friend 'Moatie', as he had brought him some food, lager and warm clothing. The 1990 World Cup hero described Moat as 'a good lad' and 'a lovely bloke' and suggested there was no chance of the man wanted in connection with three shootings trying to harm him, as they were friends. Officers did not allow Gascoigne access to the scene and have dismissed the idea that he was a close friend of Moat. During an interview with Metro Radio shortly afterwards, a barely coherent Gascoigne claimed: 'He is willing to give in now. I just want to give him some therapy and say "come on Moatie, it's Gazza, man."' When told of his actions, Gascoigne's agent, Kenny Shepherd, said 'He's doing what? I'm sitting here having an evening meal in Majorca. I'm speechless.'

And finally concerning this rather sad story from which not many people come out of with much credit, it should be noted that almost a million people watched the unfolding 'drama' live on Sky News on Friday night and Saturday morning. The network's audience peaked with over nine hundred thousand viewers in the hour from 10pm to 11pm. Figures for BBC News, which was also covering the stand-off live peaked at eight hundred and fifty thousand viewers during the same period. I don't want to sound as though I'm passing myself off as morally superior to anybody here but, I've got to say, I didn't watch it. I found it curiously like being a witness to a lynching. In many ways it was the guy's own fault - he did, after all, shoot down in cold blood three people, one of whom died - but, there is a limit to how much 'entertainment' I can stomach from watching a very disturbed individual living out the final hours of their sad life and knowing in advance that there was little or no chance this situation was going to end bloodlessly. I found much of the media's coverage of the entire manhunt, and particularly the last few hours of it, to be extremely distasteful. Not all of it, it was a news story after all and it needed to be covered in some way - particularly by the local media. That is, essentially, what they're there for, I know that as well as anyone. But, some of the stuff I saw, and heard, and read was just flat-out wrong. Stripped of any dignity or taste or moral conscience. Almost, but not quite, as distasteful as the fact that there are people who, seemingly seriously, wish to make Moat out to be some kind of Ned Kelly-style anti-establishment hero. The Facebook page which 'celebrates' him thus is, I'm sorry to say, one of the sickest examples of a lack of human decency imaginable. And the fact that the majority of people on it have such a poor grasp of the English language is a shocking indictment of a section of the society that we've bred. I feel enormous sympathy for Moat's victims and their families and friends; I feel sorry for his family too; I even, despite myself, feel a little bit sorry for him. Even if he was the scum of the Earth that he's currently being painted as by the media - and, that's perfectly possible, there's plenty of those kind of people about. But, most of all, I feel - genuinely - sorry for the million-and-a-half or so people who were glued to their TV sets watching it all unfold like it was an episode of CSI. Really sorry.

Kym Marsh says that her forthcoming 'tell-all' autobiography will reveal 'many things.' That she can't write, in all likelihood, I'm guessing. Stick to what you're good at, chuck. Whatever that is. 'I do plan to be honest or else there is no point, really, is there?' she noted. You said it, Kym. What, indeed, is the point?

A student rumoured to have had a holiday fling with Ashley Cole has claimed that the reports have 'wrecked her life.' It's a bit early for that isn't it, sweetheart? You're only young, I'm sure you've got plenty of time to wreck your own life before you're done. Elle Hartley, twenty, was photographed with the England footballer in Los Angeles last week, leading to suggestions that she was romantically 'pursuing' him. Hartley told the Daily Scum Mail: 'I can't believe this has happened to me. My holiday has been ruined and it's wrecked my life.' Well, I'm sure thecheque they'll be paying you for selling them your story will soften the wrecking, somewhat. 'I just want it all to be over. Nothing happened between me and Ashley. I'm just trying to enjoy myself and this happens. People have been saying the most horrible things.' Hartley had travelled to the US with her friend, Melissa Naik, as both girls celebrated the end of their second-year exams at university. They are said to have first met Cole at central London nightclub Jet Black. Asked at the Les Deux nightclub about his relationship with the two students, Cole reportedly screamed: 'Just leave me and my girls alone. Get the fuck out of here or I'll put you in a fucking brace. People thinking I'm sleeping around and romping with women. It's all lies. I'm just trying to [enjoy] myself. These two girls' lives are being ruined by this whole thing.' Hartley's mother, Susan, added of her daughter and Naik: 'They have both read the stories on the Internet and been a little bit upset.' According to the newspaper, Hartley has been in discussions with publicist Max Clifford in recent days. So, one imagines Elle's 'my tabloid hell' exclusive will become a very hot property for those same newspapers sooner rather than later. Isn't it a great world we live in, dear blog reader?

Meanwhile, Cole's former wife, Cheryl, is lying in a hospital in London. She's been pulled out of V Festival and the boot camp stage of The X Factor, while she receives treatment for malaria, her spokeswoman has said. Ah well, it could be worse. She could still be married to Ashley, be fair.

1 comment:

dazmck said...

Absolutely agree with your opinion re Hansen's comments on the final, Keith. I actually think he crossed the line in terms of what is acceptable in punditry - if such a line even exists. Yes, the Dutch were throwing in some awful tackles, but (a) what did he expect them to do tactically and (b) didn't some Spanish players get booked for some bone-crunchers too?