Tuesday, July 06, 2010

They're Selling Postcards To The Hanging

The BBC's annual report has been published for the financial year 2009-10. Some of the key points from the review, which was conducted by the management and its regulatory body, the BBC Trust include: The corporation made three hundred and sixteen million pounds in efficiency savings over the past year. The BBC has cut almost eight million pounds from its budget for paying presenters, journalists and musicians, which came to £221.5 million. The BBC spent £52.2 million of this on 'talent; earning in excess of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds a year - down just over two million pounds on last year. BBC managers have said they will 'continue to exercise tight controls' in the field of star salaries. Five months after new measures were announced to reduce management and pay, the number of managers had been cut by twenty four, and the pay bill fell by £7.7 million. The BBC has said this process will continue and be regularly reviewed. BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said any new managers have been paid twelve per cent less than their predecessors. The management's view of BBC1 is that the station remains Britain's favourite channel and is at the heart of our cultural life and part of the national conversation. In the Trust's view it would 'like to see the channel harnessing its scale and size by being more ambitious and distinctive, by increasing the variety of programming in pre-watershed peak time and showing greater ambition at 9pm.' The levels of quality of parts of the daytime schedule are 'not meeting audience expectations, while its range of programming at peak time is too narrow.' The Trust's public consultation found that daytime schedules are too weighted towards long-running factual entertainment strands with similar subject areas. The management's view of BBC2 is that over the last year, the BBC have increased the impact of factual programmes in peak time with higher levels of quality, originality and innovation. The Trust's believes that BBC2 needs to provide a clearer alternative to BBC1, even at the risk of reaching fewer viewers. It should increase the range of its factual programming, signature drama and develop a more distinctive role in mainstream comedy. The levels of quality of parts of the daytime schedule are not meeting audience expectations. Like BBC1, programming has too many 'ongoing strands' - including collectibles hunting and property. BBC3 probably got the best report of all with the Trust believing it has 'really hit its stride.' The channel's share of younger audiences has grown this year, 'proving how readily young audiences can connect to difficult material.' The Trust stresses the channel's importance in 'engaging younger audiences with bold and challenging programming.' BBC4 has notably raised the profile of its arts output. The channel continues to grow in audience numbers as it pursues an unashamedly expert and in-depth approach to arts and culture. In the Trust's view, over the coming years its main challenge is 'to increase the impact it delivers in core areas of specialism.'

ITV is planning a twenty million pound million revamp of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, according to reports. The channel is looking to bring in more high-profile celebrities for the next series and extend the length of time they spend in the jungle, says the Sun. The reality show, which enters its tenth series this November, will also be filmed in HD for the first time. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Television as a whole may be suffering from budget cuts, but everyone is determined to spend whatever it takes to make I'm A Celeb ... a success. Given that spend, and the sort of celebrities we're hoping to attract this year, it's certainly worth adding on a few extra days for the increased advertising and sponsorship revenue we can attract. HD is now a must for all our big shows, but it will cost another five hundred thousand pounds to do it in Australia.' Scum tabloid reports yesterday linked John Terry's wife, Toni, with an appearance on the upcoming series.

Ofcom has rejected complaints about an on-air clash between Sky News political editor Adam Boulton and former Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell. More than one thousand complaints were received by the media watchdog, with some viewers describing the exchange as 'horrendous' and 'offensive.' The pair were seen arguing about coalition options following the general election in May. But Ofcom found the debate was 'within the requirements of due impartiality. While the conduct and manner of the discussion was certainly unusual, in terms of impartiality we consider that relevant views and issues were aired,' Ofcom concluded. The watchdog said that since Campbell had 'effectively accused' Boulton of 'wanting a Conservative Prime Minister' during the discussion, it was 'not unreasonable' for Boulton to 'defend his position.' Ofcom also said it should be noted that the 'discussion at no time resulted in any abusive language or gratuitous insults.' At one point, Campbell told Boulton: 'This is live on television. Dignity! Dignity!' Boulton responded: 'Don't keep telling me what I think. This is what you do. You come on and say no-one won the election, and you clearly did worse. I'm fed up with you telling me what I think.' The regulator dismissed separate complaints about Sky's coverage of its leadership debate before the general election. Ofcom received six hundred and seventy one complaints about the 22 April broadcast - many felt that a reference to an unfavourable Daily Telegraph story about Nick Clegg were unfair. Ofcom also rejected more than one thousand complaints regarding an interview between Sky News presenter Kay Burley and David Babbs, executive director of campaign group Thirty Eight Degrees, two days after the election. It was alleged that Ms Burley was rude and aggressive during the interview, about the UK's voting system, but the watchdog said Sky News had not been in breach of its rules.

Andrew Buchan and Alun Armstrong have started filming the second series of Garrow's Law. The BBC drama, which won a Royal Television Society Award earlier this year, focuses on barrister William Garrow. The stories in the four-part series are based on real legal cases from the eighteenth century. The show's executive producer Dominic Barlow said: 'We are delighted to be bringing Garrow's Law back to BBC1. This series will not only see Garrow fighting legal and political injustice in the Old Bailey but also injustice in his personal life that could end his career at the Bar.' The show, which also stars Lyndsay Marshal, Aidan McArdle and Rupert Graves, will be filmed in Scotland until the middle of August. It is expected to broadcast later this year.

ITV's new crime drama Identity debuted to strong audience figures on Monday evening, according to overnight viewing data. The identity theft conceit, which stars Aiden Gillen and Keeley Hawes, was watched by an average 5.6m on ITV in the 9pm hour, comfortably beating Crimewatch, which pulled in 3.25m on BBC1. It wasn't bad, either, Identity - a bit identikit in places (a sort of combination of CSI's Greatest Hits and Waking The Dead's Greatest Hits!) But, I've seen much worse. Meanwhile, Aidan Gillen has revealed that starring in The Wire 'raised the bar' for him. Gillen explained that working on such an acclaimed show has made him look out for more good drama. 'It definitely raised the bar, which you can look at in two ways,' he told the Daily Telegraph. 'You can say, "Is anything else I do going to be as good?" Or maybe, by setting a standard, The Wire will make everything else a bit better.' He continued: 'There's a lot of reality TV around these days and it's nice to see straight drama making an impact. You can still find good television dramas but there's not as many as there used to be. When I was sixteen, there were loads of good things on - The Singing Detective, Boys From The Blackstuff. They were a big influence on me wanting to become an actor.' Gillen also revealed that he is attracted to 'bold, risk-taking scripts,' saying: 'Both The Wire and Queer As Folk had a big scope. 'They were panoramas, telling ambitious stories about two cities, Baltimore and Manchester, for the first time. Some people said that Queer As Folk was sensationalist and had too much sex. The real mayor of Baltimore complained that The Wire was too bleak. But they're missing the point.' He added: 'In drama you can either pretend everything is okay, or you can show the world as it really is in the hope that it gets better.'

A BBC film crew has filmed the intimate life of one of the world's largest and most powerful eagles, the harpy eagle of Central and South America. In doing so, the crew survived a flyby attack by a primate-hunting harpy. Despite their huge size, the birds are notoriously secretive, and are rarely seen in the jungle tree tops. Yet during the shoot, the filmmakers recorded extraordinary footage of a family of the eagles, including the raising of a single chick to adulthood.

Mekhi Phifer has dropped hints about the season finale of Lie To Me. Speaking to USA Today, the actor promised that there will be 'some bloodshed and some shooting.' Phifer, who revealed that the season will end on a cliffhanger, also explained that he enjoys playing Ben Reynolds. 'I'm the guy with the gun and the badge,' he said. 'My character gets to kick ass and take names. I love it. I always try to bring a certain masculine presence to what I do. That is part of the dynamic.' Phifer added that he picks his roles carefully, saying: 'I want to work on things that are good and intriguing. There's not a hell of a lot out there bowling me over. That's what I love about being on a great show like Lie To Me.'

Primeval actor Andrew-Lee Potts has revealed details of the show's upcoming fourth series. The programme was initially cancelled by ITV after the third run but was later recommissioned under a new coproduction deal between ITV and UKTV. Potts - who plays Connor Temple - told Chicago Now: '[A] lot of things happened in the last series; losing our lead character. You've got to be a bit clever to survive in Primeval because they like killing people off quite a lot. But that's their way of keeping it really super fresh, and you actually never know. And nobody's really safe.' The actor praised the show's former star Douglas Henshall, who played Nick Cutter. 'People might not realise how much Dougie, I think, anchored the entire show, because it was his belief in it, his belief in coming from the serious actor side, and the professor side of the storyline. I think that made the show somewhat plausible in the ridiculousness of the Primeval world. I really respected that. I suppose, in a way, I am the character to carry that on now, so there are definitely going to be more nods toward Connor becoming more like Cutter.' Potts also attempted to explain the series' popularity with viewers. 'It's got a lot for everybody in there, and I think it doesn't patronise. We have a bit of fun. We don't take ourselves too seriously, but just seriously enough. I think the balance of things in the show, I think they always get right.'

Joanna Page has revealed that she would like to do more presenting work. The Gavin & Stacey actress, who hosts Sky1's new animal show My Pet Shame, explained that she still wants to act as well. 'I'd do more presenting if the right show comes along,' she told TV Choice. 'I think I can do both, but I never look too far ahead. I just see what comes along and see if I fancy it. I'm very impulsive. But I'm an actress first and foremost.' Page also revealed that she has a number of acting projects coming up. 'Recently I've done a Marple and then I've done a pilot for a BBC3 drama called The Fades,' she said. 'It's all about seeing the dead. That was great fun.'

Meanwhile, Fern Britton has revealed that she would love an acting job on television. The presenter left This Morning last year and has now admitted that she would like to try something new. 'I'd love to be on Coronation Street or [Spooks],' she told Woman's Own. 'Yes please!' Britton also revealed that she had been involved in a television project but does not know whether it will make it to broadcast. 'My acting came about because a friend wrote a sitcom for me,' she explained. 'There was a lot of interest and then it went quiet - and that's probably the last we'll hear of it!' Britton recently said that she has been 'having a ball' since leaving This Morning. So much of a ball, it would seem, that she's now so desperate for work that she's resorting to dropping hints to a magazines. I dunno, actors want to be presenters, presenters want to be actors. It's all wrong. Wrong, I tell ya.

Bob Mortimer has revealed that the new series of Shooting Stars is different. Speaking to TV Choice, the comedian explained that he still isn't bored of making the show. 'Vic and I have no problem [maintaining our enthusiasm],' he said. 'It's like Shooting Stars is just a context for us to do the things we enjoy doing. This new series is quite different. We've dropped a lot of things and added some new stuff, and we always look forward to anything that's new.' Speaking about the changes to the format, Mortimer explained: 'We have Angelos doing the scores now. We have got Walter Hottlebottle, who is a ridiculous puppet. We dress up as celebrities to do questions on videotape, and we have brought back some old characters from our past - a couple of folk singers called Mulligan and O'Hare.' Mortimer also revealed that he wants to make another series of Shooting Stars. 'I would like to think there will be but if the series bombs, then I don't know,' he said.

Robert Webb has insisted that Peep Show isn't a 'boys' show.' Speaking to TV Choice, the comedian explained that his sitcom is often labelled as something for men. 'There's a misconception, in my opinion, that Peep Show is a boys' show,' he said. 'It's one of the most morally serious and right-on shows you can expect to see in this day and age.' He added: 'I think it's got a reputation for being a lads' show. Nuts and Zoo love us and I don't know why. It's the most anti-Nuts and Zoo programme you can imagine, even though it doesn't go on about it.'

Kate Garraway has confirmed her desire to stay with GMTV after the show's upcoming revamp. The presenter had previously praised plans to change the show, despite suggestions that she could be forced to leave in a piece of quite sickening brown-tongued grovelling that does nobody much credit. Least of all her.

Channel 4's Kerry Katona documentary generated sixty four viewer complaints following its broadcast last month. Kerry and Me received more complaints than any other programme on the network shown in June, reports the Sun. One viewer said that they felt 'let-down' by the station for airing the controversial two-and-a-quarter-hour documentary, which was seen by 1.66 million viewers. 'I feel highly let down by C4 for airing such a disgusting image of a so-called celeb that is displayed in multiple media forms as an idol for women,' they said. Katona later apologised for her behaviour after she was seen in the documentary swearing and threatening her children.

Shane Warne has criticised airline British Airways. The Australian cricketer, who recently flew with BA from London to the US to take part in the Ante Up For Africa poker tournament, complained about everything from air conditioning to the captain in a rant on Twitter. Warne wrote on the social networking site: 'I hate British Airways. Way too arrogant and rude towards people! Will not be flying with them after my return from Vegas. Now on plane, grumpy and listening to captain tell me how high we will fly, what direction he is taking off, blah blah. Shut up and just let us chill.' Two minutes later, he wrote: 'They spoke to this young family in front of me like they were criminals, they were travelling first class too. So rude and obnoxious. Hate this airline!' He later complained because he could 'smell the guys breath' next to him and said that the captain should 'shut up' instead of apologise that the air conditioning was not working. 'This trip sucks,' he wrote at the end of his tirade.

Jamie Winstone was reportedly kicked out of the Wireless Festival last weekend for being too drunk. According to the Sun, the actress was partying at the event with All Saints singer Melanie Blatt and became 'unruly' after too many drinks. 'Jaime was off her box,' a 'source' allegedly said. 'She'd been boozing all day. Drinks are free in the VIP area and she had clearly taken enthusiastic advantage.' They claim that the 'insider' then added: 'By the time security finally slung her out she could barely stand. It was a sorry sight.'

Cheryl Cole has reportedly been diagnosed with malaria. The twenty seven-year-old recently announced that she would take a one-week break due to exhaustion after collapsing during a photoshoot with what was thought to be gastroenteritis. According to the Sun, Cole caught the tropical disease during a trip to Africa three weeks ago that she took with Derek Hough but was not diagnosed until late Sunday after drifting in and out of consciousness. 'She told doctors she'd had stomach pains since her return from Tanzania,' a source said. 'On Sunday evening her condition deteriorated so rapidly she knew it was something serious. She'd spent forty eight hours in bed trying to sleep off what she thought was a stomach bug. She was extremely weak, sweating and drifting in and out of consciousness. She was driven to hospital where tests showed malaria.' The 'insider' allegedly added: 'Everyone is really concerned. She is very ill.'

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