Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Be Difficult? With A Bit Of Effort You Can Be Bloody Impossible.

Keeley Hawes has reportedly signed-up to star in the BBC's upcoming revival of Upstairs, Downstairs. According to the Daily Scum Mail, the former [Spooks] and Ashes To Ashes actress will play Lady Agnes Holland. Art Malik, Anne Reid and Ed Stoppard will also appear in the programme, while original cast member Jean Marsh will reprise her role as Rose Buck. The new series is expected to begin six years after the original ended in 1930 with Rose returning to work for the family again. The BBC originally asked for three episodes but has reportedly now ordered six additional scripts. Heidi Thomas, who is writing the show, said: 'When people hear you are bringing back Upstairs, Downstairs back they sort of stop breathing for a moment because they love the programme so much. Everyone involved in the new version is very much aware of that feeling and they have an extraordinary desire to do it justice.' Filming for the show, which is being co-funded by US producers Masterpiece, is expected to begin next month.

The BBC is also to bring back rural drama All Creatures Great And Small, a tabloid report has claimed. According to the ever-reliable Sun, BBC director of vision Jana Bennett will confirm the updated series this week. The original series aired between 1978 and 1990 and starred Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy and Peter Davison. Following the adventures of Yorkshire vet James Herriot, the programme regularly pulled in audiences of over ten million at its peak. It will apparently be brought back for a three-part series, which will be based prior to the original and titled Young James. 'Young James is inspired by the true story of how the world's most famous vet, James Herriot, came to learn his trade in Scotland,' said a 'source.' The newspaper claims that the BBC is hoping to capitalise on ITV's cancellation of dramas such as Heartbeat with the new show.

Live From Studio Five is to be 'chopped in half', according to tthe Sun, in a bid to boost early evening ratings. The Five show, fronted by Kate Walsh and giggling non-entity Ian Wright, currently airs between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. But 'bosses' plan to 'dump' its second half - which clashes with The ONE Show. It is hoped, the newspaper claim, that the change this autumn will boost the current - pathetic - ratings of two hundred and fifty thousand viewers. It won't, of course. Although chopping Ian Wright in half might. Just. I think a lot of viewers might really enjoy seeing that. 'Bosses' also plan to look again at the presenting mix, which currently sees Wright and Walsh hosting alongside Jayne Middlemiss. An 'insider' allegedly said: 'Executives are not happy about the ratings.' Well, they wouldn't be. They're effing dreadful. The move is the first major change at Five since tycoon Richard Desmond snapped up the broadcaster last week for one hundred and three million quid. Cheap at half the prize, Des.

Harry Potter and The West Wing actor Jason Isaacs will star in a forthcoming BBC1 drama. The forty seven-year-old will play private investigator Jackson Brodie in Case Histories, a six-part mystery adaptation by Ruby Films. BBC1 controller Jay Hunt said of the commission: 'Case Histories is an exciting opportunity to bring a contemporary adaptation to BBC1. I am delighted we will be bringing Kate Atkinson's books to the screen.'

Alex Jones has admitted that people have told her she looks like Christine Bleakley. Well. You do, love. Sorry, like, it's not your fault and all that but, there it is. The Welsh presenter was yesterday confirmed as the new host of BBC's The ONE Show after Bleakley defected to ITV. Speaking on BBC Radio 5Live, Jones said that she does not see it herself but the similarities had been mentioned by other people. 'I don't think maybe you see yourself looking like anybody else necessarily but some people have sort of mentioned in passing "Oh you look just like the girl of The ONE Show,"' she said. 'But I mean looking like Christine isn't a bad thing. She's a gorgeous girl and she did a great job while she was on The ONE Show so you know, just hopefully people will see that we are quite different.' She laughed off a comment about bumping into Bleakley's boyfriend, Chelsea star Frank Lampard, saying: 'I'm more of a rugby girl.'

Actress Alexandra Fletcher was voted-off Celebrity MasterChef after the first quarter-final on Friday. Fletcher failed to impress hosts Gregg Wallace and John Torode and a trio of exceptionally snotty guest judges from the WI with her second performance in the kitchen. Her main course of smoked haddock florentine served with puff pasty and a chive and butter sauce topped with a poached egg was described as 'messy.' Torode commented: 'I want to love it, but the sauce is just wrong.' The panel were more impressed with her pudding of poached pear with walnuts and an orange and walnut cream. However, it was still not good enough as actor Neil Stuke, alleged TV personality Christine Hamilton and Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson progressed to the semi-finals. Speaking afterwards, Fletcher said: 'I'm a bit disappointed, but I'm going to carry on cooking. I've got a family to feed! I'm proud of myself.' The third and fourth heats this week will feature Dick Strawbridge, actor Marcus Patrick, former BBC journalist Jennie Bond, soul diva Kym Mazelle and decathlete Dean Macey. Completing the line-up are Chris Walker, Lisa Faulkner, comic Mark Little, DJ Mark Chapman and glamour model and reality TV regular Danielle Lloyd.

Meanwhile, John Torode has claimed that he enjoys Celebrity MasterChef because the show is a great 'leveller.' And because he gets paid loads for presenting it, presumably. I mean, I'm just guessing, but I imagine that's a not consideration. The host argued that the programme strips away the reason the contestants became famous to reveal what they are like under pressure. 'You can be a sports star, an actor, an entrepreneur, anything, but cooking strips it all away,' he told the Daily Telegraph. His co-star Gregg Wallace added: 'People know these characters for a reason. It's fascinating to see the real them, to watch how they react under pressure.' Meanwhile, Wallace revealed that the duo are not fans of 'food evangelists' who try to change viewers' eating habits. 'It's not up to us how people eat. It’s all well and good telling people to buy more expensive food but the idea of cheap, mass-produced food and nobody starving is pretty good,' he said. Damn straight. Anything that does the wretched Oliver out of his self-imposed mission to piss me off on an almost daily basis is very welcome. More power to yer elbow.

ITV has confirmed the details of the revamped New Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, which launches next month. The game show, which will still be hosted by Chris Tarrant, introduces three new twists to the format for its twelfth year on air. ITV has promised that the alterations will guarantee 'buckets more emotion, more drama and a tension that will grip viewers at home.' The changes to the show include the removal of the Fastest Fingers First round, following a new casting process for contestants, and a new Switch lifeline. When contestants reach the fifty thousand mark, the Switch lifeline enables them to change their question if they are not happy with it. However, the major shift in the programme is the introduction of a 'Big, Bad Ticking Clock.' Contestants will only be allowed fifteen seconds for the early rounds, increasing to thirty seconds for the questions after one thousand pounds. Speaking about the refreshed format, Tarrant said: 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has proven to be a phenomenal success in the UK and around the world with an enduring popularity. The changes just made to the show take it to a new level of emotion and excitement that even I, in my twelve years of hosting the show, have not seen.'

Torchwood creator Russell Davies has revealed that he is happy with the show's new ten-episode format. He told SFX that the new series length was perfect for the storyline he had planned for the upcoming fourth series. 'It's not a Lost-type story, full of mystery. And it's not particularly complicated - it's more linear,' he said. 'Ten parts just gives us a chance to move it on to the international stage where it takes place.' The writer promised that the new episodes will take place on a wider scale than previous series. 'The vast majority's going to take place in America - and other countries as well - so it's got a size to it. It's a proper, big, global ten-hour thriller,' he teased. Davies also confessed that he felt the conclusion of previous five-part miniseries Torchwood: Children of Earth had been 'rushed. Children Of Earth could have run for ten episodes,' he said. 'Once you get martial law declared, we could have done three more episodes of that.'

STV breached industry guidelines by making eighteen short programmes that were 'akin to advertisements' for agencies funded by the Scottish Government, the broadcasting regulator has found. Ofcom said that STV had allowed the sponsorship of the programmes to influence the content, so that it was too closely linked to the sponsors or their activities. STV was cleared of the most contentious of the charges levelled against it in newspaper reports and has not been fined, although Ofcom criticised the broadcaster for suggesting the breaches were technical when they were serious. Ofcom launched an investigation following reports that suggested the Scottish Government may have influenced STV’s programming to promote itself for political gain. However, the programmes that prompted the complaints – Made in Scotland, Scotland Revealed and The Greatest Scot, which were shown as part of a Homecoming Scotland season – did not breach the Broadcasting Code, Ofcom said. The regulator investigated fifty seven programmes broadcast by STV that were sponsored either partly or fully by the Scottish Government, a Scottish Government agency or a non-departmental public body. Of these, eighteen short 'social action' programmes breached Ofcom's broadcasting code relating to sponsorship. The programmes ranged in length from one minute to four minutes and their subject matter included learning opportunities, Scottish pork and care services. Sponsors included Learn Direct Scotland, The Big Plus, Quality Meat Scotland, National Care Standards and The Children’s Panel. They were broadcast between March 2008 and September 2009. The breaches that did occur broadly related to four rules, which specify that sponsors must not influence the content of a programme 'in such a way as to impair the responsibility and editorial independence of the broadcaster.' STV said it welcomed the findings of Ofcom’s investigation.

Emmerdale has apologised after reportedly receiving complaints from viewers who noticed offensive words on a shopping list. In a statement, a spokeswoman said: 'A shopping list featured in the background of a scene on Friday's episode of Emmerdale which included colloquial terms that some viewers considered inappropriate.' The Daily Scum Mail reports that among the items shown were 'piles cream' and 'jam rags.' And, of course, it's a well known fact that nobody who lives in a small village in Yorkshire would ever buy either of those items as piles and periods do not exist in that part of the country. The soap confirmed that it is investigating the incident, telling the Digital Spy website: 'We are looking into the matter and we apologise to any viewers if they were offended.' Mediawatch, an independent campaign for family values in the media run by tight-arsed busybodies and who always get their grubby snouts into the press when there's any complaining to be done, 'blasted' the 'unnecessary' words. 'Clearly whoever wrote that knew exactly what they were doing, and they certainly didn't need to,' director Vivienne Pattinson said. 'It's not a particularly helpful phrase to refer to sanitary towels as jam rags, and it is unnecessary. It didn't need to be there at all.' Once again, Vivienne Pattinson, can I just make clear at this juncture - you do not speak for me or for anyone I know. Just in case you believed that you did. According to the newspaper, viewer Jean Walker complained: 'I was stunned when my son, who is only seven, turned around and asked me what a jam rag was.' So, why didn't you tell him it was a rag covered in jam if you're not comfortable telling him what it actually is, Jean? Seems a far more sensible solution that contacting a national newspaper to register your ire. And, what's a seven year old doing watching Emmerdale in the first place? Why isn't he out playing football with his mates? That's where I'd've been at 7pm at night in July when I was seven. 'It's not the kind of thing you want your kids seeing, so it was disappointing to see it on a programme like Emmerdale just after dinner. You hear phrases like that used in the street or in the pub sometimes, but to use it in front of millions as part of a TV soap is a pretty silly thing to do.' Just to confirm, I haven't heard the word 'jam rag' used in a street or a pub or anywhere else for that matter since I was not that much older than your son's age and in school. Meanwhile, the paper continues to allege, another viewer - Sharon Kennedy - suggested that the list may have been 'some kind of prank' played by production staff. You think?! Jeez, has everybody had their frontal lobotomy pills this week, or what? Of course that's what it was, what else would it be?! 'If that was the case, I didn't find if particularly funny,' she said. 'I couldn't believe my eyes when it appeared on screen - it's not the kind of language you expect to appear in one of our oldest soaps. I had to cover my young son's eyes because I didn't want to have to explain that kind of crass language to him at such a young age.'

Spartacus: Blood And Sand creator Steven S DeKnight has defended the coarse language used by the show's characters. That's Spartacus, incidentally, not Emmerdale. Just in case anyone was wondering. He told fans at this year's Comic-Con that viewers often criticise the profane dialogue for not fitting the programme's historical period. He admitted: 'One of the reactions to the dialogue that I heard when the show was first coming out was, "Well, they're cursing. That takes me out of it. They didn't have these words back in ancient times."' DeKnight explained that the swear words had been adapted from their Latin equivalent. '[Those words] were in Latin, but they did have them [back then],' he said.

Danielle Lineker is reportedly being lined up for a 'golden handcuffs' deal with ITV, because of Simon Cowell. Now, there's something that Mediawatch should be getting themselves involved in. The X Factor judge thinks that Lineker has 'the sex factor,' reports the Daily Star. Course, we all know how reliable their stories have been over the last, oh, thirty years. At least. Cowell is now said to be considering finding the thirty one-year-old roles on both The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent. Lineker could also take over ITV2 spin-off The Xtra Factor. The Hells Kitchen star recently fronted a BBC3 documentary about being a step-mother.

Media baron Richard Desmond has pledged not take Five 'downmarket,' after he bought the terrestrial broadcaster on Friday in a multi-million pound deal. Desmond, the owner of the Daily Express, OK! magazine and the Portland TV group - home of adult TV channels Television X and Red Hot - has acquired a one hundred per cent shareholding in Five in a one hundred and three million pounds deal with owner RTL via his Northern & Shell business. Under the terms of Five's terrestrial licence, the broadcaster is required to air a certain amount of news and current affairs programming on its main channel every year. There has been speculation that the billionaire could look to boost Five's ratings share by transforming it into a twenty four-hour celebrity-led network. Like ITV. Only cheaper. However, Desmond told Sky News: 'We will carry on with news and will be doing more news and current affairs. We are not going downmarket.' The billionaire claimed that he has set aside one and a half billion pounds to invest in the main Five channel over the next five years, including plans to rebrand it as Channel Five. After being asked what he would like see on the channel, Desmond replied 'Coronation Street and Panorama.' He also confirmed that Big Brother, currently in its final series on Channel 4, is on his 'shopping list.' Meanwhile, the culture secretary oily little Jeremy Hunt has given his backing for Desmond's acquisition of Five, saying that it is 'an encouraging development' for viewers. Now, there's a surprise, a Tory minister praising the owner of the Daily Express. Gosh, I'm stunned. Speaking on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, the minister said: 'What I think is encouraging is that one of the first things that Richard Desmond said was that he was committed to Five's future as a public service broadcaster. If you look at popular programmes on Five like CSI, like Grey's Anatomy, I think fans of those series will be pleased that it's got an owner who is committed to Five's future.'

In the most unsurprisingly news of the week, the BBC is said to be 'eager to make more episodes of Sherlock.' The modern-day re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary detective attracted an impressive seven and a half million viewers on its launch last Sunday, along with across the board critical praise and BBC bosses are apparently keen to produce a longer series of the show for next year. 'To say the top brass are made up by the Holmes ratings is an understatement,' a 'source' told the Sun. 'They really want to do more so the question is not really if, but how and when can we do them.' Steven Moffat has already hinted that he hoped to make more episodes but will have to juggle it with his Doctor Who projects. Both shows are made at the BBC's Cardiff base.

Top Gear's executive producer is denying anonymous suggestions that Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz had their laps around the show's racetrack 'fixed.' Sunday night's programme saw the two Hollywood stars take the top two spots on the leaderboard. Some Radio1 listeners have apparently been texting in to the Chris Moyles and Fearne Cotton shows saying the laps were faked. How, exactly, they would know this is, at this time, unknown. perhaps one of them would like to let us in on what they know that we don't? Andy Wilman says that couldn't happen and the laps were genuine. He said: 'We are listening to armchair experts who don't know a thing.' Yes, well that's Mediawatch and Jeremy Hunt dealt with, Andy, but what about the issue at hand? 'They weren't there, they don't understand how laps are done. The times were accurate, the times were truthful. It really saddens me that people who don't know anything can then sour the whole moment.' Cruise and Cameron Diaz took on the 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' challenge last Thursday and each drove a Kia cee'd around Top Gear's test track. The programme was broadcast on Sunday night and saw Cruise post a time of one minute 44.2 seconds. Cameron Diaz, did it in one minute 45.2 seconds. 'The lap timing is covered very accurately,' said Andy Wilman. 'There are people with stop watches, there are cameras in the cars and we have people on the corners at each track to make sure nobody cuts the lines. You can't cheat basically.' Earlier in the day the actors had spent several hours at Top Gear's test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey. 'Tom Cruise turned up really early,' said Wilman. 'He put more effort into getting that lap time than I've ever seen anybody do. He was doing one hundred and ninety mph in the Bugatti Veyron down the runway. He knows what he's doing in a car. He took a load of instruction from The Stig. The celebrities that come on, they usually do four or five laps with The Stig, then they go out solo. He spent longer with him and was asking more detailed questions, so that his first dry lap was in the one forty-fives already. He'd already done the lap record on his first dry lap.'

Ben Shephard has reportedly agreed a deal to present live football for Sky Sports. The thirty five-year-old, who recently brought forward the date of his GMTV departure, is believed to have signed a contract worth up to four hundred and ninety five thousand pounds-a-year. Sky Sports will divide up this season's televised matches between Shephard and the channel's current main presenter Richard Keys, according to the Mirror. A source said: 'Whatever way you look at it, it's a huge coup to get Ben Shephard onto the channel, and Sky will want value for money and to promote him wherever possible. He was one of the most-known faces on ITV broadcasting to millions of people every week. Many viewers may feel that Ben is ideal to take over from Richard when he decides to step down.' Insiders say that Shephard will 'definitely' front several Premiership matches and big-name Champions League games for Sky this season. Sources are apparently hopeful that Shephard and Keys will 'complement' each other, and are keen to insist that Keys is still an integral part of the presenting line-up. A source added: 'We have hundreds of matches every season and Ben's remit will not encroach upon Richard's.' Shephard is thought to have impressed Sky bosses with his knowledge of sport during a number of meetings over the last few months. An insider said: 'They clearly have high hopes for him. He is a sports nut, in particular rugby and football. He sees his future in sport, not in daytime TV.'

The Government has stepped into the 'size zero' debate claiming skinny role models have sparked a health crisis. The coalition said we should be using alternative role models such as Christina 'You Could Have Someone's Eye Out With That' Hendricks, the star of television's Mad Men, rather than stick-thin clothes horses. Voluptuous Hendricks, who plays the office bombshell Joan Holloway in the US drama, has been identied by ministers as 'absolutely fabulous.' Yep. Pretty much. So, clearly, their all know-nothing knob-cheeses like Jeremy Hunt. Just, most of them. Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone says the over-exposure of skinny models and celebrities is sending out the wrong signal to girls and young women, leaving them under pressure to conform to 'completely unachievable body stereotypes.' She said: 'Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous. We need more of those role models.' Featherstone is calling a fashion industry summit later this year to discuss how to boost body confidence among the young. The meeting will discuss the airbrushing techniques used to make models look even thinner after photo shoots and will consider publishing health warnings with photos of size zero models. Featherstone said: 'Magazines regularly mislead their readers by publishing distorted images that have been secretly airbrushed and altered. It is contributing to the dreadful pressure that young people come under to conform.'

Nicky Wire has clarified his recent comments about 'writing a script for Doctor Who.' The Manic Street Preachers bassist last week revealed that he was working on a script about Dylan Thomas's final days which attracted a huge amount of coverage in the tabloid press. Writing on Twitter on Monday, Wire explained: 'Just to clarify I havent been asked by the BBC im (sic) just satisfying my own desire to write a script for dr who as a fan of the show x (sic).' So, in other words, he's writing fan fiction. Welcome to the party, Nick. If you stick at it like Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat did in about twenty years you might, just, get something produced. Mind you, you'll need to improve your punctuation before submitting it. It's 'I'm' or 'I am' not 'im.'

Hawaii Five-0 showrunner Peter Lenkov has hinted that actor James Marsters could return to the show. Marsters has already filmed a guest role in the CBS drama's pilot episode, playing a villain who lures Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) to Hawaii. In an interview with IGN, Lenkov compared Marsters' character to Wo Fat (Khigh Dheigh), a recurring villain in the original version of the programme. He explained: 'If you're familiar with the original show, there was a character named Wo Fat, the arch nemesis of McGarrett. He played over the course of twelve seasons. Every now and then he'd pop up. I think if you look at our show as really a valentine to the original show, I think you'll see that James Marsters is going to come back, most likely.'

The demolition of a multi-storey car park in Gateshead made famous by a 1970s gangster film has started. Bulldozers moved on to the Trinity Square site, which featured in Michael Caine film Get Carter, three years after revamp plans were announced. The 1960s car park became a landmark on the Gateshead skyline and some film fans and enthusiasts of the Brutalist architecture hoped it would be saved. The car park, where London hardman Jack Carter once pushed arcade king Cliff Brumby (Bryan Mosley) to his death, had also featured in the TV series Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?. The demolition is expected to take eight weeks. The car park is part of a site where there are plans for a one hundred and fifty million pounds redevelopment including shops, offices, a student village and supermarket. Plans by Tesco regeneration subsidiary Spenhill will be considered later this year. The car park was designed by Owen Luder, who was in Gateshead to watch the demolition. He said it was a sad day and that Gateshead was 'losing its front teeth.' Luder added he thought the car park should be kept and the shops below it revamped. 'It was allowed to deteriorate, it obviously looks an eyesore. In fact it could be renovated. The sad thing is of course that in twenty or thirty years time when they in fact are going to demolish what is going to be built now, there won't be interviews on that.'

UK consumers are less willing than their global counterparts to pay for digital content, but they are prepared to accept targeted advertising, new research has claimed. According to KPMG's annual Global Consumers & Convergence report, only nineteen per cent of British consumers would be prepared to pay for content on a previously free website. In comparison, forty three per cent of consumers outside the UK would be willing to pay for frequent access to online content, rising to fifty nine per cent among the Asia Pacific countries. The results will be bad news for UK newspapers and publications that have recently introduced pay walls, in which users are asked to pay a fee to access material online. However, KPMG's research indicated that British users would be willing to pay for other online content, including fifty per cent for online gaming, forty four per cent for music and thirty five per cent for online video. Nearly three quarters of UK consumers would further be prepared to receive online advertising in exchange for lower cost or free content, with a preference for targeted adverts tailored to their interests and activities. In the survey, forty eight per cent of people said that they would be willing to have their online behaviour and personal profile information tracked by marketing firms if it resulted in lower cost content, up from thirty five per cent in a 2008 study. Commenting on the results, KPMG Europe head of technology Tudor Aw said: 'UK consumers still haven't come around to the idea of paying for digital content and are clear that they will move to other sites if pay walls are put up. Although consumers are resistant to paying for content, they are becoming more accepting of viewing advertising and for their profile information to be tracked. This continues a trend we have seen in previous years and again acts as a pointer as to whether a pay or ad-funded model will eventually succeed.' For the research, KPMG conducted online surveys of over five thousand six hundred respondents in twenty two countries.

German consumers have been warned to expect smaller chips in the near future due to recent hot weather. The German Farmers' Association said that the harvest of extra-large potatoes used for long French fries had been poor because of the ongoing heatwave in Europe, Reuters reports. The Association's spokeswoman. Verena Telaar, said: 'The French fries industry and consumers will have to brace themselves for shorter fries.' She added that the use of smaller potatoes will result in fries of approximately 4.5cm in length, rather than the standard 5.5cm.


Mietek Padowicz said...

Regarding the size zero models, even the Condem government like a dead clock, is right at least twice. My wife is voluptuous. In fact the last rake thin woman I saw was last week and needed to be fed right quick. Time the industry caught up with the rest of us.

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