Saturday, August 28, 2010

Week Thirty Six: Summer's Almost Gone

The executive producer of Top Gear has launched a strongly-worded - and, frankly, long overdue - attack on the publisher HarperCollins over a book which will allegedly reveal the identity of The Stig. Andy Wilman wrote on the show's website that the BBC has a right to protect The Stig's anonymity 'from a bunch of chancers' who were 'hoping to cash in on it.' Both sides appeared at the High Court earlier this week as the corporation tried to halt publication of the book. The BBC said that the planned book would breach contracted confidentiality obligations. However, HarperCollins said it would 'vigorously defend' its right to publish the book, adding it was 'disappointed that the BBC has chosen to spend licence fee payers' money to suppress this book.' In a blog post entitled The Stig. He's Ours, Wilman wrote: 'I feel the urge to add my ten penn'orth about how we see things down at the Top Gear office.' Responding to HarperCollins' comments, he said: 'The fact is, the "waste of licence fee payer's money" argument gets trotted out many times as a way of attacking the BBC, but the reality is the BBC is a massive organisation. It's naive to think it can only ever spend money on cameras, tapes for the cameras, Daleks or anything else that contributes directly to what ends up on screen. The BBC has the right to spend money on protecting the intellectual property it created. The truth is that all that stuff - The Stig, The TARDIS, the Blue Peter dog - does belong to the licence payer, and not to some opportunists who think they can come along and take a slice when they feel like it.' HarperCollins declined to comment on Wilman's blog post. He went on to argue that the reason why The Stig, who test drives the cars featured on the show, never removed his helmet was to protect the character's mystique, which the audience finds entertaining. 'HarperCollins have decided none of that is as important as their profits,' he wrote. 'So if you get your Christmas ruined by one of the best and most harmless TV secrets being outed, you can rest easy in the knowledge that by contrast, HarperCollins' executives will be enjoying a fantastic Christmas.' He also made an apparent reference to the driver who wears Stig's helmet, saying: 'It's an issue of trust. Everyone who's ever worked on Top Gear has kept The Stig thing a secret, and the person who wears the suit has signed confidentiality agreements to do the same. So talk about what you like in your own life, but not the bit you agreed not to. Your word is supposed to mean something.' He concluded by saying he would continue to fight the case because the Top Gear team had 'worked bloody hard for many years to make The Stig something worth caring about, and that includes protecting it from a bunch of chancers.' Wilman, the man credited with turning Top Gear into a TV hit, also used the blog to attack some media coverage of the legal battle. Singling out an article by the Daily Scum Mail columnist Stephen Glover, Wilman said: 'Since he can't actually count up how many shows we make a year (it's fourteen, not eight, Mr Glover), I'm not sure I'd trust the rest of his maths.' It has to be said, apart from the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star's usual, wholly obvious, anti-BBC agenda, it's difficult to understand - logically - why anyone should have an argument with the BBC's position. A man has signed a contract of employment with them, one of the clauses of which is that his identity - whilst he is playing the 'part' that he's employed to play - is kept a secret from the wider world. He then announces his intention to break that contract by signing a book deal, and the BBC are - according to scum newspapers - the ones who are at fault by protecting their investment? Baffling. I always thought the Daily Scum Mail was supposed to be the natural friend of the employer when in talking sides against the bolshy employee. Of course, the fact that HarperCollins is part of the NewsCorp conglomerate and that, ultimately, its boss is Rupert Murdoch wouldn't have anything whatsoever to do with this, would it? Perish the very thought.

The BBC has started 'discussing' ideas for a new pop music show to succeed Top Of The Pops, which was axed in 2006. According to The Times, the corporation has approached independent production companies asking for help to develop 'a Top Gear for music.' In a statement, the BBC said: 'We are constantly discussing new ideas for pop music.' However, it added: 'We currently have no plans to announce [a new show] for any of our television networks.' The statement also reiterated that there were no plans to bring back Top Of The Pops. According to The Times, the BBC has approached record labels in the hope of securing video exclusives and other material to populate a new show. It speculates that the show is 'most likely' to air on BBC3, and could be launched to coincide with a planned Top Of The Pops season on BBC4. Top Of The Pops ended four years ago, after viewing figures fell from a 1970s peak of fifteen million to around one million. It was first broadcast in 1964, from a converted church in Manchester and the final edition was shown on 30 July 2006. Since it was axed, record companies, politicians and artists have called for it make a comeback. One-off specials for Comic Relief and Christmas have kept the brand alive, while editions of Top Of The Pops 2 - which uses archive performance footage - are often created to accompany seasons like Soul Britannia on BBC4. Newspaper tycoon Richard Desmond is also said to be keen to launch a Top Of The Pop-style programme following his acquisition of Channel Five. In theory, he could acquire rights to the TOTP brand from the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, but the cost is likely to be prohibitive. The irony, of course, being that when Top Of The Pops ended there was remarkably little of this wailing and gnashing of teeth. Most commentators felt that in an age of MTV and virtual blanket video, the format of bands performing live in a TV studio had run its course, something reflected by the show's declining viewing figures. As is usual in TV and, indeed, in life, you often don't know what you've got till it's gone. One for The Stig to reflect on, that, perhaps?

And, on that bombshell, here's your next lot of Top Telly Tips:

Friday 3 September
Live International Football - 7:30 ITV - sees England take on Bulgaria hoping not to get a kick in Balkans. Hoping to put their disastrous World Cup behind them, Fabio Capello's men will be keen to get their European Championship campaign to make it through to Poland and Ukraine in two year's time off to a flying start at Wembley tonight (kick-off 8.00). In last month's friendly against Hungary, the beleaguered manager gave some young players a chance to shine. Bobby Zamora nearly scored with a long-range strike and Michael Dawson provided the inevitable disputed moment, by seemingly clearing a Jagielka cross heading into the England goal before it went over the line. However, it was a brace from old boy Steven Gerard that saw the side to a 2-1 victory. Although ranked forty third in the world, Bulgaria can rely on Stiliyan Petrov whose goal in Aston Villa's 3-0 defeat of West Ham helped kick start the side's season. Although he was rather anonymous when The Toon put six past them a week later. Just thought I'd mention that. Adrian Chiles presents with, tragically, Andy Townsend and Gareth Southgate. You may start your Three Stooges jokes now if you like, dear blog reader.

Saturday 4 September
Casualty returns for its twenty fifth series at 8:45 on BBC1 with a feature-length episode. Hasina Haque joins the cast as nurse Mads, who struggles to understand the stronger regional accents of her colleagues in her first job since leaving Pakistan, with serious repercussions. Two patients are admitted separately after being shot with ball bearings fired from an air rifle, but Noel's discovery of sinister footage on the Internet suggests the two cases may be linked and more attacks are imminent. The incident comes to a head at Holby College, bringing terror into the heart of the fully stretched ED. Guest starring Michelle Collins, and featuring an appearance by Holby City actress Jaye Jacobs. Nice to see that after all these years Casualty and Holby are starting to have these crossovers. They are, after all, supposed to be set on different floors of the same hospital!

102 Minutes That Changed America - 7:00 Channel 4 - uses amateur footage and audiotape recorded by people around New York to give an insight into their experiences of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. The duration of the tragedy, from the first plane hitting the north tower to the collapse of both buildings, was just under two hours minutes. During that time, many of the city's residents sought to preserve images of what was taking place. Joined together into a single, seamless historical record, the end result is an intensely personal perspective on events as they unfolded, telling the morning's events minute by minute in real time.

Sunday 5 September
ITV's much-anticipated one-off drama U Be Dead finally makes it to screens at 9:00. In January 2007, Maria Marchese was sentenced to nine years in prison for viciously stalking a London doctor, his family and his legal defence team. This drama, starring David Morrissey and Tara Fitzgerald, tells a very Twenty First Century story, of an obsession that spiralled dangerously out of control. Jan Falkowski and his fiancee could think of no-one who would send threatening texts and abusive phone calls to them and for some time they refused to take the sender's manic behaviour seriously. That is until, they mysterious texter broke into their houseboat and opened the gas taps, threatened Jan's family and attempted to cancel their wedding. Also starring Alex Lowe, Monica Dolan, Dearbhla Molloy and Lucy Griffiths.

Grumpy Old Schooldays - 9:00 BBC2 - sees the celebrity complainers return to reminisce about the more miserable side of their schooldays. I'm not sure this blogger will be able to watch this one, to be honest, dear blog reader. A bit too close to home, this if you know what I mean. Comedienne Shappi Khorsandi recalls the time she stole Neil Kinnock's daughter's school report, Mark Steel relives the horrors of his classmates' flatulence and Neil Morrissey reveals why he tried to earn a reputation for being more dangerous than he actually was. Others with tales of woe to share include Matthew Le Tissier, Penny Smith, Mark Radcliffe, Ronni Ancona and Alistair McGowan.

Monday 6 September
Bouquet of Barbed Wire - 9:00 ITV - is, of course, a much-anticipated psychological drama starring Trevor Eve and Hermione Norris, a modern reworking of an original novel by Andrea Newman, which explores the consequences of a father's obsessive love for his daughter. First made for TV in 1976, with Frank Finlay and Susan Penhaligon, it became something of a cause célèbre at the time because of its unflinching look at the last great TV taboo, incest. The successful lives of Peter and Cassie Manson are thrown into turmoil when their daughter Prue reveals she is pregnant and her teacher Gavin is the father. What's more, she wants to keep the baby, drop out of school and marry him. This leaves Peter with an intuitive sense that Gavin is on a personal mission against him, while he despairs he may have lost his daughter for ever.

In My Family's Crazy Gap Year - 9:00 Channel 4 - six British families they swap their daily lives for an adventure in a remote corner of the world. The Willmott children, Cyrus, Emile and Eliane, have lived a privileged existence and their mother, Rafia, wants to take them away from their charmed upbringing. They can borrow my gaff for a few weeks if they like. Together with their dad, John, they travel to the Himalayas - where they meet the Dalai Lama - the Mongolian steppes and deep into the Papuan rainforest to encounter one of the world's remotest tribes. So what will the Willmott family learn from their experience? And, is anybody actually bothered?

There's lots of returning series this week, as we're into the autumn season now, and this next one will be causing much celebration amongst a significant proportion of From The North's readership. Only Connect is back at 8:30 BBC4. Three old university friends with a shared love of exotic foods and fine dining pit their wits against a trio from the Northern Ireland Court Service to make connections between things that initially do not appear to be linked. The thinking chap's crumpet, that saucy minx Victoria Coren presents. And, as usual, she does so brilliantly, intelligently, and with a positively filthy chuckle every now and then!

Quite why Doctor Who at the Proms 2010 - 8:30 BBC3 - wasn't shown on Bank Holiday Monday is beyond this blogger. Seemed the obvious place for it, to be honest. Anyway, stars of the series Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill host a spectacular concert featuring Murray Gold's music for the SF family drama, including his latest reimagining of Ron Grainer's classic theme tune. Featuring performances by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the London Philharmonic Choir, and soloists Yamit Mamo and Mark Chambers. Ben Foster is the conductor. Oh, and Matt Smith might put in an appearance too. An 'extended' version is shown, also on Beeb3, on Friday at 7:00.

Tuesday 7 September
Help! I Caught It Abroad II - 9:00 ITV - is a documentary filmed at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, featuring patients who are being treated for diseases such as malaria and leprosy, as well as those who have been bitten by snakes and monkeys, and infected with parasites whilst on overseas holidays. You thought it was going to be about something else with a title like that, didn't you dear blog reader? Ah, yer Keith Telly Topping can read you like a book, so he can! During the film, there is a look at a 'secret room' that houses some of the world's most dangerous snakes - kept for producing anti-venom, which saves hundreds of lives worldwide. Of course, it's not very 'secret' now that it's been on television, is it? Bit of an elementary schoolboy-type error in their, otherwise flawlessly logical, plan there I'd've said.

Shown as part of BBC4's extended Northern season Eddie Waring: Mr Rugby League at 9:00 is a documentary exploring the life and work of the TV sports pundit and co-presenter of It's A Knockout, who aspired to take the game of rugby league beyond its heartland in the north of England to the masses. The programme explores why he proved such a divisive figure during his career, attracting praise for his warm character, but receiving criticism from those who considered him a harmful northern caricature. Includes contributions by historian Tony Collins, who argues that the current Super League owes a debt of gratitude to Waring whom, he claims, provided the inspiration for the many attractions that have transformed league match-days into family events.

Swingtown - 10:35 ITV - is a newly imported drama set in 1970s America, in which a couple move their family to an affluent Chicago suburb, only to find their neighbours are part of the prevailing social and sexual revolution. Initially bewildered by their new surroundings, the pair realise the promiscuous lifestyle on offer may provide the excitement their marriage craves. Molly Parker and Jack Davenport star. I've heard very mixed reports on this one, to be honest, but as ever it's probably worth giving the first episode a go just to see if it's your cup of tea.

This Is England '86 - 10:00 Channel 4 - sees the acclaimed film-maker Shane Meadows makes his TV debut with this four-part follow-up to his BAFTA-winning movie about the British skinhead movement, This Is England. Set in 1986, the film's young protagonist, Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), is now preparing to leave school and, with over three-and-a-half million Britons unemployed, faces an uncertain future. Elsewhere, Woody and Lol get ready to be married, but a sudden medical crisis threatens to disrupt events. Will Shaun get the girl - and scooter - of his dreams? Only time will tell. The film was great, albeit very strong stuff and hugely controversial at the time of its release. So, I'm looking forward to this.

Wednesday 8 September
In How to Look Good Naked - 8:00 Channel 4 - two years ago, Gok Wan convinced a pair of twin sisters, Jeannie and Suzy, to pose in a shop window and walk the catwalk naked. Jeannie particularly had found the challenges difficult - the mother-of-three hated her stretch marks and was envious of her twin sister's body - but her confidence grew under Gok's command. How have they fared without him? He returns to find out. Last in the current series.

As mentioned in yesterday's Top Telly Tips, it's all returning favourites this week. Or ... shows, anyway. Bang Goes the Theory - 7:30 BBC1 - is, of course, the Tomorrow's World for the Twenty First Century. In this, the first of a new series, the team investigates the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, with zoologist Liz Bonnin joining the rescue effort to protect the local wildlife in Louisiana, and Jem Stansfield building a scale model to illustrate how oil leakages happen and ways they can be dealt with. Plus, Dallas Campbell uses a jet plane and an atomic clock to explain Einstein's theory of relativity.

And, speaking of returning favourites, Mad Men is back at 10:00 on BBC4 for a fourth series. Don Draper has difficulty adjusting to being the public face of his new company and an interview with an advertising magazine does not go as well as his partners had been expecting. Meanwhile, Betty and the children endure an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with Henry's family, and Peggy comes up with a risky publicity stunt in a bid to keep hold of a client. This is, of course, just in case you've been living on Mars for the last couple of years, an acclaimed US drama, set in a New York advertising firm in the early 1960s and starring Jon Hamm, January Jones, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser and John Slattery. And Christina Hendricks whose staggering breasts, err presence, towers over the series like a colossus.

Thursday 9 September
He's had some hard challenges in the past but Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys - 9:00 BBC2 could be Gareth's biggest yet. The choirmaster takes on the challenge of teaching in a primary school for one term, hoping to re-engage boys who are lagging behind their female peers by bringing risk, competition and adventure back into the classroom. Joining the staff at a school in Essex, he sets about trying to make his pupils excited about learning by spending a day outdoors, before tackling their speaking skills by staging a boys versus girls debate.

Tonight also sees the return of a particular minor favourite of yer Keith Telly Topping Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV. And it starts with an episode that's been the source of controversy before even before it's been shown. Two children go on trial for killing a toddler, each blaming the other, and the case hinges on whether forensic evidence can prove who is guilty of strangling the boy to death. CPS director George Castle defies his superiors and takes instruction from the victim's mother, who has a surprising point of view on the crime. Drama, guest starring Deborah Findlay (Cranford), and with the usual impressive cast of Bill Paterson, Bradley Walsh, Apollo out of Battlestar Galactica, Freemya from Doctor Who, Harriet Whatsherface etc. etc. Good, occasionally great drama marred only by the sometimes identikit nature of the plots. But, the acting is always first rate.

The opening episode of Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution - 9:00 Channel 4 - is called The Rebel From Suburbia which is a massive claim for Alan to be making. The actor and comedian hosts what is described as 'a personal history of his formative decade' - the 1980s - a highly politicised time when radicalism was rife and race relations, the class struggle, unemployment and sexual politics dominated the agenda. In this opening episode, Alan returns to his Essex roots to rediscover his rebellious schoolboy years, and sets out to confront the leader of a local skinhead gang that terrorised him as a boy. But Alan is soon forced to face some uncomfortable truths about his own conduct. Well, indeed. One man's rebel is another man's ignorant numskull who isn't anywhere near as clever or funny as he thinks he is and whose 'rebellion' essentially adds up to 'getting on other people's tit because they can.' I know. I've both been one and, then later in life, suffered the boredom of having to deal on a daily basis with several of the next generation's 'rebels.' Nice idea for a show, I must say. And, I like Alan so this should be good.

Watchdog is also back tonight - 8:00 BBC1. Sour, twisty-faced Anne Robinson returns with the investigation show that exposes rogue traders and fights for consumers' rights, featuring airline passengers who have been wrongly charged for supposedly excess luggage, and a look at special offers in supermarkets that are not what they seem. Matt Allwright also turns the tables on a rogue car clamper. They're really doing their bit in helping Britain's small businesses in these tough economic times, aren't they? And they really think they've got their finger on the pulse of the nation. You know what this is, don't you? It's the That's Life for 2010. It'll be talking dogs and Richard Stilgoe next, mark my words.

And, so to the news: BBC4 has announced that it plans to air new US drama Rubicon. The AMC series, which is currently airing in the States, focuses on an intelligence analyst who solves codes. They subsequently get caught in a conspiracy after an untimely death. The cast includes James Badge Dale and Miranda Richardson and the show was shot in New York. BBC4 has revealed that Rubicon will air as part of its Autumn and Winter 2010-11 season. The channel already has the rights to another AMC drama, Mad Men (see above).

Next year's licence fee negotiations will be 'a moment of realism' for the BBC, director general Mark Thompson has warned. But, he said, any loss of funding would permanently damage the UK's capacity to create television programmes. In his MacTaggart speech delivered in Edinburgh, Thompson also said that Sky should be investing more in homegrown TV, which would be 'good for the public.' Last year's speech saw Sky boss James Murdoch, without any obvious and quite staggeringly sick agenda, identify the BBC as 'a threat.' The vile Murdoch the Younger said that the scale of the corporation's ambition was 'chilling' and railed, bug-eyed against the BBC's 'guaranteed and growing income.' Thompson responded to these criticisms, saying Sky was on its way to 'becoming the most dominant force in broadcast media in this country.' He suggested that the broadcaster was not doing enough to produce its own original content. 'It's time that Sky pulled its weight. Its investment in original British content is just not enough,' he told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. Thompson added that going head-to-head in this area would also be 'good for the BBC and good for the industry,' and make up a potential shortfall in the UK's programme-making capacity. ITV and Channel 4, he said, would need to remain strong to contribute to making 'great British television. The total pot of money available to invest in original TV production is shrinking, and unless something changes, may shrink further.' He emphasised that the UK's broadcasters would have to 'break the habit of a lifetime and actually work together.' The BBC boss acknowledged that the corporation was facing a tough challenge over negotiations for the licence fee, which begin in around a year's time. 'For the BBC I believe this will be a moment of realism and a recognition of the scale of the challenge facing licence fee payers and the country as a whole.' Arguing that 'a pound out of the commissioning budget of the BBC is a pound out of UK creative economy,' Thompson said it was unlikely that cuts to the BBC's funding 'could be magically made up from somewhere else.' The director general also said that making the licence fee work meant the BBC would 'have to become leaner than it's ever been before.' The BBC remained committed to reducing the management bill, he continued, promising 'simpler structures, fewer layers, fewer management boards.' He added that such reductions would enable the BBC to invest more in its core strength - making original programmes. Thompson said that 'radical and rapid' change would be necessary at the corporation in the coming years. A BBC should be 'fit and ready for this new world' and 'do all it can to help the whole industry thrive,' he concluded.

The BBC has confirmed that Merlin will begin its third series on 11 September. A broadcast time for the first of the thirteen new episodes has yet to be confirmed. Cast including Colin Morgan and Bradley James will reprise their roles. A synopsis of the untitled opening episode confirmed that the series will begin a year after the events of last year's finale. 'Within the first five minutes you catch up as to where our characters have been,' producer Johnny Capps previously revealed. 'Camelot has been very focused on the search for Morgana, and Uther has been very concerned about where his ward is. But when she comes back it's very intriguing as to where her allegiances lie and what's happened to her. She’s been on quite a journey.'

Christina Hendricks has revealed that she was dropped by her agent after filming the pilot for Mad Men. She told Newsweek that she had struggled to win a part prior to landing the role of Joan Holloway on the AMC drama. 'It was pilot season,' she recalled. '[That time] is so hard and so draining. You're going on a million [auditions] in a day and you're changing your clothes in your car. All you want to do is get that pilot.' She laughed: 'Then you get one, you shoot it, and they drop you!' Hendricks explained that her agency was not confident that Mad Men would be a success after filming on the pilot was completed. They didn't think it was going to go anywhere,' she said. 'We shot the pilot and then we had to wait a considerable amount of time before we started the next phase. We had a year where we were sitting around waiting and no-one wanted to take me on.' The actress has been nominated for her performance at this year's Emmy Awards.

Syfy has released more details about forthcoming superhero series Three Inches. It was previously reported that Torchwood's Naoko Mori and Stephanie Jacobsen will appear in the show, alongside former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star James Marsters. The network has now confirmed that Marsters will play Troy Hamilton, a former government agent and father figure to Walter (Noah Reid). Kyle Schmid, Antony Del Rio and Brandon Jay McLaren have also joined the cast. Schmid will play 'cocky team leader' Brandon, while Del Rio will portray The Human Smell, a teenage hero able to emit a pungent gas. McLaren will feature as Macklin Sportello, the best friend of Walter.

The Event star Blair Underwood has promised that viewers will be desperate for answers after watching the forthcoming drama's pilot episode. In an offical NBC video, the actor said that he is certain the new series will capture the public's imagination. 'What you see unfold before your eyes, it leaves you wanting and begging more more,' he said. Underwood - who plays President Elias Martinez - also revealed that viewers will witness the mysterious central event from several character's viewpoints. 'There is an event that happens, and you see [it from] four or five different perspectives,' he explained. 'All of these characters are rich. It's great drama, it's great mystery [and] it's great entertainment.'

A Channel 4 executive has denied that reality show Wife Swap exploited its contestants. The documentary series first aired on the channel in 2003. Speaking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Simon Dickson argued that participants were made fully aware of the show's rules prior to filming. So, it's all their fault, apparently. 'Wife Swap was a real turn of the wheel for us,' he said. 'I don't think there can be anything more transparent than a programme with a set of rules.' He added: 'It might not be to everyone's taste, but its methodology was exceptionally transparent. It was a short, sharp and well-executed format.'

A second series of the BBC3 comedy Mongrels has apparently been commissioned. The adult puppet sitcom revolves around the lives of five talking animals who meet outside of a London pub. Dan Tetsell, who provides the voice of Marion the cat, made the announcement on his Twitter feed. He confirmed: 'Mongrels has got a second series.' The first series featured the voices of Katy Brand and Paul Kaye as well as guest appearances from Clive Anderson, Christopher Biggins and Eamonn Holmes.

BBC4 has announced that it will air a new two-hour film about the impact of teenage murders. The documentary, directed by The Fallen's Morgan Matthews, will examine the consequences of the killings on families and communities in Britain. The show has been filmed over eighteen months and includes testimony from the police, witnesses, passersby and friends and family of the victims. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC4 controller Richard Klein said: 'This documentary will pose searching questions about society's attitudes towards young people, probing blanket terminology such as "gang violence" or "gang-related" so commonly used to describe teenage killings. It will challenge our preconceptions whilst connecting us directly with the tragic consequences of a violent death. I'm very pleased to be able to bring a film on such a thought-provoking subject to BBC4 viewers.'

Sky1 controller Stuart Murphy has revealed his wish-list of programming for the channel. Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Murphy explained that he wants to air four to six comedies a year. 'The Simpsons [was a] really big hit,' he said. 'We wanted other comedies that felt like that - the family could watch, but with an edge. Modern Family felt like that. We don't want a lot of surreal. At BBC3, we commissioned pretty dark stuff like Nighty Night, Monkey Dust, Shirley Ghostman. At Sky, I don't think that's going to work. It's about being optimistic, having best in show, and those values tend to clash with dark, sicko comedy.' Murphy added that he would like to air 'comedy with a capital C,' explaining that he wants to develop more sketch shows and a series similar to Star Stories. He also revealed that he is planning 'big streamed entertainment' next summer to take advantage of the end of Big Brother, saying: 'It can't be salacious or dirty, I don't want it to feel derivative and it needs a big-name, A-list presenter.' He explained that Sky also wants new dramas, including 'a big family piece' as well as kooky and edgy shows. 'We really need a strong voice that reflects Britain,' he said.

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