Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Junk Culture

Has anyone else noticed that everyone is looking a bit worried on Coronation Street these days? How many more times will Natasha cast a nervous glance at the camera whenever Nick Tilsley mentions her (non-existent) baby? Ditto with Molly whenever Tyrone mentions Kevin's (very definitely real) baby. Do not have babies - or pretend to have babies - on Corrie, kids. That way lies only madness and sweaty palms. Plus, you know, it's ruddy painful as Molly found out last week! I also hate it whenever they parachute previously unmentioned characters into the soap from absolutely nowhere - like, for instance, Becky's suddenly-arrived sister with the kid in care of whom we'd never even heard a mention of before she turned up. But, worst of all at the moment, is the wooden acting from the various members of the Barlow family - the most plankish grandfather-son-grandson trio in TV history. A plague of Barlow's has infested Weatherfield, it would seem. Like ants on a hot day, all they do is scuttle around busily acting really badly whilst Deirdre tries to pour boiling water over them. Does anyone else reckon that they're going to pull a Dallas and the last fifty years will all turn out to be a dream? And that Ken Barlow has, in fact, sired the entire cast. Now that'd be a Fiftieth anniversary storyline worthy of the name. This tram crash can't come quickly enough, frankly.

According to the BBC press office, the Beeb have received 'over twenty' comments ('sixteen of which are complaints,' so we can only guess that the rest are, what, congratulations?) from viewers who say they're unhappy that professional dancer Anton du Beke has been partnered with former MP horrorshow Ann Widdecombe in the forthcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing. All sixteen complaints, apparently, came from one Mr A Dewbeck of Acacia Road, Surbiton.

Thanks to BARB for the following gem:-
Lowest recorded audience AI figures.
w/e Sunday 12 Sept 2010:
Daybreak ITV, Mon 06 Sep, 06:00 56
Daybreak ITV, Wed 08 Sep, 06:00 56
Daybreak ITV, Tue 07 Sep, 06:00 58
Daybreak ITV, Fri 10 Sep, 06:00 59
Daybreak ITV, Thu 09 Sep, 06:00 60
Well, let's be charitable about this - at least they're consistent. Consistently orange in Christine's case, admittedly, but still ...

God damn annoying TV moment of the week: BBC weather-girl Laura Tobin describing the current meteorological conditions in the UK as 'miserable.' To quote the great Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit 'miserable for who? I like a bit of rain so stick to the facts!'

Channel 4 confirmed on Tuesday that the BBC1 controller, Jay Hunt, will be joining them as chief creative officer. Julian Bellamy, the head of Channel 4 who has been acting chief creative officer and applied for the job full-time, will be leaving the broadcaster. Hunt will be on a salary just under four hundred thousand pounds and is expected to join Channel 4 in January. She will have a seat on the Channel 4 executive board, while leading its new integrated 'commissioning and content' team across all platforms. The announcement follows speculation at the Edinburgh International Television Festival at the end of last month that Hunt was being lined-up for the job. The Channel 4 chief executive, David Abraham, said Hunt would bring 'an extra level of ambition and experience' to the broadcaster as it faced testing times in the next eighteen months to two years, while it learns to survive without the income from Big Brother. 'We have to convince advertisers, completely refresh our schedules, it's a big task for a big figure,' he added. 'We are in no ordinary editorial situation. With her extra years at the top of television, Jay Hunt will make a difference.' Hunt said: 'I am proud of what has been achieved on BBC1 under my leadership but could not resist the chance to join Channel 4 at such an exciting time. David's vision for a converged creative business with real innovation at its heart is compelling. I wanted to be part of that.' Abraham conceded that a key issue for Hunt was arresting the decline in ratings on the main Channel 4 network, partly due to the eight per cent cuts in programme budget forced by the advertising down turn last year – now partly being redressed with a strengthened autumn schedule. 'We know we have to keep our foot on the floor,' he said. Abraham got to know Hunt while he was managing director of UKTV, the broadcaster half-owned by the BBC, between 2007 and 2010, and said he was impressed with the way she had brought more public service content, including current affairs, to BBC1 'under her controllership,' while boosting the quality of its drama, most recently with Sherlock. Although, I'm not enitrely sure that 'contorllership' is a real word. But, moving on quickly, he also said that Hunt would be a good fit with Channel 4, despite the fact it is expected to be far more experimental and innovative than BBC1. 'She is an iconoclastic figure, a person who is fearless, prepared to challenge the status quo. Because, frankly, that twelve-bar-boogie-and-forty-years-of-imaginative-use-of-denim-thing has long since passed its sell-by date. There is no one who is more Channel 4,' he added. Abraham, who joined Channel 4 in May, initiated a search for the new post of chief creative officer. Bellamy, seen as the strongest internal candidate, was appointed as acting CCO. Around a dozen potential candidates were assessed, including Bellamy. Abraham praised Bellamy's contribution during his stint as acting chief creative officer. 'Julian has done a great job in helping refresh our schedules in recent months and I would like to thank him and acknowledge his outstanding service to Channel 4 both during my short time here so far and over the several years prior to that. The recent MGEITF Channel of the Year award was a fitting recognition of his efforts.' At BBC1, Hunt had a budget of over one billion pounds a year, the largest of any UK TV channel. At Channel 4 it will be roughly half that, at five hundred and fifty million. But she is said to be tempted by the job because she has been 'bruised' by the level of public attack to which she was exposed at the BBC. Specifically, although not exclusively, by those disgraceful lice at the Daily Scum Mail. The BBC's director of vision, Jana Bennett, will take temporary charge of BBC1 following the departure of Hunt. Bennett has told staff she will be responsible for all commissioning decisions at the channel until a replacement is appointed, along with George Dixon, the head of broadcasting at BBC1. Candidates for the vacant post include BBC3 controller Danny Cohen, who is being hotly tipped for the role by some insiders at the corporation.

And, it's all change at the Beeb, seemingly as BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, has revealed he will not seek to be re-appointed in the role when his four-year term ends next May. In a letter to oily Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Sir Michael said the Trust is 'robust, workable and effective.' But he acknowledged that 'much of course remains to be done.' The Trust aims to support the BBC, guard its independence and act in the best interest of licence fee payers. Sir Michael said the job had been more 'demanding' than specified and it was not allowing him to give time to other projects. The former council chief executive and market trader replaced Michael Grade as the Trust chairman when Grade moved to ITV in April 2007. The BBC Trust replaced the BBC's board of governors in January 2007. The government said it was intended to ensure an 'unprecedented obligation to openness and transparency.' The change came in the wake of the Hutton Report in 2004, which highlighted problems with the governors' dual role as both the corporation's champions and its regulators.

Doctor Who director Richard Clark has hinted that an upcoming episode of the show will terrify children. In any other context, a really disturbing statement. But, in relation to Doctor Who, something welcome to look forward to. Clark previously confirmed that he would helm two episodes for the next series. He wrote on his Twitter feed: 'I'm scared filming this [episode]. The kids are gonna freak.' [sic] Clark later added that he was preparing to wrap production on his two-episode stint. He continued: 'Big finale today. Complex. Lots to co-ordinate. But it's looking seriously gorgeous.' He also praised the performance of Matt Smith, but refused to confirm the identities of any guest actors. 'Matt's performance [is] a joy,' he said. 'Wonderfully talented actor. Sadly [I] can't reveal anything about guests, except that I'm delighted.' It was previously reported that actors Daniel Mays, Emma Cunniffe and Jamie Oram have been cast in one of the episodes of the new series and speculated - here and elsewhere - that they would feature in one of Richard's.

Kay Burley has brushed aside a live TV incident earlier this year when a protester, amusingly, called for her to be fired. The man disrupted Burley's live links during an outside broadcast and repeatedly chanted: 'Sack Kay Burley. Watch the BBC. Sky News is shit!' The presenter was eventually forced to abandon the interview that she was in the middle of. Not that viewers missed much, of course. Asked about the incident, Burley told Metro: 'Let's not get carried away. There was one person who had been out and about during the day and was very relaxed and thought he'd have his fifteen minutes of fame and the Internet has given it to him.' When asked if she really did say that 'the entire eastern seaboard of the United States has been decimated by a terrorist attack' during the Sky News coverage on 11 September 11 2001, Burley added: 'Don't believe everything you read on Wikipedia, it also said I breastfed live on air. I don't know if I said it or not but if I did, I'm sure people took it into account when they gave us our BAFTA.' Blimey, full-of-herself, Kay Burley isn't she? But then, we kind of knew that anyway. Regarding her interview with Peter Andre, which caused the singer to break down in tears, Burley said: 'I think we were both surprised that a grown man cried, especially when he was aware of the questions I was going to ask him. He was overwhelmed by the moment.'

[Spooks] actor Peter Firth has claimed that his character Harry Pearce could be killed off. Speaking to the Radio Times, Firth explained that he wouldn't be surprised if Harry didn't survive the upcoming ninth series of the espionage thriller. 'I am the anchor,' he said. 'My character is the obvious candidate.' Firth joked that he is worried about the final scenes of the show, saying: 'The costume department has just told me that the end of episode eight involves some blood - potentially on my costume!' Firth also revealed details of Harry's storyline in the new series. 'There is a crisis for Harry, a midlife thing,' he explained. 'He's questioning whether he can be a tool of the state any more if the state is operating in a way that offends his sensibilities and principles.'

Screen East, the regional screen agency for the east of England, is no longer operating following insolvency and the arrest of its finance manager, Melvin Welton, on suspicion of theft. Laurie Hayward, the company's chief executive told Screen that: 'The directors of Screen East have concluded that the company is insolvent and can't meet its debts as they fall due. The directors have taken advice and are appointing an insolvency practitioner to take the company into administration. An announcement will be made on Friday with the details of the insolvency practitioner.' He also said that 'the Norfolk Constabulary are investigating some financial irregularities. A man has been arrested in connection with the enquires. We cannot comment until the investigation is complete.' Hayward described the news as 'a great shame,' adding that he was 'personally disappointed.' A spokesperson for Norfolk constabulary said: '[we] can confirm that a sixty one-year-old man from Great Yarmouth has been arrested on suspicion of theft and released on bail pending further inquiries.' Screen East's remit was to promote the East of England as a location for film and TV production, attracting investment by marketing the locations, skills and expertise in the region. Productions to have benefitted from the agency's funding include the 2008 film Dean Spanley starring Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, which received two and quarter million pounds from Screen East's content investment fund, as well as Stephen Poliakoff's 2009 film Glorious 39. The agency had launched a new four and a half million pound Low Carbon production fund in February, which aimed to cut the carbon footprint of the projects it invested in by thirty per cent. The agency planned to invest in a minimum of fifteen projects over the next five years with European Regional Development money and money from the East of England Development Agency. Local producer Tony Bracewell, whose last two features The Gigolos and Cuckoo received backing from Screen East, told Screen he was 'shocked' by the news of the agency's collapse. 'Our experience was that they were doing the right thing, and it all seemed to us to be a very good example of how regional funding worked. They were doing a lot of good locally, including getting international projects into Leavesden and training bursaries. I think it will have a terrible impact locally.' He added: 'I was actually in the process of putting in an application for the Low Carbon Fund for a new comedy feature to be shot in the area.' Meanwhile, Neil Fox, the film education officer for Luton and Bedfordshire, which comes under Screen East's jurisdiction, told Screen that he was owed six thousand pounds by the agency for the running of local film education initiative FilmeLab. He had been promised the funding in March in a letter from the agency's CEO. Fox previously ran the Luton based film festival Filmstock, which ran for ten years but closed in November. With Screen East out of action, Film London has contacted the British Film Commission to say that it is willing to help in any way it can with any inquiries from producers wanting to work in the south-east of England. Chair of Screen England John Newbigin said at a conference in London that the arrest of Melvin Welton was 'a very sad situation.' For legal reasons Newbigin was unable to offer further comment.

Inbetweeners pulled in an unprecedented audience of 2.57m viewers on Monday night. The BAFTA-winning sitcom's third series opening episode was seen by 2.247 million between 10pm and 10.30pm on E4, with another three hundred and twenty seven thousand,watching on E4+1 an hour later. It is, apparently, the third most watched multichannel show in history behind an episode of Friends in 2003 and this year's BBC3 EastEnders Live Aftermath. The audience for Inbetweeners beat everything shown on four of the five terrestrial channels opposite it - BBC2, ITV, C4 and Five. Only the Ten O'Clock News on BBC1 rated higher.

Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell has criticised a new BBC film about Tony Blair and Bill Clinton's relationship - calling it 'fanciful and preposterous.' The Special Relationship, made by BBC Films with US outfit HBO, sees Michael Sheen reprise his role as Blair and has been written by Peter Morgan, who wrote The Queen and the political drama Frost/Nixon. Campbell told the Radio Times: 'The gap between what actually happened and what is portrayed is even bigger in The Special Relationship than in The Queen. 'What's more, there is enough material out there for that to have been discerned, which makes me think the makers simply decided facts would not be allowed to get in the way of a good story.' The film sees the young Blair using the weakening of Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Prime Minister's own revulsion at ethnic cleansing in Kosovo to put himself at the centre of the world stage. Campbell said: 'It ends, improbably, with Clinton at Chequers watching on as Tony Blair talks on the phone to George Bush, and then telling his young heir that he always had doubts about him and wonders now whether he was ever a progressive at all. Somewhere between fanciful and preposterous.' He added: 'The film gets nowhere near the truth about the TB/Clinton relationship and the final scenes expose the film-makers' real agenda - to have the Clinton character warning TB in lurid terms not to get too close to Bush. Iraq isn't mentioned, but it is clearly what Clinton's comments are designed to put in mind.' The production also stars Dennis Quaid as Clinton while Helen McCrory from The Queen revives her depiction of Cherie Blair in the new film. Sheen was nominated for an Emmy for his role in the TV drama, which has already been screened in the US.

Flirty, double-entendre Sky Sports News moment on the week: Simon Thomas asking that saucy minx Natalie Sawyer if she'd seen any of Sky Sports coverage of the golf in 3D. You simply don't get anywhere near enough usage of the word 'undulations' on TV these days, do you? Or, indeed, flirty little giggles after usage of the word 'undulations.' I'm just saying.

The press pack for the forthcoming David Tennant-Suranne Jones drama Single Father is up at the BBC press office website. 'Single Father [is] a touching yet humorous drama written by Mick Ford about finding love after heartbreak. The series tells the story of Dave (David Tennant), a photographer facing the seemingly impossible job of bringing up four kids alone after the sudden death of his wife, Rita. And things get even more complicated when he falls in love with his wife's best friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones). Single Father asks how soon is too soon to fall in love again?'

After the rather lightweight dramatic fare of summer- Sherlock aside - TV viewers tend to turn rather more discerning, and like nothing better than to cosy up in the autumn with some quality drama. There are often complaints that good stories are in short supply, but this week we're in for a two-hour treat with North East-set Joe Maddison's War. Aside from location-spotting – the wartime drama was filmed across the region – local viewers will be attracted by the fact it was written by Alan Plater, the award-winning Jarrow-born playwright who died this summer. Starring Kevin Whately and Robson Green, it's rather old-fashioned story-telling – a Second World War tale of friendship, guilt, anger, and a blossoming romance, all classic Sunday night drama ingredients. Whately plays the eponymous title character and Green his pal, Harry, who served with him in the previous war, both still bearing their emotional scars. Too old now for action, they sign up for the Home Guard – but banish any intruding thoughts of a Twenty First Century version of Dad's Army. There are lots of laughs in the play but, spanning the years 1940 to 1944, the focus is more on Joe's inner conflict, raising questions such as, when your domestic life changes should you try to move on or to recapture what's lost? Sunderland-born actress Melanie Hill, best known for her role in the sitcom Bread, plays Selina Rutherford, the love interest thrown into the mix. Local accents are firmly back in place for the lead actors who now live in London, with Whately joking to the local newspaper, the Journal, that he kept getting pulled up whenever he 'goes back to being a soft southerner.' Green, who cites Plater as the main reason that he signed up to play prankster Harry. A character who, tellingly points out that whilst he’s often the one cracking all the jokes, he’s usuall the only one not laughing. The banter, in the lighter moments, between the pair (who are, remrakbly consider they're the two great Northern Eastern actors of their generation, paired on screen together for the first time) and local actor Trevor Fox, playing shipyard workmate Eddie, is great stuff. Partly-funded by Newcastle-based Northern Film & Media, it’s a fine-looking period drama, including well-shot scenes of a bombed-out street, the action having shattered the calm of a day-out filmed in Gateshead’s Saltwell Park. Besides the locations, there are familiar faces to spot, including the great John Woodvine as the local priest Father Connolly, James Baxter as Whatley’s RAF son Ken and Sir Derek Jacobi as the self-promoted major in charge of the home guard. Hill, who had worked with both lead actors before - with Whately in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Green in Close and True - admits that the name of her character, at first, surprised her. 'I wasn't very happy with the name. I thought "I don’t get this." Selina seems odd – a modern name,' she told the paper. She said that she decided to ask Plater about it at a read-though of the part. She'd never met him before and notes of the late writer: 'He wasn't very well at the time. It was just an honour to meet him. He told me the name came up in his past and, at the time, it was very modern, forward-thinking. He wanted the character to be forward-thinking and that's what struck him about the name.' Hill says: 'She's lost her husband at Dunkirk and she lets a strange man into her house. I just think she's a brave, warm person.'

Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes is to write a new drama series for ITV about the sinking of the Titanic, made by the producer behind the BBC's Bleak House. The mini-series will be timed to broadcast around the one hundredth anniversary of the tragedy and will be made by Deep Indigo Productions, ITV Studios and co-production partner Lookout Point. Broadcasters on board the series, edited in four sixty-minute and two ninety-minute versions, include ITV, CanWest Global Communications in Canada and TV3 in Ireland. Post production and all CGI and digital effects will be produced in Canada. Talks with potential international partners, including the US, are currently underway. Nigel Stafford-Clark, who helped make Bleak House, Warriors and The Way We Live Now, will produce the drama that has been written by Fellowes, who won the Oscar for his Gosford Park screenplay and penned forthcoming ITV period drama Downton Abbey. ITV director of television Peter Fincham said the epic drama would be told in 'the most gripping, powerful and thought-provoking way. The creative combination of Jullian Fellowes and Nigel Stafford-Clark make this drama a fantastic proposition for ITV,' he added. Kevin Lygo, managing director of ITV Studios, said he wanted to make 'the definitive drama' for the landmark anniversary. The story of the sinking of the Titanic has been re-told many times, most notably in the blockbuster movie by James Cameron. But Stafford-Clark said: 'We have found a way to re-tell the story that is bold, fresh and gripping, with the human detail that television does so well.'

The executive producer of FOX's upcoming Terra Nova has reportedly departed the series. Deadline claims that former Buffy, Lost and 24 writer David Fury has left the time-travel drama over what it describes as 'creative differences.' An - 'unnamed' - source allegedly said: 'He was beloved by the producers on the show, but it just didn't work out.' No direct replacement for Fury is planned. Showrunner Brannon Braga will now serve as the programme's sole writer and executive producer. Filming on the series is expected to begin in October, as part of a co-production between FOX, Chernin Entertainment, Kapital Entertainment and DreamWorks TV.

Ofcom has ruled that a radio show by former TalkSport DJ Jon Gaunt, made a month before his notorious on-air 'Nazi' jibe which cost him his job, broke broadcast regulations for promoting foreign property deals with a company with which the station 'had a relationship.' An edition of The Jon Gaunt Show was broadcast from the Hotel Almyra in Cyprus in October 2008 covering subjects such as the Icelandic banking crisis, the division of Cyprus and buying property abroad. Three listeners complained to Ofcom that the show 'amounted to advertising' because Gaunt promoted property company Thomson OPI, resort developer Aristo and the Hotel Almyra itself through a combination of interviews and on-air endorsements. Ofcom said that the show had given 'unjustifiable exposure' to the Hotel Almyra by being broadcast from that location and ruled that TalkSport had breached several elements of section ten of its broadcast code, which covers 'the separation of editorial and commercial content.' TalkSport admitted it had a contract with Thomson OPI that included providing editorial promotion, including an annual outside broadcast from one of the company's properties, for which the broadcaster would 'endeavour to have this feature hosted by Jon Gaunt.' In return Thomson OPI paid TalkSport a monthly fee and an additional sum for each property it sold. TalkSport said the value of the deal was 'very low' but admitted that the agreement, struck by the director of new media at parent company UTV Media, 'ran contrary to the station's established compliance practices.' The complainants also alleged that Gaunt may have had 'a personal financial interest' in promoting Thomson OPI. Gaunt submitted his own representations to Ofcom arguing that TalkSport was 'fully aware of the commercial element of the programme.' He also denied any financial interest in Thomson OPI, said that he had never received any compensation from the company and, in contradiction to TalkSport's claim, said that he did not buy a property through the company. TalkSport said that no discussion took place with the programme director or the producer regarding the 'inclusion of any commercial element in the planning of the show.' The broadcaster also said that Gaunt had given 'a personal assurance' that he had no 'financial association' with Thomson OPI. However, TalkSport claimed that Gaunt had 'bought a property in Cyprus through Thomson OPI before TalkSport's relationship with the company [began].' On its website Thomson OPI still claims to be 'an official partner' of TalkSport and 'their award-winning team of presenters.' Ofcom said that it did not consider the areas of disagreement between Gaunt and TalkSport, which included who decided which guests should appear on the show in question, to be 'material to the consideration of the case. Irrespective of the details, it was the fundamental responsibility of TalkSport to ensure the compliance of the material it broadcast,' added the regulator. 'Ofcom considered it wholly unacceptable that TalkSport had submitted that, in advance of the broadcast, it had had no knowledge of either the commercial agreement or the intended programme content.' Ofcom ruled that the programme had breached broadcast code rules 10.1 (independence of editorial control), 10.2 (separation of advertising and programming), 10.3 (no promotion of products or services), 10.4 (no undue prominence) and 10.5 (product placement). 'In this case, a commercial agreement was in place between TalkSport and Thomson OPI. A condition of this contract was that Thomson OPI would receive promotion in TalkSport's programming. This resulted in paid-for promotional references to Thomson OPI and an associated company, Aristo Developers, featuring prominently within the editorial content of the programme,' the regulator said. 'Further, there was a revenue share arrangement in place – it was a condition of the commercial agreement that Thomson OPI would pay TalkSport a specified amount for each Thomson OPI property sold, on a quarterly basis in arrears. This was to be offset against the "tenancy fee" already paid for the quarter. Ofcom noted TalkSport's submission that it had not, in fact, received any sales-related payment, and could not have done as no sales were made. Nevertheless, the agreement between TalkSport and Thomson OPI led to the programme being distorted for commercial purposes.' During Ofcom's investigation it came to light that in 2006 TalkSport had entered a similar 'fee-for-property-sold' deal with a company called Football Village Limited, an agent for a Spanish property developer. Ofcom ruled that two outside broadcasts of The Jon Gaunt Show, made from Spain in April 2006, also broke Ofcom's broadcasting rules. Ofcom said the two cases had raised 'significant concerns' about the enforcement of compliance procedures at TalkSport and that it had required the broadcaster to provide details of proposed improvements in this area. In July, Gaunt lost a high court freedom of expression challenge against Ofcom over his November 2008 interview with a London councillor he branded 'a health Nazi' and 'an ignorant pig' over a local authority's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents. The presenter was dismissed by TalkSport over the interview, before Ofcom ruled that he had breached its broadcasting code in May last year. Gaunt took legal action against Ofcom, with the backing of Liberty, claiming its decision breached article ten of the European Convention on Human Rights and was an unlawful interference with his freedom of expression. However, the high court judges, Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Blair, dismissed his judicial review proceedings.

Several TV plays previously long-believed to have been lost forever featuring actors including Sir Sean Connery, Leonard Rossiter and Dame Maggie Smith have been found in the US. The tapes, which date from various years between 1957 to 1969, were found by an American researcher in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The sixty five recordings have now been given to the British Film Institute. 'This is by far the largest and most significant collection of programmes we have found,' said the BFI curator, Steve Bryant. The tapes originally belonged to the Public Broadcasting Service WNET New York, which broadcast them after they had been shown in the UK on the BBC and ITV. Selected highlights from the collection will be shown at the BFI's annual Missing, Believed Wiped event in London on 7 November. The Missing, Believed Wiped campaign, which aims to recover lost treasures from British television, has been running for seventeen years. Most - although not all - of the programmes from the latest find are adaptations of classic literary works, including those by Shakespeare, Chekov and Ibsen. The tapes include Jane Asher in a 1962 BBC schools version of Romeo and Juliet, Connery and Dorothy Tutin in Jean Anouilh's Colombe (1960), Bernard Cribbins appearing in a 1961 adaptation of Charley's Aunt, Derek Jacobi, the late Robert Stephens and his then wife, Dame Maggie Smith in Much Ado About Nothing from 1967 and Leonard Rossiter and John Le Mesurier in a Theatre 625 performance of Jules Romains' Dr Knock (1966. directed by Herbert Wise) as well as Richard Johnson and Wilfred Brambell in Rudolph Cartier's 1969 drama Rembrandt. There's also another production of Romeo and Juliet, from 1967, in which a young Michael Gambon has a small role as well as two Wednesday Plays.

Two-thirds of UK parents believe children are exposed to inappropriate content on television before the watershed, a survey has suggested. Sixty-seven per-cent of the one thousand and four parents of under-eighteens questioned thought unsuitable content was broadcast prior to 9pm. A further eighty per cent said they felt films and video games with sexual or violent themes were too easily available. The poll was conducted last month for the Christian charity, Mothers' Union. The research also showed most parents think television, movies, magazines and the Internet make children sexually aware at a younger age than they would be otherwise. The findings are included in the charity's report Bye Bye Childhood detailing the impact of advertising and marketing on children's happiness. The charity has called for a ban on marketing or selling goods of a sexualised nature to children under sixteen. The charity also said it was concerned about so-called 'peer-to-peer' marketing, in which children are recruited by marketing campaigns on the internet. Under these schemes, children are encouraged to pass email addresses of friends to advertisers and promote products to other children in the playground, the report said. Mothers' Union worldwide president Rosemary Kempsell said: 'Mothers' Union is concerned at the increasing levels of marketing aimed at children. Brands deliberately encourage a culture of "pester power" or use manipulative techniques such as recruiting young people as conduits for peer-to-peer marketing. This is having a far-reaching effect on children's values, and their family life. Marketers play on the need that children have to fit in with their friends, to belong. We believe exploiting children for profit is wrong.' I don't disagree with any of that, I'm just rather amused that it's 2010 and people are suggesting that this is, in some way, a new thing. Were the Mothers' Union collectively asleep when, for instance, Rowntree's were running their 'Buy some for Lulu' TV advertising campaign for Smarties in the late 1950s and early 60s? There's a very good episode of the 1990 BBC series on the history of TV advertising, Washes Whiter, all about the very long history of 'pester power' that's well worth you ladies seeking out and having a gander at.

Channel 4 has revealed the identities of the central characters appearing in new documentary series Seven Days. The programme, which will follow the real lives of everyday people living and working in Notting Hill, has been billed as a 'groundbreaking new reality format.' Or, in other words, 'a you've-probably-seen-something-like-this-before reality format.' Following the lives of residents including an outspoken hairdresser, a budding rapper, two glamorous models, a single mother, a student, two pet therapists and a flamboyant restaurateur, the show starts filming tomorrow. The camera crews will film the participants discussing important political, sporting and celebrity stories from the week and delve into their own personal stories and relationships. Among the contributing cast are eighteen-year-old student Mokta Alatas, who lives a strict Muslim lifestyle, aspiring musician Javan Delon McFarlane-St Louis, TV presenter and model Samantha Rowley, singer-songwriter and socialite Laura Zilli and interior designer Hannah Booth. Also taking part are 'party girl' Laura Stevens-Ward, estate agent and self-confessed 'ladies man' Ben Papantoniou, shop owner Tina Betz, jeweller Alex Heriz-Jones, who is currently recovering from cervical cancer, florist-to-the-stars Ricky Jackson and Din Dins Holistic Kitchen owners Alison Daniel and Keri Perkins. There are some others but, to be honest, I totally lost interest somewhere around the description of the 'party girl' and the 'ladies man.' If you think this one's got the decade-long longevity of Big Brother, Channel 4, I think you might be in for a very rude awakening. Jay Hunt, this is what you've gone to!

The former Manchester United and England footballer Nobby Stiles is to sell the medal he received when England won the World Cup in 1966. The sixty eight-year-old ex-midfielder is offering memorabilia from his career for auction so his family can benefit from their sale. The forty five lots are expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds when they go under the hammer in October. Also in the collection is his 1966 World Cup cap and his 1968 European Cup winner's medal. The blue Manchester United shirt he wore in the European Cup final against Benfica is also up for sale, as is Alan Ball's 1966 World Cup final shirt, which Stiles acquired from his team-mate as a swap after the match. The World Cup medal is expected to sell for between one hundred and one hundred and fifty thousand pounds and some of the other items are estimated to fetch up to thirty grand. Born Norbert Peter Stiles in Collyhurst, Manchester, in 1942, Little Nobby - hard as nail - was awarded the MBE in 2000 for his part in England's 4-2 victory over West Germany on 30 July 1966. The Old Trafford legend won two league titles and a European Cup during an fifteen-year career with Manchester United. Stiles, who suffered a stroke in June, said: 'It was always my intention to leave the entire collection to my children. But I have three sons - how do you fairly divide up this sort of collection between them? They have each selected some pieces they would like to keep for themselves.' He added: 'I'm as patriotic as the next Englishman and will always cherish my memories and the friendships I made in my playing days, but at this stage of my life I would rather have some control over the distribution of my memorabilia and know that my family will benefit.'

An attempt by the family of rasta number one Bob Marley to obtain the copyrights to some of his best-known recordings has been thwarted by a judge in New York. Judge Denise Cote ruled Universal Music Group owned the copyright to five LP the late reggae singer recorded between 1973 and 1977 for Island Records. Marley's widow, Rita, and his children had sought millions in damages for UMG's alleged attempts to 'exploit' his recordings. Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 at the age of thirty six. The quintet of groundbreaking LPs - Catch a Fire, Burnin', Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibrations and Exodus - were recorded between 1972 and 1977 by Marley with his band, The Wailers. They include many of his best-known songs, including 'I Shot the Sheriff', 'No Woman, No Cry', 'Stir it Up, 'One Love' and 'Jamming.' Marley's family had accused UMG of intentionally withholding royalties from their Fifty-Six Hope Road Music company. They also claimed UMG had failed to consult with them on key licensing decisions, among them the use of Marley's music on ringtones. On Friday, however, Judge Cote ruled that Marley's recordings were 'works made for hire' as defined under US copyright law. This, she said, entitled UMG to be designated the owner of those recordings as the parent company of Island Records.

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