Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Mas Que Nada

Filming has begun on the new series of Doctor Who. Gallifrey Base's excellent Doctor Who News Page reports that cast and crew returned to work at eight o'clock this morning in Cardiff. Whilst yer Keith Telly Topping was still safely tucked up in bed, just as a matter of pure disinterest. The new series is the sixth since the show's massively successful revival in 2005 and will see the return of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. The first production block is believed to consist of the third and fourth episodes of the new series, both of which will be directed by Richard Clark. Filming will begin with episode three, written by Neil Gaiman, before moving on to a story penned by Mark Gatiss. Gaiman, who attended the script read-through at the end of last month, noted on his blog: 'The table read was pretty amazing, the guest star or stars will be fabulous, Matt's great, Arthur's wonderful and I never got to say hullo to Karen (who was amazing).'

Meanwhile, the 2009 Doctor Who story The Waters of Mars has won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. The story was part of the four BBC specials which covered the gap year between series four and five. It was written by Russell Davies and Phil Ford and directed by Graeme Harper. The episode starred David Tennant as the Doctor along with Lindsay Duncan who played Adelaide Brooke. The award was announced at Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne on Sunday. The Waters of Mars beat two other Doctor Who stories, The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead as well as episodes from the US series Dollhouse and FlashForward to triumph at the awards. The Hugos are given every year for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. Hugo Awards have been presented every year since 1955. The award is the first for Davies. Doctor Who has previously won three Hugo Awards, all for stories written by drama's current showrunner Steven Moffat: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances in 2006, The Girl in the Fireplace in 2007 and Blink in 2008.

Hermione Norris has said that she misses being part of [Spooks]. However, the actress admitted that she felt that she had made the right decision in quitting the BBC show when she did. Her character, Ros Myers, was killed at the end of the last series. Asked if she missed the programme, Norris told TV & Satellite Week : 'Hugely.' She continued: 'But I know I have done the right thing coming out of it. I absolutely loved playing Ros and I had the best time with the loveliest bunch of people, but I wanted to leave her before she left me. I had gone as far as I could with her and needed to do something different,' she said. 'I will miss the stunts, though, because as a girl you don’t get to do that stuff much.' She added: 'I have had my go, so it will go in the closet, along with my youth.'

Britain's most senior Catholic has accused the BBC of harbouring an 'institutional bias' against 'Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.' Cardinal Keith O'Brien said the BBC's news coverage is 'contaminated by a radically secular and socially liberal mindset.' And, the problem with that is, exactly? The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the corporation's intolerance of religion is equivalent to its 'massive' political bias against the Conservatives in the 1980s. Oh God, a Tory godbotherer, just what the world needs right now. He also accused the corporation of plotting 'a hatchet job' on the Vatican in a documentary about clerical sex abuse on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain. O'Brien believes that atheists like Richard Dawkins are given a disproportionate amount of airtime while mainstream Christian views are marginalised. He is also angered by a fifteen per cent slump in religious programming over the past twenty years and believes the broadcaster should appoint a religion editor to address the decline. So, tell me, vicar, what percentage of slump has the Catholic church suffered in the same period? He said: 'This week the BBC's director general admitted that the corporation had displayed "massive bias" in its political coverage throughout the 1980s, acknowledging the existence of an institutional political bias. Our detailed research into BBC news coverage of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, together with a systematic analysis of output by the Catholic church, has revealed a consistent anti-Christian institutional bias.' Did it really? Is that what your 'detailed research' told you, rev? Well, I'll tell you what this blogger's detailed research told him. That if the church, collectively, told a few of their priests to stop buggering choirboys, and issued slightly less crass denials before finally admitting the problem existed in the first place, many people might take your collective views on a whole heap of subjects a damned sight more seriously that they do right now. That's what my detailed research tells me. Just something to pop into your ecumenical toaster and see if it pops up brown. He added that 'insiders' at the BBC had 'privately admitted' (or, in other words, Copper's Nark'd) that there is a cultural intolerance of Christianity at the corporation. 'Senior news managers have admitted to the Catholic church that a radically secular and socially liberal mindset pervades their newsrooms.' And, again, the problem with that is, what? 'This sadly taints BBC news and current affairs coverage of religious issues, particularly matters of Christian beliefs.' O'Brien joined calls - of course he did - by the Church of England for the BBC to appoint a religion editor to spearhead the corporation's coverage of faith issues. The Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester and the Church of England's lead spokesman on communications, made the request last month in a submission to the BBC Trust's ongoing review of Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7. He wrote: 'We see no logical distinction between the genre of arts, science and business (all of which include reflecting and discerning between different opinions and perspectives, and have BBC editors) and that of religion.' I just love the arrogance of these people. The BBC has over twenty million licence fee payers and over sixty million regular viewers and listeners. The overwhelming majority of whom are not practicing Christians or anything even remotely like it. The BBC have a duty to all of their licence fee payers, not just the ones who like to go creeping to the cross. To the Muslim, Buddhist, Greek orthodox, Jehovah's Witness and atheist ones. Not to mention those, like this blogger, who are proudly agnostic, quite open to all forms of belief and expression, and quite interested in religious debate but who have a very low tolerance threshold for mouthy clerics who interfere in matters that are none of their damned concern. O'Brien also voiced fears that the broadcaster will use a forthcoming documentary called Benedict – Trials of a Pope to 'humiliate' the pontiff on the eve of his visit to Britain. Hang about, rev. I though the Big P was supposed to 'God's representative on Earth' and, therefore, completely above such low, base and ordinary concepts as humiliation. The programme, which charts the sickening series of clerical child abuse crisis that have dogged the Catholic church, has been made by Mark Dowd, a former Dominican friar turned broadcaster. It will be broadcast on 15 September. Senior Catholic figures have suggested that the Pope may meet with victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests when he visits Britain later this month. Cardinal Vincent Nichols told BBC1's Andrew Marr show on Sunday: 'The pattern of his last five or six visits has been that he has met victims of abuse. But the rules are very clear, that is done without any pre-announcement, it is done in private and it is done confidentially, which is quite right and proper so I think we have to wait and see.' The BBC, rightly, dismissed O'Brien's crass criticism and flatly denied that it had marginalised mainstream religious issues, which it said were placed 'at the heart' of its schedule. A spokeswoman said: 'The BBC's commitment to religious broadcasting is unequivocal. BBC news and current affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent, and works closely with BBC Religion, ensuring topical religious and ethical affairs stories are featured across all BBC networks.' In response to the Cardinal's attack on the forthcoming documentary by Dowd, she added: 'Mark is just one presenter in a range of programming that will include live news and events coverage of the visit itself, and other documentaries across radio and TV.'

TV's favourite illusionist Dazzling Dezza Brown will try to turn an ordinary man into 'a hero at thirty thousand feet' in his new show which begins on Wednesday. Viewers will watch as an unsuspecting member of the public is thrust into a series of potentially life-changing challenges set up by Brown. Hidden cameras are used in the elaborate set-up which sees the man forced to make a split-second decision when he is tricked into believing he is on a plane that is about to crash. Brown said: 'He's not a loser, he's not massively shy, he's a very likeable guy, but he's just stuck in a rut and I think we all are at times. It is about setting up opportunities for him to take but it is always up to him to take them. I don't want to give too much away but it starts with a violent and aggressive situation and culminates with him being faced with the decision when there is an emergency in the air when he can be the hero on a plane that he believes is falling out of the sky and someone has to take the controls. It is very dark in places but ultimately its quite a positive show.' According to his website, Brown 'fuses magic, suggestion, misdirection, psychology and showmanship to appear to have god-like skills.' In his 2006 show The Heist he persuaded a group of businessmen to take part in what they believed was a genuine armed robbery. Other stunts have seen him apparently play Russian roulette (although it actually turned out he was using blanks) and appear to pick the winning National Lottery numbers (and the two explanations he gave as to how he did that satisfied nobody but were, both, very funny). He said he hoped this week's show would inspire viewers, saying: 'It has come from the heart and it is about things I think are quite important, it is about how we too often let life pass us by.'

ITV's new morning show Daybreak has made its debut. Ex-ONE Show presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley kicked off the programme by welcoming and thanking viewers for 'joining us on our first day.' Or, the couple of hundred thousand who'd made it out of their pits at such a godforsaken hour of the morning, anyway. I wonder if Frank Lampard was watching? Former Prime Minister Tony Blair also appeared on the show for his first live UK television interview since the publication of his memoir, A Journey. Daybreak's predecessor GMTV ended on Friday last week after a seventeen-year run. The new show is not a complete departure from its predecessor, with former GMTV faces Kate Garraway, John Stapleton and Dr Hilary Jones appearing alongside new presenters. Albeit, in the case of Stapleton in just two, approximately thirty second-long, inserts over the course of two hours. The inaugural show featured items including interviews with victims of the Farepak collapse, cuts to the schools building programme and a skateboarding bulldog. It also visited Forth Park Hospital in Kirkcaldy, to meet parents of newborn babies, coinciding with the birthday of the programme. The Prince of Wales is due to appear later this week from the new studio in London's South Bank. And, yer Keith Telly Topping's view of the opening episode? From what I saw of it, a positive triumph ... of style over anything approaching substance.

Simon Cowell has revealed that he is weighing up whether to axe The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent. The fifty-year-old said that he planned to concentrate on the American version of The X Factor next year, and that he would seriously consider whether it was worth bringing the show back to ITV for another series. Next year's series of the singing contest was thought to have been pushed back to a November start date to allow Cowell time to finish its American counterpart, but Cowell has now hinted that the programme may not return at all. He told the Mirror: 'X Factor will have to move, and we have to decide whether we can make the show better. Do people want it back? Even though I have got some plans, I’m going wait a few more weeks before I make a final decision.' Cowell is also apparently doubtful over the future of Britain's Got Talent. The judge has already announced that he will not take part in the audition rounds on the next series of the talent show, and now admits that he could leave the programme altogether. He said: 'I have [an ITV contract] for this year and that is it. At the moment you are going to see me doing one show [next year], and not in England. There has got to be a mood here for these shows, and I have always been very conscious of that. You can't force anything. It has got to be fun. The minute it stops becoming fun, bye bye.' A 'source' confirmed that Cowell was now focusing on his commitments in the US. They said: 'The American X Factor show can make him huge amounts of money and is his priority.'

CSI creator Anthony Zuicker is developing a new spy drama for CBS. Deadline reports that Treadstone will follow Treadstone Seventy One, a black-ops arm of the CIA. The organisation was originally introduced in author Robert Ludlum's series of Jason Bourne novels. Eagle Eye writer John Glenn will write the script and will also executive produce. CBS TV Studios and Zuicker's company Dare to Pass will co-produce the pilot. The project has received a script commitment from the network.

Simon Pegg is annoyed with TV censors for making cuts to Hot Fuzz. He Tweeted: 'Out of interest, how severely did Comedy Central butcher Hot Fuzz? Love that they show it but watch the DVD, it's OFF THE FUCKING CHAIN!!!!' And, still on the subject of 'things that we learned from Twitter over the weekend,' apparently Jason Manford suffered from a nasty dose of food poisoning after eating shrimp. He said: 'Had to flush the loo mid-poo. That's never a good sign is it?' Depends on what colour it is, I usually find.

The new version of BBC iPlayer went live this week, offering a refreshed design, personalisation options and links to social media services. Yer Keith Telly Topping has, indeed, just used it himself to listen to today's Top Telly Tips. Sounded fine to me. The new iPlayer, that is, not yer Keith Telly Topping himself. He always sounds fine. And, he's sticking to that story if anyone asks. Writing on a BBC blog, head of BBC iPlayer James Hewines said that the changes to iPlayer are 'a big step' for the catch-up service and its more than five million weekly users. In May, the corporation unveiled iPlayer 3.0, including a redesigned layout separating TV and radio programmes, backed up by a general clean up of the site's homepage. Other new features include the ability to watch and listen to live TV and radio directly from the BBC iPlayer desktop application. Users can also now set advanced downloads of their favourite TV shows so that they are ready to watch as soon as the programme ends on TV. However, the biggest changes came in the BBC's partnership deals with Facebook and Twitter to allow iPlayer users to recommend content to friends in their existing networks. A further partnership has also been agreed with Microsoft to enable Windows Live Messenger uses to invite contacts to watch iPlayer programmes and chat live. 'While social networks are now a well-established phenomenon, socially-enhanced TV and radio aren't,' said Hewines. 'It's early days yet, but we're pretty sure that this is going to be an important facility in the near future. Together, we hope these features represent a crucial evolutionary step in the enjoyment of online TV and radio. Until now, the focus has been on getting programmes to users packaged in a coherent experience - this next step is about allowing users to interact with the service and each other around our programmes.' During the beta testing phase, eight per cent of the total iPlayer user base switched to the beta version. Around eighteen thousand testers signed up to use the social features and linked BBC iPlayer to their Twitter or Facebook profiles. Nearly seven hundred thousand users 'favourited' content, adding an average of 2.5 programmes each. The most frequently chosen programmes were EastEnders, Doctor Who, Top Gear, Mock The Week, Qi and Sherlock. The beta feedback revealed that seventy five per cent of users preferred the new BBC iPlayer to the existing version. However, some users complained about buffering issues in the media player and disappearing downloads. The BBC said that these issues should be resolved by the full launch of iPlayer 3.0, and the corporation will continue to 'monitor and put right' any other problems that arise. The BBC has also produced a series of how-to videos fronted by comedian Rufus Hound offering hints and tips on how make the most of the new site.

Jason Gardiner has revealed his annoyance on Twitter about a lack of information on Dancing On Ice. The judge also dismissed rumours that he has signed up for the sixth series, claiming that tabloid reports about him agreeing a new contract were 'a load of shite. For the record, tweeters, there is no guarantee about me going back to DOI next series,' he wrote. Speaking to his followers about the venue changes for the new run, which will now be filmed at Shepperton Studios, he added: 'Imagine having to read about your work changing location in the press and not from your bosses? Appalling, really.' Yes. Still it could be worse, mate. You could be working in a call centre. Which, actually, might be your next port of call if you carry on with that sort of attitude. TV producers, by and large, have a very low tolerance threshold for mouthy glakes.

Craig Revel Horwood has dismissed tabloid reports that Alesha Dixon is unpopular with the Strictly Come Dancing panel. A report by Dean Piper in the Sunday Mirror claimed that Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli were frustrated that Dixon was returning for a second stint as a judge, because they believe that she is using the show to promote her music career. However, responding to the accusations, also on Twitter, Horwood joked that Piper's sources must be unreliable. Doesn't anybody use anything other than sodding Twitter to communicate these days? 'Don't know where Dean Piper (The Mirror story today) gets his info from, but obviously not a reliable source as none of it's true,' he wrote. Dixon replied to Horwood, 'I know, Craig! Nothing surprises me anymore! Hope you're well honey. Can't wait to see you at launch! Big glitterball kiss!' Horwood added later: 'SCD next week. Can't wait to get back on the panel and see who the celebs are! Len better behave this year!'

Emmerdale won three prizes at the TV Choice Awards last night, with EastEnders scooping the award of best soap - in its twenty fifth anniversary year. Coronation Street picked up a special honorary award so that it didn't feel left put. Doctor Who, of course, won the award for best family drama. Given that it's just about the only such show that British TV produces any more - the only good one, anyway - that's hardly a surprise. Actress Karen Gillan (see right), was on hand to accept the award. The awards were hosted by Alexander Armstrong at London's Dorchester Hotel. The BBC 1980s cop drama Ashes To Ashes was named best drama while best new drama went to hit US musical comedy Glee. Philip Glenister, who played Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes, admitted that the show had ended at the right time. 'All good things come to an end. I think that was enough, the danger is you start repeating yourself. There's only so much you can have him talking, shouting and nicking people,' he said. Emmerdale took the titles for best soap actor, Danny Miller, who plays mechanic Aaron Livesy, and best soap newcomer Adam Thomas who plays Adam Barton. It also collected the prize for best soap storyline over Aaron Livesy's sexual confusion. Coronation Street stars on the red carpet were both nervous and excited about the prospect of a 'live' episode to mark the soap's fiftieth anniversary. William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, said: 'We'll get through. We're used to working in short spurts, so to do an hour live is frightening.' Earlier this year it was revealed that several key characters will be killed off in a tram crash which occurs in Weatherfield in December. Anthony Cotton, who plays Sean Tulley, said: 'We don't know who's going to be on the receiving end of any of the disasters. I'm hoping it might be back like the days when we didn't know who shot JR.' EastEnders took the top soap prize in a year that saw its first live episode. Lacey Turner won best soap actress for her portrayal of teen mother Stacey Branning. Later this week the show sees a blaze at the Queen Vic and the departure of landlady Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor. Scott Maslen, who plays Jack Branning, said Windsor leaving was a 'massive loss' to the programme. 'Barbara is very small, but a massive personality and she's going to be sorely missed,' he said. Britain's Got Talent triumphed over Dancing On Ice, Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor to land the best TV talent show prize. Assault course show Total Wipeout was named best gameshow. James Corden and Ruth Jones's BBC series Gavin and Stacey was named best comedy. Denise Welch was named best actress for Waterloo Road while Jack O'Connell from Skins was best actor.

And, speaking of the divine Karen, that was a nice little nothing she was almost wearing on the Doctor Who Proms on BBC3 last night!

Stephen Fry has said there is a 'culture of fear' at the BBC which is creating 'incredibly bland' programmes. The host of Qi told the Radio Times executives with 'cold feet' were shying away from taking creative risks. 'A lot of the adventure and excitement have gone out of television programming and a lot of it is just down to fear.' Anti-BBC rhetoric in some newspapers was compounding the situation, he said. Fry said: 'It's distressing because it's working - not by making people feel any less loyal to the BBC, but by affecting the culture of the BBC. There is this thing, I call it interfering.' He continued: 'I do know of so many cases where executives would say "What we want is something new, something different, something extraordinary!" And they're brought something new, different and extraordinary and immediately the executive gets cold feet, falls back on something else and we end up with something incredibly bland.' He added that executives were more inclined to play it safe but 'for a creative institution, that's death.' The BBC strengthened its compliance systems in 2008 after a series of rows over taste and decency including the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand prank calls and complaints over comments made by comedian Mad Frankie Boyle on BBC2's Mock the Week. Talking about the forthcoming series of Qi, Fry said unlike other panel shows the celebrity contestants were not in on the answers - apart from one panellist. 'There's only one regular guest who always insists on seeing the questions beforehand and prepares for them. I won't tell you his or her name,' he said. 'It really annoys me. In fact, one day, I'll make sure that person is given a list from another programme because they don't need them.'

An early member of the British rock group The Electric Light Orchestra was killed when his van was crushed by a bale of hay. Cellist Mike Edwards, sixty two, died instantly in the accident on the A381 in Devon, on Friday. Police are investigating if the six hundred kilogram bale fell from a tractor on nearby farmland before rolling on to the road. Edwards was identified using photographs and YouTube footage but police are trying to contact his family to carry out a formal identification. Officers believe the musician swerved into another vehicle as he was struck, though the other driver was not hurt. Sgt Steve Walker of Devon and Cornwall police traffic unit, said: 'This was a tragic accident and we have now identified the victim as Michael Edwards, a founder member of the ELO. We have used photographs and YouTube footage to identify him but we now need help contacting his family for formal identification. We don't believe he was ever married and we have identified an ex-girlfriend but she is currently abroad.' Officers are trying to contact a man named David in the Yorkshire area who is believed to be Mr Edwards' brother. Edwards is understood to have no immediate family but may have taught cello in Devon. He was with the Birmingham based pop band from 1972 to 1975 and appeared on four of their LPs and several hit singles including 'Roll Over Beethoven' and 'Ma-Ma-Ma Belle.'

A teenager in Montana accidentally sent a text message to the local sheriff in an attempt to buy cannabis. Bit of an elementary schoolboy-type error there, young man. According to The Associated Press, the boy entered the wrong number and inadvertently sent a message to Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton. It read: 'Hey Dawg, do you have a twenty dollars I can buy right now?' [sic] Frankly, he should be banged up in stir for a long time for the heinous crime of careless use of the term 'dawg', regardless of any drugs charge. No mercy! A fast-thinking detective posed as a drug dealer and arranged to meet the boy, aged fifteen, and a friend, sixteen, at a local store. Upon arriving, the detective spotted the two teenagers, who were joined by one of the boy's unsuspecting fathers. The detective called the mobile number three times to ensure he had the correct suspects, then moved in for the collar, approached the pair and showed his badge. Causing one of them to faint, apparently. And, like as not, shat in his own keks too. The boys were subsequently let off with a warning after their parents got involved. And, the warning was 'don't ring strangers.'