Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Right Profile

Yer Keith Telly Topping picked up the season six Lost DVD box-set on Monday and is, currently, about a third of the way through a full rewatch of the closing instalment of this oddest of TV sagas. And, the first thing to note is that, yes, it does still hang together and make sense. Well, a sort of sense, if you're prepared to do a bit of the work. I'm currently up to Recon and am, again, staggered by the conceptual brilliance of the Sawyer-poacher-turned-gamekeeper parallel universe plot. Clever stuff. The disc full of extras, including the additional - post final episode, Ben and Hurley - sequences, incidentally, are great.

Culture Secretary the oily Jeremy Hunt has asked the BBC and its staff to consider licence fee payers ahead of strike action over pensions next month. 'I hope that both sides in this dispute will reflect on the impact on licence fee payers,' Hunt said. And, unspoken subtext, the impact of wiping two days of the Tories conference off-air. Hunt added that he was most concerned about two strike dates set for 19 and 20 October, which coincide with the government's comprehensive spending review. But, really, he was more concerned about the first set of strikes on 5 and 6 October when the conference is being held. Because, he really likes every opportunity to get his boat-race on the telly. The National Union of Journalists said the BBC could still avoid the strikes. Jeremy Dear, its general secretary, said: 'We're not saying there can be no change [to the pension schemes]. But change must be fair. How can it be fair to ask workers to pay almost double to be worse off in retirement?' Hunt said that next month's spending review was 'a very, very important issue to all voters,' adding: 'I think people will want to know about it.' And, he also thinks that most voters will like to see him on the TV. So, frankly, any excuse to keep oily Jeremy Hunt off the TV is welcome. Up the workers, and all that. Conservative Party chairman, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, has written to the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, to ask about arrangements for BBC coverage of the conference during the planned strike. To which Mark Thompson will, hopefully, reply, 'none whatsoever, we'll have far more important things to worry about during those two days you dozy mare.' The BBC's main unions - the NUJ, BECTU and UNITE - have voted for strike action in a dispute over proposed changes to the corporation's pension schemes. Oily Hunt also told the committee he had no plans to abolish Arts Council England, despite having already axed the UK Film Council. 'I am not abolishing the Arts Council but want it to make ambitious changes to reduce its administration costs,' he said. 'Front-line arts organisations are vulnerable because if they have a sudden cut in their grant, they reduce artistic output and secure less ticket sales and donations. There is a risk of a cycle of decline, so we have to be very, very careful. We want to help people get through a very difficult patch,' he added. Hunt also praised the BBC's 'independence.' Although he didn't seem too keen on it last September when he broke existing employment law by suggesting, seemingly quite seriously, that the BBC should be hiring journalists based on party political allegiances. Which remains, for this blogger, the single defining moment of this most scummish of scum politician's career to date. The moment when the mask briefly slipped and we saw, stark and terrible, the maggot-ridden ugly core beneath the smooth, if smug, exterior. 'I do support the licence fee agreement because it works, [the BBC] is probably the most respected news gathering organisation in the world,' he told the committee. As his nose reportedly double-in-size. But he is right in one respect. The BBC is an organisation with a, genuine, worldwide reputation for fairness and impartiality. Far more respected, internationally than, just for instance, your own government. Pal. Just something to slip into your in-box, Jezza. 'The independence of the BBC is something licence fee payers value, it delivers, so we do support that principle.' Remember where you were when you said that, Hunt, because you won't ever be allowed to forget it by this blog.

There was a wonderfully surreal episode of Ideal on BBC3 this week. Particularly Moz's Yellow Submarine-like 'legal high' trip with Tilly. But, I also loved to bits Psycho Paul's almost-but-not-quite-touching conversation with his heartbroken kleptomania ex-girlfriend, Tanya. 'I'll do that thing for ya that ya like me doin'.' 'I've gone off it!' Another absolute gem from Mr Duff's word processor and Mr Vegas's diamond-sharp comedy delivery. And, all this with the best ensemble cast on TV. I mean, how can anybody not love a show that, in the last episode, featured PC asking Jenny what TV cop he reminder her of in bed and getting the reply 'Deputy Dawg'?! In the next episode, I'm led to believe, a regular character since series one is killed. Start your guessing now.

Stephen Fry has become chairman of a charity trust set up to protect an historic West End theatre in London. The fifty three-year-old actor, comedian, writer, director, wit, raconteur and bon vivant inherits his role at the Criterion Theatre Trust from Lord Attenborough, the previous chair of the registered charity set up in 1992. Fry said he was 'insanely excited and honoured to take up this new position.' The Criterion - situated next to the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus - has been a West End fixture since it first opened in 1874. The theatre was acquired in 1992 by property developer Robert Bourne and his wife Sally Greene, the Criterion's chief executive. 'I couldn't be more proud and pleased to take over the chair vacated by the inimitable Lord Attenborough,' Fry continued. 'Between them, he and Sally Greene have ensured that one of the absolute jewels of the West End is in a marvellous position to grow and flourish into the Twenty First Century.' Greene said Fry's 'extraordinary and limitless talents' would be an asset to the theatre, which is currently home to a production of The Thirty Nine Steps. The announcement coincides with the publication of The Fry Chronicles, the comedian's latest volume of autobiography, and yer Keith Telly Topping is, eagerly, awaiting the arrival of his review copy.

Jason Manford, the presenter of The ONE Show, has criticised the BBC after it edited a joke he made during a charity concert out of the subsequent broadcast. Manford was one of the presenters at the concert to raise money for the armed forces charity, Help for Heroes, which was broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday. He complained on Twitter that his joke about the government and the Armed Forces had been cut from the broadcast. Bit naive that, Jase lad. That was never going to make the cut no matter how much those putting the show together might've wanted to include it. Too much chance of the Daily Scum Mail kicking up a fuss about it. As, indeed, they have anyway over your reaction. Elementary schoolboy-type error, that I'm afraid. Not that I disagree with what you said but, did you really expect the Beeb to risk the flack of broadcasting it? The BBC said that most of the appearances had been edited in some way for timing purposes. Although, nobody with any sense really believed that for a single second. Manford described the edited excerpt, saying: 'I said it was disgusting that soldiers get sent to war by a gov [sic] but when they arrive home injured they have to rely on charity. Then went into gag about if they didn't sign up, it'd be conscription and there'd be likes of me out there crying in my tent every night.' In Manford's original message via Twitter he had complained about a lack of free speech and described the person or persons who made the edit as 'shithouses.' When challenged by fellow Twitter users about remaining impartial, he said: 'I'm a presenter in a magazine show, not a news show or a journalistic show, I'm a comedian at an event with an opinion.' Manford was subsequently criticised on his page by the Lib Dem politician Mathew Hulbert (no, me neither), who wrote: 'I'm afraid a by-product of becoming a BBC presenter must surely be the need to be impartial at all times?' He added: 'Do you ever see Huw Edwards doing that? Because he's professional and remains impartial.' Jason replied: 'You realise that I'm an adult and have opinions. Often on the ONE Show we offer our own opinions, ur [sic] thinking of The News.' He later apologised for swearing, which I must say was very un-Jason-like, he doesn't seem the sort of chap to mouth off unless he feels very strongly about something. But, he said that 'the rest of my tweets still stand.' A BBC spokeswoman commented: 'The Heroes Concert, which transmitted on BBC1 in prime time, was a five-hour event that we had to edit into a two-hour programme. We therefore couldn't include every act in its entirety.' Hulbert later tweeted an apology to Jason, expressing surprise that their exchange had been reported in the media. 'Seems my Twitter debate earlier on has made the national news. How on Earth did that happen?' Because most newspapers wouldn't know a real news story if it smacked them in the face with a mallet and, instead, spend their time trawling the Internet to report tittle-tattle. Just like this blogger, in fact! Well, at least I'm honest about it, though. 'Feel like I should apologise but am not quite sure why,' he continued. 'Didn't want to do anything other than raise a concern. Sorry, I feel bad. I always think of Twitter as being a chat between people, not a news source. I've been naive.' Aye. Welcome to the Twenty First Century, Mathew. It's got its good points and more than a few bad ones, too!

This blogger is as well aware as anyone, dear blog reader, that there are lies, there are damned lies and then there are statistics. But, do you imagine that somewhere within the virry bowels of ITV itself there is some hapless publicity department rep trying desperately to draft a press release which celebrates the fact that Daybreak has put on six points on its AI returns in just over a week? It started as a miserable fifty five last Monday and by Tuesday this week had climbed to a whopping (but, still pretty dreadful) sixty two. That means, in effect, that its public perception has gone from 'appallingly dreadful' to 'just plain bad' in nine days. At this rate of progress, within in month it might have reached 'merely substandard.' It's probably somebody's job to try and sell that lemon as a positive. Just as there is, possibly, someone in the Channel Five press office trying to convince the world that the fact Live From Studio Five has doubled its audience since Ian Wright got the tin-tack - it was getting a daily audience of two hundred thousand, now it's usually about four hundred thousand - is something worth shouting about. Which, you know, it really isn't!

Meanwhile, the Sun is, rather gleefully, reporting that 'Daybreak has lost a fifth of its viewers in just one week - with many saying it is WORSE [their capital letters, not mine dear blog reader] than GMTV.' Despite starting its first week with an average of one million viewers and guests including Tony Blair and Prince Charles, Daybreak's ratings have slumped to eight hundred thousand this week. Rival BBC Breakfast has held on to its regular audience of around 1.4million viewers. Despite this, a clearly delusional ITV spokeswoman said: 'Daybreak has made a strong start in a very competitive breakfast television market, with viewing figures for its first week up over elleven per cent on the average for GMTV.' ITV, however, it would appear are being very creative with the figures they're quoting. That week includes the heavily trailed first few days. Since Friday Daybreak has actually been below GMTV's average audience for the year of nine hundred thousand. Which is, frankly, a disaster for ITV when you consider the heavy promotion involved in the new show. Not to mention the money they're paying Chiles and his orange pal. Yer Keith Telly Topping is indebted to his good pal Cameron for the following observation on Daybreak: 'I did notice that Adrian and Christine have swapped places on the sofa. She's on the left and he's on the right. That'll help get the ratings up!'

Comic Steve Coogan and presenter Chris Tarrant are the latest public figures to be linked to the row over the News of the World's alleged phone-hacking. Their representatives are taking legal action after the Metropolitan Police confirmed that their clients' personal details were in the possession of the newspaper's private investigator. Journalist Glenn Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for six months for hacking into voice mails. Tarrant's lawyer, Mark Lewis, said the action was 'at a very early stage.' Last year, the Gruniad Morning Star claimed that News of the World journalists were involved in widespread phone hacking of thousands of celebrities, sports stars and politicians. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, comedian Lenny Henry, singer George Michael and the late Big Brother housemate Saint Jade Goody of the Estate were among the names cited by the Gruniad. After being contacted by their representatives, the Met confirmed that Tarrant and Coogan were both 'persons of interest' to Mulcaire. Last week, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee announced it would conduct a new inquiry into the laws on phone hacking and how police respond to complaints.

Pamela Connolly has revealed that EastEnders' Scott Maslen has had a mishap with the Strictly Come Dancing tanning machine. The former Not The Nine O'Clock News comedian who now works as a psychoanalyst claimed that Maslen was suffering from a case of 'two toned sack' following the backstage incident. Writing in a Gruniad Morning Star blog about her experiences on the BBC reality show so far, Stephenson said: 'I started with the spray tan. My initial resistance - my children have begged me to avoid turning orange - lasted a mere ten days, before I entered the backstage misting booth like a lamb to the slaughter. I awoke next morning with the smell of baked vinyl emanating from my skin. But for others it was worse. Fellow contestant Scott Maslen revealed that he mistakenly put his disposable g-string on back-to-front and one of his testicles fell out; he now has a terrible case of two-toned sack.' Explaining her new beauty regime for the dance show further, Pam added: 'I even shaved my pudenda completely bald to ensure a smooth crotch line, although I needn't have bothered because there were four layers of fabric between it and the wildly cheering live audience. Only I and thirty members of the ingenious costume department knew that under my costume I wore two pairs of tights (slimming, tan-coloured fishnets over fat-squishing support hose that also lift the buttocks), a pair of breath-squeezing stretch pants sewn into the dress (need I mention that going to the toilet was extremely challenging?), a stretchy midriff cincher to suck in my "muffin top," and a hydraulically operated push-up bra welded to the entire mother ship.'

American rapper and actor 50 Cent (who is, apparently, very big with the Young People) is to swap Hollywood for Walford after bagging a one-off role in EastEnders. The chap is, apparently, a huge fan after his friend, footballer Rio Ferdinand introduced him to the soap. This is all according to the Mirror by the way. So, as ever with this kind of thing, you're advised to swallow it with an unhealthy dose of salt. EastEnders producers, they newspaper claimed, were 'delighted that he has agreed to the cameo in the next six months after weeks of talks.' But the singer, thirty five, said that he had missed out on a career high because it was too late to star with Barbara Windsor after her character Peggy Mitchell left the Queen Vic, last week. He said: 'I really wanted Peggy to throw me out of her pub, but I didn't get it organised quick enough and it's too late now. I've performed with Eminem and Justin Timberlake, acted with De Niro and Pacino, had a guest spot on The Simpsons - in the US a sign you've made it to the very top, but I can't fulfil my biggest showbiz dream.' Word. Subsequently, however, MTV's website were reporting that a spokesperson for the BBC has denied the reports, stating: 'We're flattered he's a fan, but there have been no talks about him appearing in the show.' So, yet another made up tabloid story, it would seem. How devastatingly surprising.

ITV's new adventure series 71 Degrees North or I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here ... With Huskies! lost almost two million viewers between its opening episode and the follow up on Tuesday night, according to overnight audience figures. The programme, which features two teams of alleged C-list celebrities competing to reach the freezing North Cape in Norway, averaged 2.86m on ITV from 9pm with a further one hundred and thirteen thousand viewers watching on ITV HD. However, that was down over 1.8m on the show's debut. 71 Degrees North was also beaten in the 9pm hour by the BBC's new factual entertainment series The Young Ones, which was watched by 3.76m.

A collection of letters sent by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath to the former Poet Laureate's sister has been acquired by the British Library. The archive of Olwyn Hughes contains forty one letters along with literary papers including unpublished poems and a handwritten draft of an untitled play. The British Library said the letters provided 'a real insight' into the early careers of both writers. Hughes was married to writer Sylvia Plath, who killed herself in 1963. The acquisition announcement was made at the International Ted Hughes Conference at Pembroke College, Cambridge. The Olwyn Hughes archive cost almost thirty thousand pounds to purchase. The letters will be catalogued and made accessible to researchers at the British Library by early 2011.

Amanda Holden is reportedly hoping to land a guest spot on The Inbetweeners. Because, with the future of Britain's Got Talent looking increasing fragile, she's desperate to appear in something that has more than five viewers, as all of her other recent TV formats have.

Former X Factor contestants Bun 'nd Cheese were reportedly racially abused by a transvestite at a recent gig. The trio were seen performing on last weekend's auditions episode of the ITV show but failed to make it through to the Boot Camp stage. At Guildford's Scrumptious nightclub - great name - on Sunday, the singers were allegedly called 'niggers' by the venue's drag queen compere as he was introducing them to the crowd. That's awful, if true. Band member Pinky told the Sun: 'Just before we came out on stage the drag queen said, "We've got some niggers backstage!" He used the term three times in total.' It is also claimed that once the transvestite had realised that Bun 'nd Cheese and their family had heard the slur, he apologised but then, later, used the word again. Pinky added: 'When we came on stage he said, "I apologise for calling you niggers."' Oh God. Listen mate, learn from Michael Richards, when you're in a hole, stop ddigging. 'Patty and Peas were very upset. Patty was very angry. It was just appalling. It's the first time in my life I've been called that and it hurt. There were about one hundred people in the audience. The truth is that we were the only black people there and no-one seemed to care what we'd been called.' Aye. Sad but true. Of course, I imagine Bruce Forsyth is currently preparing a statement telling you to develop a sense of humour and stop being so precious because fifty year ago people would've laughed. All of which goes to prove, dear blog reader, that despite the many advances we've made a society in relation to tolerence in many areas, we've still got a way to go.

Alan Cumming has revealed that there will be 'fireworks' in the new season of The Good Wife. In the first season finale, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) was torn between her husband Peter (Chris Noth) and a telephone call from her colleague Will (Josh Charles). Cumming has now hinted that his character Eli will become involved in the situation. 'I do something at the start of the season that, if [Alicia] ever finds out, there will be trouble,' he told TV Guide. 'There are fireworks ahead.'

Duncan Bannatyne has said that he does not want James Caan to return for another series of Dragons' Den. Bannatyne, who has been on the show since the first series, claimed that he had never got on well with the Pakistan-born millionaire, who joined The Drags during the series' fifth run. 'Only me and Peter [Jones] are integral to the show. Anyone else could go,' he told the Sun. Blimey, bit of self-aggrandisement there, Duncan mate. Although, it's probably true. 'James Caan never gelled with the rest of us and it's got nothing to do with him starting later in the programme. I hope he doesn't come back.' The Scottish millionaire also backed plans for a new line-up of dragons for the ninth series, arguing that Apprentice star Karren Brady would be a great addition. 'I know they're wanting to change things and mix it up, and I agree it needs it. A couple of dragons could do with being cut,' he said. 'Karren would be good in the Den. They've said they want more women. Deborah [Meaden] gets a lot of criticism. It really doesn't seem to bother her.' Meanwhile, Bannatyne said that he expects yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite velociraptor Theo Paphitis not to return next year because he will be 'too busy launching a new lingerie firm.' Well knickers to that.

Michaela Conlin has revealed that her Bones character Angela will be pregnant this season. Speaking to TV Guide, Conlin confirmed the news, although she admitted that she was 'bummed' FOX decided to include the pregnancy in a trailer for the show. Conlin also confessed that she was initially unsure about having a pregnancy storyline so soon after Angela married Jack Hodgins (TJ Thyne). 'I have to be honest, at first I was a little hesitant,' she said. 'To marry this wild child off and get her pregnant had me worried that this would limit her, story-wise. But I now feel, getting into the sixth season, it's going to be interesting to see her try to fit her wild life into this maternal situation.' However, Conlin suggested that the paternity of her baby will not be an issue, saying: 'I am pretty convinced Hodgins is the dad. Only because we were just married. That would be very slutty of her. This time, I think she played it right.'

Matthew Lillard has signed up to appear in House. TV Guide reports that the Scream actor will appear in a forthcoming episode of the Hugh Laurie medical drama. Executive producer Katie Jacobs explained: 'I've been a fan of his for so long, so we offered the role to him. He's playing a bass player in a band who has been struggling for years and years. He finds himself in a very extreme circumstance in the beginning of the episode and becomes an unexpected hero. So how his life changes becomes the mystery.'

Lauren Graham has confirmed that a Gilmore Girls film is still a possibility. The actress told Vanity Fair that Hollywood producers have shown new interest in the project. 'It might [happen],' she said. 'What's funny to me is that in all these years, no-one ever talked about [a film] except the fans. But now people who could actually make it happen are talking about it.' However, she expressed concern that some of the show's cast could be too old to reprise their original roles. 'I think it could be good, but I wonder if we've waited too long,' she admitted. 'I don't want to be walking around the town square with a cane.' Graham also admitted that she has no idea what kind of storyline would feature in a potential movie version. 'It's hard to say because the show was never very plot driven,' she suggested. 'That is what might be uncovered in a two-hour movie.' Her former co-star Scott Patterson previously admitted that he is eager to star in a Gilmore Girls movie. The series originally aired on The WB and later The CW from 2000 to 2007.

From their debut 'Waterloo' to swansong 'Thank You For the Music,' ABBA wrote and performed enough classic hits to fill their own chart – and, never let it be said that an old punk like yer Keith Telly Topping was never averse to a decent bit of ABBA. But what would the run down be in such a mythical ABBA-only Top Twenty and which would sit, proudly, at number one as the most popular ABBA song ever? Well, wonder no longer because ITV - of course - is producing a new one-off special that will decide the pecking order among some of the most iconic and best-loved singles in pop history as it asks the British public to vote for The Nation's Favourite ABBA Song. From 13 September, fans can log onto ITV's ABBA minisite to register their votes. Visitors to itv.com/ABBA will be able to view video clips of each of the legendary Swedish band's twenty five singles, including their nine number ones, before making their choice. Polls close on 11 October and the results will determine the countdown in the ninety minute programme to be shown on ITV 'later this year.' ABBA's own Bjorn and Frida have signalled their interest in the vote and their fondness for their UK fans, in an exclusive interview for the programme. Though, Benny and the pretty one, haven't. Frida said: 'Discussing all of our singles for The Nation's Favourite ABBA Song was great fun. There are many fond memories. Memories about writing the songs, recording and promoting and performing them.' Bjorn said: 'We're all curious and excited to see which songs appear where in the countdown.' He added: 'The British people took us to their hearts, completely and made us their own, which we are very proud of. It's very nice to come to England because it's like going home.' Well, you know, that guitar riff on 'S.O.S.' really struck a chord, baby. The Nation's Favourite ABBA Song, has been produced by Shiver, ITV Studios' Leeds-based production arm. And, just in case you're interested, 'Dancing Queen' is going to win, by a mile. Just thought I'd mention that in advance.

A benefit concert to mark the year that John Lennon would have turned seventy is to be held in New York, it has been announced. Musicians lined-up to pay tribute to the self-confessed alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie include Jackson Browne, Patti Smith, Cyndi Lauper and Aimee Mann. Bet that'll be fun.

Police in Covington, Louisiana have arrested a woman who allegedly stripped naked during a cab ride before stealing the vehicle. Bet that stopped the traffic. Twenty nine-year-old Jennifer Gille from St Clair Shores, Michican, was picked up by a driver at 1am on Sunday morning but refused to get out at the Harrison Avenue address she originally asked for, WDSU reports. A police statement read: 'To further complicate matters the female began acting crazy and took off her clothing, demanding the cab driver take her to Michigan.' The driver then travelled to Covington Police Department, but his naked passenger moved into the front of the vehicle and drove off when he got out to ask for help. Police found the car parked nearby with Gille in the back seat. They stated that they removed her from the cab and put her dress back on. It is believed that she was under the influence of alcohol and possibly other drugs.' No shit?!

A Dutch theatre has hosted the premiere of the word's first Klingon opera, which is sung entirely in the language of the Star Trek characters. Ah, them crazy Dutchies have been at the wacky-baccy again, I see! The Zeebelt Theatre in The Hague last week presented the first showing of the production, simply called u, before it travels to the Qetlop in Farnsberg, NPR reports. The work has been produced by the Klingon Terran Research Ensemble and tells the story of Kahless the Unforgettable, the first Klingon emperor. KTRE's artistic director, Floris Schoenfeld, revealed that he studied an ancient musical treatise titled paq'jachchcu (Book of the Perfect Scream) for the project. He also conducted other archival research. The group spent a year developing the opera, including a residency at New York's Watermill Center, which was founded by Einstein On the Beach director Robert Wilson. 'They're really being very serious,' remarked the director of the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation. 'I think it really is the result that matters, and I found the result quite fascinating and interesting and strange and weird.' It's the 'they're really serious' bit that worries me the most, as someone who once sat through an entire hour and a bit Klingon adaptation of Hamlet at a convention in Minneapolis, trust me, they are all very serious about it. Lovely people, mind, don't get me wrong. But the joke - such as it is - wears rather thin about about, ooo, thirty seconds.

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