Friday, September 10, 2010

Week Thirty Eight: Self Portrait

So anyway, dear blog reader - the winner of this week's special From The North 'just line 'em up against a wall and horsewhip 'em to within an inch of their lives. Until they scream, and they bubble, and they beg for mercy ... and then do it some more' award goes to whichever glake it was at Channel Five who thought it was a right good idea to use New Order's indie-dance masterpiece 'Blue Monday' as the music on a trailer for, of all things, Home & Away. Just so you know, if you're reading this glake, that hanging is too good for you!

The growth of timeshifted viewing via digital video recorders has changed the way people talk about television programmes, a new report has claimed. According to research commissioned by software giant Rovi, half of British people now watch TV shows recorded on DVRs, such as Sky+, Freeview+ or Virgin Media's V+. The increase in timeshifted viewing has led to a social change in the way people discuss major programme events, such as soaps or reality TV shows. In a Red Shift Research-administered survey of one thousand people in the UK, seventy per cent of respondents said that they are now more hesitant about discussing programmes they have seen for fear of spoiling the surprise for others. Half of people would object if someone started talking about a programme that they hadn't yet viewed, while most respondents admitted to irritation when someone discusses a programme before they've had a chance to see it. The research also indicated that the greater flexibility of timeshift viewing has enabled people to socialise more, as fifty six per cent of respondents claimed to be spending more quality time with friends or family and seventeen per cent doing more exercise. More than fifty two per cent of respondents believe that having their TV connected to the Internet would make it easier to access the content that they want. Looking forward, ninety seven per cent of Britons think that they will be watching television or video content mostly online or via DVRs by 2015. 'The television has always been an icon of entertainment culture and has influenced mainstream culture since it made its way into living rooms across the globe,' said Rovi chief evangelist Richard Bullwinkle. 'In this survey, we've taken a look at how people have incorporated new TV technologies in their daily lives to continue to adapt our product design to best fit consumers' preferences and viewing habits.' He added: 'What we're doing is looking at how we can create a better entertainment experience for TV viewers. Our technologies, such as Rovi TotalGuide, enable easier navigation, browse, search and recommendations. We think these technologies will be a benefit to viewers, providing them with even greater options in how they watch TV.' The survey also indicated that sixty six per cent of people currently plan their viewing by using the electronic programme guide on their TVs, whilst only thirty nine per cent still use a magazine guide.

Great moments of humour observed on Twitter. Number eleven. Armando Iannucci's thoughts on the hot topic of religious book burning: 'I'm organising a "Burn a Kerrang! Day." Anyone want to come?' Naughty. But, funny. A necessary point!

Ben Collins has claimed that his anonymity as Top Gear's The Stig had been 'eroded so much' that he had to leave the show. So, to sum up, it wasn't his fault that he left, it was down to other people. The fact that he was sacked after having broken a confidentiality clause in his contract of employment when he signed up with HarperCollins for a book deal being, of course, entirely incidental to the whole affair. I'm glad we got that cleared up because I was really confused beforehand. The thirty five-year-old left his position on the motoring programme after winning a legal battle to publish his autobiography, in which he disclosed the closely-guarded mystery of The Stig's identity. When he informed managers about his plans for the book, Collins claims he was 'threatened' that publishing it could result in him losing his job. That wasn't, actually, a 'threat' as it turned out, bonny lad. Rather it was a promise it would seem. And you never thought for a single second that when you signed a bit of paper which said you wouldn't publicly reveal that you played this particular role back in 2003 that it applied to publishing a book in which you tell the world 'I play this particular role'? Because, I have to say, Ben, that strikes me as being just a tad, what the word? Bollocks? Speaking to the Sun, he said: 'Across the motoring world many people already knew who I was. But coming without warning, this was a snowball that couldn't stop rolling.' Collins said that his anonymity as The Stig had been 'eroded so much' in the press that it was time for him to go. He also said that he feared being replaced on the show, after producers suggested a one-off replacement Stig for an event last year which Collins 'didn't want to miss.' When asked by the tabloid for about his advice for the next person to play The Stig, Collins said: 'Watch what happened to me and make your own choices!' Of course, the Daily Scum Mail just loved all of this. And, so did the Gruniad Morning Star. Had their brown-smeared tongues rammed so far up Ben Collins' collective crack there was hardly enough room for any of Rupert Murdoch's papers to do likewise. After leaving the show and publishing his book, Collins says that he plans to compete in the Le Mans Twenty Four Hour race. He also expressed his hope that the acrimony on Top Gear will ease over time and he can resume friendships with people on the show. I wouldn't bank on it if I were you, Ben me auld china. Jezza does not strike me as the sort of bloke who forgives perceived trespasses easily. A BBC spokesman responded to all this self-aggrandising bleating with the following statement: 'Today's interview appears in a newspaper that is owned by the same company that is publishing Ben's book. It seems to have been designed simply to attempt to generate further sales. The BBC categorically refutes any accusations of bullying. Once Ben informed the BBC of his intentions, he was reminded of his confidentiality obligations and it was made clear to him that if he went ahead with the book, he would not be able to remain in his role.'

And, so to this week's Top Telly Tips:

Friday 17 September
In yer Keith Telly Topping's very beloved Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - Stephen Fry and regular panellist Alan Davies return for a much-anticipated - eighth - series of the quiz with a difference. This time, they welcome first-time guest, Cramlington's own dry-as-dust comedian Ross Noble along with semi-regulars equally dry-as-dust Jack Dee and Phill Jupitus. The distinguished host asks questions about a 'hodge-podge' of topics beginning with the letter H, awarding points for the answers he finds most interesting. The extended megamix, Qi: XL, returns tomorrow night at 8:45. It remains what it has been since it first appeared seven years ago - a TV programme that actually celebrates the dangerous business of 'learning stuff.' How it ever became a hit is beyond me, frankly.

Dragons' Den: What Happened Next? - 9:00 BBC2 - sees Peter Jones revisiting people who appeared in the entrepreneurial series, including Kirsty Henshaw and Levi Roots, two of the contestants who managed to secure investment - for their frozen dessert and food sauce businesses respectively. The, very tall, business guru also visits Sam Petter who, despite not securing money for her clothing and accessories range for children, was given valuable advice. Plus, the programme follows Jones as he embarks on a holiday in the Algarve. Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday 18 September
Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow returns at 9:15 on BBC1 and tonight, the floppy-fringed comedian heads to the Glasgow Theatre Royal to kick off the second series of his roadshow. He is joined by headlining guest Kevin Bridges, before Daniel Sloss, Craig Campbell and the very great Milton Jones offer their stand-up performances. Worth it for Milton's ten minutes, if nothing else I'd've said.

Sunday 19 September
The final work of BAFTA-winning writer the late Alan Plater, Joe Maddison's War - 9:00 ITV - is a feature-length drama of the kind that ITV seem not to make anymore. So, on that score alone, it's a welcome addition to the TV landscape. It's 1939 and Newcastle shipyard worker, the eponymous Joe Maddison (Kevin Whately) feels past his prime - too old to serve in the war alongside his son, who is beginning his RAF training. A few days later, when his wife leaves him for a young naval officer, Joe finds himself without a purpose in life and in need of a new challenge. So, he and best friend Harry (Robson Green) decide to join the Home Guard. The decision is one that leads him on a journey of self-discovery and teaches him lessons in heroism, friendship and love. The impressive cast also features Derek Jacobi, Melanie Hill, Trevor Fox and John Woodvine. Plater, born in Jarrow and raised in Hull, was one of the last great TV writers from an age when drama was often writer, rather than producer-led. Cutting his teeth on the groundbreaking Z Cars he subsequently embarked on a body of dramatic work which is equal of just about any TV writer from any era. He will be sadly missed.

Following on from Alan Plater, pretty much anything else is likely to seem trival and bland by comparison. Which brings us very nicely to The Cube - 6:45 ITV. This is a game show, presented by Phillip Schofield. If that, in and of itself, isn't enough to put you off watching then, possibly a description of what goes on in it will do the trick? A hurling instructor takes on a series of increasingly difficult tasks within the confines of a large transparent cube, hoping to win a jackpot of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds. Given nine lives at the start, he must complete up to seven challenges, ranging from agility tests to skill trials. Crap of the highest order. You would have to be the tragic and damaged victim of a cruel medical experiment to even consider watching this atrocious malarkey. So, likely to be guaranteed a good audience on ITV - 'the brighter side'.

Seventy year ago a savage, apocalyptic, yet at times almost balletic, theatre of war raged in the skies above our nation. In The Battle of Britain - 8:30 BBC1 the actor Ewan McGregor and his RAF pilot brother, Colin, attempt to discover what it was like to live and fight through the most significant air battle in British history. They learn how a handful of determined young RAF pilots - 'the few' - effectively saved Britain from invasion by the powerful and much more experienced Nazi Luftwaffe. They also take to the skies over southern England as Spitfires and Hurricanes, once again, fly over the White Cliffs of Dover. Facing the Fockes. And the Messerschmitts, of course.

Monday 20 September
Classy, testosterone-snorting espionage drama [Spooks] returns to BBC1 at 9:00. Still reeling from the death of Ros last season, hunky babe-magnet Lucas boards a boat heading from Tangier to Plymouth to track a Somalian terrorist, and is saved from danger by Beth Bailey, an undercover mercenary posing as a sex worker. When it emerges that the vessel is carrying an explosive payload, the team fears the launch of the newest addition to the Royal Navy's fleet is the target. Beth's arrival at Section D brings new information and feelings of familiarity to dear old seen-it-all Harry, who - as usual - has to overlook whether or not he can trust the source and take drastic action. The stunning Sophia Myles (best known for her role in Moonlight or, if you're a totally sad fanboy like me, Madame de Pompadour in Doctor Who) joins the cast, with Peter Firth, Richard Armitage and yer Keith Telly Topping's particular favourite, Ruth Walker.

In Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - Nick stuns Natasha as she attempts to come clean, Steve tries to reason with Kylie in a bid to prevent her wrecking Becky's dream, and Eileen plots revenge on Owen after he throws his weight around with Jason. Elsewhere, Sophie reluctantly accepts Mikey's offer of help and Graeme and Tina flood Rita's flat. Following a bunch of really good storylines, culminating in Hayley and Roy's marriage at the start of the month, we now seem to be in something of a holding pattern just waiting for this sodding tram crash to come along the smash the Rovers to bits. Which should be a laugh, at least.

Rory and Paddy's Even Greater Adventures - 9:00 Channel Five - sees the comedians Rory McGrath and Paddy McGuinness take part in the most unusual games and pastimes that Britain has to offer. They begin in Scotland, where they enter the Glen Nevis River Race in Fort William, before heading to the Dumfries Border Games to try haggis hurling and sword fighting. I'm presuming that's with actual swords - as opposed to something else - because, to be honest, with this show, you're never too sure. They also travel to the Forest of Ae (yes, that is how it's spelled!) to take part in competitive dog sledding and visit the village of Palnackie for the World Flounder Tramping Championship. The first series of this show was, in places, delightfully batty. Both presenters can be something of an acquired taste - I'm not a big fan of McGuinness myself and I know plenty of people who find Rory insufferably smug - but they did seem to have a genuine warmth when they're travelling around a camper van meeting eccentrics and playing daft sports. Nowhere else in the world would anyone even think of making a TV show like this, let alone believe that anybody would actually want to watch it. And, therein lies the reason why British TV remains not only the best but, also, comfortably, the strangest, in the world! Two national media stereotypes for the price of one.

Tuesday 21 September
Showing on consecutive nights this week, the four part Lost Land of the Tiger - 9:00 BBC1 - is a documentary series which follows an international team of big cat experts and wildlife cameramen as, in the jungles and mountains of Bhutan, they embark on a quest to save the near-extinct tiger. All of them, obviously, not just one example. For one of the party, biologist Alan Rabinowitz, the awareness of time running out is all the more pertinent and poignant: he has been diagnosed with incurable leukaemia. Continues tomorrow and, indeed, all this week at 9pm.

Excluded - 9:00 BBC2 - is a part-improvised topical drama which exposes the realities and struggles that some inner-city schools are facing today. Ian, a newly qualified maths teacher in a London school, is battling to control his unruly class. He comes up against Mark, a troubled and unpopular pupil who is rejected by both staff and children, and at first the two clash. Head teacher Amanda is under pressure to make improvements to her underperforming institution. She's hoping to form a partnership with a local academy, but first needs to prove that her school is making progress. Should she exclude the problem pupils to help its performance?

In Ramsay's Best Restaurant - 9:00 Channel 4 - shouty, sweary Gordon Ramsay puts two popular Indian restaurants to the test, focusing on the Prashad in Bradford, which is run by a young couple with boundless enthusiasm for vegetarian cuisine. He also places the spotlight on Brilliant in Southall, West London, renowned for providing traditional Punjabi food, and the winner of countless culinary awards. As someone who loves a nice tandoori chicken with a mushroom biryani on the side as much as the next chap, I look forward to this programme with some considerable lip-licking anticipation. Even I, ladies and gentlemen, can put up with a fair bit of old Ramsay when there's good food on the table.

The Lost Gospels - 10:00 BBC4 - sees the Anglican vicar Pete Owen Jones off in search of gospels which were alleged to have been left out of the New Testament. Those that describe a vengeful and occasionally very human Jesus who was physically intimate with Mary Magdalene. He also investigates the intense struggles for orthodoxy fought in the early centuries of Christianity, during which different proto-Christian sects were convinced that their gospels were true and sacred word of God.

Wednesday 22 September
In the last exciting instalment of Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV - Joyce Barnaby swerves off the road into a ditch, convinced she has hit someone. But, nobody is found injured and Tom thinks she has imagined it. However, when a local historian discovers the body of a librarian in a nearby cemetery, Joyce blames herself for the man's death, leading her husband into a spooky investigation to find the real killer on the loose in the haunted village of March Magna. Guest starring Danny Webb from The Bill, along with John Nettles, Jason Hughes and Jane Wymark.

TV's oddest couple, big-chested Melinda Messenger and gnomish Dominic Littlewoodk come to the aid of more homeowners who have fallen victim to unreliable workmen in Cowboy Builders - 8:00 Channel Five. In Sheffield, they meet a couple whose marriage has suffered after they took on the burden of a remortgage to pay for an extension to their home, but were left with an unfinished job and a thirty two thousand pound bill. Quite what Melinda and Dominic will actually do to aid these poor people, we'll have to wait and see but I'm guessing, judging on past evidence, that it's unlikely to be turning up with a cement mixer and some hard hats.

Michael Wood's Story of England - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather nifty idea. The historian and broadcaster explores the tale of an - otherwise rather ordinary - little village, Kibworth in Leicestershire, detailing its status at various points throughout English history. Fascinating concept. He begins by examining the village's roots, using archaeology, landscape, language and DNA to create an impression of the location's first one thousand years - from the Romans to the Normans. Along the way, he enlists the aid of local residents to dig fifty five test pits, and excavates artifacts from the Roman era right through to the Middle Ages.

Thursday 23 September
So, the Moons are back from their wandering in EastEnders' orbit - 7:30 BBC1 - you might've noticed, it's been pretty well-trailed. Although not as well trailed as the Queen Vic fire, to be fair. Anyway, in tonight's episode Alfie sets out to prove himself to Kat after persuading Charlie to let him in the house, while Darren's attempts to woo Jodie finally pay off. Heather tries to come to terms with Minty's decision, Phil assures Shirley that he is back on the straight and narrow, and Glenda enquires about a job at the bookies.

Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys - 9:00 BBC2 - comes to an end to night. In the final part of his mission to try to narrow the gap between girls' and boys' performance at primary school, the choirmaster tackles the second of the three Rs: 'writing.' Which is, of course, a 'W.' Possibly, that's where we've all been going wrong over the years? Worth considering? Probably not, I'm sure better minds than mine are on the case. Gareth sets the group of boys a challenge - to write their end-of-year play themselves - in the hope that seeing what they can achieve through their creative writing will encourage his lads to get excited by the process. But as the performance draws near, Gareth himself prepares to face the ultimate test - has his approach these past weeks actually improved the boys' reading age?

It's also the last part of Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution tonight - 9:00 Channel 4. The comedian's personal history of the 1980s charts the end of the decade, from mass unemployment - of which he joined the ranks after university - to the poll tax riots. He meets some of the figures that were a personal inspiration to him, including Neil Kinnock, and looks back on his fledgling comedy career at a time when it almost seemed as though popular entertainment was the only opposition that Mrs Thatcher was unable to defeat. As previously noted, I wasn't really too sure what to expect with this when it started but, the first episode at least was really very good indeed. At times amusing and lightweight but a very serious undercurrent. The sequence where Alan sought out his teenage skinhead nemesis and shared a pint with him, discovering that he's, actually, quite a decent bloke these days (albeit, one with some still slightly uncomfortable attitudes towards ethnic minorities) was, genuinely, riveting telly.

Finally An Idiot Abroad - 9:00 Sky1. Hugely popular (though I've never seen what everybody else seems to find so thigh-slappingly hilarious about them) Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their friend and former radio producer Karl Pilkington on a tour of some of the most impressive sites in the world. The 'joke' here, if that's the right word to use exactly, is that Pilkington's 'character' - though both Gervais and Merchant deny that he actually is a character and insist he really is like that in real life - is, let's not beat about the bush here, a lazy, bonehead. A self-confessed 'satisfied fool', unimpressed by anything that's shown to him. The reluctant traveller's first destination is China, where he visits the Great Wall, samples the local food, tries his hand at kung fu and experiences a traditional massage. And meanwhile, back in London, Gervais and his mate guffaw like a pair of amused gibbons that this is, like, the funniest thing they've, like, ever seen. In, like, all their lives. Gosh, how staggeringly original. If Pilkington is putting on an act, which I suspect he is, then it's a patronising and buffoonish act in which occasional moments of cleverness are drowned in a sea of the obvious. Mind you, many people have built entire careers on far less than that so, good luck to you mate. If he isn't, as Gervais claims, then frankly putting him on TV at all is a cruelty of the kind I thought we'd seen the back of when bear-baiting was outlawed. Both to him and to his viewers. Either way, I won't be watching this, dear blog reader. Life's too short, frankly.

And so to the news: Doctor Who make-up artist Davy Jones (not, not the ex-Monkee ... well, at least, I don't think so) has claimed that Christopher Eccleston is a fan of current star Matt Smith. Get in line, Ecc, we were all there before you! Jones told Scyfilove that Eccleston, who played the Doctor in 2005, had enjoyed Smith's theatre performances in the past. '[Matt] came over to me when I was applying the make-up and said it looked fantastic, and we got chatting,' he explained. 'I was able to tell him that I had been talking to Chris Eccleston recently, who said he'd seen Matt in a couple of plays and thought he was a great choice for Doctor Who.' Jones claimed that Smith was pleased to have received his predecessor's approval. 'He was quite blown over to hear that Chris thought he was good,' Jones said.

Torchwood writer John Fay has claimed that the forthcoming season will be the most ambitious yet. He told the Syfylove website that creator Russell Davies was keen to move the series forward with new ten-episode series The New World. 'Like anything in life, you can rest on your laurels or you can try to push on again and achieve something new,' Fay said. 'That is what Russell has done. On Children of Earth he had a very clear and defined vision, but what he has outlined for The New World is equally, if not more ambitious than before.' Fay confirmed that the new episodes will relaunch and reboot the show. 'We are started from scratch to some degree,' he admitted. 'But what helps us is we have got such well established characters in Jack (John Barrowman) and Gwen (Eve Myles) that people know and love.' He added: 'Obviously Torchwood is an established show with a clear history which we will refer to, but we [also] have to embrace people who maybe haven't seen [it] before.'

Labour MP Chris Bryant has said that he has 'no bad blood' with Sky News host Kay Burley after a fractious on-air exchange. Earlier this week, Bryant accused Burley of being 'a bit dim' after she pressed him to provide evidence that phone-hacking techniques were 'endemic' in the newspaper industry. The MP pointed to a report published by the Information Commissioner that identified in excess of one thousand cases. Writing in a comment piece in the Independent, Bryant said that he criticised Burley because 'she appeared not to have read into' the phone-hacking story. Later in the interview, Burley also implied that Bryant could have avoided having his phone hacked by changing his answering machine PIN number. 'My PIN had nothing to do with my phone being hacked,' he said in the comment piece. 'Someone phoned Orange, my mobile network provider, and tried to pretend to be me in order to gain access to my voicemails. There are lots of ways to hack a phone and that is why I called for a debate on this matter because I don't think it has been discussed properly.' Despite the on-air confrontation, Bryant stressed that he does not have 'any bad blood with Kay or any media organisations.' However, he added: 'My interpretation of a television journalist is someone who is independent. Kay Burley seemed to have made up her mind about this story before we went on air. She had taken a view that it was not important. After I came off air I had lots of texts and e-mails and I know that it has been doing the rounds on Twitter too. I know that people are congratulating me for taking her on. It seems she is famed for rubbing people up the wrong way, but I was not aware of that before I went on air. I didn't even know who I would be speaking with until she introduced me, so it is not as if I went on with a plan to argue with her. In any case, I think I was rather charming. I even said, "if you don't mind me saying so..." after I called her dim.' Isn't that a bit like annoying people who say 'no offence' after they've just said something really offensive, Chris? Not that I have any issue with someone describing the smug Ms Burley in such a way. More power to yer elbow, pal. Course, the fact that she works for Sky which is owned by the same company that also owns the newspaper at the very centre of the phone hacking scandal wouldn't have anything whatsoever to do with her dismissive trivialisation of the issue. None whatsoever. Just wanted to make that abundantly clear.

BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch took home a total of £2.68m in the year to 30 June, a pay rise of over fourteen per cent when compared with the twelve months to the end of June 2009, according to Sky's annual review. Andrew Griffith, Sky's chief financial officer, took home a total of £1.24m, a rise of almost seventeen per cent year on year. This figure included a base salary, a bonus and pension contributions. James Murdoch, BSkyB's chairman, and News Corp chairman and chief executive of Europe and Asia, was paid eighty seven thousand pounds, up seventy five thousand smackers he was paid in the twelve months previously. Darroch said: 'For several years, Sky has been pursuing a clear and consistent strategy with the goal of building a larger and more profitable business. This is designed to take advantage of two fundamental trends in today's marketplace. We see that customers are increasingly willing to pay for a better television experience and they have a growing appetite to take multiple products from a single, trusted provider. In both cases, Sky is well positioned to benefit.' BBC director general Mark Thompson, by comparison, was paid eight hundred and thirty eight thousand pounds in the same period, up less than one per cent year-on-year and his pay was the subject of impotent red-faced fury in many parts of the media. Several of them, curiously, owned - like Sky itself - by News Corp. Which you may feel is a bit of suspicious state of affairs, dear blog reader. I couldn't possibly comment on the matter. Oh, hang on. We've been here before, haven't we?

Former Big Brother contestant Nadia Almada has reportedly been rushed to hospital after attempting to end her own life. The former show winner was found slumped in her bathroom on Wednesday following an overdose of prescription drugs and painkillers, reports the Sun. The thirty three-year-old - who admitted that she was feeling suicidal after her eviction from the Ultimate Big Brother house last week - apparently told friends: 'I want to end it all.' A friend staying at Nadia's council flat is said to have discovered her body and called for an ambulance. She was reportedly kept under medical observation on Wednesday night, after which she was declared fit enough to return home. A 'source' said: 'This is a cry for help. She is very unhappy.'

An explosive EastEnders plot that will see the departure of Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor, has begun. Windsor announced she was leaving the show last October, so she could spend more time with her husband. On Thursday night's episode Peggy watched the Queen Vic pub go up in flames, marking the end of sixteen years behind the bar during her tenure on the show. Thursday's episode ended with her saying, sadly, 'Let it burn' as flames engulfed the pub. The inferno began after Peggy's crack-addict son, Phil (Steve McFadden) set fire to the pub. Dramatic pictures released in advance of transmission showed the moment Peggy realised her son was trapped by the flames. Writers have refused to disclose whether any characters will die as a result of the fire. Though the fact that the plotlines for next week show Phil in them suggest that, probably, he will. In a statement released last year, Windsor said: 'I'll be so sad to leave Peggy behind. EastEnders has been wonderful to me and it's no secret that it changed my life all of those years ago.'

Gail Porter has revealed that she felt 'helpless' while fronting a programmes on prostitution. Porter is hosting a new investigative documentary about the sex industry - Gail Porter On Prostitution - which broadcasts next Monday on Current TV at 9pm. She told the Digital Spy website: 'I'm a very emotional person so there were a few times that there were a few tears, and I did feel helpless in certain situations. I did a police raid on a brothel in Ipswich. The house was tiny. It was vile, absolutely horrible. She just got on a train and went away, their living conditions are shocking.' The thirty nine-year-old added: 'She tried to do prostitution for a few months to get some cash and get a job, but because of the law in this country, she was given a criminal record and twenty years years down the line she can't get out of prostitution. She's stuck, and she's really strong, and she really broke down, and I can't do anything. It makes me think the law in this country is stupid.' Porter further claimed that government action will not put a stop to sex workers: 'I don't take a moral stance, that's the wrong way of looking at prostitution. People are going to work in a sex industry, and that's not going to go away.'

Melinda Clarke has claimed that her career has been building to her new role on Nikita. The actress told TV Squad that she is excited by creator Craig Silverstein's plans for her character Amanda. 'I told Craig this the other day,' she explained. 'As we were speaking about the character and what they have planned for Amanda, it just sounded like everything I've done has just led up to this one [role].' Clarke added that the character will be a 'mentor' to the recruits at sinister government agency Division. '[Her] responsibility is going to cover more than just teaching girls how to walk and talk and look pretty and use their sexuality,' she said. 'We're going to find out that she has a lot more to offer Division. She's high up in Division, she's trained and very skilled.' She also insisted that she is keen to reprise her role as Kelly Donovan on The Vampire Diaries. 'Believe me, I've been campaigning for that,' she said. 'That's a fun show. It would just be a matter of the network and producers and writers working that out.'

Noel Gallagher (the talented one) has told fans not to expect any solo material in the near future, following Oasis's split last year. Asked about his plans for new music, he replied: 'I'm moving house and my missus is nine months pregnant so I'm not doing anything until well into next year. I'll be doing nappies and all that malarkey.' His brother, and estranged bandmate, Liam (the silly one) has announced a new band, Beady Eye. They are currently in the studio and are expected to release their debut LP next year. Noel Gallagher played his first post-Oasis solo shows in March, but has not yet unveiled any new material. The singer and guitarist was speaking at the premiere of Blue Moon Rising, a documentary about his beloved football team Manchester City. Gallagher appears in the film, which follows seven die-hard City fans through the highs and lows of last season, and also features several Manchester City players and manager Roberto Mancini.

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