Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Clowns

Sky Sports has grovellingly apologised for a mistake which led to the wrong Ryder Cup singles matches being displayed on-air ahead of the official announcement. On Sunday, the satellite broadcaster asked their experts Butch Harmon and Mark Roe to compile a predicted line-up for the competition's final head-to-head clashes. However, the line-up was wrongly shown on a monitor in the Sky Sports News studios during the evening highlights show, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. After the live broadcast, the BBC, Sky News and the Ryder Cup's official radio station picked up the predicted pairings and repeated them. The incorrect match-ups - which included European player Lee Westwood facing Tiger Woods - were also disseminated online and via social sites such as Twitter. A Sky Sports spokesperson said: 'It was an honest mistake and we are sorry about it. These things can happen on live television.' A BBC spokesperson added: 'There was some inaccurate information circulating regarding the Ryder Cup singles pairings. We, among others, printed the pairings in error. As soon as we became aware of the inaccuracy we corrected the mistake. They were only put up on the Live Text section of the [BBC] site. The official Ryder Cup site on our website waited until the official pairings were released before putting them up.' In a tense and exciting finish, and after four days of televised sky, Europe narrowly won the competition on Monday afternoon.

David Tennant has revealed that he learned a lot from working on American television. The former Doctor Who actor filmed a pilot episode of Rex Is Not Your Lawyer but the series was not picked up. Speaking to Radio Times, Tennant admitted that he does not know why the show was dropped. 'These are enormous empires and you don't hear anything, you just get told what to do,' he said. 'You have to be careful about what you say about what you knew, because everybody tells you things that they're not supposed to - and you're not quite sure what's true and what isn't.' However, he added: 'It was a fantastic experience to have. I learnt [sic] a lot about how that network in television works and how I feel about that. It was a very interesting learning curve.' Tennant also insisted that he does not regret leaving Doctor Who, saying: 'It felt right to pass the baton on and for it to continue to thrive.'

There's a lovely blog piece by my old mate Paul Cornell on his experiences appearing on this week's episode of the BBC4 quiz Only Connect and being just inches away from the divinity that is Victoria Coren. Typical Paul, as you'd expect, witty and revealing.

Emmerdale actor Dominic Brunt has revealed that he turned down an offer to appear on Dancing On Ice. Brunt, who has played the village vet, Paddy Kirk, for almost fourteen years, told ITN that he had to decline the opportunity as he was too busy. Several of the ITV soap's former actors have appeared in the skating contest, including Emily Symons, Linda Lusardi, Roxanne Pallett and the winner of the this year's series Hayley Tamaddon. 'Somebody asked me if I wanted to do Dancing On Ice a while ago and I politely turned it down,' he admitted. 'I don't think I was available anyway because I was doing Emmerdale but I would die! Okay, I might not die but I'm pretty sure I'd break my arms and bang my head hard!' he added. Brunt also confessed that despite liking the show, he had also rejected appearing on Channel 4's Come Dine With Me because of Dave Lamb's narration. 'Somebody also asked if I would like to do Come Dine With Me,' he said. 'I don't think so! The narration just takes the piss out of everybody all the way through. Why would you put yourself through that? Nobody comes out of that well,' he added.

The BBC have, to date, received 'around sixty' complaints about the Paul Daniels 'sausage' quip on Strictly Come Dancing. Which is 'around sixty' too many, in the opinion of this blogger. But, never mind.

Sarah Beeny has denied suggestions that her property shows were responsible for the boom and bust in the housing market. The presenter fronts a number of Channel 4 programmes about property, including Help! My House Is Falling Down and Property Ladder. Such shows have been accused - by glakes - of 'encouraging unsustainable borrowing' to fund house purchases. During an interview with Metro, Beeny was asking if she is responsible for the current housing crisis. 'Apparently, several people have accused me of it,' she noted. 'While it's a compliment that people think I'm so influential I don't think it's down to little old me. I suspect Tony Blair and Gordon Brown weren't thinking: "I mustn't miss Property Ladder, I need to know what my interest rate policy will be." The criticism was I was encouraging people to purchase buy-to-lets. Maybe the odd person did but most just watched the show, thought "that looks fun" and didn't phone up for new mortgages the next day. I watch The X Factor but I don't sign up for singing lessons and enter talent competitions.'

The latest episode of MasterChef: The Professionals saw all three of the surviving chefs - cocky Kevin, Durham Dave and Big Claire - progress to the next round having cooked a duck dish that would, frankly, have have yer Keith Telly Topping licking the plate after scoffing the lot. Poor Dave was so nervous he was quite literally shaking during both the skill test and whilst making his duck but he still managed to do enough to impress Gregg and Michel. Hopefully, he'll have calmed down a bit by the next time. Kevin was a bit full of himself - no, correction, he was a lot full of himself. Like a contestant from The Apprentice who'd turned up the wrong studio, in fact - which, normally, tends to put viewers right off. But, seemingly, he's got a fair of talent to back up the braggadocio. And, whilst Claire burst into tears after her skills test - another definite minus-mark under normal circumstances - she looks to be a real star in the making. And, to think, when this show started, yer Keith Telly Topping genuinely thought it was going to be a documentary in which Martin Shaw showed Lewis Collins how to cook an effective bit of pasta.

Cheryl Cole was reportedly told not to pick X Factor's Gamu Nhengu as one of her three finalists due to fears that her visa may not be renewed. Some viewers of the ITV reality show have reacted furiously after Cole chose not to put Gamu through to the live shows, with over one hundred and thirty thousand joining a Facebook campaign. 'It was made clear Gamu shouldn't go through because of the visa,' an 'insider' allegedly told the Mirror. 'Cheryl didn't have a say.' It is claimed that Cole was ordered not to choose the eighteen-year-old Zimbabwe-born singer over concerns that her visa would not be renewed, leading to her having to leave the country. A production source said: 'A lot of people on the show think it's really unfair that Cheryl is taking all the flak as it was a group decision and she was just following orders.' How very Third Reich of her. They supposedly continued: 'It's ridiculous the situation has got this far. It should have been knocked on the head much earlier on. Gamu should never have been put through to the Judges' Houses with question marks surrounding her visa. Everyone on the show has themselves to blame for not being straight from the beginning. Gamu not getting through has now become a bigger talking point than the twelve finalists.' However, an X Factor spokesman was quoted as saying: 'Gamu's visa being processed was not the reason that she didn't make the final twelve.'

And, speaking of The Heaton Horror her very self, American viewers will not know who Cheryl Cole is if she joins the panel of the US X Factor, a TV analyst has argued. Piers Morgan recently claimed that Cole will reprise her UK role and join Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell on the reality talent show when it is exported to the US next year. Marc Berman of Mediaweek told Heat: 'People will certainly be wondering who [Cheryl] is.' I must admit, I've often thought that myself. Girls Aloud mean absolutely nothing in the US. On the other hand, Berman continued, Scherzinger is 'very popular here. She did extremely well on Dancing With The Stars and people liked that she was real and showed her vulnerable side. She's very natural, enthusiastic and very animated.' He added: 'American viewers like outspokenness and animation. You don't want to be too aloof and detached. You want to bring something that the audience can relate to; they want to trust you.'

David Cross has revealed that his new comedy series The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret was influenced by Lost. The comedian told IGN that he had been a regular viewer of the ABC drama when first devising the format for his new show. 'I wanted [this] show to be part of something bigger,' he explained. 'I think I was a little overly influenced by Lost at the time. I don't want to give too away much, but [the series is not] the kind of show it [appears to be] in episodes one and two. It [is] revealed over the course of the series that there's some bigger stuff going on." The sitcom will follow Todd Margaret (played by Cross himself) as he is promoted to a high position in the UK branch of an energy drinks corporation. Occasional flash-forwards will also show Margaret on trial for an unknown crime some weeks later. If we're lucky enough to get do more shows, [we will] get to that arrest,' confirmed Cross. 'We will get to jail. We will get to that trial. And we'll go past it.'

Steve Pemberton has promised that the new season of Whitechapel is 'different.' Well, it's to be bloody well hoped so. I'm sure the nine million who tuned in, and seemingly enjoyed, the first series would be most pissed off if they got a repeat! Speaking to What's On TV, Pemberton explained that the show focuses on some new copycat murders. 'In this story, twins Jimmy and Johnny Kray have been waiting for their moment to reclaim the West End,' he said. 'There are parallels between the Krays of the 1960s and the present.' However, Pemberton admitted that his character Buchan, a local historian, will try not to get too involved in the case. 'When Buchan gets sent a warning by one of the gangsters, he says he wants nothing more to do with the investigation,' he revealed. 'But he can't help himself! This is very different from the first Whitechapel. It's not a whodunnit. It's about knowing who to trust, with a conspiracy-thriller element thrown in. It's an amazing story, has great characters, and a lot to get your teeth into!'

Ronnie Barker had a poor reputation for stealing ideas from fellow comedy writers, a new book has claimed. Many contributors to The Two Ronnies complained that the comic – who also wrote under the pen name Gerarld Wiley – would wrote sketches based on their original ideas, without crediting them. And, they felt that his material was too often chosen to go into the show, while the work of others was overlooked, because he was the star of the show. Even some of the sketches for which Barker was to become most famous – the Spoonerism speeches in which he muddled up his words – were taken without credit, according to the new biography Remembering Ronnie Barker. David Nobbs – who went on to write The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin – said: 'As time went on he wrote more and more and we felt it wasn't a level playing field any more because he would take an idea - and both Dick Vosburgh and I suffered this - and write more sketches using the same premise.' Another writer, Ian Davidson, added: 'We were all chewed off, especially Dick, who wrote this wonderfully ingenious sketch based on Spoonerisms which became a real winner. The next year there was this [similar] sketch, written by Barker; no one had ever asked Dick for another one. It was one sketch, but it was the same damned idea, and it was Dick's idea – although there is no copyright on ideas, so you can't really argue on that basis. But the decent thing didn't come into it. That was our gripe. Among writers, taking an idea and doing it yourself is unforgiveable.' Vosburgh's widow Beryl agreed, telling author Richard Webber: 'Dick was absolutely furious. He phoned up about it and was told an idea was transferable. He also asked for half the money and what's more he got it.' But Dick wouldn't quite let it lie – and sent a jokey telegram which said: 'Ronnie Parker, you're a brick.' Writer Bernard McKenna experienced a more direct lifting of his material, when a sketch he wrote for a TV series called Hark At Barker resurfaced in Barker's film The Picnic. 'I got straight on to my agent and after several weeks I was paid,' he recalls. 'Ronnie said he thought he'd written it. We all knew what we've written and for Ronnie to say that, you feel like saying, "Come on." But there was no protest and I got paid.' Although most of the writers' recognised Barker's genius in contributing sketches such as Four Candles, they felt that there was a bias towards using some of his weaker material at their expense. David Renwick, whose subsequent credits included One Foot In The Grave, explained:'‘Writers can be fairly embittered and there would be occasional rumblings in the BBC bar about Ronnie's strike rate on the show compared to their own.' Two Ronnies producer Terry Hughes said that Barker was never motivated by money in taking ideas from others and following them up with his own scenes, but by 'filling up the programme with the best stuff possible.' And he said that although some writers may have been 'bitter' that their work wasn't used, there was no favouritism towards Barker's scripts: 'It was all about what's the best material, regardless of the source. Writers may not agree but we didn't think any other way,' he said.

Starz has officially started looking for a new lead actor for its show Spartacus: Blood And Snots. The programme's original star Andy Whitfield was forced to drop out of the hysterical historical drama after doctors advised him to return to treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Steven S DeKnight, the executive producer, later suggested that the team will either end the show or recast Whitfield's role. Entertainment Weekly reports that Starz has now released a casting notice for a Caucasian male to play the 'smart, intense, passionate' lead. The actor must also be in his mid to late-thirties, have 'an authentic British accent' (so, that's Robson Green out for a kick-off) and be available to sign a three-year contract.

Two leading US media companies are reportedly in the running to buy Virgin Media's stake in UKTV, the broadcaster behind digital channels Watch, Dave and Yesterday. According to The Sunday Times, Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks International want to acquire Virgin Media's fifty per cent shareholding in UKTV, after the cable operator recently accelerated its plans to offload the asset. Established in 1997 as a joint venture between Virgin Media and BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, UKTV operates ten linear channels, including Dave, Watch, Good Food and Yesterday, attracting around thirty six million viewers every month. Speculation about Virgin Media's intention to sell its UKTV stake dates back several years, as the firm focuses on disposing of assets to concentrate on its cable business. Last month, fresh rumours surfaced about an imminent sale after the company hired investment banks UBS and Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for the stake. Virgin Media expects to raise around three hundred and fifty million smackers from the sale and it will use the funds to further reduce its corporate debt. Worldwide, which has first refusal on the remaining UKTV shareholding it does not already own, is widely viewed as the most logical party to complete a deal. However, The Sunday Times claimed that Worldwide does not have enough borrowing headroom to buy out Virgin Media, leaving the door open to Scripps and Discovery. Channel 4 and Sky are also thought to be in the running for the stake, which could be sold before the end of the year.

A version of Come Dine With Me filmed in the UK is to be broadcast in Iran. ITV Studios has sold the format to a UK-based satellite broadcaster Marjan Television Network, which will broadcast the show in Iran on channel Manoto 1. The new channel is scheduled to launch at the end of the month and Marjan has ordered thirty episodes of Come Dine With Me. Manoto 1 will make the shows in the UK featuring Iranian diners. ITV Studios has also signed deals with broadcasters in Ireland and Cyprus, bringing the number of countries broadcasting their own versions of the Channel 4 hit up to thirty.

Disney has announced a deal with UKTV to broadcast No Ordinary Family, the superhero family drama series starring The Shield's Michael Chiklis, on the pay-TV channel Watch. The US media giant's international and TV distribution arm, Disney Media Distribution, announced a string of deals for the ABC Studios show that premiered in the US on 28 September. Starring Chiklis as the head of a family who discover that they have superpowers, the show will air in the UK in January as part of Watch's winter schedule. Disney has also struck a deal with broadcasters for the show in Spain, Italy, Australia, India, New Zealand, Philippines and Malaysia. 'This series has generated buzz right from the start, and this agreement underlines our commitment to providing innovative and high quality programming to international audiences,' said senior executive at The Walt Disney Company, Catherine Powell. The show has been co-created and produced by Greg Berlanti, the man behind Brothers & Sisters and Dirty Money, and Jon Harmon Feldman, whose credits include Dawson's Creek.

Sir Norman Wisdom has died at the age of ninety five. The legendary British comedian and actor died yesterday at Abbotswood Nursing Home, where he had been a long-term resident due to a progressive decline in his physical and mental health. His son confirmed the death to BBC News. A statement from the home said: 'Sir Norman has today passed away at Abbotswood Nursing Home on the Isle of Man. He had maintained a degree of independence up until a few days ago. However, his condition rapidly declined. He was in no pain or distress and peacefully passed away at 6.40pm. We would appreciate that, at this sad time, the family be given space and privacy to grieve for their much loved father and grandfather. Details of funeral arrangements will be forthcoming as soon as everything has been finalised.' Wisdom, who retired from acting in 2004, made his name in a series of 1950s slapstick roles. He was in the mould of the archetypal clown, parading his pratfalls and slapstick in nineteen films of the Fifties and Sixties for the Rank organisation - playing a character usually called Norman Pitkin. In three of the most celebrated - The Early Bird, The Square Peg and A Stitch In Time, he worked for a Mr Grimsdale, leading to the urgent cry that was to become his catchphrase. Charlie Chaplin is once alleged to have described Norman as his own favourite physical comedian. Like Chaplin, Norman's early life had been full of hardship. His mother left home when he was nine, leaving him and his brother, Fred, in the care of their alcoholic father. Norman's father gave the brothers away to a family in Deal, Kent soon afterwards. The young Norman eventually tracked down his father, only to have the door slammed in his face. Leaving school at thirteen, Norman became an errand boy with a grocery store. He also worked as a coal miner, a waiter and a cabin-boy, where the crew would make him box for money. As a teenager, he slept rough on the streets until someone suggested he join the army, seeing service in India and finally finding somewhere that he felt he belonged. He would later say that his time with the Tenth Royal Hussars was the happiest of his life and it was in the military - like so many stars of his generation - that he discovered his natural love of performing. He became a bandsman, graduated to concert parties, and honed his comic skills. He left the army in 1946 and made his stage debut at the late age of thirty one. But his rise thereafter was fairly meteoric and he was a West End star within two years. Later, in the 1960s, he seemed destined for a lengthy film career in American film, making an acclaimed appearance as a vaudeville burlesque comic in The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968). This followed a triumphant Broadway debut in Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn's Walking Happy, his performance for which was Tony-nominated. However, after a typical showstopping performance on The Ed Sullivan Show had won him a legion of new fans Stateside, the opportunities which may have been in the United States were cut short when he had to return to London after his second wife, Freda, left him. Bringing up the couple's two teenage children himself, Norman's subsequent career was largely confined to television though he later toured the world with his successful cabaret act. He won critical acclaim in 1981 for his dramatic role as a dying cancer patient in the BBC play Going Gently. He also appeared in a number of TV sitcoms, including his own A Little Bit Of Wisdom and a nine-year stint on Last of the Summer Wine. The underlying message of the goodness of the common man made his movies, famously, the only Western entertainment allowed to be shown in Communist Albania, where he remains an unlikely, and genuine, folk hero - mobbed in the streets by adoring fans on his occasional visits to the country. A knighthood in 2000 (he, of course, feigned a trip as he met the Queen) and later well-placed cameos in the likes of Coronation Street and the big-screen versions of Five Children And It helped to revive his profile. But he will always be best remembered as the clumsy, well-meaning man of his signature tune 'Don't Laugh At Me (Cause I'm A Fool).' He had a lengthy association with the North East, often visiting the region to see friends and entertain fans at St James' Park where he was always introduced to the crowd as a lifelong Newcastle fan. (Although, apparently, he occasionally did the same at both Arsenal and Everton! He was actually a member of the board of directors at Brighton & Hove Albion.) He famously appeared as a half-time guest at the England vs Albania 2001 World Cup qualifier at Newcastle and managed not to trip up when scoring a penalty at the Leazes End. At the age of ninety he was still working, appearing in a video for a charity single by the Manx all girl punk band, Twisted Angels. 'We had some great laughs on the set and it was wonderful for me to be in front of the cameras again,' he said. On 28 December 2008, Sky News prematurely announced that Norman had died, running a pre-recorded obituary, both as part of its rolling broadcast coverage and on its website. Shortly afterwards, when it became apparent that other news sites were not carrying the story, Sky dropped the story, stating that it had been published in error in response to e-mail queries. Sadly, his last few years saw Norman becoming increasing frail and suffering from vascular dementia. In early 2008 BBC2 aired Wonderland: The Secret Life Of Norman Wisdom Aged Ninety Two And Three-Quarters, a moving, if somewhat surreal, documentary highlighting the dilemma of coping with an ageing, yet independent-minded parent. In a spoken trailer on 5Live for the programme and in subsequent publicity interviews undertaken by his family, it was revealed that Wisdom's memory loss had become so severe that he could no longer recognised himself in his own films. Once asked to sum up his appeal Norman replied: 'My comedy is for children from three to ninety three. You do need a slightly childish sense of humour and if you haven't got that, it's very sad.' He is survived by his two children, Nick and Jacqui.

Chantelle Houghton and Preston planned a fake romance weeks before entering the Ultimate Big Brother house, in their abject naughtiness, it has been claimed. According to a probing investigation by the prize-winning journalists at Heat magazine, the former married couple, who met on the set of Celebrity Big Brother 2006, engineered 'an artificial reunion for financial gain.' A 'source' told the magazine: 'They spoke on the phone several times before they went back in. They discussed how much they would be paid, and when Chantelle found out Preston was getting forty thousand pounds she went back to the Channel 4 producers and demanded the same. They knew that they were a valuable commodity as a pair, much more than individually.' It is also suggested that the duo later signed a contract worth up to one hundred and twenty thousand pounds sell their story as 'a couple' after both left the reality show. The publication claims that 'a leading London picture agency' offered to organise paparazzi photographs of the pair as if they were 'seemingly unaware' in exchange for a fee. Furthermore, Heat suggests that media outlets can pay a larger sum to have the couple go on holiday together and be photographed. An 'alleged friend' of Houghton added: 'She wants the public to believe she's back with Preston. She was delighted they got so much attention when they went for a meal. It was all set up, of course. And she knows the more aloof Preston acts, the better it makes her look. People know they're a "brand" and they're worth more while there is speculation about their romance. They love keeping the public guessing and will string it out as long as they can. She knows how things work and will have told him, "This will make us rich."'

Ann Widdecombe (seen left, letting one rip) is reportedly suffering from wind during rehearsals for Strictly Come Dancing. According to the Sun, the mixture of high-fibre foods and intense training for the ballroom reality show is giving the former politician stomach problems. Now she knows how the rest of us feel.

Kerry Katona is rumoured to be putting herself forward for what she describes as her 'dream job' - turning on the Christmas lights in Warrington. 'It's a great gig and I feel I am clean enough to do it now,' Metro quotes her as saying.

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