Monday, October 04, 2010

From The Ice Age To The Door Ledge There Is Just One Concern

The great Mitch Been - musician, humorist, radio presenter and big-name Doctor Who fan - has recorded a new single called 'Proud of the BBC' and was busy making a video for it over the weekend. Mitch notes: 'I've been doing work for the BBC for a decade or so, but I've been a staunch supporter and fan of the Corporation since long before I ever had any connection to it, and I get quite nervous - and more than a little angry - when the knives come out for the BBC, as they very much have been of late. It's particularly annoying since the Beeb, as a public service broadcaster which is (in effect if not strictly technically) more-or-less publicly funded, is never in a position to defend itself, even against its most partisan critics. So I thought I'd write something which expresses how I feel, and how I believe a fair majority of the British public feel, not that you'd ever know it from reading the papers (who, needless to say, have their own entirely selfish reasons for wanting rid of the BBC). I wrote this song, 'Proud Of The BBC', and we've been doing it on our current tour. The response the song's been getting has taken me completely by surprise (standing ovations, people wiping away tears) and I've realised I may actually have started a bit of a "movement" here, so we've decided the song has to come out as a single.' Always nice to see somebody with a bit of backbone standing up for Auntie. More news on this when it's released.

According to the Sunday Express's TV editor David Stephenson on Twitter, a tenth series of [spooks] has been, or is about to be, commissioned by the BBC for 2011. Which is nice. Seems to be kosher too, as it directly attributes the info to Ben Stephenson.

Speaking of whom, to mark two years in post of the BBC's Controller of Drama, Ben Stephenson unveiled the new season of drama coming up on the BBC over the next six months across all four channels. And, made a speech that made this blogger want to kiss him. Hard. On the lips. And, I'm straight. Anyway, a 'forthcoming highlights' video had been compiled by the drama department and can be seen over on the BBC Press Office website, here. Eagle-eyed dear blog readers will note that it features three Doctors and a short clip from the Doctor Who Christmas Special among other gems. Actually, four if you count Jackson Lake as a Doctor. Five if Mark Gatiss' sketch on BBC2's Doctor Who Night in the 90s is considered canonical.

Daybreak is now being watched by fewer viewers than its predecessor GMTV at the same point last year and, the press are scenting blood. An average of just over three million viewers watched the show during its third week (beginning 20 September), a 19.7 per cent audience share. That is the same as the previous week, but 4.7 per cent down on GMTV's share in the equivalent week of September 2009. And, it got even worse last week. Crucially the BARB figures also reveal that Daybreak's audience of parents with children, on which much of its appeal to advertisers depends, has fallen significantly compared with GMTV's performance last year. In that week beginning 20 September, Daybreak had a 23.7 per cent share of parent viewers, down over six-and-a-half percentage points on the equivalent week in 2009. BBC Breakfast achieved a 19.6 per cent share. That demographic is crucial for ITV's early morning show. BBC Breakfast overtook GMTV in the ratings at the end of 2006, but a far higher proportion of parents continued to tune in to ITV. Now that gap is closing rapidly. 'Audiences are definitely deserting [Daybreak],' one - nameless - industry source told the Gruniad Morning Star who are clearly enjoying this story. 'Daybreak is averaging less than GMTV did when it died. That's bad. They are in that free fall period at the moment.' Ladbrokes have reportedly opened betting on Adrian Chiles or Christine Bleakley quitting the show by Christmas. The same industry 'source', according to the newspaper, blames 'ITV management' for the poor performance so far and for spending an estimated ten million pounds on luring Chiles from the BBC and persuading Bleakley, his former co-presenter on The ONE Show, to join him. 'Time and again executives think that getting the presenters in is all you need to do – they spend all the money on Getting the "dream team,"' he is alleged to have said. If the ratings trend continues it could cost ITV a great deal. It will also inflict reputational damage on a company which was perceived to be beginning to rediscover its confidence following the arrival of a new chairman, Archie Norman, and new chief executive, Adam Crozier, in April. The decision to take full control of the breakfast franchise, paying twenty two and a half million pounds for the twenty five per cent it did not already own in November 2009 was one of ITV's first acts under Norman. Executives are said to have believed that the GMTV brand was tired and it had been tarnished by a two million pound Ofcom fine it received for a TV quiz scandal. Meanwhile, BBC Breakfast has found a winning formula, jettisoning Dermot Murnaghan and Natasha Kaplinsky when they left to join other broadcasters (disastrously in the case of the latter) and successfully chasing a younger audience with a new presenting team of Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams. The Radio 4 presenter Justin Webb, who presented BBC Breakfast from 1992 to 1997, says: 'In my day the audience was pretty low but an insight into who was watching was when I went to the Costa del Sol to see my mum, who lived there, and was mobbed in the streets by elderly Brits carrying copies of the weekly Daily Express. It was like being Mick Jagger for an hour. The modern programme has widened its appeal. Personally I think Bill Turnbull is a real star – he's bright and witty and far more engaging than his overpaid opposition.' Buying in Chiles and Bleakley, a ready-made and established duo, may yet prove to be successful for ITV in the long term, Bleakley rapidly turning orange notwithstanding. But, there are already signs that Daybreak's producers are changing the show around them. Flowers have appeared on the coffee table and the show has a slightly softer feel as it attempts to replicate some of the warmth that GMTV exuded. Another of ITV's possible solutions, apparently, is suitably bizarre. According to the ever reliable Sun, they intend to bring in 'former Corrie hunk' Adam Rickitt whom, the paper claims, has been signed up as a political reporter for Daybreak. The move - 'by bosses of the ITV breakfast show' - is a bid 'to sex up coverage of this week's Conservative Party Conference.' Allegedly. Rickitt, who played Nick Tilsley on the soap for seven years, once tried to reinvent himself as a politician. The newspaper suggests that 'He will bring viewers "insider knowledge" of the gathering in Birmingham.' This, I have to see.

NCIS actor Michael Weatherly was involved in a car accident on Friday evening. TMZ reported that Weatherly was driving over the Barham Pass in Los Angeles when two driving lanes merged, resulting in his black Mercedes colliding with a silver BMW. Ouch. Weatherly's car was severely damaged by the accident with the other vehicle also sustaining damage. Despite an ambulance being called to the scene happily neither Weatherly or the BMW driver required serious medical attention.

Teri Hatcher has spoken with Oprah Winfrey about the difficulty of growing old gracefully in Hollywood. Hatcher appeared on Oprah after sparking controversy last month when she posted a number of unflattering photographs on Facebook which showed her without make-up. 'I don't want to stop taking glamorous pictures, they're fun, but I just want people to know the truth,' Hatcher explained. 'I think if we can accept the truth and reveal the mystery we can enjoy both things.' The Popeater gossip website reports that while Hatcher admitted to using Botox following the birth of her daughter in 1997, she claims not to have used the treatment since. 'I'm willing to be naked in the bath tub on behalf of women feeling good about themselves,' Hatcher continued after a video was played showing Hatcher's morning and evening beauty routines. Last week Jamie Lee Curtis claimed that there was a Hollywood 'conspiracy' which meant that ageing actresses could not find work without using plastic surgery.

Kim Cattrall has revealed that director Otto Preminger told her she lacked talent when she began acting. The Sex and the City actress admitted that Preminger was probably right at the time and that the criticism taught her a valuable lesson. According to Contact Music, she said: 'He told me, "Darling, you remind me of Marilyn Monroe - not in looks of course, but in lack of talent." Actually he was right. I was terribly unformed. I was this scruffy provincial with wild hair and jeans who had been raised in the wilds of British Columbia, not glamorous at all. It eventually dawned on me that, whether I liked it or not, my appearance was going to be every bit as important as my ability. It made me realise that maybe I needed to dress up a bit.'

Meanwhile bitter comical old gasbag Arlene Phillips has said that she believes bitter comical old Ann Widdecombe and Anton Du Beke will 'go far' on Strictly Come Dancing. The sacked former judge - who initially criticised Widdecombe's inclusion on the BBC show, as 'a joke too far' - now, seemingly, believes that the British public will take to the couple because their dance routines are 'hysterical.' According to the Sun, Phillips said: 'They are going to be like Morecambe and Wise.' Well, one of the duo certainly has short fat hairy legs, that much is true. 'Everyone is going to fall in love with them. Everyone will be turning on their screens to watch her do a Latin routine. It's going to be hysterical.'

A new television series based on the DC Comics character Wonder Woman is reportedly being developed. Newsarama claims that Boston Legal creator David E Kelley will be involved in the project, which is likely to focus on the superheroine during her so-called 'Golden Age' years. Kelley is best known for creating the series Ally McBeal starring Calista Flockhart as its female lead. The last live action project to focus on Wonder Woman was the 1970s TV series, on which Lynda Carter played the iconic role. However, the character has undergone a number of aesthetic changes on the printed page over the past year - rumoured to be due to the impracticality of translating the character's original costume to the big screen. The project will be presented to a number of networks soon but no official announcement has been made regarding the potential series.

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks has stated that she loves being seen as a sex symbol. The thirty five-year-old actress - currently an obsession with just about every middle-aged Gruniad Morning Star reader .. and, who can blame them? - who has previously been described as a 'fabulous role model' for maintaining a curvy figure, told Total Film of her pleasure at being desired by men the world over without having to flaunt her sexuality. She said: 'I'm thrilled. I'd love to be thought of as that. Mad Men seems like a very masculine show but there are women who are obsessed by it. I think woman appreciate seeing female characters that aren't just one dimensional. I certainly don't think that more skin relates to sexiness or femininity. To me, falling out of the top of your pants is quite aggressive. It's so hardcore you feel it's almost being done to you.' Hendricks added that people are usually surprised when meeting her, as she is rarely seen as being separate from her character, Joan Holloway. 'People always expect to see me in a pencil skirt! They say, "Wait a minute, you're all 2010!" We're all very powdered and sprayed and Joan is about control - and I don't think I'm like that in real life - so I think I do come across as quite different.'

Stephen Cannell, the producer of TV shows such as The A-Team and The Rockford Files, has died aged sixty nine. The prolific TV writer, who also produced 21 Jump Street which helped to raise the profile of Johnny Depp in the late 1980s, was suffering from melanoma. A statement from Cannell's family said: 'Stephen J Cannell passed away at his home in Pasadena on Thursday evening. He was surrounded by his family and loved ones. Stephen was the pillar of strength within his family and he touched everyone he met. He will be most deeply missed. Through the legacy of his body of work he will always be with us living on in our hearts and minds, with fond memories forever.' Cannell struggled with dyslexia prior to creating almost forty TV shows and penning dozens of novels, sixteen of which were published. The producer spoke out about his experiences with the learning disorder in Dislecksia: The Movie.

The BBC has reported receiving a large number of complaints about a perceived homophobic joke aired on Saturday's edition of Strictly Come Dancing. The controversy stems from a comment made by contestant Paul Daniels to judge Craig Revel Horwood, who is, of course, openly gay. The Daily Scum Mail reports that following Horwood's negative critique of Daniels' dancing, he was told by the balding ex-TV magician 'not to give up his day job tasting sausages,' which many viewers apparently took to be a slur about Horwood's orientation. Following the show, Horwood claimed that the comment had been misunderstood and that Daniels had actually been referring to Horwood promoting the upcoming British Sausage Week event in November. Daniels and partner Orla Jordan finished in last place this week after scoring only sixteen points for their performance of the cha cha cha. I have to say this blogger finds Paul Daniels to be one of the most objectionable people on the planet - and has done for many years. And I usually celebrate, loudly, any discomfort or misfortune that comes his way, the nasty little shortarse Tory toerag. But this...? Some people need to bloody grow up.

Patsy Kensit has described her ex-husband, Liam Gallagher, as the love of her life. The Holby City actress, who married the former Oasis front man in 1997 before the couple separated in 2000, declared that she is thankful for the time they spent together and would never be able to replicate their whirlwind romance with another lover. She told the Sun: 'Liam was probably the love of my life. While I may never get that again, some people never experience that in a lifetime.' Kensit, who can currently be seen on Strictly Come Dancing, further insisted that the failure of her fourth marriage to, Jeremy Healey, has put her off ever walking down the aisle again. Really? You've only been married four times, Patsy, you've got a way to go before you get through the entire male species. 'I had a fantastic relationship with Jim [Kerr, her second husband],' she claimed. 'Liam and Jim have been so supportive this year. I have my boys, my work and my friends. And that is enough.'

Rick Sanchez has been fired from his position as the anchor for CNN a day after making a number of controversial comments during a radio interview. Radar Online reports that Sanchez was appearing on the radio show Stand Up! in an interview with Pete Dominick when he referred to The Daily Show host Jon Stewart as 'a bigot. He grew up in a suburban middle class New Jersey home with everything you could imagine,' Sanchez told Dominick. 'He's a bigot against everyone who's not like him.' Sanchez then went on to imply that CNN was effectively 'run by Jews.' CNN has released an official statement declaring that Sanchez is no longer with the company but wishing him well for the future.

Police in Avon and Somerset have successfully sold ten items of lingerie via an online auction. Stolen items which have been unclaimed by their owners within three months of recovery are frequently auctioned through the Bumblebee service, the Daily Telegraph reports. The bras and knickers were successfully purchased by a bidder named 'busst' for eight pounds and fifty pence. The lingerie was described as varying in sizes from ten to sixteen, in black, gold, blue and floral colours. While most of the lingerie was tagged as new, the listing confirmed that 'there are a few marks on some items.' Ken Dawes, head of evidential property at the Avon & Somerset Police, said: 'Clothing might seem strange but it is relatively run of the mill for us. It is quite easy for shop lifters to grab so we get lots of small things like clothing, jewellery and perfume.' He added that sixty thousand pounds had been raised through sales of lost or stolen goods last year.