Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Robbing Peter To Pay Paul

The television licence fee, which funds the BBC, is to be frozen for the next six years at £145.50, it has emerged. And the BBC will take over the cost of the World Service, currently funded by the Foreign Office, as well as the Welsh language TV channel, S4C. As reported yesterday, there was a - seemingly serious - proposal to make the BBC pay the cost of free TV licences for the over-seventy fives, but BBC News website suggests that this will now not happen. A formal announcement will be made on Wednesday during the Spending Review. The BBC is refusing to comment but insiders say that this is 'a significantly better settlement' than the proposal to force the BBC to pay the cost of free TV licences for the elderly. In the same way that getting one leg chopped off is significantly better than getting both of them chopped off, I guess. It will mean a sixteen per cent real terms cut in the BBC's funds over the next six years as opposed to a twenty six per cent cut over four years if they had been obliged to cover the licence fee costs. Ministers are expected to present this as 'reining in' the corporation's costs. The BBC Trust earlier warned the government it would fight any move to force the BBC to meet the cost of free television licences for the over-seventy fives. A Trust spokeswoman said it would be 'unacceptable' for licence fee payers to foot the bill for something that the BBC hadn't asked for in the first place. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport currently funds S4C. The government's contribution to the funding of the S4C is currently just under one hundred million pounds a year. The BBC will also take over the cost of BBC Monitoring, which assesses how global media are covering news stories. Shadow foreign secretary Yvette Cooper said: 'It is alarming that only twenty four hours before the spending review, the funding of the World Service has been completely up in the air. Although editorially independent, the World Service is a key component of UK diplomacy and does important work promoting British values and open debate across the world. Jettisoning it from the Foreign Office at this late stage, without serious consultation or a strategy for its future, is cavalier and short-termist.' The World Service's annual budget is two hundred and seventy two million pounds, S4C's one hundred and two million and BBC Monitoring twenty five million, although all are expected to be cut as part of the comprehensive spending review. The Gruniad Morning Star quotes a government 'source' as saying: 'This is a good deal for licence fee payers.' Yeah. Sixteen per cent less money to spend on their favourite programmes, I'm sure they're all effing delighted. 'This deal gives the BBC long-term security,' said another 'source with knowledge of the deal' according to the newspaper. 'The BBC are very happy with it.' I'm sure they're ecstatic. The licence fee deal is, of course, expected lead to further cuts in BBC TV, radio and online services. So, to repeat, clearly a fantastic deal for everyone. And, remember all you Lib Dems, this is being done in your name. Curiously, I don't recall any of this in the Liberal Manifesto at the last election. Anyone?

Kate Garraway has described Adrian Chiles as 'a sex god.' Poor delusional woman. This is what happens under 'care in the community,' dear blog reader.

The best episode so far of the latest season of House was broadcast this week. The two plot strands of Unplanned Parenthood meshed perfectly, as in numerous episodes of series' past, to give the audience a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Whilst the 'disease of the week' plot concerning a new-born infant with breathing problems was tight and clever and Peter Jacobson and Omar Epps plenty to do, it was the humorous 'House babysits with hilarity consequences' subplot that took most of the plaudits. Watching Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard as a dramatic comedy double act when they're given a quality script to work with is a sight to see.

Series two of the crime drama Whitechapel was beaten by [spooks] in prime time ratings on Monday night for the first time, according to the overnight data. The second episode of the mini-series, which focuses on notorious gangland criminals the Kray Twins, averaged 5.07m for ITV from 9pm, down three hundred and fifty thousand week-on-week and about two million of the numbers it was pulling in last year. An additional two hundred and twenty five thousand viewers watched the programme on ITV HD. Presumably, all of those were crammed into the saloon bar of the Blind Beggar - see left - for a right auld Cockney knees-up, cor blimey, wot a West 'am, didn't you kill my bruvva? And, they was all at Violet's funeral, do wot, leave it aht. Whitechapel's combined audience was slightly outperformed by [spooks] in the 9pm hour, after the espionage drama - currently undergoing something of a critical, as well as commercial, renaissance brought in 5.34m on BBC1, up one hundred and twenty thousand viewers week-on-week. Given the respective audiences that Whitechapel and [spooks] were getting last year, I'd've said the fact that they're now pretty much level in terms of overnight performance is quite remarkable. Just to take those figures a stage further, the fifteen minute breakdowns are even more telling: On the BBC, [spooks] started with 5.3m viewers at 9pm, rising to 5.5m by 9:45. Whitechappel, by contrast, began with an audience of 5.4m, though this had fallen to 4.8m in the final quarter of the hour.

Monday night's episode of A History Of Horror With Mark Gatiss - a beautiful essay on the British horror cinema's period of greatest - had an overnight audience of five hundred and forty eight thousand, retaining ninety per cent of its audience from the opening episode which just topped half-a-million viewers last Monday. The opening episode also had an Audience Appreciation Index score of eighty six. And, speaking of high AI scores, ITV's current costume drama hit Downton Abbey pulled in an extraordinary score on ninety for Sunday's episode. Just to repeat, AI scores in the nineties are very rare for shows with a large audience. Doctor Who and [spooks] sometimes achieve them and so does Top Gear but they're the exception rather than the rule. Back to A History Of Horror and it was nice to see Mark straying away from traditional wisdom, firstly that Hammer films were in any way camp or silly and, secondly, that they were the only people producing great horror movies in Britain during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The episode - which featured the last interview with the late Roy Ward Baker - also looked at such important areas as Night of the Demon, Roger Corman's Poe-cycle, the influence of Hammer on Mario Bava's Black Sunday, the work of Amicus and Tigon, and the 'folk horror' of Blood On Satan's Claw and The Wicker Man. Great stuff.

And, speaking of Mark, fans of The League Of Gentleman might think that Can Do, the new production company which he tuns, is named after the catchphrase of Alvin Steele in the cult BBC2 comedy series. But it isn't. 'We called it that because we found we were constantly saying we needed people with a "can do" attitude, not a "can’t do" one. And there are a few of those around,' notes the County Durham born actor, presenter and writer. 'I did then think it'd be great to have a clip of Alvin, when the logo came up, going "can do" but we didn't in the end.' Last night's BBC4 drama The First Men In The Moon - see left - which Gatiss adapted from the novel by HG Wells and in which he played the role of Professor Cavor, was the first production from the company. 'It came about accidentally really,' he said. 'Some of the people who did the special effects on Crooked House, the ghost story I did two years ago, did some digging and discovered it was one of the few HG Wells novels that was available to do for television. Most are owned by the big Hollywood studios. I was immediately thrilled by the idea, what you might call scientific romances. There's just something fantastically appealing about the idea of two Victorian gentlemen going to the moon.' The drama was dedicated to the late Lionel Jeffries, the star of the film version, who was a great favourite of Gatiss. 'He was a fantastic champion of that kind of film. He also directed The Railway Children and he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I think it's a fantastic thing to try to make, especially for bank holidays and the like – it's a family adventure.' There was never any doubt he was going to play the professor who, with Rory Kinnear's assistant, set out to fly to the moon. It's the kind of part Gatiss has wanted to play since he was a little boy. 'I don't care what other people think any more about me writing my own parts. Nobody had asked me to play Professor Cavor, so I might have waited fifty years for the chance and it never come along. So I had to write it for myself.' With regard to A History Of Horror, Mark notes that the BBC asked him to do it and he found that he couldn't say no because it was yet another a labour of love - just like writing for Doctor Who and Sherlock. 'What was interesting to me about it was that it's a three-part series, very generous in many ways, but at the same time you can't possibly do it justice in three parts. So one of the things I insisted on right from the very start is that it had to be personal. That's why it's called A History Of Horror, not "The."'

Graham Norton has said that Christine Bleakley was bonkers for leaving her role at the BBC. Bleakley quit as the host of The ONE Show in June, after the broadcasting corporation withdrew its contract offer amid speculation that the Irish presenter was considering offers from rival ITV. Following her departure, Bleakley immediately signed up to host ITV's rebranded morning show Daybreak alongside former ONE Show co-host Adrian Chiles. Which has since, of course, been one of the most outstanding flops in recent TV history. The Daily Scum Mail reports that Norton told the crowd at Salford's Radio Festival that whilst he understood Chiles' decision to join ITV, he thought that Bleakley had made a foolish choice. Norton said: 'I can understand why Adrian Chiles did it, but Christine Bleakley - bonkers. [The ONE Show is a] fantastic job.'

The first episode of this week's MasterChef: The Professionals for once showed a softer, gentler, more humane side to Monica Galetti's fearsome public image. No, not really. Although, to be fair, having given the four contestants a genuinely rock-hard skills tests - making an Italian Meringue - even when three of them got it only partially right, she didn't have that omnipresent eyes-popping-out-of-her-skull 'I'm gonna give you such a pinch' scowl on her boat-race - see right. Surprisingly it was lovely old Michel Roux, normally such a placid chap, who was the cross one last night. He described the stuffed fish that one of the contestants give him - which was full of bones - as 'not acceptable.' You get the sense that, from Michel, that's the equivalent of 'get this dung out of my kitchen!'

Scottish broadcaster STV has defended its move to drop popular ITV network programmes. Managing Director Bobby Hain insisted that the channel's ratings were in line with ITV as a whole and that the station's strategy was the right one. However, ratings information which is freely available suggests this is, in fact, a load of old nonsense. STV has come under attack from its own viewers for its decision to drop ITV's costume drama Downton Abbey. Hain, who was answering questions from Radio Times readers, said that STV's schedule was 'relevant and affordable.' He added that more than ninety five per cent of STV's peak time schedule was made up of ITV network content. Just, you know, not the expensive bits. In the past year, STV has dropped the majority of ITV's drama output including shows like Doc Martin, Agatha Christie's Marple and Midsomer Murders. Although many Freeview users in Scotland are unable to watch such programmes, those with satellite and cable can view them on ITV London. STV claims its scheduling changes are working, pointing to overall viewing figures which, they state, are in line with the rest of the ITV network. STV said it had increased the amount of Scottish programming - arguing it makes more than the BBC in part because it provides localised news services for different parts of the country. It added that most episodes of Downton Abbey have been replaced by new episodes of the police drama Taggart which will not be shown in the rest of the UK until next year. As if that made everything all right. Hain added that STV would love to produce a long-running soap opera again. Its last soap, High Road, ended several years ago. He also said the broadcaster was making an online sketch show. It is unclear how many Scots may be watching Downton Abbey on ITV London - which is shown on Sky channel 993, Freesat channel 977 and Virgin channel 853. However, figures last year suggested more than one hundred thousand viewers were using this method to watch the network dramas which STV decides not to show. Indeed, more recently audience share figures suggest that STV is losing even more viewers. Audience-shares over four recent nights have revealed that STV could have attracted seven hundred and forty thousand extra viewer to their channel had they shown what ITV were showing in the rest of Britain. Instead of Downton, STV viewers were offered a repeat of Billy Connolly's 1996 documentary A Scot In The Arctic. Figures revealed Downton attracted eight million viewers throughout the rest of the United Kingdom - a thirty per cent share - whilst Connolly's programme drew in just seventeen per cent, a potential loss of two hundred and seventy thousand viewers. Joe Maddison's War, starring Robson Green and Kevin Whateley, had a twenty seven per cent audience share when it was broadcast on ITV in August against STV's The Last Legion, at twenty one per cent, a potential loss of one hundred thousand viewers. The much-trailed drama Bouquet Of Barbed Wire had twenty one per cent of the audience on ITV on 6 September, against STV's Wormwood Scrubs which was watched by just twelve per cent of viewers - a loss of up to one hundred and seventy viewers. And finally ITV's David Morrissey vehicle, U Be Dead, attracted a national twenty three per cent audience share against STV's The Diplomat which, again, achieved twelve per cent, with a potential loss of one hundred and ninety thousand viewers. So, Bobby, spin yer way out of that little mess then.

Which brings us nicely to yet more TV ratings figures, dear blog reader. Because yer Keith Telly Topping knows how much you all dig them these mostest, baby. Here are the Top Twenty TV Programmes, week ending 10 October 2010:
1 The X Factor - ITV - 13.17 million
2 Strictly Come Dancing - BBC1 - 9.84 million*
3 Coronation Street - ITV - 9.82 million
4 Eastenders - BBC1 - 9.76 million
5 Downton Abbey - 8.57 - ITV - million
6 The Apprentice - BBC1 - 8.11 million*
7 Emmerdale - BBC1 - 7.94 million
8 New Tricks - BBC1 - 7.24 million
9 Countryfile - BBC1 - 7.04 million*
10 DCI Banks: Aftermath - ITV - 6.62 million
11 Merlin - BBC1 - 6.36 million
12 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 - 6.29 million*
=13 [spooks] - BBC1 - 6.04 million
=13 Single Father - BBC1 - 6.04 million*
15 Midsomer Murders - ITV - 5.87 million
16 Holby City - BBC1 - 5.81 million
17 Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV - 5.67 million
18 The Cube - ITV - 5.19 million
19 Waterloo Road - BBC1 - 5.05 million*
20 Casualty - BBC1 - 5.02 million
Figures with an asterisk includes HD simultcast viewers. No HD figures for ITV HD were available.

Pamela Connolly has admitted that her children are embarrassed by her sexy Strictly Come Dancing routines. The Not The Nine O'Clock News comedian topped the judges' leader board on Saturday, scoring thirty five for her raunchy rumba. However, the sixty-year-old said that the younger members of her family were not so keen on her latest routine. 'My grandson is apparently not too happy with the boobs and the short skirts. He's been watching through clenched fists,' she told Claudia Whatsherface on It Takes Two. 'But the biggest problem is my youngest daughter, who is twenty two and lives in America. She watches it online and she found the rumba way, way, way too much. It was way too sexual.' Stephenson added: 'They do find it embarrassing. And there is a sense if you are a mother or a woman of a certain age that you can't let yourself be sexy or even close to a man that you are not married to.'

ITV is to broadcast a special tribute show to Coronation Street character Jack Duckworth when he leaves the soap later this year. Shiver Productions has been commissioned to produce a thirty-minute programme, Farewell Jack, which will trail the character's thirty-year history in the soap through the eyes of actor William Tarmey and his colleagues. 'With the full support of Bill Tarmey and the Coronation Street cast, we're sure this will be a hit with Corrie fans and the wider ITV audience,' said ITV factual commissioning editor, Diana Howie. The Leeds-based arm of ITV Studios has also been commissioned to make two sixty-minute clip shows Ad of the Year and Family Film of the Decade. Narrated by Ben Shephard, the former will count down the top twenty television advertisements from 2010, while Family Film of the Decade will explore the ten popular family films of the past ten years. All the shows are being executive produced by Shiver's creative director Mark Robinson, who said: '2010 has been an important year for Shiver which has seen us break into new territories such as the ITV daytime series May the Best House Win and the ob doc show The Lakes.'

Actor, presenter and playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah has written a new sitcom based around a black step-family. A pilot of Rollin' With The Roberts is to be recorded next month, although it is not yet known which broadcaster will pick up the series if it is a success. The show stars Eastenders' Don Gilet as the father of the household, Chris, with Love Actually actress Nina Sosanya playing his second wife, Amy. The comedy revolves around Chris' children, who are eleven and sixteen and split their time between their dad (and their six-year-old stepbrother) and their mother, who lives over the road. The pilot also stars Jan Francis, from Just Good Friends, as the children's stepgrandmother and former Desmond's actor Robbie Gee as Chris's brother, Errol. Producers say: 'As we all know, extended step-families have lots of frictions and ups and downs, and the Roberts family is no exception. With a fine old mix of class, roots, generation and culture, things can get a little spicy to say the least.' Kwei-Armah is best known for playing the paramedic Finlay Newton in Casualty, but he has also written several plays, including the acclaimed Elmina's Kitchen for the National Theatre. He also wrote and presented the joyous travelogue documentary On Tour With The Queen which looked at the impact of Queen Elizabeth's tour of the Commonwealth that took place between November 1953 and May 1954.

The Simpsons' executive producer Al Jean has dismissed claims that Homer is Catholic. Earlier this week, the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano praised the cartoon for its exploration of religion. The article added: 'Few people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it, but it is true - Homer J Simpson is a Catholic.' Jean told Entertainment Weekly that he was pleased with the article, saying: 'My first reaction is shock and awe, and I guess it makes up for me not going to church for twenty years.' However, Jean added that the Simpson family attends a Presbylutheran church. 'We've pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic,' he said. 'I really don't think he could go without eating meat on Fridays - for even an hour.'

Sir Elton John has described today's songwriters as pretty awful and says that he is not a fan of TV talent shows. The singer told the Radio Times that he refused to be a judge on American Idol 'because I won't slag anyone off' and that found TV generally to be boring. He also defended his decision to perform at the wedding of the right-wing US talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who has been accused of homophobia. 'I'm a builder of bridges and knocker-down of walls,' the sixty three-year-old said. The singer, who entered into a civil partnership with David Furnish in 2005, will reportedly receive one million dollars for his appearance. But he said: 'I was incensed when people said I was throwing away forty years of credibility for money. No. I don't need it. No-one was more surprised than I when Rush asked. Politically we're opposites. It was an opportunity to break the ice.' Elton told the Radio Times: 'I'm not a fan of talent shows. I probably wouldn't have lasted if I'd gone on one. Also, I don't want to be on television. It's become boring, arse-paralysingly brain crippling. I like Simon Cowell, but what he does is TV entertainment. TV vaults you to superstardom and then you have to back it up, which is hard. Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke are at the mercy of the next song they can get.' He said that Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle was 'an endearing phenomenon,' but 'might not understand the rigours of showbusiness.' Elton also said he admired singers such as Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga, but added: 'It's important they write their own songs, so they're not at the mercy of anyone. Songwriters today are pretty awful, which is why everything sounds the same. Contemporary pop isn't very inspiring.' Sir Elton, who is in talks about creating a musical version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, used the interview to criticise the failure to award Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth a knighthood. 'I grew up with Sunday Night At The London Palladium and it's an outrage that Bruce Forsyth hasn't been knighted,' he said. 'I told him that, and wrote a letter to the honours committee. He's part of our lives, like Rolf Harris - a clever, incredibly witty man who always made me feel good.'

The veteran US actor Tom Bosley, most famous for playing all-American father Howard Cunningham in the 1970s TV sitcom Happy Days, has died at the age of eighty three, his agent has announced. After Happy Days, Bosley had a string of roles in TV shows, most notably as a crime-solving priest in The Father Dowling Mysteries. He also played an active role in the Screen Actors Guild. His agent, Sheryl Abrams, said that he died in hospital on Tuesday morning. According to TMZ, the actor was battling a staph infection before dying at his home in Palm Springs. 'I saw him before I ever got to Hollywood on Broadway, and he was great,' Bosley's former Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler said about a man he spent the best part of a decade calling 'Mr C.' Winkler, interviewed by KNX-1070 News Radio said: 'I'm in shock. I spoke to him just a few weeks ago and he seemed to be getting his strength back.' The actor won a Tony award for his performance as New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1959 musical Fiorello!

Lord Mandelson - seen left in finest 'have him taken away and killed' pose - has revealed his candid private opinions of Gordon Brown in a fly-on-the-wall documentary to be broadcast by the BBC. Labour's general election supremo allowed film-maker Hannah Rothschild to follow him throughout the campaign for the programme, to be broadcast by the BBC in November. Right up to the moment when he unveiled his plans for the Death Star. Excerpts released this week show Mandelson musing over the need to allow Brown to appear 'normal and human' - as if that was even possible - when meeting voters, and voicing exasperation about the then prime minister's apparent inability to keep his tie straight. The extracts, broadcast on the Gruniad Morning Star website, also show Downing Street staffer Patrick Diamond confiding to Mandelson his worries about a £3.8 billion 'black hole' in the Government's spending plans for social care. They show Mandelson engaging in what the website describes as 'waspish banter' with George Osborne when he bumped into the then shadow chancellor in the 'spin room' during one of the televised leaders' debates. Rothschild accompanied the then business secretary from October 2009 to June this year for the observational documentary entitled The Real PM, to be broadcast as part of BBC4's Storyville strand. Discussing Brown's character as he was driven in his ministerial car, Mandelson said: 'He is like a cross between a snow-plough and a combine harvester. He just drives through, and that is how you have to be in politics. He is a one-off, Gordon. He is not like anyone you have ever met. Perhaps that's the public's problem with Gordon. They can't put him in a category, they can't put him in a likeness, they can't think of who he reminds them of.' The film also shows the peer in a phone conversation with a newspaper editor about a leader column which has displeased him. And it shows him spotting Osborne briefing a correspondent at the TV debates and calling over: 'Is he the only person you have to talk to, George?'

Ruth Wilson has admitted that she is scared of committing to a series in America. The actress's drama Luther recently began showing in the US, but Wilson told Hit Fix that she is not sure she would like to star in an original American series. 'I focus on film because long-running stuff I find quite daunting,' she said. 'The idea of being the same character for seven years sort of scares me.' Or, even six episodes if The Prisoner is anything to go by, it would seem. However, Wilson added that she understands why so many British actors want to work in America. 'The writing is fantastic [in the US] and that's why people come to it,' she said. 'From The Wire to The West Wing to Sopranos to Dexter, the writing, the storylines and the ideas are brilliant, so that's why people want to come, because the work is of the highest standard.'

Konnie Huq has argued that women are in a no-win situation when they appear on TV. The new Xtra Factor host told Heat that she did not consider herself a celebrity, and noted that while some people may recognise her in the street, many would not. Asked what would surprise people about her, Huq said: 'People don't really know what you're like, so they build up a picture based on two words like Blue Peter. People think people on telly are quite bland and vacuous.' That's because many of them are, chuck. 'The ones who do well are those who aren't opinionated, especially girls. I think it's because people prefer women not to be outspoken or to have personalities. They don't like women who aren't the norm - but if they are the norm, they get called bland. You can't win.' Of the suggestion that she 'hit the red carpet quite hard' after leaving Blue Peter, Huq replied: 'In two years, I've been to maybe five film premieres. In two years! But if you're a Blue Peter presenter, the papers get very excited. "Oh my gosh, she's wearing a dress! What would Valerie Singleton say?" It looks like you're going out a lot, but there are rolling news channels, blogs and free newspapers and they need to fill their space up, so they need a story. And mine was, "She must be trying to shed her goody-two-shoes image."'

Zoe Ball has admitted that her days of heavy drinking mean that she cannot remember huge chunks of her life. The former Live & Kicking host revealed that she thought she would wind up in a psychiatric home if she did not kick the habit, and now thinks of her decade of decadence as 'one big mess.' She told Grazia that Radio1 was happy for her to play on her 'ladette' image when she joined the station as breakfast show host in 1997. 'I started trying to live up to the label,' she confessed. 'I loved it at first. Hanging out with people who partied every day, woke at 5pm, had a few shots of vodka and a bag of chips, then went clubbing again.' However, her lifestyle soon took a downward spiral. She went on to say: 'There are huge chunks I don't remember - or don't want to remember.' Ball told the magazine how a New Year's Eve party of 'total carnage' in 2008 had left her 'a wreck,' adding: 'I sat sobbing, knowing if I didn't stop I'd end up in a mental home. I called a therapist I'd been seeing and asked for help.' The therapist told her to check into rehab, but Ball was unwilling to go without husband Norman Cook - also an alcoholic - as she did not trust him to be alone with their son Woody. 'It's bloody tough, painful, trying to get sober on your own. The harder I tried, the more Norm went in the other direction,' she recounted. Speaking of Cook's decision to follow her advice and check into rehab in March 2009, she added: 'I remember feeling so anxious. But he did it. What a man - he's strong, he's changed, he's unbelievable and we are solid.'

Jo Brand has revealed that she would like Getting On to be a realistic representation of the NHS. The show, which also stars Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine, focuses on a group of doctors and nurses working on a female hospital ward. Speaking to What's On TV, Brand explained that she wanted the comedy to be different from other medical shows. 'We wanted to un-glamourise life in the NHS and I get the sense that people are relieved that we've shown it how it really is,' she said. 'I always hear nurses saying it's a lot like their job and not like Holby City, where everyone treats patients for twenty seconds, then has an affair with a surgeon!'

Johnny Vegas is to star in a new Radio4 series about two men who live on a beach. Shed Town has been written by comedy stalwart Kevin Eldon along with Tony Pitts, who played Archie Brooks in Emmerdale. The four-part comedy revolves around two men who have been made redundant, so on their last works outing decide not to go back, and instead set up a new life on the beach. One of them falls in love with a girl who works in an ice cream van. Vegas last week recorded some of the series on location in Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire, which he regularly visits on holiday. He borrowed two sheds from locals for the taping, and agreed to become president of amateur football club Fylingdales, after recording at their pitch.

ITV News is to provide viewers with year-long analysis of how the government’s spending cuts are affecting the nation. It has teamed up with polling company ComRes to ask a different sample of two thousand people the same set of questions on a weekly basis, assessing trust in the coalition, financial well-being, the strength of public services and happiness. The results will then be analysed by James Mates on News at Ten in a feature called the Cuts Index. In addition to the new barometer, ITN is to produce live coverage of this week's spending review in which Alastair Stewart, economics editor Daisy McAndrew and special guests will guide viewers through the announcements. The Spending Review Live: An ITV News Special will also be streamed online, where users can participate in a live chat with financial experts on how the measures will affect them. Deborah Turness, editor of ITV News, said: 'By teaming up with ComRes ITV News can go beyond the anecdotal to deliver a statistically robust, dynamic measure of how Britain changes as the cuts take hold.'

Alcohol Concern has called for a ban on TV and Internet alcohol adverts after conducting research which claims that well over a million under-sixteen-year-olds saw multiple drinks commercials while watching England games during the World Cup. The government-backed charity said research showed that 1.6 million under-sixteens were exposed to at least three alcohol adverts during England's game against Algeria, while 1.4 million saw at least four drinks commercials while watching the USA match, in TV campaigns run by brands including Stella Artois, Magners, Fosters, Carling and WKD. While none of the advertising campaigns broke Advertising Standards Authority regulations, Alcohol Concern is nevertheless calling for a pre-9pm TV advertising ban, and a blanket online advertising restriction, because the figures show that too many children are not being well enough protected by existing rules. Alcohol Concern said a separate study revealed that eleven to eighteen-year-olds could be seeing as many as sixteen hundred alcohol TV adverts per year. 'It is simply unacceptable that vast numbers of children are so frequently exposed to alcohol advertising, leading to higher levels of drinking among young people and increasingly higher levels of harm,' said Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern. 'Alcohol producers and advertising regulators are clearly not taking their responsibilities seriously enough and only a watershed ban on TV and an Internet ban will prevent the vast majority of children from being exposed to alcohol marketing.' The ASA code states that alcohol adverts cannot run in shows where the proportion of ten to fifteen-year-olds viewing is twenty per cent higher than the general population. Trade associations representing the drinks industry argue that calls for a ban are too heavy handed. 'Alcohol marketing in the UK is strictly regulated to ensure it is responsible and aimed at adults,' said David Poley, chief executive of drinks industry lobbying organisation Portman Group.

Davina McCall has admitted that she believes she has made some bad television shows. According to the Sun, the former Big Brother host confessed that she struggled to deal with the criticism. 'I've had some total turkeys,' she said. 'The hardest thing was constantly having to read about my rubbish chat show. I just wanted to crawl under a rock.' However, McCall reportedly added that she believes the failure of some of her programmes has taught her how to survive the television industry.

The BBC has secured the rights to show three new feature-length films from Bristol that are being funded by regional agency South West Screen. The Dark Half, Eight Minutes Idle and Flying Blind will all be made over the next six months, under the agency's iFeatures digital film umbrella. Steve Jenkins, head of film at the BBC programme acquisitions department, said: 'The BBC has been deeply involved with iFeatures from its inception, with particularly valuable input from BBC Films into the script development process. So it's very gratifying and exciting that we are now moving ahead with three such strong and diverse films.' The Dark Half is pencilled in to begin production this month at the three hundred thousand square foot Bottle Yard production unit in south Bristol. iFeatures was launched as a 'micro-studio' project last year, with support from BBC Films and Bristol City Council. It is intended help some emerging filmmakers from the city get into feature films, as well as trying to attract other aspiring creatives from around the UK and Europe. The films will each have three hundred thousand pound budgets and are being tipped to offer a more radical perspective on popular genres.

Cheryl Cole has claimed that she does not have to justify her decisions on The X Factor. Well, I think you do, actually, darlin'. To the viewers if not, necessarily, to the acts. First rule of judging, be prepared to explain yourself to your audience because they tend to have a very low tolerance threshold for arrogance. Except from yer mate, Simon.

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