Friday, October 15, 2010

Week Forty Three: We're Not Just Listeners And Viewers, It Belongs To Us!

BBC3 boss Danny Cohen has been appointed as the new controller of BBC1, following Jay Hunt's departure to Channel 4 last month. The move, which had been widely tipped within the industry, will see Cohen take up the role with immediate effect, reporting to Jana Bennett, the BBC's Director of Vision. Which, I've always through rather made her sound like an optician, but I've always been very impressed with the things Jana has to say for herself so, let's move on. Cohen will also continue to run BBC3 until a replacement for that job is found. Cohen becomes BBC1's youngest ever controller and will oversee an annual budget of over one billion pounds. No pressure, Dan. It follows Hunt's high profile departure last month, when she left to become C4's creative director. Bennett described Cohen as 'one of the most talented TV executives of his generation' and both 'an innovator and a great creative thinker. He has a deep understanding of public service broadcasting and a finely developed sense of what audiences of all ages are looking for.' Cohen said that he was 'honoured' to have secured the role. 'BBC1 is one of the nation's great cultural institutions and I'm looking forward to working with a wonderful range of talented people in the coming years.' Well, he's making all the right noises up front, I like that. Just make sure that Doctor Who is sensibly scheduled next year, Dan, and you'll have lots of new friends for life. He added that Hunt had left BBC1 'in very good shape indeed' and hoped 'to build on these very strong foundations.' Cohen has been the controller of BBC3 since May 2007, re-launching it in a bid to offer a clearer focus on young audiences with a commitment to serious factual programmes. During his tenure, BBC3 was named as Digital Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh TV Festival in two out of the last three years (2008 and 2010). The channel has developed a multiplatform approach to its key programming and its share of sixteen to thirty four-year-old viewers has grown by fifty eight per cent, according to the corporation. BBC3 is now the most-watched digital channel by young viewers in the hours that it broadcasts and the biggest digital channel overall in its hours. Cohen was previously the head of E4 and head of Channel 4 factual entertainment, commissioning the acclaimed youth drama Skins, teen comedy The Inbetweeners, Fonejacker, Supernanny and the documentary strand Cutting Edge. Prior to that, he spent five years in the documentary commissioning department of C4. Between 2000 and 2001, Cohen was factual commissioning editor for the launch of E4. His career began at the independent production company Diverse, where he became head of development after a period in production.


Yer Keith Telly Topping had a great lunch with his old mate, Jesmond author Malcolm Holt on Friday in Newcastle and was told a terrificly amusing little anecdote about a friend of Malcolm's who had recently been on holiday in Norway. Whilst there he'd been in a bar and had got chatting to a Norwegian lady. Somehow, the subject had meandered its way to TV crime drama. Then, the lady suddenly announced 'I love your genitals.' Malcolm's pal was, obviously, somewhat taken aback by this unexpectedly forward comment. But, nevertheless, he managed to mumble 'thank you,' to what he assumed was a very saucy Viking tart. 'I thought he was very good in Bergerac,' she added. 'Maybe, not so good in Midsomer Murders.' True story, dear blog reader.

According to Metro this week, Whitechapel actor Rupert Penry-Jones fancies a role for himself in Doctor Who. Doesn't everyone? I know I do. 'I love the show but I see myself very much as an older Doctor now,' he notes. Oh. That role?

As previously mentioned, the great Mitch Benn - musician, wit, satirist and media commentator - has composed a rather lovely new single which is called 'Proud of the BBC'. Bet the Daily Scum Mail run a feature on that. The 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'-inspired video for the song is now up on You Tube. Check it out, dear blog readers. It's genuinely beautiful and warm-spirited. And cheap and funny and joyous and magnificent. A bit like the Beeb itself, in fact. 'I'm proud of the BBC/It's not too slick but it was never supposed to be!' You tell 'em, Mitch my friend. And, of course, he got the TARDIS in there. Three times! Extra points for that. Though, yer Keith Telly Topping is somewhat curious about the people in fencing gear! Anyway, the single will be available for download from Mitch's website from 1 November.

It was jolly nice to see Stephen Fry quoting my favourite ever Homer one-liner from The Simpsons on this week's episode of Qi: 'Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasels!'

For anybody who wants to check out some audio extracts of this week's Tony Robinson interview, they're now up on Listen Again and will remain so for the next week, or so. It starts around 1:43:50 into the show, immediately after Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes! Si Logan's off sick today, apparently - get well soon, Si - so the lovely Nicky Roberts was filling in. And, yes, he's absolutely right I do spend much of my time sitting around the house watching the telly and eating chips. There are worse ways to make a living. Anyway, the interview continues for approximately the next twenty minutes, punctuated only by hot tunes and chartbound sounds from Kylie, the Spencer Davis Group, the BBC's Two O'Clock News and The Jackson Five. Later on in the show, at 3:44:30 (straight after The Eurythmics) you can also hear this weekend's Top Telly Tips slot. Radio magic, dear blog reader! Well ... as close as yer Keith Telly Topping is ever get to it, anyway.

Channel Five is reported to be seeking a partial refund from the company which made the wretched, amateurish fiasco that was Don't Stop Believing, according to Broadcast. You may remember that was 'the show that everyone's talking about,' according to the Daily Express earlier in the year. The network's new owner Northern & Shell is apparently very 'unhappy' with the performance of the X Factor rip-off series, which aimed to find the UK's best amateur singing ensemble. All of which was introduced by an out-of-her-depth Emma Bunton who frequently sported a look on her face which suggested a hamster had just run up her trouser leg. The magazine reports that Channel Five is trying to recoup some of the estimated six million quid that it paid Shine TV for the travesty. Sorry, series. However, the report suggests that the broadcaster is already overdue on a number of outstanding payments to the indepedent production company. Ratings for Believing, which was broadcast over six miserable weeks in the summer, dropped as low as five hundred and eighty thousand viewers in its prime time Sunday slot before Five, mercifully, put it out of its misery.

And, of that bombshell, dear blog reader, here's yer next batch of Top Telly Tips:

Friday 22 October
In The Big Silence - 7:00 BBC2 - five people undertake 'a spiritual journey' to find out why silence is so elusive and difficult to attain in modern society. Because, everybody talks too much, I'd warrant. Yer Keith Telly Topping being as guilty of this as the next man. Abbot Christopher Jamison of Worth Abbey in West Sussex helps these five seekers of the wisdom of the unspoken to take a break from their careers in business, teaching, Public Relations, media and hospitality. To, hopefully, help them to improve their lives with regular periods of quiet meditation and prayer. He begins by inviting the volunteers to spend two days with his community of monks in quiet, contemplative thought. Yer Keith Telly Topping gets a bit of that, usually when he's sitting on the netty, dear blog reader. It's the only bit of peace I get, frankly.

Happiness is, according to Ken Dodd, 'the greatest gift that we possess.' On Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - Stephen Fry poses some tough questions about the concept and actuality of happiness to his guests Andy Hamilton, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies. Quality line-up. As usual, this show - the funniest, most inventive, most thought-provoking and most educational thing currently on British TV - will be mocked by ignorati who think they're literati. And, it will still be watched by an audience of between four and five million viewers who find it a soothing alternative the sound and fury that signifies nothing on The X Factor. Less Heat magazine, more The Listener. Personally, I wouldn't have it any different.

The Event - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a new drama series from the US. And, now it's come to England where most of their crap ends up - you know, the Gulf War, Herpes, The Dukes of Hazzard. Et cetera. This opening episode concerned a man who discovers the biggest cover-up in American history when he attempts to locate his fiancée, who has disappeared from a Caribbean cruise. Sean Walker stumbles upon a national conspiracy just as President Elias Martinez - America's second Hispanic President after The West Wing did it first - is about to announce the release of a group of detainees from a highly secret military facility. Starring Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer and Blair Underwood. Must admit, yer Keith Telly Topping saw the first episode of this a couple of weeks back and thought it was very disappointing. Sub-Lost, sub-FlashForward generic 'child of the X Files generation' tosh without the likeable characters or the intrigue of either of those previous shows. And, remember, FlashForward was good but was considered an abject failure in the US because viewers gave up on it when they didn't get enough early answers. I can only see one future for The Event, and it isn't a long and happy one.

Saturday 23 October
If you don't fancy the thrill of watching Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield United kicing each other up-a-height on Match of The Day Live BBC2, there's the blessed alternative of Harry Hill's TV Burp - 7:15 ITV. In which, the big-collared manic comedian looks back at the week's small-screen highlights, subjecting the latest soaps, reality shows, documentaries and other assorted oddities to his unique brand of cheeky scrutiny. Talent.

For the more culturally minded, Renaissance Revolution - 8:15 BBC2 - is a vehicle for the author and art critic Matthew Collings. In this week's episode, Matthew analyses Hieronymous Bosch's triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, a Sixteenth Century work which has become famous for its depictions of heaven and hell. Using high-resolution digital technology, the host explores the piece's finer details, revealing how Bosch's unusual technique and inversions of scale both unsettle and entice the spectator. The programme also investigates how the painting challenged established ideas about morality and free will in the Christian world. Or there's, you know, X Factor on ITV. A different sort of Bosch, that.

Sunday 24 October
In yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved Time Team - 5:30 Channel 4 - my good mate Tony Robinson and his friends head down to Governor's Green in Portsmouth, where they search for the site of a Thirteenth Century hospital founded by monks. Although part of the building still stands to this day, the whereabouts of the rest of it remains shrouded in mystery - and initial evidence from the trenches makes the task even more confusing, leading to a clash between the diggers and the surveyors. Oooo, conflict. Always good on a Time Team, that. Great show, this. Usually diverting, fascinating and pleasant to look at. As I said to my mate Tony the other day, 'Tony,' I said ...

Attenborough's Journey - 8:00 BBC2 - as the title might suggest is a documentary following David Attenborough as he travels around the world to make his series First Life, which explores the origins of life on Earth. As he visits locations including the Pacific Great Barrier Reef, the deserts of Morocco and the glaciers of Canada, the veteran broadcaster and wildlife expert explains his life-long fascination with the natural world, and also travels back to Leicestershire, the county in which he spent his formative years and developed his interest in the world around us.

Single Father continues, impressively, at 9:00 on BBC1. After their night of red-hot steamy passion - with the grunting and the thrusting and the spillage of fluids - Dave and Sarah worry about what Evie might have seen. But, the youngster is not giving anything away. Probably because she's too grossed out and will require years of therapy to get over it. Meanwhile, Sarah issues Dave with an ultimatum after he begins obsessively checking through Rita's diaries. And, a visit to Stuart's house results in the lawyer making a tempting offer. Romantic drama, starring David Tennant and Suranne Jones. And, very good it's been, too. Although, personally, this blogger be watching throne on Sky and then catching up on this one iPlayer later.

Monday 25 October
Freak Like Me - 8:30 BBC3 - is a new series in which the comedian Russell Kane uncovers and celebrates the breadth of Britain's weird and wonderful personal habits and obsessions. Is that entirely healthy, young man? He begins by meeting a dance instructor on a spot-squeezing mission, a man who spends up to ten hours at a time cleaning his car, and a restaurant manager who wears a new pair of pants every day.

In A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss - 9:00 BBC4 - the actor, writer and wit concludes his study of the celebrated genre by focusing on the new wave of American horror movies produced in the late 1960s and 1970s, including Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Mark explores how they were often made by pioneering independent film-makers on a shoestring budget and how they reflected aspects of social and political upheaval. He also gets the inside story from well-known directors of the genre George A Romero, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter. Last in this quite excellent series. Let's hope it's not too long before the BBC let Mark loose another subject of his choice that he can let his imagination run riot within. Science Fiction, next, maybe? I'd watch it.

As mentioned in last week's Top Telly Tips, it's all happening baby at nine o'clock on Monday night these days. In yer Keith Telly Topping's lovely [spooks] - 9:00 BBC1 - it is agreed that Section D will use the American security system Cybershell to avoid security breaches. Lucas is assigned to protect a White House cryptographer, Daniella Ortiz, as she installs the necessary codes at Thames House. However, Tariq discovers computers at the Grid have been infiltrated by suspected Russian and Chinese hackers, and it is only a matter of time before they will have access to the entire catalogue of information held by MI5 and the CIA. Which would, obviously, be very bad. So, something must be done. And, Harry sees that it is done.

Meanwhile, another crime thriller, Whitechapel, concludes also at 9:00 over on ITV. Chandler, Miles and the team are forced to play the Kray twins at their own game, with the body count rising and no tangible evidence against the pair and their naughty doings. As time begins to run out, the detectives go underground in the hope of bringing those responsible for the murders to justice. Starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton. Not as impressive as the first series, I think most critics and viewers alike agree with that. It's still well acted, of course. Whether we'll see a third series, I suppose, time will tell.

In the first semi-final of MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2 - the eight remaining chefs in the competition are each asked to select and prepare one dish that best represents their cooking style and what they're all about. Gregg Wallace, Michel Roux Jr and Monica Galetti taste and judge their efforts, after which they send the two weakest participants home with their tail between their legs. And, as usual, Monica will reduce one of the female contestants - if, indeed, there are any left - to a flood of tears with a glacial look of quite menacing contempt. Gregg will get all enthusiastic about a nice bit of pudding and Michel was be all calmness, dignity and balanced comments and will then absolutely stick the knife into some unsuspecting schlep who's made their pastry wrongly because he's a two-Michelin-star chef. Maddeningly entertaining, as always.

Tuesday 26 October
The Secret Life of the National Grid - 9:00 BBC4 - is a new documentary series which charts the history of Britain's electricity grid. Beginning with a look at its construction - from 1920s pylon design to power at the flick of a switch - to the present day. The author and wit, Will Self and urban planner Peter Hall are among the contributors exploring the architectural and engineering achievements that lie behind the infrastructure's creation.

And, there's yet another new series beginning tonight. Sea Patrol UK - 8:00 Channel Five - explores the work of the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal unit who respond when an unexploded mine from the Second World War is found in Portland Harbour. And, also of the lifeboat volunteers who carry out a rescue operation in Dover. Personally, the episode I'll be most looking forward to is the one that will focus on the Coast Guard whose job - at least according to Jezza Clarkson in an episode of Top Gear - involves 'leaping out of planes and wrestling Albanians.' Pass the popcorn when that one's shown, for definite.

It's yer very Keith Telly Topping's birthday on 26 October so it is, dear blog reader. I know that a big surprise to those of you who believed it was on 25 December but, what can y'do? And, one of the things that he'd most like to receive in all the world is ... a million quid. He's somewhat unlikely to get it, however, he's realistic about that, so it's probably best not to worry about it. Although, he can at least dream. Dreaming, as Blondie once noted, is free. Or, he could enter The Million Pound Drop Live - 10:00 Channel 4. Davina McCall, of course, presents this game show in which contestants can win a million pounds - all they have to do is to hold onto it until the end of the programme. But, that's easier said than done as they are challenged to place large quantities of the cash over various trapdoors when being asked a series of - tough - questions, but they face losing money every time they give a wrong answer. Yer Keith Telly Topping, by the way, isn't really very big on birthdays, per se. It's just one day closer to death as far as I'm concerned, frankly. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you?

Wednesday 27 October
The latest episode of Wonderland - the series about genuine British eccentrics and their funny ways - is called Mad Cats and Englishwomen and that's on at 9:00 on BBC2. This, as the name might suggest to you, dear blog reader, is a documentary following the efforts of two ladies who have dedicated their lives to working around the clock caring for London's numerous stray cats. Celia Hammond, a former fashion model, has been rescuing these animals for the past forty years, and runs a clinic in East London to treat and neuter them, while former folk singer Pat has turned her own home into a haven for sick and unwanted cats. Bless 'em.

Mama Telly Topping will be happy as a pig in shite tonight - not that she isn't much of the time anyway, I hasten to add - as there's a new episode of her beloved Agatha Christie's Poirot on at 8:00 on ITV. A guest at a village Hallow'een party boasts to other guests of having witnessed an 'orrible murder many years previously - but later they meet a grisly fate themselves in keeping with the macabre nature of the occasion. Arriving to investigate this terrible happening, Monsieur Poirot delves back into the annals of local life - and uncovers a whole series of mysterious deaths, any one of which could have a bearing on the present case. But, will he be able to solve the dreadful crime and unmask its perpetrator before there are any more deaths? Go on, have a guess!

Those poor Chilean miners, eh? They've only been back on the surface a few days and, already, they've got a Channel Four documentary devoted entirely to them and their sixty nine day ordeal. That didn't take long, did it? In Buried Alive: The Chilean Mine Rescue - 8:00 Channel 4 - we are promised 'a detailed examination' of the rescue efforts carried out by the authorities to free the thirty three miners trapped at the San Jose mine in Chile. Quite how detailed this examination can possibly be given that Channel Four will only have had about ten days to put it all together by the time of broadcast, yer Keith Telly Topping knows not. Nor, indeed, cares over much. The programme, we are assured, will explain how the men were found alive after seventeen days (they sent a probe down, lads, we saw that). How the drilling to reach them was planned and engineered, and how doctors and psychologists worked to keep them healthy and sane under extreme environmental conditions. Yeah, we saw most of that too. Tell us something we don't know, Channel Four! Go on, I dare ya.

It's the final episode of Michael Wood's Story of England tonight - 9:00 BBC4 - a series which has delighted yer Keith Telly Topping over the last six weeks. In this concluding episode, the broadcaster explores the history of the village from the Nineteenth Century to the present day, including the Penny Concerts of the 1880s, and a visit to the First World War battlefields with some schoolchildren descendents of some of the fallen. Michael also reveals the story of the Home Guard and the bombing of the village by the Luftwaffe in 1940, and how modern times arrived in Kibworth post-war. This has been, quite simply, a classic example of why it is vital and right that we still have a licence fee in this country. It might get a tiny fraction of the audience that, say, The X Factor will get, but Story of England contains within it, a million times more integrity, humanity and soul. The BBC, ladies and gentlemen - like Mitch Benn said (see above) value for money in expanding your mind, however much the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star and the brown-tongued whores of the Murdoch Empire may try to convince you otherwise. We are right and they are wrong.

Thursday 28 October
Monte Carlo or Bust - 9:00 ITV - is another new series in which three pairs of celebrities embark on a road trip from London to Monaco, collecting items en route that best represent the spirit of France and the French. Ooo la la. How very curious a conceit. Albeit, one not entirely without a bit of intrigue to it. The first leg of the journey sees Jack Dee and Ade Edmondson's VW camper van, Jodie Kidd and Julian Clary's Bentley convertible and Penny Smith and Rory McGrath's Mini Cooper set off from Trafalgar Square to head for Paris. So, Top Gear-style road trip! And, bonus, at least we are talking about yer actual proper 'celebrities' here, not somebody who used to be in Hollyoaks, or, even worse, the 'Chico from X Factor' style of person who often crops up in these sort of things. Another actual celebrity, Griff Rhys Jones, does the narrating. Sounds promising, if a bit bonkers!

Life After Armageddon - 9:00 Channel Five - is a drama documentary presenting a hellish vision of a world left devastated by a deadly flu pandemic. Sort of like Survivors ... only without Julie Graham's scowling home-counties mumsiness. The film imagines the plight of a family from Los Angeles struggling to decide whether to ride out the terror in their own home, where surviving criminals roam freely nearby, or try to escape the lawless city for a safer rural environment. The action is presented alongside interviews with experts, who assess how the world would cope if a pandemic incident occurred today.

Another interesting looking documentary is Wait Till Your Teacher Gets Home! - 9:00 BBC3. In this, a teacher is 'given permission' (by whom, we can only speculate) to 'go to quite extraordinary lengths' to transform a teenager's unruly behaviour. She will do this, according to the programme's pre-publicity, by spending a week with the girl's family in an attempt to turn the pupil's life around. So, in other words, a bossy school ma'am gets free bed and board for week and, in return, bullies around a pair of grown-ups and their brat and expects them not to chuck her bossy ass out into the streets for her trouble? Fascinating. Anyway, Miss Dudley struggles to take command when troublesome schoolgirl Loretta Cook and her parents fight against the rules and structure that she imposes. May I suggest, Miss Dudley, a damned good dose of the cane for the lot of them? Because, you know, one normally has to pay good money for that sort of thing down Soho. Or, so I'm led to believe. Narrated by Lee Williams.

And finally, there's Keith Richards: A Culture Show Special - 7:00 BBC2 - in which Andrew Graham-Dixon interviews everybody's favourite Rolling Stone in New York to mark the publication of Keef's autobiography, Life. Keith focuses on his childhood in Dartford, his passion for music from an early age and the era which propelled his band into the spotlight as one of the world's most successful rock and/or roll groups along with his long-term relationship with yer man Mick Jagger. Featuring contributions from friends and musicians who were alongside him as he survived a life of decadence and excesses during the 1960s and 1970s, this documentary asks the obvious question how can a man abuse himself and his body that much in life and still end up as, seemingly, fit and healthy as Keef is these days? It's not sodding fair, so it isn't! How can anybody not love Keith Richards? The man's a walking advert for the survival of the grooviest.

And so to the news: Jon Williams - whose memo about the cost of the BBC's coverage of the Chilean miners rescue gave those lick-spittle scum tossers at Gruniad Morning Star such a hard on earlier in the week - has defended the coverage. Arguing - quite rightly, in this blogger's opinion - that the Chilean miners' rescue was a story where 'the audience valued the investment.' Williams said that more than 6.8 million viewers watched the BBC News channel coverage of all thirty three miners being freed, marking the channel's third-best day ever for viewing figures, behind the two days immediately after May's general election. More than eight million people also watched the BBC's online coverage of the miners' escape, while Williams said that news coverage on BBC1 enjoyed 'significantly bigger audiences than normal.' As reported by this blog earlier in the week. 'More than three thousand of you e-mailed to praise the coverage - others used Twitter or our Have Your Say page to send us messages,' Williams wrote on the BBC Editors Blog. 'Thank you. We don't always get it right. When we do - and when it strikes a chord - it's great to know.' A BBC spokeswoman added: 'Clearly when a major unforeseen story happens, especially in a remote location, we have to be responsible and look at how this affects our longer term plans. We will continue to cover all the other major stories coming up such as G20, Cancun, Lisbon etc. But we are constantly reviewing how to provide the best coverage for our audiences with the resources we have.' What he said.

Small they may be, but beautifully formed, Ant and Dec are to host a major new entertainment series for ITV next summer, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The show is one of several planned by the broadcaster to capitalise on the lack of Big Brother on Channel 4. Speaking at ITV's upfronts ceremony this week, the network's director of television Peter Fincham said that he was 'talking' to Mssrs McPartlin and Donnelly about the series, which he would only describe as 'big.' Not massive, you understand. Just big. The duo already front two of ITV's most popular shows, Britain's Got Talent and I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! But, their last format for ITV, Push The Button was considered something of a flop, both artistically and commercially.

Paul Daniels may be the resident grumpy auld sod on this series of Strictly Come Dancing - although, hopefully, not for too much longer - but fans seem to have said a resounding 'foxtrot oscar' to his Best Of British stage tour. At a gig in Huddersfield recently, he attracted a mere one hundred punters. Asked if he liked that, the nasty balding Tory toe rag replied 'not a lot.' Allegedly. Bookmakers Paddy Power - you know, them what kick cats up trees for a laugh - believe that Daniels and former England goalie Peter Shilton are in danger on this week's Strictly. Shilts, who was in the bottom two last week, and the former TV magician are the favourites to become the second celebrity eliminated from the BBC1 show. Shilton has odds of six-to-four, while punters can bet on Daniels at nine-to-four. Patsy Kensit - eight-to-one - and Michelle Williams - twelve-to-one - who have had mixed responses from the judges in the first couple of weeks of the competition, are also potentially running the risk of being voted off according to the Powers that be. Despite finishing at the bottom of the judges' leader board, Ann Widdecombe has relatively long odds of twelve-to-one that she will depart this week. Kensit, meanwhile, has revealed that she was one offered the part of Ross' English girlfriend in Friends, 'I had young children and could not commit to the long contract so it went to Helen Baxendale instead,' she said. Ah, Helen Baxendale. Whatever the hell happened to her? Well, apart from this utterly stupid bit of numskullery from her two years ago.

Bruce Forsyth has claimed that he was 'stitched up' in the Channel Four documentary Living With Brucie. The presenter said that the Cutting Edge special had made him wary of working with the broadcaster again, claiming that they deliberately made him look 'miserable.' Speaking to the Mirror, he said: 'It was the worst thing I have been involved in, ever. They stitched me up. They made me look like a miserable old fool. Every time I said, "Don't tape this bit because the garage is in a bit of a mess," they showed it. I would go as far as to say it was tabloid TV of the worst kind. I am very wary to work with Channel Four again and they know that. They showed us the programme and we objected to many things, which they didn't take out.'

Shane Meadows has criticised modern TV for not being gritty enough. The writer and director recently moved into the medium with the four-part This Is England '86, a follow-up to his feature film This Is England. Asked if he was surprised by the response to the series, he told Metro: 'You want people to feel emotion. When I was a teenager, you used to turn the TV on and there'd be a hard-hitting drama every week, whether it was Boys From The Blackstuff or films by Alan Clarke. Now there's not much. The dramas and reality TV people are seeing are so sugar-coated, when you do something dramatic and realistic it has an effect on people.' On whether filming harrowing scenes was difficult, Meadows added: 'Of course. The way I work with the actors, you have to get into people's psyches. Whether it's the racist violence in the film or some of the violence coming into the TV series, it's a very hard place to go. You want to make it as authentic as possible.'

ITV is poised to announce a new deal which will keep Simon Cowell with the broadcaster for three more years. The contract will also ensure that his two reality shows, The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, will remain on air until 2013. Speaking to advertisers this week, Peter Fincham said that they were in the final stages of reaching an agreement. 'I had been hoping to be in a position to say we had done long term deals for The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent,' he said. 'There has been a lot of talk and speculation but I don't think I am being too confident to say we are almost there.' The future and timing of both series have been called into doubt in recent months after Cowell announced plans to launch The X Factor in the US in September 2011.

GOLD has announced that it has commissioned a documentary about the BBC's classic sitcom The Royle Family. The comedy ran from 1998 to 2000 and has also aired a number of special episodes since. Creators Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne, who starred as Dave and Denise, have now agreed to discuss the show in The Royle Family: Behind The Sofa. The one-off programme, with a voiceover from Mark Radcliffe, will feature interviews with cast members Liz Smith, Sue Johnston, Ricky Tomlinson, Ralf Little, Jessica Hynes, Sheridan Smith and Geoffrey Hughes. Writer Phil Mealey will also contribute to the show along with celebrity fans Catherine Tate, Paul Whitehouse, Willy Russell, Jimmy McGovern and Henry Normal. Meanwhile, the soundtrack will be provided by a brass band who will perform a number of Oasis songs used on the show. GOLD will also air The Royle Family Portraits, in which Cash, Aherne and fans choose their favourite moments from the show. UKTV's director of commissioning Jane Rogerson said: 'It's breathtaking to see Craig, Caroline and the whole Royle Family cast talking so warmly, openly and funnily about the series and their relationships. It's a genuine heartwarming treat for the viewer and we're just really appreciative of the love and care they have put into this for us.' The Royle Family: Behind The Sofa will air on Wednesday 10 November at 9pm while The Royle Family Portraits will be broadcast on 17 November also at 9pm.

Actor Simon MacCorkindale, who starred in BBC1's Casualty, has died aged fifty eight after suffering from cancer. His publicist, Max Clifford, said that he died in the arms of his wife, actress Susan George, on Thursday night in a London Clinic. The actor revealed last year he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006, but was told it was terminal after it spread to his lungs a year later. He spent six years on the BBC medical drama as Dr Harry Harper. He was also known for starring in 1980s series Manimal and Falcon Crest and appearing in the 1978 Agatha Christie film Death on the Nile. Ms George said: 'No-one could have fought this disease any harder than he did since being diagnosed four years ago. He fought it with such strength, courage and belief. Last night, he lost this battle, and he died peacefully in my arms. To me, he was simply the best of everything, and I loved him with all my heart. He will live on in me forever.' MacCorkindale was previously married to the actress Fiona Fullerton from 1976 to 1982. He began his career in theatre, making his West End debut in a production of Pygmalion, before moving to the small screen. He moved to the US after the success of Death on the Nile where he had roles in various TV series including Dynasty, Hart To Hart and The Dukes of Hazzard before securing the lead in adventure series Manimal. After being diagnosed with cancer while working on Casualty, he left the drama and returned to the stage in the West End production of The Sound of Music until its closed in February 2009. His last television appearance was in an episode of the BBC series New Tricks earlier this year.

Millions of viewers across the US could lose access to the FOX network next month if the broadcaster fails to reach a carriage agreement with satellite provider Dish Network. Dish customers have been without FX, the National Geographic Channel and multiple FOX Sports channels since 30 September, after both sides were unable to strike a new deal. Dish claims that FOX has 'blocked' the channels, while FOX insists that Dish has 'dropped' them from its line-up. So, who do you believe, dear blog reader? Because one of them is clearly lying. The ongoing dispute has intensified in recent days, with Dish launching a series of websites criticising FOX for asking for what it claims is a fifty per cent hike in channel fees. FOX, meanwhile, has hit back with its own website, GetWhatIPaidFor.com, which urges Dish customers to find a new TV provider. The site also suggests that the FOX network will be pulled from Dish on 1 November. But not, note, 'dropped' by Dish. This, of course, means that they'd lose House and Lie To Me. Bright side, however, they'd also lose FOX News. See, every cloud has a silver lining.

Alibi has picked up the UK TV rights for ABC's new series Body Of Proof. The show, which will be broadcast in the States in mid-season, features former Desperate Housewives star Dana Delany as a neurosurgeon who becomes a medical examiner after a car crash. Alibi's channel head Steve Hornsey said: 'As TV's ultimate compendium of crime drama, Alibi aims to select the very best series in the genre from around the globe. Body Of Proof is exactly that. A stand-out show that promises to be a huge hit in the US, Body Of Proof means more premium and exclusive content for the channel - and more thrilling and engaging viewing for our audience.'

My Generation creator Noah Hawley has claimed that television is 'over.' My Generation was cancelled by ABC earlier this month after just two episodes had aired. Writing on his blog, Hawley admitted that he always thought of the show as 'an experiment. I was taking a classic television soap and deconstructing it,' he said. 'My plan was to use the documentary format to unravel my characters, to follow them through their lives, investigate their secrets, to strip them bare for both dramatic and comedic purposes. And because none of us lives in a vacuum, I also wanted to tie these fictional characters and their television to the real world - real events, real history - in order to blur the line between fact and fiction.' He continued: 'My goal was to make a TV show for the Internet era - to create a mash-up of scripted material, real news and cultural footage, to repurpose existing content (by placing a fictional character on season two of The Bachelor, for example, or using scenes from the Lost finale to tie my characters to a time and place).' Hawley concluded that he described My Generation as an experiment because he wanted people 'to turn on their TVs and see - themselves. Their lives. Their world.' He added: 'Because here's the thing - it's 2010. Television is over. The ratings are plummeting. The old paradigm is dead. People have hundreds of choices. They are consuming media in countless different ways. I've heard that the definition of crazy is doing something over and over again and expecting different results. If television is going to prosper it needs to find a new paradigm. It's time for television networks to become social networks. That's my opinion, anyway.'

Joy Behar has declared that she does not regret walking off The View during Bill O'Reilly's interview. On yesterday's episode, Behar and fellow host, Whoopi Goldberg, left the stage after O'Reilly claimed that Muslims were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. 'He's an idiot,' Behar told Pop Eater. 'I just couldn't sit there any longer and listen to him.' During her own CNN Headline News programme, Behar rebuffed the FOX News political commentator for having a 'pinhead moment.' She further explained that the confrontation with O'Reilly had made her 'really angry. I thought he was saying something that I construe as hate speech, frankly.' O'Reilly also responded to the incident on his FOX News series The O'Reilly Factor on Thursday night by saying that he enjoyed engaging in banter with the women of The View. He said: 'I am not in the business of sugar-coating harsh realities. I enjoy jousting with The View ladies because, with the exception of Elisabeth Hasselbeck, they don't see it my way. I loved that exposition today.'

Malcolm Allison, the coach who helped inspire Manchester City to great success in the late 1960s, has died at the age of eighty three. Allison arrived at City in 1965 as assistant manager to Joe Mercer. The club went on to win the Second Division crown in 1966, the League title in 1968, FA Cup in 1969 and European Cup-Winners Cup and League Cup in 1970. Allison managed elevens clubs at home and abroad in a lengthy career, leading Sporting Lisbon to the Portuguese League and Cup double in 1982. He took charge of Crystal Palace on two separate occasions and also had spells as manager of Bath, Plymouth, Galatasaray, Toronto City, Middlesbrough and Bristol Rovers. During his playing days, Allison made more than two hundred and fifty appearances as a ball-playing centre half for West Ham, before losing a lung as the result of tuberculosis in 1958. He was part of the famed academy - a clutch of young, eager football theorists like John Bond and Noel Cantwell who amended the team's tactics after being inspired by the brilliant 1953 Hungarian side. Graduating into coaching with West Ham's youth team, Allison was credited with kick-starting the career of one of his first protégés, Bobby Moore. Big Mal - as he was known - always had an eye for publicity, and was famed for the Lucky Fedora which he wore during Crystal Palace's lengthy 1976 cup run and his love of cigars - but his later years were dogged by ill health. A statement on the Manchester City website read: 'Flamboyant, brilliant and larger than life, Malcolm will be sorely missed by everyone at the Club and beyond.' City plan to pay tribute to Malcolm at the forthcoming game against Arsenal, and have also pledged 'an appropriate commemoration to his life and work in the memorial garden at the City of Manchester Stadium.' Mike Summerbee told BBC Radio Manchester that Allison was 'the greatest coach this country ever had. And still is, without a shadow of a doubt.' He added: 'Joe Mercer was the figurehead but Malcolm Allison was the key to the door, really. He brought fitness levels to football that are still there now. He was the forerunner of fitness and tactics way beyond his time. We were doing things in 1965 on running machines at Salford University with massage based fitness, we trained in Wythenshawe Park with Derek Ibbotson and some of the Salford rugby league lads - that's how hard it was and how good it was. He was just quite an amazing man. A great personality and a well read man as well, a very intelligent person. He was a character. His life was full, every day he lived his life and his enjoyment was a pleasure for us as well. We worked hard together and we enjoyed ourselves together and he was a great personality and gave you the confidence to believe in yourself as a footballer.' His life in football was never far from controversy, Allison becoming a regular in the tabloids because of his relationships with, among others, Christine Keeler of the Profumo scandal and two Miss United Kingdom winners. In 1976 the Football Association charged him with disrepute because of a News of the World photograph showing him in the Crystal Palace players' bath with the risqué actress Fiona Richmond, who he had invited to a training session. Allison's TV appearances on ITV's panel of experts during the 1970 and 1974 World Cups remain the stuff of legend. He was one of the first celebrity managers - pre-Brian Clough - and a member of ITV Sport's innovative World Cup panel, led by Brian Moore, at the Mexico World Cup in 1970. Forget Pele, Champagne Malcolm was the undoubted star of the tournament. Packing an enormous cigar - sometimes blowing smoke into fellow panel member Derek Dougan's face to put the Irishman off - and looking as though he'd been having a great time in the Green Room beforehand, Malcolm used the opportunity to give the viewers his - never dull - thoughts on many aspects of the world of football and beyond: 'Why are we technically better in Europe? Because we play against peasants!' Either that, or he'd spend the programme criticising Dougan's choice of shirt. Skill!

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