Thursday, November 25, 2010

Heavy!

Yer Keith Telly Topping was involved in his own, highly personal, remake of Nanook of the North this morning, dear blog reader, as he struggled through the first icy blasts of winter into work to created more radio magic for you. Bless. Now ... I like a bit of snow, normally. When it's deep and crisp and even and, especially, when I'm safely tucked-up in the house with the heating on full blast. And not stuck for forty minutes at a bus stop at the top end of Shields Road with damp feet and a force nine gale blowing up me Khyber Pass and waiting for a sixty two that never came. A journey which normally takes me about forty minutes tops (and that's with time for a change of bus) this morning was over an hour and three-quarters. And two changes of bus. Anyway ...

ITV has picked up a new drama series from the creators of Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes. Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah will write every episode of Eternal Law, which focuses on two angels called Zak and Tom who are sent to earth to help a community and try to understand humanity. The show is set in York - lovely city- and follows Zak and Tom as they work as lawyers and try to persuade people to treat others well. However, the pair struggle to follow through with their plans because of the machinations of their sworn enemy, the dark angel Richard Pembroke. Meanwhile, Zak is recovering from falling in love with a human called Hannah the last time he was on Earth. The relationship is against all angelic law but Zak soon discovers that Hannah is now working for Richard. Sounds rather good. Depends on the casting, I suppose. The six-part series will be produced by Kudos, the production company behind both of Matty and Ashley's previous shows and, also, [spooks], Hustle and Law & Order: UK. Pharoah said: 'This idea has been a passion of ours for some years now and we always thought its natural home was ITV. To make it with our friends and partners at Kudos just makes it that much more exciting.' Looking forward to that one. Though it is, probably, worth mentioning at this point that Matthew and Ashley also created Bonekickers. So, they're clearly not infallible!

The BBC drama Sherlock was the big winner at this year's Royal Television Society Craft and Design Awards taking home three prizes. The show won best picture enhancement, best tape and film editing in a drama, and best original title music. Channel Four drama Misfits scooped two prizes while Dancing On Ice and EastEnders were also winners. The ceremony, which took place at London's Savoy Hotel, was hosted by the - alleged - comedy duo Dick and Dom. Misfits was honoured for best sound in a drama and best special effects. The live episode of EastEnders, broadcast in February to celebrate the soap's twenty fifth anniversary, scooped the trophy for best lighting and multi-camera work. The best digital effects award went to an episode from the last series of Doctor Who - The Pandorica Opens, see right - while Sky's adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Going Postal won prizes for best original score and best photography in a drama. Channel Four show Facejacker won twice, picking up the non-drama awards for costume design and make-up design. And best costume design for a drama went to BBC2's Worried About The Boy. Eddie Mansell, who has edited dramas such as The Street, Cracker and Cold Feet, was presented with the lifetime achievement award. A special award was also given to the production team behind Coronation Street.

'Though it did at times descend into the showbiz love-in suggested by the title, this Reunited still amounted to a rather superior slice of nostalgia,' noted Metro's Keith Watson concerning last night's excellent Fry & Laurie Reunited on G.O.L.D. This blogger agrees. I could have done with a bit more Stephen and Hugh and damn sight less Daniel Radcliffe, frankly. He's a 'fan', apparently. So what, you know, so are lots of people - doesn't mean they get dragged onto a documentary to talk about their fandom. Anyway ... 'You can't begrudge them their careers but their obvious on-screen chemistry did make you wonder about all the comedy sketches we've missed because they didn't stick together,' continued yer man Keith. 'Though it didn't always work – and Reunited had the decency to recall the long-forgotten Alfresco from 1983, a show beaten into a pulp by The Young Ones – Fry and Laurie set a standard for the comedy sketch duo that has rarely been matched since.' Damn straight, baby.

From a comedy duo who used to be funny twenty five years ago and still are - to Lenny Henry. Remember him, dear blog reader? He used to be funny twenty five years ago, but now? Nah, not so much. He is, however, to a new high-profile Saturday-night BBC1 entertainment show based around magic. Regulars on The Magicians will include Edinburgh Fringe stalwarts Barry and Stuart, as well as US sleight of hand artist Chris Korn and Portuguese illusionist Luis de Matos. Over five weeks, the three acts will perform in a competition, each staging an illusion with a celebrity partner. Confirmed guests include Chris Tarrant, Rolf Harris and N-Dubz. I have but one question to ask about N-Dubz? Who the fek are they? Because they never seem to be off my TV. Henry said: 'I've always been a fan of magic on the TV, from David Nixon to David Blaine, Penn and Teller to Paul Daniels, and the far too glamorous Debbie McGee. And the thing about me is that I don't want to know how it's done. You know the bloke with his jaw on the floor throughout most of the show? That will be me.' Barry and Stuart – whose credits include Channel Four's Dirty Tricks – said: 'The Magicians is the biggest and most ambitious show that we have ever been part of. We're going to bring the viewers of BBC1 some inventive, devious and jaw-dropping new magic that they will have never seen before.'

Fired Apprentice candidate Christopher Farrell confessed that his good nature let him down on the reality show. The former Royal Marine, whom Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie axed on Wednesday night's episode, said that he refused to blame his teammate, Jamie Lester, in the boardroom because he didn't want to betray or back stab anybody. Lester and Farrell were held accountable for their team's downfall in the crisp flavour branding and sales task, after they postponed an appointment which they eventually lost to their rivals. Speaking about the incident on You're Fired!, Farrell said: 'It was just one of those things. We were in the car, I was on the phone and Jamie put his one finger up. The last thing you want to do is say, "Oh can you just wait a second, hang on what's this fellah got to say." I didn't want to come across as unprofessional and I just thought there must be a reason behind it, booked the one o'clock and unfortunately that was the downfall of the task.' He added: 'Jamie's a nice guy and one thing I said to myself is, "I'll go on the show and I'm never going to be someone trying to dobb other people in and get them in the shit basically." That was just the way I wanted to be.' Which, as a largely sympathetic Ed Byrne told him is, ultimately, why he deserved to get fired. Not for what he did or didn't do himself but for not grassing up the bloke who was actually responsible. Maybe Lord Sugar-Sweetie is right, maybe 'nice guys get nothing.' Sad, but this is the Twenty First Century.

X Factor's Wagner Carrilho has a secret past - as the singer with a Rolling Stones tribute band. The former PE teacher apparently spent a couple of months performing lead vocals with The Cloned Stones in pubs and clubs around the West Midlands weeks before auditioning for The X Factor. Footage of the singer performing with the Birmingham-based band has appeared on YouTube - where Wagner can be seen doing some of Sir Mick's trademark moves to the band's 1994 single 'You Got Me Rocking.' And, he makes a pretty good job of it, actually. He doesn't look much like The Jag but then, the guitarist doesn't look much like Keef either! The band has since posted the video on their official Facebook page, noting: 'When we had no lead singer, we had Wagner as a superb stand in!' A 'source' close to the singer said: 'He was with the band for a few months, and as the video shows, he's clearly having the time of his life. It will probably come as a bit of a surprise to people who know him - rock and roll is not usually the kind of music he likes to sing. He prefers to sing love songs and ballads - but he just loves to perform. He's a born entertainer and this proves that he's not just a flash in the pan, he's a serious contender for this year's X Factor.'

Angela Rippon - seen right with two former dance partners - has agreed to compete in the next series of Dancing On Ice, it has been reported. Rippon - who hosts Cash in the Attic - previously appeared on the judging panel of the ITV skating competition last year as a stand-in for regular judge Robin Cousins. An 'insider' allegedly suggested that Rippon's inclusion on the show may not go down well with her fellow competitors due to her previous experience on the programme. The 'source' is said to have told the Sun: 'This is like judge Dannii Minogue competing on The X Factor, or Arlene Phillips on Strictly Come Dancing.' Oh, can we have that please so Craig Revel Horwood can give the bitter old bag both barrels? 'She's got an unfair advantage.' Meanwhile, rumoured participant Kerry Katona is already said to have provoked a reaction from other celebrity contestants. 'They are jealous of the time she gets on the rink and the coaching,' the 'source' explained. This 'source' seems remarkably bitter. Tartar, one might suggest?

Former I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... contestants Nicola McLean and Janet Street Porter have both used appearances on the spin-off show Get Me Out Of Here Now to heap criticism, like so much kangaroo shit, on the head of Gillian McKeith for her antics in the jungle. The duo, who were guests on Caroline Flack's show, described McKeith as an attention seeker, nasty and manipulative. Speaking about the TV nutritionist's latest Fisherman's Fiend Bushtucker Trial with Dom Joly, McLean said: 'She was so unsupportive of Dom, it was really bad. She gave him nothing. It's not about her then. If she was supporting him, it would take the attention of her and she is that manipulative. She is that awful - she can't do it for a second.' The glamour model added: 'She thinks that she has close relationship with Stacey [Solomon]. But if that's how she treats people who she's close to, then that just shows how nasty she really is.' Porter commented: 'She thinks she's the person that has suffered more than everyone else and that the whole show revolves around her. Get a life! Her only close relationship is with her ego.' Which, coming from Janet Street Porter, God, that's really got to hurt!

McKeith, meanwhile, has revealed a smuggled stash of contraband items which she has been using in the jungle. McKeith managed to sneak the items past show security by carrying them in pouches in her knickers, she has confirmed. She managed to bring five sachets of miso soup, eight stock cubes, assorted bags of cumin, celery, garlic, rock salt and herbal seasoning. Speaking to producers, she said: 'I smuggled it all in my knickers. I have a small bottom and I just grew it a bit when I came in here. I had special pockets in my Marks & Spencer knickers. They are special knickers with secret pockets that I made myself with the purpose of smuggling seasoning in.' Right. But, doesn't that sort of prove once and for all that her whinging about allegedly not knowing what the show was all about until she got there was all a load of lies? She added: 'I feel very proud that I smuggled it all in. Do you think I was going to come in here without any flavour? You must be mad! What are you going to do, throw me to the lions? I feel like a naughty schoolgirl.' Rumours that a lion was being flown in specially for her to be thrown to cannot, at this time, be entirely discounted.

Yer super-soar away Sun have a twelve page pull out in Thursday's edition which - they claim - contains the Christmas TV schedules. Though it appears to be - mostly - guesswork and there's loads of 'To Be Announced' bits in it. But, for what it's worth suggest Christmas Day will be as follows:-
BBC1: 5:30 TBA. 6:30 TBA. 7:00 Doctor Who. 8:00 The One Ronnie. 9:00 The Royal Family. 10:00 TBA. (Yer Keith Telly Topping would, frankly, be astonished if any of that is correct. They've left no space for the two episodes of EastEnders, which - by prior agreement with ITV - will not be shown opposite either Corrie or Emmerdale, and also the Christmas Strictly Come Dancing special. Personally, I fully expect Doctor Who to be on between six and seven, opposite Emmerdale. As usual.)
ITV: 6:00 Emmerdale. 7:00 Corrie. 8:00 The Cube. 9:00 Benidorm (a schedule which has, already, been confirmed).
BBC2: 6:30 TBA. 8:30 Eric & Ernie. 9:30 Morecambe & Wise (documentary fronted by Victoria Wood). Probably all wrong, of course. Certainly their suggested BBC1 line-up appears to be way off target.
Christmas Eve schedules, they suggest, are:-
BBC1: 8:00 EastEnders. 8:30 Qi. 9:00 TBA. 10:00 News. 10:15 Graham Norton
ITV: 7:00 Emmerdale. 7:30 Corrie. 8:00 You've Been Framed Christmas. 8:30 Corrie. 9:00 Come Rain Come Shine (David Jason/Alison Steadman comedy drama)
BBC2: 8:00 TBA. 9:00 Ruth Jones' Totally Unfunny Christmas Cracker. 10:00 Shooting Stars
And, for Boxing Day, they are alleging it'll be:-
BBC1: 5:00 TBA (but whatever it is they're expecting it to last four hours!) 9:00 Rock & Chips. 10:00 News. 10:15 Match of the Live
ITV: 6:25 The Mummy. 8:30 Harry's Hill's Christmas TV Burp. 9:00 Poirot (Murder on the Orient Express)
BBC2: 8:00 Top Gear Three Wise Men Special. 9:00 Cinderella. 10:00 TBA. 11:00 Never Mind The Buzzcocks. 11:30 An Education. Make of all that what you will, dear blog reader!

Michael L Brea has reportedly been charged with second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. TMZ reports that the actor, who had starred in Ugly Betty and Step Up 3D, was charged after being taken into custody in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Brea is alleged to have stabbed his mother, Yanick, to death in her apartment in Brooklyn, and was initially taken for a psychiatric evaluation after emergency service personnel attended the scene. The thirty one-year-old had no previous criminal convictions and no reports of domestic violence or disturbances had been recorded prior.

Amber Tamblyn has revealed that she has loved working on House. Tamblyn joined the show this season as medical student Martha Masters. 'It's been a dream come true,' she told the New York Post. 'Coming into a well-oiled machine that everyone still loves working on is great.' She continued: 'Hugh [Laurie] never does the same take twice. He's unpredictable, charming, and makes me feel safe to experiment with choices. It was great to hit the ground running and know that I'll be running for a while.'

Lisa Snowdon has been diagnosed with viral meningitis. The radio DJ and former Strictly contestant was taken to hospital just hours after she attended two different public functions. A 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'It all happened very quickly. Lisa started to feel poorly when she turned on the Bond Street Christmas lights in London. She hosted an awards ceremony later and began to feel really peaky. She was feeling so weak when she arrived at the hospital she was on the verge of collapse.' A 'friend' also allegedly told the Daily Scum Mail: 'Lisa was feeling rotten for a good few days. She had flu symptoms, major aches and pains and a migraine.' Snowdon - who presents Capital Radio's breakfast show with Johnny Vaughan - has not yet been discharged from hospital but is believed to be on the road to recovery. 'Lisa's unlikely to be returning to the breakfast show next week as well,' the friend added. 'She is now on the mend, but she's still in hospital. The doctors have warned her this takes a long while to recover from.' Saturdays singer Frankie Sandford is currently standing in for Snowdon on her morning radio show.

Rory Bremner has reportedly parted company with Channel Four. According to the Daily Telegraph, the impressionist complained that members of the current coalition government are too difficult to impersonate. The forty nine-year-old claimed he would not be returning to Channel Four because 'there are simply no politicians in the new government that anybody recognises. That does make life a bit trickier for me. I don't think my life would be significantly poorer if I don't impersonate Nick Clegg,' he added. 'Life is short enough without sitting up night after night listening to tapes of him.' And before the election, he said: 'It's no wonder the Tory Party opposed identity cards, since so many of them struggle to find an identity at all.' Bremner's friend Jemima Khan told the Chortle website: 'Apparently, Channel Four have dropped Rory Bremner. We need more political satire, not less.' However, Bremner himself has suggested that it was his own choice to leave and explained that he wants to spend more time with his family. 'Honestly, I'm not coming back because there are simply no politicians in the new government that anybody recognises. I am more relaxed at home in Scotland and my children are of an age where I want us as a family to spend more time up here.' A spokesperson for Channel Four said: 'We will be in discussions with Rory in the New Year.'

CSI creator Anthony Zuiker is reportedly developing a new crime drama for CBS. Desperado is being pitched as a modern-day Western, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show will follow a team of San Antonio police officers who take their inspiration from the Wild West when solving crimes and dealing with outlaws. Zuiker will executive produce the project alongside Matthew Weinberg. Writer Kyle Ward, currently working on the sequel to 2007 video game adaptation Hitman, will script the pilot and serve as a third executive producer. Zuiker is also working with CBS on new spy drama Treadstone and has returned to the CSI writing staff for the show's current, eleventh, season.

The director general of the BBC claimed this week he had been placed under pressure to broadcast government advertising, threatening the independence of the BBC. Defending his role in the recent negotiation of the licence fee, Mark Thompson said the Coalition Government had proposed that the BBC should carry state advertising and confirmed that it was asked to fund the free licence fees of the over-seventy fives, which it seemingly refused to undertake. Speaking to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference, Thompson added 'there was the suggestion the BBC should take on the responsibility for broadcasting some of the material commissioned and generated by the Central Office of Information, in other words government advertising.' He described the proposal as 'a fundamental and wholly unacceptable attack on the BBC and one we'd fight tooth and nail.'

Channel Four chairman Lord Burns has expressed concern about government legislation which he fears could threaten the broadcaster's independence. What, another one? Currently going through parliament, the Public Bodies Bill proposes giving ministers the power to reform, merge or abolish quango organisations. Even though Channel Four is not directly affected by the bill, it is included on a list of institutions that could be subject to greater government control in the future, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Speaking about the bill at a Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in London, Burns said: 'We don't like it. It is a mistake and one which I hope will be corrected.' He added: 'Channel Four has up until now been dealt with through acts of parliament with a great deal of debate and consultation, and I am very resistant to the idea that it should be capable of being adjusted with a very cursory process. I suspect [the bill] will struggle to survive, but if it does survive Channel Four along with a number of other bodies is one that should not be on it.' Should the bill be made law, Burns said that there was a danger it could be used to influence Channel Four's editorial policy in the future. 'You don't want to think because you are making a programme on MPs' expenses then all of a sudden [Channel Four is threatened with reform],' he said. However, he dismissed any suggestion that the legislation could ultimately lead to the broadcaster being privatised. 'I don't think there's any appetite for that. In terms of Channel Four, what this bill does is give powers to fast-track changes [to its governance and structure],' he said. 'Broadcasting is one of those things that requires a lot of care and attention and consultation. You should not be able to make rapid changes without going through due process. It is a strange piece of legislation and I am discomfited by it.' In June, Burns vowed that Channel Four would remain financially independent in the future without the need for a government subsidy.

Max Clifford has reportedly signed himself up to represent Katie Waissel's grandmother Sheila Vogel-Coupe. The publicist confirmed that the eighty one-year-old who features in the adult film Freddie's Great British Granny Bang - is now his client, Press Association reports. A spokeswoman for Clifford said: 'Sheila is a delightful woman. She has been inundated with media offers which are all being considered. One thing she wants to make clear is that what she does is nothing to do with Katie.' Vogel has also publicly criticised her family after they confronted her over her job as a porn actress. She claimed that Katie had been 'vicious and vile' towards her and that her daughter, Diana, had called her 'a fucking whore.' A clip from Freddie's Great British Granny Bang reportedly starring Vogel-Coupe - under the stage name Ceceila Bird - will air this Saturday on the adult channel Red Hot 40+. For everybody that's got a subscription, that is. Vogel-Coupe has also claimed that X Factor boss Simon Cowell can avail himself of the services she provides 'whenever he wants.' She told the Sun that she has been disowned by her family since it was revealed that she, allegedly, works as a prostitute. 'I love what I do,' she said. 'I love sex. I work as a prostitute because I love it. It gives me great satisfaction and keeps me young. I could go on for years yet. Why should I stop?' Errr... dignity? Just a wild stab in the dark there. Speaking about her clients, Vogel-Coupe said: 'I've had a few celebrity clients but I would never say who they were. They worked in the music industry and TV and things. I like to make men happy and content.'

CBS is reportedly developing a new half-hour sitcom with The Daily Show writer Tim Carvell. The project has received a script order from the network, according to New York Magazine. The potential series will follow a thirty two-year-old man who begins to notice his age when his younger sister takes up a position at his company. Carvell has worked on The Daily Show since 2004 and also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2008. Former ER actor Anthony Edwards will executive produce the as-yet-untitled pilot via his production company Grand Central Entertainment.

Meanwhile, on today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we continue our search through the grubby corners of the archives with even more compelling evidence that there was, indeed, some damned queer shit going down in the early 1970s. As dear auld Whispering Bob Harris said on The Old Grey Whistle Test after a really memorable nine-minute plus performance of this here epic, 'H-amazing!!!' Play that funky portable synthesizer loud, young man! Pass the valium. Pass out.

And, as an extra special bonus, simply because I like the cut of yer jib dear blog reader, we'll have one more from the same period. 'Every great album has a biker's song,' The Jesus and Mary Chain once noted. So, how come nobody's ever thought about doing a cover version of 'Riding Free,' music by David Whitaker, lyrics by John Worth, performed by Harvey Andrews in the 1972 British horror movie Pyshcomania? 'He really got it on/He drove that sweet machine just like a bomb.' Okay, maybe there is a reason. What we got instead - as one of the few artefacts to emerge from a movie so gloriously and apocalyptically awful that it deserves to be stuffed and mounted on the plinth in Trafalgar Square is this. The score for the movie, by Kes composer John Cameron, is, as with much in this film, very of-the-era. Lots of choppy Shaft guitars and power chords, demented flute solos, backward tapes and Hammond organ riffs. The main theme ('Witch Hunt') was - as you can see above - released as a single in early 1973 on the Jam label. Copies of the original release are now apparently worth in excess of two hundred smackers. Psychomania's music is credited to Frog, a band made up of some of the finest British jazz session musicians of the era. Record Collector noted that 'the music is hot. Imagine Beelzebub on an episode of The Sweeney!' In 2003, the film's entire soundtrack was finally released on CD, by Trunk Records, in a beautifully lurid cover. 'My recollections are a bit blurred,' Cameron told Uncut in an interview to publicise the release. 'Hell, it was the 70s!' Incidentally, if you've never seen Don Sharp's Psychomania, dear blog reader, there is a significant - motorcycle-shaped - hole in your lives that, frankly, needs filling. Where else, but Britain during that era, could you find a cast of such exceptional quality camping it up in what is, in effect, Night of the Living Dead Psychedelic Bikers? It's, as Mojo once noted, a major contender for the most ridiculous movie ever made. And, therefore, it's easily one of the most interesting, precisely because of that. A hilariously incompetent, rather sanguine, piece of trash-horror, for many of the wrong reasons (see also contemporaries like Tower of Evil and Dracula AD 1972) it has managed to acquire for itself a genuine cult status - and not an entirely undeserved one either. Psychomania's peculiar quasi-comedy structure reaps some anarchic rewards if you stick with it and put up with the logical stupidity of the piece and the inane dialogue. George Sanders - in one of his last movie roles - Robert Hardy and Beryl Reid look as out of place in this environment as it is possible to be and Mary Larkin is completely wasted as the film's rather drippy love interest. But the rest of the young biker gang are very impressive (Nicky Henson, in particularly) and the whole thing rattles along at a furious pace with a well-aimed knee to the groin of the older generation. 'The body count is huge – gang members bump themselves off and kill what must amount to most of the town, including every policeman who gets in their way,' noted the reviewer at the British Horror website. 'Favourite bit: Two gang members ride their bikes into the police station. A woman on her way out of the building asks politely: "Shall I close the door?" to which the policeman on the desk (Doctor Who's Sergeant Benton) replies: "Yes please, love." Sheer class!' The Wicker Man, it isn't. But it'll give you far more laughs!

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