Monday, November 15, 2010

Scallys and Wags

Stephen Fry is to be seen giving his young self a damned good thrashing in a new comedy film. You normally have to pay good money for that sort of thing, they reckon. But, anyway, the Qi host will swap roles to play his own headmaster and give six-of-the-best to young actor Daniel Roche - best known as Ben in the BBC1 sitcom Outnumbered. It is part of a new Sky1 film series - Little Crackers - which looks at 'hilarious episodes' in the formative years of familiar faces. With amusing consequences, no doubt. It will also feature Dawn French playing the Queen Mother, whom she met as a child. And Catherine Tate will bring to life one of her childhood incidents when, as a shy youngster, she decided to mimic Gary Glitter during a school nativity play. Fry's film looks at an episode in his life covered in some depth in his autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot when, as a wordy twelve-year-old, he had to choose whether to blame the new boy for a trip to an out-of-bounds sweet shop or fore go Christmas celebrations. Fry said of Roche's performance: 'He really is extraordinary, tremendously poised and able to deliver lines which are not typical for a child. One of the most ghastly things about me as a child was the fact that I tried to use long words all the time. It is still one of the ghastly things about me, but he's really good at it. He's the star here; I have the number two dressing room.' Other films will feature incidents from the lives of David Baddiel, Mighty Boosh actor Julian Barratt, Bill Bailey, Jo Brand and Julia Davies. Little Crackers, Sky1's first original comedy for over a decade, will run for seven nights from 19 December and will also be broadcast in HD.

Meanwhile, Fry survived a 'dangerous adventure' this week unscathed after seeing Millwall equalise late on Tuesday to snatch a draw against his beloved Norwich City at The Den. The actor tweeted to his almost two million followers: 'On my way to a dangerous adventure. An away game v Millwall. A timorous Canary fluttering in the Lions' Den. Mercy.' At the match, Millwall avoided their fourth league defeat in five games after an injury-time equaliser from John Marquis. Fry later twitted from his iPhone: 'Don't know how Millwall got such a ferocious rep. A friendlier club you couldn't find. Nil-all at half-time. We've survived some scares. They equalised, dash it. Probably a fair result. Good match.'

And, just to prove that I don't simply throw these things together, still on the vague subject of Mr Fry, his show provided the TV Comedy Moment of the Week: It came in Friday's episode of Qi when Bill Bailey had an utterly surreal little rant after noted Millwall fan - see! - Danny Baker voiced the opinion that he did not want to be seen as the spokesperson for 'the Ghost Party.' Bill, clearly, loved the idea: 'Because, all the other parties, they're just scaremongering!' Brilliant. Can't wait to see the Qi: XL edition of that one. Whenever the BBC decide to schedule it. Probably 4am one dark December morning. Unannounced.

Christine Bleakley has reportedly said that she was initially sceptical about starting a relationship with Frank Lampard because of his career. And, the fact that he misses penalties at vital moments. The presenter said that it took her 'a while' to trust him because of the bad reputation which she perceived footballers to have. As though anybody actually gives a proper flying stuff about absolutely anything that this cut price Posh and Becks say, think or get up to in their private or public lives. God, they really do have ideas above their station, don't they? She explained to the Sun: 'It took quite a while before I was even willing to consider chatting with him. I was very much aware of footballers' reputations.' For diving? For feigning injury? Come on, darlin', be specific. The thirty one-year-old waste-of-space TV presenter who constantly talks like she's got a mouth full of gobstoppers said that she never set out to be a WAG. Bit late for that, chuck, it sort of goes with the territory. Going on holiday with him when you were supposed to be back in London renegotiating your ONE Show contract probably didn't help, either. 'It was never my intention for a footballer to ask me out. And I wouldn't have bet my house on knowing even what team Frank played for when we met,' she confessed. There are weeks when some Moscow Chelski FC fans don't know what team he plays for either. It happens even more frequently with England, sad to report. Bleakley added that she would be upset for people to think that her feelings for Lampard weren't genuine. 'I'd hate anyone to think I was going out with someone for anything other than the fact we get along and have a very nice time together.' Unlike viewers of your television show, love. They never have a nice time.

Miranda Hart believes that comedy is going to be male-dominated for 'the next two hundred years.' Ah, but in 2310, watch out for them ladies! The sitcom actress says comedy audiences – including herself – are, broadly, sexist and worry when a female stand-up takes to the stage. In an interview with the Observer, she said: 'There are some professions that culturally and sociologically take a long time to change, and because of that there's still sexism in comedy audiences. We shouldn't blame them: I do it too. A woman comes on and I feel slightly anxious. I'm a woman in comedy, and I do that; I think everyone does. It's getting much better all the time. But it's still obviously male-dominated. That's how it's going to be, certainly for the next two hundred years.' She added that women also find it more difficult on panel shows, because they stand out more from the male-dominated line-ups. 'It can be as simple a thing as the quality of your voice,' she said. 'Because it's a different register, when you speak, everyone turns to look at you, so what you've got to say has to be even more pithy. It's hard to join in that rolling chatter. As it would be for a woman down the pub with ten male friends.'

Musical TV Moment of the Week - the excellent use of The Smiths' 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' in the last episode of James May's Man's Lab to accompany a sequence about a cheerless birthday firework bash. Would it really be too much to hope that this was a pointed, and rather sneering, comment towards some TV reviewers who, it seems, have ideological problems from the very beginning with a show that attempts to encourage people to actually do stuff with their lives instead of sitting on their fat arses watching The X Factor. Like this tube for instance. 'Being precisely the sort of milksop May abhors, I'm ideologically and politically opposed to his ethos in every way. Where's a show for me, in which a namby-pamby liberal sneers at middle-aged, badly dressed, right-wing oafs with boring, childish obsessions?' It's called I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! mate. 'nuff said, really. Sometimes, we collectively get the television we deserve. But, usually, because of clowns like this fellah, when we do, they're under appreciated.

Lembit Opik has been teased by his I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! co-stars over his engagement to a Cheeky Girl. There you go, pal, something featuring 'namby-pamby liberals' with plenty of 'sneering.' Yer man from the Scotsman should be right at home with this one. The former Liberal Democrat MP - and shameless, if admittedly, quite funny - self-publicist, who dated Gabriela Irimia from 2006 to 2008, was ribbed by Linford Christie and Nigel Havers over his desire to date somebody they perceived to be completely lacking in talent. 'You're known for the Cheeky Girl incident,' Havers proposed to Opik. 'It put you on the map.' Well, I think getting elected to parliament did that mate. This merely had his map reference that bit more recognisable to tabloid sat-navs. The forty five-year-old former politician proceeded to explain his first meeting with Irimia, causing Christie to burst out laughing when he revealed that the Romanian pop star hadn't initially known who he was. 'Good on him,' Christie smirked. 'If you can get a Cheeky Girl and you become a cheeky boy, its all good. Could you tell the difference [between them]?' he queries, then, added the punchline to his own - not particularly funny - joke. 'He could but he didn’t want to.' Opik later commented: 'It's a strange thing to travel twelve thousand miles from home and hear someone sing 'The Cheeky Song' in the jungle. They were good guys about it. They had a laugh about it. And they say it was really [impressive] and all that. It's not something I tend to boast about.'

Michelle Williams became the latest victim of The Ann Widdecombe Effect as the Destiny's Child singer was voted off Strictly Come Dancing. Williams became the sixth celebrity to leave the competition, after her Paso Doble proved as unpopular with viewers as it was with the judges. They said her dance with partner Brendan Cole 'lost balance' and was 'very stiff.' While former the Tory MP was, once again, saved by the public, the combination of judges' scores and phone votes left Williams and actress Felicity Kendal in the bottom two. But it was the American who was eliminated. Bruno Tonioli said: 'It was the right energy but you lost it so many times.' He added: 'You need the aggression, but the arms - all the lines were not flowing all the way through. You lost balance.' A show spokesman meanwhile, noted that viewing figures for Saturday night's episode were the highest of the series so far, peaking at 12.6 million people and an audience share slightly under fifty per cent.

Actors Jim Broadbent and John Simm are to star in a new psychological drama on BBC1 about a father and son who get caught up in a scandal. Simm plays a London journalist who returns home to be reunited with his father, who has Alzheimer's disease. Their lives are turned upside down as Simm's character Tom seeks to find the truth behind events from eighteen years earlier. Three-parter Exile, scripted by Shameless writer Danny Brocklehurst, begins filming in Manchester on this week. Oscar winner Broadbent and Simm who has been appearing as Hamlet at the Sheffield Crucible and starred in State of Play, Life on Mars and Doctor Who, will be joined in the cast by veteran actor Timothy West. Executive producer Nicola Shindler said: 'The combination of intense thriller and beautifully observed family relationships, and the chance to work with two of Britain's best actors, is a rare opportunity.'

Channel 4 has announced that a Coronation Street-themed episode of Come Dine With Me will be broadcast next month to mark the soap's fiftieth anniversary. Former cast members Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch), Ken Morley (Reg Holdsworth), Tupele Dorgu (Kelly Crabtree) and Philip Middlemiss (Des Barnes) will all feature in the edition of the bafflingly popular culinary contest. Following the usual Celebrity Come Dine format, the foursome must compete to host the best dinner party in a bid to win a cash prize for charity. It is thought that the one-off episode will see tension develop between the competitors after Morley's bawdy sense of humour fails to impress Dorgu. On the second night of the competition, things get worse when Morley arrives in character as an annoying American preacher - earning him a telling-off. Meanwhile, when it is Goodyear's turn to play hostess, she orders the male contestants to arrive in drag and causes a stir by having a scantily-clad slave named Dave serving her guests. Meanwhile, if you want to watch a proper celebration of the show's fiftieth anniversary, ITV are showing one of those on 9 December. It's got a tram crash and everything.

Simon Cowell has described Cheryl Cole 'a brat' over her decision to ditch her X Factor hopefuls and take a trip to America. The singer reportedly upset her female acts in the talent competition, as well as fellow judges Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue, by jetting out to Los Angeles to broker a six million pound US record deal. Speaking to the People, Cowell denounced Cole's willingness to leave her girls under-rehearsed and unprepared, stating: 'It was completely brattish to fly off to America like she did.' He added: 'Cheryl is a brat. She comes in sometimes and she is a brat. Whether you like it or not, when you are on this show you can't just turn up on a Saturday and Sunday and be on television. You've actually got a job to do. If you're not around the contestants will make it known exactly how unhappy they are.' However, Cowell also admitted to being guilty of abandoning his own acts in previous series of The X Factor. The fifty one-year-old revealed that Cole's actions had not damaged her chances of securing a judging role on the US version of the show, but admitted that she would likely be left out when the celebrity panel is announced in the New Year. 'I can say that Cheryl's attitude is "If I get it, great. If I don't, I understand,"' he said. 'We have already had that conversation.'

Cowell, meanwhile, has reportedly ordered the remaining X Factor finalists to refrain from embarking on any nookie during the competition. He is believed to have warned contestants against shagging each other, any adoring fans or any workers on the show, after fellow judge Louis Walsh commented to the Mirror that 'they are at it like rabbits.' The paper claims that Cowell met with the surviving acts on Friday following the revelation of Matt Cardle's relationship with a stylist, when he declared: 'This is The X Factor not The Sex Factor.' Heh. Did you see what he did there? That was almost clever. Almost. 'It's like one big love-in,' a 'show insider' reportedly commented. 'In the entire seven-year history of the show we've never had a situation like this.' It has been alleged that Cowell was pressured into the talk after the parents of teen group One Direction asked show bosses to monitor the boys' love lives. Family members are said to be specifically concerned by rumours of Harry Styles's secret affair with a nineteen-year-old backing dancer, Louis Tomlinson's increasingly close relationship with former X Factor finalist Lucie Jones and Zain Malik's supposed trysts with show rivals Cher Lloyd, Katie Waissel and Geneva Lane of Belle Amie.

Some bloke called Aiden went out of The X Factor this week, apparently. Nobody was much bothered.

Kiefer Sutherland has revealed that he wished his 24 counterpart Jack Bauer was allowed to swear in the series. Speaking to Empire, the actor said his 'one regret' concerning the popular high octane thriller was the inability to swear, as it would have made Bauer 'more threatening.' He said: 'I would have liked to have been able to swear. I would have been the most foul-mouthed bastard of all time. I'd have made Tony Soprano look like a choir boy.' He also revealed that he had have a morning routine to get expletives out of his system before shooting, admitting: 'I used to say, "Fuck!" as soon as I got out of bed.' The actor added that the show may have had more freedom on other channels, such as HBO. He said: 'I often think about what would have happened if we were on cable instead of FOX.'

Megan Fox and Lynda Carter are feuding over Wonder Woman. Fox, who is best known for her role in Transformers, recently said that the character of Wonder Woman, originally played on television by Carter, is 'lame,' and added that she doesn't 'get' what makes her a superhero. And this, apparently, constitutets 'news.' Carter told FOX News: 'Megan Fox actually kind of trashed Wonder Woman. She said she thought it was dumb, like "What's the big whoop making people tell the truth?"' Sorry, could you repeat that in English, please? Ally McBeal creator David E Kelley is believed to be working on a new Wonder Woman television series.

An Edinburgh charity shop has received an anonymous donation of the earliest book about television, signed by the inventor John Logie Baird. The book, entitled Television and published in 1926, is expected to raise up to one thousand pounds when it is auctioned by Bonhams on 23 November. It was found by an Oxfam volunteer at their store on Morningside Road. The book, written by Alfred Dinsdale, tells the story of television up to 1926, ending with an explanation of Logie Baird's work and inventions. The account includes the first public demonstrations of moving silhouettes which he gave at Selfridges in London in 1925. It is unclear how Logie Baird's signature came to be in the book but experts believe it is likely that it was the inventor's own personal copy. Andy Crosby, manager of Oxfam's Morningside bookshop, said: 'One of our volunteers found the book and when I saw the signature inside it, it was one of those moments where I had to check that my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. We thought at first it was just a regular sort of signed copy but when we took the book to Bonhams they said it was more likely to have belonged to Baird himself because of the location of the inscription, so that makes it a pretty special donation. I don't know whether the person who brought this book in was aware that there was a signature inside it, but I'd like to say a really big thank you to them for donating it to Oxfam.'

One of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite movie directors, Francis Ford Coppola, has received a lifetime achievement Oscar, during a Los Angeles ceremony. The cream of Hollywood's establishment turned out for the event to see the filmmaker get the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award. Robert DeNiro, star of Coppolla's finest movie, The Godfather Part II, paid tribute to Francis, calling him 'an inspiration and one of my biggest influences.' As he accepted the prize, Coppola said: 'I have a great love of the original Hollywood tradition and admiration for the tradition of Irving Thalberg.' Star Wars creator George Lucas called Coppola 'my big brother and my mentor.' He continued: 'He taught me how to write. He taught me how to direct. He actually personified a whole era of the American film industry. He was our leader. He was our inspiration.' The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science said Coppola's Irving Thalberg Memorial Award was given to 'a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.' It has only been presented thirty eight times since the award was first established in 1937. But it is not Coppola's first Academy Award, as he already has five Oscars - four of them for his Godfather films. (The other one was for his script on Patton in 1970.) Coppola sealed his legendary status by writing and directing the multiple Oscar-winning The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II in 1972 and 1974 respectively. Over a career spanning six decades, Coppola was also nominated for Academy Awards for The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979 - another of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite movies) and The Godfather, Part III (1990). Through his American Zoetrope studio, which he established in 1969, Coppola has produced more than thirty films, including The Black Stallion, American Graffiti, The Outsiders and Lost in Translation, which earned his daughter Sofia an Academy Award nomination for best director. DeNiro also helped recognise ninety four-year-old actor Eli Wallach, who was also presented with an Oscar for a sixty-year acting career which continues to this day. 'Eli, now that we're going for the same parts, I hope we can remain friends,' DeNiro joked. Clint Eastwood, who worked with Wallach on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, called him 'a great performer and a great friend.' Kevin Spacey presented filmmaker, historian and author Kevin Brownlow with an Academy Award for his work preserving and protecting silent films. French director Jean-Luc Godard, a key figure in the French New Wave movement, was also awarded an Oscar, although he did not attend the event, which rekindled charges of anti-Semitism against the avowed Marxist, anti-Zionist and defender of Palestinian rights. Over the years, Godard has given numerous interviews critical of the Israeli government and the influence of Jews in Hollywood. The controversy has raged throughout Jewish media in recent weeks and was picked up by the mainstream press, with The New York Times publishing an article titled An Honorary Oscar Revives a Controversy, while the Los Angeles Times asked: 'Jean-Luc Godard and his honorary Oscar: does it matter if he's an anti-Semite?' The Academy attempted to brush aside the controversy, issuing a statement in the weeks leading up to the ceremony saying it was not convinced of the veracity of the allegations against Godard. 'Anti-Semitism is of course deplorable, but the Academy has not found the accusations against Mr Godard persuasive,' the statement said. The Swiss filmmaker, whose body of work includes Breathless (1960), Le Mépris (1963), Band of Outsiders (1964), Alphaville (1965), Masculin, Féminin (1966), Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967), One Plus One (1968) and Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie) (1980), was praised for his passion in creating a new kind of cinema. 'Jean-Luc Godard could not be here with us tonight. That is unfortunate,' said Academy president Tom Sherak. 'But his absence in no way diminishes our respect and appreciation for his work as a filmmaker. And I want you to know that this award is meaningful to him.'

In conclusion, then, today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, sticking with a TV-related theme, a memory of a time when it was just about possible to get EPs with six tunes on 'em! Cheap as chips. Pye and chips, come to that. Hey, come on. You don't get this quality of bad jokes anywhere else on the Interweb, do you?

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