Sunday, December 12, 2010

Off With Their Heads

Let's start the latest bit of yer actual bloggerisationisms with something of a whinge from yer Keith Telly Topping. It has to be noted, dear blog reader, that if Sky show any more bloody trailers for Sky Movies' forthcoming premiere of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland on New Year's Eve, then there's gonna be sod-all room left for any actual programmes! Yes, it is a very good film and all that but, seriously, you'd think this was a significant moment in the history of western civilisation the way they're pushing it. I mean, okay, it's got Johnny Depp in it. I suppose. I've give them that. Anyway ...

Every so often, a US network drama series will throw up an episode that reminds us all why they are - as a rule - so highly regarded around the world. This week, is was the turn of Bones with a perfectly extraordinary episode entitled The Doctor In The Patio. In this Brennan was given an uncomfortable glimpse of the down side of her own life - as others see her - when the body of a brilliant, career-driven surgeon is found in a rough neighborhood with multiple fractures in her skull and no indication as to how or why she was there. Whilst the Jeffersonian team investigate the case objectively, Brennan - normally the wholly objective one - struggles to separate her own life from the victim's as she perceives many parallels between them the more that she learns about the victim's own past. Meanwhile, evidence found at the crime scene brings the team closer to solving the case, but it's Brennan's unique perspective that propels her to retrace the final events of the victim's life. With the reassurance of a new friend and Jeffersonian security guard, Micah Leggat (a superb performance by Veronica Mars' Enrico Colantoni), Brennan makes an important discovery about herself and learns a lesson about taking chances. It was Emily Deschanel's fractured, coming-apart-at-the-seams performance that gave the episode its bite and the final scene, in which she finally - finally - tells Booth after all these years that she has feelings for him only to discover that she has, apparently, missed her chance, was the perfect ending to a little masterpiece of controlled, emotionally precise storytelling. How on earth did this show featuring 'the guy out of Angel that can't act and lots of other people you haven't heard of' get so consistently good?

Hands up anyone else who wanted to ram a snooker queue - sideways - up the flaming Gary Glitter of somebody at management level at BBC2 when a couple of fat men poking balls around a table delayed transmission of excellent episodes of Have I Got More News For You and Qi: XL on Saturday night? Just yer Keith Telly Topping, then? Fair enough. Snooker? What is this, 1985?

Jeremy Clarkson has revealed that he and the producers of Top Gear have yet to decide whether to unveil a new version of the Stig for the next series. Racing driver Ben Collins was revealed to be the programme's helmeted character after the BBC lost a court case over his autobiography being published. An autobiography this is, I understand, already to be found in bargain bins in some book shops. Clarkson told Radio 1's Chris Moyles: 'We don't know what to do. Eventually a suggestion will come in and we'll say, "Well that's a good idea," so we'll do that.' He added that he found the debate over who was under the racing helmet dull, saying: 'Wasn't it just so boring? Everybody asked, "Who's the Stig?" but nobody really wanted to know. Kids thought it was a monster, and some people thought it was Michael Schumacher.' However, by the time he appeared on The ONE Show later that evening having spent all day doing interviewed, Jezza's stance had softened somewhat. When asked by Chris Evans how he felt out Collins' departure, he replied 'tender!'

Pamela Connolly, Kara Tointon and Matt Baker are the three finalists for this year's Strictly Come Dancing. Gavin Henson and Scott Maslen were the semi-finalists eliminated in a episode that saw Take That (with Robbie) perform a rather spirited version of 'Back For Good' (to the screams of an audience full of twentysomething housewives, it seemed!) Tointon topped the scores after completing her third dance on Saturday night's show, but Connolly was hot on her heels after picking up a perfect score of forty for her quickstep. Speaking about Tointon's rumba with her professional Artem Chigvintsev, Alesha Dixon admitted that she had been moved emotionally by the dance. 'Together you are mesmerising, and it's such a difficult dance. Technically you mastered it, emotionally you mastered it. For me, it was just pure magic.' Len Goodman joked: 'Do me a favour, you're not supposed to dance that well!' Meanwhile, Connolly picked up the highest marks of the evening with Craig Revel Horwood describing her routine with James Jordan as 'fabulous. I thought you did a fantastic interpretation of quickstep, and you're an inspiration for so many women. And for me that's what makes you a winner,' added Dixon. Baker and Aliona Vilani had something of a 'mare on Friday with their salsa but recovered well on Saturday doing the tango. Henson and his partner Katya Virshilas finished last in the public vote. When quizzed about his experience by Bruce Forysth, Henson spoke of his delight at having overcome his initial struggles from the beginning of the competition.'Katya's been amazing, she's been perfect for me. I've come in here with two left feet, it's been so stressful for me,' he said. Virshilas also teased Henson's early lack of ability, joking: 'He taught me patience. It was one of the best experiences ever, I couldn't have asked for a better partner than him.' With Henson gone, Daly and Forsyth put the remaining men out of their misery by announcing that Baker had been voted through to the final, thereby eliminating Maslen from the competition. 'It's been the best experience I've had in maybe my life,' the EastEnders actor said upon hearing the news. 'To tackle something you've got no skill set in, it's a challenge and to do it live it's a bigger challenge.' Maslen praised his 'spectacular' partner Natalie Lowe, adding that he had developed a love of dancing through his time on the programme. 'When it works, when you're moving, you feel it. What I've learned with dance, is when it does work it's in your body and you know it's right, and we've had a few of those moments. We've had some good moments.' Both of the eliminated acts received a standing ovation from the judges and the studio audience as they took to the floor for their final dance.

Coronation Street's fiftieth anniversary week concluded on Friday with another rescue attempt (for poor old forgotten-about Rita), a heated showdown between Kevin and Sally which ended with Kev getting chucked out of his own gaff and - positively, this time - the end of the road for mad dead Charlotte. As the aftermath of the soap's tram crash disaster continued, hapless John crept into Charlotte's hospital room and prepared to get rid of her for good by unplugging the machine which was keeping her alive. However, just before John could commit another murderous act, he was interrupted by the arrival of Charlotte's parents at her bedside. To his relief, however, the doctors later reported that the twisted schoolteacher had permanent brain damage and - still posing as her lover, Colin - John agreed that they should switch off her life support machine. Meanwhile, Peter Barlow survived life-saving surgery at the hospital - but the doctors warned that his battle was far from over, meaning that his future still remains uncertain. Back on the cobbles, Rita's plight was finally discovered after Nick Tilsley revealed that her plans for the evening had been cancelled, meaning that she was in The Kabin when the tram hit. Subsequent scenes saw Rita rescued from the shop and taken to hospital. After hearing about the nature of the disaster, the show favourite delivered a memorable line as she quipped: 'What is it with me and trams?' Elsewhere, the Websters' dramatically hit the rocks as Sally told Kevin that she knew the truth about the paternity of Jack. As Sally made it clear that her husband was no longer welcome at the house, it appeared that their twenty year plus marriage could be over for good. With the soap's anniversary week having now claimed three casualties, speculation over the rest of the characters continues as the birthday storylines were promoted with the tagline Four Funerals and a Wedding.

ITV's live episode of Coronation Street on Thursday drew a massive peak audience of 14.86m – the highest figures for the soap in seven years. The hour-long special came in a week of carnage for the soap. It averaged fourteen million over the 8pm hour, of which six hundred and thirty thousand viewers watched the ITV HD simulcast, according to overnight figures. The five-minute peak came toward the end of the episode at 8.50pm. It managed to beat the audience for Monday night's episode - in which an explosion at the Joinery caused a tram to crash into the street - which was seen by an average audience of 13.73m with a peak of 14.58m. A repeat of the live episode, from 10.40pm, drew a further 1.93m viewers.

As predicted by yer Keith Telly Topping some weeks ago - well, as predicted by yer Keith Telly Topping's niece, actually, if we're being strictly accurate here - Matt Carlde won the 2010 X Factor. Congratulations Our Ali, I shall be coming to you for all of my predictions in future. In fact, if you happen to know who's likely to win the 3:30 at Chepstow tomorrow, give me a bell. Anyway, as mentioned, Matt won. Despite appearing for his first song of the evening wearing the most vile pair of canary yellow strides in history of television. Or, indeed, the history of christendom. There were two other real highlights of the night. Firstly the scowling look of sour disgruntlement on Simon Cowell's face when he found out that his boys One Direction had only come third. That was worth the price of the licence fee on its own, frankly. If he'd asked 'why am I surrounded by mediocrity?' at that moment, I could've died happy. There was also the small matter of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... winner and last year's X Factor finalist Stacey Solomon finding herself with the job of reporting from Matt's home town of Colchester on the unfolding events. What I think I managed to gather from her several bits of, erm, well if you stretch a point, reportage was that everybody in the place was 'gow-in' ment-ahl. Wooooooo!' Apparently. And, err, that's about it, really. Nothing much else she said appeared to be recognisably English. Or, anything even remotely like it. If I was from Colchester, I'd be, frankly, appalled. Don't give up the day job, Stace. Whatever that is.

Next year's series of The X Factor could go ahead without Dermot O'Dreary or Simon Cowell, and with fat, smug, unfunny charlatan James Corden as a new presenter, 'sources' have allegedly suggested. This is according to the Scum Mail On Sunday, anyway, so I'd take it with a pinch of salt personally. They say that the Gavin & Stacey 'star' (allegedly) is 'being lined up' to front the programme after O'Dreary suggested that he would step down to 'look at other opportunities' should he fail to secure a hosting role on the US version of the show. The paper adds that Corden - who has previously made appearances on The Xtra Factor and loaned his dubious vocal talents to Cowell's World Cup song 'Shout' - has regularly been spotted at the show's Wembley studios since filming of the live rounds began there in October. Meanwhile, 'friends of Cowell' (allegedly) have claimed that the music mogul will quit his judging position in order to concentrate on the American version of the show, which - given Cheryl Cole's rumoured participation therein - would result in a dramatically different panel on the 2011 series in the UK. 'Simon is not coming back next year,' the 'source' allegedly stated. 'Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh will return, so the viewers will have a sense of continuity, but Simon's not going to be on the show.'

Sam Neill has agreed to star in Alcatraz, the latest television pilot from JJ Abrams. The Jurassic Park actor will join Lost's Jorge Garcia, Sarah Jones and Jonny Coyne in the pilot, according to Deadline. The series revolves around a group of escapees at the infamous prison who disappear from the past and find themselves in the present day.

Trade unions members working at ITV were balloted last week on the broadcaster's pay offer for next year, with the prospect of industrial action potentially on the cards. Broadcasting unions BECTU, the NUJ and Unite recently called on ITV to offer a 2011 pay increase in-line with inflation, up to four and a half per cent on the latest figures. Despite the fact that 2010 has seen an upsurge in ITV's performance, negotiators representing the broadcaster attempted to argue that next year is not looking so positive. Well, not if Cowell abandons The X Factor for a kick-off! Members are now voting on ITV's offer to provide a three per cent consolidated pay increase, along with one hundred and twenty pounds in shares and one hundred and eighty smackers in cash, subject to eligibility rules. David Beevers, BECTU supervisory official, said that the offer means any employees earning an annual salary of thirty thousand pounds would get an overall pay increase of four per cent. A consultative ballot opened yesterday and voting will close at noon on 6 January. In a message to BECTU members, Beevers added that ITV's offer is the best that can be achieved through negotiation and, if rejected, would trigger strikes as the only other option. 'The joint unions feel, as the offer falls short of the claim submitted, we are not in a position to recommend the package. However, we have succeeded in improving the company's original position,' said Beevers. 'In light of the fact that ITV has made clear that this is their final offer, we believe that this is the best that can be achieved through negotiation. If the company's offer is rejected then it is likely that the joint unions will be in dispute in the New Year with the potential for industrial action.' All ITV employees experienced a basic pay freeze throughout 2010, as the commercial broadcaster attempted to bring its costs under control in the recession.

Comedian Dane Cook will join the cast of Hawaii Five-0 for an upcoming episode. According to Entertainment Weekly, he has been cast to play the brother of Scott Caan's character, Danno. Cook's appearances on television have previously been limited to mostly comedic roles but he has also appeared in films like Dan In Real Life and My Best Friend's Girl.

Charlie Brooker has suggested that he has struggled to deal with the paparazzi since his celebrity status has risen, along with his marriage to Konnie Huq. Speaking to GQ about their private lives, he said: 'We're not the sort of people to pose on red carpets. We walked out of the house the other day and there were some paps trying to get a photo of Konnie's ring and my initial reaction was to give them the finger and shout fuck off, which is actually probably counterproductive. It's nobody's business. It would drive me mad. It's bad enough when you are trying to have a piss and someone is staring at the end of your penis without having the press delving into your marriage.' The presenter added that he enjoys having a new band of fans since the success of Screenwipe and You Have Been Watching. He said: 'I'm not a performer but I do enjoy the showing-off. I simply don't go out very much so I'm not really exposed to people coming up and talking to me. If I go somewhere like the Edinburgh Festival, because you've got comedy fans hanging around the fringe and often drinking, people feel they can come up to me because they think they know my personality. Unlike, say, an actor.'

Channel Four repeated the hugely controversial edition of Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights featuring jokes about Katie Price's disabled son Harvey which got the plastic one so discombobulated earlier in the week. Following the first airing of the episode on Tuesday night, Price registered her disgust at the comments made by Boyle. Her lawyers later gave Channel Four a 5pm deadline on Thursday to apologise for the programme's content. Which Channel Four decided not to take any notice thereof. A formal complaint was subsequently lodged by Price's lawyers with Ofcom. The broadcaster repeated the episode as scheduled, with the comments intact. And, it's nice to see somebody other than the Beeb getting it up the Gary Glitter in relation to something Mad Frankie's has said for a change. Personally, yer keith Telly Topping didn't see - either broadcast of - the episode in question. I was so disappointed with the first Tramadol Nights episode that I actually forgot it was on. True story.

Joanne Froggatt has revealed she was shocked to discover the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder as she researched it for her new film In Our Name. The Downton Abbey, Robin Hood and Life on Mars actress plays Suzy, a soldier coping with post-traumatic stress and readjusting to being a mother after serving in Iraq, and visited Combat Stress, a charity for victims of PTSD to research the role. Joanne revealed: 'Little bits kept coming up that really stuck with me and you just realise the enormity of it. One of the symptoms is you feel quite closed off from your emotions and you can't really connect with your feelings. And one of the sufferers that I spoke to said you're always acting, and you're always acting who you are. Because you remember the way you used to behave and you know the way you're supposed to behave with your loved ones and everything else, so hopefully they don't notice the difference. But you don't actually feel it, so you just go through the motions of all those things you used to do. And he said he'd never truly laughed with his wife for fifteen years, not truly and I thought "God, that is so sad."' Joanne said she hoped the film would highlight the problem, and she said writer-director Brian Welsh's open ending to the film aimed to make audiences think. She added: 'In reality it's not something that just goes away overnight, it's something some people can learn to deal with. I think Brian wanted to leave that with the audience and say what does happen next for our soldiers and how have we got a responsibility in that?'

Warner Brothers has denied rumours that Glee actress Heather Morris is being lined up to take on the role of Buffy Summers in the studio's upcoming film remake of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Earlier this year, it was announced that the studio will remake Buffy without series creator Joss Whedon - which is a little bit like remaking Jaws without the shark - and Morris has recently been linked to the movie's lead role. 'We're not even thinking about casting yet,' The Hollywood Reporter quotes screenwriter Whit Anderson as saying. 'The script isn't even written!' Morris is best known for her role as the cheerleader Brittany on Glee. She was upgraded to series regular for the show's second season after becoming popular with fans.

TV presenter and least convincing 'woman of the people' imaginable, Christine Bleakley, is reportedly being sued by her former agent for a cut of her obscene multi-million pound ITV deal. John Noel is said to be seeking at least three hundred thousand smackers from the Daybreak host after she ended their contract just a matter of days before signing with ITV. He claims that she owes him commission on the deal as she didn't give the required two-month notice period. According to the News of the World, Bleakley texted Noel saying: 'Sorry it's come to this and I mean it too when I say I wish you the very best in the future. Maybe we can join forces again soon X.' A spokesman for Bleakley allegedly said: 'The dispute is not principally about money - it's centred around John Noel Management's conduct in relation to her.' Bleakley recently admitted that she was upset with the criticism directed towards troubled ITV breakfast show Daybreak. Which bleating, frankly, impressed precisely no one who's been unfortunate enough to sit through her thoroughly amateurish presentation of the breakfast show for the last couple of months.

Elizabeth Hurley has confirmed her split from husband Arun Nayar following allegations of an affair with former test cricketer Shane Warne. The Austin Powers actress took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to clarify her marital status - to anyone that was interested, seemingly - after the News of the World exposed her 'secret meetings' with the Australian sportsman and their two-day break in a luxury London hotel. See left. Great headline, by the way. Somebody deserves a pay-rise for that. She wrote: 'Not a great day. For the record, my husband Arun and I separated a few months ago. Our close family and friends were aware of this.' And now, everyone else is too.

Which brings us to yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This is in the hope that the weather actually improves a bit over the next week. I'm sick of being cold and slipping all over the shop whenever I venture down the garden path. 'Please turn me over,' indeed.