Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Who's Rattled Your Cage?

Hilarious TV comedy moment of the week so far: Dara O Briain and Professor Brian Cox's assessment of the diarrhoea that is astrology on the BBC's Stargazing Live. 'Horoscopes, that's all nonsense,' noted Dara gleefully during a demonstration of how the various planets in the solar system are seldom even in the same parts of the sky, let alone aligned. 'In the interests of balance I should say, because we're on the BBC, that Dara is right,' added Brian. 'It is nonsense!' One wonders how long it'll be before the Daily Scum Mail's astrologer tries to pull another shitty little 'get our readers to write in to the BBC to complain.' This, remember, from somebody who charges £5.95 a month for his 'five star service,' of providing advice to the gullible. I'm sure your mother is very proud of you, sir. The show, incidentally, opened with a more than healthy audience of 3.39m from 8pm and two hundred and thirty thousand additional viewers on the BBC HD channel. Not bad at all considering it was up against both Coronation Street and EastEnders during the hour.

David Tennant has reportedly become engaged to his girlfriend Georgia Moffett. The former Doctor Who actor met the actress when she played his daughter in the series four episode The Doctor's Daughter. Georgia is, of course, is the real-life daughter of one of Tennant's predecessors in the role, Peter Davison. A source told the Sun: 'They are besotted with each other and can't wait to tie the knot.' The couple are reportedly planning to wed on New Year's Day in 2012. Everyone at From The North sends David and Georgia our sincere best wishes for a long and happy future together.

Matt LeBlanc has revealed how he struggled on the set of his latest series Episodes, as it has no studio audience or laughter track. The actor told the Observer that he was used to traditional sitcoms such as Friends. He said: 'My first day [on Episodes], I had this big monologue in a car. The strangest thing was that when there was a joke, nobody laughed. I was so used to working in front of an audience, and in the back of the head there was this voice going, "Fuck, I thought you nailed that. You suck! Five years [off work], you lost it. Like Chevy Chase.'

The BBC spends too much money on popular series like Doctor Who and Top Gear at the expense of more 'challenging' programmes, according to grumpy old recidivist Trevor Eve in an interview to promote his new ITV drama Kidnap and Ransom. And, we ask again, what the hell is it about people in the TV industry that they seem obsessed with dissing the hard work of other people who make other programmes under the seemingly misguided belief that this will, somehow, get more viewers to watch their own efforts. Doesn't work, Trev, I have to clue you up on that matey. It didn't work for Jimmy McGovern and it ain't going to work for you either. These comments are also a bit rich - and I use that word without any intended irony - coming from a man who was reported last year to be the BBC's highest paid actor at one million pounds per series. The star of the soon-to-be-cancelled BBC1 crime drama Waking the Dead said he despaired that broadcasters ploughed money into shows because they reap commercial benefits and bring big ratings. Well indeed, isn't it just bloody awful that the BBC is happy to pay that bit more for two of the few shows they make which, actually, pay for themselves? Eve singled out Doctor Who, one of the BBC's most popular series, as the first subject of his not inconsiderable ire. 'The programme is great, but it was created for children in 1963. One doesn't need to say more.' Oh, go on, I'm sure it'll be very entertaining if you do say more. 'They spend a lot of money on Top Gear as well.' A programme on which you've been a guest Trev. Twice. You sodding hypocrite. 'I'm not saying that everything popular is bad,' he continued although, actually, it sounds very much like he was, 'but it's desperate when nothing can exist unless it achieves financial rewards.' Yes, isn't life tragic? Anyway, Top Gear and Doctor Who, of course, as many dear blog readers may be aware, are two of the most money-spinning brands for BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm. Together with the BBC's natural history output, they produced sales of one hundred and forty seven million pounds and a profit of fifty one and a half million pounds last year, thanks to overseas sales and retail on books, DVDs and other associated merchandise. Eve is currently making a Waking the Dead spin-off through his own production company and said that dealing with television executives was hard work. 'It hasn't got a title yet – there are more than five people to satisfy, and that's just in one department,' he told the Radio Times. 'It's satisfying when it works but, boy, are there a lot of disappointments. Executives are wary of making a decision in case it goes wrong. Quality becomes secondary.' Eve also suggested, really surprisingly, that Waking The Dead, which will conclude after its forthcoming ninth series, was affected by budget issues. 'The plan was to finish after ten years, but we finished after nine because the BBC doesn't really have the money to make it,' he claimed. 'They can make it if we change how it's made, and I don't want to do that.' He continued: 'I don't see the point of suddenly delivering a different kind of show just to cut costs. They can go and make stuff that costs them less money. It's fine.' Ooo, get her, ladies and gentlemen! Pet-lip or what?! When asked on Twitter for his take on this story, Doctor Who's showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat wrote, pithily, 'we'd love to have Trevor Eve guesting on Doctor Who. Trouble is, he's too expensive. #potkettle!' Ah, Mr Moffat, sir, I love you!

Meanwhile, BBC Worldwide has this week launched a new channel on YouTube offering vintage video clips from Doctor Who. The Classic Doctor Who Channel features a mixture of classic clips from the series and exclusive previews of forthcoming Doctor Who DVD releases. Which, for the benefit of Trevor Eve, makes the BBC a great deal of money. The YouTube channel will run in conjunction with the Classic Doctor Who Twitter page managed by 2entertain - the DVD publishing business fully acquired by Worldwide last year - to enable fans to more easily discuss vintage Doctor Who. Oh God, that's going to be a forum worth avoiding. At least those on Gally Base have a sense of humour about our place in the great scheme of things. Sometimes! 'We're really looking forward to giving Classic Doctor Who its own home on YouTube,' said Jo Warren, Worldwide's head of UK & Ireland sales. 'It will be a great space for fans to discuss Classic Who - we're launching with some fantastic clips and we'll be regularly adding to the collection!' Brand manager Dan Hall added: 'I'm delighted to join forces with our digital team and YouTube. This is an exciting new way to deliver content for our net-hungry market.' From today, YouTube users will be able to browse more than forty five clips dating back to Doctor Who's very first episode - you know, when it was made 'from children' according to Trevor Eve. Funny, I always thought one of Doctor Who's greatest boasts was that it was one of the last examples of something television used to do a lot but simply doesn't provide much of anymore - a programme for the entire family. Some might argue if we had a few more shows like that television, and indeed society at large, might be that little bit the better for it. Still, I'm sure Trev knows what he's talking about - most people in the TV industry with a big mouth do. Or, think they do, anyway.

Everybody in television seems to have a chip on their shoulder about something or other this week. Alison Steadman has said that reality TV is 'a waste of time.' Yes. And? The Abigail's Party actress told Metro that she is not a fan of the format. So are many other people, Al. They just don't watch it. That's what remote controls are for, you know. Steadman said: 'The more channels we get the more hours there are to fill so you get more reality shows. I hate things like Big Brother. They're out of date and a waste of time on the part of people in the show and of the viewers. Life's too short to be watching that. If you see me on one of those shows you'll know I've lost the plot. I'd like to see more one-off dramas, which is what attracted me to Come Rain Come Shine.' Asked about the timeliness of the ITV financial crisis drama, which is out now on DVD, Steadman added: 'When I was young, the idea of having an overdraft was unheard of but now students are encouraged to get themselves into debt and we've all ended up in a terrible mess. It's gone full circle. I was once stopped in a shop and was almost forced to sign up for a store card. When I told her I didn't want one, she said, "Don't you realise what you're missing?" She was really aggressive. I'm lucky enough to be able to pay for things as I go along. The banks are always the winners, charging huge interest rates.'

And now, it's consolidated-ratings times, as published this week by BARB. (The ITV figures exclude HD.) Here's the Top Twenty programmes for the last two weeks:-
Week Ending 19 December 2010
1 Strictly Come Dancing (Sat) - BBC1 - 14.28m
2 Coronation Street (Mon) -ITV - 12.39m
3 EastEnders (Mon) - BBC1 - 10.56m
4 BBC News (Sat) - BBC1 - 9.71m
5 The Royal Variety Performance (Thus) - ITV - 8.90m
6 The Apprentice (Wed) - BBC1 - 8.77m
7 Emmerdale (Mon) - ITV - 8.69m
8 The National Lottery Saturday Draw (Sat) 7.95m
9 Casualty (Sat) - BBC1 - 7.37m
10 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year (Sun) - BBC1 - 7.12m
11 Ten O'Clock News (Thur) - BBC1 - 6.46m
= Countryfile Winter Special (Sun) - BBC1 - 6.46m
13 Have I Got News For You (Fri) - BBC1 - 6.19m
14 The Savoy (Mon) - ITV - 5.90m
15 Six O'Clock News (Fri) - BBC1 - 5.88m
16 Holby City (Tue) - BBC1 - 5.82m
17 The Impression Show (Sat) - BBC1 - 5.79m
18 Film: Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix (Sun) 5.72m
19 Total Wipeout Celebrity Special (Sat) - BBC1 - 5.64m
20 The ONE Show (Mon) 5.14m

Week/Ending 26 December 2010
1 EastEnders (Sat) - BBC1 - 12.61m
2 Come Fly With Me (Sat) - BBC1 - 12.47m
3 Doctor Who (Sat) - BBC1 - 12.11m
4 Coronation Street (Mon) - ITV - 11.98m
5 The Royle Family (Sat) - BBC1 - 11.29m
6 Strictly Come Dancing (Sat) - BBC1 - 10.96m
7 Emmerdale (Mon) - ITV - 8.86m
8 Upstairs Downstairs (Sun) - BBC1 - 8.85m
9 The One Ronnie (Sat) - BBC1 - 8.79m
10 Film: Shrek The Third (Sat) - BBC1 - 7.80m
11 BBC News (Sat) - BBC1 - 7.68m
12 Top Gear: Middle East Special (Sun) - BBC2 - 6.84m
13 Six O'Clock News (Mon) - BBC1 - 6.78m
= Benidorm (Sun) - ITV - 6.78m
15 The Queen's Christmas Message (Sat) - BBC1 - 6.68m
16 Who Wants To be A Millionaire? (Thur) - ITV - 6.67m
17 Have I Got News For You 2010 (Fri) - BBC1 - 6.66m
18 Film: Prince Capsian (Fri) - BBC1 - 6.63m
19 Antiques Roadshow (Sun) - BBC1 - 6.47m
20 Qi (Fri) - BBC1 - 6.46m
So, Trevor Eve, have a look at numbers three and twelve on that second list and the figures next to them, then consider how many viewers your own - shite - remake of A Bouquet of Barbed Wire got earlier this year. (An average audience of 4.3m just in case any dear blog readers have short memories.) And then, perhaps, reflect on why, exactly, it is that TV companies aren't exactly throwing their money at you.

Jason Manford has admitted that he misses working with Alex Jones on The ONE Show. The former co-host of the BBC magazine programme stepped down from the role in November after apologising for exchanging sexual messages with female fans online. Asked what he missed most about the show, Manford told Heat: 'I miss working with Alex Jones every day, and a lot of the team behind the scenes, and of course meeting all the great guests. But I'm absolutely loving being at home and doing bedtimes again with the kids.' Asked who was his favourite guest during his time on The ONE Show, he added: 'Quincy Jones: what an absolute legend and a real gentleman. He took us out after the show for some dinner and we met some of his pals including Rod Temperton, the fella from Cleethorpes who wrote 'Thriller' - one of the loveliest people I've ever met.'

Elizabeth Berrington and Adrian Schiller have signed on to play guest roles in the next series of Doctor Who. Much to Trevor Eve's chagrin, no doubt, as he reckons the money could be better spent on something else. Stuff with him in it. Probably. Schiller's Spotlight page confirms that he will play a character known as Uncle in a future episode, while Berrington's CV at United Agents has also been updated to include the role of Auntie. Schiller previously played the recurring role of the psychic Hennessey in Being Human and made a guest appearance in the second series of Ashes To Ashes. He will also star in the forthcoming remake of Brighton Rock. Waterloo Road actress Berrington previously starred in ITV comedy Moving Wallpaper and also appeared in five episodes of Psychoville. The pair will appear in an episode directed by Richard Clark, who was previously behind the camera on Gridlock and The Lazarus Experiment.

Pepsi has been confirmed as an official sponsor of the US version of The X Factor. And, given the state of most of the contestants on the British version, a company which makes a product that rots your teeth and makes you fat is, strangely, fitting.

Forbidden Planet actress Anne Francis has died at the age of eighty. The film and TV star died on Sunday at a Santa Barbara nursing home, a funeral director confirmed to The Associated Press. Her daughter said that Francis died of complications of pancreatic cancer, the Los Angeles Times reports. Francis was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007. Forbidden Planet was hailed by critics as one of the best SF movies of its time. Francis played Altaira Morbius in the 1956 classic, also starring Walter Pidgeon and Leslie Nielsen. In 1966, Francis won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for her lead role in the TV show Honey West. She also appeared in many other films, including Blackboard Jungle, Bad Day at Black Rock and Rogue Cop. Outside of her film work, Francis became active in television, appearing in dozens of series, including Gunsmoke, Studio One, Mission: Impossible, The Golden Girls, Charlie's Angels and Nash Bridges.

The BBC presenter Clare Balding needs no more treatment for thyroid cancer after having a lymph node removed at the end of November, she revealed this week. 'Not taking too much for granted, but very, very relieved and can sing into 2011 with glee,' she reported on Twitter. The thirty nine-year-old has been having radioactive iodine treatment since having a cyst and her thyroid gland removed in 2009. Balding also gave the good news on BBC Radio 2's French and Saunders programme. 'I had to have a little operation just before Christmas to take out a nasty lymph node and there was a worry that I might have to have more treatment,' she said. 'But I had a lovely letter from my oncologist just after Christmas saying, "Hurrah, no more treatment," so I'm very happy about that.' Balding, who first made her name as a racing and sports presenter, first became aware of a problem after spotting a lump on her throat while watching herself on TV. Last September the Press Complaints Commission upheld her complaint over a Sunday Times review of her series Britain by Bike in which the writer full of his own cleverness AA Gill called her 'a dyke on a bike,' saying some words had been used in a 'demeaning and gratuitous way.' Thyroid cancer is a relatively rare form of the disease. In 2007 more than two thousand cases, about seventy five per cent of them women, were diagnosed in the UK. It caused three hundred and fifty four deaths in 2008.

Nadia Sawalha has claimed that she is the worst skater of the new group of celebrities taking part in Dancing On Ice. So, that will savd anybody who was thinking of watching the opening episode and then voting for one of the first four alleged 'celebrities' to leave the show, the trouble. Thanks, Nadia. That's a public service above and beyond the call of duty.

Adrian Chiles has claimed that he does not watch himself on TV because he thinks he is too 'ugly.' Yer Keith Telly Topping admits that he doesn't watch Mr Chiles on TV these days because the shows he presents are all shit. He looks don't come into the matter. The Daybreak presenter told the Radio Times that co-host Christine Bleakley forced him to watch back an episode of the ITV breakfast show when it was criticised in the press. The sadistic cow! 'I literally can't bear the sight of myself,' he said. Well, think how everybody else feels at 6am then you berk! 'I find myself just repellent. About a month into the show, when we were getting really panned, she said "Look, we've got to just go and sit and watch it."' He continued: 'So she came round to my place, and I was dreading it. I'd have less dreaded two hours with the dentist that evening. In twenty years on telly I've probably spent twenty minutes watching myself.' Chiles, who previously admitted that he was 'completely fucking wrong' for expecting the show to be 'a storming immediate runaway success,' revealed that he had struggled when he and Bleakley came under fire for falling ratings. 'You're up at 3.45am, reading all the papers about how you're useless,' he said. 'The programme's shit and your whole life's a disaster.' Yeah, pretty much. Maybe you should've thought of that when you threw your toys out of the pram and flounced out of the BBC last year.

So, here's - potentially - a little bit of good news for Adrian. Daybreak's latest set of ratings:
29 December 0.40m
30 December 0.47m
31 December 0.42m
3 January 0.34m
Oh. Sorry Adie. You must admit, it is funny, though!

Coronation Street newcomer Paula Lane has revealed that her character, Kylie Turner, will marry David Platt in 2011. The actress, who plays Becky McDonald's irresponsible half-sister, announced the surprise news during an interview on Loose Women. Asked what 2011 will be like for Kylie, Lane replied: 'Fab! I'm going to be really busy as of the end of January, so I'm just relishing this time off that I've got at the minute.' The actress added that fans can expect 'wedding bells' in the coming months before naming David as Kylie's new husband. She continued: 'To be honest with you, I've not even read the scripts yet, but I think it comes about in Tenerife, so I'm told - but that could change. So that is going to be a really good combination - I can't wait to see what the writers have got planned.' Meanwhile, producers confirmed that David will return from holiday newly-engaged within the next few months, leaving his family 'shocked and stunned' when he announces the identity of his fiancée. The pair then start making plans for a spring wedding. A Coronation Street spokesperson said: 'Kylie and David are trouble as individuals so the thought of the two of them getting together is a nightmare prospect for both their families. But it will certainly make for exciting viewing for Corrie fans - Kylie and David are fantastic characters and there is no end to the trouble they will cause for everyone.'

Sky has announced a reshuffle of its entertainment content line up in response to the closure of Bravo, including Spartacus: Blood And Snots moving to Sky1. On 1 January, the Bravo channels - acquired by Sky last June as part of the one hundred and sixty million pound deal to purchase the Living TV Group - ceased broadcasting on all digital TV platforms, including Sky and Virgin Media. The satellite broadcaster opted to scrap the long-running cable channel Bravo because it serves a similar demographic to Sky1. Channel One, previously Virgin1, will also shut down at some point this year. Sky has reallocated some of Bravo's most popular programmes to its other entertainment channels, starting with Spartacus: Blood And Snots moving to Sky1. Other Bravo shows to find a new home on Sky will include Leverage, Dog The Bounty Hunter, Star Trek, TNA Wrestling, Sun, Sea And A & E, Motorway Patrol, Highway Patrol and Caribbean Cops. Because you wouldn't want to miss any of those, dear blog reader. Except, possibly, all of them bar Leverage!

Scientists have suggested that fireworks may be to blame after thousands of dead birds rained from the sky over an Arkansas city on New Year's Eve. Over three thousand red-winged blackbirds fell over the city of Beebe, BBC News reports. The few that survived were seen 'stumbling around' by witnesses. Karen Rowe, of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, claimed that the red-winged blackbirds had dangerously lowered their flight to avoid the pyrotechnics. Rowe said: 'The blackbirds were flying at rooftop level instead of treetop level. Blackbirds have poor eyesight, and they started colliding with things.' County wildlife officer Robby King said: '[Birds were] littering the streets, the yards, the driveways, everywhere. It was hard to drive down the street in some places without running over them.' Severe weather has also been suggested as a possible reason for the birds' deaths. The only other possible explanation, of course, is that this is the first sign of the coming apocalypse as foretold in The Book of Revelation and that we should, probably, be on the look out for the seas giving up their dead, the sky turning to blood and the arrival of the seven-headed whore of Babylon next. Or something.

And, finally, dear blog reader here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, has something of an stone acid groove '89 theme to it. Cold. Immaculate. Rave on, Gerald.

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