Thursday, February 10, 2011

It Doesn't Matter What They Say In The Jealous Games People Play

The worst-kept secret in the TV industry in, no longer, a secret. The third series of Miranda will be broadcast on BBC1. The sitcom, written by and starring the Goddess-that-is Miranda Hart, has been a staple of BBC2 for its first two series, where ratings peaked at over four million. 'I am very grateful to BBC2 for supporting and nurturing me, and trusting my vision for the show,' said Hart. 'Two will always feel like home. Now I feel like I am renting a swish apartment that I hope I don't look out of place in or break all the furniture!' BBC1 controller Danny Cohen added: 'Miranda has become one of the great comedy stars of her generation. I'm a big fan and know that she will be much loved by BBC1 audiences.' The comedienne recently revealed that the new series could be delayed until 2012. In a press release, the BBC said that the timing of the series 'is yet to be confirmed.'

Forget The Teletubbies' 'e-oh,' move aside In the Night Garden's 'Daisy-doo.' The latest catchphrase for toddlers is now 'Irie!', thanks to new CBeebies hit Rastamouse. The reggae-loving mouse and his blinged-up crime-fighting pals the small screen last week and are going down an absolute storm with the pre-school children's channel (and, indeed, with their parents). CBeebies presenter Alex Winters said at the launch of the show that even his two-year-old son is shouting out 'Irie!' around the house – even though 'he has no idea what it means.' Confused parents should note, according to the Urban Dictionary, irie is a Jamaican term that means 'to be at total peace with your current state of being.' In a rub-a-dub-style(e). And 'ting.

The BBC has reportedly recommissioned Upstairs Downstairs for an extended second series. The period drama's revival, which starred Keeley Hawes, Anne Reid and original cast member Jean Marsh, averaged seven million viewers for its three episode run which began on Boxing Day last year. Broadcast reports that BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has ordered six hour-long episodes, which are likely to be broadcast next year. While an announcement about the cast has still to be made, viewers have been teased that the new episodes will feature 'a shocking twist that will turn the world of Upstairs Downstairs as we know it on its head.' Cohen added: 'The return of Upstairs Downstairs was well received but what drove us to recommission were the imaginative and distinctive plans the team has to take the drama forward.'

In one of the most monumentally stupid ideas ever put before the House of Commons - and, let's face it, it's had plenty of competition - a Tory MP has called on the public to be given 'a much greater say' over the sort of programmes made by the BBC and the salaries paid to top performers and managers. How this complete moron reckons such a thing would be done, logistically, he didn't bother to say - presumably we'd all be using the Red Button every time executives wanted to know whether to commission a new series of Waterloo Road or not? Conservative rent-a-quote numskull Robert Halfon (Harlow) said that licence fee payers should be able to elect the chairman of the BBC and its board. Although, I think what he actually meant was he wants the kind of people who fill up the 'comments' section on anti-BBC stories at places like the Daily Scum Mail website to be able to elect the chairman of the BBC and its board. That's what Tories usually mean when they talk about 'the public.' Launching a proposed bill, he said the BBC was 'a great British institution' but (you knew there was a 'but' coming, didn't you?) had 'fundamental flaws.' Halfon's half-arsed proposals are included in a ten-minute rule bill which, although it has the backing of a number of other Conservative MPs, are unlikely to become law. Thank Christ. Seriously, if you actually voted for this berk, aren't you just beyond glad your taxes are being used for such abject rank glakery. The MP said the BBC had 'many positive attributes' and was 'an umbilical cord' to British society. But (again, with the 'but') he said that it controlled too great a share of the media market, deterred commercial competition in some areas and the licence fee had become 'a medieval anachronism. If the BBC really does depend on the licence fee for its survival, there must be some real checks and balances. What better way than democratising the licence fee?' he told MPs. The public must be given real influence over the 'strategic direction' of the corporation, he said, describing existing consultations over programming and other key issues as a 'sham.' Under his proposals, licence fee payers would be able to elect the chairman of the BBC and his or her fellow board members via the Internet and have 'some say over programme making and payment of salaries.' And, what about the millions of licence fee payers who have no access to the Internet, pal? What are they supposed to do? Resources should be focused on supporting journalism, sports coverage and new programming, he says, rather than on 'expensive and unwanted' projects such as the BBC's new studio complex in Greater Manchester. 'At the moment we are powerless as the BBC is currently run as a feudal monarchy,' he said. Given that the BBC are attempting to reduce costs, Halfon failed to mention who would actually be paying for the logistics of these - many - public elections being held on the Internet. In short, this is a fantastically stupid, ill-conceived and half-baked idea with no obvious logic applied in its conception. Typical utter Tory bollocks, essentially. What possible use could there be in 'the public' deciding who's on the BBC board or how much its staff get paid?! Who decides which members of the public actually constitutes 'the public'? Is it just open to licence fee payers, or to everyone who consumes TV? And, how on earth are we supposed to decide all this? Phone vote? Let's turn it into a reality TV show with the potential BBC Board member who gets the least votes from the public being dunked in a pool of diarrhoea. This clown and his cloddish colleagues should leave the bloody BBC alone. These 'fundamental flaws' he and his mates are always dribbling on about have managed to serve the BBC - and the public - well enough for the last ninety years. Ooo, I'm right vexed now. There's nothing quite like some Tory talking tripe to get me going of a morning.

NBC has ordered a number of high-profile pilots for the 2011-12 season, including reboots of the Wonder Woman and Prime Suspect franchises. Entertainment Weekly reports that the network, under the new leadership of Robert Greenblatt, has committed to developing its drama schedule in the forthcoming year. David E Kelley's Wonder Woman project will play a key part in the broadcaster's programming, alongside Playboy, a Chad Hodge-helmed 1960s drama focussing on the lives of Playboy bunnies. Meanwhile, musical drama-comedy Smash, which will star Will & Grace's Debra Messing, is anticipated to challenge FOX's high school hit Glee. Another major investment has been made in the Prime Suspect remake which Maria Bello is rumoured to be in line to appear in. Finally, fantasy hour Grimm, from Jim Kouf and the great David Greenwalt (co-creator of yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved Angel), will be set in a world where Grimm's Fairy Tales characters actually exist.

Channel Four is facing criticism over its series The Joy of Teen Sex, with a group of health and education professionals calling on the broadcaster to set up an advisory group to inform future programming. In a letter delivered to Channel Four on Wednesday, signatories including Stuart Flanagan, who features on Radio1's Sunday Surgery, and sex researcher and agony aunt Petra Boynton, claim the broadcaster and the programme's producers have not acted responsibly or fulfilled their public service remit. The Joy of Teen Sex, which began on 19 January and concluded this week, deals with teenagers' 'real' sex and sexual health problems, according to Channel Four. However, the letter, signed by twenty three health and education professionals and bodies, describes the series as 'fitting a pattern of programme development where viewing figures are prioritised over empowerment but where programmes are still marketed as "educational."' In response to the criticism, Channel Four issued a statement saying it was 'proud of our programming in this field' and its 'ability to bring large audiences to the often difficult issues they have addressed. We have a hugely successful Sexperience website which has been consistently a leader in the field and has seen millions log on for further advice or information after watching the programmes. Anecdotally we also know from healthcare professionals that viewers have sought medical advice and treatment as a result of watching the programme,' the broadcaster added. The letter to Channel Four expresses the group's unease about several key issues, including what they claim is the lack of qualified professionals on the show, poor advice, and inaccurate and misleading information. They suggest that one way to rectify some of the damage caused by the series would be to establish an advisory group comprising sexual and reproductive health practitioners, sex education workers, youth workers, parents and young people to ensure that future programming on this theme will be empowering and accurate as well as entertaining. Some of the experts first registered their concern over the show when they were approached for their input when it was in its planning stage. Justin Hancock, of sex education website BishUK, said: 'I'm always concerned that prime time shows about young people are exploitative and invite viewers to be critical of young people. Sex and relationships for young people is complex and nuanced and factual entertainment shows only ever really scratch the surface of what is going on for young people.' Pre-production, Hancock was assured by production company Betty that 'our aim is to make a thought-provoking and positive series that will look at relationships, emotions and identity as well as "the act of sex."' The show has not lived up to those standards, according to Boynton, who was invited to apply for a presenter position on the programme. 'It has not represented the main worries young people have, nor talked about core issues of communication, respect or affection,' she said. 'Given how the public have questions and concerns about sex and the media is a great place to share relationships information, I feel this was a shocking let down to young people and parents. The public deserve better.' Channel Four said that production company Betty had consulted 'with a number of sexual healthcare professionals to ensure the information provided was accurate and appropriate,' but added 'we realise that this type of programming will not always appeal to everyone. Channel Four is always willing to listen to the concerns of viewers and interested parties following its broadcasts and we will correspond with the authors of the letter directly about their concerns,' the broadcaster said.

Channel Five is to lift the lid on the lives and loves of lesbians in Candy Bar Girls (working title), a new flagship series marking the relaunch of the channel under Richard Desmond.

Nick Frost has revealed that he once kissed Adrian Chiles on the mouth. And survived. Remarkable. Speaking to the Sun with Paul co-star Simon Pegg, the actors admitted that they would regularly kiss their male friends in public to illicit a reaction on a night out. Frost then said that he had once had a close encounter with Daybreak presenter Chiles. He explained: 'It wasn't like we stumbled out of a club. We did a pilot for a breakfast show years ago and we were both chatting beforehand and he said, "Why don't we both kiss before we come out?" and I said, "Alright," and we both kissed on the mouth and all of the crew laughed and we couldn't use it.'

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is closing in on the takeover of his daughter's Shine Television – the three hundred million pound-plus independent production company behind Ashes to Ashes and Outcasts. Key meetings are due at News Corp and Shine to consider the buyout of Elisabeth Murdoch's London-based company, amid growing speculation that an announcement about the takeover could come as soon as next week. Once acquired, the plan is that Elisabeth will be able to use News Corp's financial muscle to continue to develop her TV production business from her London base, targeting further acquisitions with companies such as Endemol. However, it is understood that she has little interest in relocating to the US to run any of News Corp's television businesses there. 'The idea that she is going to have anything to do with FOX would be quite surprising,' a 'friend' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star. News Corp owns the FOX TV network and the successful cable channel FOX News, along with other US broadcasting and production assets. Elisabeth, who owns fifty three per cent of Shine, hired JP Morgan to consider a range of sale and acquisition options, but the company's growing debt load – fifty five million pounds on the last set of accounts – has reduced its firepower. At the same time twenty per cent investor Sony is keen on an exit. Bringing Elisabeth back inside News Corp – albeit with responsibility for a smaller business than her younger brother James – puts her closer to the heart of decision-making at the media group, which has been hit by allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World. Currently an observer on News Corp's board, Elisabeth would be expected to take up a full board seat, with James and their brother Lachlan. But she appears unwilling to challenge James's position as likely successor, although as head of News Corp's European and Asian businesses he has been criticised for his handling of the phone-hacking crisis. Shine had two hundred and fifty seven million pounds turnover in 2009, the last year for which figures are available, and generated five and a half million pounds of profits, with all of its eight per cent growth coming from acquisition. No firm value for any deal has emerged but the company is likely to be rated at somewhere in excess of three hundred million smackers. Endemol, which is part-owned by Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, John de Mol, the billionaire behind the Big Brother format, and Goldman Sachs has expressed some interest in a tie-up – although the Dutch company has to restructure its debts.

Zooey Deschanel is said to be close to a deal for a starring role in a FOX comedy pilot, which was sold under the working title Chicks and Dicks. According to EW, the actress has already held talks regarding the Twentieth Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment project, which will be written by Liz Meriwether. Chicks and Dicks is an ensemble comedy about the sexual politics of young men and women. However, the title is expected to change if the show makes it to air.

Arlene Phillips has insisted that she was not replaced on Strictly Come Dancing because of her age. Which, anybody who watched her last series on the dance show would've known anyway - she was moved out because she wasn't a very good judge, simple as that. The choreographer's position on the BBC show's judging panel was filled by former winner Alesha Dixon in 2008. The change sparked complaints from some - although by no means all - viewers who believed that Dixon was chosen because she was younger. However, in an interview with former Countryfile host Miriam O'Reilly for a special Tonight programme, Phillips denied that this was the case. Asked if she suspected her age was the reason for her exit from the show, she responded: 'No, not at all. She was a different person - hired to give a different approach.' O'Reilly questioned her as to why viewers would have jumped to this conclusion. 'Because I've never spoken about it,' she said. 'Other than to say that I was on a one-year contract and had no entitlement to be brought back.'

Davina McCall has confirmed that she will not return to host Big Brother if the show relaunches on Channel Five. Reports this week suggested that the broadcaster and production company Endemol were on the verge of signing a deal after holding advanced talks. However, writing on her official website McCall stated that she had made the 'hard decision' to tell fans that she would not have any involvement in the show, should the deal be finalised. 'This is very hard for me to say. I am sure that this will not be a surprise for many of you, but if it is and you are sad. I'm sorry,' she wrote. 'I truly believe that Big Brother has legs. It is an AMAZING programme that I have LOVED and dedicated a huge and brilliant part of my life to. I think any channel that took it on would be very lucky indeed. Its followers are a dedicated bunch!' She continued: 'But I made a decision after the end of the last series that I would not present it again. There are many reasons for this; I spent a year saying goodbye, which was very painful and scary! Big Brother had been my rock, day job and security blanket - what would I be without it? But I had to have faith that something would happen. It did and it's been brilliant! I have had such a brilliant year, four new shows that I'm LOVING doing and saying goodbye to BB with a bang. That is why it would feel like a step back to go back,' she added. 'Someone new should present it on a new channel. A fresh start for the show with me still as its biggest fan looking forward - exciting.'

The seventh series of BBC1's MasterChef will feature a revamped set and a new format. Hosts and judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode will return next Wednesday to hunt for the country's best amateur chef. However, in a new twist, the pair will audition hopefuls one-by-one. Executive editor Karen Ross said: 'We were keen to drop our six weeks of heats where John and Gregg see up to one hundred and thirty two people. But we still had to give them the chance to choose the final twenty that go into the competition and also to find the best cooks. MasterChef can't work if people can't cook. So the auditions were the perfect way to do it.' The auditions will feature the hopefuls cooking for forty five minutes with their own ingredients, before having a final ten minutes in the judges' room to complete their dish. Torode and Wallace will have to agree afterwards whether to hand them a place in their Top Twenty or send them home. Torode said: 'It was the most emotional experience we have ever had because just so much was riding on it for these cooks. And because they were cooking in their own right in front of us, it was extremely nerve-wracking for them. There were some contestants that we found so heart-breaking to send home, you could see in their eyes how much they wanted it but we just knew they could never make the standard and survive what was to come later. It was very difficult telling them that to their face.' The Top Twenty, who will be selected at the end of next week's auditions, will progress to cook in the new MasterChef HQ. 'We were terrified when we walked onto the new set,' said Torode. 'The scale was nothing we have been used to, but it didn't take long for us and the team to make it into our new home. We think it has given the competition a much bigger sense of jeopardy and also the contestants feel there is more at stake. Has it made for better cooks? Well stay tuned!' Wallace joked: 'Flash new set, but it's still the same - an Aussie, a bald bloke and some fantastic food.'

The owners of Hovis are opposing plans to relocate Coronation Street's filming base to Salford Quays, reports have suggested. ITV recently announced a deal to move the long-running soap from its current home at Quay Street Studios in central Manchester to the new MediaCityUK development in Trafford Wharf. According to the Manchester Evening News, as Hovis' headquarters are adjacent to Corrie's planned new home, parent company Premier Foods has now submitted a formal objection to Trafford council over the proposal. The letter of objection states that there is already a traffic congestion problem in the area, adding: 'Should the ITV development come forward and operate at weekends, it is possible that this problem could be exacerbated.' Premier Foods is also concerned that Corrie bosses could raise complaints over the level of noise at Hovis and its impact on filming. The company's letter adds: 'Premier Foods request the certainty that their operations, which can be noisy, will not be compromised by future complaints from ITV to the council in future. Until a noise survey is submitted in this respect, they object to the application.'

A collector has accused customs officials of destroying a jersey worn by France striker David Trezeguet during his country's World Cup Final victory in 1998. Olivier Demolis had bought the number 20 shirt for over three thousand Euros in cash plus shirts belonging to Nicolas Anelka and Stéphane Grichting, the Gruniad Morning Star reports. However, the Trezeguet jersey - worn by the unused substitute during the 3-0 victory over Brazil - was reportedly destroyed by customs officials who believed it to be fake. Demolis told Le Dauphine Libere: 'I saw it on eBay and paid seven thousand three hundred Euros to buy it off a collector in Brazil. That was three thousand thrre hundred and fifty Euros cash plus two jerseys from my own collection, an Anelka France one and one of Grichting from Auxerre. 'I was prepared to pay so much because those French jerseys from '98 are very hard to come across. There are only six in circulation: a Zidane, a Trezeguet, a Desailly, a Boghossian and two Guivarc'hs.' He added: 'On 16 November last I got a call telling me that the package had arrived and was being held at customs so I told them I'd swing by in the afternoon to pick it up. When I got there they told me that customs officials had destroyed the jersey for being a counterfeit. I was furious!' Demolis has reportedly written to Trezeguet, the French Football Federation and French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a bid to remedy the situation. Although how he expects any of those to reassemble the destroyed garment is somewhat unclear.

Cricket is mourning the former England Test all-rounder Trevor Bailey, who died in a fire at his home. Firefighters were called to a smoke-logged flat in Westcliff just after 6am and found the eighty seven-year-old in the kitchen. A woman, believed to be Bailey's wife Greta, was rescued from the Crowstone Road flat. England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke praised Bailey's 'enormous contribution to the game' and he also described him as 'one of the finest all-rounders this country has ever produced.' Bailey played sixty one Tests for England during his playing career and later was a member of the BBC Test Match Special commentary team for twenty six years. Posting on Twitter, the BBC's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said: 'Desperate news re. Trevor Bailey. Dogged batsman, aggressive bowler. Intelligent cricketer. Wonderfully concise pundit. Great sense of humour.' Fellow TMS commentator Henry Blofeld his dear old self paid tribute to Bailey, saying: 'He was a tremendous colleague, a great friend and man, I shall miss hugely. To work with, he was exactly like he was as a cricketer. Trevor was canny and let nothing pass. He hated people who were never giving all. It was like the way he batted and bowled. He had a good sense of humour. He would always say "Ah, the medicine" whenever he heard the cork of a champagne bottle crack in the background. He hasn't been well for some time and found life a bit of a struggle, but going the way he did is most unfair.' Bailey spent his entire first-class career with Essex, captaining the side in the 1960s and going on to serve as club secretary. Former team-mate Doug Insole, now president of the club, said: 'Trevor was a great friend for well over sixty years. We played football and cricket for Cambridge University and were colleagues in the Essex side for about fifteen years. In the England team in the 1950's Trevor was a tower of strength - a great all-rounder with a cast iron temperament. He was one of a kind.' Bailey scored over two thousand runs and took opne hundred and thirty two wickets for England during his Test career and was a member of the side which won three successive Ashes series against Australia in 1953, 1954-55 and 1956. Former Prime Minister Sir John Major recalled: 'One of my abiding memories as a small boy is of Trevor Bailey and Willie Watson batting at Lord's to save the Test match against the Australians. It was a superb effort, without which we would not have won back the Ashes in 1953. Trevor was a great servant of English cricket - a fine bowler and a team player, prepared to bat anywhere from number one to seven, and with great skill and success. He has certainly earned his place in the history of English cricket.' One of England's most outstanding post war players, Bailey later proved an invaluable member of the commentary team on the BBC's Test Match Special. He followed his own line, both on and off the pitch. Most remarkable were his astonishingly contemplative performances at the crease during times of crisis for the national team. His stubborn refusal to be out normally brought more pleasure to the team than to the spectators. Trevor was born on 3 Dec 1923 in Westcliff-on-Sea. He attended a local school before going to Dulwich College, where he was selected for the First XI at the age of just fourteen. He made his Test debut against New Zealand at Headingley in 1949. Bailey's steady bowling and defiant batting drove his opponents to distraction and some fans to sleep. But what he called his sheer bloody mindedness sometimes paid rich dividends. On a June afternoon in 1953, after the papers had written off the England side against Australia at Lord's, Bailey spearheaded a rearguard action with Yorkshire's Willie Watson, and batted for most of the last day of the Test. Bailey scored seventy one runs in four-and-a-half hours, the Test was saved, and the Ashes were soon after returned to English soil. Faced with this obdurate defensive technique and foiled of victory, an outraged Australian press dubbed Bailey 'The Barnacle.' His address at Westcliff-on-Sea was just called The Drive, though some - including his co-commentator Brian Johnston - suggested that it should be renamed The Forward Defensive Push. Along with his distinctive batting technique, Bailey was a fast-medium bowler and proved a brilliant fielder close to the wicket. In one test against the West Indies during the 1953-54 season, he took seven wickets for thirty four runs. He turned his love and knowledge of the game into a successful career on the BBC's Test Match Special commentary team. With his strong opinions, always clearly expressed, Johnston nicknamed him 'The Boil,' a play on the Australian pronunciation of his name. He struck up a good working relationship with fellow commentator and former England colleague Fred Trueman. This friendship was originally forged at the crease, when Bailey batted for Essex against Yorkshire in the late 1950s. Knocked over by a Trueman bouncer, Bailey was still on the ground when the contrite Yorkshireman rushed up. 'Sorry, Trev, old son,' he said, 'there are many more I'd've rather have hit than thee!'

For the next Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, it's time for a couple of bits of fun. Boy. Or three, in fact. Starting with an absolute classic single (and a classic video, an'all) that - perhaps inevitably, given its subject matter - got banned by the Beeb and, as a consequence, did nowt. Does anybody know any jokes? Look out for a brief cameo by David Byrne in this as the weatherman. I think Terry Hall would've made a ruddy fantastic newreader, personally. Next, of course, their greatest triumph and one of the best records ever made by anyone, anuwhere. Ever. Class. I used to love the Fun Boys. I've even got a bit of a soft spot for the two singles they did with Bananarama. I used to quite fancy the little dark one as it happens. Errr ... in Bananarama that is, just in case anybody thought I was talking about Lynval Golding. I think I should probably stop talking now... And let the music take over.

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