Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thou Shalt Think For Yourselves!

Friday night was a rather typical one in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's gaff, dear blog reader. I watched telly. Very much enjoyed Reggae Britannia with its choice collection of classic clips and new interviews. And, just when you thought it couldn't get any better, Smiley Culture and Tippa Irie turned up in the last few minutes. Be still my heart. If you missed that one, dear blog reader, check it out on iPlayer. And 'ting. There was also a very good episode of Hustle giving Robert Glenister a chance to deliver a really funny 'so-far-over-the-top-he's-down-the-other-side' rant about the current state of the beautiful game. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Bones and CSI were also serving up new episodes. The former, a tale of BMX bandits (The Daredevil In The Mold), was standard generic tosh enlivened by a long-overdue subplot about Booth deciding to get serious about Hannah and the disastrous consequences this has. In Vegas, on the other hand, CSI did one of their periodic 'the person that you least suspect did it' episodes (All That Cremains). It was very well put together, and beautifully acted, as always, but I found it to be a curiously cold, heartless and shallow thing, albeit far more believable and realistic than the average episode. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a variant on The Bad Seed on that particular night.

ITV has 'drawn a line under' its spat with BBC Worldwide over US ice-dancing format Skating With The Stars. The commercial broadcaster has decided not to pursue legal action against BBCW after initially challenging the organisation's plans to produce an ice-skating spin-off of Dancing With The Stars for US network ABC. ITV consulted with lawyers and wrote to BBCW setting out their objections in April last year, citing similarities with its own format, Twatting About On Ice. The BBC claim that the show is, actually, based on their own one-off Strictly Come Dancing special Strictly Ice Dancing, which was broadcast on the BBC on Boxing Day 2004 a full year before Twatting About On Ice started. An alleged ITV 'source' allegedly said: 'Dancing On Ice is an important show for us and we want to protect it.' The concerns were, largely, ignored and ABC launched Skating With The Stars in November. The show was hosted by Vernon Kay and saw six alleged celebrities dancing with professional skaters to impress judges and viewers. Broadcast magazine suggests that ITV 'assessed the format closely' and 'held conversations on both sides of the Atlantic' over its next steps but, eventually, decided that legal action 'would not be appropriate.' Probably because they'd lose. Alleged 'insiders', the magazine claims, 'maintained' that they were 'disappointed' BBCW had created and sold a format which was 'already firmly established' in the international marketplace by ITVS. Twatting About On Ice has been sold in thirteen territories, including to Nine Network in Australia and Germany's RTL, and won best International Programme Sales at the 2008 Broadcast Awards. Here's a little titbit you might not know, dear blog reader: Twatting About On Ice was originally going to be called Skating With Celebrities but the show was renamed following the utter failure of ITV's 'celebrity orientated' 2005 summer schedule which included notorious flops like Celebrity Love Island and Celebrity Wrestling. That around the time that Michael Grade made his infamous statement about one of ITV's main problems being that every time they found a format which they thought would play well with the public, they seemed to have an obsession with sticking the word 'celebrity' in front of it and getting half a dozen Z-Listers in to launch it.

Wor Ant and Dec have admitted that they would like to return to their acting roots. The presenting duo, who first rose to fame on the children's TV show Byker Grove, revealed that they have been offered various roles but are yet to find time to fit the jobs into their busy schedules. Ant McPartlin told the Sun: 'We would both love to do some more acting. It's where we came from after all. We did Byker Grove for all those years and we did Alien Autopsy and The Likely Lads a few years ago. We've been getting offered lots of bits and bobs and we're very interested in them - both TV and films. Some would surprise you because they've been on ITV fairly recently.' Dec Donnelly added: 'We are actors and we love doing it. Finding the time is the only thing that gets in the way as we have so much other stuff on. But we're looking at stuff and something will happen, I'm sure of that.' Speaking of the possibility of working on solo acting projects, McPartlin added that was unlikely as the two or them really are joined at the hip: 'If there was something we were really passionate about we would look at it. I know people might think it's odd and obviously that's something we would have to think about, whether it was right to do that.'

The owner of the Daily Toryraph is understood to have called in private investigative firm Kroll to discover who at the newspaper leaked Vince Cable's comments about Rupert Murdoch to the BBC after it decided not to publish them. Cable told two undercover Daily Torygraph reporters last year he had 'declared war' on the media mogul by referring his offer to buy out BSkyB to the media regulator Ofcom. The paper published other comments made by Cable on 20 December, but omitted his quotes about Murdoch. Those remarks were subsequently picked up by the BBC's business editor, Robert Peston, and published on his blog after he was passed them by some snitchy little Copper's Nark. Cable was thereafter stripped of his powers to block media mergers by David Cameron, and they were handed to the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt. It is understood that four employees from the corporate investigators Kroll have began interrogating, sorry interviewing Torygraph staff, starting with members of the IT department. Possibly using thumbscrews and whips although this cannot be confirm by sources close to the investigation. The circumstances surrounding the leak have been the subject of intense speculation in the media industry and elsewhere. Some industry insiders alleged that the Torygraph chose not to publish Cable's comments about Murdoch because it believed it would lead to his sacking as business secretary, removing a potentially serious obstacle to Sky's efforts to buy out BSkyB. Which, as it turned out, it did. Torygraph Media Group, which also owns the paper's Sunday sister title and the Spectator, is a member of an alliance of media groups which is opposed to News Corp's bid to take full control of BSkyB. The paper vigorously denies pulling the story for 'commercial' reasons, and insisted it was an editorial decision. Senior figures at the Telegraph have argued privately that Cable's comments about bringing the coalition government down if the Liberal Democrats are 'pushed too far' were far more significant and newsworthy than his remarks about a rival media proprietor. It chose to lead the paper on Cable's assertion in a secretly recorded conversation that: 'I have a nuclear option, it's like fighting a war. They know I have nuclear weapons, but I don't have any conventional weapons. If they push me too far then I can walk out of the government and bring the government down, and they know that.' Only a handful of people at the paper knew about the existence of the tapes and management are furious that Cable's comments were handed to rival news organisations. One executive said at the time the paper had been 'betrayed.' It is unclear how long the Kroll investigation will last, or who it plans to interview, but it would be unusual if it didn't include the paper's journalists. Cable himself has complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the paper's 'use of subterfuge.' Although, one suspects that what he's really annoyed about it 'getting caught.' Isn't it about time you used that 'nuclear option' of yours, Vince, and end this fiasco once and for all?

It's the great Simon Pegg's fort first birthday on Monday. But it probably won't be as eventful as last year's celebrations – when he acted out his own execution. 'The day I turned forty I filmed my execution, which was so weird. I was standing on the gallows with a noose round my neck being sung 'Happy Birthday' by all these peasants, with my friend Bill Bailey about to pull the lever on me.' This was when Simon was filming the movie Burke And Hare just in case anyone thought they like the sound of the parties round the Pegg drum.

Former Bill actress Louisa Lytton has been banned from driving for fourteen months. Lytton was found guilty of drink-driving, having been arrested in Belgravia in the early hours of 30 January. According to the Daily Scum Mail, Lytton pledged to 'live and learn' from her mistake, after she was fined three hundred and fifty smackers at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. And, buy a stout pair of shoes as she's going to be doing a lot of walking for the next year or so. Before the hearing, she tweeted: 'In life we make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences.' Lytton played Ruby Allen in EastEnders, before moving to The Bill where she played Beth Green. She also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2006.

Former Question Time executive producer George Carey has criticised the programme's move to Glasgow, arguing that it will weaken the show editorially. And that Scotsmen are smelly and don't speak proper. Possibly. Speaking to the Grunaid Morning Star, who had seemingly found something else to whinge about other than Top Gear for a change, Carey said that the BBC's drive to increase its production output outside of London 'risks making an important programme worse.' And, of course, the Communist scum just lapped that up, so they did. Lovin' it, they were. Carey's comments follow the resignation of Question Time editor Ed Harvard, who does not want to relocate to Scotland, and criticism of the move from presenter David Dimbleby. 'The fundamental issue, to me, is this: should the BBC care when their admirable (if expensive) plan to disperse production throughout the country risks making an important programme worse?' Carey said. 'Of course there are good producers in Scotland but that's not the point. There is a tendency when a show has been going for thirty years to think that it runs on wheels. But the truth is that a lot of Question Time's success lies in the casting, and that takes personal contact to get right. And since most people involved in politics in a meaningful way gravitate towards Westminster, that's where you have to be to spot the core talent.' I love the loaded use of the phrase 'in a meaningful way' there, suggesting that all local politics and, indeed, everything that happens outside of Westminster is 'meaningless.' Listen mate, a tip, when you're in a hole, STOP DIGGING. Carey was in charge in 2004 when the BBC last suggested relocating Question Time out of London, before the move was ultimately ruled out by Mark Damazer, the then-deputy director of BBC News, on the grounds that the programme should remain close to Westminster. 'It's not rocket science to see that if the production team are forced to move to Scotland, the show will either begin to weaken, or the bill for it will inflate to meet the cost of producers travelling and staying overnight in London to make contacts they could have done before from home,' said Carey.

Kate Walsh has signed up to present Channel Five's forthcoming OK! TV. Denise Van Outen originally landed the role but dropped out from the programme yesterday afternoon allegedly because of 'other contractual commitments' but, in reality, probably, because she realised that what she'd signed up to was, essentially, Live From Studio Five: The Next Generation. Walsh, who previously hosted Live From Studio Five, was the obvious replacement and has now joined the celebrity 'news' show. In a statement, Channel Five said: 'We are delighted to announce that Kate Walsh will be stepping up to present OK! TV with Matt Johnson. 'We all know how fantastic and experienced Kate is following her time on Live From Studio Five and are delighted to have her on board to co-present this fantastic new show.' That's two uses of the word 'fantastic' in a sentence. Which is shockingly poor English, Channel Five. Worse, it's two uses of the word 'fantastic' in a sentence about OK! TV. Which is just shocking full stop.

Conan O'Brien has disclosed that NBC executives were unhappy over the launch of his official Twitter account. O'Brien told Fortune magazine that once he developed a strong following on the social networking site after being replaced as The Tonight Show's host in early 2010, NBC executives expressed their displeasure with his online postings. Restrictions on the star's media appearances were included in his agreement to leave the network, but O'Brien's legal team surmised that Twitter had not been explicitly banned. The host said that he instructed his attorneys to convey a message to NBC: 'Tell them I would be thrilled if they shut down my Twitter account. I'd love it if that got out. You think PR's been bad up till now? Wait till you take away my Twitter account.' O'Brien also conceded that he did not initially understand the appeal of social networking websites. 'I'm a Luddite when it comes to computers. [I] didn't understand why anyone would do Twitter. I'm not on Facebook,' he admitted.

Yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite Tweet of the week - if not the decade so far - comes from Emo Phillips: 'Don't wear fur! Did you know that a single fur coat takes fourteen trees just for the protest signs?'

Sky 3D has commissioned a new factual series hosted by Selina Scott. Treasure Houses of Britain, a co-production with the History channel, is a five-part series exploring Britain's great houses, including Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace. Filmed in 3D and high definition, Treasure Houses of Britain will premiere on 17 February at 9pm, later airing on the History HD channel. In the series, the veteran broadcaster will explore the grandeur of Chatsworth House, Blenheim Palace, Burghley House, Holkham Hall and Boughton House, including the grounds, great halls and large art collections of the properties. Sounds pompous and ghastly, much like Selina herself sometimes appears to be. I mean, this just has the potential to be wretched. Snooty, full-of-her-own-importance Selina Scott - a woman who always seems to walk though life with a slightly disgusted look on her face as though she's just smelled shit nearby - swanning around a bunch of stately homes like she's the ruddy Queen of Sheba. I cannot wait. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to as I don't have 3D TV. What an absolutely damn-bugger tragedy that is, eh? 'It was wonderful to be invited to step inside and explore some of our most treasured stately homes,' said Scott. 'To film them in 3D has been truly groundbreaking TV. Viewers are in for a unique and spectacular experience with this amazing, compelling series.' Not the ones who haven't got 3D, they won't. Which, as I say, is just awful. Earlier in the week, Buckingham Palace dashed Sky's hopes of televising Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding in 3D after ruling out the technology on logistical grounds. And, you know, dignity.

Amanda Peet has reportedly signed up to star in new NBC comedy pilot Bent. TV Line reports that the project, from former Scrubs producer Tad Quill, will focus on a newly-divorced single mother (played by Peet) who finds herself attracted to her new contractor. The actress previously starred in the short-lived but wonderful NBC series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and has also made guest appearances on How I Met Your Mother and Law & Order. Her film credits include roles in Syriana, 2012 and the recent Gulliver's Travels. Casting for the pilot is still ongoing, with the actor playing Peet's love interest yet to finalised.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we have two very different groundbreaking examples of wry, provocative and informed British comedy-pop music. Starting with Viv, Neil and the boys from 1968 and the finest b-side ever made by anyone. As mentioned in Moab Is My Washpot, a particular favourite of Stephen Fry this one. He even got to perform it with them once! Which is a nice link, actually, as yer man Stephen gets a good proper namecheck in this little epic techno-dance-comedy crossover from Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip. 'Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover/Thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover!' Slammin'!

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