Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Worlds Built Of Age Are A Stage Where We Act All Our Lives

The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious Hunt has approved News Corporation's plan to spin-off Sky News, clearing the way for is proposed eight billion pound purchase of the sixty one per cent of BSkyB which it does not already own. Under the deal the loss-making news subsidiary will become a new publicly-listed company, currently named NewCo, and will be independently funded for ten years. News Corporation is to licence the Sky News brand to the operation for seven years, providing an incentive to renew a second funding deal. News Corporation will have a thirty nine per cent stake in the venture with the other shareholders made up of existing investors in BSkyB. A key point of negotiation has been the governing structure of NewCo, which will have an independent board and chairman. The decision will now go to a fifteen-day consultation period. The Labour party expressed concerns about the government's decision. 'This U-turn by Jeremy Hunt will raise further concerns about the transparency of the process. Four weeks ago, he was minded to refer the deal to the Competition Commission. Now he has changed his mind,' said shadow lack of culture secretary Ivan Lewis. An alliance of media groups opposed to News Corporation's takeover of BSkyB, including BT and the publishers of the Daily Scum Mail, Daily Torygraph and the Gruniad Morning Star, are considering seeking a judicial review of the government's approval of the deal. Sly Bailey, chief executive of Daily Mirra publisher Trinity Mirror, another of the companies opposed to the Sky deal, dubbed the proposal approved by the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious Hunt to deal with media plurality fears as a 'complete whitewash.' A spokesman for the alliance opposed to the deal described the Sky News remedy as window-dressing. '[The remedy] is behavioural not structural. It is a deal too far, it is a deal that should not be done. The deal if done [will lead to] irrevocable consequences. We have opposed this every step of the way and will continue to strenuously oppose this,' Bailey said. It is understood that the alliance of media groups is taking legal advice to consider options including a judicial review. However, no action can be taken until the vile and odious Hunt's provisional 'intention to accept' the Sky News proposal becomes concrete. The vile and odious Hunt will now open a fifteen-day consultation on the remedy, which will see the loss-making news operation become part of a new publicly listed company with an independent board, with News Corp retaining a thirty nine per cent stake – the same as its current holding in BSkyB. 'The proposed undertaking is pure window-dressing,' said a spokesman for the alliance. 'The undertaking does nothing to address the profound concerns that the takeover would give News Corporation greater power to restrict or distort competition through cross-promotion, bundling, banning rivals' advertisements and distorting the advertising market with cross-platform deals.' The spokesman added that 'arrangements of this kind' put in place to protect the independence of The Sunday Times and The Times, following News Corp acquiring the titles in 1981, 'have proved wholly ineffective. Smoke and mirrors will not protect media plurality in the UK from the overweening influence of News Corporation,' he said. 'We shall be vigorously contesting this whitewash of a proposal during the consultation period, as well examining all legal options.' The BBC's Snitchy Peston - who, more than anybody else with the possible exception of Vince Cable and a couple of anonymous tossers at the Daily Torygraph helped to ensure this passage of events - gives a balanced (but rather 'don't blame me, guv, I just report the news') analysis of what has happened and what is likely to happen next on his blog in which he notes that: 'Correspondence published today between Mr Hunt and News Corp indicates that News Corp has - under pressure - made greater concessions than it wanted to do guarantee Sky News' independence. And as a result of these concessions, Ofcom - the media regulator - has said that the harm its perceives as flowing from the deal, that it would restrict choice or plurality of news providers, would be purged. Even so there will be a storm of protest that Mr Hunt is allowing the deal.' Peston also comments that 'None of this will happen unless News Corp offers enough to persuade BSkyB's shareholders to sell. And what is completely clear is that those shareholders view the current offer of seven hundred pence per share as far too low.' This is not the view of others, particularly the Gruniad's Michael White: 'Before we get too horrified over the spectacle of Rupert Murdoch getting his wicked way with the fair maiden BSkyB, it is important to get things in perspective and remember that he will be eighty next week. So he will soon be dead. The real damage is to David Cameron, Vince (remember him?) Cable and the coalition ... As business secretary, Vince Cable was well placed to hold Murdoch to rigorous standards. But, as we all know, the Telegraph stitched him up in a honeytrap exercise by sending young women reporters to his constituency surgery to flatter the old boy into being rude about the Tories. The idea was to damage the Lib Dems and thereby weaken their place in the coalition. Alas, in suppressing the real story – silly Vince's boast about being 'at war' with Murdoch, until it was leaked to the BBC's Robert Peston – the Torygraph shot itself in the foot. Like the Mail and Guardian, it opposed the BSkyB bid on pluralism grounds but landed them all with Hunt, who was much more sympathetic. So everybody loses, including Hunt. Cameron looks shabby and expedient – Tony Blair never went this far – and the Lib Dems are stuck with evidence of their own impotence. As for BSkyB subscribers and Premier League football fans, watch out, mateys! Rupert is on your case with enhanced powers. Fortunately he was born on 11 March 1931, so the referee is looking at his watch. When the whistle blows I wonder if Murdoch, whose rare media interviews reveal impressive and self-pitying banality, will pause and wonder if it was all worth it. Should he have found time during a long, busy life to read a book?'

Wednesday night's episode of MasterChef - you know, the show which according to several national newspapers is a ratings disaster - got an audience of 5.1m, the highest for the current series so far and up a whopping seven hundred thousand viewers on the corresponding episode last year. It peaked with an audience of just over five and a half million viewers in the final fifteen minutes of the episode. Not that this will be reported widely in the media, of course. They've already got their story - the fact that 'fans' of the show are 'outraged' by the new format and are deserting it in their millions. Except, of course, that they're not. Not even close. Even the much quoted 'volume' of complaints to the BBC about the new format has, to date, according to a very nice lady at the BBC press office, amounted to 'around three hundred and fifty' comments, not all of them unfavourable. It seems that the majority of MasterChef viewers are not nearly as concerned about aesthetics as a few dozen mouthy malcontents on the Internet. But, of course, that's not a sexy enough story for the tabloids. It was a good night for the BBC generally with The ONE Show (4.5m), The Boat That Guy Built (4.8m), Waterloo Road (4.8m) and MasterChef all performing above their slot average, no doubt aided by the rather disappointing 3.4m average audience for ITV's lacklustre coverage of the FA Cup match between Sheik Yer Man City and Aston Villains. Emmerdale (7.2m) aside, it was a poor night for ITV. The biggest surprise in the ratings - not that it should've been - was the 3.8m audience for BBC2's excellent documentary David Attenborough and the Giant Egg. A History of Ancient Britain featuring Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) continued its steady progress with 2.6m. BBC2's other big ratings success of the night with the 1.3m audience who watched Ireland's shock victory over a very disappointing England in the Cricket World Cup. Meanwhile, OMG! With Peaches Geldof had a satisfyingly tiny audience of just two hundred and twenty five thousand viewers on ITV2. Sort of restores ones faith in the human race, doesn't it?

Daybreak has 'not performed as we would have hoped' after nearly six months on air, the ITV has - finally - admitted. Figures show that since Chiles and Bleakley relaunched the network's breakfast programme in early September 2010 it has averaged around one hundred thousand viewers per day less than the show it replaced, GMTV. Previous ITV press statements on the subject of Daybreak have tended to be full of mediaspeak-bollocks like 'ITV has made a long-term investment in new breakfast programming and, after over five years of decline for GMTV, Daybreak is already closing the gap in year-on-year decline after just one month, with housewives and children, male and younger audiences.' Whatever the hell that's suppose to mean. Now, it would seem, that they've finally decided to come clean and admit what most of us already knew, Daybreak has been a massive, and costly, flop. ITV had high hopes for Daybreak when it launched in a blaze of publicity following the high-profile defections of Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley from the BBC. However, according to BARB figures, Daybreak's average audience since it premiered on 6 September has been eight hundred thousand, an eighteen and half per cent share. During the same period the previous year – 6 September 2009 to 22 February 2010 – GMTV drew an average of nine hundred thousand viewers, a 23.4 per cent audience share. The main winner following the demise of GMTV appears to have been BBC1's Breakfast, which has seen its own average audience rise by approximately three hundred thousand. In the six months to 22 February, Breakfast averaged around 1.6 million viewers per day, compared with 1.3 million during the same period the previous year. ITV said on Wednesday in its 2010 results that 'certain slots in the schedule have been disappointing. Daybreak has not performed as we would have hoped,' the company added. However, the show's producers have been reacting to criticism from viewers and Chiles recently asked audiences to give Daybreak another try. Viewers, it would seem, have broadly declined to comply. And, even those who have hung around seemingly aren't that impressed. Last week, for instance, Daybreak managed a clean sweep of the five worst AI scores for any programme on terrestrial TV with four episodes scoring sixty seven and one sixty six. They're consistent, you have to give them that much. For those without an advance degree in Audience Appreciation Index analysis, basically a score of anything less than seventy five is below average. In the entirety of its first six months, Daybreak has never, once, scored above seventy one. The ITV chief executive, Adam Crozier, said that the main thing was for the broadcaster to 'continue to invest' in the show. 'Clearly it has had a difficult introduction but the numbers have now settled down. It is bringing in a younger audience and the programme has got a lot better over the last few months. The key thing is to keep investing,' Crozier added. An ITV spokeswoman, meanwhile, decided it was time for a bit more mediaspeak bollocks since that's always worked so well in the past, hasn't it? She added: 'Since Christmas 2010, Daybreak figures have again been growing steadily, with to date an average of 0.8m.' Which is, as noted, less than GMTV were getting. 'In terms of profile, Daybreak is reaching a more upmarket and younger female audience year-on-year [between] 14 and 18 February saw us up two per cent on ABC1 viewers compared to the same week with GMTV last year.' So, basically, what they're saying with this staggeringly snobbish assessment is that GMTV's viewers were grubby doley-scum or 'common people from council estates' and ITV, essentially, didn't want them. But, now that they've got nice middle-class people with good teeth watching they're much happier. Bet that'll go down well with many of both sets of viewers.

Talkback Thames has won a three million dollar commission from the Discovery Channel, and will make a documentary on the Arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton for National Geographic. The fourteen episode Discovery series will focus on the strange and potentially shocking habits and innovations of people around the world. Squeamish (working title) is described as 'a light-hearted look at up to eighty unusual and gruesome stories, including people making paper out of faeces in Sri Lanka.' Urgh! It was jointly commissioned by Discovery in the US and UK, with Dan Korn, senior vice-president, programming, Discovery Networks UK, overseeing the deal on this side of the Atlantic. The executive producers for Talkback are Camilla Lewis and Charlie Bunce, while the series producer is Jonathan Holmes. The show will be distributed by FremantleMedia Enterprises. Separately, Talkback will produce sixty-minute special Shackleton's Whisky for Nat Geo, which will chart the journey of a secret batch of the explorer's whisky, discovered in the South Pole and then transported back to Scotland. The ingredients of the whisky will be analysed, and it will possibly be recreated for the modern market. The documentary will be broadcast internationally across the National Geographic network.

Qi will return to BBC2 for its tenth series this autumn. The Stephen Fry-fronted panel quiz aired on BBC2 from 2003 to 2008 before moving to BBC1 in 2009 for the last three series. Creator and series producer John Lloyd said: 'Qi did very well in the ratings on BBC1 but we thought we ought to give Coronation Street a fighting chance. We're very happy to be back in our old den on BBC2.' Janice Hadlow, controller at BBC2, added: 'I'm delighted that Qi is returning to its original home. BBC2 looks forward to once again enjoying its wit, its cleverness and its always illuminating devotion to the really quite interesting.' Acting director of BBC Vision George Entwistle said: 'BBC1 has been a wonderful custodian for this enjoyably impossible quiz. But I'll be very pleased to see Qi back on Two, custom-built for a post-watershed slot where I guess it might dare to be even more interesting.' Yer Keith Telly Topping knows that a lot of fans of Qi preferred to see the show on BBC2 (particularly in the slightly later slot where they could get away with a bit more in the way of subject matter). Personally, I really liked the higher profile Friday night BBC1 slot, followed by Saturday night XL repeats on BBC2 and, as John Lloyd noted, the average ratings were more than respectable in that particular slot (between four and five million most weeks). But, at least on BBC2 it's virtually guaranteed to get enough of an audience to keep it on air for at least a few more series to come. Hopefully!

The new series of Doctor Who is 'giving time-travelling a rest by coming over all romantic as Amy Pond gives her Timelord a tender loving kiss in new scenes shot yesterday,' according to Metro. Who, seemingly, took five minutes out from their usual favourite sport of 'lying about the MasterChef ratings.' The romantic shots show the Doctor's assistant, played by Karen Gillan, leaning forward and giving him a gentle kiss on his forehead before wrapping her arms around him for a tight hug. Aw. Bless. Amy clearly had 'something on her mind she wanted to share' the paper continued. She had been 'spotted earlier looking distressed, and after their hug, the pair locked heads and couldn't take their eyes of each other.' However, Metro goes on to suggest that 'it's unlikely this amorous clinch spells a full-blown romance given that at the end of the last series, the sexy assistant was seen running off into the sunset for her honeymoon, having just married Rory Williams, played by Arthur Darvill. Even so, in true dramatic fashion, actions always speak louder the words as other shots show Rory staring on at the kiss in disbelief as he clutches an unopened bottle of champagne and glasses.' These new scenes for the sixth series of the hit BBC show were shot in Cardiff earlier this week. Probably for either episode eleven or twelve from the new series.

Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has revealed details about this year's Doctor Who Comic Relief special. The showrunner told SFX that two four-minute mini-episodes will air throughout the BBC's charity telethon on March 18. 'It's not a spoof,' he insisted. 'It's in the style of the ones that we've done for Children In Need, so it's taken seriously as a proper bit of Doctor Who. [It's] funny, but not a sketch.' Moffat also revealed that two different versions of companion Amy Pond will appear in the two instalments, which are titled Space and Time. 'There's a moment with two Amy Ponds in it,' he confirmed. 'If you're a red-blooded male, surely that's enough!' More than, Mr Moffat, sir, more than. 'You've got Amy Pond flirting with herself.' He added that the specials will feature just the show's regular cast of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. 'There isn't a guest character, it's just the three of them,' he explained. 'A moment of life aboard the TARDIS. But obviously life about the TARDIS instantly gets you into terrible jeopardy, and all of causality is threatened.' As it, occasionally, does. If it's half as good as Moffat's own Time Crash made for Children In Need in 2007 and featuring David Tennant and Peter Davison then few fans will be complaining.

And, finally in our brief Doctor Who subsection, Dermott O'Dreary appeared in the - rather fun, let it be said - Doctor Who sketch filmed for this year's National Television Awards. Now, apparently, he wants 'a proper role' in the series. 'I love the show,' The X Factor host is quoted as saying in the Metro's Green Room gossip column. Yeah, so do lots of other people mate, but they don't get to make demands about appearing in it.

Torchwood writer John Fay has suggested that the fourth series will have an American feel. Answering fan queries for the Liverpool Daily Post, Fay added that Miracle Day will 'still have the same basic tone.' And that, no, Ianto would remain dead. Probably. 'Russell and Julie Gardner remain in charge,' he explained. '[But] there are more American characters in it, so obviously it'll probably feel more American.' Fay added that writing the ninth episode of the ten-part run had been 'daunting. The other writers in the room were phenomenal,' he said. 'I hadn't met any of them before, apart from Russell Davies, but I knew their work. We got on great, I think.' The writer, who previously contributed two episodes to Torchwood: Children of Earth, also criticised fans who were unhappy with the death of Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd). 'A universe in which fictional characters aren't "allowed" to die is ridiculous and limiting,' he argued. 'When death is a reality in a drama, the jeopardy is greater [and] the stakes are greater. In Torchwood, anyone can die. That's a good thing.' You right of course, John, but expect some hate mail from overwrought drama queens to be arriving in an in-box near you very soon!

The cult BBC drama Life On Mars is set to be adapted for new international audiences as part of a surge in scripted programming sales for BBC Worldwide. A new international remake of Life On Mars is currently in production for an as-yet-unamed broadcaster, but BBCW would not reveal more details. The series originally aired on BBC1 in 2006-07 and was later adapted for the US and Spain. Broadcast says that it learned of the remake at BBC Showcase, the annual programme sales event that generates up to fifty million pounds for BBC Worldwide. The event, held in Brighton for the majority of its thirty five years, drew five hundred and fifty buyers this year - a twelve per cent increase on last year, partly due to an increase in delegates from Central and Eastern Europe. This increase, alongside BBCW's ambition to grow the event further, will see Showcase move to Liverpool next year. Drama is a major area of growth for the distributor. 'The success of Sherlock means there are more people picking up the phone to talk about new opportunities,' said Matt Forde, executive vice-president of sales and co-productions at BBCW Americas. 'In the US, there is a renewed respect for British programming and they want to work with UK content creators. The recession has also meant people are looking at opportunities to get into dramas that are more economically viable [than home-grown commissions].' Across Europe, broadcasters are opening their doors to British drama to an extent not previously seen, BBCW said. Its drama sales to France and Italy are up twenty per cent year-on-year, and both Sherlock and Doctor Who have topped the iTunes download chart in France. Carolina Perez, European acquisitions manager for Spanish commercial broadcaster Telecinco Group, said: 'Traditionally, we never watched British drama in Spain and the shows that came over were comedies. But now the UK is producing more thrilling drama and viewers are starting to demand British shows. Sci-fi is in vogue right now.' The increased European appetite has also helped new sales of series four and five of Primeval. It has been acquired by Cuatro in Spain, NRJ12 and Syfy in France, Rai Cuatro in Italy and Syfy for the Benelux region.

Kia has started to see the benefits of supplying the BBC's Top Gear with the latest Reasonably Priced Car, which sees a host of celebrities thrash a Cee'd around the famous track each week. 'Top Gear has really worked for us. Perhaps we were a little nervous at first but Top Gear has got our car in front of millions of people,' said Benny Oeyen, marketing vice president for Kia Motors Europe. It also shows exactly what the car is - dynamic, reliable and reasonably priced. It's a programme that goes right around the world. Top Gear is popular in so many countries.' Well, not Mexico, obviously. But, that apart ... The company supplies three cars to the popular motoring show, and faces a race each week to make sure that they are kept in top working order. Any maintenance on the cars must be done between Thursday and Tuesday to allow for filming on the Wednesday. The benefits are clear to the company though, as Kia's UK head of public relations, Steve Kitson said: 'Who wouldn't want Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise driving your cars on television?'

[spooks] star Peter Firth has claimed that the show is now better than ever. The actor, who plays MI5 boss Harry Pierce, told What's on TV that the BBC spy drama has had 'the luxury of longevity. It's a process of trial and error making film and television,' said Firth. 'Over the years the show's just got better, and that's very rare in television.' He continued: 'Frequently something will peak within two or three seasons, and then fall off. The [shows] that have managed the long haul really stand out, particularly in British television.' He added that the makers of [spooks] have 'learnt from [their] mistakes. We can watch where we've got it wrong and then make sure we don't do that again,' he suggested. 'Now we're in our tenth year, and if we haven't got it right by now, then something's sadly wrong!' Firth also admitted that he currently knows nothing about the show's tenth series, which is expected to broadcast on BBC1 later this year. 'Scripts usually arrive the day before production is due to star and sometimes not even that [soon],' he claimed. 'Sometimes we just get a few pages.'

And now, dear blog reader, another one of our semi-regular dips into 'some stuff you need to watch on You Tube before you die.'
- Peter Cook's last great TV performance, as old-skewl football boss and motivational speaker Alan Latchley on Clive Anderson Talks Back.
- Vic, Bob, Matt Lucas and Johnny Vaughn as 'The Who' talkin' 'bout their regeneration on Shooting Stars.
- The Talking Heads doing 'Don't Worry About The Government' on The Old Grey Whistle Test introduced by Whipsering Bob Harris.
- The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performing 'Hunting Tigers Out In India' on Do Not Adjust Your Set. 'I'm not getting dress up this week!'
- Peter Cushing still hasn't been paid by Eric and Ernie!
- 'They Say Of The Acropolis Where The Parthenon Is' from Qi. And the day that Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon, Bill Bailey and Alan Davies broke Stephen Fry's brain!
- Supermac scoring 'that one over his shoulder' at Bolton in the Cup in '76, and Barry Davies going off-it!
- Roy Castle, Buddy Rich, Kenny Everett and Sammy Davis Jr on a legendary episode of Parkinson from around 1982.
- Macca, Denny and Linda doing a stunning, stripped-down version of 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five' from the rarely seen McCartney movie One Hand Clapping.
- The scariest public information film in history - Donald Pleasance as The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water.
- The trailer for the greatest film ever made, Performance.
- Mad Frankie Boyle's oustanding, apocalyptic 'hydraulic legs' rant on Mock The Week.

The Goddess like Jennifer Ehle has reportedly joined the cast of a new CBS pilot. The untitled project stars Patrick Wilson as a surgeon whose ex-wife dies and begins contacting him from the afterlife. Deadline says that Ehle has now signed up for the role of the surgeon's former wife, who ran a free clinic when she was alive. Jenny recently starred in the Oscar-winning movie The King's Speech. She also, most famously, played Elizabeth Bennett in the acclaimed BBC adaptation of Pride And Prejudice although some of us older chaps remember her best for those semi-clad appearances in The Camomile Lawn. The CBS project has been written by Susannah Grant, who previously worked on Party Of Five. She has also written movies including Erin Brockovich, In Her Shoes, Charlotte's Web and The Soloist.

House's Lisa Edelstein has claimed that the show is likely to return for an eighth season. Last month, the actress revealed that none of the medical drama's lead cast are signed for another year, with the exception of Hugh Laurie. However, she recently told TV Line: 'Nobody at work seems to think it won't [return]. Everybody wants to come to a deal, and I certainly am looking forward to a season eight.' Edelstein added that the financial negotiations between FOX and NBC Universal over the show's future will eventually be resolved amicably. 'I don't think anybody wants to see [House] go off the air,' she said. 'It's a big show for FOX and for NBC Universal, so it's just a matter of everybody dotting their I's and crossing their T's.'

Time Team is currently overhauling its production team as it prepares to make its first series since moving to a new production base in Cardiff. The Channel Four show, which has been on air for eighteen years, completed its move to the Welsh capital last week ahead of going into production in April for next year's series. Jobim Sampson has been recruited as series editor and Val Croft, who joined from Fulmar Television & Film, is the new head of production. A further twelve to fifteen people will be recruited to join the team. Former series editor Michael Douglas and former head of production Jane Hammond have both left the production as a result of the move. Douglas is understood to be working for Shine TV. Time Team executive producer Philip Clarke said that heading to Cardiff represented an opportunity to assess the show. 'When something goes through a significant change it forces you to look at what you are doing. This is a very good moment to experiment and refresh the brand.' Potential changes will mostly be 'tweaks to visual quality' around technology, including the use of new cameras such as the Canon XF305, which provides a slightly different quality of pictures, said Clarke. The long-running series, co-produced by Videotext Communications and Picture House TV, moved out of London as part of a three-year commissioning deal in 2010, which guaranteed it will remain on air until 2013. The show, fronted by Tony Robinson, explores archaeological sites across the UK. And is a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping.

As hinted at a few weeks ago when Rupert Penry-Jones got a bit loose-lipped in an interview with a TV magazine, ITV has commissioned a new - third - series of Whitechapel. The drama written by Ben Court and Caroline Ip, and starring Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and Steve Pemberton will begin filming this spring for transmission in early 2012. The new series, as suggested in the final scene of the last series, sees the team spread their investigations beyond the boundaries of Whitechapel itself. Three stories each comprising two episodes will peel back the layers of some of the East End's most gruesome history. Whitechapel viewers will, ITV claim, 'be taken back over three hundred years as the present day investigations preoccupying Chandler and his team begin to echo crimes from the city's darkest recesses. Murder in the tunnels under Whitechapel, body-snatching, poisoning and grisly discoveries are amongst the tales to be told as the East End again provides fertile ground.' Executive Producer, Sally Woodward Gentle says: 'I am delighted we are getting the chance to tell brand new Whitechapel stories but this time as a series. The East End of London is steeped in history, secrets and gore and we now have the opportunity to take Chandler, Miles and Buchan to places darker still. If you thought the Ripper and Krays were scary, just wait.' Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV added: 'Whitechapel is a striking and distinctive crime drama that has struck a real chord with the ITV audience. The longer run will allow us to tell an even richer range of stories from the Whitechapel area.' The original three-part serial of Whitechapel debuted on 2 February 2009 - whilst the majority of the country was under about four foot of snow, something which probably contributed to its massive overnight ratings, reaching 8.13 million viewers. A second serial was commissioned in September 2009 with the focus on the infamous Kray twins. The first episode of this second series was broadcast in October last year and achieved seven million viewers. The ratings average for series two was six and a half million and a twenty three per cent share, albeit, it had stiffer opposition in the form of the BBC's [spooks]. The general consensus - certainly from this blogger - was that the first series was very good but the second was a bit of a disappointment, albeit very well-acted and with some good bits in it.

Leslie Bibb has signed up to appear in ABC's pilot Good Christian Bitches. Deadline reports that Bibb has landed the lead role of Amanda in the drama, which is based on a book by Kim Gatlin. The show follows a recently-divorced mother, as she returns to the neighbourhood where she grew up. Bibb has previously starred in shows including Popular, ER and Crossing Jordan.

ITV has poached BBC wildlife expert Steve Leonard to front two early evening series on Africa. In the latest addition to the channel's growing wildlife slate, Leonard will head to South Africa to help trainee vets build their experience working with exotic animals. The twelve-part series, Safari Vet School, will feature mainly UK students on a sixteen-day placement in the Amakhala Game Reserve, where they get to grips with creatures including lions and elephants for the first time. The executive producer is Trish Powell and the series producer is John Chester. Leonard's other project, Animal Kingdom, will see him follow the stories of some rare species at the Erindi Game Park, which lies between the Namib and Kalahari deserts in Namibia. The park has been designated as an area for the reintroduction of endangered species, and the series examines how the arrival of the creatures is managed. Both series will be produced by ITV Studios Anglia Factual, which is responsible for other ITV wildlife shows including Wild Britain With Ray Mears, Lion Country and Cheetah Kingdom. 'Leonard's informal, honest style, mixed with his extensive animal knowledge, is the perfect mix,' said ITV factual commissioning editor Diana Howie. Alison Sharman, ITV director of factual and daytime, is the other commissioner. The shows form part of Howie's ambition to build on British outdoors fare, including Countrywise and The Lakes, and find the 'next lifecycle' for ITV's early evening schedule. Leonard most recently presented BBC2's Orangutan Diary alongside Michaela Strachan. He also hosted prime time series including BBC1's Vets In The Wild, Ultimate Killers and Animal Camera.

Jim Davidson has reportedly described Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth as 'a miserable old bastard.' Which may well be true, but at least most people actually quite like Bruce Forsyth.

Channel Five has confirmed that Vanessa Feltz's daily chat show will move to a new slow from next week. The programme, which has been broadcast at 11am since its launch in January, will move to the 2.15pm slot after the Australian soap Home and Away. Broadcast reports that the new slot will allow the Tuesday and Thursday editions of the show to be broadcast live. The other three episodes will continue to be pre-recorded due to Feltz's commitments with the BBC. The Vanessa Show has averaged just one hundred thousand viewers since it began - down from the two hundred and six thousand who watched Trisha Goddard in the same slot in the previous three months. And half as many as Peaches Geldof got last night. Although, probably, a hundred thousand times more than Peaches Geldof will get next week. A Channel Five spokesman commented: 'Through the audience research we have carried out, it was felt that The Vanessa Show would work best in a mid-afternoon slot.'

Primal Scream are set to take Screamadelica to Glastonbury this summer, after confirming an appearance. The Prims are currently re-visiting their classic 1991 LP Screamadelica which remains a massively influential piece of work and a blistering mixture of house, techno, dub and rock and roll. Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis has regularly cited the record as a personal favourite, and Primal Scream will play Screamdelica in its entirety at the Worthy Farm event. Including this, and this, and this. And this. Their light shines on!

Police have appealed for help tracing a customer who caused around four hundred pounds worth of damage at a cupcake shop in Cardiff. The woman apparently became enraged when she was told that her favourite flavour of cupcake had sold out. She is believed to have smashed up glass display units, thrown cakes at other customers and attacked members of staff at the Sugarswirlz cake shop. Sally Dodd, who owns the shop, told the Daily Scum Mail: 'The woman went absolutely ballistic when she was told we didn't have the cupcake flavour she wanted - it is called the "sweet tooth" fairy cake and is very popular. She didn't even wait for us to tell her that if she waited we could bake some fresh cupcakes for her. You expect a certain amount of risk running a bar or pub, but not in a cupcake shop.' A spokeswoman confirmed that South Wales Police is investigating 'an incident of actual bodily harm.' Police are said to be looking for a 5'3" well-built woman, aged between thirty five and forty five, with shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair. She was wearing a mid-length green coat and was accompanied by two children. Or, in other words, a dumpy, short-arse, ginger mother who, frankly, should know better.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, yer actual Keith Telly Topping seeks to bring a taste of culture to the masses. Never mind the Buzzcocks, dear blog reader, here's a bit of Shelley. And thence we move from biology, to technology.

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