Saturday, April 09, 2011

Allez Oop! La Nana Quel Panard Quelle Vibration De S'Envoyer Sur Le Paillasson Limée, Ruinée, Vidée, Comblée "You Are The King Of The Divan!"

Since yer actual Keith Telly Topping is looking forward to another couple of incendiary episodes of Spiral later on this evening, I thought we'd add a bit of Gallic flair to today's Il Est Venu Du Nord. Vive la différence.This week, of course, saw the BBC Press screening of the first two episodes of the new series of Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, which took place at the current home to the Doctor Who Experience exhibition, Kensington Olympia. As one might expect, this generated much press interest in the forthcoming series, premiering on 23 April. Tom Phillips of Metro went with 'jaw-dropping moments and a mind-bending plot' noting: 'Make no mistake, this isn't easy, switch-your-faculties-off entertainment - it's big, dark, impressively ambitious, dazzlingly executed entertainment that demands and repays your full attention. (It also makes very few concessions to those who didn't see the last series, and absolutely none to the fact that it's supposed to be a kid's [sic] show - a few children at the screening did seem a little left behind by some of the script's wilder curve-balls, although it didn't dampen their enthusiasm in the slightest.) And if you thought last season's finale was stuffed full of mind-bending wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans, just wait. This makes Inception seem about as straightforward as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.' Long-term fan Patrick Mulkern writing for the Radio Times added: 'We sat pinned to our seats for ninety minutes or so of electrifying, bamboozling television, which might just be also the most unsettling since the series came back in 2005. I certainly don't think my nearly-four-year-old niece, who's obsessed with Amy Pond but still creeped out by last year's relatively tame Prisoner Zero, will last long into episode one before quailing behind a cushion. The chills are leavened with laughs (the Doctor flits through history, upstages a timeless comedy duo, and dubs his chums "the Legs, the Nose and Mrs Robinson"). River makes two spectacular entrances. There's a new use for dwarf star alloy (conceived thirty years ago in Warriors' Gate, it enchained one of The Family of Blood in 2007). And the number one thousand one hundred and three may be significant. Moffat ladles mystery upon mystery, so that by the end we're gagging for answers. The second instalment concludes with a mouth-watering cliff-hanger.' Meanwhile, Simon Brew of the Den of Geek website observed: 'In ninety minutes, Steven Moffat has not only laid down a fascinating, intriguing path for the show to follow over the coming months, he's also put together an opening adventure that's quite brilliantly funny, narratively intricate, contains genuine jumps (it's exceptionally creepy at times), and sets a very, very high bar for what's to follow. I do appreciate that few come out of an early preview of Doctor Who saying it's rubbish. But this is the real deal: if you want proof that Britain can produce world-class science-fiction television, it's right here. And it goes out to a family audience at Saturday teatime. Let’s make no bones about this: this is a dense, tremendously ambitious and elegantly constructed way to open a series. It pushes those four core characters in very different ways, and establishes moments that I wouldn't be surprised if we were flashing back to come the winter, when this run of Who comes to an end. In fact, I'd pretty much guarantee it.' The Gruniad Morning Star's John Blunkett added: 'In truth the opening episode of the two-parter took a while to warm up, but a fiendishly complicated plot – it is probably not a spoiler to suggest it involves time-travelling – required no end of exposition. But by the end of the first episode it had drawn gasps and applause in almost equal measure from a preview audience. Preaching to the converted in most part, no doubt, but this was scary stuff – almost as unnerving as those kids who kept asking for their mummy and the darkest series opener showrunner Steven Moffat could remember. And not a big-name celebrity guest star in sight.' The Gruniad also quoted BBC1 Controller Danny Cohen, describing Doctor Who as 'unique and brilliant. World Class science fiction and a testament to the stars and the people who make it.'

The screening at Olympic was also accompanied by a Question & Answer session featuring Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston, faithfully captured in full by journalist Ian Wylie. On making the series darker, Steven Moffat said: 'First of all you make Doctor Who frightening to appeal to children – and children absolutely rank Doctor Who stories in order of frightening-ness. That's what it's about. The jokes and the silly bits, they're for the adults. But the scares are in for the kids. So no. I've got two kids of my own and I never do anything that I didn't think was acceptable for them. Having said that, one of them does tend to sleep on our bedroom floor. To be honest, it's darker than any other opener of a season. But we've been pretty dark before in Doctor Who. Blink was dark. The Satan Pit was dark. We're coming in from the dark side just because we haven't done it that way before.' Of course there was also the inevitable question to Matt on his likely length of stay as the Doctor: 'I take it year by year, month by month. So I'll finish this particular season – and sit down with Mr Moffat and see where I go from there. It's certainly not a part I want to give up anytime soon. I love playing him.' Isn't it nice to see an actor being so polite about his showrunner. Mister Moffat. Classy, Matthew, very classy. The full transcript and plot summary can be read on Ian's Life of Wylie blog. Be warned, however, it does feature some spoilers.

The Divine Goddess of wonderful ginger scrumminess that is Karen Gillan is to be a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on 13 April. The ticketing website for the US chat show has listed Gillan as a guest alongside the actress Diane Lane. If you're in the vague West California region, you can register for free tickets from the website. Filming will take place in Los Angeles at 4:30PM. The episode will air at a later date. Craig Ferguson has previously had both Alex Kingston and Matt Smith on his show. Smith appeared in a special episode dedicated to Doctor Who while he was in the US filming for The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. The cast of Doctor Who will again be touring the US the promote the new series of the show. Events which have already been confirmed are a cast signing at Barnes & Noble on 8 April and the BBC America premiere screening on 11 April. Both of these events will take place in New York City. So good they named it twice.

How nice to see the BBC spending licence fee payers money to fly reality TV non-entity and waste-of-space Chantelle Houghton all the way out to Argentina so she could not take part in Celebrity Total Wipeout. In case she broke a nail, or something. 'Please, I don't wanna do this anymore!' the stupid little girl wailed as she faced the terrifying prospect of ... well, thinking actually. 'What predigree do you think you bring to this course?' asked Amanda Bryom. 'I don't know what you mean?' replied Houghton, looking all concerned. Well, it was a three-syllable word, it's only to be expected. Even Richard Hammond ran out of patronising comments shortly before Houghton face-planted herself during the Cradles of Doom bit. Ten minutes and two seconds of torture later, it was all over. And, then we got Chico from X Factor. To quote Toby in The West Wing 'There is, literally, no one in the world that I don't hate right now.'

News International remains under huge pressure from public figures affected by the phone-hacking scandal after its apology and admission of liability earlier this week. The News of the World's owner grovellingly admitted there were 'at least' eight victims and has put aside twenty million pounds to deal with compensation claims. News International's admission risks opening it up, potentially, to more legal action and, certainly, to further scrutiny. But there was little immediate sign that News International's offers had been accepted by any of the injured parties. The MP Tessa Jowell said: 'It's now for the lawyers to do their work.' Lord Prescott, who claims that he was a hacking victim himself, wants parent company News Corp's proposed takeover of BSkyB delayed while police make inquiries. But the government, of course, said that its decision on the merger would not be influenced by the hacking controversy. And that, no, Rupert Murdoch doesn't effectively run the country and tell that Eton Rifle clown in number ten with his tongue rammed up Murdoch's chuff exactly what to do and exactly when to do it. Perish the very thought. For years News International have denied that there any of their employees were involved in any illegal activity and then, subsequently, insisted that there was just one 'rogue' reporter and a private investigator involved in the hacking of phones. And that, even if any hacking had gone on, successive editors of the paper like current News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and future spin doctor for the Prime Minister Andy Coulson knew 'absolutely nothing whatsoever' about where information for some of the stories that they were publishing came from. That defence is now looking increasingly absurd. News International admitted in a statement that 'past behaviour at the News of the World in relation to voicemail interception is a matter of genuine regret. It is now apparent that our previous inquiries failed to uncover important evidence, and we acknowledge our actions were not sufficiently robust.' BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas says that now more public figures could sue, MPs claim that Parliament has been deliberately misled, and some lawyers say that there is likely to be greater pressure on the police to bring charges in this matter. Publicist Max Clifford, who reportedly received a one million pound out-of-court settlement with the News of the World, said that he would be 'very surprised' if more criminal charges did not now follow. He told the BBC: 'You can only imagine that as more comes to light, the more the police find out, and the more information and facts emerge, then the more likelihood there is of criminal charges for other people.' The Metropolitan Police has itself been severely criticised over their handling of the original investigation into hacking claims, and several public figures are said to be seeking a judicial review. Brian Paddick, the Met's former deputy assistant commissioner who believes that his phone was intercepted, said that the relationship between the police and the press had been at times 'unhealthy.' He told the BBC either individual officers were too close to editors, or that the 'media machine' at Scotland Yard went too far in trying to promote good relations. Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes, whose phone messages were also allegedly hacked, said there was more at stake than simply paying out money to draw a line and silence people. He said: 'If people have committed serious criminal offences, either those who have already been arrested or others, they need to be pursued through the courts and sent to prison because this is a completely unacceptable practice.' For the Gruniad Morning Star's editor Alan Rusbridger, whose hippy-Communist lice paper - bless their cotton socks! - has widely (and, gleefully) reported the hacking scandal from the very beginning, the admission that former lack of culture secretary Tessa Jowell's phone was tapped was 'a very serious development.' He said: 'You've got a company effectively bugging its own commissioning minister. Just imagine if a bank was found hacking into the chancellor of the exchequer's e-mails.' In July 2009, the Gruniad claimed that News of the World journalists were involved in hacking up to three thousand public figures. Its quoted list of alleged victims included Ms Jowell (the first time that she had been publicly linked to the case), celebrity cook Nigella Lawson, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, London Mayor Boris Johnson, former comedian Lenny Henry, singer George Michael, the late reality TV regular Jade Goody, Paul McCartney's ex-wife Horrible Heather Mills and the ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne. In February 2010 the Commons culture committee's report accused the News of the World of 'collective amnesia' over the extent of the practice of phone hacking and says it was "inconceivable" senior executives at the newspaper had not known about it. News International haughtily rejected these claims at the time and accused committee members of 'innuendo and exaggeration.' With News Corporation's bid for BSkyB still awaiting government approval, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott said the takeover should be blocked until all the investigations are complete. He said: 'I say this to the government - don't you dare make this announcement while the Commons and Lords are in recess unless you've done a proper judgement on this company. And what they've said to me is "don't get the plurality of the media mixed up with criminal offences."' The Department of Culture, Media and Sport said its decision on BSkyB would not be influenced by the hacking controversy. A spokesman said that the lack culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, 'has to make a quasi-judicial decision about the impact of the proposed merger on media plurality issues alone. Legally the culture secretary cannot consider other factors as part of this process and under law phone-hacking is not seen as relevant to media plurality.' Mark Lewis, a solicitor involved in several of the current cases against the newspaper, said that nothing had been decided by a court and people still did not know what the News of the World was actually apologising for. He said that the tabloid paper's admission was 'just the first stage' and suggested that other newspapers would also come under scrutiny, some of whom were hardly covering the story at the moment. The BBC's business editor Robert Peston called News International's move 'an absolutely dramatic development' and said the company believed most claims would be settled for less than one hundred thousand pounds each. He added that News International was offering to settle with eight people, including well-known names such as Jowell, the actress Sienna Miller, her step-mother the designer Kelly Hoppen and sports broadcaster Andy Gray. In addition, the other four victims are believed to be David Mills, the lawyer and Jowell's estranged husband, Joan Hammell, a former aide to Lord Prescott, Nicola Phillips, assistant to publicist Max Clifford and the former Olympian and talent agent Sky Andrew. News International said that the announcement related to voicemail interception between 2004 and 2006, and it followed 'an extensive internal investigation' and disclosures through civil cases. The firm said it had asked its lawyers to 'establish a compensation scheme with a view to dealing with justifiable claims fairly and efficiently.' But it added: 'We will, however, continue to contest cases that we believe are without merit or where we are not responsible.' News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and also owns The Times and Sun newspapers, said it would continue to co-operate with the Metropolitan Police inquiry. Asked at a New York media conference about the damage hacking has inflicted on the company, Murdoch's particularly oily son, James, who was promoted last week to become the third most powerful executive in his father's media empire, said it had 'isolated the issue.' He claimed: 'What we were able to do is really put this problem into a box. If you get everybody sucked into something like that, then the whole business will sputter which you don't want.' But Rod Dadak, of law firm Lewis Slikin, said dozens of potential victims would now scramble to launch legal claims in the expectation of receiving generous payouts. That could leave NI facing a bill of 'up to forty million pounds.;' Although where he plucked that figure from, he didn't say. 'The admission of liability is just the beginning,' he said. 'The list of people who will now claim their phone may have been hacked will grow immeasurably.' Andrew Neil, an ex-Murdoch executive who edited The Sunday Times for a decade, said: 'This is one of the most embarrassing apologies I've ever seen from a major British corporation. I don't think NI had anywhere else to go. The evidence was piling up against them. It may cost them a lot more than they think. There are plenty of other people involved. They are trying to close it down with their chequebook but I don't think they're going to succeed.' On Tuesday, the News of the World's chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, and former news editor Ian Edmondson were arrested on suspicion of having unlawfully intercepted voicemail messages. They were released on bail until September. Both deny any wrongdoings. Thurlbeck was named by Labour MP Tom Watson in January 2011 as one of three journalists whom, he believed, should be investigated. In 2009, police told MPs that Thurlbeck had not been interviewed by them because there was 'no evidence linking him to the case.' Thurlbeck was heavily involved in the Max Mosley investigation. When Mosley subsequently took the News of the World to court - and won - Thurlbeck was criticised for giving what was described by the judge as 'erratic and changeable' evidence. The BBC's Panorama revealed in March this year that in 2006, a then-News of the World executive, Alex Marunchak, obtained e-mails belonging to an ex-British Army intelligence officer which had been hacked into by a private detective. Marunchak denies any wrongdoing, while News International says that it will act 'if shown new evidence of improper conduct.' Former News of the World deputy features editor Paul McMullan has claimed that Andy Coulson 'would have known' phone hacking was something his reporters did. Labour MP Chris Bryant believes it was 'inconceivable' that Coulson could not have known phones were being hacked when he was editor. In September 2010, a New York Times story suggested that phone hacking was widely practised at the News of the World. Sean Hoare, a former reporter at the newspaper and one of the sources for the New York Times's allegations, told the BBC that phone tapping was 'endemic' and alleged that Coulson had personally asked him to do it when he was the newspaper's editor. Coulson continues to deny this. Brooks, an ex-editor at both the Sun and the News of the World, was reported by the Gruniad to have 'repeatedly avoided appearing before the cross-party committee' investigating phone-hacking at the News of the World. In an interview secretly recorded by the actor Hugh Grant with McMullan, the former deputy editor claims that Brooks 'absolutely' knew about hacking. Brooks also denies this. According to the Grant tapes, however, McMullan did not believe Rupert Murdoch himself knew about phone-hacking. McMullan said: 'He's a funny bloke given that he owns the Sun and the Screws. Quite puritanical.' The latest arrests of Thurlbeck and Edmondson are the first since the Met Police reopened its inquiry - known as Operation Weeting - into claims News of the World staff had hacked into the phone messages of celebrities and other public figures. In 2007, the first police investigation led to the convictions and imprisonment of then News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was employed by the paper. Four alleged victims reached out-of-court settlements with the newspaper at that time and there are currently twenty four active cases being heard by High Court judge Mr Justice Vos. News International approached the judge with a way of settling all the cases as a group, and he is planning to hold a case conference on Friday. News International initially claimed that only one of its journalists was involved in phone hacking - Goodman, who was sacked and then jailed in January 2007. But another, Edmondson, was sacked in January 2011. News International's statement admitting liability does not go into the detail of whether the newspaper now accepts that other journalists were involved in hacking, whether a succession of parliamentary committees were lied to about these matters or, indeed, whether the prime minister of this country employed as his senior advisor a person who may have been party to such illegal activity. We'll bring you News Internationals denials of those allegations if and when they appear, dear blog reader.

Tommy Sheridan's lawyer has called on police to examine evidence given by Andy Coulson during the former MSPs perjury trial in Glasgow. Aamer Anwar's comments came after the News of the World admitted liability over a number of phone hacking cases. He said that police should examine whether the newspapers former editor Coulson lied during questions about alleged phone hacking. Sheridan was jailed for three years for lying during his successful defamation trial against the newspaper in 2006 and is currently doing considerable stir at Her Majesty's. The former Scottish Socialist Party leader won two hundred thousand pounds when he took the newspaper to court after it printed allegations that he had committed adultery and visited a swingers' club. After the court action, the former MSP and his wife Gail were charged with perjury. She was acquitted during the subsequent trial which led to her husband's conviction in December. Coulson was called to give evidence as he was editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007. At the time of his two-day appearance at the trial, he was still employed as Prime Minister David Cameron's 'director of communications.' He subsequently resigned in January, saying that coverage of the News of the World phone hacking scandal had 'made it difficult to give the one hundred and ten per cent needed in this role.' During heated exchanges with Sheridan, who represented himself during the trial, Coulson denied being involved in, or being aware of, any illegal activities, including phone hacking. Other figures from the News of the World also gave evidence at the trial. Sheridan's questions stemmed from the fact that his name and address had been found in a notebook belonging to Glen Mulcaire. The private investigator was jailed along with Clive Goodman for illegally intercepting mobile phone messages from members of the royal household. Anwar now wants police to examine evidence given by Coulson and News of the World employees during his client's trial. He said: 'It is essential that the Scottish police and the Metropolitan Police examine the evidence of Andy Coulson as well as others to consider whether perjury was committed by them and whether they were aware of Sheridan's phone being hacked along with others. If no-one is above the law, then those who gave evidence on behalf of News International must be investigated over allegations of perjury.'

Benidorm ended its current series with a respectable 5.8m viewers, according to overnight audience data. Writer Derren Litten's final episode was watched by 5.62m in the 9pm hour and a further two hundred and twenty four thousand viewers on ITV1+1, a loss of approximately half a million week-on-week, and down a hefty 1.8m on its fourth series premiere. Meanwhile, the return of Have I Got News For You to BBC1 brought in an audience of 4.49m, following which a Qi repeat took 3.39m at 9.30pm. Friday Night Dinner's first series climaxed with 1.18m viewers for Channel Four at 10pm, adding one hundred and thirty three thousand on timeshift. Prior to that, A Place In The Sun and Embarrassing Bodies were viewed by 1.06m and 1.83m at 8pm and 9pm, respectively. With numbers down across the board, probably due to hot weather, Baboons with Bill Bailey made a modest introduction with 2.78m for ITV at 8pm, whilst a new run of A Question of Sport began with just 2.56m on BBC1.

And still on the subject of ratings, the multi-million dollar mini-series The Kennedys, which such caused controversy ahead of its debut in the US, more than doubled The History Channel's usual audience on its UK premiere. The period drama, which charts the rise of the powerful political family from the 1940s to the 1960s, debuted with one hundred and forty thousand viewers across two hours from 9pm on Thursday. It outperformed History's slot average of fifty nine thousand for the year to date, according to overnight Barb viewing figures. The channel will broadcast the drama in a series of four two hour episodes. The mini-series, which stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as John and Jackie Kennedy, was to be the first ever scripted drama for History in the US, but was pulled following a suspiciously concerted pressure campaign. Owner AETN said it was not 'the right fit' for the History brand. Over half a million people turned to BBC4 in the five minutes leading up to scheduled drama Room at the Top, only to find that - as previously reported - it had been replaced with a repeat of Fanny Hill. An audience of five hundred and twenty one thousand viewers were watching the digital channel in the five minutes up to 9pm, but that dropped by more than one hundred thousand once Fanny Hill started.

Paul O'Grady has revealed that his fear of cursing fellow celebrities is the main reason he avoids Twitter. The fifty five-year-old entertainer, who recently branded himself 'a nosey so-and-so,' also criticised the 'addictive' nature of the social networking site. He told Buzz: 'After a few drinks I'd be on Twitter cursing people, then everything I'd ranted about would be all over the papers. No thank you! Also it's addictive. I've been out with friends who are tweeting each other even though they're at the same table. If you're already in the public eye, why would you want to tell everyone what you're doing every two minutes?'

Channel Four boss David Abraham has defended Peter Kosminsky drama The Promise following a wave of complaints which claimed its was 'anti-Jewish.' One viewer said: 'I was disgusted at the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish thread that ran throughout the mini-series, especially from parts two to four!' Nice to see that, at least, the complainee had the courtesy to watch all four episodes before complaining; that's something you don't see very often from whingers. A total of one hundred and twenty two complaints were received. The four-part Peter Kosminsky drama also attracted criticism from Vivian Wineman, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who wrote an open letter to chief executive David Abraham. The letter said there was disappointment in the British Jewish community about 'the way in which The Promise consistently demonised Jews, by using distasteful stereotypes and even comparing the actions of the Nazis during the Holocaust to those of Jews in mandate Palestine.' It went on to list what the Board deemed 'inaccuracies' including, stereotyping of Jews and on only one occasion seeing a Jewish person die. Abraham defended the drama in a letter responding to the criticisms pointing to the critical acclaim and 'spontaneous appreciative comments from viewers.' The drama was the channel's most praised programme in February, attracting one hundred and forty four positive comments. Abraham pointed to the balance of C4's output across genres covering Jewish issues such as recent Dispatches, Undercover Mosque and Lessons in Hate and Violence, which revealed anti-Semitic preaching. Other examples he pointed to included religious and ethics strand 4thought.tv and the comedy sitcom Friday Night Dinner, which he described as 'a very positive portrayal of British Jewish life.' C4 head of drama Camilla Campbell also defended the criticisms saying 'at its heart, The Promise is a fictional story, set within a historical context. It does not lay claim to present a definitive, exhaustive account of the history or the causes of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.' Campbell said Kosminsky and the team of researchers had carried out extensive research speaking to hundreds of people on both sides of the conflict. So hang on, what are you actually saying here, that it's well-researched or that it's 'just a piece of fiction that doesn't pretend to be historical', either is a valid defence but you can't use both, they're mutually exclusive! In a detailed letter back to the Board, Campbell addressed each concern specifically including the accusation of comparing the Jews in mandate Palestine to the Nazis during the Holocaust. 'Parallels are drawn between the way the British forces dealt with the Irgun in the 1940s and the way the IDF responds to Palestinians in modern times but no parallels whatsoever are drawn between the actions of Jews in the 1940s (or in the present day) and the Nazis.' One viewer who praised the drama said: 'I would like to congratulate Peter Kosminsky and Channel Four for having the courage to show this very important and factually accurate depiction of the historical events leading to the creation of the state of Israel.'

And, on a marginally related subject Channel Four’s last minute re-schedule of an episode of Time Team last month sparked more than one hundred and thirty complaints. The broadcaster received one hundred and thirty four comments about the decision to broadcast the archaeology programme at 5pm, half an hour earlier than the advertised 5.30pm slot. One viewer said the decision had 'spoilt a great weekend.' Yer Keith Telly Topping his very self wasn't best pleased either at the time although it's got to be said that if a minor thing like a change in TV scheduling can have the effect of 'spoiling your weekend' then, seriously, get a life, mate. The pedigree dog show DFS Crufts received ninety six complaints, the third highest of the month. Viewers' comments included criticism of the commentators. 'We wish to see the dogs being judged in their respective breed also obedience championships – not the commentators who took up three quarters of the programme chatting and showing us what's on the stalls. Crufts is about the showing of dogs – lets see more of that and less of the incessant chatter,' said one viewer. Who really needs to get a life. Jamie's Dream School featuring the vile and wretched Jamie Oliver received praise and criticism in equal measure from the viewers. One viewer described it as 'a project that cares enough about giving young people a chance. A bold, caring, creative, passionate approach to what is a major issue in society today.' Others - like this blogger - felt it was 'a complete waste of time' adding that the teenagers on the programme had 'no discipline, no respect and its a shame Jamie Oliver wants to associate himself with this experiment.'

Billie Piper has admitted that she is struggling to find another acting job. And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? The actress, who recently starred in the final series of Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, told the Sun that the industry has 'become more unpredictable' in the wake of the financial crisis. She said: 'I'm just trying to find a job. We're back to the drawing board. It's frustrating, it's tiring. It's desperate. You slightly lose your mind. You have no confidence, then you have too much confidence. It's an endless frustration. That's the nature of the beast. You have to suck it up and get on with it.' Still, it could be worse, love, you could be 'a normal person' and, therefore, the difference between having a job and not having a job could be, you know, the difference between having a roof over your head or not. Just, you know, a bit of perspective here. Whilst you're sitting in your country mansion with Mr Billie Piper. This blogger wishes no ill will towards people with a great deal of money, but I do object - strongly - to them whinging about how woeful their lives are. Speaking of the state of the television industry, the former Doctor Who star claimed that budget cuts are pushing many British actors to look for work in the US instead. 'Things are getting made a lot faster for less money and there are a lot fewer opportunities for actors,' she added. 'There's not a lot of work in the UK - that's why everyone's moving to America. It's where the work seems to be. But it definitely feels like a lot more of a slog to get a gig these days. I suppose that's a lot to do with our current climate and financial messes. People seem to have to work harder with a lot less time.'

Somebody else who might be looking for a new job shortly is Fern Britton. Her new Channel Four chat show is reportedly 'facing the axe' following poor ratings. Fern is currently halfway through a month-long trial run on the network, but executives are said to be 'concerned' that the show has failed to attract over one million viewers - averaging just nine hundred and seventy thousand. Earlier in the year, the channel was attracting up to 2.4 million viewers in its 5pm slot with Come Dine with Me and Coach Trip. The Mirra reports that Fern was beaten by its rivals on all of the main channels on Thursday. BBC1's Weakest Link got 1.8m viewers, Britain's Best Dish achieved 1.5m for ITV, while BBC2's Escape to the Country attracted 1.3m viewers. Neighbours pulled in 1.2m viewers on Channel Five from 5.30pm. 'It's fair to say the show is in jeopardy,' a 'source' allegedly said. 'The figures are relatively low - they are certainly not as high as we hoped. But it's early days. We'll get to the end of the four-week trial and decide what's best for the channel and the show. Everyone here thinks Fern is brilliant so we can't understand why more of her loyal fans aren't watching. The good weather at the moment probably isn't helping.' Channel Four's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, and head of daytime Helen Warner will decide the fate of the series at the end of the month. Options are said to include changing the format, moving it to an earlier slot or dropping it completely.

BBC comedy producer Paul Schlesinger, whose credits include BBC4’s Twenty Twelve and this year’s Comic Relief, is to leave the Corporation. Mark Freeland, head of comedy at the BBC, announced Schlesinger's decision today, and said he had enjoyed 'a truly outstanding career at the BBC.' He described the former head of radio comedy as 'a well known comedy brand in himself,' and praised his 'honest, authentic and fundamentally decent approach with everyone he works with. Paul will be in a position to announce his plans in the near future and I hope that those will include BBC in-house comedy at some point,' Freeland added.

Former Scumchester United and England defender Gary Neville will join Sky Sports next season as a replacement for Andy Gray, who had his ass sacked by the broadcaster in January after making sexist comments to a colleague. Neville, thirty six, seen right with his brother, Phil, retired from football at the start of 2011 after a stellar playing career which saw him pick up fifteen major trophies at United and win eighty three caps with England. And, piss off the supporters of just about every other club in the Premiership for one reason or another. He professed to being 'thrilled' at joining Sky Sports as a pundit from the start of the 2011-12 season and the lots of lovely lolly he'll be getting for sitting around watching football matches and mouthing clichés and platitudes. The appointment follows Neville's appearance last month in the Sky Sports studio for the Euro 2012 Qualifier between Wales and England. In a statement, the former right-back said: '[Sky] has always been leading the way in football coverage.' Well, that's a selective - and almost Stalinist - rewriting of history prior to 1991. 'Now I have retired this feels like the perfect way for me to stay involved in football and I am looking forward to bringing my nineteen years of match experience into television.' Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis added: 'Gary will bring vast experience at the top level of domestic and European football from nearly two decades with Manchester United. He will give our viewers great insight when he joins our team next season working on Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Carling Cup football.' Neville will act as a replacement for Andy Gray, who was embroiled in a scandal earlier in the year alongside former Sky Sports anchorman Richard Keys after sexist comments they made off-air were leaked onto the Internet. Gray was sacked during the ensuing controversy, while Keys later opted to resign from his post. Both men have since joined the UTV Media-owned radio station TalkSport. Where they have an audience almost exclusively made of large men from Essex with very little hair who drive vans and bellow obscenities at their radio with monotonous regularity.

The BBC is reportedly to be considering moving out of White City as part of a radical shake up of its London property. The broadcaster is planning to reduce the total space it occupies by thirty per cent over the next four years. The BBC was unable to give a figure on the savings this would generate, but it is one of the most significant measures to have arisen from its Delivering Quality First strategy, aimed at identifying more than £1.3bn-worth of savings. Chief operating officer Caroline Thomson said: 'The biggest pieces of property we have are in London, so we will be particularly looking at areas there. As well as Television Centre, we might get out of more property in W12, ancillary buildings around Broadcasting House, and the White City building. An awful lot [of our properties] are in London - we are looking quite radically at London.' Although the factual hubs in both Bristol and Birmingham have come under the microscope as potential sites for closure, Thomson said the BBC was not planning to quit any cities or regions entirely. 'There has been a debate around Bristol and Birmingham, but we would never lose a complete presence there because we have a lot of important content, like local regional news, which would suffer. We are not talking about reducing the number of buildings, or exiting any English region or any of the nations – this is about better use of our property - downsizing, looking at where we have spare floors, for example.' Thomson told staff that the proposal was being taken forward to ensure 'as much investment in future to be in programmes rather than buildings. This is about having the right buildings for our purpose and being no bigger than our mission requires,' she said. A spokesman added: 'We want as much investment in future to be in programmes rather than bricks and mortar, so we are aiming to reduce the property space we occupy by thirty per cent by 2015. This is about having the right buildings for our purpose and being no bigger than our mission requires. No decisions have yet been taken and we remain committed to serving nations and regions across the UK.' Other proposals to go through to the next stage include the reduction in the number of staffing layers between the director general and the most junior employee from nine to a maximum of seven. The BBC said any potential redundancies or demotions resulting from this move would be in the hands of the senior managers involved in implementing it. The BBC also plans to establish a technology fund to upgrade outdated broadcasting equipment, and has located one million pounds already specifically for technology upgrades in English regions, and for Radio Northampton, which the corporation said 'faced a particular problem.' Thomson also told staff there changes to redundancy terms could not be ruled out, there were 'no immediate plans' to reduce them, adding staff would be given eighteen months' notice if that changed.

Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has promised that the show's new-look panel will no longer be taken in by contestants' 'sob stories.' The Big Top failure, who is joined by David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre on the forthcoming fifth series, claimed that she attempted to avoid being taken in by those who 'milked' personal tragedies to improve their chances of success. Speaking to the Daily Scum Mail, Holden admitted that her change of attitude had been partially motivated by her own devastating stillbirth during filming of the contest in February. 'We saw in the auditions that people were telling you their tragedy before they even started singing. They were milking it, doing the "My mother died last week and this is for her" thing, trying to get the audience on their side. I think we're coming down harder on that this year. Of course people have back stories, and it's right for us to find out about them, but not before they perform.' Holden also acknowledged that she has adopted a more critical judging style following the departure of her hard-to-please colleagues Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan. She explained: 'Viewers have seen the softer side - which is obviously there because I'm an extraordinarily heart-led, emotional person. I go with my gut in everything. But I don't take any lip either. Hopefully, that will come through this time.'

A benefits claimant worked as an extra on TV soap operas whilst his wife claimed over one hundred thousand pounds in disability allowance in his name. The terrible rapscallions, the pair of them. Alistair Brogan appeared as an extra in Coronation Street and Emmerdale, learned to fly, went scuba diving and ran a security­ business, according to the Mirra. At the same time, his wife Lesley told benefits officials he was 'a cabbage' and needed constant care. The couple even won one hundred and twenty thousand pounds on the National Lottery – but did not declare it. In total, taxpayers were robbed of one hundred and seven thousand smackers. Now, the mother-of-three has been jailed for twenty one months after admitting false accounting and not notifying a change in circumstances. Judge Jacqueline Davies told her: 'It was nothing more than naked greed.' Claims dated back to 1991 when Brogan fell down a hole, Sheffield crown court heard. His wife said that he deteriorated further and the DWP granted him disability allowance for life.

A female thug who glassed a former Hollyoaks actress, leaving her blind in one eye, has been jailed. Sarah Harding was sentenced to two years and three months in prison at Manchester Crown Court. Harding, aged twenty one, of Nelson Street, Horwich, had been found guilty at an earlier hearing of wounding with intent. She had pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and throwing the glass at Charlotte Davies during a row in a Manchester nightclub. Davies, aged twenty seven, from Blackburn, who has also appeared in Coronation Street, was celebrating the birthday of a friend at the Living Room, in Deansgate, Manchester, on 27 March last year. Harding had been invited along by the victim's friend after they met a fortnight earlier. But Harding and one of Davies's friends started arguing. At 10pm, the victim went to check on her friend. She walked into the toilet, where Harding, who was already inside with some other girls, was rowing with Davies's friend. The woman tried to calm the situation down but Harding accused her of talking about the group, saying: 'That's her that's been calling you.' Harding became aggressive and started to threaten Davies. She then dropped a wine glass on the floor, picked up the broken bowl of the glass, and launched it towards the victim. Davies was taken to hospital for treatment but has permanently lost the sight in her left eye. Harding was reported to have 'sobbed and shook' in the dock as she was jailed for twenty seven months. Following Harding's sentence, Detective Constable Emma Hulston said: 'A group of women were having an enjoyable evening out when, for whatever reason, Sarah Harding flew into a rage. The victim bore the brunt of this aggression and has suffered permanent, life-changing injuries. Alcohol was certainly a factor in this case and it is sad that what should have been a pleasant time for all involved has resulted in one woman being blinded in one eye and another going to prison.'

Renowned American film director Sidney Lumet has died at the age of eighty six. The New York Times confirmed that the director died from lymphoma earlier today at his home in Manhattan. Lumet's career as a filmmaker spanned six decades, and he had directed almost fifty films by the time of his death. His most well-known film is his debut, the 1957 courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda, which was nominated for three Academy Awards upon its release. Among Lumet's other critically-acclaimed films were Dog Day Afternoon, Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Pawnbroker, The Hill, Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, The Verdict, Equus, Network and the Motown-inspired The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. Lumet himself - remarkably - never won an Academy Award for Best Director, despite being nominated four times, although he was presented with an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005. Over the course of his career, he guided his actors to nineteen nominations, varying from Rod Steiger for The Pawnbroker to River Phoenix for Running on Empty. Oscar winners from his movies included Ingrid Bergman for Murder on the Orient Express, and Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight, all for Network. The director was an actors' favourite, his theatrical background meaning he always encouraged their creative collaboration. He said, 'I was an actor, therefore I know where it hurts.' His last film was the critically well-received 2008 crime drama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke. Sidney has made over forty movies, often emotional, but seldom overly sentimental. He often told intelligent, complex interwoven stories. Although his politics were libertarian and left-leaning and he often dealt with socially relevant themes in his movies, he never considered himself to be a politcal film maker, preferring instead the descripiton of a social commentator. His lifelong mission to see justice upheld was demonstrated during the McCarthy era when he helped to protect the identity of blacklisted writers. Sidney was born in Philadelphia in 1924. He studied theatre acting at the Professional Children's School of New York and Columbia University. His father, Baruch, was an actor, director, producer and writer, whilst his mother, Eugenia, was a dancer who died when he was still a child. Lumet made his professional debut on radio at age four and his stage debut at the Yiddish Art Theatre at five. As a child he also appeared in many Broadway plays, including 1935's Dead End and Kurt Weill's The Eternal Road. In 1935 at age eleven, Sidney appeared in a Henry Lynn short film, Papirossen co-produced by radio star Herman Yablokoff. In 1939 he made his only feature-length film appearance as an actor, aged fifteen, in One Third of a Nation. World War II interrupted his acting career, and he spent three years with the US army. After returning from II service as a radar repairman stationed in India and Burma, he became involved with the Actor's Studio, and then formed his own theatre workshop. He organised an Off-Broadway group and became its director, and continued directing in summer stock theatre, while teaching acting at the High School of Professional Arts. He then evolved into a highly respected TV director. After working as an assistant to his friend and then-director Yul Brynner, Sidney soon developed a 'lightning quick' method for shooting due to the high turnover required by television. As a result, while working for CBS he directed hundreds of episodes of Danger (1950–1955), Mama (1949–1957), and You Are There (1953–1957), a weekly series which co-starred Walter Cronkite in one of his earliest leading roles. Sidney chose Cronkite for the role of anchorman 'because the premise of the show was so silly, was so outrageous, that we needed somebody with the most American, homespun, warm ease about him.' He also directed original plays for Playhouse 90, Kraft Television Theatre and Studio One, filming around two hundred episodes, which established him as 'one of the most prolific and respected directors in the business,' according to Turner Classic Movies. His ability to work quickly while shooting carried over to his film career. Because the quality of many of the television dramas was so impressive, several of them were later adapted as motion pictures. His first movie, Twelve Angry Men, was typical of his best work and was an auspicious beginning for Sindey. It was a critical success and established Lumet as a director skilled at adapting theatrical properties to motion pictures. It's also, of course, a classic. In films like Serpico, Prince of the City, Night Falls on Manhattan and Q&A, he charted the moral ambiguity of the police force, its ethical code compromised by the need to protect its own. His 1995 book Making Movies, is a nuts and-bolts look at how films are made and remains required reading for up-and-coming directors. At the age of eighty, Lumet brought in yet another production, Find Me Guilty featuring action star Vin Diesel, ahead of schedule and in time to accept an honorary Oscar for his 'brilliant services to screenwriters, performers and the art of motion picture.' He was married four times, to the actress Rita Gam (1949–1954), to socialite Gloria Vanderbilt (1956–1963), to Gail Jones (1963–1978) and to Mary Gimbel (1980–present). His marriage to Jones produced two daughters, Amy and the actress and screenwriter Jenny who had a leading role in his 1990 film Q & A.

Thriller novelist Craig Thomas has died at the age of sixty, it has been announced. Fans regard the Cardiff-born author as the inventor of the techno-thriller genre which includes his book, Firefox, made into a Hollywood blockbuster. The 1982 movie starred Clint Eastwood as the US fighter pilot and spy Mitchell Gant, a character in a series of Thomas's books. The former English teacher was educated at Cardiff High School. He was the son of the well-known Western Mail rugby writer JBG Thomas. In a writing career spanning thirty years, Thomas's novels were regarded as being meticulously researched, with 'cutting edge technology' which made him an international bestseller, according to friends. He wrote in his spare time during eleven years teaching English in grammar schools in the West Midlands. Thomas and his wife Jill lived for many years in Staffordshire, but recently moved to Somerset. He recently finished a two-volume commentary on the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Craig died from pneumonia following a short, but intensive battle with acute myeloid leukaemia, according to a statement released by his wife.

A school which gave out seven hundred and seventeen detentions in just three days has been criticised by parents. The Mirra reports that on a single day, a fifth of the City of Ely Community College's twelve hundred and ninety five pupils were kept behind in a 'crackdown' on behaviour. One student, Nicole Regan, was given five hours of detention when she was caught eating a crème egg - which had been given to her by another teacher for good behaviour. 'It was boring,' the fifteen-year-old said of her punishment. 'We had to sit in silence and read a book about good behaviour. It's petty.' Her mother Belinda Smith was incandescent with rage: 'I don't see how this is going to benefit anyone. Nicole has her GCSEs coming up. She should be in class.' Another parent, Amanda King, revealed that her twelve-year-old son Ben had been given an all-day detention for being late. King, who is now looking for a new school for her son and daughter, told the paper: 'They're wrecking pupils' education. They're nit-picking for behaviour, what they wear - everything.' Headteacher Catherine Jenkinson-Dix issued a warning about the zero-tolerance policy on uniforms, use of mobiles, iPods and discipline in a newsletter to parents. Defending the action, she stated: 'This is fundamental in preparing them for their future careers, where they certainly would not get away with being rude, dressing inappropriately and chewing gum.' Yes, because people get sacked from their jobs for chewing gum all the bloody time, don't they you stupid double-barrelled moron. I think that might be the most idiotic claim I've ever heard made by a teacher - and, believe me, dear blog reader, I've heard some effing crackers in my time. Governor Ben Gibbs was a bit more convincing when he claimed that parents had been warned of the new policy, brought in on Monday. Mr Gibbs said the number of offenders fell to fewer than two hundred on Tuesday and by Wednesday it was down to one hundred and fifteen. He added that senior staff had studied other schools' use of similar zero-tolerance policies and decided to follow suit. Because, there's nothing better than wielding a bit of power over the powerless to give you a right good hard-on, is there? Teachers, most parents and the majority of pupils approved of the new approach, he added.

Et maintenant, for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Quarante-Cinq Du Jour, let's have a bit of the greatest living Belgian, Plastic Bertrand (along with Legs & Co and some strategically placed baguettes) and a - very badly mimed - classic. Allez Oop!

1 comment:

farsh-nuke said...

Particularly intrigued by the last but one paragraph regarding the overstrict teachers. I think it is fair to say that I have a less than appreciative view of educational establishments having been bullied to the point of a breakdown during my time sentenced to school.

There is a part of me that would gladly bellow and rage about how horrific and arrogant the situation, how entirely warped it is. Certainly I remember the most infuriating fact about being an intelligent reluctant school participant suffering bullying, you would plead and beg continually to be allowed out, so you might innocently walk free from the cage of lions and they'd refuse, then when one of the lions crossed the line, they got to exit the cage. Let out out for bad behaviour. Certainly from a wide perspective locking the lions out of the library is the ultimate punishment but it doesn't really help the gazelle's stuck inside.

Even now, at college where thankfully things are much different, the absurdity of the education establishment continues to amaze me. Our teachers do no real teaching, just marking and giving out advice and yet they moan and whine at us, the people desperately trying to improve our work so we might go to university and have a future, for giving them work to mark. they berate us and call us arrogant for having the temerity to expect that people paid to mark the work on a coursework course might actually mark some work.