Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Believe in Coyotes And Time As An Abstract

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have begun shooting the new series of Sherlock this week. The titles for the second batch of three episodes of the BBC1 drama have also been confirmed by co-creator Steven Moffat as A Scandal In Belgravia, The Hounds Of Baskerville and The Reichenbach Fall. Fellow writer Mark Gatiss previously revealed details of the Conan Doyle stories which would be uses as the basis for the second series at the Kapow convention in London after Moffat had earlier alluded to them. They're A Scandal In Bohemia, The Hound Of The Baskervilles (obviously) and The Final Problem, respectively. Filming started on location in Cardiff and London on Monday. Ben Stephenson, the Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said: 'The hotly-anticipated return of BBC1's hit series Sherlock begins filming this week with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman on fine form.' Although Martin's probably a bit jet-lagged after that flight from New Zealand. Paul McGuigan returns to direct the series alongside Toby Haynes, while Moffat's wife Sue Vertue and Elaine Cameron will be on producer duties. The Lord Thy God Steven his very self notes on Twitter: 'Sue out on location, producing Sherlock. Me on childcare and writing Sherlock. We are a Modern Media Couple.'

The latest episode of Don't Scare The Hare scaled the dizzying heights of an AI score of fifty nine. From an overnight audience of nine hundred thousand punters. From The North, dear blog reader, the telly blog that positively wallows in schadenfreude... but only when someone really asks for it. Consider the following.
Bottom AIs week-ending 15 May:-
Don't Scare The Hare - BBC1, Sat 14 May, 59
Daybreak - ITV, Thu 12 May, 63
Epic Movie - Channel Four, Sat 14 May, 63
Daybreak - ITV, Mon 09 May, 65
Daybreak - ITV, Tue 10 May, 65
To quote from the BBC's Producers Guide to AI:
'What exactly is an AI score? AI stands for Appreciation Index – it is a measure of how much viewers and listeners appreciate programmes on TV and radio. The Appreciation Index has a long history at the BBC – it used to be collected by getting people to fill in paper diaries, but is now done online. Appreciation is an important measure and gives us an idea of perceived programme quality to sit alongside industry sources of ratings and share (from BARB for TV and Rajar for radio). The Delivering Quality First project has further highlighted the importance of these appreciation scores in measuring quality in programming.
What is a good AI score (and what is a bad one)? The average AI score across all TV and radio is around eighty out of one hundred. Top scores tend to be around ninety (recent examples include Madagascar and Waking The Dead). Scores can be as low as fifty or sixty, but this is not common.' Now, it seems, they're going to have to amend this bit to add '... Unless you're Don't Scare The Hare, or Daybreak.'

And, speaking of the latter crass abomination, let's have this week's DaybreakWatch:
9 May 812k - AI65
10 May 875K - AI 65
11 May 823k - AI 70
12 May 884k - AI 63
13 May 759k - AI 69

There was a thoroughly superb interview with Rob Lowe in the Torygraph a couple of days ago in relation to his forthcoming autobiography - Stories I Only Tell My Friends - which it well worth a few moments of your time, dear blog reader. There's also an extract from the book detailing how Rob was first cast in The West Wing. It begins with Rob describing receiving the pilot script from his agent: 'Written by Aaron Sorkin. Well, that's a good sign. I'm sitting down to read this would-be TV pilot script, and I remember Sorkin's name from the movie Malice, a thriller I read a few years ago. I loved its big, snappy speeches and had lobbied for a role to no avail. Through no fault of my own, I've had a career where I play guys you meet on page one. And on the first page of The West Wing, here comes a character named Sam Seaborn. Good name. Nice alliteration and romantic-sounding. He's standing at a bar slinging rapid-fire political-insider talk. From my years on the inside of campaigns, I recognise at once the authenticity of his voice and the world that surrounds him. Oh, now Sam's flirting with a girl in a charming, self-deprecating way. I get the idea that Sam is more comfortable with public policy than private interaction with the fairer sex. Nice dynamic. I'm liking this Mr Seaborn more and more. And now at the end of the teaser, Mr Sorkin closes the deal. Sam's date asks who his boss, "Potus," is. "President of the United States," he replies, dashing off to solve a White House crisis. My chest thumps, I feel my skin tingle, and I know that, God help me, I'm in love. I've read hundreds of scripts. I've read a number that I would have killed to have been a part of, but I've read only one or two over the course of twenty-plus years that made me absolutely certain of this: I know this character at first blush and on the deepest of levels. He feels written for me. Everything I've done as an actor and as a person has prepared me for this part. The miles-on-the-road campaigning, serving a candidate pursuing the calling of that elusive, magical Oval Office. My interest in policy, in public change, in service. My deep love of the majesty of our flawed democracy. Like Sam, I feel these things in my bones. When Sam Seaborn speaks, it's as if it's me talking, but elevated by the massive intellect and wit of Aaron Sorkin. Sam Seaborn, I realise, is my idealised self. By the time I get to Sam's showstopping speech to the grade-school teacher, I can't wait to slip into this material. (As Sam tries to impress his boss's daughter's class, he appeals to the teacher after a less-than-stellar White House tour.)
  • Sam: Ms O'Brien, please believe me when I tell you that I am a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out that the Times is publishing a poll that says that a considerable portion of Americans feel that the White House has lost energy and focus: a perception that's not likely to be altered by the video footage of the president riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard are fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean while the governor of Florida wants to blockade the Port of Miami. A good friend of mine is about to get fired for going on television and making sense, and it turns out that I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now would you please, in the name of compassion, tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter?
  • Mallory [the teacher]: That would be me.
  • Sam: You?
  • Mallory: Yes.
  • Sam: Leo's daughter's fourth-grade class?
  • Mallory: Yes.
  • Sam: Well, this is bad on so many levels.
Sorkin's writing is music and I can hear its melody clearly. I call my agents. "What do we need to do to get this part?"' The news isn't good. "They don't want a star. They don’t want any 'names' in the cast," my agent informs me. "But they are intrigued that you are intrigued. If you are willing to come read for them, they will give you a meeting."'

NBC president Bob Greenblatt has defended the decision to cancel Law & Order: LA. The sophomore crime drama was recently revamped, losing three regular cast members and introducing original Law & Order star Alana De La Garza. Speaking ahead of the network's 2011 upfront presentation, Greenblatt said: 'We tried [to keep the show on the air], but we didn't have the time period to bring it back if it isn't going to show signs of growth.' He also agreed with L&O: LA producer Rene Balcer's claim that the show's initial launch had been rushed. 'They didn't put it on the ground properly,' said Greenblatt. 'It went on the air without a pilot, then it did well but was taken off.' Greenblatt has also recently explained his decision to renew Chuck for a fifth and final season, and revealed his reasons for dropping David E Kelley's Wonder Woman pilot.

Sir Trevor McDonald will be awarded with an Academy Fellowship at this year's Philips British Academy Television Awards. The veteran newsreader will receive the honour, which recognises an 'outstanding and exceptional contribution to television,' at Sunday's ceremony. 'This is a magnificent surprise,' McDonald said. 'I am honoured and absolutely delighted to join such a distinguished list of previous recipients.' Meanwhile, BAFTA's TV committee chair John Willis said: 'No journalist and presenter is better loved and respected by the audience than Sir Trevor McDonald. His authority and humanity has shone through all his work. He is a very worthy recipient of the Fellowship because, for many years, he has been simply the best.'

Imogen Thomas has denied claims that she tried to solicit one hundred thousand pounds, a signed football shirt and match day tickets from a high-profile footballer. The Big Brother contestant is alleged to have told the player that she would go to the press about their six-month affair if he did not adhere to her demands. Thomas argued that she has effectively been 'gagged' from revealing her side of the story since the player took out an injunction preventing the disclosure of his identity. On Monday, Mr Justice Eady refused a joint bid by Thomas and the Sun newspaper to overturn the high-profile footballer's privacy injunction. Eady said there was 'ample reason not to trust' Thomas, and insisted that the evidence before the court on 14 April 'appeared strongly to suggest that the claimant (the anonymous footballer) was being blackmailed.' The footballer accused Thomas of repeatedly demanding fifty thousand pounds from him in March. He agreed to meet her 'in a hotel where he was staying' in April. There he gave her 'a signed football shirt' but said that he was not prepared to give her 'the sum of fifty thousand pounds.' She asked to see him again shortly afterwards to which 'he agreed with reluctance' and provided her with some football tickets. Although the position was 'by no means clear,' Mr Justice Eady said that he believed evidence 'appeared to suggest' that the reality TV regular arranged two hotel meetings with the player apparently 'in collaboration with photographers and/or journalists.' The player claimed that on 13 April, he texted Thomas to say that he might be willing to offer her some money after all but Thomas allegedly increased the amount to one hundred thousand pounds. Eady added: 'The majority of cases over the last few years would appear to be of the so-called "kiss and tell" variety and they not infrequently involve blackmailing threats. Blackmail is, of course, a crime and in that context the courts have long afforded anonymity to those targeted as a matter of public policy. This has not hitherto been questioned.' Following the ruling on Monday, in a statement on behalf of Thomas by her lawyer, she revealed that she was 'stunned' with how she was portrayed in the ruling. She commented: 'What's more I can't even defend myself because I have been gagged. Where is the fairness in this? What about my reputation?' What reputation? 'If this is the way privacy injunctions are supposed to work there is something seriously wrong with the law.'

Not The TV Quote Of The Week (because, it actually happened ten days ago) but possibly The TV Quote Of The Century, Guido Fawkes whilst taking part on a Sky News debate with - a very uncomfortable looking - Adam Boulton on the subject of superinjunctions. 'If you don't want to be on the front page of newspapers, don't pay hookers to stick dildos up your bum.' Very sound advice, sir. Yer Keith Telly Topping will, for sure, bear it in mind for future reference.

Paul Merton has dismissed claims that Have I Got News For You is sexist. Broadcaster Mariella Frostrup has previously suggested that the show demeans female guests and described Merton and his colleague Ian Hislop as 'testosterone-driven.' However, Merton denied the ridiculous allegations in an interview with the Radio Times. 'Do you think that really applies?' he asked the interviewer. 'I think [Frostrup] was put out because they stopped asking her to be on the show because the second time she was on, she wasn't very good.' Merton added that he actually prefers there to be two women on the programme, but explained that his producer says that women are more likely than men to turn down the opportunity to appear. Merton also revealed that fans always ask him questions about Have I Got News For You but added: 'No way am I moaning about this, I have to say. The show has been going for about twenty years. The Christmas Eve show got something like seven and a half million viewers, so it means a lot to people and I'll always answer the questions.'

Professor Brian Cox will deliver the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival as part of a line-up that includes a lecture from Google boss Eric Schmidt. Cox, the face of BBC2's Wonders of the Universe, will offer his take on TV as an enduring medium, as well as his own success and the subject that made him a household name – the wider universe. Schmidt, who is the first big technology name to deliver the flagship MacTaggart Lecture, will discuss the impact of multiplatform technologies on the TV industry. The pair feature alongside a range of other top TV names. Avalon founder Jon Thoday will give the Richard Dunn Memorial Interview, looking back at his career in comedy management and production, and how he launched the careers of comedians such as Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and Harry Hill, while the stars of ITV2's successful constructed reality series The Only Way is Essex will discuss the blurring of fact and fiction with producers and commissioners who worked on the show. Presumably in words of one syllable. Other runaway successes being discussed at the festival include ITV's Downton Abbey, BBC4's The Killing and comedian Miranda Hart. Controllers from leading broadcasters – including Danny Cohen, Peter Fincham, Jay Hunt, Stuart Murphy, Janice Hadlow, Jeff Ford, Richard Klein and James Hunt - will be quizzed in this year’s Controller Sessions.

Apparently Eurovision 2012 is heading for a gay boycott due to host Azerbaijan's 'dodgy track record of prejudice towards gays,' claims the Daily Lies. Their choice of headline? A bum note. Classy.

The first BBC employees today started work at the corporation's new northern headquarters at Salford Quays, as part of the 'single most ambitious staff move in the BBC's history.' Over the next thirty six weeks, hundreds of BBC employees will move from Manchester and London to the BBC North buildings at MediaCityUK, joining the BBC Philharmonic, which relocated at the beginning of May. The facility will eventually provide a home for the BBC Children's, sport and learning departments, as well as parts of Radio 5Live and the future media and technology team. Last month, the BBC offloaded its building on Oxford Road in Manchester, earning an estimated windfall of ten million smackers from the sale. Employees at the facility are now making the move to neighbouring Salford. The BBC has three main buildings at MediaCityUK - Bridge House, Dock House and Quay House - which will host a range of high-profile shows such as Blue Peter, Dragons' Den, Songs Of Praise and Match Of The Day. In a blog posting, BBC North director Peter Salmon said that the move to MediaCityUK finds the corporation at an 'important crossroads.' He said: 'If we take the wrong turning, allow our enthusiasm and commitment to be lessened, curb our ability and willingness to take creative risks, create a fortress and not an open and honest environment, then it will be our audience who lose out. I firmly believe that all of us, those moving from Manchester and London, as well as hundreds who are joining the BBC for the first time, will choose the right direction. Working together we can create a new BBC that will forge a new contract with our audiences across the UK, build stronger relationships with our partners and most importantly, continue to make the very best content for TV, radio and online.' A dedicated BBC North website has been launched offering behind-the-scenes videos of what is 'going on behind the glass' at MediaCityUK. Salmon said that the website and a Twitter account will become 'destinations' to engage with licence fee payers and encourage them to 'help us furnish our new home with fresh ideas and suggestions.' He added: 'So as we throw open our doors, we face an exciting future. Of course we can expect a few unexpected bumps and scrapes, but let's not forget, home is where the state-of-the-art is.'

Teen superhero drama Misfits and the BBC's Ashes to Ashes have been acquired for broadcast in Latin America. Where, hopefully, they'll be as impressed with signor Gene Hunt as we were. Distributor BBC Worldwide has revealed the sales ahead of next week’s LA Screenings. Film & Arts Latin America, a network with a reach of ten million subscribers, has picked up the two hit British dramas. The network, owned by Pramer, has also acquired supernatural chiller The Haunted Airman, starring Robert Pattinson, crime drama The Sally Lockhart Mysteries and Charles Dickens miniseries’ Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Helen Juardo, vice president of TV sales and distribution at BBC Worldwide Latin America, said the deal showed 'the enthusiasm Latin American broadcasters and audiences have for first-class British dramas.' It has also been revealed that the new series of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood will be shown to international clients at the LA Screenings. BBC Worldwide owns international distribution rights to the series – Torchwood: Miracle Day – which was made by BBC Worldwide Productions and debuts on US network Starz on 8 July.

A man has used up his entire life savings to post notices around New York of his prediction for the end of the world. According to the New York Post, Robert Fitzpatrick spent one hundred and forty thousand dollars on a thousand adverts which read Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day. May 21, 2011. The adverts have been put up in the subway and at numerous bus stops. The sixty-year-old said: 'Judgment Day will surprise people. We will not be ready for it. A giant earthquake will render the earth uninhabitable.' Fitzpatrick - who did not reveal how he has learned of this coming catastrophe - also said that he can pinpoint the time the earthquake will happen, predicting that it will hit just before 6pm EDT (10pm GMT). 'God's people will be resurrected,' he continued. 'Most churches teach that if you just believe, you will be saved. It is not our choice. It is God's choice.' Fitzpatrick previously self-published a book titled The Doomsday Code detailing what happens on Judgment Day and what fate awaits those who are not 'saved.' So, if you're planning on doing anything in particular on Sunday, dear blog reader, it might be an idea to put it off.

TV retail guru Mary Portas is to carry out a government-backed review aimed at halting the 'decline of the high street' in England. Mind you, she'd better be quick about it if the world's about to end. She will look at the problem of empty shops and how to prevent the growth of 'clone towns' dominated by chain-stores. Portas, the star of Mary Queen of Shops and Secret Shopper, is due to present her findings in the autumn. Prime Minister David Cameron said high streets had to become more 'vibrant and diverse' in an effort to survive. Portas's review, carried out for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will involve visits to several town centres and 'engagement events' with shop-owners and customers. She said: 'With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker. I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.' A report published on Monday by the Ernst & Young Item Club suggests UK high street spending will not return to pre-recession levels until 2013. It also said consumer spending is expected to rise by only two per cent a year up to 2020. Portas will present her report to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the aim being 'to identify what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.' Clegg said: 'Empty high streets are a blight on the local economy. Vacant shops are also a wasted opportunity with far reaching consequences. When goods and services start to disappear, our sense of community can be weakened and undermined. It is vital therefore that we examine what steps can be taken to revitalise and reinvigorate high street shopping centres across the country.' Cameron said: 'The high street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment; so it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive. That is why I am delighted that Mary Portas has agreed to take on this review and I am confident that her straight-talking, no-nonsense approach will help us to create vibrant and diverse town centres and bring back the bustle to our high streets.' Previously Portas has blamed supermarkets for 'killing' Britain's smaller shops by making it impossible for them to compete on price. A former creative director at Harvey Nichols retail group, she has since become known as a TV expert on transforming under-performing shops. Portas starred in Mary Queen of Shops on the BBC2 before moving to Channel Four, in a classic example of capitalism in action and pissing all over 'brand loyalty', where she presents Secret Shopper.

Sky Sports has agreed a three-year deal with Endemol Sport for the Dublin Super Cup, a new pre-season football tournament launching this summer. The agreement enables Sky to offer exclusive coverage of the inaugural Dublin Super Cup on 30 and 31 July at the Aviva Stadium, featuring the first team squads of Manchester City, Inter Milan and Celtic, along with a League of Ireland XI. The deal runs until 2013. Each year, the cup is guaranteed the participation of a top English Premier League club, Spanish La Liga team or Italian Serie A side, and a team selected from the best players from Ireland's top domestic league. Sky Sports will broadcast standard and high definition coverage of the cup, along with offering a world feed for international viewers. Barney Francis, the managing director of Sky Sports, said: 'The Dublin Super Cup will be part of our summer of live football on Sky Sports. We look forward to showing three of the best-known teams in Europe and the finest Irish talent in four live matches.' Endemol Sport managing director Gregg Oldfield added: 'This multi-year partnership will see the Dublin Super Cup become a landmark in Sky Sports' live summer football output. We are extremely proud to be joining forces with Sky and bringing a brand new, world class football tournament to one of the world's leading sports broadcasters.' The launch of the annual Dublin Super Cup follows a ten-year deal agreed last year between Endemol Sport and The Football Association of Ireland. Alongside the Sky Sports deal, Endemol Sport said that it is finalising agreements with other broadcasters around the world, with a view to bringing live coverage of the cup to more than one hundred territories across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Police were called to reports of 'trouble' involving West Ham United players and supporters at a top London hotel. The club, which was relegated from the Premier League on Sunday, held its end of season dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. I've heard of 'going down fighting' but that's just ridiculous. Typically, the Daily Scum Mail's report on the incident noted that 'West Ham's disastrous season plumbed new depths last night when a brawl erupted at the club's swanky end-of-season bash.' Bash being the operative word, here, clearly. The 'trouble' is thought to have broken out at Monday evening's two hundred and seventy five pounds-a-head event when a player refused to sign an autograph for a supporter. The Mirra went further, and named names (as well as claiming that it cost seven hundred smackers a pop to get in): 'West Ham players claimed they were racially abused as a gala dinner descended into violence last night. Police were called to a London hotel at around 9.30pm after simmering tensions exploded following a row between striker Demba Ba and some supporters. The players, who had been ordered by the club to attend the event, claim racist language was directed at Ba as well as defenders Danny Gabbidon and Manuel Da Costa from fans who had paid to be at the event. The abuse allegedly came after Ba refused to sign an autograph for a fan, claiming he was "too tired." One supporter was seen to have high-kicked a vase off one table as the chaos grew. TV presenter Ben Shepherd, a West Ham fan and host for the event, appealed desperately for calm as fans refused to back down. But it was not until police arrived that order was restored. A source said: "The players knew something like this would happen. After everything that has gone on it was only always going to kick off with the fans in a situation like this."' A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said no arrests were made. He said: 'We were called at 2115 BST to reports of a disturbance at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. Officers attended. There were no offences alleged and no arrests.' A spokeswoman for the club denied there had been any 'trouble.' West Ham's calamitous relegation to the Championship was confirmed with a 3-2 defeat at fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic. Just over an hour after the match, the club's owners confirmed they had parted company with manager Avram Grant.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is one of R.E.M's finest.

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