Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Real Sound Of The Government

Doctor Who guest star Hugh Bonneville has described his role in this week's episode as 'a dream.' The Downton Abbey actor will play the pirate captain John Avery in Saturday night's instalment, titled The Curse of the Black Spot. 'I've been badgering them for years [to] let me be in Doctor Who,' he told TV Choice. 'It's a cracking episode. The audience will expect one thing and it turns out to be quite different.' He added: 'It's actually rather mysterious and dark and ultimately a rather touching story about the Doctor making my character reconcile with his son, while all this weird stuff is going on with a nasty spooky Siren [Lily Cole].' Bonneville also insisted that the episode, which has been written by Sherlock scriptwriter Steve Thompson, will appeal to viewers of all ages. 'The ideas and themes are huge but done in an adventurous family-friendly way,' he claimed. '[There are] some very interesting deep philosophical thoughts parading around in the background for those who want to pick them up.'

The BBC has insisted that Doctor Who remains 'a key part' of Saturday night schedules. Not that there was any doubt in that fact from anybody was half-a-brain in their head. Various scum media outlets with an scummy agenda a mile thick had picked up on the, supposedly 'disappointing', ratings achieved by the two-part series six opener. However, official ratings released by BARB show that episode one, The Impossible Astronaut, was watched by 8.86 million viewers (43.3 per cent audience share) - up two million on the widely-reported overnight figures and the highest audience for a non-soap drama on British TV this year so far. Similar attention was given to the overnight rating achieved by episode two, Day of the Moon, which was seen by 5.39m. Final, consolidated figures, which are likely to show another enormous timeshift increase, will be released early next week. And, of course, that's not even taking into account the audience for the episodes on iPlayer. Dan McGolpin, Head of Planning and Scheduling for BBC1 said: 'Doctor Who is a key part of BBC1's Saturday night schedule and this series got off to a great start with the opening episode achieving a thirty seven per cent share of live viewing - more than any episode in the previous series. However, overnight ratings are only one part of the story for shows like Doctor Who and once you take into account catch-up viewing, the total audience for episode one is now around nine million, representing a forty three per cent share of the audience. BBC iPlayer figures will take this even higher - last year's opening episode was the most watched show on this platform, being streamed over 2.2m times.' Some fans have been critical of the 6pm start time given to the first two episodes of series six, schedules show that episode three The Curse of the Black Spot will be broadcast at 6.15pm, while episode four, The Doctor's Wife - written by Neil Gaiman - will be shown at 6.30pm. 'Like last year, this series of Doctor Who is scheduled at start times between 6pm and 7pm on a Saturday night, where it attracts a very strong audience including a large proportion of younger viewers,' McGolpin added. 'Very few drama series on any of the UK's channels achieve audience volumes of this size.' Yer Keith Telly Topping must note that it is particularly annoying that we had to go through this fiasco every single year, it seems. This 'Doctor Who losing viewers' nonsense. No it isn't. Probably it gets the same sort of audience as it's pretty much always gets - somewhere around eight to nine million in terms of its weekly reach, higher for special occasions like Christmas episodes and season openers. It's just that these days, because the way in which viewers consume TV is changing too rapidly for some in the media (and, indeed, some in fandom) to keep up, we get these nonsense 'the sky is falling' declarations from tabloid lice every time there's a moderately hot Saturday and some people decide to use their recording devices wisely. It would, actually, be quite funny if it wasn't so utterly predictable. And, so spitefully mendacious.

And, speaking of loathesome tabloid lies, the BBC has announced that no more episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures will be made following the horribly untimely death of Elisabeth Sladen last month. It was previously alleged wholly erroneously - by the Sun - that the series would continue with scripts being re-written to explain Sladen's absence. Sadly, the Sun didn't actually bother to ask the BBC, or indeed, anyone directly connected with the show whether this was the case before printing this crap. They just made up a quote from an alleged 'source' - who doesn't exist - to make the story appear genuine. However, in a statement issued on Wednesday, the BBC said: 'Contrary to press reports today we can confirm that no new episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures will be filmed following the tragic death of actress Elisabeth Sladen in April, 2011. As a tribute to Elisabeth, the six episodes that were recorded with her last year will be broadcast on CBBC at a date to be confirmed.'

Someone described as 'a celebrity chef' won a privacy order yesterday granting him anonymity over claims that he mistreated two employees whom he later sacked at his 'business empire.' The ruling means that he cannot be named at an employment tribunal later this year brought by the female and male members of his staff. It is the latest example of a major public figure remaining anonymous thanks to creeping privacy rulings by judges. The woman – known only as 'Miss J' – claims that she suffered sexual discrimination and also a 'detriment' after she acted as a whistleblower at the company – which can be referred to only as 'K Ltd.' No reasons have been given for the gagging order, but such devices can be used in cases of 'sexual misconduct' under industrial tribunal rules. Judge Elizabeth Potter granted the interim restricted reporting order at the Central London Employment Tribunal. It was supported by the chef and the female employee, but opposed by Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Scum Mail, who fancied publishing the story so that their readers could get The Horn. The male employee, who also alleges he was unfairly dismissed, claims age discrimination and that he is owed wages by the chef. He did not support the privacy action, however he cannot be named for separate legal reasons. Judge Potter ruled the anonymity order will remain in place until a further hearing in July when the question can be debated further.

BBC1 ground to a halt on Tuesday night after some unfortunate technical difficulties with a Conservative party election broadcast. The broadcast, due to go out after the 10pm national and regional news bulletins, was plagued by sound issues and ended up going out four minutes later than planned. Cue an emergency holding pattern and apologies all round, although not every viewer believed gremlins were to blame. 'The Conservative party broadcast on AV was lost due to a 'technical fault' with sound, though we could hear the announcer and music,' complained one irate viewer. 'This was played against a screen in glowing Labour red. We believe very strongly that this was deliberate blocking by BBC employees, and illegal under election fairness regulations. It was just glaring and blatant sabotage by [the] BBC at some level.' It's fair to say BBC1's branding does have a penchant for red. And if more evidence was needed, the button '1' also tends to be on the left hand side of the remote control. It's clearly a leftist conspiracy. The BBC said: 'A technical fault delayed the transmission of the election broadcast before it was played out in full. We apologised for the delay to on-air to viewers at the time.' A likely story. That's why this blog's presentation of the bloody Communists' logo is, comfortingly to the right.

David Jordan, the BBC's head of editorial policy, has said he aims to 'dial down compliance,' following complaints from programme-makers - and many viewers - that the corporation has become too risk averse in its commissioning. Jordan told the House of Lords communications committee on Tuesday that he hoped to lighten the burden of editorial constraints on programme-makers. He said the aim was to 'try to dial down compliance' in the future. However, asked whether that meant he favoured a move to light-touch regulation, Jordan replied: 'No, not light touch. Just lightening the burden, making it more user-friendly.' He said there has also recently been an experiment to reduce the amount of form-filling programme-makers have to do for compliance purposes in radio and music, initiated by the BBC Trust. Jordan also denied the BBC was risk averse. 'Our programme record shows we are prepared to take risks. I don't think we are risk averse,' he said. He pointed to the expensive undercover filming investigations the BBC commissions, which recently included exposing bullying within the army barracks at Catterick. George Entwistle, the newly appointed director of BBC Vision, appearing alongside Jordan at the Lords committee, said the corporation is also likely to reduce the duties of executive producers, the senior staff overseeing any individual programme, who must view and sign off compliance forms to check no editorial breaches have been committed ahead of transmission. In future executive producers may not have to watch and sign off the final version of a programme, if they have already watched it being recorded from the gallery or seen an edited but not final version. Jordan and Entwistle were called to give evidence to the Lords committee, which is examining the BBC's system of governance, after the debate about whether the corporation was too afraid to take commissioning risks was stoked by the new BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten. At his pre-appointment vetting appearance before MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee in March, Patten raised the concern that the best programme makers-were being 'bound by a rather labyrinthine culture' of compliance. The stricter compliance system, and additional interventions by BBC editorial policy experts after programmes are made, were then publicly attacked in evidence to the Lords committee last month by independent programme-makers David Henshaw, Tom Roberts and Fiona Stourton. Roberts told the committee that to describe the BBC as risk averse was 'an understatement.' Jordan, who is a former editor of the BBC political programme On the Record, defended the corporation's compliance system. He said the BBC editorial policy department he runs had 12.6 posts, which he described as the 'collected wisdom of a group of specialists.' He said the BBC editorial policy unit had added 1.8 posts over the years since the Hutton inquiry, telephony fakery and the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand broadcast on Radio 2. But Jordan added that the BBC never again wanted to be in the situation, which occurred during the Sachsgate incident, of finding compliance forms had not been filled in and the abusive content broadcast had not been listened to by executives at Radio 2. He shrugged off proposals from independent producers that the BBC adopt the simpler Channel Four system of compliance, which relies on commissioning editors and in-house lawyers. 'Why employ lawyers, that is more expensive than it needs to be? I am not a lawyer. I interpret editorial guidelines,' Jordan said. He added that some programme-makers see the process of compliance and checks as an intrusion and try not to show their programme to the editorial policy team until the last moment. Entwistle said he did not think the compliance culture was out of proportion. Under the current system the executive producer has to confirm a programme has been looked at in its entirety, and fill in a multiple choice form. The BBC's national TV and radio services all have compliance managers, but these are separate from editorial policy advisers to whom they refer issues.

Channel Four has unveiled details of its new series Four Rooms. The programme will see participants attempting to sell their art, antiques and collectibles to four experts, who are all sitting in separate rooms. The members of the public will have to decide when to agree to a deal, because once they leave the room the expert's offer will be void. The participants will have to persuade the dealers to buy their item, while the experts will have to try to work out the real value of the objects. The first expert, thirty nine-year-old Emma Hawkins, owns a business dedicated to antique curiosities and taxidermy. She explained that she got the antiques bug when she was young as her father worked in the industry but explained that the 'variety' on Four Rooms surprised her. 'From taxidermy to paintings to the nose of Concorde, there has been a good, diverse range,' she said. The second dealer, forty one-year-old Andrew Lamberty, has been described as one of the leading dealers of his generation and claims to own 'the most amazing furniture shop you have ever been to.' He revealed that he knows to buy an object when he feels 'a fizz up the spine' and admitted that some of the sellers on Four Rooms were 'a bloody nightmare' and 'delusional.' You're making this sound like something really worth watching, pal. The third expert is Jeff Salmon, fifty seven, an art and design dealer who has been working in the industry since he was a teenager. His clients include Kate Moss, Lily Allen and Uma Thurman and he has said that dealing is 'in his blood.' He claimed that there 'were some awful measures of greed' on Four Rooms and added: 'I never take any shite from the seller. You have to be upfront with people. I don't think dealers take any crap. If I smell blood, then I am like a hound dog. I will go for it big time.' And, he ain't never caught a rabbit, neither. The final dealer on the show is fifty four-year-old Gordon Watson, one of the world's leading authorities on Twentieth Century design. Watson, who has worked for Sotheby's, described Four Rooms as 'a rollercoaster of emotions. Some of the sellers have really tragic stories, others are bullshitters,' he said. 'Some really want to deal and others are time wasters. Some are so innocent it breaks my heart and others are wily characters. I love them all.' Channel Four's commissioning editor Tanya Shaw said: 'Four Rooms is real edge-of-your-seat viewing with some spectacular, jaw-dropping moments. The range of artefacts and cultural items we see on the programme is phenomenal and it provides a fascinating insight into the arts market and the usually closed world of the dealers.' You'd have to pay me with a Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece to get me to watch something with the description I've just read, dear blog reader.

The BBC has, reportedly, received 'a number' of complaints from viewers that the word 'shagged' was used in Wednesday night's Waterloo Road before the watershed. Damn buggering right. One imagines some bastard's bollocks are in a vice over that.

Sean Bean has revealed that he would like to film more episodes of Sharpe in the future. The ITV historical drama, based on the novels by the great Bernard Cornwell, stars Bean as a British soldier fighting in the Napoleonic wars. The last instalment, Sharpe's Peril, was broadcast in 2008. Bean has now told the Zap2It website that he would like to return to the character in the future. 'I'd like to think [there will be more],' he said. 'But we have been through so many wars in that series, and perhaps the Battle of Waterloo was the last major battle in that time. But we did go to India, which was fun, and we may be doing another one where I look for my long-lost daughter.' However, Bean admitted that he is not sure whether more Sharpe will be made. 'I think it's just the expense of things, especially in England right now with the recession and people cutting back on things,' he said. 'Sharpe is quite a big production, when you think of television. British television, anyway.'

Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie has admitted that there will always be 'television wannabes' on The Apprentice, despite the production team's attempts to ensure otherwise. Speaking at a press launch this week, he also told journalists that people talk 'a load of bollocks' to get on the show. 'Some will slip through the net,' the entrepreneur said. 'It always happens. Television is a very powerful tool. In the seven years I've been doing this, I've had people swear on a stack of bibles that they are here for the job.' He continued: 'It's a load of old bollocks. When the show is over when Channel 795 calls them up and says, "Do you want to be on TV?" they are there like a shot.' Sugar-Sweetie then suggested that he might release old audition videos to the public in the future, stating: 'When I retire and I'm out of my BBC contract, I'll take some of the rushes and publish [the videos] all on YouTube with these people swearing on a stack of bibles that they're not interested.' Lord Sugar-Sweetie previously defended The Apprentice from critics who claimed that the show was unrealistic.

A ComRes poll conducted by Channel Six has revealed that nearly ninety per cent of MPs support plans for more local TV across the UK. Channel Six, which is led by former Trinity Mirra executive Richard Horwood, recently submitted a bid to the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt to take on the new channel, which would have a national schedule with local opt-outs. Ahead of this week's local elections, the organisation has published results of a poll of local MPs which reveals that there is considerable backing for its proposals. The poll involved one hundred and fifty five MPs and has been weighted to reflect the composition of the House of Commons in terms of party representation and regional constituency representation. The main findings were that eighty seven per cent of MPs would support local TV, with support evenly distributed across all parties, while seventy six per cent of MPs across all parties appreciated the role of local TV in strengthening local democracy. Eighty five per cent agreed that local TV needs high-quality programmes to compete for viewers with the national channels, with near-unanimity across all three main parties, and seventy four per cent felt that TV news and features tend to be too London-centric. Horwood said: 'The Channel Six poll shows that the launch of local TV is one of those rare policies on which MPs of all parties agree, as long as its quality is comparable with programming on other channels. This will not only enable local TV to attract viewers, but also justify placing the channel in the number six slot. The benefits for local democracy are clear: TV has a unique power to engage audiences, shining its spotlight on issues which often concern people most in their neighbourhoods.'

Blue Peter has announced that the programme's former dog Mabel has died. The canine died after a fourteen-year career on the CBBC show. Although Mabel's precise age is unknown as she was a rescue dog, it is thought that she was around sixteen years old when she died. Mabel was originally featured on the programme on 8 January 1996 when Katy Hill met her while making a film about the RSPCA. The border collie joined the programme on 19 February 1996 when she drove into the studio with inspector Mark Buggie. Her name was inspired by the letters MAB1 on her RSPCA kennel. Mabel retired from the show in the summer of 2010 and became the second-longest-serving dog on the CBBC show after Petra, who appeared on the programme for fifteen years from 1962 to 1977. During her time on Blue Peter, Mabel starred alongside fourteen different presenters and appeared in hundreds of studio shows. Mabel, who had heterochromia eyes and a distinctive folded-over ear, spent her retirement living with a former member of the production team. Presenter Helen Skelton said: 'I'm proud to have worked alongside such an iconic Blue Peter dog. She was dearly loved and that's a credit to her quirky character. She'll be sorely missed by the presenters and viewers alike.'

Former child star Jackie Cooper, who went on to work as a TV producer, film director and feature in four Superman movies, has died at the age of eighty eight. Cooper died in Santa Monica, California, on Tuesday of complications related to old age, his lawyer said. Aged nine he became the youngest player to be nominated for an Oscar for best actor, for the 1931 film Skippy. Late in his career he returned to the screen as the Daily Planet editor in Christopher Reeve's Superman films. As a child, Cooper became a familiar face to many in Hal Roach's Our Gang series of short comedy films. He went on to star in Skippy, an adaptation of a popular comic strip. In one scene where he was required to cry, the director, his uncle Norman Taurog, pretended to have his dog shot off-set in order to bring on the tears - a ploy which worked. Fifty years later, Cooper entitled his 1981 autobiography Please Don't Shoot My Dog. He followed his success in Skippy with roles in films including The Champ, The Bowery and Treasure Island, and continued acting through his adolescence. He served in the US Navy during World War II and returned to find his film career had waned, at which point he took to the stage in New York in a number of Broadway shows. Not conventionally handsome as he approached adulthood, Cooper had the typical child-actor problems finding roles as an adolescent and his career was at a nadir when he starred in two popular television sitcoms, NBC's The People's Choice with Patricia Breslin and CBS's Hennesey with Abby Dalton. In 1954, he guest starred on the NBC legal drama Justice. Later, he appeared on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and also guest starred with Tennessee Ernie Ford on The Ford Show. From 1964-69, Cooper was vice president of programme development at Columbia Pictures Screen Gems TV division. He was responsible for packaging series (such as the popular sitcom Bewitched) and other projects and selling them to the networks. He reportedly cast Sally Field in the title role in Gidget. Cooper acted only once during this period, in the 1968 TV-movie Shadow on the Land. He left Columbia in 1969 and started yet another phase of his career, one in which he would act occasionally in key character roles (namely the short-lived 1975 ABC series Mobile One), but mostly he devoted his time to directing on TV including several episodes of M*A*S*H. His appearances as gruff Daily Planet editor Perry White in the Superman films brought him back to the big screen in the twilight of his career. Born John Cooper in Los Angeles in 1922 into a theatrical family, he was married three times and had four children. Two sons survive him.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day features the only instance that this blogger knows of in which a band's debut single was a box-set. Here's The High.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Never really thought about it before, but you're correct, the Red button is on the left and comes before the Green party button, the I have no back bone button and the Conservative button. The red button must used one; either proportionally or first past the post. Under a new Chris Patten directive will I have to paint them all black?