Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spoiling The Fun

A clearly furious Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has launched a pre-emptive rage against the rumour machine aimed at those fans of the show who reveal crucial plot lines ahead of transmission. 'You can imagine how much I hate them,' he told BBC Radio 5Live. 'It's only fans who do this, or they call themselves fans. I wish they could go and be fans of something else.' Before the current series began, one fan posted the entire plot of the first two episodes on an Internet forum. Yes, that one. He or she was one of a number of fans who were invited to a press screening of the opening episode, pre-broadcast, at which the production team specifically asked those attending not to give away spoilers. 'It's heartbreaking in a way because you're trying to tell stories, and stories depend on surprise,' said Moffat. 'So to have some twit who came to a press launch, write up a story in the worst, most ham-fisted English you can imagine, and put it on the Internet. I just hope that guy never watched my show again, because that's a horrific thing to do.' He added that the majority of Doctor Who fans were 'spoiler-phobes' who refused to go online for fear of finding out any information in advance. 'They want to preserve the surprise,' he said. 'The tragedy is you have to work hard at that now.' Moffat said that he believed keeping elements of storylines under wraps was an essential element in drama. 'Stories depend on shocking people,' he said. 'Stories are the moments that you didn't see coming, that are what live in you and burn in you forever. If you are denied those, it's vandalism.' Hard to argue with that, really. Although it does bring up the question of is a spoiler and what isn't. To some fans, even things like casting announcements, the contents of BBC publicity material about forthcoming stories and even Radio Times previews are off-limits. As ever, this blog always strives to provide only those details that the BBC have, themselves, revealed. Mind you, when you get - for example - several national newspapers on the morning of the transmission of The Impossible Astronaut printing screen-grabs of Matt Smith mid-regeneration, it's hard to argue that it's just 'fans' doing this.

On a much happier note, Steven also reported on Twitter that yesterday saw the first cast read-through for series two of Sherlock. Filming starts later this month and the three ninety minute episodes (based loosely on A Scandal in Bohemia, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem) will be shown 'in the autumn' according to co-creator Mark Gatiss.

FOX have apparently cancelled The Chicago Code, Human Target and - most disappointingly - Lie to Me, according to reports. they have, however, picked up I Hate My Teenage Daughter. The show is said to feature Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran as 'two mothers who are devastated to discover that their daughters are similar to the bullies they encountered when they were at school.' The project will be written by New Adventures of Old Christine producers Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer. There is some vaguely good news coming out of the network however. Zooey Deschanel's comedy The New Girl has also been ordered for a full series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the single-camera show will form a part of the network's fall schedule when it is announced next Monday. The actress also appeared to confirm the news herself on her official Twitter account, writing: 'I am thrilled that our show got picked up and so excited to work with this great group of people! Also know I'm getting humblebragged. whatevs. [sic]' Deschanel's character in The New Girl is Jessica, a teacher who moves in with three men after she gets dumped. Her co-stars in the pilot, which was originally titled Chicks and D**ks, were Jake M Johnson, Max Greenfield and Damon Wayans Jr. Deschanel's sister Emily will also be seen again on FOX next autumn following the welcome, if hardly unexpected, news that Bones has been picked up for a seventh season. Emily herself, meanwhile, has been dropping hints about the show's sixth season finale. The actress told the Futon Critic that the episode, which will guest star True Blood's Kevin Alejandro, will be fun. 'There's a lot of humour [and] really crazy characters,' she promised. '[Booth and Brennan are] ridiculously conspicuous, but undercover!' She added: 'There's some deep, big things that happen as well. I recommend that everybody watches the entire episode [because] you could miss something.' Deschanel also revealed that the show's writers are still undecided on how to deal with her real-life pregnancy. 'They know how I feel about it all and how I feel about how they want to treat my pregnancy,' she said. 'But it's ultimately their decision how they handle it in the show.'

Sky1 has commissioned a second series of THE John Simm and Philip Glenister drama Mad Dogs. The former Life on Mars duo, plus Max Beesley and Marc Warren will all return for the second run and have also signed up for a potential third series to follow. Filming for the four-parter will start this summer in Majorca and Ibiza and the show will be broadcast in early 2012. The first outing for the dark thriller was a significant ratings hit for Sky1 in February and picked up a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Serial. Characters Woody (Beesley), Baxter (Simm) and Rick (Warren) will kick-off the second series where they ended the first, returning to aid their friend Quinn (Glenister) in Majorca. However, the men soon regret their decision as they end up involved in yet another murder and drug money incident. Executive producer Andy Harries said: 'Mad Dogs had such an impact that it was as obvious as a dead goat that we had to do more and all the our amazing cast felt the same. This time it all goes pear shaped in Ibiza!' Fellow executive Suzanne Mackie added: 'Before we had finished the first series of Mad Dogs we felt that there was so much more to do with these characters. I have been working with Cris Cole on the scripts ever since we finished shooting series one and the ideas for series two and three are every bit as explosive and inventive as they were at the beginning.' Sky1's directer of programmes Stuart Murphy said: 'Customers loved this show so it's great to commit to more. At Sky we work hard to bring our viewers high quality original entertainment made by the very best production companies with fantastic talent so I'm delighted we can confirm Mad Dogs' return just a few weeks after the first series has finished its run. This also marks a growing investment in British scripted content, to sit alongside our great American shows.'

Further to yesterday's report on the filming of the first episode of the new series of Qi, Stephen Fry has confirmed that the episode - the first to feature the legend that is Brian Blessed, will be this year's Christmas Qi special. The theme is 'Icy' and the other guests are Sean Lock and Ross Noble. Look forward to that one, for sure. Qi will now be filming two or three episodes per week until the middle of June. More news, as ever, as we get it.

Meanwhile, the Dave channel has been scolded for broadcasting an edition of Qi: XL without properly bleeping the word 'fuck.' Regulators at Ofcom - elected, remember by no one - received a single complaint. Seemingly, given the time that the episode in question was broadcast, from somebody with more time on their hands than they knew what to do with. The complaint was that the - bad naughty - swear word in question could clearly be made out in an episode of the show broadcast at 2pm on 22 February. When, you know, 'normal people' were at work. In one exchange, Stephen Fry could be heard saying, 'Oh, fuck off,' and, in another guest panellist Jeremy Clarkson said: 'No, he fucking isn’t.' Although originally broadcast on the BBC after the watershed, the lone - sad, lonely and, seemingly, unemployed - viewer who complained said that this language was 'inappropriate' for the time of day the rerun was shown. And, once again, let us just stand back and marvel at the utter shite some people chose to care about. The broadcaster had tried to obscure these words, but the watchdog said: 'Both words clearly began with an "F" and an unmistakable "...ck" and "...cking" followed after the bleep. This would have left viewers in no doubt in Ofcom's view that "fuck" and "fucking" had been used.' And, the problem with that is, exactly? Dave bosses blamed 'human error' for the 'unacceptable' broadcast, but said the offence would have been 'minimal' as the channel is aimed at an adult audience. However, Ofcom ruled: 'Human error does not justify the broadcast of the most offensive language before the watershed and we are therefore recording a breach of the [Broadcasting] Code.'

Channel Four has picked up a new drama written by Charlie Brooker. In March, King Charlie confirmed in an interview with the Digital Spy website that he was working on new scripted projects. Channel Four has now announced that it has ordered his show Black Mirror. The three-part series, which has been described as 'a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected,' focuses on the way technology has changed people's lives. The series will comprise three standalone episodes and will explore 'what if' stories about the impact of computing and the Internet. So, in other words, a bit like the 'If ... Pens Got Hot' sequence from Charlie's recent BBC2 series How TV Ruined Your Life. Brooker, who previously penned the Big Brother-style zombie show Dead Set, said: 'It combines satire, technology, absurdity and a pinch of surprise and it all takes place in a world you almost - almost - totally recognise. It changes each week - like the weather, but hopefully about two thousand times more entertaining. If you don't like it, you will be beaten about the face and neck by Channel Four executives.' Channel Four's head of comedy Shane Allen described the show as 'satirical drama for the social media generation' and said: 'Charlie's writing is imbued with a beautiful blend of emotion and intelligence that pulls you into a thrilling projection of themes which surround our everyday. In a world where bloggers can communicate from beyond the grave and a world leader can watch an assassination in real time on the other side of the planet, there is much to say about how we live and what values we share.'

Alesha Dixon has reportedly been warned to commit to her Strictly Come Dancing judging role or risk being fired by the BBC. Recent press reports have named the pop singer as a possible replacement for Cheryl Cole on ITV's The X Factor. Although, given the state of her singing career and the fact that her last CD - The Entertainer - was a huge commercial flop and made but number eighty four on the UK charts one might've thought The X Factor could do a bit better than her. In a recent - and widely reported - magazine interview, Dixon praised Simon Cowell's show for 'allowing the judges to be more creative' with their mentoring roles. 'She is not the most important part of the Strictly judging line-up and the show's success does not depend on her,' an 'insider' allegedly told the Sun. 'It is not on for Alesha to woo The X Factor. She is a judge on the biggest entertainment show on the BBC and should be proud of that - not making public pronouncements about its biggest rival.' The newspaper claims that the anonymous 'source' went on to suggest that 'bosses' had 'demanded a meeting' with Dixon's agent to 'discuss' the situation. Which, one supposes is verbal shorthand for administer a jolly good spanking. 'If she hadn't committed to the show immediately they were prepared to show her the door - even if she didn't get a job offer from The X Factor,' the source supposedly continued. 'What was most galling about it was that the BBC supported Alesha over the past few years when she got a lot of flack about joining Strictly.' The thirty two-year-old's manager, Malcolm Blair, added: 'Contrary to recent speculation, Alesha is committed to Strictly and looks forward to taking her place on the judges' panel when the show returns.'

Ofcom has asked any customers who have received 'unexpectedly high' mobile, landline or broadband bills in the past twelve months to get in touch with the regulator. The media watchdog said that consumers can sometimes be faced with surprisingly high communication bills due to 'unexpected costs,' such as using their mobile abroad or downloading data. Rules are already in place to ensure that people are provided with 'clear and transparent information' about billing and European regulators also limit the amount providers can charge for making calls or using mobile Internet while in Europe. However, Ofcom's research indicates that six per cent of UK consumers have received an 'unexpectedly high' mobile phone bill over the past year, with eighteen per cent being charged over one hundred smackers more than expected. For landlines, five per cent of people have received an unexpectedly high bill over the past year, with nine per cent incurring costs of over a hundred quid more than their own estimates. Ofcom now wants to hear from all customers that have received a one-off bill unusually higher than expected, as it considers whether further action is required. The watchdog also said that it is talking to communications providers about the steps they have taken to protect customers from unexpectedly high bills. Consumers and stakeholders can submit their views to Ofcom until 14 June. The regulator is expected to report back on the issue later in the year. Ofcom receives an average of four hundred and fifty complaints every day about a range of telecoms issues, including the mis-selling of services, billing errors, and customer service problems. That's four hundred and forty nine more than complaints about the average repeat of Qi on Dave. Last month, the regulator revealed that TalkTalk is the most complained about provider for broadband and landline services, while Virgin Media attracts the least complaints.

Gordon Ramsay’s career 'suffered a severe blow' on Monday night when his new series 'bombed' according to the Daily Mirra. TV 'bosses' were, the newspaper claims, 'left questioning his popularity' after Gordon's Great Escape averaged an overnight audience of a mere nine hundred and ninety thousand viewers. Although that's still more than Daybreak gets. Many more. The forty four-year-old's five million pound deal with Channel Four ends in the summer and 'sources' there allegedly told the Mirra that it could 'sound the death nell' for his career on British TV. An 'insider' allegedly said: 'He seems to have lost his appeal.' Normally, yer Keith Telly Topping treats these sort of unattributed quote with the utter and withering contempt that they deserve but, in this particular case, this appears to be a clear case of a broadcaster who payed a massively inflated exclusivity deal when financial times were better and are now looking for any excuse to terminate it. Could be wrong, of course, and it might all be another loads of tabloid lies. Time will tell.

Fans of David Schneider, the comedian and actor, have apparently 'taken to Twitter' to complain about the David's silence on the social networking site according to the Torygraph. Schneider has been a fixture on the comedy circuit for the last decade, making regular appearances on the various Alan Partridge television series, as well as playing small roles in several very popular feature films like Mission: Impossible. His fanbase has grown particularly over the last year thanks to his regular postings on Twitter, the microblogging site. His dry, topical, usually left-of-centre humour has won him more than ninety thousand followers. One joke, in the run up to the royal wedding, said: 'If you're single, you're a "singleton". If you're married, you're a "marriedton." If you're in-between, you're a "Middleton."' Another, displaying his love of football, said: 'Capello says he only needs "one hundred words" to communicate with his players. Ferdinand only needs two to reply.' But David's usual six or seven tweets-a-day habit appear to have dried up since the end of last month, when he signed off on 27 April, saying that he needed to concentrate on writing a new sitcom. In I'm Alan Partridge, he famously played Tony Hayers, the fictional head of commissioning at the BBC who grows frustrated at Partridge's increasingly ludicrous concept ideas for comedy shows, including Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, Inner-City Sumo and Cooking in Prison before ending with the desperate end-of-the-line cry of Monkey Tennis, a term now widely used by television executives to mock the stupider end of their own industry.

Sky News presenter and hate figure to millions horrible rude Kay Burley reckons that some MPs deserve 'a good kicking,' but not former prime minister Gordon Brown who, she believes, did 'a fantastic job' and was 'beaten to a pulp' for no good reason. This is the same Gordon Brown, presumably, whose re-election campaign was effectively holed beneath the waterline after his 'bigoted woman' remarks were picked up and broadcast by, of course, Sky News. 'Gordon Brown did a fantastic job and was beaten to a pulp because he didn't have the flair other prime ministers had,' said Burley, not unreasonably. I mean, as previously noted, even a broken clock is right twice a day. 'He didn't get the respect I think he deserved.' The poster up girl of rolling news admitted that there was 'anxiety' among Sky News staff about the prospect of the broadcaster being 'spun-off' into a new - stand alone - company to pave the way for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp takeover of BSkyB. 'I honestly don't think it will make any difference,' she told Richard Bacon on BBC Radio 5Live. 'People are anxious, people are always anxious about change. People from Jeremy Darroch to John Ryley have told us to get on with our jobs and for now we will continue to do our work as best we can. We will have to wait and see what happens.' She added: 'That was the diplomat's answer.' Burley also claimed that she 'doesn't go out to upset people' but that 'some politicians deserve a good kicking and I see that as my job on Sky News.' Not Peter Andre, whoever, whom she - memorably - reduced to tears. 'I wasn't looking for him to cry at all. I was really shocked. I don't think I went too far. I am sorry he was upset.' She didn't upset Bacon, flirtatiously telling him: 'You're very handsome aren't you?' Twice.

The editorial and operational independence of S4C, the Welsh language broadcaster, must be ensured by the government under the new partnership hurriedly brokered with the BBC, MPs say in a new report. MPs on the Commons Welsh affairs select committee criticised the 'regrettable haste' of the deal between the government and the BBC in October, under which the corporation will take over responsibility for most of S4C's funding. They also asked for more detail on S4C's future funding and governance in the report, published on Wednesday. The committee of twelve MPs said the two thousand jobs supported by the spending of between ninety and one hundred million pounds per year on Welsh language programmes for S4C is crucial for the independent production sector in Wales and must not go into extra programmes supplied by the BBC. It notes, however, that the main benefits could be spread wider, outside of the media cluster around Cardiff. The Welsh affairs committee report also noted that S4C has been spared scrutiny by outside bodies as to whether it operates efficiently, which 'is unacceptable.' MPs proposed that S4C's finances should in future be inspected by the National Audit Office. They also suggested that some of its funding should come from the National Assembly for Wales, and that it should be accountable to a committee of the Cardiff administration. But the committee is satisfied that for the most part S4C is supplying quality programming in return for public funding, especially in drama and children's content. However, it noted that S4C has tended to inflate the size of its audiences by the choice of audience data it uses. The committee said that only one in five Welsh speakers watch S4C for fifteen minutes or more consecutively per week, outside of sports coverage. The broadcaster accounts for 2.2 per cent of all viewing in Wales, down from 3.7 per cent in 2005. The committee has deep concerns about the practical details of the BBC's future partnership with S4C, and also notes the need for a strong new S4C Authority, after a year of internal problems.

There was a spluge of publicity piece on the actor Hugh Bonneville over the weekend thanks largely to his appearance in the latest Doctor Who, including an interview entitled My Secret Life in the Independent by Gillian Orr. This was followed the next very day by a curiously nastily-worded article in the Scum Mail on Sunday by one Ian Gallagher. (No, me neither.) 'Last night Hugh guest-starred in Doctor Who, playing a pirate captain whose ship is in peril from a beautiful siren – an event that made the gossip columns. "Where can they have drawn inspiration for such a role?" asked one writer. But then Hugh’s devotion to wife Lulu is so strong it is understood he is known to fellow thespians as the Ryan Giggs of the showbusiness world, after the famously family-orientated footballer.' I'm sure we would all love to know whom the 'one writer' was so that this blog could provide you with a link to it to see the context, dear blog reader. But, sadly, as with so much else in the Scum Mail, it appears to have been made up.

The Home Office has condemned as 'irresponsible' an anti-cuts advertising campaign by police officers' representatives that depicts a young girl being abused. But, not, curiously the cuts themselves which, many may feel, are a damned sight more irresponsible. The advert for the Police Federation shows a girl cowering in a corner as the shadow of a man looms over her. The black-and-white image is accompanied by the slogan: 'Consequences of twenty per cent cuts to policing? Cuts are criminal.' The Police Federation said the latest in its series of shocking campaign images – a previous advert showed a hooded figure pointing a gun – was designed to illustrate how the coalition government's twenty per cent cut to police forces over four years could harm child protection work. The Home Office said: 'It is irresponsible to play on people's fears.' And, once again, we ask the question is a more irresponsible than playing politics with the public's safety? 'The police budget settlement is tough but fair and, alongside the government's police reforms, will leave the force more than capable of fighting and cutting crime.' Clearly some police officers don't not agree, and neither do some members of the public. Although, one images that robbers, rapists and murderers think all of their Christmases have come at one. Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, said the image was 'highly irresponsible and incredibly offensive.' This, from a tory. 'nuff said. But Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'It's not dissimilar to child protection agency images on TV. It's important people realise the reality of massive twenty per cent cuts. Support functions like child protection could be affected. The most vulnerable people in society tend to be hit.' The advert ran for the first time in the free Metro newspaper last Friday, and the image is expected to be used on posters and leaflets. The Police Federation is demanding an independent inquiry into the future of the police service amid anger over tens of thousands of job losses due to funding cuts, and proposed radical changes to pensions, pay and conditions. Coalition ministers insist twenty per cent cuts can be achieved by England and Wales's forty three police forces through efficiency savings in back-office functions, without harming frontline policing. A total of twenty eight thousand posts are expected to be lost, including an estimated twelve thousand officers and sixteen thousand civilian staff. So, the next time you ring up your local station to report a crime expect to have your call answered either by the Cheif Constable, or by a cleaner. Or, more likely, not answered at all. These job cuts include positions lost through a recruitment freeze and experienced officers being forced to retire after thirty years' service under a previously little-used regulation.

Shameless actor David Threlfall will take part in the Great Manchester Run in aid of the city's cancer hospital. David, best known for playing Frank Gallagher in the Channel Four series, will join the thousands of people running for The Christie in Withington, in the ten kilometre event on 15 May. He will run alongside wife, Bosnian actress Brana Bajic, and his eldest son Louie, sixteen. 'The Christie has such a phenomenal reputation around the world and we're so lucky to have it here in Manchester,' said Threlfall. 'Having known people who have battled cancer and been treated at The Christie it's my honour to be taking part in this run.' Jenny Haskey, from The Christie, said; 'We were delighted when David Threlfall told us he wanted to take part in the run in aid of our charity. He's such an iconic Manchester star so to have his support is such an honour.'

Terminally disgruntled Stephen Morrissey rained on the royal wedding parade somewhat, telling Radio 4's Front Row that the Windsors were 'benefit scroungers and nothing else. I don't believe they serve any purpose whatsoever.' from the man who gave us The Queen is Dead, that's hardly a surprise. And heaven knows he's more miserable now than then. The bard of Whalley Range has since released a rare statement via his website accusing the BBC of 'Iranian censorship' for having 'chopped and cropped' the interview he gave them and thus 'confiscated' his opinions. Morrissey, it seems, was especially irate that the media all but ignored the death of Poly Styrene in favour of 'blubbering praise' over Kate Middleton. Warming to his Arabesque theme, he went on: 'The message is clear: What you achieve in life means nothing compared to what you are born into. Is this Syria?'

Channel Four has confirmed that tea-time chat show Fern will not be returning. The programme, hosted by Fern Britton, began a trial run in March. Reports later suggested that it would not be recommissioned because it picked up relatively low ratings. Speaking at the Channel Four Annual Report, the broadcaster's chief creative officer Jay Hunt confirmed that the show will not be coming back 'in the current form.' However, Hunt explained that Channel Four is keen to work with Britton again in the future and revealed that other formats are currently being discussed. In March, Britton claimed that daytime programming is 'underestimated.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we feature a single by the now pretty much forgotten Liverpool hard-rock band Nutz, 'As Far As The Eye Can See.'
A bit shriek-y perhaps and they had horrible haircuts that The Darkness would subsequently copy which reminds us all exactly why we fought the Punk Wars in the first place. As this clip of them performing on The Old Grey Whistle Test proves. Ah, Whispering Bob, where are you when your country needs you? There was one great thing about Nutz, though. The cover of their first LP featured a fantastic picture of a girl's bare arse. This one, in fact.
Classy.

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