Thursday, May 12, 2011

Them Children Of The Colonies Got A Different Tale To Tell

Following yesterday's right old rumpus The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods A'fore he) tweeted on the subject of his 5Live comments about spoilers and fans and fans and spoilers: 'Finally heard my own rant. Grumpy sod. And what a boring, inflection free voice! It's like been told off by the shipping forecast.' Well, yeah, it was a bit, Moff. Doesn't mean it wasn't true. Or that it wasn't right to say it, though. You're the Doctor Who showrunner, Steven, nobody ever said it was going to be a popularity contest! Meanwhile, Doctor Who's schedule has been confirmed by the BBC Press Office for 6:45-7:30pm on Saturday 21 May. This will mean that four out of the first five episodes of the current series will have gone out at different times (6:00 for episodes one and two, 6:15 for episode three, 6:30 for episode four, 6:45 for episode five). When the show comes back in September, just pick one and stick to it will you guys?

Suranne Jones has discussed her experience filming this weekend's episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor's Wife. Written by acclaimed fantasy novelist and comics author Neil Gaiman, the story sees the actress guest star as the mysterious Idris. Describing working with green screen on the episode in an interview with the CultBox website, Jones noted:' They were shouting "now there's a meteor coming at you and there's this and that," so I was just like "okaaay." What's interesting is that your imagination really takes over. Me and Matt had a lot of fun together and I hope that comes across as well.' The former Coronation Street and Unforgiven actress also revealed that Matt Smith is keen for her to return to the show: 'I've been texting Matt to ask how it's all going as it's such a long shoot and he text back saying "We miss you, come back!"' Jones, meanwhile, has revealed how she and her former Coronation Street co-star Sally Lindsay came up with the idea for her next TV drama. 'It was over a bottle of wine in a pub,' said the Chadderton-born actress, who plays Detective Constable Rachel Bailey in six-part ITV series Scott & Bailey which is due to began its first series on ITV later this month. Jones and Lesley Sharp play the lead roles, with Lindsay – former Rovers landlady Shelley Unwin – guest starring as Rachel's sister. Set and filmed in Manchester, Suranne and Lesley were given training by Greater Manchester Police to ensure they looked the part when arresting and interviewing suspects. 'We talked to various heads of murder investigation teams. We looked into some real crimes and watched DVDs of police interviews taking place,' explained Jones. Retired Manchester Detective Inspector Diane Taylor, who was attached to the force's Major Incident Team, worked closely on the script with ex-Corrie and At Home With The Braithwaites writer Sally Wainwright. Suranne said that she didn't know if she could do the job for real. 'You have to be made of stern stuff,' she told the Manchester Evening News. The drama was made in the city by Manchester's Red Productions. 'The reaction in the street is great because people like to know that things are being filmed in their home town,' Jones noted. But she added that some fans now confused her with EastEnders actress Jessie Wallace. 'I get a lot of, "You were Karen?" Or, "You were Tracy, weren’t you?" Or Kat Slater sometimes. Cab drivers usually do that: "Hey, are you in EastEnders? You were!"' Isn't Jessie Wallace about four stone heavier?

Another Twitter frenzy broke out last night after a user named a further string of celebrities rumoured to have injunctions. Someone described as 'a well-known blogger' listed fourteen famous people and made a series of obscure jokes about them. In theory, someone could be jailed for up to two years for breaching the restrictions of a privacy injunction. The culprit could also face a fine of several thousand pounds and the seizure of assets. But 'sources' claimed that the latest Twitter blogger is based outside the UK and not afraid of the consequences of busting any injunctions issued by the High Court.

Rehearsals are now well underway for the second series of Sherlock, with shooting due to begin next Monday, director Paul McGuigan has confirmed. Having directed two of the first series' episodes - A Study In Pink and The Great Game - McGuigan will be directing two episodes of the new three-part series. McGuigan posted on Twitter: 'On my way to rehearsals with Benedict and Martin. Shoot starts Monday so I'll be sending regular progress reports from the set.' He added: 'Read-through went great. [Mark Gatiss] has written another cracker!' Earlier this month, the director also mentioned that he was 'very excited to start our new adventures' and had 'found some great locations' for the series.

With its black 'collaboration pods' which look like something from a futuristic bar, acres of glass and features such as a 'word wall,' BBC North looks 'more like the set of Doctor Who than a typical corporate office,' according to some Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star. Around forty million smackers has been spent on designing and fitting out the three new BBC North buildings on the MediaCity site in Salford. Keen to avoid people getting lost, as they often do in London's labyrinthine Television Centre, the corporation and the designers have tried to make BBC North more open and welcoming. Every floor has its own 'arrival zone' – namely, a table with chairs and hot and cold water. 'All catering areas are pink, for some splendid but unexplained reason. And the BBC Philharmonic's new studio is painted in two lovely shades of lilac.' Although there are no offices – not even for BBC North boss Peter Salmon – there are closed booths for hot-deskers, some with coloured glass and even a hot pink 'telephone booth.' If the booth is busy there are some special high-backed telephone chairs, designed by students in a competition. One particular innovation which got a lot of press coverage are the 'collaboration areas' designed for the BBC children's department, which has rope monkey bars across its roof. One can imagine the commissioners working out on the ropes while ordering up another series of Rastamouse, perhaps. Helen Beresford, one of BBC North's team of designers, said the 'collaboration pods' were a way of 'reflecting the contemporary workspace.' Whatever that means. Ever mindful of providing value for money, even the lifts have been designed to be efficient. You have to press a button outside the lift to choose which floor you want before you enter it. Which is jolly bad luck if you change your mind once you're inside. Apparently it's less efficient if you do, so there are no buttons to press inside. Except a panic one.

Recording has taken place of the second episode of the next series of Qi. Reports indicate that the episode's theme will be 'International' and that it will feature three of the series regular recurring guest panelists, David Mitchell, Bill Bailey and Jack Dee alongside the omnipresent Alan Davies and Stephen Fry. As previously mentioned the first episode to be recorded in the current - ninth - series block was this year's Christmas episode which will feature, for the first time, the great Brian Blessed.

Channel Four has announced a number of new series commissions for 2011. Science series Drugs Live - sensationalist title notwithstanding - will explore the effects of illegal drugs and alcohol on the human body. Under strict clinical conditions, the four-part show will explore both the short and long-term consequences of experimentation with addictive substances. A second science-based series, The Food Hospital, will explore the feasibility of prescribing special diets to battle health problems. Viewers will be encouraged to participate in the scientific study to determine which foods can help to improve or even cure certain illnesses. Lennon Naked writer Robert Jones will also adapt Chris Mullin's classic 1982 novel A Very British Coup for the channel, under the abbreviated title of Coup. Helmed by Merlin's Ed Fraiman and produced by The Shadow Line's Johann Knobel, the four-part thriller will explore the relationships between the government and the banking industry. The novel was, of course, previously subject of a BAFTA-award winning adaptation for Channel Four by Alan Plater in 1988. In addition, Channel Four's first ever original animation will premiere in 2011. Writing team Jack and Harry Williams have created six-part suburban sitcom Happy Families, which has been produced in Los Angeles by Rough Draft, the company which previously provided animation for shows such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy and SpongeBob SquarePants. Speaking at the presentation of Channel Four's Annual Report earlier this week, Jay Hunt said: 'I believe Channel Four's future lies in pieces that take risks. Risks on new talent, risks on difficult subject areas, risks with style and execution. It's more important than ever that Channel Four is prepared to challenge the status quo, to provoke debate and, above all, to be brave.' Four has also picked up the US drama The Killing. The broadcaster announced that it has secured the free-to-air rights to the first two seasons of the show. The drama is based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen, which became a cult hit when it was broadcast on BBC4 earlier this year. The US adaptation focuses on the investigation into the murder of a young girl in Seattle and examines the impact of the case on the victim's family and the town's political figures. The cast includes Big Love's Mireille Enos, Billy Campbell, True Blood's Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton and Joel Kinnaman. Hunt added: 'We are thrilled to acquire The Killing. This intense, atmospheric crime thriller redefines the genre and will sit perfectly alongside Channel Four's stable of award-winning, critically acclaimed US shows.'

Betty Driver has been rushed to hospital. The ninety-year-old actress, who has played barmaid Betty Williams in Coronation Street for forty two years, is believed to be suffering from pneumonia a year after being hospitalised for a previous chest infection. A Coronation Street spokesperson said: 'Betty has been taken to hospital. We are all wishing her a speedy recovery.' An 'industry insider' allegedly told the Daily Scum Express: 'Everyone loves Betty, she's part of the heart and soul of Corrie. We're all very worried. We know she's an elderly woman but she's always been larger than life. Everyone's keeping their fingers crossed that she pulls through.' it is claimed that another - nameless - 'source' told the Sun: 'Obviously we are all worried because Betty is such a huge part of the show. She's an absolute trouper and still turns up for work and puts in a flawless performance. We've all sent our love and best wishes and are hoping for the best.'

Well known faceache (and drag) Lynda La Plante has signed up to write a new drama for Lionsgate TV. Deadline reports that the - as yet nameless - project will be based on historian Marcus Rediker's book Villains Of All Nations, which focuses on the 'Golden Age' of piracy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The show has been described as a 'modern, bold and gritty interpretation of the genre.' All this sounds very good, no one likes a good bit of high seas piracy more than myself, but how can something be 'a modern interpretation' if it's a historical? Answer that and stay fashionable. 'Not only is [La Plante] a brilliant writer, she happens to have a long-time love and knowledge of the subject matter,' Lionsgate TV president Kevin Beggs said. 'We believe she can achieve exactly the kind of "Deadwood on the high seas" sensibility we're looking for.' LaPlante has previously written British crime dramas including Widows and Prime Suspect. Both of which were very good. And Above Suspicion and Trial & Retribution. Both of which were exactly like Prime Suspect. She was also in the news last year when she appeared to blatantly play The Race Card when claiming that if she had been 'a little Muslim boy' she would find it much easier to sell TV scripts to the BBC. These deeply offensive comment were - rightly - attacked by British Muslim writers who accused her of 'old-style racism for reinforcing stereotypes.' Sarfraz Manzoor, journalist, broadcaster and author of the memoir Greetings from Bury Park, said that La Plante should 'get that chip off her shoulder and return to the real world rather than playing the misunderstood victim in the fantasy world in which she is currently residing.' He added: 'I would love to meet the Muslim writers whose output is currently clogging up the television schedules: can she name any of these mythical individuals? Or are her comments simply a headline-grabbing way to yet again bash the BBC and blame Muslims?'

The Mentalist star Simon Baker has claimed that the show's third season finale will 'step outside the box.' Series producer Ashley Gable previously hinted that the episode will see Patrick Jane come face-to-face with Red John, the elusive serial killer who murdered his family. 'We'll see how far we can push Patrick and still keep him empathetic and likable in the eyes of the audience,' Baker told TV Guide. 'There's been an increasing feeling of paranoia all season, a real pressure-cooker situation.'

The former X Factor hopeful Gamu Nhengu and her family have won their appeal against deportation, her lawyer has said. Nhengu, nineteen, currently lives with her two brothers and mother, Nokuthula Ngazana, in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire. The family feared they would be sent back to Zimbabwe after a court ruling. Earlier this year, the teenager's family were refused leave to stay in the UK by the Home Office after a decision passed at the immigration court in Glasgow. But on Wednesday, the lawyer acting for Gamu's family welcomed the news that their appeal had been successful. The Home Office now has five days to appeal against the decision, which was granted in accordance with the family's right to a private and family life, as set out in the European convention on human rights. The family's lawyer, Frances Farrell, said in a statement: 'We are delighted to announce that the court has allowed Gamu's, her brothers' and her mother's appeal. If the Home Office accepts the decision of the court, then my clients will be granted leave to remain in the UK. The Home Office have a five-working-day limit to appeal, and we hope they do not exercise that right. My clients are all delighted with the decision; it's the first great news they've had for months.' Gamu appeared on last year's X Factor competition, when she was controversially kicked off the show by judge Cheryl Cole. The move to deport her family came in February after allegations that her mother, a nurse, had wrongly claimed working tax credits. The family has always contested the allegation, which was successfully appealed against at a private hearing. Gordon Banks, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, where Gamu is a constituent, said he was delighted to hear the news. He said: 'This is really good news, not only for the family but also for the local community, in which the family played such a vital role. It's particularly pleasing to see that common sense has prevailed and that we have the ability in the UK to take decisions which are morally right. I hope the Home Office don't exercise their right to appeal [against] this decision and that the family will be allowed to get on with their lives and continue to contribute to society.'

Emma Spencer was busy at Chester racecourse fronting Channel Four's coverage of the May meeting last week, but - according to the Gruniad - she managed to find time to 'break up the week' by going to watch filming of a Jeremy Kyle programme one evening. 'DNA, lie detectors, the whole works,' she tweeted. Spencer seemed understandably less enamoured however when her colleague Jim McGrath cued her in for an interview with the reigning champion jockey, Paul Hanagan, by saying: 'Of course, his [Hanagan's] big advantage is that he is still able to ride at a light weight, and speaking of lightweights‚ here's Emma.' Ow.

Archie Norman, the chairman of ITV, has describing the broadcaster's dependency on TV advertising as akin to 'a faulty shower.' Norman, kicking off the broadcaster's annual general meeting at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster on Wednesday, was keen to point out that management could not rest on its laurels despite ITV's impressive recovery from the recession in 2010. ITV reported profits before tax of two hundred and eighty six million smackers for last year, eleven times the twenty five million quid it made in recession-hit 2009, driven by a surge in TV advertising fuelled by the World Cup and bumper audiences for shows such as The X Factor and Downton Abbey. However, on Wednesday the company suffered several downgrades from City analysts after reporting that it will see a slowdown in TV advertising revenue growth through the summer, the end of eighteen months of continuous growth after the recession. ITV said it expected TV advertising revenues to be down nine per cent year-on-year in May and as much as twenty per cent in June, with the broadcaster facing adverse comparisons with last year's football World Cup advertising bonanza. The company's share price was down just over five per cent at the close of the day, at 71.9p. 'It would be all too easy to now take our feet off the pedal and carry on thinking everything is alright really,' Norman told ITV shareholders. 'Even after the bounceback the market is only at the same levels as 1999. TV advertising is like a faulty shower, it either blows too hot or too cold. Despite the oscillations in the market, in the long term it is likely to be flat at best.' Separately Channel Four, the UK's second largest advertising-funded broadcaster, announced that its pre-tax profits rose to fifty four million pounds in 2010, but also warned that revenues for the coming year 'looked flat.'

Previously unknown stories, scripts, letters and musical compositions by the late author Anthony Burgess have been found in an archive of his possessions. The contents of three of his houses were left to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester by his widow, who died in 2007. Most famous for writing A Clockwork Orange, Burgess wrote thirty three novels in all. Researchers have now uncovered some twenty previously unpublished short stories as well as unproduced film and theatre scripts. They include a previously unknown movie script about Napoleon Bonaparte, which was to have been filmed by director Stanley Kubrick. The pair had worked together when Kubrick filmed Burgess' 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, which depicted the ruthless sexual ultraviolence of a teenage gang leader in a lawless futurist society. The film caused an international outcry when it was released in 1971, leading Kubrick to withdraw it from cinemas until his death. It is now recognised as a genuine cinema masterpiece. Burgess' original screenplay for the film is among the most prized artefacts at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. The typescript, which has never been published, was rejected by Kubrick, who opted to write his own screenplay instead. Burgess' version is interesting because it is 'very different from the novel,' according to Doctor Andrew Biswell, the author's biographer and the foundation's director. 'It's actually quite a bit more violent than the novel. There's a scene early on where Alex opens his bedroom cupboard and it's full of drugs, hypodermic needles and a child's skull.' The archive also includes parts of a script Burgess wrote for a stage show about the escapologist Harry Houdini, on which he was worked with Orson Welles. Among the literary works are a copy of a full-length, unpublished history of London, which blends fiction with non-fiction, plus Burgess' tome on the history of English literature, which never had a mainstream release. Some of the unpublished short stories, meanwhile, have only survived as recordings on audio tape. Burgess often recorded himself reading his work aloud to see how they 'fell on the ear,' according to Biswell. 'Burgess was known as someone who wrote really long novels, so it's a big surprise to find him working in this shorter form,' he says. 'A lot of the stories are very nasty and tending towards the supernatural as well - a lot of ghost stories or stories about Gods who come down to earth.' Another part of the collection is given over to around two hundred musical compositions, the vast majority of which have never been performed or recorded. They include three symphonies and other orchestral works of varying lengths plus musical adaptations of poetry and the score for a ballet about Shakespeare. Other abandoned dramatic projects demonstrate a fascination with great figures from history. Burgess started work on scripts for TV mini-series about Atilla the Hun, Sigmund Freud and Michelangelo, but none went into production. He wrote a musical about Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, which has never been performed, and a musical adaptation of James Joyce's novel Ulysses. 'The amount of material which people don't know about I think heavily outweighs the known,' Biswell says. 'Even though Burgess was productive - he published a lot - a good deal of what we've got here has always been below the waterline. It's never been made available in a public way until now.' Burgess was born in Manchester and lived in the city until the age of twenty three. He died in 1993 and the foundation was set up to look after his estate by his second wife, Liana. The writer has no surviving immediate family members. Based in a former mill, the foundation has taken possession of items from the couple's homes in London, Monaco and Italy. They include fifty thousand of Burgess' books and twenty thousand photographs. It is also home to files and letters donated by his agents in London and New York. There are also some unusual items, such as a signed photo from his friend the comedian Benny Hill, a set of home-made tarot cards and translations of obscene Roman poems which he worked on for Playboy magazine. Biswell said the collection demonstrated the extent of Burgess' 'encyclopaedic imagination.' The author embraced cultures, speaking six languages as well as English, and tackled an 'epic range' of subjects, Biswell explained. 'I'm staggered by the extent of the collection sometimes - I come down into the basement and I look at it and I think, "my God, did this man never sleep?"' The foundation is now planning to publish some of the most significant written works that it has found, and to stage performances of Burgess' musical compositions. It is also supporting young artists who are working with similar themes to Burgess, and is considering commissioning people to complete the unfinished literary, dramatic and musical works. Biswell also asked for people who knew Burgess, or have material relating to his life and work, to get in touch.

Nick Clegg has said the Lib Dems are 'clearly influencing' their Tory partners amid a row over the parties' respective roles in the coalition. Yes, of course you are. Nick. Nick. Wake up. It's time to go to school, Nick.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day comes from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, as introduced on Top of the Pops by the Beard of Despair his very self.
That's a bad hat, Alex. And, if you've never heard (or seen) their version of 'Delilah' then, frankly, you've never lived.

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