Thursday, June 16, 2011

First There Is A Mountain, Then There Is No Mountain, Then There Is

Once again, a supposed 'news' article on the BBC News website has managed to significantly muddy the waters rather than clarify the situation with regard to Doctor Who's 2012 series. The piece states: 'Writer Steven Moffat's commitments to BBC1 drama Sherlock will mean fewer Doctor Who episodes in 2012, the channel's controller has said.' They then go on to quote - at length - Danny Cohen speaking 'at a media conference in Derbyshire' (actually,it was the Church and Media event which we reported on a few days ago) explaining 'the consequences of a new Sherlock series.' Cohen is quoted as saying: '[Moffat] needs enough time to get that done and then start work on the next series of Doctor Who. So there will be [Doctor Who] episodes, but not as many.' Last week the BBC announced that they had commissioned fourteen new Doctor Who episodes, including a 2011 Christmas special, 'some of which' will be broadcast next year. 'But,' the website continues, 'Cohen said that not all of the commissioned stories would be transmitted in 2012. "There will be some episodes, but there won't be a full series, so we won't have a thirteen-part run. There's only so many hours a day [Moffat ] can be awake. The man has to sleep and eat, and he's got a family. Steven Moffat is the creative driving force behind Doctor Who. He also, rather magically at the same time, created and got to air Sherlock. So we have to get that balance right.' All of which was claimed by the BBC's entertainment reporter Lizo Mzimba two days ago as Danny Cohen, essentially, 'havin' a larf' with the audience. Steven Moffat's reaction to all of this malarkey? On Twitter he firstly noted: 'Misquotes and misunderstandings. But I'm not being bounced into announcing the cool stuff before we're ready. Hush, and patience.' And, secondly: 'The scheduling of Doctor Who has got NOTHING to do with Sherlock. On the plus side THE BBC SPELLED MY NAME RIGHT!' The BBC News article was soon amended to include the first part of this comment - thus, making a complete nonsense of the story that it followed - but they neglected to include Steven's delight that, for the first time in quite a while, they'd managed to spell his name with just the one 'T'.

From a personal point of view, this blogger is not really bothered if we get fourteen, thirteen, ten, seven or four Doctor Who episodes next year. So long as they're good ones, I'll be happy. But, then, as I've said on many occasions in the past as far as I'm concerned everything since The Christmas Invasion has been a glorious - and, at the time, wholly unexpected - bonus to me. In 2004, shortly before the announcement that Russell Davies was bringing it back for an initial thirteen episodes, Doctor Who was a TV format that was as dead as a very dead thing with big dead knobs on it. It was gone. It was part of my childhood that I thought I'd never get back, like Clangers and clackers and Chopper Bikes and Hai-Karate aftershave™. The fact that, in 2011, it's one of the BBC's biggest success stories and we have confirmation from no less than the controller of BBC1 that it will still be a living, breathing entity in 2013 - its golden jubilee - would've been so far beyond my wildest dreams as to be scarcely credible just a few years ago. Unlike some fans, yer Keith Telly Topping does not claim any form of entitlement to getting fourteen new episodes of Doctor Who every single year come what may. I paid my licence fee for fifteen years where I got no Doctor Who whatsoever and one year where all I got was ninety odd minutes, and those weren't very good. I'm happy to take what I'm given (and to, generally speaking, like it). I'm not blind to the fact that the BBC, collectively, hardly have a pot to piss in at the moment thanks to the savage nature of the 2010 licence fee settlement, a situation that's going to get worse before it gets better. I'm aware that Doctor Who, whilst being a very successful and profitable format for the BBC, is also a jolly expensive one to make. And, I trust Steven Moffat to fight Doctor Who's corner within the BBC when it comes to bargaining sessions and the resources that it has given to it - should a fight be necessary - and to come out with the best deal possible for fans. Because he's a fan himself. So, if you're thinking of ... I dunno, what is it the really uncool kids do these days when protesting that everything in life isn't 'just so'? Chaining yourself to the gates at Television Centre or releasing a protest record or whatever other 'let's remind people what a lack-of-proper-perspective  fans can have when it comes to the making of a TV programme' things you can come up with then, I'm afraid, you can count me out. And, if you're planning on writing to the BBC with a 'we, the fans, are angry' rant then, please remember, you are not speaking - even remotely - in my name. I'm looking forward to the next twenty confirmed episodes of Doctor Who - and, hopefully, many more beyond that - whenever they're shown. Demanding any more from the world than that is, frankly, greedy. And more than a bit rude.

James May called a radio show to deny rumours that Top Gear's days were numbered. He phoned Chris Evans on his Radio 2 Breakfast Show after he heard the DJ suggesting new names to front Top Gear if May and co-hosts Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson quit the series. Quite where Evans got this gem of crap from is, at this time unknown, although - good broadcaster that he is, he does have something of a reputation of talking bollocks about stuff that's got nowt to do with him. Not infrequently either. James told Evans: 'I woke this morning to you on the radio as planned - I mean I set it to do that - and, as I stirred, your chirpy little voice came out of the ancestral Roberts and I realised with some dismay you were recruiting people for my job.' James admitted to occasionally worrying whether the show had 'peaked' but said that filming on the new series was about to start. He said: 'I was actually out with Jeremy and Richard last night and, unless there is something they haven't told me, we are all off next week to film part of the next series where we re-invent public transport. So it's not ending now.' In fact, the new series of Top Gear is scheduled to start on BBC2 on 26 June. A thirty-second trailer from some of the stuff they've already filmed for it is available online.

Meanwhile, perhaps the cause of this rumour is that the BBC1 have ordered two Richard Hammond-fronted science films which will take viewers to the centre of the earth and the ocean floor. The two-part BBC Scotland documentary will use state-of-the-art technology to peel back the layers of the globe 'to reveal a machine far more complex than anything else in the solar system.' Brian Cox may beg to differ there, I'm thinking. The presenter - The Hamster, that is, not Foxy Coxy - will explain the earth's engineering using a giant virtual 3D planet, satellite maps, sonar and radar images. He also travels around the world to see it in action, taking in natural springs in Iceland, visiting the point at which two continents almost meet, and going on a deep sea voyage off the coast of California. And, doubtless, Stewart Lee will be sitting in his gaff sticking pins in a Hamster voodoo doll bemoaning the manifest unfairness of life. Pity, eh? Richard Hammond's Journey To The Centre Of The Planet and Richard Hammond's Journey To The Bottom Of The Ocean were ordered by science and natural history commissioner Kim Shillinglaw. They are co-productions between BBC Scotland, Discovery and BBC Worldwide. Will Aslett and Greg Lanning will executive produce the documentaries for the BBC, with Lucy van Beek as series producer. The shows will be broadcast later this summer. Shillinglaw said: 'Science is at the heart of everyday life - and the way our planet works affects every aspect of the modern world around us. There's more scientific data than ever before that allows us to strip away the planet's layers and explore the forces at work deep below. We've harnessed that data, together with Richard's passion for the subject and stunning CGI.' Hammond added: 'Our planet is far from being an inert lump of rock that we live on; it has a vital, dynamic role to play in defining and enabling our existence. This has to be the ultimate such journey, not only across and around our world but deep into it. It's changed the way I think about the earth beneath our feet.'

Now, here's a little story that's sure to amuse, dear blog reader. As we reported last week, Stephen Fry recently revealed during a radio interview with Mark Kermode that in the script he's writing for the forthcoming Peter Jackson remake of The Dam Busters, he's changed the name of Guy Gibson's dog from Nigger, as it was in real life and in the original 1953 movie, to Digger. Because, well, obviously the former name is these days a, rightly, very offensive word and its use would be liable to upset some people. Arguably, the n-word always was a deeply offensive word and crass apologists who witter on about the 1940s being 'simpler times' and all that nonsense are doing, essentially, what Holocaust deniers do. But, that's a separate issue and this isn't really the place to debate it. Nevertheless, as soon as Stephen made his, very balanced and humane, comments I thought to myself 'Keith Telly Topping,' I thought. 'I'll bet the Daily Scum Mail has something to say about this.' And, of course, they have. And, as you'd expect, the whole tone of the piece is one of very obvious sniffy and tutting disapproval. From the use of the words 'political correctness' as a general term of abuse in a quote ('slamming' the decision) obtained from one Mervyn Hallam, whoever the hell he is (he's the curator of RAF Scampton museum, as it happens) to another quote from Jim Shortland, a historian who - apparently - 'specialises in the Dambusters,' who says that he is 'unhappy with the change' (well, what a sodding pity for him) to the whole vilely anti-American tone of the piece. It's the Daily Scum Mail doing exactly what the Daily Scum Mail does best. Playing up to its Little Englander stereotype by using emotive language and appealing to crass foreigner-baiting attitudes in its right-wing readership. What, however, is genuinely hilarious about this whole malarkey is that the Daily Scum Mail, themselves will not use the word 'nigger' in their piece. If you read it, you'll note that they use 'n****r' and 'n*gger' throughout. How utterly cowardly and wretched. The word is either offensive - which it is - and shouldn't be used in the context of this subject - which it probably shouldn't - or it isn't. If the Scum Mail's argument is that it isn't - as the tone of this piece appears to suggest - then why are they not prepared to use it themselves? Like I say, disgraceful lice-cowards and hypocrites the lot of them. Incidentally, this blogger is aware that his use own of the word in reporting this story may be offensive to some readers and, for that, I wholeheartedly and humbly apologise. What can I say? I just report the news - unlike the Daily Scum Mail it would seem, which reports the n**s.

Still on the subject of Stephen Fry, he could be forgiven for attempting to go unnoticed as he left London's hottest new nightclub The Box on Wednesday night after recording the final episode of the current series of Qi. But, perhaps the comedian could have chosen a slightly more low-key disguise, instead of emerging from the nightspot wearing a giant care bear head! Good old Stephen - mad as toast! He could barely see under the huge pink mask, and had to be guided by friend and Hippie Hippie Shake actress Margo Stilley. However, he subsequently appeared delighted with his outfit, and tweeted fans that it had been a success. He wrote on his Twitter page: 'Just had splendid evening at The Box nightclub. Carlos Acosta gave the most astounding performance. Plus foiled the paps outside the club by emerging in a care bear head. Mwahaha.' Stephen, as he mentioned a couple of weeks ago when interviewed by Danny Baker is now off to foreign shores for a few months. To film his parts in The Borrowers and then The Hobbit. Hopefully he'll be back in time for his beloved Norwich City's Premiership debut.

Torchwood: Miracle Day premieres next month on BBC1 in the UK and the Starz network in the US. A selection of new promo images have just been released. The pictures give us another look at new cast additions Mekhi Phifer (Rex Matheson), Alexa Havins (Esther Drummond) and Bill Pullman (Oswald Danes). The new Torchwood gallery also includes a number of action shots from the ten-part series, which will see Captain Jack (John Barrowman) and Gwen (Eve Myles) team up with new allies to investigate a global conspiracy.
Joanna Lumley is to explore Greece and Sir Trevor McDonald will travel the length of the Mississippi in new ITV travelogues. Tiger Aspect is making the four part Joanna Lumley: A Greek Odyssey (working title), which will take the popular actress to locations including Crete, Athens and Kavala as she explores how the region’s history and culture has made its mark on the world. It will be one of Matt Bennett's first projects for Tiger since he rejoined the company from Channel Five last December. Bennett is the series producer, while Clive Tulloh is the executive producer. Meanwhile, The Mighty Mississippi With Trevor McDonald (again, still a working title) will see the former newsreader journey more than two thousand miles from the river's end on the Gulf of Mexico to its tributaries near the Canadian border. The three-part Plum Pictures series will track the recently BAFTA-honoured broadcaster as he meets the people who live along the Mississippi's shoreline and discover how the river has shaped the development of the US. Along the way, McDonald will attend a jazz funeral in New Orleans and meet a former girlfriend of Elvis Presley. 'This is the third series I've made with Sir Trevor and it's shaping up to be the best of the lot,' said executive producer and series director Stuart Cabb. Mark Jones is the series producer. Both programmes were ordered by Jo Clinton-Davis, ITV’s controller of popular factual, and Alison Sharman, director of factual and daytime.

The Only Way Is Essex has helped ITV2 to a bumper performance at the Broadcast Digital Awards, while BBC4's mixture of drama and factual saw it land four of the seventeen awards on offer. ITV2 was crowned Channel of the Year and Entertainment Channel of the Year, and judges described it as having a 'transformative' year. The Only Way Is Essex was its standout show, winning Best Entertainment Programme and Best Marketing. It was praised for being 'witty, innovative and compelling,' and for providing a talking point with every episode. For glakes. BBC4's four awards included Best Factual Channel and Best News or Current Affairs Programme for The BAFTA-winning Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children. Two of its dramas also scooped awards: Danish crime thriller The Killing won Best Programme Acquisition and The Road To Coronation Street Best Scripted Programme. Other flagship prizes went to Endemol/Monterosa's Million Pound Drop Live play-along game for Best Use of Digital Technology, Keo Film’s Fish Fight for Best Multiplatform Project and Lion Television/Little Loud Studios' Horrible Histories Interactive for Best Use of Interactive.

Daybreak 'bosses' are reportedly planning to hire BBC Breakfast's Chris Hollins for 'a significant role' on the flop early morning programme. Hollins has announced that he will not be part of the BBC show when it moves to Manchester next year. The Sun claims that he could now be brought in to Daybreak, working alongside Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles. Is anybody at this point thinking about Mad Frankie Boyle's line on Mock The Week about this resembling the point in a TV show where things have got so bad that it's time to introduce a wacky cartoon character as a sidekick? 'Has anybody noticed that Gordon Brown's new member of the cabinet is his nephew ... and a raccoon?' 'The feeling is that Adrian is the main issue as audience research keeps showing him up as being grumpy,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'Hollins is the complete opposite - perky, engaging and a big hit among the breakfast audience, which is mainly women. The bosses want him. They reckon he could have what it takes to help the show snare more viewers.' The alleged 'insider' allegedly continued: 'Getting him on board will also put a rocket up the current set-up, which has had mixed reviews from the audiences.' Well, if by 'mixed' you actually mean 'appalling', I suppose that could, just about, be described as true. 'If Chris signed up and Adrian, who is temperamental at the best of times, got the hump, he might just quit. I don't think that would overly concern ITV.'

Channel Four is said to be 'on the lookout' for more single documentaries beyond its existing strands, Katie Boyd and Mark Raphael told delegates at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year. Speaking at the popular factual commissioning panel, features editor Boyd said that the department was looking for both shorter series and one-off films. She said: 'For small indies, the cleverest way to get a commission is to think smaller. We have to make sure the company can produce and deliver what it says it can.' The department is looking for three-part sixty-minute series for 8pm, 9pm and 10pm, with talent attached, as well as one-offs, she said. Boyd, who is responsible for Superscrimpers: Waste Not Want Not and the Supersize Vs Superskinny brands, also acknowledged the broadcaster's 8pm output as being 'very female skewed.' He added: 'We are trying to broaden it out. We are actively looking for formats and access-led docs that will appeal to men.' Documentaries commissioning editor Raphael echoed the sentiment. The commissioning editor in charge of the Cutting Edge strand said there was a 'real demand' for single films to play at 9pm and 10pm. 'I never think I have too many single narratives. We are hungry for more offerings and doing quite well with our rig showsy at 9pm and 10pm. I never think I have too many single narratives. We are hungry for more offerings and doing quite well with our rig shows, but are looking at what's next.' Raphael was speaking at the How Do Small Indies Get a Look In? session, where C4 director of creative diversity Stuart Cosgrove also laid out the broadcaster's plans to diversify its supply base. While the network said there is no 'official' strategy to create more space for single films in the schedule, programme-makers said they believed the call-out was part of Jay Hunt's strategy to work with a wider group of independent production companies.

Richard Desmond, the millionaire owner of Channel Five, has defended his former ownership of adult magazines, while Simon Cowell describes him as 'one of the hardest working guys I have ever met.' Desmond sold a range of adult publications in 2004, including Asian Babes and Reader's Wives, but his Northern & Shell media group still owns Portland TV - home of adult TV channels, Television X and Red Hot. Plus, of course, the Daily Lies. Which isn't porn, just a disgrace. In an interview with business broadcaster CNBC this week, Desmond hits out at the 'inaccurate' reports about his reputation as a 'porn baron', but accepted that he will probably be mounting such a defence until his dying day. 'Porn to me is illegal and we had magazines which were sold through WH Smith, John Menzies who were wholesalers in this country,' he told former Good Morning with Anne and Nick entertainment reporter Tania Bryer. 'Public companies, wholesalers on the same and they were going on the same lorries that the papers go on and everything else goes on. They were sold in retail outlets. We had mainstream advertising in them. From, you know, I don't know Rothman's cigarettes to Jaguar cars. At the end of the day, these girls love modelling, they think it's great and they think it's great to go into Penthouse or into whatever magazine.' Also speaking on the CNBC Meets... programme, Simon Cowell described Desmond as 'one of the hardest-working guys I have ever met in my life.' The X Factor mogul added: 'You have done so much over the years but unlike a lot of other people, you don't shout about it, you don't do it for personal gain; you just get on with it.' Almost a year ago, Desmond purchased Channel Five, and immediately imposed an eleven million smackers restructuring programme that resulted in nearly all of the broadcaster's senior staff leaving their posts. An impressive turnaround at the terrestrial network helped Northern & Shell to triple its pre-tax profits to £30.3m last year. Discussing his reputation for pushing his staff, Desmond said: 'I do empathise, with the editors, you know when they really go for a story and it doesn't quite work,' he says. 'Then I go for the opposite way and I'll try and lift them up a bit. There's nothing worse than feeling down, so I suppose I'm a little schizo, sometimes aggressive, sometimes nice.' As one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs with an estimated net worth of nine hundred and fifty million quid, Desmond now mixes with celebrities, heads of state and other media barons. In the interview, he expressed his admiration for Rupert Murdoch, despite not always agreeing with some of the News Corporation founder's business practices. 'I like Rupert because he's bold and has a go and he leads from the front and I like him. Without him, Sky wouldn't be where it is today, which is a good thing, I should add. When he was making three hundred million pounds a year on analogue Sky, he bet the ranch again, and [gave] it all to digital. I think that everyone will agree that digital HD, 3D is fantastic thing. Having said that, I wouldn't say he's the greatest manager I've come across. I'm not impressed with certain things that he does but his company is so huge that it's very difficult for one man and he is, you know, not a youngster anymore.'

The BBC must say sorry to Primark over a scene in a Panorama documentary showing boys in a Bangalore clothing workshop, the BBC Trust says. The Trust said it was 'more likely than not' the scene, which showed the boys 'testing the stitching' on Primark clothes, was 'not genuine.' It also apologised to Primark and the audience for a 'rare lapse in quality.' The Trust stressed that programme makers had found evidence that child labour was being used. Journalist Dan McDougall, who filmed the footage, said the finding was 'unjust' and 'flawed.' McDougall said he ' vigorously' rejected the ruling saying it was 'deeply damaging to independent investigative journalism. In the BBC Trust's own words, there is not "one piece of irrefutable and conclusive evidence" to support the allegation that the sequence in the programme had been staged,' he added. The decision was also criticised by Channel Four's Jon Snow on Twitter: 'Another own goal by the BBC Trust following their disgraceful ruling on Jeremy Bowen a feeble failure to support a Panorama Director.' When the documentary was originally broadcast, Primark said information provided by the BBC had enabled the firm 'to identify that illegal sub-contracting had been taking place and to take action accordingly.' Primark fired three Indian suppliers for unauthorised subcontracting after a six-month Panorama investigation found work being carried out by smaller firms and home workers, some of which used children to finish goods.

Royle Family duo Craig Cash and Ralf Little have reunited for new Sky1 sitcom The Cafe. Cash's latest series will be based around a family business in Weston-super-Mare, run by a mother, grandmother and daughter on the seafront. The girls' lives are stirred up when Weston native John (played by Ralf Little) returns to the region after making his fortune in London. Cash's previous award-winning TV credits include The Royle Family, Early Doors, The Mrs Merton Show and Sunshine. Little and Cash last worked together on the 2010 Royle Family special Joe's Crackers.

Richard Horwood's Channel Six is aiming to breathe life into the government's stuttering plan to launch local media services, tabling a new plan that it claims could support up to two hundred local stations and solve some of the issues surrounding the launch of a new national TV network. Horwood's Channel Six has been the most vocal supporter of the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt's plan to launch a new generation of local TV services. The company is scrambling to engineer a revised plan after the vile and odious rascal Hunt effectively announced a U-turn in his plan earlier this month, all but scrapping the idea of a national network 'spine' after local groups keen to launch services said they were worried about being dominated or financially dependent on the operator of the new national channel. Channel Six is proposing a hybrid model that would allow local media groups to either be an affiliate, where they would opt out of the national network to broadcast local content but benefit from national TV advertising revenues, or an independent local TV partner, where they would use Channel Six services to keep costs to a financially viable minimum. Following the U-turn, the shadow lack of culture secretary, Ivan Lewis, fired off a letter to the vile and odious rascal Hunt arguing that his local TV plan was in a 'shambolic state of affairs' and questioning whether this was the best use of the minister's time and his department's resources. Lewis added that local TV should be developed 'in the public interest not in the pursuit of a "pet" project.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt's response, alleges the Gruniad Morning Star, argued that local TV 'remains a key priority' and that the department is 'starting to form a view around how best to create a framework that encourages genuine local services to emerge on a low cost and viable basis within a light-touch regulatory framework.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt 'has made his vision for local TV a top priority even though many people question its viability and wonder why he is focusing on this instead of providing the leadership our creative industries are crying out for,' said Lewis, in response to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's letter. 'His "vanity" project is now in total chaos. Having U-turned on public subsidy and a national TV spine Hunt must show that in the midst of sixteen per cent cuts facing the BBC local TV is a good use of licence fee payers' money.' Under Channel Six's hybrid proposal, Horwood expects to have thirty nine local network affiliates tapping the national spine network – the broadcaster revealed that Channel Seven in Grimsby, the UK's longest-established local TV service, has signed up as the first affiliate – and proposes to use spectrum freed up by Ofcom to allow up to two hundred more services to launch independently or as a partner. 'The key point is that standalone stations just aren't financially viable and that has been proven,' he said. 'Licensing a few local stations is nothing new and what we are offering will mean Jeremy can have his cake and eat it too. To work the local TV services need support for everything from compliance lawyers to studios, infrastructure, transmission architecture, you name it,' he said. 'We will be doing all that anyway and we can help them run on a much lower cost base and they can make it work taking local advertising.' Horwood proposed using the so-called geographic interleaved spectrum – effectively the analogue 'buffering' signal that stops TV channels from interfering with each other but will be open to use after digital switchover is complete in 2012 – to allow local TV stations to broadcast. 'We believe that the Channel Six model has real commercial potential and can be realistically sustainable for local broadcasters,' said Lia Nici, executive producer at the thirteen-year-old Channel Seven operation. Another stumbling block to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's plan for a new national TV network is that there are legislative issues around forcing Freeview, Sky and Virgin to add the proposed service to the coveted front page of their electronic programme guides. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has previously said that the government would 'look to include primary legislation' in the next communications act, although this is not likely to become law for several years. Ofcom, which enforces the broadcast licensing rules, has the power to order broadcasters to give 'appropriate prominence' on EPGs to channels on that qualify as fulfilling a public service remit. The existing five PSB channels – BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel Four and Channel Five – occupy the first five slots on each EPG and thinking to date has been that if a new national channel was launched it would take the sixth slot. However, Ofcom's 'appropriate prominence' clause does not stipulate exactly where a PSB channel should appear.

Channel Four head of specialist factual content Ralph Lee has outlined his three priorities for commissions, with the number one requirement being 'talent, talent, talent.' Speaking at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Lee said that the need to find faces for its output was dominating every meeting, adding: 'People who come to us with characters attached will be prioritised in coming weeks and months.' Lee admitted he was 'jealous' of the BBC, where 'there are more faces audiences can identify with,' such as Dan Snow, Andrew Marr and Bruce Parry, and added: 'We haven't been as bold or as adventurous as we should have been in backing new talent.' Lee said he was looking for both new and household names, but the same question applied to each: 'Are they memorable?' C4 is also seeking more 'topicality,' including quick-turnaround documentaries such as Tsunami Diary, as well as ideas that tap into national events, such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, or around social or political issues, such as its four-part science series Drugs Live. Lee also said the channel had a renewed interest in 'provocative' output. Elsewhere, BBC commissioning producer Cassian Harrison, Discovery's Elizabeth McIntyre and Channel Five's John Hay said they were seeking ideas and talent around the subject of engineering. 'There is a real gap when it comes to engineering,' said Harrison. 'I would like to expand our talent base there.' Hay said it was important that C5's approach to documentaries is 'without spin' and is about strong, simple storytelling. 'Don't make it tricksy; give us content so good you don't need to.'

The Edinburgh TV Festival committee is aiming to tackle the controversial subject of bullying and is launching a survey looking at happiness at work. The survey will be sent out via organisations such as BECTU and DV Talent. It asks respondents detailed questions including whether they have experienced bullying at work, to what extent and for how long it lasted. It also asks about the form the bullying took - whether, for example, it involved 'verbal put-downs' or 'the silent treatment.' Compiled by research company GfK, the survey also asks respondents to give details of specific pastor present examples of bullying while working for a broadcaster or independent. Some of the comments may be used as part of a debate at the festival in August, although all comments and scenarios will remain anonymous. Edinburgh Festival advisory chair and BBC Vision director George Entwistle said: 'The purpose of our survey and session at Edinburgh is to get beneath the urban myths: is bullying on the increase, does our industry deal with it, and is it any worse in TV than any other industry?' Panellists in the session are likely to include leading industry figures, people who have experienced bullying, and an employment lawyer. The issue was last debated at Edinburgh in 2003 when a YouGov survey of four hundred people found that twenty eight per cent claimed to have been bullied in the workplace. And in Broadcast's 2007 lifestyle survey, more than half of five hundred and forty two respondents said they had experienced bullying. The survey closes on 11 July.

Maverick has begun production on a spin-off of its Bizarre ER series for BBC3, called Bizarre Crime. The eight part series, due to be broadcast in the first quarter of next year, will feature 'some of the most ridiculous crimes committed in Britain.' The cases will be portrayed through interviews with the victims, police officers, witnesses and even the bungling criminals themselves. The show will also feature light-hearted animations and lo-fi reconstructions. Each episode will include three regular strands: Police Confessionals, Criminal Countdown and As Seen on CCTV. These will respectively cover the lengths to which policemen have gone to catch a criminal, a range of top tens such as the most improbable weapons used in stick-ups, and stupid acts captured on camera. The show was ordered by Harry Lansdown, BBC3 commissioning editor of factual, formats and specialist factual, and will be executive produced by Maverick's Mark Downie. Downie said the series would show criminals getting what they deserved. 'While it's light-hearted and entertaining, Bizarre Crime performs a useful, if mischievous, public service by giving the victims of crime the last laugh,' he said.

Katie Price reportedly suffered 'a poor turnout' at auditions for her new Sky Living show. Discovered by Katie Price will see the plastic former glamour model search the country for 'a new star' to sign to her new modelling agency, Black Sheep Management. Hopefuls were expected to audition at London's Westfield shopping centre but according to the Sun, staff had to beg shoppers to join the small crowd featured in some photographs. 'It was a disaster,' one - anonymous - person allegedly told the paper. 'She was on stage with her arms folded and a face like a slapped bottom. Her people were trying to tempt shoppers to take part - most of whom would never have passed for a model in a million years.'

A couple have been arrested for 'engaging in sexual acts' in front of an altar in a cathedral. The incident happened at Oslo Cathedral in Norway, where the two environmental activists stripped off their clothes and started kissing on the floor. The protesters were campaigning for the 'Fuck for Forests' group, who believe in public sex to outrage people and raise awareness of deforestation. Interesting mixtures of goals, there. The pair had to be 'held apart' while one churchgoer called the police. A third person - also involved with the group - was placed under arrest when he was caught taking pictures of the scene. A police spokesperson said: 'We arrested three people for sexual activity in front of the altar in Oslo Cathedral.' The unidentified trio accepted a fine, with one saying: 'We had to [either] pay a small fine or spend sixteen days in jail. We chose the former, because we didn't want to spend so long without having sex.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a Paul McCartney classic.

1 comment:

SpeakerToAnimals said...

''It was part of my childhood that I thought I'd never get back, like Clangers and clackers and Chopper Bikes and Hai-Karate aftershave''

I've been listening to too much Richard Herring lately and it took me a moment to remember that 'clacker' had a more innocent meaning back in the '70s.

Anyway, if the delay means that Doctor Who is pushed back later in the year so that it's split over Christmas 2012 I'm perfectly happy with that.

Yes, the idea that Doctor Who was always broadcast during the Hours of Darkness (I think the capitals are justified) is a fan myth, but some myths are worth indulging.