Monday, June 13, 2011

I Wait In The Darkness Of My Lonely Room

TV comedy moment of the week - by about a street-and-a-half - was from Thursday night's episode of BBC3's best-kept secret, Ideal. Which is, I think, a pretty significant achievement in a week that also included a new episode of Have I Got News For You, a Mock The Week featuring the great Milton Jones and a - 'finally shown nearly eighteen months after the short version' - BBC2 broadcast of that Qi: XL with Bill Bailey, Danny Baker, Jezza Clarkson and Stephen Fry. And Alan Davies. An out-of-breath Brian (series creator Graham Duff) picks up the telephone to call for help from his rock-hard mate Blackball (Barry Adamson) after having almost been done-for by Carmel's enraged ex-pimp, Enrique. 'Hello ... No, I have not been wanking!' Come on, if you don't laugh at that there's something seriously wrong with you.

Torrential rain, a flooded track and all three British drivers - Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Paul Di Resta - seeming to crash into just about everything that moved, and some things that didn't (in the case of the former two, including each other) created chaos and high drama at the Canadian Grand Prix. Which, admittedly, made for great telly even though it played utter havoc with the BBC's schedules. The intended finish time of 20:15 GMT proved to be wildly optimistic and Antiques Roadshow was lost - swept away, as it were, in the ensuing tidal wave of malarkey. At nine o'clock the race was still not even half over so coverage switched to BBC2 at the expense of a new episode of Coast. Which, ordinarily this blogger would've been well-annoyed about but, what subsequently happened more than justified the BBC's decision to stay with the action. Despite six pit-stops, two collisions, a drive-through penalty and, at one point, being last of the twenty one cars still in the competition at that time, Button won the race in dramatic fashion on the last corner when Sebastian Vettel made his first mistake in seventy laps and spun wide. Mark Webber finished third and Michael Schumacher fourth in a thrilling finish. An incident-packed race saw the safety car used five times and included a two-hour plus stoppage for heavy rain. Earlier, Hamilton - who'd already had collisions with both Webber and Schumacher came a cropper when he and team-mate Button's wheels touched. Di Resta, who'd had a drive-through penalty for a collision with Nick Heidfeld, also failed to finish when his Force India crashed on the penultimate lap. The decision to start the race under the safety car was made as the drivers had virtually no experience of the Pirelli wet tyres. When they were allowed to go at their own pace, from lap six, Vettel fended off a brief challenge from Fernando Alonso and built up a commanding lead. Button was the first leading driver to change to intermediate tyres, after he came into the pits following his collision with Hamilton on lap eight, which brought out the safety car again whilst the debris from the McLarens was cleared from the track. The race was restarted on lap thirteen, and the Englishman was soon lapping quicker than anyone else, prompting other drivers to follow his lead in changing tyres. About half the field came in, including Alonso on lap seventeen. But within two laps the rain had returned, even heavier than ever. The safety car came out again on lap twenty before the race was suspended on lap twenty five. After a stoppage of two hours and five minutes, they resumed, again under the safety car, before being set loose on lap thirty four. Almost immediately the drivers started to stream into the pits for intermediate tyres, so much had racing line on the track dried. But four laps after the re-start, the safety car was deployed yet again when Button and Ferrari's Alonso collided on lap thirty seven, leading to the Spaniard's retirement. Button was last when the race was restarted on lap forty but he fought his way through the field thanks to choosing the right time to change to intermediate tyres and, then subsequently, to dry-weather slicks. By the time a collision between Heidfeld's Renault and Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber brought out the safety car again with twelve laps to go, Button had climbed to fourth place behind Vettel, Schumacher and Webber. The race restarted two laps later and Vettel maintained his lead whilst the three men behind him battled for position. Webber, who had brought himself back into contention by becoming the first leading driver to stop for slick tyres, slipped back to fourth when he misjudged the final chicane on lap sixty four. Button passed Schumacher on the next lap and set about closing the three-second lead to Vettel with five laps remaining. They entered the last lap less than a second apart and Vettel made his first serious mistake in a race this season, putting a wheel off line onto the still-wet part of the track at turn six and half-spinning, handing the lead to Button. The BBC's coverage finally ended at just after half-past-ten, over five-and-a-half hours after it began (and, on a different channel). One hopes that somebody at the Beeb taped a copy of the coverage and sent it to Chris Patten with a note telling him that some people actually like the BBC's sports coverage and wish for a portion of their licence fees to go towards it. Yes, it costs a lot but, sometimes, it's worth it.
Last week's mid-series finale of Doctor Who, A Good Man Goes To War, had a final consolidated audience of 7.51m (a thirty one per cent audience share) after an almost exact two million viewer timeshift according to figures released over the weekend by BARB. All of which means the seven episodes of the series this year have averaged 7.65 million viewers with an average timeshift of 1.91 million per episode - by a considerable distance the highest for any drama series in 2011. (Above Suspicion is second with 1.6 million, the next best performance on BBC1 is Waking The Dead with 1.37 million). The series' average audience over seven episodes as compared to previous - thirteen part - runs makes for fascinating comparison: Series one - 7.94m; series two - 7.71m; series three - 7.55m; series four - 8.05m; series five - 7.73m. The popular family SF drama currently has the fourth-highest audience for a non-soap drama so far this year on final figures, behind Scott & Bailey (8.05 million, although that's only based on two episodes so far and is, thus, that's likely to change in the coming weeks), Silent Witness (7.97 million) and Wild At Heart (7.92 million).

Here's the full Top Twenty programmes week ending 5 June 2011:
1 Britain's Got Talent - ITV Sat - 12.62 million
2 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 11.53 million
3 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 7.59 million
4 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 7.51 million
5 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.30 million
6 Scott & Bailey - ITV Sun - 6.99 million
7 EastEnders - BBC1 Tues - 6.89 million
8 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 6.73 million
9 Case Histories - BBC1 Sun - 6.41 million
10 Popstar To Operastar - ITV Sat - 5.98 million
11 Euro 2012 Qualifier: England vs Bulgaria - ITV Sat - 5.76 million
12 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.32 million
13 BBC News - BBC1 Sat - 5.12 million
14 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.02 million
15 Egypt's Lost Cities - BBC1 Mon - 4.92 million
16 ITV News - ITV Sat - 4.70 million
17 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.66 million
18 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 4.59 million
19 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Thurs - 4.46 million
20 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.26 million
Some of the ITV figures do not include HD viewers due to ITV and ITVHD being counted separately at ITV's request. Now, there's a really good quiz-question for you, dear blog reader. When was the last week you can remember in which Doctor Who had more viewers than EastEnders? (If you're wondering, I think it was in July 2008 but I'm prepared to be proved wrong if anyone knows different.)

The BBC has announced the first phase in its sale of Television Centre, the corporation's iconic headquarters in West London. Commercial property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton are working with the BBC to secure expressions of interest from the market for TVC in White City. Options being considered include 'either a conventional, freehold property sale or alternative proposals possibly based around a joint venture partnership.' The BBC said that the 'key objective' for any sale or partnership is to 'maximise the value of the site to the BBC and licence fee payers.' Established in 1960, TVC on Wood Lane became a figurehead for the BBC operation, hosting various shows such as Doctor Who and Blue Peter. The decision to offload the fourteen-acre site was first announced in 2007, with LSH appointed in November 2010 following a competitive tender process. Apart from a conventional sale, the BBC is also keen to explore options for redeveloping TVC as a 'hub for creative businesses.' It particularly wants to preserve the site's key listed elements, including Studio One and the central ring, known as the 'concrete doughnut.' Chris Kane, the head of BBC Workplace, said: 'Our key objective is to maximise value to the BBC. With high investor demand for commercial property in London and a shortage of landmark sites as distinctive as Television Centre, we anticipate strong competition for both conventional and innovative proposals.' Richard Deverell, who recently took charge of the BBC's property programme, added: 'Television Centre has played an extraordinary and central role in the history of the BBC, which will not be forgotten. Our primary aim of the sale is to maximise the value to the BBC and licence fee payer whilst ensuring the teams and operations based there are successfully relocated.' At the end of 2010, there were just over five thousand employees at TVC. But once the planned moves to MediaCityUK in Salford and the redeveloped Broadcasting House in London have been completed, there will only be around twelve hundred staff needing relocation.

The BBC has announced that this year's Radio 4 Reith Lectures are to be delivered by Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi and former MI5 director-general Baroness Manningham-Buller. Named after the BBC's pioneering first Director General Lord John Reith, the lecture series aims to advance public understanding and debate about important contemporary issues. The 2011 Reith Lectures, titled Securing Freedom, are intended to reflect the current period of political and social convulsion around the world. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who was released from house arrest in 2010 after fifteen years spent in detention, will discuss in her speech the current struggle for democracy against authoritarian regimes. Baroness Manningham-Buller, who served as head of intelligence agency MI5 from 2002 until her retirement in April 2007, will discuss the role of security services a decade after 9/11. 'This Reith Lecture series engages with some of the currents arising from a period of exceptional international political and economic turmoil,' said Gwyneth Williams, the controller of BBC Radio 4. 'I am thrilled to have as our 2011 lecturers Aung San Suu Kyi addressing the themes of dissent and liberty and Eliza Manningham-Buller who, on the tenth anniversary, will reflect on 9/11 and intelligence and foreign policy since. These are two very different sides of a familiar story - the struggle for liberty and its defence.' Baroness Manningham-Buller added: 'I am honoured to share this year's Reith Lecture series with Aung San Suu Kyi, whose selfless courage on behalf of Burma's freedom should remind us not to take our own freedoms for granted.'

There's another of Charlie Brooker's excellent rants in the Gruniad Morning Star this week, this time on the current media obsession with the 'sexualisation of children' debate: 'The Daily Mail, however, isn't a fence-sitting wuss like me. Last year, outraged by Christina Aguilera and Rihanna's raunchy pre-watershed dancing on The X Factor, it ran a fuming article accompanied by shocking pictures of the most extreme bits, which helped fuel thousands of complaints. Later, Ofcom agreed that the routines were 'at the limit of acceptability,' but went on to say the images in the Mail article were 'significantly more graphic and close-up than the material broadcast and had been taken from a different angle to the TV cameras. Readers would have been left with the impression that the programme contained significantly more graphic material than had actually been broadcast.' The Mail wouldn't let it lie. 'In fact, the pictures we used were provided by ITV and The X Factor's official photographic agency, with the exception of one screen grab of the show's transmission,' it complained last week. That's odd: responding to the criticism that the images hadn't been broadcast by confirming they hadn't been broadcast. Next they'll be printing artists' impressions of Adrian Chiles's genitals and complaining they'd been spotted on Daybreak, beneath his trousers.' God old Mad Charlie. Rave on, you crazy diamond.

And, still on the subject of thuggish right-wing scum rags, the Sun has started kicking the Channel Five relaunch of Big Brother already. Not unexpected, that. And, not necessarily wrong either (albeit, definitely filtered through a pretty thick agenda given that a rival newspaper owner and would-be media baron owns Channel Five).

Jon Hamm has revealed that Mad Men will end once its current three-season contract with AMC expires. The actor spoke to the BBC about the acclaimed series, stating that he knows that the series will come to a definite conclusion. 'I think it should end. Everything should end. I was a big fan of The Office over here because it ended,' said Hamm. The forty-year-old went on to address the season five delay, claiming that it was due to contract issues. 'It was nobody's fault really, it was the network and the studio,' said Hamm. 'When billionaires fight it tends to take a lot longer than when normal people do.' Show creator Matthew Weiner said in March that he was refusing to sign a contract with AMC because the network wanted to make changes to the show that Weiner did not approve of.

An interview in Broadcast with BBC music commissioner Jan Younghusband reveals that she 'wants to move away from "brainy experts," particularly on BBC2' – which is bad news for the likes of Stephen Fry and Michael Portillo (both used in past to front classical music programmes), though leaving it unclear exactly who the fluffy-headed or completely 'unqualified' experts are whom she hopes to draw upon in future instead. Peaches Geldof, perhaps? It has to be asked, though, is Ms Younghusband not merely a maverick warrior at the gates of oblivion in this regard but rather reflecting network policy? As the Gruniad asks: Such regular BBC2 faces as Fry, Clive Anderson, James May, Giles Coren, Ian Hislop, Chris Packham, Sue Perkins and Simon Schama 'may all feel a need to eliminate the fact that they have degrees, even doctorates, from their Wikipedia entries if so, and the once-soaring career of Professor Brian Cox now looks to be in potential jeopardy.'

The producer of ITV's gritty detective drama Whitechapel has promised the third series - which began filming this week - will be the darkest yet. The not especially aptly named Sally Woodward Gentle, the executive producer, has promised the new series will take the characters to even darker places. 'We now have the chance to take Chandler, Miles and Buchan to darker places still. If you thought the Ripper and the Krays were scary - just wait.' She is quoted in the Sun as saying. ITV renewed Whitechapel for a third series last year but this time the format of the detective drama will be different - with six one-hour episodes instead of three. The first season dealt with a Jack the Ripper copycat killer while the second had a Kray's twins theme. The series stars Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis, Steve Pemberton and Claire Rushbrook.

BBC1 is to rebroadcast Our War, the much-acclaimed BBC3 documentary about young soldiers in Afghanistan, following its critical and ratings success.

Sky has confirmed that it will broadcast the third series of Glee and reality show The Glee Project exclusively in the UK. The broadcaster announced over the weekend a deal with Twentieth Century Fox to show all future episodes of the musical comedy and its accompanying talent competition from the autumn. Stuart Murphy, Director of Programmes for Sky, said of the agreement: 'Glee has been nothing short of a phenomenon, and we're thrilled to secure the future of the show for our customers with this life-of-series deal. It's the perfect fit for Sky1 and we're thrilled to be able to build on the success it has already achieved, and we hope our customers will be as chuffed and excited as we all are.' Reports that Sky had poached Glee from E4 for an alleged twelve million pound fee first circulated last month. The winner of The Glee Project will receive a seven-episode arc in Glee's third season. The ten-part contest premiered in America over the weekend on the Oxygen network.

At Doc/Fest in Sheffield, BBC3's new controller Zai Bennett confessed to a surprising ambivalence towards The Only Way Is Essex, the BAFTA-winner and his greatest success in his previous job as head of ITV's digital channels: 'I never know whether to feel proud or have a shower,' admitted Bennett, who reckons it would have been set in Newcastle if BBC3 had commissioned it. Or MTV for that matter. Oh, hang on ... Also disclosed was the worst-ever pitch he'd experienced: 'Richard II was the David Beckham of his day.'

The radgys, charvas, mingers, glakes and broth-heeds of Geordie Shore have, reportedly, been banned from six nightclubs in Newcastle because the owners fear they will cause trouble and act like they do on the show. Cast members Charlotte Crosby, James Tindale, Jason Gardner, Greg Lake, Gary Beadle, Vicky Pattison, Holly Hagan and Sophie Kasaei have shocked TV audiences with their drunken antics, violence and fighting. As a result, they are not allowed to enter any of the Fluid Group's Newcastle nightspots, which include Perdu, the Quilted Camel, Barluga, The Blackie Boy, Fluid and Mushroom. Mind you, to be fair, yer actual Keith Telly Topping wouldn't be seen dead in at least four of those. Oliver Vaulkhard, director of Fluid Group, said: 'They are barred from all the premises that we own. When you see them on television they are always fighting and causing trouble, and we don’t want that kind of trouble in our bars. They don’t represent the majority of our customers and they don't comply with the type of operation we run. We have a good relationship with police and our customers. I have watched two episodes and in both of them there has been fighting,' he told the local Sunday Sun newspaper.

Danny Dyer has described a quarter of the movies in which he's starred as 'shit.' I'd've put your shit-rate a bit higher than that, personally, Dan.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's Freda Payne. Righteous.

No comments: