Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Will Not Celebrate Meaningless Milestones

This latest update, dear blog reader - you will probably be absolutely horrified and aghast to discover - is the one thousandth since From The North began in 2006. As, essentially, a vanity project for yer actual Keith Telly Topping proving that he had more time on his hand than he knew what to do with. And, it remains so to this day. That is what blogs are for, after all. Here's to the next thousand.
Russell Tovey has signed up for a guest role in the second series of Sherlock. The Being Human star will appear in the second episode, The Hounds of Baskerville, written by Mark Gatiss. Tovey will play a man who recruits Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) after suffering from a traumatic childhood experience. The actor, who plays the werewolf George on BBC3's Being Human also stars in the same channel's Him & Her opposite Sarah Solemani. He has also made memorable appearances in episodes of Doctor Who, Gavin & Stacey and Ashes to Ashes. It was previously announced that the new series of Sherlock will be comprised of Steven Moffat's A Scandal In Belgravia, The Hounds of Baskerville and Steve Thompson's The Reichenbach Fall. In April, Mark Gatiss explained the decision to adapt 'the three most famous' Sherlock Holmes tales, A Scandal in Bohemia, Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem. 'Having had a successful first run, we knew that the natural order would be to do the three most famous things, so we're doing a version of [those three stories],' he said. 'They just fall like that, and then it's a question of how to get out of that [series one] cliffhanger!' The second series of Sherlock is currently filming in Cardiff.

And also, in this week's really important news ...
And now, we know when. St Swithun's Eve, as it happens. Ominous, dear blog reader? You decide. Eve Myles, meanwhile, has claimed that she understands some fans frustration at the show's UK broadcast date. Many others, it should be noted, are simply happy to be getting a fourth series at all and spout no crass sense of entitlement to getting the series before the people who are, after all, by and large paying for it. US viewers will be able to watch the first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day on Starz on 8 July, but UK viewers will have to wait an additional six days to see the same episode on BBC1. Myles told The Hollywood Reporter: 'We never, ever, ever wanted to take this show away from the original fans. What we always wanted to do with the show was give them a gift every year, something wonderful, a big, big present. It works out that it will be a week after the US showing, and obviously we have nothing to do with that, me nor John [Barrowman] or Russell Davies and Julie Gardner.' Myles also promised that Miracle Day will be 'the best, best series yet' and encouraged fans to 'hold on tight. I'd just like to remind them that they're our fans,' she said. 'We want them to sit back and enjoy it, be proud of it like we are, and to stick with us. If it was up to me and John, we'd have it to them straight away. But it's not.' Myles also argued that UK viewers have 'waited long enough' for a new series of Torchwood. 'These people have waited just over two years for this next season,' she explained. 'I'd like to say that if I had something to do with it that this wouldn't be happening. But, sit tight, because it is a fantastic ride.'

Moving on to more weighty subjects, in this case a towering bucket of lard, the justice secretary Ken Clarke has said that a householder who stabs a burglar in his own home - or, in the face for that matter - will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England. He told the BBC that people were entitled to use 'whatever force necessary' to protect themselves and their homes. The government is to place people's right to defend their property, long present in common law, in statute. David Cameron recently said the issue should be 'put beyond doubt.' Under the terms of the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, homeowners who use 'reasonable force' to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted, providing they use 'no more force than is absolutely necessary.' However defining what constitutes 'no more force than is absolutely necessary' remains up to the individual. Or, more specifically, the police, the CPU and the courts. Clarke said that there was 'constant doubt' about the issue and people's rights would be made 'much clearer' in legislation on sentencing currently before Parliament and due to be debated by MPs this week. 'It's quite obvious that people are entitled to use whatever force is necessary to protect themselves and their homes,' he said. Asked about what this would mean in practice, he said: 'If an old lady finds she's got an eighteen year old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him she has not committed a criminal offence and we will make that clear.' What about an eighteen year old who finds an old lady burgling him? They can be reet vicious, can them old ladies. He added: 'We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he's in the house and you have a perfect defence when you do so.' Yeah, but I think you'll find not many people actually have pokers these days, Ken. What with the vast majority of homes having electric or gas fires rather than coal burning. How lovely it is to see a Tory minister still living in the 1950s. Clarke said that legal protection would not extend to anyone shooting a burglar in the back when they were fleeing or 'getting their friends together to beat them up. We all know what we mean when we say a person has an absolute right to defend themselves and their home and reasonable force.' But, that's the whole point, mate, we don't. Some people would argue 'reasonable force' extends only as far as a stern word of reproach to your assailant as you're getting your head kicked right in. Others may consider that rounding up house-thieves in a big field shaving their heads, tarring-and-feathering them and then sticking them on a boat to Iraq doesn't cross the line of 'reasonable force.' In truth, as with most things in life, the answer probably lies somewhere between those two extremes. That's, kind of, why you're having to make new laws to establish exactly what is, and isn't, 'reasonable force' isn't it? 'Nobody should prosecute and nobody should ever convict anybody whose takes those steps.' The BBC's Political Correspondent Ross Hawkins said it remained to be seen how judges would interpret any change in the law when the first cases came to court. Expect, now, a rush of have-a-go-heroes knifing anybody that comes into their house and annoyed them (burglar or otherwise) using the excuse 'the justice secretary said it was okay.' If I was a door-to-door salesmen, frankly, I'd be nervous.

The penultimate episode of Luther scooped the second highest overnight rating of the current series on Tuesday night, while Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA returned with 1.4m viewers, according to the latest audience data. Luther, starring Idris Elba and Aimee-Fffffffffion Edwards, was watched by 5.37m viewers on BBC1 from 9pm, only slightly down on the series two debut rating. The hard-hitting BBC drama was also far too strong for ITV's Baby Hospital in the 9pm hour, after the documentary appealed to 2.35m viewers plus an additional one hundred and seventy thousand on ITV+1. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the firing of Zoe Beresford after the disastrous biscuit challenge pushed The Apprentice past 7.8m viewers on Wednesday night. The episode was watched by 7.82m on BBC1 in the 9pm hour, peaking at 8.18m or the final fifteen minutes. Spin-off show The Apprentice: You're Fired! appealed to 3.21m on BBC2 from 10pm and and a further one hundred and fifty six thousand viewers on the BBC HD channel. It was a good night all round for BBC1 with Waterloo Road having an audience of 5.02m from 7.30pm and In With The Flynns continuing with 3.57m from 8.30pm. Earlier BBC1's extended coverage of Wimbledon averaged four million viewers between 1:45 and 7:00. The final hour, which saw Andy Murray's quarter final push the Six O'Clock News onto BBC2 and the local news across the country reduced to just a few minutes, averaged over six million viewers with a peak of seven million around 18:30 as Murray beat Feliciano Lopez in three sets. On ITV1, Poms In Paradise mustered 3.33m from 7.30pm, before a repeat of the crime drama Lewis was watched by 3.55m between 8pm and 10pm, along with one hundred and forty four thousand on ITV1+1.

Bob Mortimer has said on Twitter that the new series of Shooting Stars will begin in the first week of August.

Weeks after they announced it elsewhere, a few newspapers finally picked up on the BBC's plans to move the contents of the Blue Peter garden to Manchester 'at an estimated cost of thousands of pounds' according to somebody of utterly no importance at the Daily Torygraph. Among the iconic garden features (and for some spittle-flecked agenda-driven reason the Torygraph put the word iconic in inverted commas) that could move North are a totem pole, a time capsule, the statue of Petra the dog - the programme's first pet - and an Italian sunken goldfish pond. The last Blue Peter episode to be filmed at BBC Television Centre took place this week after fifty three years (fifty one of them with Television Centre as its home). By September, new studios in Manchester will be ready to use and they will feature a new garden, set on a second-storey rooftop. However, BBC bosses are currently considering whether some or all of the features of the old garden could be taken with them. Among them are the eight foot tall totem pole carved from red cedar by Tommy Joseph, an Alaskan Indian artist, and introduced to the garden in October 2008. The time capsule is one of several which have featured in the show, one of which was buried under the Millennium Dome in 1998 and is not due to unsealed until 2050. Petra the dog was the first Blue Peter pet and appeared on screen between 1962 and 1977 and had several puppies. A statue was erected in the garden after Petra's death. The sunken pool was, infamously, targeted in an act of vandalism which was soberly reported to viewers by Janet Ellis, one of the then-presenters, after the incident in 1983. She told viewers: 'One really cruel thing they did was to pour fuel oil into the fish pond. We've drained the pond and we're rescued some of the fish but a few of them of have died and the oil itself has caused a lot of damage.' The original garden opened in 1974 and was cared for by the show's resident gardener, Percy Thrower, until November 1987. At the time, he said the vandals must have been 'mentally ill.' Ten years ago, the England international footballer Les Ferdinand, who lived nearby as a child, admitted that he had been there on the night of the vandalism but had merely 'helped a few people over a wall.' Yeah, Sir Les, we believe you, thousands wouldn't.

Louis Walsh's indecent assault accuser has been arrested by police. The X Factor judge announced earlier this week that he had been cleared of the allegations, as Leonard Watters reportedly admitted to fabricating the allegations. The twenty four-year-old claimed that Walsh had groped him in the bathroom of a Dublin nightclub earlier this year. 'I have robustly ­maintained from the outset that this alleged incident did not occur,' Walsh said in a statement, adding that he intends to 'vigorously pursue legal action' against the newspaper which first published Watters's story. 'Getting that call saying the charges had been dropped was like a weight being lifted off his shoulders,' a 'friend' allegedly told the Mirra. 'But this is by no means the end. He will leave no stone unturned in his fight to clear his name one hundred per cent.' As if News International haven't got enough to worry about with Operation Weeting, they've now got an enraged Louis Walsh after them look for his pound of flesh. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair.

The BBC News Channel may switch from two presenters to a solo anchor on weekdays as part of the corporation's cost-cutting drive. Currently the rolling television news network is fronted by two presenters on weekdays but may switch to a single anchor after it emerged it was the most popular suggestion put forward by news staff. There are about thirteen presenters who work on the BBC News Channel, including Matthew Amroliwala and Louise Minchin. In addition in 2009 the channel began using Julia Somerville, Fiona Armstrong and Zeinab Badawi in a bid to counteract ageism claims. Now it has emerged that the idea of using one rather than two presenters on weekdays – as the BBC News channel already does at weekends – is being put forward to the BBC Trust in the autumn as an option as part of the Delivering Quality First cost-cutting initiative. It is not known how much money the plan would save, although BBC News channel presenter Carrie Grace revealed two years ago that she earned ninety two grand a year. Although having a single anchor was the most popular suggestion among news staff, some are said to be concerned about what the on-air impact will be if a major news story breaks. Staff have been canvassed as part of director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First project, which is looking at ways to find savings of about twenty per cent from budgets across the BBC following last autumn's licence fee settlement with the government. Other ideas being put forward to the BBC Trust include cutting features on the BBC News channel, cutting foreign reporters and reducing the number of regional news managers across England. In addition, BBC management is proposing that more reporters are shared between news programmes, including on Today and Newsnight, and that some local radio presenters could also be employed more widely across the output. It is understood that a pilot is already taking place in Yorkshire, with off-peak programmes being put out across a number of stations. Although Thompson is said to be against cutting a specific TV, radio or online service to achieve the savings, it is understood executives are becoming concerned that the only way to solve the issue is by closing or substantially changing a channel. Or two. One 'insider' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star:  'The thinking is that it cannot be done and that instead BBC4 could be refocused as more of an archive or arts channel.' The BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten is not averse to the idea of closing or overhauling a channel. The Trust is due to consider the proposals put forward by BBC management in the autumn. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary – no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.'

Campus has been cancelled by Channel Four after one series. The - not particularly funny - comedy, which starred Andy Nyman and Dolly Wells, came from Green Wing writer Victoria Pile. The show focused on the staff and students at the fictional Kirke University, with Nyman playing vice-chancellor Jonty de Wolfe. Channel Four's alleged comedy department has now announced that the show has been dropped in a statement on its Twitter page. 'We're proud to have championed Campus for those fans who watched [and] adored it,' the broadcaster said. 'But there simply weren't enough to justify a second series.' For which read 'it was crap and nobody was watching it.' Channel Four's latest comedy series, Sirens, picked up 1.6m viewers when it premiered earlier this week.

Media regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango elected by no one, let us remember - should have the final say on editorial complaints about the BBC's shows rather than the BBC Trust, a House of Lords report has said. At an inquiry into the BBC's governance and regulation, the Lords communications committee called for 'the convoluted and overly complicated complaints process at the BBC' to be revamped. After hearing evidence from witnesses ranging from former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies to presenter Brian Cox, the committee came to the conclusion it wants the BBC Trust and Ofcom to 'work together to resolve the regulation of impartiality and accuracy so that the BBC is no longer its own judge and jury in these matters.' However, the recommendation is likely to raise concerns within BBC management and the Trust about the corporation's editorial independence. Complaints about impartiality and accuracy have been an issue for the corporation over the years, from The Hutton Report to the BBC Trust finding the BBC Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, breached the corporation's editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality in reports on Israel. Another recent example was the BBC Trust's ruling earlier this month that a Panorama programme, Primark: on the Rack, broadcast in June 2008 breached corporation guidelines on 'accuracy and fairness.' It is understood that new BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten thinks allowing an external regulator to handle complaints about impartiality and accuracy could threaten the corporation's independence. The committee said that it was hard for licence fee payers to know whom to contact with complaints, particularly because the roles of the BBC Trust and Ofcom partially overlapped. The peers proposed a complaints 'one-stop shop,' in which the two regulators would 'work together to resolve the regulation of impartiality and accuracy so that the BBC is no longer its own judge and jury in these matters.' The BBC Trust said that Patten was looking at the issues raised as part of his review of BBC governance. Giving evidence to the committee, former BBC chairman Lord Michael Grade said that his experience complaining to the corporation was 'grisly' due to the 'absolutely hopeless' system. The committee suggested that all complaints should be submitted to the BBC in the first instance, followed by an appeal to the Trust, as in the current system. However, a final appeal could be lodged with Ofcom if the complainant was not happy with the Trust's ruling. The media regulator would therefore have the final say on issues of impartiality and accuracy at the BBC. Committee chairman Lord Inglewood said: 'Ultimately, the BBC needs to be accountable to those who use and pay for it, at the same time as having the independence of its journalism, broadcasting and creativity protected from outside political interference.' The committee also warned that BBC creativity must not be 'stifled by overly bureaucratic compliance culture.' The BBC strengthened its compliance procedures in 2008 after a series of largely media-fueled controversies. The Lords committee said: 'We urge the BBC Trust to consider whether there are any ways of minimising the compliance culture within the BBC to reduce bureaucracy in programme making in so far as that is possible to ensure that the BBC's creativity is not compromised.' Reacting to the Lords report, a BBC Trust spokesman said: 'We welcome the committee's report and we note their recommendations on the BBC complaints process. This, and a number of other issues the committee have raised, are being looked at as part of Lord Patten's governance review. The committee's recommendations will feed into the conclusions of the review.'

Glee actress Dianna Agron has 'quashed' Internet rumours that the musical series was to film scenes in London during its third season. And, a nation mourns. Anyway ...

It's always fun when tabloids notice TV ratings, isn't it? 'ITV is embroiled in a weekend ratings CRISIS with its three key shows proving a major turn-off,' according to the Sun. 'Much-vaunted panel show The Marriage Ref, fronted by Dermot O'Dreary, is struggling to get more than ten per cent of viewers in its peaktime Saturday 9pm slot.' I'm not sure whom the Sun think The Marriage Ref was ever 'much vaunted' by. The Sun, probably. Then continue: 'Magic show Penn & Teller: Fool Us, hosted by Jonathan Ross, has seen its audience do a vanishing act with figures down by thousands on its first Saturday outing a fortnight ago.' Not only that but: 'Sunday night's Popstar To Operastar, presented by wellknown horrorshow (and drag) Myleene Klass, has proved a flop after losing a THIRD of its viewers.' You always know when the Sun want to emphasise something, they start using capital letters and bold text. 'Now insiders are predicting all three shows will be AXED in a desperate clear out aimed at saving the channel's weekend strategy.' Probably not true, but it's always amusing when the tabloids go after ITV for a change. One alleged 'insider' alleged told the Sun: 'It's a disaster. If big name stars like Dermot, Myleene and Jonathan can't help get these shows big audiences, then you're stuffed.' The Sun then educate their readers with some raw - overnight - figures: 'The figures speak for themselves. The Marriage Ref - which has already flopped in America - managed an average audience of just 2.3million. That was less than half the 5.2million BBC viewers watching its veteran hospital soap Casualty. Penn & Teller: Fool Us, recorded a better average audience of 3.3million. But it was a massive four hundred thousand down on the week before. Popstar To Operastar is proving the biggest headache for ITV. It started with 4.1million viewers four weeks ago but last Sunday had just 2.7million - pummelled by Top Gear on BBC2 - making it a dead cert for the axe.' ITV was putting on a brave face last night, according to the tabloid, claiming it was 'still popular with the younger audience.' An ITV spokesman allegedly said: 'We're pleased that our new entertainment shows meant ITV was the most watched channel in peak time among younger viewers on Saturday night.' As previously noted, their are lies, there are damned lies and there are ITV publicity statements full of media-speak bollocks. It is important to note, also, that the Sun have reported the wrong average for Penn & Teller to try and prove a point. In actual fact, their show isn't doing too badly and the 'massive' week-on-week drop they describe was, actually, a whole 0.4m - next to nothing in TV ratings terms. That particular show actually isn't doing too badly but the Sun are correct about the other two which are - amusingly - massive flops.

Michael McIntyre is to return to BBC1 over the festive season with a one-hour Christmas special of his Comedy Roadshow. Michael says: 'Having visited twelve of my favourite cities, I'm thrilled that my Comedy Roadshow is coming home for Christmas. It's such an honour for the show to be on Christmas Day and to be introducing some of the biggest names in comedy to entertain a turkey-filled nation slumped on their sofas!' Mark Linsey, Controller, Entertainment Commissioning at the BBC says: 'Who better to bring some Christmas cheer to BBC1 viewers than Michael. He is such a favourite with our audiences and this show is bound to be a real festive treat.'

BARB's long-awaited measuring of online viewing will be rolled out to one hundred homes initially, the ratings agency has confirmed. The measurement system, which has been created following a year-long pilot, will go into the homes of existing BARB panel homes during the second half of this year. By the end of 2012, the agency said it aimed to extend the meter to up to eleven hundred homes, accounting for the television viewing on PCs, laptops and tablet devices of an estimated two thousand five hundred people. BARB said the 'staged approach' would 'ensure that the standards and quality of the core Barb service are not jeopardised and to review the suitability to continue.' Chief executive Bjarne Thelin said: 'We will continually consider and verify the web TV measurement technique so that we can confirm the appropriateness of this approach for BARB. Following this initial stage we'll evaluate the value of proceeding further and with the industry we will assess how this data can best be utilised and applied. The prospect of a measurement which enables web-TV viewing to be examined alongside television set viewing, from a single source, will have a number of applications. It's likely that the greatest initial learnings will come from data aggregated over time.' The BBC launched a proprietary cross-platform measurement system, Live +7, in February. Channel Four followed up a month later with its Online TV Equivalent.

A new alliance of local TV groups has called on lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt to revisit his original plan of creating a national channel for delivering local TV services, and not be swayed by 'vested interests.' Earlier in the month, the vile and odious rascal Hunt confirmed a 'significant shift' in the government's initial policy for invigorating local television, effectively dropping the 'top down' strategy of creating a national 'spine' channel on Freeview for delivering local services. Instead, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that 'a bottom up' approach was now the preferred strategy, involving support for a range of 'individually licenced stations.' The Local TV Alliance, including the Channel Six group, Grimsby's local TV station Channel Seven and former BBC chairman Greg Dyke, has written to the vile and odious rascal Hunt urging him to revisit the national channel strategy, which would involve offering regional opt outs for delivering local content. Introducing the letter, Channel Six chairman Clive Jones said that the vile and odious rascal Hunt's original vision for local TV was met with 'great excitement' from some within the industry and reflected the belief that local media can 'galvanise and transform' local communities. However, Jones noted that the plans were also met by the national media 'with reactions ranging from lack of interest through disbelief to outright derision. We welcomed the Local Media Action Plan with its proposal for a new national network to support a diverse range of new local stations as the only realistic way to achieve the government's objectives without public subsidy,' he said. 'Then just a few weeks ago we heard that Jeremy was now veering away from the network/affiliate model towards the idea of standalone local stations. The same idea of standalone stations that was comprehensively dismissed by [Lazard media banker] Nick Shott in his report [on local television], that has been tried and failed before in this country both by some of our leading media groups and individual enthusiasts, and that was ruled out in Jeremy's own Local Media Action Plan.' Jones noted that the reason given by the vile and odious rascal Hunt for the policy change was that the previous plan would take too long to implement. But he urged the lack of culture secretary to 'stick to his guns,' and not steer the UK 'down a path of fragmented local stations that everybody who's tried it or looked seriously at it knows will not work. We've had detailed discussion with Ofcom, we've each taken a close look at our own plans, different in detail as they are, and we've come to a common conclusion. We can still deliver. We stand ready, willing, and able to adapt our plans to accommodate the new realities,' he said. 'The need for local TV is more pressing than ever as the BBC cuts back on its own local services, the pressures on local newspapers increase, and ITV threatens to reduce even further its regional coverage. Don't give in to vested interests determined to do all they can to block or diminish what together we can achieve.'

David Dimbleby is in talks with the BBC to present a landmark BBC1 series about the history of British television for 2013, but still has yet to sign a new contract with the corporation. The news appears to signal that the popular, seventy two-year-old Question Time host will continue to appear on the BBC for the next few years, despite numerous offers from other broadcasters. Dimbleby's new series is in the early stages of development but is focusing on the rise of popular television and its effect on Britain and its people. According to reports, the BBC has offered Dimbleby a new five-year contract. However, the row over the plan to move production of BBC1 flagship political series Question Time to Glasgow as part of a BBC initiative to produce fifty per cent of its content outside the capital by 2016 and other issues have dogged negotiations and he has yet to sign. It is understood they include what key political and state events Dimbleby has been offered by the BBC to present. Dimbleby, who had been the BBC's first choice as presenter for most major state and royal events for the more than a decade. However, Huw Edwards was chosen for the job of main anchor of the corporation's royal wedding coverage in April. He has also fronted the BBC's general election night coverage since 1979 and other major political events such as local elections and US presidential elections. Since his contract ran out last year, Dimbleby has signed deals on a programme-by-programme basis. In recent years he has fronted a number of key factual series about the history of the nation for the BBC including How We Built Britain and Seven Ages of Britain. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'This is one of a number of ideas in development with David Dimbleby at the moment but it's too early to go in to further details at this stage.'

Free Agents has been acquired by BBC America. The romantic sitcom, which stars Sharon Horgan, Stephen Mangan and Anthony Head, will be broadcast in the US as part of BBC America's Ministry of Laughs comedy block on Saturday nights. Originally broadcast on Channel Four, the comedy lasted for six episodes in 2009, and has not been renewed. The format centres around protagonist Stephen, played by Head, a brash, promiscuous boss whose advice to office worker Alex, played by Mangan, leads to a will-they-won't-they relationship between Alex and co-worker Helen (Horgan). Free Agents was recently commissioned for a US version produced by NBC, with Head reprising his role alongside other actors. The programme is a Big Talk and Bwark co-production for Channel Four, made by producer Nira Park. Executive producers are Matthew Justice and Iain Morris.

Paul McGann has suggested that he would not be as keen to join Doctor Who in 2011. Not that anybody has asked him to, of course. The fifty one-year-old actor, who played The Doctor in the 1996 TV movie, said that he would find the attention attached to the role these days 'tricky,' comparing himself to Christopher Eccleston. Speaking about the adulation now afforded to fellow stage actor David Tennant following his lead role in Doctor Who, McGann told Official London Theatre: 'He's fantastic of course and he's obviously got a great sense of humour about everything. Chris, I think, seemingly found it tricky. I think I probably would have been more like Chris. I like my privacy.' The actor added that he was happy to 'escape' the format, having not reprised his role when Russell Davies brought the show back in 2005. Again, not that he was asked to.

Richard Desmond's Channel Five is facing an investigation by Ofcom for airing a risqué campaign for Candy Bar Girls, a reality show about the 'lives and loves' of six lesbians living in London's Soho, during the day when children could be watching. Each of the promos for the new reality show feature teasing close-up images that appear to be of two women engaged in sexual activity, intercut with lines such as 'Red ... Hot... Lesbians' and 'Pussy ... Loving ... Ladies'. Wider shots then reveal the women to be engaged in more innocent activities, such as a gym workout and a woman stroking a toy cat in another's lap, with the voiceover stating, 'Well, what were you expecting?,' before a plug for Candy Bar Girls. The trailers appear to be a humorous take on the sort of content that appears on Desmond's adult pay-TV channels, which include Red Hot and Fantasy. However, Ofcom has launched an investigation into the promos after receiving ten complaints from members of the public who saw them during the day and complained about the content. Ofcom is investigating the promos to see if they are in breach of broadcasting regulations about appropriate scheduling and harm and offence. When Channel Five announced the show it said it would 'follow the lives and loves of a group of young lesbians who work hard and party even harder in and around this iconic Soho establishment.' However Jeff Ford, the channel's director of programmes, said that it did not herald a racier direction for the channel. 'This is not about being salacious,' he said at the time. The Advertising Standards Authority has received one complaint about the wider Candy Bar Girls advertising campaign beyond the TV promos on Channel Five. A Channel Five spokesman said: 'Channel Five takes its compliance responsibilities as a broadcaster very seriously. All our content and promos go through a rigorous compliance procedure prior to broadcast.'

Iran's minister of cultural and Islamic guidance has attacked an upcoming BBC2 documentary series on the life of the founder of Islam, the prophet Muhammad, before its even been broadcast, saying that 'the enemy' was attempting to 'ruin Muslims' sanctity.' The three-part series, The Life of Muhammad, presented by Rageh Omaar, the Somali-born Middle East correspondent for Al Jazeera English, is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC2 in mid-July and has been drawing increasing criticism from senior figures in Iran. The documentary makers say it seeks to 'retrace the actual footsteps of the prophet' from his birthplace in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, his struggles with his prophetic role and divine revelations, his migration to Medina and establishment of the first Islamic constitution before his final return to Mecca following armed conflicts. But the Iranian lack of culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini, who has not seen the programme, said in an interview on Monday that he was worried about the BBC film. Speaking to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, he said: 'The BBC's decision to make a documentary on the life of Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action.' What, bomb Television Centre? A jihad on Top Gear merchandise? Hosseini added: 'What the enemy is trying to do in ruining the Muslims' sanctity is definitely much more than causing us to react and unfortunately, some Islamic countries are not taking this issue seriously. One way to show objections is to express condemnation of the West over their despicable actions.' Iran and the West have previously clashed, famously, over publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses in 1988 and more recently in the row over threats to burn the Qur'an by a numskull US pastor. It is thought officials in Iran, where the population is predominantly Shia, could be worried that the BBC2 documentary might only be limited to a Sunni interpretation of Muhammad's life. But Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC's commissioning editor for religion and ethics, told the Gruniad that they had consulted a Shia scholar for the programme. Although why he felt he had to justify himself to disgraceful attempts at interference in the BBC's impartiality by a foreign government is not, entirely clear. 'We had a number of consultants for the series including a Shia academic but what is important is that we wanted to tell a history of Muhammad and more specifically a general history of that period,' said Ahmed. In reaction to Hosseini's remarks, Ahmed added: 'The series has not gone out yet and no one in Iran has actually seen any of it. I expect that it is hard to judge a programme before watching it but I understand, at the same time, that there are always people who will have very strong opinions about a film even before its broadcast.' The BBC has stressed that its films are 'a presenter-led documentary series' which 'draw on the expertise and comments from the world's leading academics and commentators on Islam.' Tariq Ramadan of St Anthony's College, Oxford, Ziauddin Sardar, a London-based scholar, Tom Holland, a historian and Princess Badiya El Hassan of the Jordanian royal family are among those who appear in the documentary, which was filmed in various locations including Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, Syria and Jordan. The BBC has also made clear that its series is 'in line with Islamic tradition' and 'it does not depict any images of the face of Muhammad, or feature dramatic reconstructions of Muhammad's life.' Hosseini's remarks come only a month after Iranian authorities gave permission for the production of a home-made drama based on the life of the prophet, which is going to be directed by film-maker Majid Majidi. A Crescent Films production for BBC2, The Life of Muhammad is directed by the British-Pakistani film-maker Faris Kermani who has previously made a number of Islam-related films, such as Channel Four's Seven Wonders Of The Muslim World. Rageh Omaar has previously worked on at least two Iranian projects, a TV documentary for Al Jazeera, Iran Season, and Rageh Inside Iran which was broadcast by BBC4. So, there you go, just in case you ever forget why it's worth supporting the BBC - anybody who can manage to piss off the criminal fundamentalist dictatorship in Tehran and the Daily Scum Mail at the same time must be doing something right.

The presenters of MasterChef have become the unlikely stars of a viral dance song posted online. The music video mash-up featuring clips of Gregg Wallace and John Torode on MasterChef has been racking up the hits on YouTube since a fan of the cookery programme uploaded it earlier this week. In the video, the show hosts can be seen repeating the same comments on food they're tasting, with Gregg saying: 'I like the base ... I like the buttery biscuit base' over a slammin' techno tune. Meanwhile, John can be heard saying: 'Crunch base, nutty base.' Commenting on John and Gregg's reaction to the video, a 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'They absolutely love the song, it's so catchy and very funny. They've both got a great sense of humour and have been laughing themselves silly about it.'

And so to the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. For the one thousandth blog, it should probably be the longest single we've featured to date. Thus, dear blog reader, today's sermon is brought unto us by the Reverends Whitfield and strong. Life is full of temptations. And, here's five of them right now. Work those Afros, ladies.

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