Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life Is A Three-Ring Circus

Karen Gillan was reportedly 'found naked' in a New York hotel corridor after 'a night of partying' in April. This is according to the Daily Scum Mail, anyway, which probably gives you an idea of much much credence to give these claims, dear blog reader. Because, you know, they always tell the truth and nothing but. The Doctor Who actress was said to be 'wrapped in a sheet by hotel security and escorted to her room' after being found 'nude and whimpering' at 7am at The Ace Hotel in Manhattan, the Daily Scum Mail claims. With some considerable glee, one should add. Although, tragically, they make this allegation without any photographic evidence. So, I suppose we'll just have to take their word for it ... despite a previous record of crass, ignorant mendacity and unattributed quotes from 'sources' a mile long. That, and the fact they were big fans of Hitler in the thirties, of course. A 'permanent resident' of the hotel - nameless, of course, but still he or she shouldn't be too hard to identify if anyone wants to actually check out the story first-hand - allegedly told the alleged newspaper that he (or she) allegedly 'heard someone' trying to get into his (or her) room and, allegedly, went to investigate. 'I went to the peephole and looked out. I saw a man at the lift who was looking back at someone who was attempting to open my door,' the Scum Mail quotes this mysterious, anonymous alleged resident as allegedly saying. 'The next thing I saw was a woman giving this person at my door two towels before getting into the lift and leaving.' He (or she) added: 'Then I saw this young woman, completely naked, trying to wrap two towels around her and not having much luck. She then started to whimper and knock on my door.' And, you didn't answer it to help her in what was, clearly, her hour of need? Well, what a thorough gentleman you are, sir. Or, indeed, madam. Seeing that the, alleged, woman was, allegedly, 'getting nowhere', the alleged nameless 'permanent resident' allegedly goes on to claim, 'she lay down with the towels covering her.' After security subsequently arrived and escorted the woman - whom the Scum Mail suggest was 'later identified by the resident as Gillan' - away, the alleged resident added: 'I never saw Lady Godiva again.' Quite how this alleged 'resident' subsequently allegedly 'identified' Karen (she's not alleged, she definitely exists - we've all seen her on the telly), since he (or she) didn't seem to have a clue whom Karen was when giving his (or her) alleged 'Lady Godiva' quote to the Scum Mail, the alleged newspaper doesn't elaborate in their shitehawk 'exclusive'. Nor, indeed, does the Scum Mail reveal how, exactly, this alleged story came to their alleged attention in the first place. Does any of this nonsense stink of the pungent whiff of - alleged - bullshit to anyone, or is it just me? Karen's spokesman - I wasn't aware she had one, so it could've been 'some geezer off the streets' I suppose - allegedly 'declined to comment' to the newspaper. Which, to be fair, anybody with a single ounce of dignity in them would decline to comment in the Daily Scum Mail came looking for a quote. Allegedly. A BBC Worldwide spokesman allegedly said: 'We are unaware of this alleged incident.' Please note, dear blog reader, the emphasis on the word alleged there, which the BBC normally only use in episodes of Have I Got News For You. The actress was in New York, briefly, in April as part of a promotional tour for Doctor Who. Anyway, make of all that what you, allegedly, will, dear blog reader. I know what this blogger allegedly makes of it.

Torchwood: Miracle Day will premiere in Britain, as previously rumoured, on 14 July the BBC has confirmed this week. A spokesperson stated that the first episode of the ten-part SF drama will be broadcast on Thursday night in a 9pm slot. The series, a co-production between the BBC and the US cable network Starz, will premiere in America six days earlier, on Friday 8 July. Meanwhile, there was a very good interview with Russell Davies over the weekend in the Gruniad Morning Star in which Big Rusty discussed a number of topics, including his hatred of Tories for which he should be knighted, frankly, and the future of co-productions such as the one involving Torchwood: 'Davies's excitement at his own show is mirrored by his clear delight in television in general. He watches lots. Our conversation takes in, amongst others, Game of Thrones, Scott & Bailey, Saturday Kitchen and The Good Wife ("To me, it's the new West Wing"). And, of course, his beloved Coronation Street. "The only odd thing I felt about moving [to the US] to live was the television, because it's very strange. My God, you miss your evening soap opera. When you've watched it all your life, 7.30pm is soap opera time."' Fans fearing the end of Torchwood need not fear too much as Davies added that he has ideas for at least one more series: 'I've got to do this again. I've got one more story that I can tell – just one more that has Gwen right at the centre of it – that would be fantastic. So I'm my own worst enemy.'

Bill Pullman has claimed that joining the cast of Torchwood was an 'impulsive' decision. The Independence Day actor told Wales Online that he had signed up to the series without reading the entire script. 'I just thought, "Let's do it,"' he explained. As Americans are wont to. 'It was so attractive to me because it's a character with so many facets which I have never really played before.' The actor also admitted that he enjoys the show's connection to Wales, where parts of Torchwood: Miracle Day were filmed. 'I don't watch any TV so I knew nothing about the show, especially about the Welsh connection,' he confessed. '[But it] soon became very apparent. I like that connection and it is very important to the whole show.' The actor previously revealed that he had enjoyed exploring the role of child killer Oswald Danes over ten episodes. 'I'm in a big part of [the series],' he explained. 'In that arc, you can make a different kind of character than you can in a two-hour movie.'

Series seventeen of Top Gear launched with more than five million viewers on Sunday night - the second highest audience for any programme of the night - whilst the BBC's Glastonbury coverage also proved popular, the latest overnight audience data has revealed. The Top Gear episode - worthy, in particular, for Clarkson's so-far-over-the-top-it-was-down-the-other-side tribute to the E-Type Jag and Alice Cooper crawling around a very wet track in their reasonably priced car - returned with 4.32m viewers on BBC2 in the 8pm hour and a whopping great additional eight hundred and eighteen thousand on BBC HD. Which will, no doubt, put a massive scowl on the faces over various Gruniad-reading Communist hippies and Daily Scum mail-reading right-wing knobs. All of which, let's face it, is always a jolly good thing. Also on BBC2, coverage of Beyoncé's headlining set on the final day of the Glastonbury festival was seen by 1.05m from 10pm and a further one hundred and three thousand on HD. BBC3's coverage of Plan B's performance at the festival entertained over four hundred and sixty thousand punters from 7.45pm, before music from Pendulum and The Kaiser Chiefs had six hundred and ninety thousand viewers from 9pm. It was generally a okay night for ITV except in the case of Popstar to Operastar which averaged a thoroughly rotten 2.85m in the 8pm hour. Looks like the bubble has well and truly burst on that one and bringing it back for second series is starting to look like a colossal mistake by someone in Stately ITV Manor. The results show, featuring Erasure singer Andy Bell becoming the latest alleged celebrity to be eliminated, had a broadly similar (and equally rotten) 2.86m from 10pm. On the other hand, ITV did have the highest audience for any show of the night, Scott & Bailey's 5.46m (plus two hundred and fifty thousand on ITV+1) narrowly beating Top Gear's numbers. Fake Or Fortune?, the new factual entertainment Antiques Roadshow spin-off fronted by Fiona Bruce, continued with 3.86m on BBC1 in the 7pm hour, but it was outperformed by The Royal's 4.05m on ITV1. Also on BBC1, Countryfile scored 4.74m in the 8pm hour and a repeat of Silent Witness got a right hiding off Scott & Bailey with 2.6m on BBC1. The rather fine documentary The Many Faces of Michael Caine was watched by 1.26m on BBC2 in the 7pm hour before Top Gear and then, continuing the well-above average audience for the channel, Coast had a combined audience of just over three million - 2.88m on BBC2 from 9pm and two hundred thousand viewers on BBC HD.

The BBC has released Live +7 data for May which revealed that the Doctor Who episode The Doctor's Wife was seen by an astonishing 9.9 million viewers in the week of its first broadcast. Live +7 data combines viewers from across all the platforms from those who watched a particular TV show 'live' to those who recorded it, downloaded it or watched it on their computers via the BBC iPlayer and those who watched repeats later in the week. The fourth episode in Doctor Who's sixth season, The Doctor’s Wife, was watched by nearly ten million viewers. The Doctor's Wife had an overnight rating of 5.9 million viewers and a final, consolidated rating of 7.9 million. In May it was the most requested programme on iPlayer with 1.22 million downloads. The new data released by the BBC also reveals that the long-running BBC3 sitcom Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps saw its ratings rise significantly from around five hundred and fifty thousand overnight to two and a half million via all platforms. An episode of EastEnders gained an extra 2.4 million viewers - pushing it past eleven million viewers - through Live +7 data and The Apprentice topped ten million viewers for an episode of the current series through Live +7 figures. BBC iPlayer received one hundred and fifty nine million requests for TV and radio programmes in May, an increase of eighteen million from the previous month. The Apprentice and Doctor Who were - by a distance - the most popular TV programmes while Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth was the most popular Radio show.

Meanwhile here's some excellent rating news from the US. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution ended with a sour taste. The odious British chef's cookery show pulled in a wretched 2.6m for ABC in the 9pm hour for its final episode, nearly being embarrassed by a House repeat which took 2.3m for FOX. Sadly, this means it's likely that Oliver's American adventure is over ... and we'll be stuck with him over here.

And, finally on the subject of ratings, here's the Top Twenty programmes week ending 19 June:
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.91 million
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.32 million
3 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 8.40 million
4 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.74 million
5 Scott & Bailey - ITV Sun - 6.73 million
6 Luther - BBC1 Tues - 6.49 million
7 Walton Sextuplets: Moving On - ITV Mon - 6.01 million
8 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 5.96 million
9 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.91 million
10 Film: Kung Fu Panda - Sat BBC1 - 5.55 million
11 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.33 million
12 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.24 million
13 Case Histories - BBC1 Sun - 5.03 million
14 National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - BBC1 Sat - 4.98 million
15 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.61 million
16 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.48 million
17 Lee Mack's All Star Cast - BBC1 Sat - 4.45 million
18 My Family - BBC1 Fri - 4.37 million
19 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.32 million
20 In With The Flynns - BBC1 Wed - 4.24 million
Fantastic figures for The Apprentice (again) and Luther, there and Scott & Bailey continues its impressive collection of numbers. The BBC will, likely, be very happy with Lee Mack's new format's figures too. Two of the ITV figures (numbers seven and sixteen) are inclusive of ITV HD figures which, at this time, are not available. BBC2's highest audiences were for The Apprentice: You're Fired! (3.24m) and the opening episode of The Kennedys (2.86m). Channel Four's broadcast of the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still achieved a final audience figure of 3.47m

Law and Order: UK's fifth series which is the one in which Peter Davison is scheduled due to appear, is due to begin broadcasting in July on ITV according to the writer and producer Emilia di Girolamo on Twitter.
Scotland Yard will pass documents seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was employed by the News of the World, to a group of public figures who are suing the paper's owner News Group over alleged phone hacking, following a high court hearing on Monday. A judge ordered the Metropolitan police to hand some information from the Mulcaire archive, which includes eleven thousand pages of documents and one hundred and eleven recordings made by the private investigator, to lawyers acting for claimants including football agent Sky Andrew and the actors Steve Coogan and Jude Law. The documents covered by the judge's order are mainly limited to billing data showing phone calls between Mulcaire and the News of the World, details of contracts, invoices or payments made to the private investigator for services rendered, and further pages from the notebooks kept by him which relate directly to the claimants. That information was seized during the Met's original investigation into phone hacking, which resulted in Mulcaire being jailed in January 2007 along with Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal editor. Michael Silverleaf QC, for News Group, the News International subsidiary which publishes the News of the World, pointed out the company has already admitted the charges in most cases and argued that the claimants had the evidence they needed to win damages. This, you may remember, after over three years of constant - almost daily - denials from news International and their various representatives that the News of the Screws had anything to do with anything. So, frankly, seeing them squirm as the whole rotten house of cards collapses around them is ... jolly good fun. The Met has already shown claimants pages from Mulcaire's notebooks that name them and list their personal information, including, in many cases, the PIN numbers used to access their mobile phone messages and names and numbers of family and friends, Mr Silverleaf continued. Further disclosure would be 'expensive' and would 'not effect the sum they received in damages,' he said. Well, that's still to be decided, frankly. You don't get to set damages, matey, the court does. Lawyers for the claimants said that the new information would cast light on the extent of illegal phone-hacking at the News of the World and demonstrate that there was a conspiracy between Mulcaire and News Group to methodically target their clients. Hugh Tomlinson QC, for the claimants, said: 'It is entirely understandable that News Group wants to limit the disclosure, partly for the good reason that it wants to limit costs and partly for the bad reason that it wants to put a lid on the disclosure of its wrongdoing going back over the years. The admissions [News Group] is prepared to make are of a very very narrow nature.' An attempt by what were described as 'a number of unidentified public figures' to block the release of the documents, which could cast light on the full extent of phone-hacking at the News of the World, failed. Justice Vos told Andrew Caldecott QC, who was representing this mysterious unidentified group, that he did not believe the release of the documents, which will be redacted to remove the names of victims not so far named, would lead to their identities being disclosed. The names of any News of the World journalists mentioned in the documents but not already made public will also be redacted to protect the ongoing police enquiry into phone-hacking. The Met is concerned that potential suspects would otherwise be tipped off. Scotland Yard also resisted attempts to pass the entire Mulcaire archive to lawyers acting for the claimants, saying it would take thirty weeks to redact the documents, to ensure the names and personal details of other parties were not disclosed, at a potential cost of one hundred and eighty thousand pounds. A fourth person, believed to be the freelance journalist Terenia Taras, was arrested last week in Leeds as part of the Met's ongoing phone-hacking probe Operation Weeting, which began at the start of the year. Taras is the ex-partner of Greg Miskiw, who was an assistant editor at the paper. Ian Edmondson, who later did the same job but was sacked in February, was arrested in April. Two more senior News of the World journalists, James Weatherup and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, were also arrested in April. All four were later released on police bail. Five test cases will be heard at a trial set for January 2012, which is likely to be used as a basis for determining damages for other claims when News Group admits liability. They include Andrew's case. News International is seeking to settle other claims by setting up a compensation scheme, which it claims will pay more to claimants than they are likely to receive in damages from the courts. Separately, it also agreed last week to pay damages of twenty thousand pounds to the former Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray as well as his legal costs. News International also apologised in court to the actress Sienna Miller last month for what it described as 'a sustained campaign of harassment' which lead to eleven stories being published about her by the News of the World. Miller was paid one hundred thousand smackers in damages and her legal costs.

Meanwhile, in a related development, a thirty four-year-old woman was arrested by the Metropolitan police on Monday afternoon on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting mobile phone voicemail messages, Scotland Yard said. The woman, who works as a journalist for the Press Association news wire service, was arrested at around 3pm by appointment at a central London police station. She is currently being questioned by officers from Operation Weeting. The Press Association confirmed that one of its journalists had been arrested. She is the fifth person to be arrested as part of the current police inquiry.

Stephen Fry has been named the new president of a major UK mental health charity. The writer, comedian and actor, who himself suffers from bipolar disorder, will takeover as the president of MIND from Lord Bragg, who has stepped down after fifteen years in the position. Announcing the news on Twitter, Stephen wrote: 'Exciting news - I'm thrilled to reveal I will become the new president of the wonderful MIND charity.' Fry, who has been a vocal supporter of the organisation for several years, added in a statement: 'I am honoured and delighted to become the new president of MIND. This wonderful charity performs vital work to help anyone, like myself, who experiences a mental health problem. It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Lord Melvyn Bragg, and I can only hope to live up to the standard that he has set in his fifteen successful years at the helm.'

Michael Jackson reportedly 'hand-picked' his singing double when he appeared on a classic episode of The Simpsons. Jackson was famously banned from singing in the 1991 episode, titled Stark Raving Dad, due to his contract with Sony. Yeardley Smith, who voices Lisa Simpson, recalled how Kipp Lennon was drafted in for Jackson. Smith told TMZ: '[Michael] was not allowed to sing on the show, so he literally hand-picked a guy to sing like him. How unnerving would it be to sing like Michael Jackson in front of Michael Jackson?' Lennon also provided Jackson's voice in the US miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. Jackson played Simpsons Leon Kompowsky in the episode, a large white man who acts and sings like Jackson, whom Homer Simpson meets when temporarily placed in a secure hospital. Jackson wrote the song 'Happy Birthday Lisa' specially for the episode. He was credited as John Jay Smith.

And so to a new, semi-regular feature on From The North: The Sensational Wardrobes of BBC Local News presenters. Might be a very semi-regular feature, admittedly. Anyway, Look North's sports reporter, the thoroughly divine Katie Gornall, briefly became something of an Internet sensation this week with her choice of a gold lamé miniskirt for Monday night's bulletin. I mean, there's only one way to describe that. Nice!
Monday's Twitter-storm-in-an-eggcup comes courtesy of Zane Lowe, whom some viewers felt had, like, totally disrespected Beyoncé on the BBC Glastonbury coverage immediately after her Sunday night headlining performance, innit? In his defence, Lowe's outburst of hysterical laughter and admission that he went to watch rockers Queens of the Stone Age when invited to comment on Ms B's glamorous performance could have been prompted by a producer screaming in his earpiece to get to the next VT, following co-presenter Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren Laverne's extended eulogy to the, ahem, Bootylicious one. Lowe later tried to make amends on-air and on Twitter. Instead of just telling to stupid berks to grow the hell up. But the BBC appeared to be taking no chances, swiftly benching him in favour of the always bland-as-a-piece-of-toast Jo Whiley for a post-match interview with the R&B diva, following an awkward farewell exchange with Laverne – complete with excruciating 'small fist bump' thingy. However, a BBC spokeswoman assured the Gruniad - who, of course, asked - that Zane was due to leave then anyway. He said he had transport pre-booked to 'race home to see the boys.' A reference to his children, incidentally, rather than his mates. The final indignity? According to the Daily Scum Mail Online, 'Radio 1 DJ Zane Jone [sic] churlishly refused to comment on her set ... and caused outrage of Twitter.' But then, isn't that rather typical of the Scum Mail? They can't even take part in a wholly manufactured anti-BBC piece without screwing it up in some way or other. because they're crap.

University Challenge host Jeremy Paxman tried to join his college team for the quiz show but was rejected for 'failing to answer questions,' he has revealed. Now he wouldn't let him get away with that if he'd tried it on the show. The Cambridge University graduate told the Radio Times he remembered 'going along with a couple of friends' to a common room quiz to choose a team. 'I did have a go - I didn't get chosen,' said Paxman, sixty one, who has presented the programme for seventeen years. He said rejection did not reflect upon general knowledge or mental ability. 'It is a very particular thing, playing a quiz,' added Paxman, who succeeded Bamber Gascoigne as the host of University Challenge. Former Tory MP, fright, horrorshow, faceache and drag Ann Widdecombe, who interviewed Paxman for the Radio Times, revealed she too had been rejected by her college team. Paxman, who said that he slept during university lectures 'half the time,' added there would come a point when he would have to step down from his role of host because the BBC would say 'let's get rid of this old person.' He said there was no argument that questions on the show had got more difficult, 'because students know a lot more now.'

Paul Nicholls has reportedly been axed from the BBC1 drama Waterloo Road, after behaving 'erratically' on-set. I'll leave it up to you, dear blog reader, to work out what that's supposed to be a euphemism for. I couldn't possibly begin to speculate. The actor, best known for his role as Joe Wicks in EastEnders, was cast as PE teacher Jez Diamond in Waterloo Road last month and had recently begun filming episodes. However, Nicholls was 'let go' just three days into filming, the Mirra reports. The thirty two-year-old's contract was terminated with immediate effect after he was allegedly reprimanded for arriving on set late twice. According to the alleged newspaper, Nicholls was 'badly affected' following the death of his grandfather. 'Paul is a lovely guy but he is in a dark place at the moment,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'We let him go because it wasn't working out, and hopefully some time off now will give Paul the opportunity to sort himself out.' Another 'show insider' - equally as anonymous as the first - commented: 'His behaviour on set was very odd. People felt uncomfortable around him. It was clear Paul was having some personal problems.' Nicholls, who spoke about his drink and drug battle in 2008, will be replaced by former The Bill actor Alex Walkinshaw, who is thought to be reshooting the scenes already filmed this week. A BBC spokesperson added: 'Paul Nicholls has left Waterloo Road. The show producers Shed Productions said the actor's decision was for personal reasons, following a recent family bereavement.'

The BBC has decided to hand back a Royal Television Society award given to a Panorama documentary on the alleged use of child labour by Primark. Broadcast in June 2008, Primark - On The Rack featured a scene supposedly depicting boys in Bangalore making clothing for Primark. Following transmission, the retailer complained that the programme featured various inaccuracies. Following a twenty two-month investigation, the BBC's editorial complaints unit cleared Panorama in April 2010, despite accepting that the programme was 'not subject to sufficient scrutiny by the Panorama team'. However, the BBC Trust - showing the collective backbone of a worm - last week ruled that it was 'more likely than not' that the Bangalore footage used in Primark - On The Rack was not genuine. Whatever the hell that means. It either was, or it wasn't. If you've got proof that it wasn't then a massive deception has taken place and people should be sacked over it. If you don't, then why the hell aren't you backing your journalists against outrageous charges that they are liars, you bloody cowards. The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee has therefore ordered the BBC to make an on-air apology for the programme. As a result of the ruling, the BBC has decided that it can no longer keep the RTS honour won for Primark - On The Rack. Speaking to The Times, a BBC spokesman said: 'The BBC has apologised for including a short section of film which could not be authenticated in Primark - On the Rack. We acknowledge that a serious error was made and therefore it would be inappropriate to keep the RTS award.' Announcing the BBC Trust's ruling, chair of the ESC Alison Hastings said: 'The BBC's investigative journalism is rightly held in very high regard, and for more than fifty years Panorama has made a very significant contribution to that. But great investigative journalism must be based on the highest standards of accuracy, and this programme on Primark failed to meet those standards. While it's important to recognise that the programme did find evidence elsewhere that Primark was contravening its own ethical guidelines, there were still serious failings in the making of the programme. The Trust would like to apologise on behalf of the BBC to Primark and to the audience at home for this rare lapse in quality.' However, programme maker Dan McDougall has hit out at the Trust's findings, which he claims were 'unjust' and 'flawed.'

Simon Cowell's new big-budget prime time ITV game show Red or Black has signed up Domino's Pizza in a sponsorship deal thought to be worth more than one million pounds. Or, £5.99 and a free coke if you have a coupon. The show, which will be fronted by Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, gives contestants the chance to win a million smackers on the spin of a wheel. Like Cowell's other ITV shows, The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, the production will be filmed in an arena – in this case, Wembley Arena. It will also feature a loud, voyeuristic audience, attract huge viewing figures and be ethically questionable and about as entertaining as an afternoon at the genital torturers. 'Media sources' (ie. people who are guessing) put the Domino's deal at one million pounds-plus and for its money it will get a package which includes TV, online and mobile sponsorship as well as 'off-air activation.' Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. The show will be stripped across a week during in the autumn. Domino's is no stranger to Cowell's programming having sponsored Britain's Got Talent for the last three years; MoneySupermarket.com took over this year. Domino's turned to ITV after ending its decade-long sponsorship of The Simpsons on Sky1 in 2008, ending one of the most successful advertiser tie-ups in UK multichannel TV history. 'With its fast-paced, edge of your seat format, we know that viewers are going to be glued to their screens and while they're deciding Red or Black at home,' said Simon Wallis, sales and marketing director at Domino's. 'The home is our point of sale so unmissable TV events such as Red or Black create an ideal time for a product, such as pizza.' He forgot to add 'and, mucho wonga for us, lovely, lovely.' Which was probably understandable, to be fair. The deal was negotiated by ITV Commercial and Arena Media, Domino's media buying agency, with sponsorship idents for the TV show to be made by creative agency Big Communications. 'This collaboration is a great example of how ITV wants to work with its customers in the future,' said Simon Daglish, ITV's new director of multi-platforms and partnerships. With them giving you lots of money and you giving them lots of free air-time? Sounds about right. Last month it emerged that the makers of Red or Black, a co-production between Cowell's Syco and ITV Studios, had unsuccessfully tried to persuade National Lottery operator Camelot to come on board. There have been negotiations to bring on board another gaming partner, although no announcement on a deal has so far been made.

One of the biggest investors in Sky has called on Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to increase its takeover offer by an extra four billion quid. Crispin Odey, founder of Odey Asset Management, told The Sunday Times that the pay-TV giant is worth nineteen billion smackers, meaning that News Corp would have to pay £11.6bn to acquire the sixty one per cent of shares which it does not already own. A price at that level would be considerably higher than the £7.8bn, seven hundred pence-per-share offer submitted by News Corp last June, but turned down by Sky's independent directors. Odey, who holds 2.3 per cent of Sky, declared after the opening bid was submitted that any fair offer for the satellite broadcaster must be more than nine hundred pence-per-share. Alongside Odey, the other major shareholders in Sky include investment firms BlackRock, Capital Research Global Investors, Franklin Templeton and Fidelity, along with insurance company Legal and General. This week, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt is expected to give the final greenlight for News Corp to progress with its takeover of Sky, subject to a further seven-day consultation. Should the approval go ahead as expected, News Corp would have two months to negotiate a price with Sky's independent directors and agree a deal.

Margaret Tyzack has died at the age of seventy nine. The veteran actress of the stage and screen died peacefully surrounded by family at her home on Saturday according to reports. Tyzack made her name playing Winifred in the 1967 BBC adaptation of Victorian drama The Forsyte Saga and most recently had a short-lived stint in EastEnders as Lydia Simmonds, the grandmother of Albert Square regular Janine Malloy (Charlie Brooks). Tyzack withdrew from the role in April due to her ill health and was replaced by Heather Chasen. The character died on-screen earlier this month. Tyzack's filmography also includes parts in Stanley Kubrick classics 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, as well as Woody Allen's Match Point and she played the title character's mother in I, Claudius. She also appeared as Clothilde Bradbury-Scott in the BBC adaptation of the Agatha Christie story Nemesis in 1987. She was made an OBE in 1970, and a CBE in the 2010 New Year Honours List for services to drama. Margaret was born in Essex, the daughter of Doris (née Moseley) and Thomas Tyzack. She grew up in West Ham and attended the all-girls' St Angela's Ursuline School Newham and, subsequently, RADA. Tyzack was noted for her classical stage roles, having joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962. She received an Olivier Award in 1982 for a revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a Tony award in 1991 for the play Lettice and Lovage, in which she appeared in both the London and Broadway productions opposite Dame Maggie Smith. She is survived by her son, Matthew Stephenson.

Cher Lloyd has denied that she was ever 'dumped' by her former X Factor mentor Cheryl Cole. The former X Factor contestant claimed that it 'isn't a big deal' that she hasn't been in touch with Cole since the end of the show, despite it seeming that the two had become close during filming. 'I didn't really get dumped, did I?' Lloyd told BBC Newsbeat. 'I'm working, so is she. She's busy as well.' Well, not that busy at the moment ... You know, not since she got sacked.

Kerry Katona reportedly avoided eviction from her home after her ex-manager Claire Powell paid her rent for another month, Max Clifford has revealed. You know, Clifford who is supposed to be Katona's 'media advisor' or some equally ludicrous job title. Can Associates had, according to Clifford, been paying for Katona's five thousand smackers-a-month rented home in Surrey, after taking on and helping the thirty-year-old turn her life around following her second divorce. However, after parting company with her management team, Katona claimed that she was going to be left homeless over the weekend. 'Claire has done a very very good job for her management-wise,' Clifford told ITV's This Morning. 'And no, she wasn't made homeless at 5pm yesterday. Conversations have gone on and Claire has agreed that the rent will be paid for another month to give her time to sort out where she's got to go. Obviously her children are all in school down here and are all settled and doing very well down here so hopefully common sense will somehow come in to this, but financially she's in a real mess with the bankrupts and the split-up in her management.' The self-styled 'PR guru' continued: 'The bad news is that her finances are in a real mess.' The worse news is she's got you telling the world about it like a dirty stinking Copper's Nark, Max. Admittedly, it's funny, though.

A man has been found guilty of shoplifting after wearing the jacket he stole to court in Cumbria. The designer waterproof jacket, worth one hundred and twenty five quid, was reportedly taken from a Sports Direct store in the market town of Kendal. Famous for its mint cake, of course. And, not much else. Stephen Kirkbride, forty six, was accused of committing the crime, but wore the same item of clothing in front of the judge. The jacket was then seized when Kendal's Sports Direct manager recognised it. The Craghopper coat consisted of two parts - an inner fleece and the outer waterproof layer. Police had previously found the fleece at a former address of the defendant. Kirkbride claimed that the jacket was purchased from a charity shop, saying: 'It was damaged, but I thought it was a bargain.' His lawyer insisted that the defendant wouldn't have been stupid enough to have worn the jacket to court if it was stolen. But, the prosecutor pointed out that the tears in the clothing most likely came from removing the security tags. The judge subsequently found Kirkbride guilty, describing his story as 'completely implausible.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we're seemingly stuck in that part of the late seventies where crushed velvet, huge collars, hairy chests and massive dan-dares were, like, de rigueur. And Hai-Karate aftershave. probably. Why? God only knows, dear blog reader. Maybe we should ask Barry Biggs?

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