Sunday, June 19, 2011

These Are The Lies They Tell Us, That This Is The Only Way

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen - or 'The Joker' as he's rapidly becoming know in the industry after he opened his gob and put his foot in it over Steven Moffat's alleged workload at that Church and Media conference last week - has revealed that the UK version of The Voice will not clash with ITV's rival show The X Factor when it it broadcast in 2012. Cohen announced on Friday that the BBC had acquired the rights to air The Voice next year, after reaching an agreement with creator John de Mol. He told the Mirra that the show will avoid clashing with The X Factor, adding that he views the formats as two completely different shows. He explained: 'The Voice is a really stand-out format and it has got a lot of warmth and heart.' Indicating, by the sin of omission, that The X Factor is neither. Which may well be true, like, but if that's what you believe, Danny, then at least have the balls to say so. People respect that. Well, not so much Simon Cowell, but other people. 'It has got something in it for all ages with very high quality musicians involved,' Cohen continued. 'There is a real freshness to the fact you are picking people not on what they look like, just on how they sing. In terms of judges, we want a real range of musical styles, that is something they have done well in the States. I wouldn't like to compare the show to The X Factor, it is just a big new show for the BBC. And we will work hard to avoid our show clashing with The X Factor on ITV.' Cohen added that the BBC purchased The Voice in order to keep with the BBC's mission statement to entertain, as well as to educate and inform. 'We have got Strictly Come Dancing as well, we want to provide really good Saturday night entertainment right through the year. The vision of the BBC is it is there to inform, educate and entertain and we take inform and educate very seriously, but we also take the entertain bit seriously too. The BBC has a fantastic heritage of wonderful family entertainment on Saturday evenings. We buy in formats for shows very rarely, like The Apprentice, and we only do it when we think it is something really special and we can add something to it as the BBC, to make it even more special. So, every so often we will take something from abroad because we think it is worth it.' He revealed that he was glad to have fought off competition from ITV to buy the format. 'We were a little worried when ITV put in a bid but we fought really passionately for the show and worked hard to show how we felt, and hopefully that played a part when bigger bids came in.' Incidentally, dear blog reader, the Daily Scum Mail's reportage of this story very much concentrated on the amount of licence fee payers money going on the show. Which is fair enough although if, as expected, The Voice proves to be a success for the BBC then, to be honest, the viewers watching it will probably consider it to have been money well spent. I must say, however, that this blogger was very amused by the comments of one Fleur, Somewhere Warm, who noted: 'BBC PAYING MILLIONS FOR THIS REALITY TAT AND CHERYL COLE? NOT WHILE I'M PAYING YOUR DAMNED WAGES, YOU WON'T!' And, she was obviously very serious since she used nothing but capital letters. Well, Fleur, if you really are somewhere warm then chances are you're not in the UK and therefore you're not paying the licence fee anyway. In which case, you're not paying anybody's wages. Damned, or indeed otherwise. If, however, you are in the UK then, I'm afraid, they've already done it. So ... good to know we got Fleur's situation sorted out, to the satisfaction of all concerned. Except Fleur, obviously. Pity, that.

The terrestrial premiere of the controversial US drama The Kennedys was watched by an audience of 2.6 million viewers on Friday evening, according to overnight audience data. Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping missed it since he was watching Castle on Channel Five but I did watch the repeat on Saturday night and I thought it was rather good. A double bill of The Kennedys, starring Katie Holmes, Greg Kinnear and Tom Wilkinson, averaged 2.47m for BBC2 from 9pm and 2.21m from 9.45pm. The episodes also had one hundred and seventy one thousand and one hundred and fifty two thousand viewers, respectively, on the BBC HD channel. On Saturday, Lee Mack's new BBC1 variety show launched with almost 4.2m viewers. Lee Mack's All Star Cast, featuring guests Frank Skinner, Fern Britton, Tess Daly and James Blunt, averaged 4.19m for BBC1 from 9.45pm. Also premiering on Saturday night was The Marriage Ref, but the Dermot O'Leary-fronted panel show limped in with a very disappointing audience of 2.25m (10.5%) in the 9pm hour on ITV. Bright side, though, that does rather restore ones faith in the general public's ability to spot a turd when they see one.

The highlight of Sky Sports coverage of the hugely frustrating wet and miserable third day of the third test between England and Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl was the thirty minute discussion concerning 'the perfect curry' between David Lloyd and Shane Warne mid afternoon between showers. Men after yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own heart-attack, Bumble and The Spin King. Although, to be fair, the least said about Warney's shocking revelation that his favourite pizza topping was ham and pineapple the better. Bloody uncouth Australians. No class.

Senior BBC drama executive John Yorke has strongly defended adult storylines in TV soaps, such as Emmerdale's recent assisted suicide plot, saying they are 'an invaluable method of teaching children about the world.' Quite right, too. It's about time that somebody in the TV industry stood up and showed a bit of sodding backbone when attacked by right-wing scum lice with an agenda. Yorke said that storylines which tackle 'difficult' subjects are justified, provided you get the facts rights and do not cause offence by 'unduly sensationalising' them. The former EastEnders producer and current BBC controller of drama production and new talent, has responsibility for EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty. EastEnders attracted more than eight thousand complaints and the apparent ire of Mumsnet in January with their infamous cot death baby swap storyline. The storyline was brought to an early close, and the actress involved, Samantha Womack, is leaving the soap to join the cast of musical South Pacific. 'If you ring fence soaps and say they are not a place for adult issues, removing them, it would be like making children's programmes,' Yorke said. 'It would be like taking the wolf out of Little Red Riding Hood. They allow children to assimilate uncomfortable views about the world in a safe setting. There is a need to show complex issues.' Yorke said that the key was to prepare audiences by advance publicity, so viewers can avoid episodes if they want. It is also important to end controversial episodes on a note of resolution. EastEnders ran a sexual grooming story made for red nose day in March when teenager Whitney Dean (played by Shona McGarty) was taken to a house by a pimp, Rob Grayson (Jody Latham), where she could have been abused by a large group of men. She escaped by jumping from a window. This storyline is being used as a teaching tool by charities. 'We have to show she escapes, without harm. You can't do a cliffhanger on this kind of story,' said Yorke. The Bailey Report was published earlier this month on how to halt the 'sexualisation' of children and its call to prevent the erosion of the 9pm watershed was not creating any change of approach or amendment to editorial policy guidelines within BBC drama, Yorke added. He said conventions over what is acceptable have changed during his career. In EastEnders up to ten years ago, when he was running it, 'language was much more brutal, characters used words such as "git," "bloody," "wanker," which are now no longer acceptable. We are very, very mindful of that. On other issues we are more liberal. A gay kiss ten, fifteen years ago was news, now it's not,' Yorke added. Except to homophobic twats, of course.

EastEnders actor Neil McDermott has decided to leave the show after two years in Walford, it has been announced. The actor's character, Ryan Malloy, is to have a 'dramatic' exit storyline which will be broadcast later in the year, the Daily Lies Sunday alleges. An EastEnders 'spokesperson' - anonymous, of course- allegedly told the alleged newspaper: 'We can confirm Neil is leaving EastEnders. It was a mutual decision that was made before Christmas when Neil's contract came up for renewal and we wish him all the best for the future. His exit storyline will be dramatic and fans will not be disappointed.' Full details of Ryan's departure are, the sleaze-rag newspaper claims, currently being kept 'under wraps.' It is thought, the Lies, alleges, that the story 'could involve his upcoming animosity with evil pimp Rob Grayson, who used the barman's half-sister Whitney for his own financial gain. Earlier this month, McDermott and Jody Latham, who plays Rob, filmed climactic showdown scenes on location in Southend. Reports over the weekend suggest that both characters may be left in jeopardy following the clash. 'The scenes are going to be explosive. The fight ends with a dramatic cliffhanger where viewers will be left wondering if either of them survives,' an alleged 'insider' - again, anonymous - allegedly told the tabloid. McDermott joined EastEnders in early 2009 and his most memorable storyline saw Ryan at the centre of a love triangle involving his scheming wife, Janine, and fan favourite Stacey Branning. The plot culminated in Stacey's departure in 2010's Christmas Day episode.

Snoop Dogg has revealed that he is a big admirer of the late comedian Benny Hill. Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, the rapper confessed that he would even like to play the role of Hill in a movie about the star. He said: 'I love Benny Hill. He one of my favourites of all time. Like, the way Benny did it, he was just amazing. Just seeing how he put songs together and comedy and the timing and the sketches. He was way ahead of his time. I would like to play Benny Hill in the Benny Hill movie. I'll even paint my face white.' Isn't that marginally politically incorrect? If, for instance, a white comedian has said that about, let's say for the sake of argument Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandella, do we imagine that the Gruniad would have let the comment pass without some form of chastisement?

Paul McCartney has revealed that he believes Ringo Starr should receive a knighthood from the Queen. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks Ringo should be made an earl. And an OBE. Both at the same time. Then, he'd be an earlobe. Anyway, Macca was awarded a knighthood from The Queen in 1997, while Starr currently only has the MBE that all of The Beatles were awarded in 1965. Because Macca wrote 'Hey Jude' and Ringo wrote 'Don't Pass me By.' A necessary difference, I feel. Bruce Forsyth was among those given a knighthood in this year's Birthday Honours List, with Starr left out in the cold like a poor orphaned puppy once again. McCartney told Absolute Radio: 'Don't look at me. The last time I went by [the Queen] was out. Otherwise I would have popped in and said "Look, love, Sir Richard Starkey." Because I do think it's about time, but she probably was a bit busy with Sir Brucie.'

Some dreadfully sad news, now. Clarence Clemons, the saxophone player in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has died at the age of sixty nine, a spokeswoman for the band confirmed. Clarence - a giant in every sense of the word - was taken to hospital about a week ago after suffering a stroke at his home in Singer Island, Florida. Known as The Big Man for his six feet five inch frame and mighty lung, Clarence was credited with shaping the early sound of The E Street Band. His epic solos powered a number of Springsteen best known songs including 'Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out' ('the change was made uptown/and The Big Man joined the band!'), 'Born to Run', 'Jungleland', 'Thunder Road', 'Badlands', 'The Ties That Bind' and, possibly most memorably, 'Rosalita.' Springsteen's spokeswoman, Marilyn Laverty, confirmed Clarence's death on Saturday. On his website, Springsteen said that the loss of his friend was 'immeasurable' and that he and his bandmates were honoured to have stood beside Clemons for nearly forty years. The statement said: 'Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him.' It added: 'He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage.' Clarence had suffered from poor health in recent years, including major spinal surgery in January 2010. At the 2009 Super Bowl, following double knee replacement surgery, he rose from a wheelchair to perform with Springsteen and the band. In May this year Clarence, a former youth councillor, was well enough to perform with Lady Gaga on the finale of the TV talent show American Idol. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Clarence began playing saxophone at the age of nine after receiving one unexpectedly from his father for Christmas. 'I wanted an electric train, but he got me a saxophone. I flipped out,' he told The Associated Press in a 1989 interview. His uncle also influenced his early musical development when he bought Clarence his first King Curtis LP. Curtis, and his work with The Coasters in particular, would be become a major influence on Clarence and led to him switching to tenor saxophone. After his dreams of being a football linebacker were crushed by a car accident in his late teens, he turned to music. At eighteen, Clarence had one of his earliest studio experiences, recording sessions with Tyrone Ashley's Funky Music Machine, a band from Plainfield who formed the basis for George Clinton's Funkadelic. Clarence hit it off immediately with Springsteen, then a Dylanesque singer-songwriter from New Jersey, when the pair first met in 1971, and the saxophonist became an original member of the E Street Band even before Springsteen brought Miami Steve Van Zandt on board. Until his death only Clarence and bassist Garry Talent had been permanent fixtures in the band throughout almost forty years of touring. His work on Greetings from Asbury Park, most notably on 'Blinded By The Light', set the tone for the rest of his career. Their friendship survived Springsteen's controversial decision to concentrate on solo projects following the global success of Born in the USA. Outside of his work with The E Street Band, Clemons recorded with many other artists and had a number of musical projects on his own. The best known of these are his 1985 vocal duet with Jackson Browne on the single 'You're a Friend of Mine,' and his saxophone work on Aretha Franklin's 1985 single 'Freeway of Love.' He was managed, briefly in the 1980s, by former Crawdaddy editor Peter Knobler, whose wedding Clemons had played with his band, Clarence Clemons & The Red Bank Rockers. In the mid-1990s, he recorded a Japanese-only CD release called Aja and the Big Man Get It On with the singer/songwriter Aja Kim. In the 2000s Clemons worked with a group called The Temple of Soul, and also recorded with philanthropic teen band Creation. Clemons collaborated with Lady Gaga on three songs from her CD Born This Way. He also had an interesting second career as an actor, appearing in several movies and on television after making his debut in Martin Scorsese's 1977 musical, New York, New York in which he played a trumpet player. He - memorably - played one of 'The Three Most Important People In The World' in the 1989 film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. In 1985, Clemons was a special guest star in the Diff'rent Strokes episode So You Want to Be a Rock Star. He has also been a guest voice in an episode of The Simpsons. In 1990, he co-starred in the pilot episode of Human Target, a Rick Springfield action series intended for ABC. He also played the role of Jack in Swing starring opposite Lisa Stansfield and Hugo Speer, directed by Nick Mead and in an episode of Damon Wayans' television show, My Wife And Kids. Clemons twice appeared as a Baltimore youth-program organizer in HBO's acclaimed crime drama The Wire. But, when Springsteen reformed The E Street Band in the late 90s, Clarence was happy to rejoin. In a 2009 interview, Clemons described his deep bond with Springsteen, saying: 'It's the most passion that you have without sex.' As well as TV and movie appearances over the years, Clemons performed with The Grateful Dead, The Jerry Garcia Band, and Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band. And he jammed with the former US President Bill Clinton - a huge fan - at the 1993 inaugural ball. Clemons published a memoir, Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales, in 2009. Blind in one eye - 'it's not something you can easily replace' he once noted - the saxophonist once described performing as his natural environment. The stage, said the Baptist minister's grandson, 'always feels like home - it's where I belong.' Five times married, he leaves four sons. This one's for The Big Man.

A circus has begun offering a course for people who suffer from a phobia of clowns. John Carpenter, who performs with the John Lawson Circus as Popol the Clown, is offering the sessions later this month after noticing that more and more people have developed coulrophobia, a fear of clowns. 'We want to say to people, "Give us a change,"' Carpenter told the BBC News website. Who, apparently, weren't too buy scouring Steven Moffat's Twitter postings to report some frigging news for once. 'We're not all crazed psycho killers. We had more and more people saying to us, "Keep away, we're scared," so we decided to do something positive about it. We try to get people to confront their fears.' Carpenter claims that film characters such as Pennywise from Stephen King's It and Batman villain The Joker from The Dark Knight are likely to have contributed to the widespread phobia. Personally, I'm with the American humorist Jack Handey who once noted: 'To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kinda scary. I've wondered where this started, and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad.' The sessions aim to reduce people's anxiety about clowns by having them first meet Carpenter without make-up, before he gradually dons his clown costume and face paint. 'That's been the most effective way for them to get comfortable with us,' he added. Carpenter's coulrophobia sessions will run when the John Lawson Circus stops at Studley, Warwickshire from 24 to 26 June.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have an example of third generation Merseybeat. Don't try to dance, Andy, you're just not very good at it.

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