Friday, June 03, 2011

They've Never Questioned Anything, Never Disagreed, Sometime I Think They Must Have Wool In Their Ears

The latest episode of BBC3's best-kept secret, Ideal - The Debtors - has, for the most part, an intriguingly linear series of basic plots - which is most unlike Graham Duff, frankly! A penniless Moz (Johnny Vegas) decides to try and call in all of his debts. Bad move that, however, as his mates and his clients all seem very reluctant to, you know, actually pay him back. Because, let's face it, it's a thoroughly hard trick to pull off when all of the people who owe you money are just as skint as you are. Believe me, I've tried. So, we begin with a beautiful moment where a pink-lint Moz - 'it's what they call an economic downturn' - is trying to explain the concept of the exchange rate to a completely non-plussed Colin (Ben Crompton). 'What's that? Some sort of international system of relative currency values?' 'Yeah,' replies Moz. 'Oh.' It's a delightfully surreal episode complete with Silicon Valet's Get Back sessions-style angry break-up (which, of course, takes place in Nikki's flat whilst they're scoring). Husky-voiced Tania (Emma Fryer), who's now not only Jason's girlfriend but also his manager, notes that he's getting a new band together - the equally stupidly named Becausemonauts III - and that Jason is 'already medium-sized so getting massive shouldn't take too long.' Although singer Lee (Andrew Lee-Potts) has retained the 'Silicon Valets brand', Jase himself (Tim Fallows) still gets thirty three per cent royalties on 'any future product bearing the band logo!' And, Jase adds proudly, he also retains the rights to his own action figure. 'I couldn't think of owt worse than somebody else controlling an army of dolls with my face,' adds Moz, helpfully. Meanwhile Nikki (Nicola Reynolds) is having to listen to Pyscho Paul's mindbending logic in his 'the think we've been thinking' speech - a feat of endurance in and of itself. Paul (Ryan Pope) and 'thinking' - that's a volatile combination at the best of times, of course. After Nikki has convinced Paul, Xavier and Cartoon Head that they're not really cut out for doing anything other than being a gang of mildly terrifying gangsters ('what transferable skills have you lot got?!') and a couple of further brilliant 'Red Mist' puns ('a nerve gas that makes you think Communist thoughts?'), we get a bit of back-story on The Ginger Menace. It seems that The Red Mist were, once, 'Burnley's hardest family. 1988. 89. 90 ... 92.' 'What happened in 1991?' asked Nikki, perplexed. 'They all had bad colds,' confesses Paul. 'But soon, loads of other Gingers started coming from all over the country to join them.' Now there might the thirty of them. Or thirty one. Or thousands. Sources vary. Meanwhile, the latest Moz attempt to claw back from cash from his friends - in this case Derrick (Alfie Joey) and Yasuko (Haruka Kuroda) - is effectively strangled at birth by their impending happy event. Only, it seems Derrick is not the father, they decided to use a surrogate instead. Fist. 'He's a violent psychopathic vicar,' notes an appalled Moz, not unreasonably. 'But, he has got a very high sperm count,' Derrick adds, before Derrick's own - 'very disappointing' sperm is discussed at some length. 'They have all got bent tails,' apparently. 'That's a classic design fault,' according to Moz. Just as Nikki is sending the boys out to sell some more drugs her sister, Jess (Elinor Crawley) arrives back at the flat. Quickly, Nikki hatches a cover story about Paul, Cartoon Head and Xavier being her Book Group. 'What are you reading?' asks Jess. Men Are From Mars Women Are from Venus, claims Nikki. Jess asks if they liked it and Psycho Paul answers in the affirmative. 'I love anything with spaceships in!' Later, Cartoon Head returns to the flat and there's a really sweet little scene where he reveals that he's bought Jess a box of Maltesers™ as a present. Bless 'im. That's followed by lots of hot sweaty sex. Moz next tries his luck with his family. But, he's not having much luck there, either. His dad (Mick Miller) merely guilts him by reminding him that 'I'm not after your sympathy, son. I'm just a poor sixty eight-year old man with a blind girlfriend and one ear.' He suggests 'if you're skint, you should start dealing drugs again.' 'What sort of fatherly advice is that?' asks a horrified Moz. He doesn't get any further with his brother either, old-skool raver Troy (Tony Burgess) whom, we learn, spent just four days in the nick after his run-in with the Triads last series. His po-faced denial that Moz loaned him three hundred smackers last Christmas despite Moz having a signed IOU and taken the precaution of filming the exchange on his mobile phone is one of the episode's highlights. 'Such a small screen, Moz, very difficult to tell what's going on!' Furthermore, Troy adds, he already owes Flu-Strength Dan four hundred quid. And two chickens kormas. 'Kormas are legal tender now, are they?' asks Moz. Then PC (Tom Goodman-Hill) comes around and, it turns out, Moz owes him money. They share a moment of quiet introspection about their shared love, Jenny, before PC demands his fifty quid back. 'Fifty quid's all I've got,' complains Moz. 'Fifty quid's all I want. Don't make me fine you as well.' Whilst all of this is going on there's a minor subplot about Brian (Graham Duff) still stalking poor Tilly (Janeanne Garofalo). Hiding in her bed, stealing her pubes, flatteringly (and 'insightfully') re-writing her entry on Wikipedia, you know the sort of thing stalkers do? That's before he gets the sudden urge to go down ASDA and see Peter Andre instead. Tilly is outraged. 'I thought you were stalking me?' she argues. 'Yeah, but I'm going to see him in an ironic way.' 'That's the problem with Brian,' Moz tells a crestfallen Til. 'He's got the attention span of a fruity fruit-fly.' A carelessly-dropped bowl of coriander and prune soup, however, leads to a rather odd, but very disturbingly shot, 'two months later' coda featuring Brian having opened a brothel - with Carmel (Henne Steen) - in Keith's old flat and Moz, seemingly, back dealing again. And the trailer for the next episode looks stunning.

The co-writer of Syfy's new Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) remake has revealed that the show will be 'very modern' and 'realistic.' Oh Christ, everything I hear about this potential fiasco makes me want to watch it less and less. The original ITV series - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping adored - starred Mike Pratt as detective Jeff Randall and Kenneth Cope as his ghostly partner Marty Hopkirk and ran from 1969 to 1970. Syfy originally purchased the rights to the show in May last year. Jane Espenson confirmed to the Huffington Post that she and writing partner Drew Z Greenberg have begun work on an update of the classic ITV series. 'We looked at the [original] show and liked it, and we considered various approaches,' she explained. '[We] ended up going with something kind of Battlestar [Galactica]-like, in that we decided to really ground it.' Could work - and with a writer as fine as Magic Jane it may well do but it does rather, ignore the reason many people were such fans of the original in the first place. Precisely because it was fantastic - in every sense of the word. She added that supernatural detective Marty Hopkirk,  will be a 'very modern and believable version of a ghost. Our ghosts have some different rules than you've seen before [and] different motivations,' she said. 'They fit into a realistic world in a different way. We're having fun with it and  Syfy has been great at letting us explore this approach.' A previous remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was made by the BBC in 2000 and 2001 and starred comic duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer as the mismatched detectives. That wasn't bad either, although not a patch on the original.

Lenora Crichlow and Hugo Speer have signed up to appear in BBC1's new drama Death In Paradise. The previously announced series focuses on a London detective who is sent to the Caribbean island of Sainte Marie and solves crimes with the help of local resident Camille. Ben Miller and Sara Martins have already signed up for the lead roles in the drama. The BBC has now announced that the supporting cast will include Crichlow, who plays Annie in Being Human, and Speer, who recently starred in Bedlam. Other actors who will appear in the show include Hustle's Matt Di Angelo, former [spooks] actress Miranda Raison and Neil Stuke, who was recently seen in the BBC's legal drama Silk. The great Don Warrington, Sean Maguire, Nicholas Farrell, Frances Barber and Robert Pugh will also appear in the drama at various points. The show's executive producer Tony Jordan, who has worked on programmes including Life On Mars and Hustle, has previously said that Death In Paradise will be a 'real treat' for viewers.

Episode ten of the new series of Qi, filmed earlier this week, features Clive Anderson, Sandi Toksvig and, making his debut, the excellent Henning Wehn. The theme of the episode is Injustice and Inequality.

Channel Four has commissioned Tony Robinson's Superstitions (working title), a five-part series by Wildfire TV which will see the Time Team presenter exploring the weird history of belief, superstition and religious experience in Britain. The prevalence of superstitions is an aspect of our past often overlooked by historians, but was in fact often influential in shaping our history, the series will argue. In this series commissioned by Tanya Shaw for Channel Four, Tony will delve back through two thousand years of British social history, from the Iron Age to the beginning of the Twentieth Century to investigate the beliefs of our ancestors. He'll reveal the extraordinary things that seem perfectly rational to them at the time and will seek to understand why they believed them, as well as exploring the impact of those beliefs on the course of history. Tanya Shaw, the Commissioning Editor of Specialist Factual for Channel Four, said: 'Tony will bring his humour and inquisitiveness to this new series; taking us on a fascinating, immersive journey through the history of superstition in Britain. The series will explore the funny, strange and frightening things we have believed throughout history, and the significant and surprising imprint they have left on modern culture.' Tony's investigation will focus on a recognition that many of the beliefs persist today - and not always outside the mainstream. As well as interviewing experts and seeking clues from the historical records, he'll don costume, experiment, take part in demonstrations, and share his thoughts in pieces to camera. Each programme will look at one category of belief or superstition of particular importance to our ancestors. In the course of each episode, Tony will set out to answer a fundamental question about the nature of the belief. The executive producers are Philip Clarke and Simon Raikes, and the series producer is Ian Holt. The series was produced for Channel Four in association with the National Geographic Channel.

Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast members Seth Green and Michelle Trachtenberg are joining Katee Sackhoff in the movie Sexy Evil Genius. Billy Baldwin and Lost's Harold Perrineau Jr are also scheduled to appear in the film, being directed by Shawn Piller, the executive producer of ABC Family's Greek. Genius centers on a group of strangers brought together in a downtown Los Angeles bar by their mutual ex-girlfriend (Sackhoff). The woman is mysterious about her intentions, but by the night's end, according to the movie's makers, revenge will be had, romance kindled and the wronged woman will have delivered on her reputation as the sexy evil genius at the centre of all their lives.' The movie begins production this week in Los Angeles. The script was written by Scott Lew, a filmmaker afflicted by ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, the same affliction suffered by Stephen Hawking. Lew wrote the script using an infrared dot on his forehead, pointing to letters and words on the computer screen. Lloyd Segan of Piller, Segan, Shepherd, the company behind TV series Dead Zone and Haven, and David W Higgins of Launchpad Productions are producing.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner has claimed that the delay of the show's fifth season is 'part of the network plan.' He told reporters at the Los Angeles Times: 'The Envelope Emmy panel in Los Angeles that cable channel AMC had always intended to hold back new episodes until 2012. The scheduling of the show [and it] not being on this year, that's part of the network plan,' he claimed. '[Fellow AMC series] Breaking Bad was always going on in the summer. That's the way they do things.' Discussing his recent contract issues with AMC, Weiner admitted that the dispute was 'bad, but it worked out. It was public, and there was no reason for that,' he argued. 'But that's what happens. The most important things for me are that after it's over, I get to go back to work and that we get to do three more years of the show.' Weiner also confirmed that the show's writing team began work on the new run 'about three weeks ago. The show will be about the next part of these people's lives and what's going on in the world will impact them the way things impact us,' he explained. Weiner went on to say that he was 'thrilled' to have Jon Hamm (Don Draper) directing the upcoming fifth season premiere. 'Jon is already involved very much in every aspect of the show,' he said. 'He's on set as much as the camera is. I'm glad that he asked to do it.'

Pulling creator Sharon Horgan could be set to turn chat-show host. Though best known as an actor and writer, Horgan is recording a pilot of a new comedy show from Have I Got News For You producers Hat Trick later this month. Guilty Party is about awkward social situations, 'from the unwritten rules of Pub Etiquette to the nightmare that is having to introduce someone whose name you've forgotten,' according to producers. uests will have to own up to their faux pas and come up with some tips for dealing with them. Horgan is also due to appear in a new prison-based BBC3 sitcom, Life Stories, which she co-wrote with stand-up Holly Walsh. Her other credits include Free Agents, Angelo's and The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret.

Guy Pearce has claimed that Kate Winslet did not want her breasts showing when filming sex scenes in Mildred Pierce. The actor told Sky Magazine that the mini-series' director Todd Haynes gave the cast specific advice to follow when filming love scenes. Pearce said: 'It's really about choreographing things. "So I'll be on top of Kate, then we'll kiss?" I'd ask. Todd would say, "I'd love for you to roll over, and I'd love Kate to be on top. Then I'll have the light coming through the window and it will look lovely." And Kate went, "Yes, but I don't want my breasts showing." It's all very technical, but there's this part of your mind going, "This is really erotic and strange."' Winslet has previously admitted that she hates stripping off for sex scenes, but later said that she looked good naked in her Oscar-winning performance in The Reader. Co-star Evan Rachel Wood said that Winslet gave her advice and encouragement before she filmed her own nude scenes in Mildred Pierce.

BBC series The Real Hustle must be clearer over which of its participants are in on the scams featured on the show, the BBC Trust has said. The Trust investigated the show after two tabloid newspapers alleged that actors had been hired to pose as members of the public. It found the allegations were based on 'fundamental misunderstandings' about how the programme was made. However The Trust concluded there was 'a lack of clarity' which 'created unnecessary confusion.' The BBC3 programme features a team who con members of the public in order to show viewers how frauds work. Objective Productions, which makes the show for the BBC, said it 'categorically' denied claims in the Scum Mail on Sunday and Sunday Mirra that the 'victims' from episodes broadcast in a 2006 series had been briefed. In its report, The Trust said that people had been recruited to take part in the show through websites 'popular with people keen to appear on television.' Some participants had previously worked as actors or extras, but none of them had been hired specifically to work as an actor on the show and nor did they know which programme they were applying for in advance. It added that it accepted participants 'were not aware that they were being "conned" whilst they were being filmed.' However The Trust concluded that in two out of the six scams it analysed, viewers could have been 'confused' about who knew about the con after those taking part let on to others what was going on. The Editorial Standards Committee has identified a breach of the BBC Editorial Guidelines which states: 'Our output must be presented in clear, precise language.' But it added that this was not a serious breach. The ESC said the programme should in future be clear to audiences how each participant was involved and which was the 'mark' (the victim) and who was set up if necessary. It agreed with the BBC's proposal that people who are filmed as marks in all future episodes should confirm afterwards they were not aware of the scam whilst it was taking place. And it added that a few episodes featuring the scams investigated by Trust should not be rebroadcast.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly Torchwood creator and producer Russell Davies has confirmed there will be a web-based spin-off from the SF series. The ten episodes, each three minutes in length, will accompany Torchwood: Miracle Day. The possibility of a Torchwood spin-off was raised by writer Jane Espenson who teased that Angel and Dollhouse actress Eliza Dushku will be starring. Torchwood: Web of Lies will be written by Espenson and Ryan Scott and is described as an animated motion comics. 'This is a hugely exciting innovation, a fully-scripted animated adventure with interactive elements, with fantastic voice talents,' Davies said. 'John Barrowman and Eve Myles reprise their roles as Jack and Gwen, alongside special guest-star Eliza Dushku, and co-starring Bob Harris. The adventures will run in weekly installments, parallel with the event of Miracle Day, adding new clues, new insights, and new dangers, as everyone races to find out the truth behind the mysterious Miracle.'

The head of the Crown Prosecution Service has said that he would like to see TV cameras allowed into court rooms 'in principle' and that the idea could be implemented quickly if it was approved by the government. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, added that allowing cameras into the courts would improve the public's perception of the judicial system. 'I would be in favour [of cameras] in criminal courts,' he told BBC Radio 4's The Media Show on Wednesday. 'In principle I would be in favour [of cameras in court] in both sets of proceedings [criminal and civil].' He claimed that the majority of solicitors now favoured such a move in the belief that opening up the court system to greater public scrutiny would restore faith in the way they operate. Starmer said: 'The principal of open justice has been there for a very long time.' Broadcasters have been lobbying for some time to be allowed to film court proceedings, with Sky News particularly vocal on the subject. They want to film parts of court hearings initially, such as judges' verdicts, but is open about the fact it would like full access eventually. Starmer added that witness intimidation was a potential problem, but said measures could be put in place to guard against this and to protect 'vulnerable' people including children and those with mental health issues. 'The judge can exercise that control' he said. 'If there are vulnerable people that's a good reason not to have cameras. If limited parts [of proceedings] have to be excluded from the cameras then so be it.' Starmer added that fears cameras would lead to court hearings becoming 'sensationalised' were misplaced and that the OJ Simpson trial in the US, which ended in the former football stars' acquittal and is often cited as a reason not to let cameras in, was now an out-of-date example to draw on. 'OJ is always given as the example of sensationalism, but a lot of lessons have been learned since then,' he said. 'After all, in a big case the court is always packed anyway, [and there are] cameras outside. There are plenty of examples other than OJ to show this builds confidence [in the system].' Starmer added: 'If there is a decision in principle that this should happen, it should happen fairly quickly.' The previous Labour administration approved the use of cameras in the court of appeal in 2004 as part of a pilot scheme, but the coverage was never shown.

The BBC's flagship arts strand Imagine returns to BBC1 with a compelling line-up of films exploring human stories: how art and history remain at the heart of political change in Egypt and Iraq; the struggle of two of the iconic songwriters of the Twentieth Century to come to terms with their personal demons and the story of one of the world's best-known brain specialists and his patients, who have overcome rare and strange conditions through the power of their creativity. Starting the series, as part of Books on the BBC 2011, Alan Yentob meets clinical neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks in Imagine: The Man Who Forgot How To Read And Other Stories. Through fascinating and bizarre case studies including patients who've lost the ability to read, recognise faces and see in 3D, the film explores how we see, not just with our eyes, but with our mind. 'I like to think of the stories in this season of Imagine as tales of the unexpected which both will surprise and inspire our viewers,' Yentob said. In Imagine: The Pharaohs' Museum On Liberation Square Alan visits the Egyptian National Museum, a treasure trove of exhibits from Pharaonic times, which sits on Tahrir Square – the scene of the recent uprising. Exploring how attitudes to history and culture are changing since the revolution, Alan meets with officials, curators and even the actor Omar Sharif, to understand how the country's unique cultural history has shaped its present. The film will also feature exclusive unseen footage shot by young Egyptian filmmakers who were at the very heart of the revolution. Imagine also casts new light on one of the most iconic figures in music history – alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie John Lennon. Imagine: Lennon In Limbo delves into Lennon's life following his move to New York City, as well as his relationship with Yoko Ono. Featuring never-before-heard studio recordings from the Double Fantasy sessions and never-before-seen outtakes from Lennon in concert and his home movies, the film reveals a wealth of new insights. During his brief split from Ono, Lennon travelled to Los Angeles to let his hair down during his infamous 'lost weekend' - that lasted for eighteen months. Whilst there, he famously spent time living it up with one of his musical heroes – Harry Nilsson. In Imagine: Harry Nilsson – The Missing Beatle, the film explores the life and career of one of the most talented American songwriters and vocalists of the Seventies, remembered as much for his wild lifestyle as for his outstanding performance of 'Everybody's Talkin' from the movie soundtrack Midnight Cowboy. Featuring interviews and newly discovered footage, the film unveils the accomplishments of this unsung hero and asks how he inspired a generation of musicians and performers. In the final programme, Imagine: Iraq In Venice, Alan will follow six Iraqi artists as they represent Iraq at the prestigious Venice Biennale festival for the first time since 1976. Separated from the country they love, the artists will be united at the festival through the shared theme of their work – water – particularly relevant in a country where water is more expensive than oil. Imagine will follow the artists as they prepare the work they will exhibit in The Iraqi Pavilion of the Venice Biennale, whilst negotiating with the Iraqi government and officials in Venice.

Channel Four has reportedly identified up to twelve million pounds worth of product placement opportunities for Hollyoaks under newly-relaxed UK regulations. According to documents 'seen by Broadcast,' (and,. therefore, presumably, either stolen or deliberately leaked) the placement opportunities 'cover six areas, including fashion, health and beauty and coffee/retail expected to gross up to two million pounds each.' Opportunities were offered to relevant companies last month and sealed bids are due to be submitted by 10 June. Channel Four's bidding process follows weeks of conversations with brands and media agencies about the best ways to integrate product placement in its flagship soap opera. Product placement deals on British television have been made possible by changes to the law introduced by the government last year, and brought into force by Ofcom in February. A fifty two-page 'Product Placement Prospectus' has been prepared by Channel Four with input from Hollyoaks producer Lime Pictures. The broadcaster hopes to have contracts signed by 8 July in order to enable Lime to introduce the products in line with Ofcom's rules and guidelines. It is expected that the first brands will appear on Hollyoaks by August or September. Channel Four's product placement document reveals that the broadcaster wants to secure deals that also include off-screen licences and promotional rights, such as using Hollyoaks cast members for PR. David Charlesworth, Channel Four's head of sponsorship, placement and funded content, said that the strategy is to demonstrate how product placement can drive sales. However, he also warned that Channel Four may not be able to secure its twelve million smackers target for Hollyoaks. Instead, the 'ambition' is to take 'circa three million pounds for PP in Hollyoaks for the first twelve months, one way or another.' Other expected product placement money spinners for Hollyoaks include technology and mobile, along with retail finance and film and music events. In March, Channel Four agreed its first product placement deal involving retail chain New Look appearing on a new fashion show for the T4 strand.

The BBC are looking for Doctor Who fans willing to demonstrate their knowledge of the programme in front of the nation on prime time Saturday night television. So, exhibitionist geeks, then? Yeah, they shouldn't have too much difficulty finding a fair few of those. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be busy that night, washing his anorak. A new entertainment show is being planned for BBC1, called Epic Win which will see contestants pit their skills against fellow fans for the chance to win up to three thousand pounds. To compete you need to be aged eighteen and above and prepared to go up against a fellow fan in a special Doctor Who challenge. To find out more visit the show's BBC Website. Closing date 18 June.

2 Entertain have confirmed the missing episodes from the William Hartnell story The Reign of Terror will be re-created via animation. The company announced it was releasing the 1960s story on DVD earlier this year but at the time merely stated the release would be 'near complete' as possible. It was widely expected that the missing episodes would be animated for the release. Episodes four and five of the story are currently missing from the BBC's archives. This won't be the first Doctor Who story to receive the animation treatment on DVD. In 2006 the two missing episodes of the Patrick Troughton story The Invasion were re-created via animation. The release proved popular with fans and raised hopes that other Who stories with episodes missing (such as The Tenth Planet and The Evil of the Daleks) would receive similar treatment - the costs involved though seemed to put the kibosh on that idea. The DVD release of The Reign of Terror is likely to be early next year.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day comes from those promotion certainties, The Fourth Best Band in Hull. And, the only band from Hull - or anywhere else come to that - with whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a kick-about in the car park of the long-since departed Riverside Club before a - quite stunning - gig. Them were the days! Here's a pre-Beautiful South Paul, a pre-Fatboy Norman, a pre-best-selling-author Stan The Man and Hughie from the BBC2 film London 0, Hull 4.

1 comment:

Graeme said...

I have to say Keith, I'm a bit disappointed by this gradual shift from reviewing with a bit of a recap to recapping with a bit of review. It's a dreadful 21st century trend already (I see no reason to fannishly relive something I already watched) but it seems like a phenomenal waste of someone as talented as you. I'd much rather you stop giving me the blow-by-blow and talk about what you thought of the damn episode!