Thursday, June 02, 2011

We Should Both Find A Place Where No One Can Hear Our Screams

The proposal to cancel some of BBC2's daytime schedule in order to save money appears to be 'gaining traction' among BBC senior managers overseeing the Delivering Quality First initiative. Ditching shows such as Flog It! and To Buy Or Not To Buy from BBC2's afternoon schedule in favour of simulcasting the BBC News channel was a suggestion put forward by director general Mark Thompson in March as part of the DQF process. Although no decisions have yet been made about which ideas should be put forward to the BBC executive and the BBC Trust, it is understood that the idea was not rejected at two recent DQF away days held by senior corporation management in Caversham, Berkshire. 'It appears to gaining ground,' BBC 'insider' allegedly told the Gruniad. A fortnight ago senior managers met in Caversham to begin the process of whittling down the large number of suggestions put forward, including the one about BBC2 daytime. Thompson is trying to use DQF to work out how the BBC can manage with a six-year licence fee freeze and take on additional funding obligations such as BBC World Service. He plans to cut twenty per cent from budgets across the BBC. As part of a consultation with staff held earlier this year, they were asked: 'Should we have daytime origination on two terrestrial channels?' Thompson recently e-mailed staff to warn them that: 'Nothing has yet been formally proposed, let alone decided – which is why you should continue to take those alleged "leaks" with a big pinch of salt – but I've asked all of the BBC's directors to hold briefings for their part of the BBC from June onwards to share some of the emerging thinking with you.' Since the idea emerged in March, some commentators have claimed that knocking a hole in BBC2 daytime and filling it with rolling news is just 'political posturing' and designed to attract attention to the BBC's current financial predicament. They also point out that digital switchover will be complete next year so all households will be able to access the BBC News channel anyway. The corporation has previously made big statements of intent – threatening to kill off digital radio stations 6 Music and the Asian Network, only to reverse the former decision after a public outcry. Some senior BBC executives now openly joke that if they want to boost the profile or audience of a particular service they only need to leak a story that it is being threatened with the cancellation. However, both Thompson and the new BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten have indicated they believe big sacrifices will have to be made in order to cut costs by twenty per cent. There is also a question mark hanging over children's programmes at teatime on BBC1 due to DQF. Again, due to switchover, by the end of 2012 all UK households with Freeview will be able to access BBC children's programmes on digital channels Cbeebies and CBBC. However, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen admitted recently that the idea of dropping children's shows from his channel was a difficult issue.

Dazzling Derren Brown has said that he was not allowed to show his planned twist on How To Win The Lottery. The illusionist and master of mesmerism, trickery and prestidigitation appeared to predict the correct winning numbers of the National Lottery in 2009 and gave a claim that he was aided by the 'wisdom of the crowd.' At the time, it was claimed that further footage had been shot but not screened, which featured Brown predicting the numbers a year earlier and a second explanation. Asked if he would do anything differently in his career, Brown told Metro: 'The show that followed the Lottery predictions purportedly revealing how it was done. The level of scrutiny from Camelot, the BBC and the government meant we couldn't finish it the way we wanted, which was to have a fishy explanation about the wisdom of crowds followed by a massive twist.' He added: 'We weren't allowed to do the twist so we ended up with the fishy explanation on its own, which is not how I like to treat people.'

Playing one of the world's most celebrated models must have been a daunting prospect. But Doctor Who's Karen Gillan appears to have stepped into character as glamorous Sixties face Jean Shrimpton with some ease. The twenty three-year-old actress is pictured on set for the forthcoming BBC4 drama We'll Take Manhattan, a film about Shrimpton's rise to fame.
Alex Kingston has said that people have praised her for playing a 'kick-ass' older woman in Doctor Who. The actress first appeared as River Song in fourth series two-parter Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead in 2008 and has since returned several times. She also features in this weekend's mid-season finale. Talking about her character to the Evening Standard, Kingston said : 'It plays with the notion of an older woman being in love with a younger man, who in his own funny, confused way loves her but doesn't quite know why, because it's a love in the future, in a different body. I'm not sure you'd get that kind of dynamic in America. At first I thought, my goodness, children aren't really going to understand or respond to River Song because of the age difference. But it seems they don't notice that. It's the character they are responding to.' She added: 'I have had women coming up to me saying that she's a fantastic role model. That it's great to see a woman in her forties being kick-ass.' Kingston also claimed that Doctor Who is 'the closest thing to theatre' on TV because of its ensemble cast.

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, on Thursday confirmed a major policy shift in his plan for a new generation local TV services, all but scrapping the idea of a national network 'spine' in favour of 'more financially secure' individual stations. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, who had previously championed the idea of launching a network of local TV services despite much scepticism in the industry, admitted that 'a series of individual stations could be more feasible and faster to deliver' than launching a new national TV network. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said that as a result of the consultation on his proposals the government is now looking at whether a 'bottom up' approach of individually licensing stations is the best route, as opposed to his original plan of a 'top down' method of hanging local services off a national TV network. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published a summary of the one hundred and forty responses to its consultation on local TV. A number of the submissions are understood to have opposed the national network and played a part in the vile and odious rascal Hunt's rethink. Potential local TV operators are fearful of being dominated by a commercial national network operator with its own priorities. 'While I have not yet taken a final decision, it may be that a series of individual stations is the best way to deliver local TV,' said the vile and odious rascal Hunt. 'I have been particularly struck by the large number of local groups – particularly outside London – who are keen to deliver this for their own communities.' The government said this week that 'within the right regulatory framework, a series of individual stations could be more financially secure without reliance on a dominant network centre, and could be implemented much faster through secondary legislation.' Launching the national spine, which would have taken slot 106 on the electronic programme guide, faced major legislative difficulty in forcing Freeview, Sky and Virgin to add the channel to their EPGs, along with the cost of guaranteeing the necessary national spectrum. The vile and odious rascal Hunt intends to set out final proposals for local TV by the end of next month.

Channel Four chief executive David Abraham has defended a forthcoming programme in which people will be seen to take Class A drugs live on-air. Abraham has issued a guarantee that Drugs Live, made by Renegade Pictures, will not be sensational and has claimed it is relevant to the broadcaster's remit. 'We have to address those issues which are of great concern to the public,' Abraham told Radio 4's The Media Show. 'The issue of drugs is pervasive, it is affecting our communities and it is affecting our young people. It will be informative, it will be responsible and it will be in the spirit of public service broadcasting. There is a combination of science and information. In terms of the younger audiences that come to C4 this a very, very important issue and it will be dealt with very, very carefully.' Abraham also explained that because of C4's role to address 'big social issues' the 'key thing is finding new creative ways to bring those topics alive.' The live element of Drugs Live would 'draw attention to the topic in a fresh and a new way,' he added. Channel Four published its annual report on 11 May, which revealed the broadcaster had slipped back on its lead over other broadcasters in terms of audience perceptions of diversity on the channel. Abraham said: 'The lead we have over our terrestrial broadcasters on all the measures you just mentioned are still very, very considerable. We are in no way complacent. Clearly what happened over the prolonged period in which Big Brother operated on our schedule was perhaps the perception that some of the other things that we were doing were less prominently featured. So we see this diversification of our schedule being a great opportunity now to rebuild on some of those measures. We are not remotely complacent.' Talking about the loss of Glee from E4, Abraham said the broadcaster was 'very proud to have built that brand, now we have got The Killing that comes to replace it.' Yeah. Not so popular with fourteen year olds though, is it?

Jo Brand has revealed how a joke about Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson backfired badly on her. Brand told BBC bosses at a think tank some years ago that they could boost the Beeb's image by firing the fifty one-year-old presenter. She said: 'The top executive asked for ideas and turned to me first. I was sitting next to Clarkson. I said: "Well, you can fucking take him off, for a start." I was only winding him up – I know he is very successful and earns squillions, but he didn't like what I said. He turned to me and said: "I don’t know why you're on telly – all you ever talk about is periods."' Brand revealed details of the altercation, witnessed by presenters Andrew Marr and Fiona Bruce, to her fans at the Hay Festival. However Brand confessed she found Clarkson charming in person, adding it was only his TV persona she disliked. She noted: 'Jeremy is rather charming but I can't stomach his public persona. I don't like his casual racism and casual misogyny. Clarkson, like Jimmy Carr, is a very likeable person who I don't think believes some of the things he says. You might say that is worse, in a way. He's like a naughty boy who says things to wind people up.'

Stephen Fry finds the demands of fame 'exhausting' – and fears that he may one day kill himself. The actor and presenter has always admitted to suffering from bipolar disorder, and has claimed that people don't realise how serious the disease is and how much it affects the lives of those living with it. He said: 'It's a morbid condition and any doctor will tell you it is one of the most serious morbid conditions that is present in Britain. The fact that I am lucky enough not to have it so seriously doesn't mean that I won't one day kill myself, I may well.' The fifty three-year-old – who opened up about his illness during an interview with Professor Laurie Taylor for In Confidence on Sky Arts – believes he can use his fame to help others who suffer from the condition and wishes more celebrities would do the same, such as journalist Janet Street Porter. He explained: 'One thing that fame gives you that's good, is that you are essentially immune from stigma. Stupid people like Janet Street-Porter – who is a friend of mine, but she can be stupid about these things, or at least deliberately provocative – say, "Oh, why do celebrities bang on about it?" Well, there's a good reason. There are millions out there whose lives are utterly blighted.' Fry came close to committing suicide in 1995 after walking out of the West End play Cell Mates. He fled Britain by ferry and was missing, feared dead, for a week before he resurfaced in Belgium. He later revealed that he almost gassed himself in his car before escaping the country, but 'I had this image of my parents staring right in at me ... so I decided not to do it.'

Lawyers acting for the Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave have warned the Daily Lies after the alleged newspaper on Wednesday published a picture of his eight-year-old daughter, flouting an industry-wide ban on the images. Hipgrave sent a legal notice to all national newspapers two weeks ago after his daughter, Honey, was pictured in tabloid stories relating to the mental health of her mother, the TV presenter Gail Porter. Porter and Hipgrave divorced in 2004. The musician criticised the Northern & Shell title's decision to withdraw from the newspaper industry regulator, the Press Complaints Commission, as a 'self-admission that they're not going to play fairly.' Hipgrave's original legal notice sent out on 20 May asked newspapers not to publish any pictures of Honey 'for the foreseeable future' and warned publishers about intrusion of privacy, referring to the section of the PCC code of practice on photographing children. The Daily Lies this week blatantly ignored the request. 'I don't even know how I'm going to get in touch with them now they're not part of the PCC. I don't really know what the best thing is to do,' Hipgrave told the Gruniad Morning Star. 'I've read about [Northern & Shell's withdrawal from the PCC] and it's just an admission that they're not going to play fairly. I'm a pretty regular guy – I'm not really in the spotlight anymore – and I don't ask much from anyone in the press, but I felt this was a worthy matter and you'd think they'd respect that,' he added. Hipgrave said he would not seek an apology from the Daily Lies because 'it would fall on deaf ears and most likely end up on page eighty.' Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell media group – which also owns the Daily Scum Express, OK! magazine and Channel Five – withdrew from the PCC in January after it stopped paying the fund that supports the regulator. The PCC chairman, Baroness Buscombe, described the decision at the time as 'disappointing.' A spokesman for the PCC said: 'As soon as recent stories appeared about Ms Porter's health, we contacted her representatives to offer assistance in dealing with any concerns about the press. This could include helping frame complaints against the Star, despite the current financial dispute between Richard Desmond and the funding body for the PCC.'

Julia Bradbury is to front a Kill It, Cook It, Eat It spin-off for BBC3 which will uncover the surprising animal origins of many everyday household items. Shine company Dragonfly, which produced the original series, is making Kill It, Cut It, Use It, a five part series scheduled to appear from mid-June. Following the success of the original programme, the new series will feature Bradbury and young consumers eager to learn more about the products they use regularly. The channel's commissioning editor, Harry Lansdown, and commissioning executive Lisa Edwards ordered the series, with Dragonfly's Mark Roberts as the executive producer and Clare Mottershead as series producer. Roberts said: 'How many people know that there is sheep in their shampoo or cows in their crockery? The extraordinary animal ingredients found in everyday products is jaw dropping. Discovering that we brush our hair with pigs, wear fish on our feet and play tennis with cows will make everyone look differently at their shopping basket.' Or, you know, not.

Johnny Vegas is to head the cast of a new Radio 4 comedy series - about the joys of living in a shed. The comedian made the four-part series Shedtown - about a community living in sheds on a beach - with his own production company, Woolyback. The programmes, which also star Suranne Jones, Ronni Ancona, Kevin Eldon and Johnny's Ideal cast-mate Emma Fryer, were recorded outdoors on location on the North Yorkshire coast at the beautiful Robin Hood's Bay. Vegas has also enlisted the aid of Paul Heaton - who has had hits with Beautiful South and The Housemartins - to create the music for the series. Vegas stars as Colin, the boss of an industrial museum who is trying to make sense of the world by turning to his shed. He said: 'The series has a dreamlike quality and we captured that partially in choosing to record on location in one of the finest seaside towns in North Yorkshire. The locals gave us access to their sheds, provided buckets and spades and just made us feel extremely welcome.' Producer Sally Harrison said: 'It's unusual to have so many well-known actors in one radio production - it was a bit of a labour of love.' Actress Maxine Peake also features as the narrator of the series.

David Tennant has been given the critics' seal of approval for his latest stage role in a modern-day production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The former Doctor Who actor traded his TARDIS for the West End's Wyndhams Theatre on Wednesday night for the play's opening show - and his performance took the plaudits. Tennant was reunited with comedienne Catherine Tate - who starred alongside him in the popular BBC family SF drama - for the classic Shakespeare comedy. Director Josie Rourke decided her adaptation should do some time-travelling itself, setting the play in a naval base on the Costa del Sol in the 1980s. Scot Tennant was cast as the loyal hero Benedick while Tate stars as sharp-tongued adversary Beatrice. Notoriously hard-to-please Telegraph critic Charles Spencer described the production as a 'populist Shakespeare with both intelligence and heart.' Not too keen on the sniffy use of the word 'populist' there, as that is, inherently, a bad thing but, otherwise, very nice. He added: 'The chemistry Tennant and Tate established in Doctor Who survives in their performances as the disputatious lovers. Tennant, an old hand at Shakespeare, brings a fine mixture of wit, cynicism and sudden love-struck wonder to Benedick, speaks the language with Scottish-accented clarity, and proves highly sympathetic but never ingratiating.' However, well known faceache (and drag) Libby Purves from The Times was less complimentary. She said: 'Tennant and Tate are both seasoned stage actors, but this is sell-out celebrity casting - Doctor Who about nothing - and the production knows it. It's reasonable fun, though I have to say that the Globe's endearing production made me laugh more and believe more in the warring lovers as human being reluctant to lower their defences to the absurdities of love.'
Meanwhile, Tennant, Tate and Jennifer Saunders have signed up to appear in Sky Atlantic's new comedy This Is Jinsy. The eight-part series stars newcomers Chris Bran and Justin Chubb as Arbiter Maven and Operative Sporall, who watch over the residents of the fictional island of Jinsy. Sky has now confirmed that Tennant, Tate and Saunders have all agreed to guest roles in the show. They will be joined by Harry Hill, Jane Horrocks, Simon Callow, Kevin Eldon, Peter Serafinowicz and Brian Murphy. Tennant will play a corrupt wedding planner called Mr Slightlyman in the first episode, while Hill will appear as Joon Boolay, who delivers punishments from a television studio. Elsewhere, Saunders will play the Voice of Miss Reason in each episode, while Catherine will appear as the editor of Glove Hygiene Monthly, Roopina Crale. The really very annoying indeed Horrocks will appear as the head teacher of a playgroup, Simon Callow will be Maven's former teacher, Eldon will star as an eco-warrior, Murphy will play a posh-but-slightly-drunk cartographer and Serafinowicz will take on the role of salesman Eric Bunt. Colin Hoult, Marek Larwood, Nigel Planer, Don Warrington, singer KT Tunstall and Marcia Warren will also appear in the show. This Is Jinsy's producers James Dean and Chris Carey said: 'We have been overwhelmed by the calibre of support that This Is Jinsy has attracted. It's testament to the brilliant writing and extraordinary vision of Chris and Justin.'

The James Bond film series' twenty third instalment will be released on 26 October 2012. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's forty ninth birth just as a matter of complete co-incidence, dear blog reader! Sony Pictures UK confirmed the UK cinema release date on its official Twitter account on Thursday. Bond 23 - the working title for the project - had already been announced as debuting in the US on 9 November 2012. So, we're getting it first. Hurrah for us! Plans for Bond 23 were reportedly put on hold last year as MGM faced a financial crisis, but were revived once the company emerged from bankruptcy in November 2010. Judi Dench disclosed earlier this year that she is to reprise her role as M for the upcoming movie, but stayed tight-lipped on the film's storyline, saying: 'I can't tell you anything at all!' Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is to shoot the film and Daniel Craig will return as 007, while Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli will, as usual, produce. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Javier Bardem have both been linked to roles in the - as yet untitled - movie.

Martin Scorsese is set to direct a film based on the tempestuous relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, reports suggest. The couple married and divorced twice over a thirteen-year period, after meeting on the set of Cleopatra in 1963. Paramount Pictures are said to be in negotiation with Scorsese, after buying the rights to the book Furious Love. Published in 2010, the book received little interest from studios until Taylor's death earlier this year. The Hollywood couple appeared in eleven films together, including the 1966 movie Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which Taylor won the second of two best actress Oscars. Furious Love authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger were given access to love letters between the pair by Taylor, before her death. Actress Natalie Portman was among those said to be interested in the book rights, ahead of the Paramount deal.

Amanda Holden has praised Britain's Got Talent contestant James Hobley for progressing to the final of the show on the strength of his dancing skills, rather than 'milking' his experiences. The eleven-year-old dancer, who is autistic and used to require splints on his legs to walk, 'wowed' the audience and the judges to reach the final of this year's competition. Speaking on Britain's Got More Talent, Holden said that she was inspired by the ability of Hobley to rely on his skills alone, as opposed to garnering public sympathy with his past struggles. 'He's in the final on talent alone,' Holden explained. 'Yes, he's been through a lot, but he hasn't focused on that. I can't stand it when people milk their stories, and he hasn't done that, he's come out and danced beautifully and that's why he's in the final.' Hang on. This is Amanda Holden, talking? Amanda 'I'll burst into tears whenever anybody talks about their dead tortoise' Holden? Help! Amanda Holden has been kidnapped and replaced by a heartless clone. Meanwhile, when David Hasselhoff was questioned about why he did not buzz any acts this evening, Simon Cowell chipped in and said: 'You cannot buzz a poodle,' referring to the dog act Angela and Teddy. Holden added: 'It's against the rules of Britain's Got Talent.'

Sony/Syco has denied online allegations that Britain's Got Talent finalist Ronan Parke was signed to them before the show. An anonymous blog post was spread around Internet sites and Twitter on Thursday morning, claiming to have 'insider knowledge' on twelve-year-old Parke's connections to the company. However, representatives for BGT have issued a statement furiously denying any such links. 'There has been speculation on the Internet that Britain's Got Talent finalist Ronan Parke was known to and worked with Syco/Sony Music before entering the show. There is no truth in this story whatsoever,' said the spokesperson. 'Ronan first came to Syco/Sony's attention when he entered this year's competition. Syco/Sony Music will not hesitate to take whatever legal action is appropriate to prevent further publication of these unfounded allegations.' Parke was described as 'a star' by the BGT judges after his rendition of 'Feeling Good' at the audition stages. He also won the public vote in the first live semi-final on Monday following his cover of 'Make You Feel My Love'.

TV chef Gordon Ramsay will sign an exclusive one-year deal to stay with Channel Four. Despite his latest series, Gordon's Great Escape, not performing as well as expected, the broadcaster wants to keep him on and he is understood to have agreed in principle to a new contract, although the deal has yet been signed. Unlike his previous multi-year deals, Channel Four offered Ramsay a one-year extension to his golden handcuffs deal. It is understood that Ramsay had exploratory conversations with ITV – which makes his hit US show Hell's Kitchen – but has decided to re-sign to Channel Four. Ramsay's current deal expires next month and according to sources the final details of the new contract, thought to be worth just under one million pounds, will be sorted out when he returns to the UK in a couple of weeks. It is understood the deal is for two series – one which combines a business-related concept with Ramsay spending time in a prison and another, yet to be decided, which will probably be more traditionally food-related. A spokeswoman for Ramsay said: 'Gordon is delighted to be continuing a great relationship with Channel Four and is excited about the new project they have in development.' After a year when revelations about Ramsay's personal life hit the headlines, rather than his restaurants and TV shows, there had been speculation that his reputation was tarnished and that Channel Four might not renew his exclusive deal after it appeared his ability to, if you will, cook up huge audiences in the UK was waning. At the height of the popularity of hit Channel Four series Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay was pulling in around four million viewers for the broadcaster. But Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurant ended up averaging just over one and a half million last year – higher than the slot average, but below his previous ratings highs. And on Monday, his latest series Gordon's Great Escape, finished its four part run with a mere nine hundred thousand viewers at 9pm. Admittedly, it was in a tough slot, up against ITV's Coronation Street and Britain's Got Talent, with Simon Cowell back on the judging panel for the first time in 2011, but nevertheless will be a disappointment. According to Channel Four 'insiders' it is thought unlikely Great Escape will return. But the broadcaster and Ramsay have a long history together and the mutual loyalty between the two is said to have played a large part in the new deal, with Channel Four executives thinking he should have 'another crack at the whip' rather than axe him because of a - possibly temporary - ratings blip. He signed his first three-year exclusive deal with Channel Four in 2004, the year Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares was first broadcast. In 2006, at the height of the UK TV talent bidding wars, Channel Four won a three-way contest with ITV and the BBC to keep Ramsay on an exclusive contract. He stayed with Channel Four for a reported eight and a half million pound four-year deal running to mid 2011. Ramsay's new shows will be made through One Potato, Two Potato – the joint venture production company he set up with Optomen Television. Both companies were last year bought by All3Media. He is busy in the US with the successful American versions of Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef, and is planning to do less work in the UK for the time being. However, it is understood Channel Four has been talking to him, along with some of its other most famous faces, about playing a part in its Paralympics coverage next year.

Jessica Hynes and Douglas Hodge are among those who have signed up to appear in BBC1's new drama One Night. The four-part series, which was first announced in January, focuses on a group of people whose lives become linked on a hot summer evening. The opening episode will focus on Hodge's character Ted, who is having a barbecue in an attempt to impress his boss. Ted intervenes when a rude teenager, Rochelle, drops litter outside his house, but his actions have an effect that he did not expect. Hynes will star in the third episode as Rochelle's mother Carol, who is struggling to deal with her three children and a job she does not enjoy. She has to decide what to do when her son, played by Joshua Osei, reveals that the police are looking for him. One Night's second episode will focus on Rochelle (Georgina Campbell) while the fourth will star Billy Matthews as Alfie, a twelve-year-old boy who has to make a huge decision after an evening out with his friends. Hodge recently starred in the movie Robin Hood and has also appeared in Skins, Mansfield Park, Unforgiven and Outnumbered. The legendary Hynes appeared in a number of series, including Twenty Twelve, The Royle Family, Doctor Who and - most memorably - Spaced which she co-created with Simon Pegg. One Night will also feature an appearance from Luther star Saskia Reeves, who will play Ted's wife Sally. The drama's executive producer Hilary Salmon said: 'Paul Smith's raw and funny scripts look in intricate detail at four real lives within an ambitious and original framework. We watch with growing empathy and alarm as each of the four characters tries to do the right thing for themselves and their families but is scuppered by misunderstanding and misperception.'

UK buyers returning from the LA Screenings have expressed disappointment with this year's crop of new US drama, but are preparing bids for the studios’ strong slates of comedy. 'Sources' have told Broadcast magazine that the overall quality of programming on offer was better than in recent years, but that high expectations for drama at the annual showcase were not met, even if some of the titles showed promise. 'Drama was the big disappointment,' one 'source' allegedly said. 'There wasn't much that excited buyers, although there were a few titles that should attract strong bids.' Twentieth Century Fox's Terra Nova, described by one buyer as 'Jurassic Park: The Series,' is already understood to have been acquired by Sky. There had also been high hopes for Pan-Am, from Sony Pictures Television, and The Playboy Club, from FOX. Both are glossy period pieces set in the 1960s and thought to have been inspired by the success of Mad Men. But a 'source' said of Pan-Am: 'While the period detail is fantastic, it didn't know if it was a sexy soap or an espionage thriller.' The Playboy Club seemed more promising 'with a bit more meat to the characters,' but one buyer claimed it felt a little 'too soft' and questioned whether it could tell many stories over the course of a season. Conversely, the comedy on offer received glowing reports. Two Broke Girls, from Warner Bros, and The New Girl, from FOX, were both singled out for 'first-class writing' and 'strong chemistry among the characters.' Both are said to have had 'a great chance of survival,' with CBS scheduling Two Broke Girls between two of their big sitcom hits, How I Met Your Mother and Two And A Half Men, and FOX airing The New Girl after Glee.

Steve Coogan is reportedly in talks to reprise his role as Alan Partridge on the BBC. The show would be a reworking of the recent online series Mid Morning Matters, the Gruniad claims. Mid Morning Matters, which was funded by Foster's, focused on Partridge as he recorded his radio show for North Norfolk Digital. The BBC is now thinking about combining the episodes into six half-hour instalments. A second series could also follow. A spokesperson for the BBC confirmed that the broadcaster is in talks, but explained that they are at 'a very early stage.' However, writer Armando Iannucci wrote on Twitter that 'we're talking to other broadcasters as well about putting Alan's MMM on the telly.'

ITV has acquired a hard-hitting documentary about female inmates who give birth while serving time and keep their babies in prison. Babies Behind Bars - thoroughly shite title notwithstanding - was made by Firecracker Films, the UK independent behind Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, for Discovery-owned US cable network TLC. The two-part series goes behind bars at the Indiana Women's Prison, which allows some prisoners to keep their children on a 'baby wing.' The programmes include births and emotional personal stories, and pose questions about how the US justice system deals with women and their children. Passion Distribution brokered the deal with ITV controller of popular factual Jo Clinton-Davis and Alison Sharman, director of daytime and factual. It will be broadcast on ITV in a 9pm slot sometime this summer as part of a season of documentaries focused on 'extraordinary families.' The acquisitions follow the ratings success of Strangeways, the three-part prison documentary which drew a strong series average of 5.89 million when it was shown on ITV in May.

Sir Terry Wogan is to host a documentary which looks at the British comedy writer PG Wodehouse. The BBC2 programme is part of a new season of arts programmes announced on Wednesday. The documentary, with the working title of Wogan On Wodehouse, will include rarely-seen interviews with the writer and well-known fans of his work. Sir Terry has been a long-time admirer of Wodehouse, best known for creating the characters of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. The show follows Sir Terry as he 'attempts to solve some of the paradoxes he sees in the life and long career of this much-loved, undeniably prolific and occasionally controversial comic writer.' PG Wodehouse, who died in 1975 aged ninety three, was also noted for contributions to musicals, including Anything Goes and Showboat. His witty prose - poking fun at the English upper classes - has won him numerous fans, who continue to celebrate his writing more than thirty years after his death. The arts season will also see Culture Show presenter and art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon teaming up with chef Giorgio Locatelli to look at the cultural heritage of Sicily, in Sicily Unpacked. And, in a separate programme, Arena will look at the life of humorist and theatrical director Jonathan Miller.

John Bishop's Britain has been given a second series by BBC1. The Liverpudlian comic's mixture of stand-up and real-life stories proved a moderate ratings hit for the broadcaster last year and will return later this year to focus on themes such as food, music, fashion, friends and pets. 'I am thrilled that BBC1 have agreed to a second series and just hope that everyone enjoys it as much as the first one,' said Bishop. Lee Hupfield, the executive producer, said: 'After such a successful first series we are delighted John Bishop's Britain has been recommissioned for second series. It's a fantastic feel-good family show and it's great to be working with him again.' BBC commissioning executive Karl Warner added: 'John continues to go from strength to strength as a performer and has quickly established himself as part of the comedy elite on BBC1. We love working with him and think this second series is going to get even better.'

All3Media has turned to former BBC and Talkback drama executive Jo Wright to take over from Midsomer Murders co-creator Brian True-May as the show's producer. True-May is stepping down after the current, fourteenth series is completed following a race row earlier this year. He was suspended in March for a series of disgraceful remarks he made to the Radio Times about diversity in the programme, but was reinstated to complete the series. He told the Radio Times that the show 'just wouldn't work' if it featured ethnic minorities and that 'we're the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.' Wright was recruited by All3Media deputy chief operating officer Jane Turton. She will oversee the development of the yet-to-be-formally-commissioned fifteenth run and will take a hands-on role in producing the series, which is expected to be refreshed and go into production in the autumn. Wright was previously head of drama series at the BBC, where she oversaw EastEnders, Casualty and Silent Witness. She was also controller of drama at LWT, head of film and TV drama at Talkback Thames, and had an ultimately unsuccessful spell attempting to move Twofour into drama.

Channel Four's special one-hour documentary about alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka is to be shown at the United Nations Human Rights Council ahead of its TV premiere. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, made by Channel Four News producer ITN, includes harrowing footage of atrocities committed in the country's twenty six-year civil war. The programme will be screened at an Amnesty International event at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this Friday, before it airs on Channel Four on 14 June. Presented by Channel Four News anchor Jon Snow, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields features footage of alleged atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan government forces and Tamil Tigers at the end of the civil war. The UN Special Rapporteur has said that the footage, first broadcast on Channel Four News last December, should be used in an international investigation of the abuses. Channel Four's head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne said that the footage in Sri Lanka's Killing Fields is 'probably the most horrific the channel has ever shown.' She added: 'The decision to show it at length was made only after serious and careful consideration. It is of the greatest possible public interest and as such we have a duty to journalistically scrutinise it.' Last December, the Sri Lankan government banned the BBC for a third time from reporting on an official panel's investigation into alleged abuses in the country's civil war.

Murray Walker has revealed that he used to eat Kitekat when he worked as an advertising executive. The former motorsports commentator told the Daily Scum Express that he used to taste the cat food in front of sceptical clients to prove its quality. Walker said: 'I used to sell pet food and if they were suspicious about the quality and they queried it, we would open the can of Kitekat and eat it in front of them.' Before rising to fame as the voice of Formula One on the BBC and ITV, the eighty seven-year-old managed accounts for clients including Dunlop and Vauxhall Motors. Walker is often erroneously said to have created the slogan 'a Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.' However, he did pen the tagline 'Trill makes budgies bounce with health' in the 1960s.

James Corden has revealed that he would consider writing another Gavin & Stacey special in the future. Don't do it just on our behalf, mate.

BBC4 controller Richard Klein is pinning his hopes for autumn and winter 2011 on a new season of programmes about Twentieth Century America. The line-up includes Melvyn Bragg On John Steinbeck, an hour-long documentary made by Mentorn and ordered by Mark Bell, in which the former South Bank Show presenter will examine the work of the US literary giant. Rick Stein returns to BBC4 with a three-part series from Denham Productions called Stein Tastes The Blues, in which the chef investigates references to food ingrained in the music's lyrics. It was ordered by Jan Younghusband. America On A Plate is another gastronomy-themed commission, and was ordered by Bell. The sixty-minute BBC Vision London Production will see the arts journalist Stephen Smith tell the story of the cultural impact of America's ubiquitous diners. Klein and Suzanne Gilfillan have also greenlit a ninety-minute film, Rich Hall's Road Movies, from Open Mike Manchester, in which the bone-dry comedian and Qi regular explores one of Hollywood's best-known film genres. Hall has, of course, previously name similar documentaries for BBC4 on the Western genre and Hollywood's depiction of The South. Also commissioned is a sixty-minute film from writer and presenter Richard Grant called Ghostriders, made by 3Di TV, about American nomads. Fashion photographer Rankin fronts America In Pictures, a BBC Scotland Film retracing the steps of legendary photographic magazine Life. The season will also see the return of Andrew Graham Dixon's regular arts travelogue Art Of…, which focuses on the US for its new three episode series. Meanwhile, New Power Generation: African-American Music Legends Of The 1980s, a four-part BBC Wales series within BBC4's Legends strand, will explore 'a defining decade' for African-American pop music. Klein said: 'We wanted to ambitiously celebrate this Twentieth Century culture in a way that only BBC4 can, with programming that has proposition and purpose. The programmes will explore this fascinating time when American culture really matured, becoming a powerful voice, with American artists among the world's leading figures.'

Former Channel Five, Sky 1 and Living controller Richard Woolfe has resurfaced at post-production house Prime Focus, where he will spearhead the business's move into production. Woolfe - the man who commissioned the infamously wretched Live from Studio Five - has been appointed creative director of Prime Focus Productions, and will work alongside managing director and ex-Mob Films executive Rod Brown, who joined the company in March. The pair have been charged with developing entertainment and high-end dramas for broadcasters around the world. They have previously worked together on shows including an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather when Woolfe was director of programmes at Sky 1. Woolfe, who last worked in production a decade ago at Planet 24, said his time on 'both sides of the table' would inform his approach to development and pitching. He said he was looking to create 'genre-busting programmes' for the new division. 'I talked to a lot of people during my time off and realised two things were most important to me: great people and a challenge,' he said. 'This a virtual start-up and I've come in to make it work, but the idea is king. If we go in to a pitch with a killer idea, and great talent behind it, the rest is easy.' Woolfe is returning to TV after a nine-month hiatus, having left Channel Five as part of wide-ranging job cuts imposed by incoming boss Richard Desmond. Prime Focus Productions' current developments include Department Thirteen, a Cold War-era spy thriller starring David Jason being co-produced with STV, and Good Omens, written by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which is being worked up with STV and US producer Shoreline Entertainment. With Woolfe on board, the company will also develop an entertainment slate comprising 'big new shows that push boundaries,' with Woolfe’s work on Gladiators, Ross Kemp On Gangs and acquisitions such as Queer Eye For The Straight Guy setting the tone. 'That is the sort of area I'm drawn to naturally, but it needs to be something that could fly around the world,' Woolfe said. Prime Focus's global headquarters are in Mumbai, where it was founded in 1997. The group now employs almost three thousand five hundred people, with offices in locations such as Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles. Its main focus is on India, the UK and US.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day is a special selection for the gentlemen over at Keith Telly Topping's Fortress of Solitude on the pre-best-selling author career of the Princess of Britpop Louise Wener. Starting with a a paraphrase from Get Carter in a really dirty song. (And, the b-side's called 'Lady Love Your Countryside' too!)
Next, The Hit. Performed on The Word. God, did Dani Behr actually do anything, or was it all an optical illusion?
Or, there's a nice version of the notorious 1995 BBC2 show Britpop Now!. And, finally, one from the 'difficult second album' on TFI Friday!
After the band split in 1998, Louise began a successful writing career, and has written four novels including the best-seller Goodnight Steve McQueen. Her autobiography, Different for Girls: My True-life Adventures in Pop was published in June 2010. In addition, she teaches a university course in novel-writing (that's one class I'd like to take and, indeed, get detention in!) and has recently formed a new band, Huge Advance, with her partner Sleeperbloke Andy MacLure.

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