Monday, June 06, 2011

We Won't Be Together Much Longer Unless We Realise That We Are The Same

In some of the least-surprising, but certainly very welcome, news of the year so far, the BBC will reportedly axe underperforming light entertainment flop So You Think You Can Dance after the current series ends this week. According to the Sun, the dance competition will not return after its second series struggled in the ratings. The show - which features well-known faceache and drag Arlene Phillips, nasty Nigel Lythgoe, 'what does she actually do to justify her existence?' Louise Redknapp and Sisco Gomez as judges - was given an extended run and moved to the spring but has struggled to attract viewers. On Saturday night just 2.23m watched the performance show, while 2.22m tuned back in for the results at 9.10pm. 'Bosses tried to make it work over here,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'But they have now conceded that it is not going to and that it is time to focus on other things. It was a good format with good judges, but viewers here in Britain just did not connect with it like the people did in America.'

The digital channel BBC4 had plenty to celebrate at the BAFTA TV awards last month, including prizes for its period dramas Eric and Ernie and The Road to Coronation Street, and for the Jo Brand sitcom Getting On. But the channel looks likely to lose many of its comedies and drama productions in the future as part of a rebranding exercise which will see it focus on arts programming as the BBC aims to save seven hundred million pounds, or twenty per cent of its budget. According to the Gruniad Morning Star BBC 'sources' indicated that was the 'clear direction of travel' for BBC4, despite its recent awards success and hits such as the Danish crime drama The Killing – another BAFTA winner - and the French drama Spiral. However, for all the critical and media acclaim, BBC4 has less than a one per cent share of the television audience, while spending fifty five million smackers a year. BBC management is keen to beef up BBC2, which suffered the biggest drop in audience share of the five main channels in 2010. As a result, programmes which would normally have gone to BBC4 and elsewhere will now be shown first on BBC2. It is understood that the BBC's new director of vision, George Entwistle, wants the channel, which lost nearly eight per cent of its audience last year, to be more 'sharply defined.' The proposals are part of BBC director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First initiative to deliver fewer, bigger and better programmes while slashing the BBC's overall budget. In the BBC's statement of programme policy, published last week, BBC4 controller Richard Klein described his channel's aim 'to be British television's most intellectually and culturally enriching channel, offering an ambitious range of UK and international arts, music and culture,' but with no mention in his opening summary of drama or comedy. In his vision for the service for the next twelve months, Klein described BBC4 as 'the gold card channel for arts and culture, approaching subject matter at a level of depth, detail and authority second to none.' In a statement spanning nearly six hundred and fifty words (and, believe them, some stringer at the Gruniad actually counted) comedy and drama – which are the most expensive television genres to produce – were relegated to just one line. 'The aim is to offer discourse and insight through factual, drama and entertainment programming,' he said. A stripped down, arts-focused channel would make BBC4 more of a direct competitor to Sky Arts, a comparison that BBC management have tended to shy away from in the past, pointing to the BBC channel's bigger budget and audience reach. Successful BBC4 dramas have included biopics of Enid Blyton, Mary Whitehouse, Hughie Green and Morecambe and Wise. Rosamund Pike and Rachael Stirling starred in its recent adaptation of DH Lawrence's novel Women In Love. A number of dramas currently in production remain in the BBC4 pipeline, including a commissioned single film about the photographer David Bailey and his relationship with Jean Shrimpton, We'll Take Manhattan, and a two-part adaptation of Charles Dickens's last and unfinished novel, Edwin Drood. A spokeswoman for Klein tried to put on a brave face and said: 'BBC4 has always had a strong backbone of arts, music, culture and knowledge programming. Since strategic review it has been placing a greater emphasis on the arts and Richard Klein's statement reflects this.' A BBC spokesman said it was 'speculative' to pre-empt the likely outcome of the DQF review. The BBC said in a statement: 'We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary – no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.'

Broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry has revealed that he finds the trappings of fame exhausting and would love to withdraw completely for a lengthy period of time. He told the Manchester Evening News he would like to 'disappear to the country making pork pies and chutney. I would love to close down for a number of years.' Well, nowt's stopping you,. Stephen. You can come up here and rent my spare room if you like. You can do some wallpapering whilst you're here. Union rates, obviously.

Football icon Sir Geoff Hurst is reportedly being lined up for an appearance on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. Some people are on the dance floor. They think it's all over ... The sixty nine-year-old, famed for scoring a hat-trick in England's historic 1966 World Cup victory over West Germany (and, whether the second one was actually over the line or not), is said to have topped a BBC 'wish list' for the show's forthcoming ninth series. 'Geoff is one of the ­country's most legendary sporting heroes and the BBC are keen to sign him up,' an 'insider' allegedly told the Mirra. 'Strictly bosses think he'd be hugely popular, especially with the show's older viewers. Geoff is still very fit so the gruelling schedule on Strictly wouldn't be a problem. The BBC are just hoping he will agree to take part.' Who Wants To Be A Millionaire presenter Chris Tarrant was also linked to Strictly Come Dancing in April, while MasterChef presenters Gregg Wallace and John Torode recently told the Digital Spy website of their desire to participate. Bruce Forsyth is reportedly set to rejoin Tess Daly as Strictly host for the new series, while horrible Kate Garraway and that 'skeleton covered by a skin of ambition' Natasha Kaplinsky are being widely touted around the tabloids to front the spin-off show It Takes Two following Claudia Winkleman's departure to have her child.

How nice it was to see good old mad-as-toast Wilko Johnson looking so effortlessly cool on Coast last night and talking - very eloquently - about the Canvey Island scene out of which Dr Feelgood came. If for no other reason than that it give yer actual Keith Telly Topping another excuse to link to that legendary clip of the band on The Old Grey Whistle Test playing 'Roxette' in which Wilko taught Paul Weller every move in the book. Spank that plank, Wilko. I could sit and listen to that all day!

The BBC is to make what it claims will be the 'definitive' film about the 7/7 terrorist attacks on London, interviewing survivors and telling what it calls the 'big story' of the attacks that left fifty two people dead and more than seven hundred injured. The corporation has recruited BAFTA-winning director Morgan Matthews for the BBC2 project for a likely broadcast next summer, possibly to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the attacks. Matthews is best known for his three-hour documentary The Fallen, made for BBC2 in 2008, which commemorated every British serviceman and woman to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. 'Definitive is a difficult word and I hope people may think of the film like that,' said Matthews. 'There have been films on this subject but with respect to them I hope this is comprehensive.' Matthews, who has begun preliminary work on the 7/7 project, will interview survivors and capture what he calls the 'scale' of the impact of the attacks over its hour and a half running time. He said the impetus for the film, which has the working title 7/7, was the 'moving and detailed' testimony from victims and members of the emergency and security services given at the five-month inquest that concluded last month. Coroner Lady Justice Hallett delivered verdicts of unlawful killing for all the victims. 'These stories haven't been told in a film and it is important to do that,' said Morgan. 'Because a lot of it was hidden away there aren't many iconic images as there were with attacks such as 9/11 to remember it by,' he added, saying that he also wanted the film to provide relatives with the 'space' to talk about their losses. 'We also want to tell the "sliding doors" stories – people who missed out or were affected in other ways.' The BBC's commissioning editor for documentaries Charlotte Moore, who green-lit the project, said: 'We want to tell the big definitive story. We will tell the story of before and after and during it. This was the biggest bomb attack to hit the UK since the Blitz and it deserves this kind of attention. As well as those who died, around seven hundred people were injured and the ripples of that spread far and wide.' The 7/7 documentary will be made by Matthews's production company Minnow Films, which also made The Fallen and his 2009 documentary for BBC4, Scenes from a Teenage Killing. News of the commission was welcomed by 7/7 survivor David Gardner, the management accountant who lost most of his left leg and his spleen in the Edgware Road bombing. He told the Gruniad that some of the documentary films which have explored the events of the attacks had not covered it in sufficient detail. 'I always welcome any attention given to this but sometimes I have thought there wasn't enough and it needed something bigger,' he said. 'The have been programmes but sometimes you think that half an hour isn't enough. A lot of the programmes have focused on the bombers as well and not on what happened to other people on the day. The inquest was very important and I was really behind it and I am all for having an overview of it with this documentary.' Moore has commissioned a number of new shows including a documentary series profiling life at Chatsworth House in the Lake District, dubbed a 'modern take on Upstairs, Downstairs.' The series will film life over six months at the estate, which is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The BBC said it would offer an 'unprecedented glimpse into the life of Britain's living aristocracy and the five hundred staff dedicated to the upkeep of this national treasure.' The BBC will also follow up its BAFTA-winning BBC2 series Welcome to Lagos, which profiled people making a living in and around the rubbish dumps of the Nigerian capital with a follow-up film, set in Bangladesh. Welcome to Bangladesh, said the corporation, 'will do for industrial waste what Lagos did for the slum – make it palatable, respectable, even desirable.'

According to the Daily Scum Mail Daybreak 'bosses' are 'planning a colourful backdrop to replace the big windows behind Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley.' Chiles is quoted as saying 'Daybreak was a bit of a misnomer last winter, because we weren't actually seeing daybreak in the windows. It was still dark when we came off air at 8.30am.' Now all the show needs now is a colourful pair of presenters to go with its new backdrop.

The privacy debate took yet another farcical turn yesterday when a newspaper in Ireland - the Sunday World according to the Press Gazette - claimed to unmask a famous married entertainer with an injunction hushing up his infidelity. The celebrity's name and photograph were plastered all over the publication, along with details of his alleged affair with a colleague. Pictures of two entertainers performing together were used to illustrate the article, which will have been read, shamelessly, by tens of thousands in the Irish Republic. But their identities are still not allowed to be revealed in Britain because of a High Court gagging order. The ruling bans publication of the story to protect the father-of-two's children from 'playground bullying.' The newspaper claims to have busted the injunction because, they believe, English courts jurisdiction does not extend to Ireland. It claimed to give full details of the liaison between the man – referred to in court only as ETK – and his alleged lover. On the social networking site Twitter, more than one hundred thousand users have already seen claims of ETK's identity and that of his alleged mistress. The entertainer's six-month sexual relationship reportedly ended when his wife discovered his doings last year. In their ruling in April, three Appeal Court judges said that privacy laws meant the figure must be protected from public exposure by a newspaper which was planning to report details of the affair and its aftermath. Lord Justice Ward said ETK had started the affair in November 2009 with his colleague, known only as Ms X. But in late April last year, he was confronted by his wife, who is believed to have heard about the relationship from one of his colleagues. The judge said: 'This was deeply distressing for the wife, but she and her husband determined, not least for the sake of their two teenage children, to rebuild her trust and their marriage.' The famous entertainer then told his bosses that 'in an ideal world' he would prefer not to see his mistress again, and that one of them should leave their job, according to the ruling. The judge said: 'In December 2010, their employers informed X that her services would no longer be required, explaining publicly that it was a convenient moment to make this change. She was, understandably, upset and angry.' ETK obtained the injunction, with the backing of his wife and Ms X, after a newspaper planned to report details of the story. Although their request for anonymity was initially rejected, the Appeal Court later granted the injunction under privacy laws.

Donald Hewlett, who was best known for his role in the 1970s BBC sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum, has died aged ninety. The actor, who played Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Reynolds in the show, had been ill for some time, his wife told the BBC. He died at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in West London on Saturday, Therese McMurray-Hewlett said. Hewlett was also known for his role as master of the house, Lord Meldrum, in 1990s BBC sitcom You Rang M'Lord? Born in Manchester in 1922, the actor went to Cambridge University where he was a member of the Footlights dramatic revue. He served with the Royal Navy in the Second World War and began his on-screen career with a small part in the 1954 comedy film Orders are Orders starring Peter Sellers, Donald Pleasance and Sid James. He went on to have roles in numerous TV shows including The Saint, The Avengers, Softly Softly, Doctor Who, The Dick Emery Show, Dennis Potter's Vote, Vote, Vote For Nigel Barton, Callan, Menace, The Fenn Street Gang, Pulaski and Coronation Street. Part of David Croft's regular rep company of actors he also appeared in the notoriously dreadful Molly Sugden sitcom Come Back Mrs Noah. But it was his turn as the commanding officer in It Ain't Half Hot Mum which made his name. The series, set in British India and Burma towards the end of World War II ran on BBC1 from 1974 until 1981. Donald made a number of film appearances including Spike Milligan's Adolf Hitler - My Part in His Downfall, Bottoms Up, A Touch of Class, Carry on Behind and The First Great Train Robbery. He last appeared on TV in the ITV sitcom The Upper Hand in 1995. He is survived by his wife, Therese, and five children including their daughter Siobhan, who is also an actress.

Music producer Martin Rushent has died aged sixty three. His son, James, confirmed on his Facebook and Twitter pages that his father had died on Saturday. Martin started as an recording engineer in the 1970s, working on records by T-Rex, David Essex, Shirley Bassey, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Fleetwood Mac among others. He subsequently produced The Human League's international blockbuster Dare (along with its several hit singles) and also worked with The Stranglers, Buzzcocks, XTC, The Rezillos, Generation X, 999, The Go-Go's, Fuzzbox, The Associates and Altered Images. Additionally, he released a single of his own - 'Give It All You Got' on the Albion label in 1979. In the early 1980s Martin started his own record label, Genetic, which was going to sign the nascent new romantic acts Visage, Ultravox and Spandau Ballet, but problems at their parent record company scuppered the plan. Meanwhile, Martin invested two hundred and fifty thousand pounds of his own money in setting up a state-of-the-art recording studio at his Berkshire home. The first fruits were the astonishing debut single by ex-Buzzcock Pete Shelley, 'Homosapien,' and subsequent LP of the same name. However, it was the success of The Human League and their breakthrough LP Dare later that year, which cemented Martin's reputation as a producer of hits. He is credited as one of the pioneers of remixing with his cut-and-paste version of Dare, 1982's Love and Dancing. His extended five minute version of Altered Images 'I Could Be Happy', released as twelve inch single, showed the possibilities for the format and, subsequently, became an industry norm for the next decade. In 1983, after experiencing problems working with The Human League, Rushent resigned as the band's producer. He then sold Genetic Studios and for a short time worked as a consultant for Virgin Records, but the role involved considerable overseas travel which restricted his family life. As he was a single parent at the time, he then effectively retired from the music industry for several years in order to raise his children. Some years later, Rushent was briefly involved in the rave scene in the early 1990s with the creation of Gush at Newbury airfield. Later in the decade he ran Roundabout, a Thursday-night showcase for unsigned bands at The Nag's Head in High Wycombe. More recently, he worked with Groove Armada and The Pipettes. James Rushent, guitarist for the band Does It Offend You, Yeah?, whom Martin also produced, paid tribute to his father on Facebook. 'I will miss him, so so much, he was my best mate,' he said. The Stranglers also paid tribute to him on their official website, saying: 'We have just received the sad news that another early band collaborator, Martin Rushent, passed away yesterday aged sixty three.' Rushent produced the band's first three LPs, Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black and White. Rushent, from Reading, Berkshire, leaves behind his wife Ceri, and four children, James, Tim, Amy and Joanne.

Firefighters had to come to the rescue of a woman in Pennsylvania after she got her hand stuck in an ATM machine. According to The Associated Press, the unknown woman reached into the machine to grab her money, but got her hand caught and was unable to remove it. Moon Run fire chief Paul Kashmer told WPXI-TV that his crew had been forced to use special equipment to free the woman. The ATM belongs to the First Commonwealth bank, who have responded to the incident by saying that they are pleased the woman was not badly injured. The Moon Run police department also revealed that last year they had to free a child who got stuck in a toy machine in the town's mall.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, in tribute to the late Martin Rushent, here's a small sampling of some of the best work of his career. Starting with one of the greatest three minutes slices of pop music ever made by anyone.
For a while Martin was, effectively, the house producer for United Artists' UK punk bands (both of them!) leading to some quite spectacular records. Like this one. Hughie and the boys at the epitome of their 'we just wanna sound The Doors' phase, pretty much managing it.
But, Martin worked for other labels too. One of his most under-rated charges was The Rezillos.
On the next one, he wasn't even credited (John Leckie recorded the original version during the Go2 session), but although Martin's work with XTC at The Manor was brief, it did result in one astounding single.
And he always managed to get the best out of of Johnny McElhone's Rickenbacker on his work with Altered Images.
Thanks for everything, Martin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your very kind words. Regards Joanne Rushent