Friday, July 01, 2011

Each Time It's Spoken, There's A Fragment Broken

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping knew that when he described Ideal as 'BBC3's best-kept secret' he should have copyrighted the damn thing. I've seen at least three highly respected TV reviewers use it, or a variation of it, in the last fortnight! Bastards. Come up with yer own flattering descriptions. Anyway, the seventh - and, possibly last - series of BBC3's best-kept secret, Ideal [©®™ Me, 2011, and all that] ended on Thursday night. The episode - The Red King - included the truly heartbreaking collapse of Derrick and Yasuko's marriage (as she leaves him for, of all people, Fist!) and the resurrection of Colin's relationship with Carmel. Moz, on the day of his big art exhibition, comes face-to-face with The Red Mist, the gang of deadly gingers who've been alluded to all series. Drastic hair-action is subsequently called for which saved his life but wrecks his chances with Tilly. Because, she she notes, there are limits, even when it comes to the question of true love. Carmel has to choose between Colin and Jake, a decision which will have apocalyptic consequences for both. Nikki confesses something overwhelming to Jess, just before they both get busted as part of PC and Moz's cunning plan. Guest star Rula Lenska turns up to add to the general blur of insanity. Cartoon Head gets a proposal, Psycho Paul feels betrayed and horrible things are threatened with regard to where dime bars can be inserted. 'I'm sure neither of us want to end up another red-on-red crime statistic.' Dark, strange and, in places, very disturbing (especially the 'You Blow My Mind' musical sequence at the end), and with a shocking conclusion - in every sense of the word - fans await news on whether another series will be commissioned. If Ideal does return it will occupy a very different landscape. As ever, as soon as From The North gets whiff of a scoop you'll know about it, dear blog reader.

Meanwhile, TV comedy line of the week. From Mock The Week's This is The Answer, What is The Question round. Hugh Dennis asking if the question for which the answer is 'fifteen minutes' could be 'if you'd been driving for twenty three hours and forty five minutes, how far would you be from Tulsa?!' Closely followed by Dara O Briain's computer-a-The-Hulk rant over the issue of the allocation of Olympic tickets! Hugh was on particularly good form noting that many people often suggest each year that Glastonbury is 'too muddy and too middle class.' Adding 'like it's the First World War sponsored by John Lewis.'

And so to the ratings. The finale of ITV's The Choir That Rocks had a, not-particularly-impressive, audience of two and a half million on Thursday evening and was outperformed by a, very good, BBC1 documentary on Milly Dowler, according to overnight audience data. The Choir That Rocks averaged 2.51m for ITV from 9pm and and a further one hundred and twenty four thousand viewers on ITV+1. However, the show was beaten in the 9pm hour by Taken: The Milly Dowler Story, which had 2.85m. Planet of the Apemen, a two-part mini-series telling the story of how homo sapiens once shared the planet with other species of hominid, concluded with 2.08m on BBC1 in the 8pm hour. Piers Morgan Meets Elton: A Life Stories Special was seen by a truly pathetic 1.06m on ITV from 10.30pm whilst Question Time beat the wretched smug Morgan's ass hollow with 2.39m on BBC1 from 10.45pm. On BBC2, further coverage of the seemingly endless Wimbledon appealed to eight hundred and eighty thousand viewers between 5.45pm and 8pm, before Today At Wimbledon had a further 1.14m and one hundred and four thousand on BBC HD. Don't worry, dear blog reader, it'll be over on Sunday. History Cold Case had an audience of 1.45m in the 9pm hour and Mock The Week amused 1.91m from 10pm. Help! My House Is Falling Down was seen by 1.58m on Channel 4 in the 8pm hour and three hundred and ninety seven thousand on C4+1. Elsewhere, the latest series of Ideal concluded with 594k from 10.30pm.

The BBC has announced that its Glastonbury TV coverage achieved a record audience this year, increasing by over three million viewers on 2010's event. Glastonbury programmes on BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4 reached a total of 18.6 million viewers from 24 to 26 June, up from 15.4m last year, according to viewing data from BARB. Presented by Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren Laverne, Zane Lowe, Mark Radcliffe and bland-as-boiled-rice Jo Whiley, BBC2's Glastonbury programmes reached 15.7m viewers, up by 3.6m on last year. The headline performers - U2, Beyoncé and the wretched Coldplay - enjoyed an average audience of around one and a half million people, with the biggest peak coming for Beyoncé's Sunday night set at 2.6m.

The Stephen K Amos Show has been dropped by BBC2. Because, as with most shows which get dropped, it was crap and no one was watching it. The series, which was broadcast last year, combined stand-up comedy, characters and celebrity guests. Not particularly well in each case although Amos himself remains an amiable - and, occasionally, funny - chap who just got landed with a, frankly, lousy format. A spokesperson for the BBC has now confirmed what most viewers of one episode and then, no more, already kind of suspected, that the programme will not be returning. However, according to Chortle, the representative added that the broadcaster is still planning to work with Amos on new formats. Hopefully, better ones. 'Stephen's show won't be coming back to BBC2 as there is so much great comedy on the channel, we just can't bring everything back,' the spokesperson said. 'But we are working with Stephen on other projects and think he's a big talent.' And, much cheaper than Lenny Henry, too. Mind you, he's also funnier.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and BSkyB could agree the terms of a £9.3bn takeover bid as early as 29 July, when the satellite broadcaster is due to announce its full-year results. The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, finally bent over backwards like an invertebrate and gave News Corp the green light to acquire the 60.9 per cent of BSkyB which does not already own on Thursday – subject to a short public consultation that ends midday 8 July – on the proviso that Sky News is spun off as a separate company to allay plurality concerns. Observers believe that the vile and odious rascal Hunt is 'keen' to give final confirmation by 19 July when the summer parliamentary recess begins – otherwise the decision will be delayed until parliament returns on 5 September. Nick Bell, equity analyst at Jefferies, told the Gruniad that there is a strong possibility the two sides will reach the terms of agreement on price by 29 July to tie-in with BSkyB's financial results. He added there are a couple of 'sticking points' – how to value Sky News and including the BSkyB's final dividend in the bid price – but didn't see these as a major impediment to agreeing a price. This view was supported by Chris Goodall, an analyst at Enders, who argued that the two sides are likely to reach agreement on price 'within a month' of the vile and odious rascal Hunt's final brown-tongued approval. 'Negotiations between News Corporation and the independent BSkyB directors are essentially about price,' said Bell. Jefferies argued that News Corp has the upper hand in negotiations because it is the only potential buyer of the stake, and with 'evidence of a consumer slowdown' starting to hit BSkyB's customer take-up rate the cash-generating juggernaut may not be as impervious to any downturn as had been widely forecast. In addition while News Corp is keen to seek a deal recommended by BSkyB's directors – to then pursue a scheme of arrangement to secure the deal with a shareholder vote – if it had to go the more complex, expensive route of a hostile takeover the company clearly has the upper hand. Under an agreement struck between News Corp and BSkyB after it made its initial approach last June, the two sides have two months to reach a recommended deal with Sky's independent directors from when the vile and odious rascal Hunt gives final approval. If this is not successful then over the following three-month period any offer by News Corp would need acceptance of seventy per cent of Sky's shareholders – News Corp already owns 39.1 per cent so the company would need the support of half of the investors controlling the remaining sixty per cent. If everything were to go smoothly in the takeover process News Corp could complete the transaction by the middle of October. And Uncle Rupert will be laughing having, effectively, bought the British government like a cheap whore and told it to get down on all fours and beg to be screwed. Not the most appealing metaphor to have stuck in your mind all weekend, I'm sure dear blog reader. But, a fairly accurate one.

The Daily Mirra wasted no time in sticking the boot into the prime minister over Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB. The paper, long at loggerheads with the Sun owner, used Thursday's leader to decry David Cameron's government as operating 'a giant con' and 'repaying a political debt' to Murdoch by giving the green light to the controversial BSkyB merger. It'll be interesting to see if noted Cameron lickers the Daily Scum Mail and the Daily Torygraph, both of whom the merger affects, possibly even more than the Mirra, will remain loyal to the Eton Rifle.

In reporting the vile and odious rascal Hunt's Commons speech, the Gruniad also got a few digs in. Though, not as many as the parliamentary Labour party - people who, lets remember before we get too carried away with righteous indignation, had their own tongues rammed firmly up Murdoch's ringpiece for much of the last decade. Much to the ultimate cost of their souls, it would seem. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, the Gruniad noted, 'had good tidings for someone important. None of this was a surprise and Labour MPs were deeply sceptical, since they suspect this is the payback for Murdoch's support for the Tories at the last election. Heavens, what a sceptical bunch they are.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt 'explained at great length' how he had followed all the rules, and proceeded by the letter of the law. He had acted quite independently and had taken independent advice from independent people, he claimed. He had not consulted the prime minister, and had not spoken to either Rupert or James Murdoch. '"Aye, but he has," said a growly Labour voice, referring to Cameron's jolly social sessions with the News Corp bosses.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'therefore in the stance familiar for politicians of all parties: using one hand to give the rich and powerful what they want, and the other hand to pat himself on the back. It is both difficult and ungainly.' Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has led the fight against Murdoch, 'poured a bucket full of cynical scorn over Mr Hunt's head. He spoke softly but angrily. News International, he said, had famously broken promises to the government. Murdoch's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks admitted that her staff had made illegal payments to police officers. Reporters, already mired in the phone-hacking scandal, had been collaborating with convicted prisoners. They had even hacked the parents of the two little girls murdered in Soham. On top of that, the new company would be registered in Delaware.' The Gruniad did concede that he 'made one slip,' saying that he expected the vile and odious rascal Hunt would get his reward. 'As Tories booed, we wondered what he meant. A knighthood? Envelopes stuffed with money? A free Sky box?' The vile and odious rascal Hunt reminded us of his own integrity. Chris Bryant said that no other country in the world would allow so much media power in the hands of one company – which had tried to cover up its employees' crimes. 'Apart from Italy!' yelled Kevin Brennan, and Bryant agreed – yes, we were in the same boat as Italy. Barry Gardiner summed up Labour's fury: the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'wrong, morally and politically. He is propping up a crumbling empire. Murdoch is the Gaddafi of News Corporation.'

Coronation Street's weekly Thursday episode is moving back to its traditional home of Wednesdays to make way for new shows, ITV has announced. The changes will happen next year when ITV's current contract to screen the Champions League football ends. The soap moved from Wednesday to Thursday in 2008 after forty eight years in the former slot. Speaking at ITV's Producers' Forum, David Bergg, director of programme strategy, said that the move provided 'more variety' to the schedule. An ITV spokesman added: 'Reflecting the move of ITV's live football matches from Wednesday to Tuesday nights next year, Coronation Street will move from Thursday at 2030 BST to Wednesday evenings at 1930 BST from autumn 2012.' The broadcaster is also keen to launch a mix of new long-running entertainment, factual and drama series for Wednesday nights when Coronation Street reoccupies its old slot. ITV's new football contract means that the channel will broadcast its pick of matches rather than Wednesday fixtures. Live coverage of England internationals and FA Cup replays will also be shown on Tuesdays.

Still on the subject of Corrie, John Michie has said that he is having 'great fun' playing Karl Munro. The Scottish actor made his debut as 'sexy charmer' Karl earlier this month. As the partner of new Rovers Return manager Stella Price - played by Michelle Collins - he moved into the pub with her and her daughter Eva (Catherine Tyldesley). Michie told ITV's This Morning: 'My character is a bit of a Jack The Lad. But it's great fun, it's a great show. Everyone is incredibly friendly - it's amazing how warm. It's a big warm happy family up there in Coronation Street. There are lots of characters, loads of people; after Taggart, I'm used to working with just us four and a few guest actors, and going to different locations every day, but now I'm in the same place every day - which I'm getting to quite enjoy!' However, Michie confessed that he is still adjusting to acting while having to serve Corrie locals from behind the bar. 'I've had quite a few jobs as a barman in the past, but it's just getting the lines in between serving the drinks - that's the thing,' he said, admitting that he is used to playing characters 'on the other side of the bar.' Meanwhile, Michie also hinted that there could be more episodes of ITV crime drama Taggart to come, despite the show having reportedly been axed after twenty eight years. 'I know STV are going to try to fund it differently and try to bring it back,' he said. 'And there could be a Christmas special or something like that. I'm sure we've not seen the end of it just yet. I hope not.'

BSkyB has bought new Steven Spielberg SF action series Terra Nova for Sky1. The epic dinosaur drama will be broadcast on Sky1 this autumn. Terra Nova follows the adventures of the Shannon family as they travel back from the Twenty Second Century to prehistoric times to try to save the human race after Earth's natural resources run out. It features Ashes to Ashes actor Jason O'Mara and Mistresses' star Shelley Conn as Jim and Elisabeth Shannon, along with Avatar's Stephen Lang, as the mission commander, Nathaniel Taylor. Sky1 director Stuart Murphy said: 'Terra Nova is a huge weekly epic adventure with a family at the centre of the action, a community full of tensions and rivalries, and some pretty scary dinosaurs. It's cinematic, powerful and a whole lot of fun that'll be even more fantastic in HD, and perfectly complements our exceptional line-up of British programmes and the "best of the US" including Glee, House, The Simpsons and Hawaii Five-0. The deal is part of Sky's long-term commitment to invest in content – both originated and acquired – worth paying for.' Spielberg has also executive produced another futuristic 'end of the world' drama series, Falling Skies, which is due to be broadcast on the FX channel in the UK from 5 July.

Channel Four has reportedly opened preliminary talks with Formula One bosses about snapping up broadcast rights to the motorsport when the BBC's deal expires in two years. Channel Four wants to pick up Formula One because its 'young male audience' is 'ideal for attracting advertisers,' according to the Evening Standard. The broadcaster declined to comment on the speculation, but a 'source' allegedly said: 'There's a perception that Channel Four isn't interested in sports but they've got the Paralympics next year and the IAAF athletics.' Last weekend, the Sunday Times reported a 'senior source' at the BBC as allegedly saying that the corporation will not extend its current five-year deal to cover F1, which is worth an estimated forty million smackers a year and runs until the end of the 2013 season. The newspaper claimed that the BBC feels the money spent on F1 would be better used elsewhere, as it attempts to slash its budget by twenty per cent under the new licence fee settlement. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has stressed that he wants to keep the sport on free-to-air television, despite speculation that pay-TV broadcaster Sky could move for the rights. 'We want Formula One to stay free to viewers. That is one hundred per cent,' he said. Channel Four has reinvested much of the money it saved from cancelling reality TV series Big Brother last year, but according to the Gruniad Morning Star, it ,still has a considerable cash pile for investment., Alongside its financial results announcement last month, Channel Four revealed that it has cash reserves of two hundred and sixty one million quid but it wants to retain one hundred million as a 'rainy day' fund, while a further one hundred million is required for upfront costs, such as paying suppliers in advance. That leaves a pot of around fifty million pounds which can be invested in content, of which fifteen million has already been allocated to boost the annual budget of film financing division Film4. Fellow commercial broadcaster ITV is also thought to be interested in the F1 rights after previously showing the motorsport up to 2008 when the BBC agreed its latest deal.

A 'friend' has allegedly 'revealed' that Jonathan Rhys Meyers did not attempt to commit suicide. Hang on, you can't 'reveal' something that didn't happen, only something that did. Somebody at Us Weekly wants to go back to school, seemingly. The Tudors actor was hospitalised on Tuesday night in what was widely suggested in the media was an attempt to end his life. However, a 'friend' of the actor has, allegedly, denied the claims. 'It was not a suicide attempt,' the 'friend' allegedly told Us Weekly. 'He did relapse and was hospitalised for that, but was released.' Rhys Meyers has entered a number of rehab facilities over the past few years in order to seek treatment for his alcohol dependency. He first checked into a clinic in 2007, with his most recent stay being in May. The thirty three-year-old was arrested in June 2009 after allegedly assaulting an airport employee in Paris while under the influence of alcohol. In 2010, Rhys Meyers was banned from flying on United Airlines after acting in a drunken and disorderly manner.

The trial of the Sun and the Daily Mirra on a charge of contempt of court, for their coverage of the Joanna Yeates killing, takes places next week. It will start in the high court on Tuesday and is expected to last two days. The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, is pursuing the contempt proceedings over articles about Christopher Jefferies, the landlord initially arrested during the police inquiry into the murder last December of Yeates, a tenant at his house in Bristol. Grieve has alleged that two articles in the Mirra and one in the Sun might have prejudiced a trial should Mr Jefferies have been charged with any crime. Which, of course, he wasn't. In fact, he was later released without charge and another man, also a tenant, was subsequently charged with Joanna's murder. His trial has yet to take place. Both papers deny liability for contempt. One man sure to be closely monitoring the trial is Louis Charalambous, the lawyer acting for Mr Jefferies, who says that his client expects newspaper owners to fire editors if found guilty of contempt. Charalambous has also issued writs for libel against the Mirra and the Scum, plus four other papers - the Daily Scum Mail, Daily Scum Express, Daily Lies and Daily Record.

The final series of Russell Davies' Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures will be broadcast on CBBC and BBC1 this Autumn, starring the late Elisabeth Sladen in the title role alongside Daniel Anthony as Clyde and Anjli Mohindra as Rani. Guest stars will include Christine Stephen-Daly, Peter Bowles and James Dreyfus.

ITV Studios has today announced the appointment of Andrew Nicholson and Sally Evans to newly-created roles at ITV Studios Factual (North) and Shiver. Which, I think, is a bit like Chaka Demas and Pliers in so much as you can't mention one without the other. Nicholson will become an executive producer, while Evans will head up development, both reporting to ITVS Factual (North) and Shiver creative director Alexander Gardiner. Evans will lead development for the whole Chaka Demas and Pliers Factual (North) and Shiver division, overseeing the production of a slate of factual programmes in Manchester and London. She and Nicholson will both be based in Manchester and officially start next month. 'We are very proud of the number and range of programmes which we develop and produce in Manchester; our slate encompasses a wide breadth of ideas from Strictly Kosher to Little England,' said Gardiner. 'These latest appointments are a fantastic reflection of our growth in the region and I'm delighted to be welcoming both Andrew and Sally to ITVS Chaka Demas and Pliers. Both bring to the team a huge breadth of experience in factual programmes, which will be invaluable in continuing to grow our business in the region.' Evans has previously worked for ITV Studios in a freelance capacity as head of the Manchester development unit, helping to gain commissions for new formats such as daytime series May The Best House Win. Prior to that, she was a producer on various BBC shows, including Street Doctor, Bank of Mum And Dad and Mastermind. Nicholson joins ITV Studios from the BBC, where he acted as an executive producer on programmes such as BBC2's Antiques Master and Beyond Walford on BBC3. Prior to this, he worked at Shine Group on shows such as Band for Britain for BBC2 and Banged Up on Channel Five. 'This is a fantastic opportunity to join a hugely talented team committed to making great television in the North,' said Nicholson. 'The department is going from strength to strength and I'm looking forward to playing a part in their ongoing success story.' Evans added: 'I've thoroughly enjoyed working within this rapidly expanding department at ITV and I'm delighted that I'll continue to be part of such a creative team who have the talent and ambition to carry on growing at a key moment in time for television production in the North.' Current shows in production at ITVS Chaka Demas and Pliers include Chatsworth, a documentary for the BBC, as well as May The Best House Win and Someone's Daughter, Someone's Son for ITV.

MSNBC's political analyst Mark Halperin has been suspended after insulting President Obama on air. Speaking to host Joe Scarborough on one of this week's editions of Morning Joe, which yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought was a cup of coffee but never mind, Halperin assumed that his comments would be cut from broadcast. According to reports, Halperin said: 'Are we on the seven-second delay? I want to characterise how I thought the President behaved. I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.' Scarborough immediately told the producers to 'delay that' and later apologised to viewers. He added that the comment was not bleeped out because the show's new executive producer 'does not know how the tape delay works.' Which is probably something, in and of itself, that should be addressed forthwith. If not sooner. Halperin also apologised on air, saying: 'Joking aside, this is not a pro-forma apology, it's an absolute apology, heartfelt, to the President and to the viewers. I became part of the joke but that's no excuse. I made a mistake and I'm sorry and I shouldn't have said it, and as I said I apologise.' MSNBC has now released a statement announcing that Halperin has been suspended. 'Mark Halperin's comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable,' the broadcaster said. 'We apologise to the President, the White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.' The president's views on the subject are not known but, to be honest, if that's the worst that he gets called by some sections of the media this week, then it'll have been a good week. Meanwhile, Halperin also released a message claiming that he 'completely agrees' with MSNBC. Not that he could have said much else, to be honest. Other than, 'can somebody make sure the producer knows how to work the tape delay, that's supposed to be his job after all,' of course. 'I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate,' he said. 'Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable and I deeply regret it.'

Our latest Keith Telly Topping's Jazz Club 45(s) of the Day features two rather tasty slices of easy eighties café jazz. Firstly, the brilliant 'A View From Her Room' from Weekend
Ah, Alison Statton - awesome. And then, secondly, the classic 'Venceremos' from Working Week (who were, themselves, a spin-off from Weekend). This one, of course, features Tracy Thorn, Robert Wyatt and Claudia Figueroa. Sadly, the superb slower bossa-nova single version doesn't appear on You Tube - what's the matter with you people?! - so you'll have to make so with the rather frenetic and overly fussy 'jazz dance special twelve inch' version here, dear blog reader. Which is good but not great. The slower re-record, from the band's first LP - with Juliet Roberts and Figueroa on vocals - is also well worth a listen.
Early eighties café jazz. Nice.

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