Friday, August 26, 2011

That Geezer Was Cruisin' For A Bruisin'

The government has been forced into a highly amusingly humiliating climbdown over its stated plans to 'ban' suspected rioters from accessing social networking websites including Facebook and Twitter in times of civil unrest. Unprecedented measures such as shutting down websites and banning users are understood to have been dismissed by all sides early at a Home Office summit between the home secretary, Theresa May, and the major social networks on Thursday afternoon. The one-hour discussion focused on how law enforcement can better use Twitter and Facebook as part of day-to-day operations as well as in emergencies. A Home Office spokeswoman said: 'The home secretary, along with the culture secretary and Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne, has held a constructive meeting with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the police and representatives from the social media industry. The discussions looked at how law enforcement and the networks can build on the existing relationships and co-operation to prevent the networks being used for criminal behaviour.' The notion of banning suspected rioters from social networks was first raised by David Cameron a fortnight ago when he vowed to do 'whatever it takes' to prevent a repeat of the unprecedented riots and looting across England. The prime minister announced that the social networks, including BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, had been summoned to a Home Office meeting when responding to questions from MPs in the Commons. A Twitter spokeswoman said: 'Governments and law enforcement agencies around the world use Twitter to engage in open, public communications with citizens. We've heard from many that Twitter is an effective way to distribute crucial updates and dispel rumours in times of crisis or emergency. People also use Twitter as the first place to get information, monitor quickly changing events in real-time, and connect with friends, family and their communities. We are always interested in exploring how we can make Twitter even more helpful and relevant during times of critical need.'
The US attorney general has reportedly told families of 9/11 victims that he will launch a 'preliminary criminal investigation' into allegations that journalists working for News Corporation may have attempted to access the phone records of some of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. Eric Holder held a meeting with families of victims of the attacks on 11 September 2001 at the Justice Department this week to discuss the allegations - which were first reported in the ever-reliable Daily Mirra - that the Scum of the World tried to hack victims' voicemails. Norman Siegel, a lawyer representing some of the families, told reporters that Holder had said that it was 'very disturbing' that the UK phone hacking scandal could have spread to 9/11 victims. Ahead of the meeting, Siegel told the Associated Press that the families were working with the FBI in its investigation to determine whether hacking 'was attempted, and/or occurred.' 'We are going to the meeting with the attorney general to listen to what he can tell us about the investigation and to ascertain the scope, the goals and timetable of the inquiry,' Siegel said. Last month, the Mirra claimed that Scum of the World journalists had approached a former New York police officer working as a private detective to see if he would hack the phones, but he refused. It's also worth noting that the story was based on unnamed sources and, if it had appeared in the Daily Lies nobody would have given it much credence. News Corp has strenuously denied the claims and dismissed the report as 'anonymous speculation' with 'no substantiation.' Just like the kind of the thing the Scum of the World used to print on a daily basis, in fact. British police investigating allegations of phone hacking at the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World have also told the FBI that there were no names or phone numbers of 9/11 victims among the evidence which they have gathered to date. Officers working on the Met Police's Operation Weeting probe into phone hacking have examined massive phone records taken from the jailed private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and other sources, but have found no evidence to suggest 9/11 victims were targeted thus far. The New York Police Department is further thought to have informed the FBI that it has nothing to suggest phones were hacked, while the FBI's own agents have said the same. Meanwhile, the US investigation into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has now been widened beyond the 9/11 claims, examining whether there was a broader pattern of misconduct at the firm's US operation.

Doctor Who's Karen Gillan has revealed that her character's relationship with The Doctor will change in future episodes. The actress told The TV Addict website that Amy Pond's 'undying faith' in the Time Lord could be challenged. 'Many things are happening to this girl that could really damage her,' said Gillan. 'She kind of really idolised The Doctor in the last series and many things have happened that could damage that.' She hinted that the eleventh episode of the current series, Toby Whithouse's The God Complex, will explore the relationship between the pair. 'It's really, really exquisite and it's really explored in episode eleven,' she said. 'It is something they explore with [the episode's monster] the Minotaur and it's really interesting. And something happens that changes that completely.' Gillan also claimed that she is not concerned about being typecast by her Doctor Who role. 'I really hope to do a variety of things after Doctor Who,' she admitted. 'Actually, I think there's a lot of variety in the show, so you get to show a lot of different aspects.'

Doctor Who's showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has claimed that he knew the true identity of River Song for a long time. In the popular family SF drama's mid-series finale, it was revealed that River (played by Alex Kingston) is, in reality, the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. 'I used the name Pond for that reason, to create a link,' Moffat told TV Guide. '[That reveal] was Plan A for a long time.' He added: 'My favourite dirty joke in Doctor Who is the title of episode thirteen in series five, The Big Bang, [because it's] the night when River began. I laughed a lot when I thought of that.' Moffat also insisted that the familial link between Amy and River 'makes sense' when looking back at past episodes. 'I think that the moment that you actually see them together [you notice] how similar they are in certain aspects,' he suggested. 'That sort of devil-may-care attitude, how naughty they are. Either of them, without the presence of The Doctor, would just be wicked.' Karen Gillan previously said that she is looking forward to exploring River and Amy's changed relationship. 'That's going to be really fun, considering the big revelation,' she said. 'We'll see parental instincts coming into play.'

Last night's Torchwood episode, Immortal Sins, achieved an average audience of 3.4 million viewers on BBC1 and BBC1 HD, according to overnight figures. That's roughly the same overnight audience as last week, although this week the main opposition came not from Celebrity Big Brother (which held steady at 2.4m), but from the first network showing of the feature film, The Duchess staring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, which gave BBC2 an average of 3.1 million viewers between 9pm and 10.40pm. ITV was showing the finale of Show Me The Funny which had 2.6 million viewers.

The Hour has been renewed for a second series on BBC2. The channel's controller Janice Hadlow announced that the drama would be returning while speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. The Hour was penned by Brick Lane scribe Abi Morgan and stars Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Whishaw in the three lead roles. Hadlow said: 'I'm delighted that Abi Morgan and the team will be bringing back The Hour for a second series. It has been a hugely impactful, much talked about programme, and the potential for plot development is very exciting.' The Hour, which concluded its first series with over 1.7m viewers in the UK on Tuesday, focuses on the team working on a current affairs TV show in the mid-1950s. Ben Stephenson added: 'The Hour recommission clearly signals BBC2's resurgence as it marks the channels first original British returning drama series since The Cops. A second series really allows the team to build on the characters and their relationships against the exciting backdrop of their workplace.' Other stars who took part in the first series include Anna Chancellor, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Oona Chaplin. Morgan has revealed that she has already planned out a second series. Jane Featherstone, the Creative Director and Executive Producer of The Hour's production company Kudos Film and Television, further teased: 'In series two we are going to find out what happens next in the lives of our news team, as they engage with a new year full of old flames, new loves, thrilling stories and plenty of scandal. Taking us even deeper into our characters' lives and engaging the viewers with its energy, wit and story, we're chuffed to bits to be able to keep the world alive.'

Family Guy's future on BBC3 is 'debatable,' according to the channel's controller Zai Bennett. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival today, Bennett told journalists that rights for the popular US animated comedy, which come to an end in two years' time, would not be renewed 'at any price.' Family Guy is BBC3's most highly-rated import, regularly topping a million viewers for new episodes and also commanding high audiences for its late-night repeats. New BBC1 and ex-BBC3 boss Danny Cohen praised the show's success in the UK at last year's festival. 'I'm really proud of what we've done with Family Guy. It wasn't a hit in the UK three years ago, but we really believed in it and put it on every night,' he said. 'I love it, it's brilliant, and we're lucky to have it.'

Award-winning writer and director Dominic Savage will return to BBC1 with Love Life, a serial made through improvisation. Five universal stories which explore 'love in the modern day' each led by a big name cast: David Tennant, Billie Piper, Jane Horrocks, Ashley Walters and David Morrissey. Savage says: 'I am looking to create something special that has a modern view on the age old mystery of love. Something that expresses the reality of love and puts it on the screen. I am looking to explore these themes in the seaside town of Margate, with a group of incredibly talented actors who are ready to journey with me on this.' Love Life explores five powerful and overlapping stories set in the same town. Each looks at a different relationship and explores a different dilemma or situation. When it comes to love and relationships, there is never an easy 'right answer' – telling the truth is complicated, and the conflict of desire and responsibility can be explosive. The stories are promised to be 'life-affirming, visceral, provocative and compelling. Most of all they are universal.' The audience will, the productions claims, feel 'as torn by the situations as the characters do, and each story will provoke strong responses: did the characters do the right thing in the end? What would you have done?' Ben Stephenson, the Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said: 'This is a complete first in TV drama on BBC1: a serial made through improvisation. It features some of our very best acting talent working in a way we've never seen on screen from them before, using improvisation to push the boundaries of each story, to get right to the heart of the truth.' Juliette Howell of Working Title Television, added: 'I've always admired Dominic's extraordinary capacity to capture truth and humanity in his work and with the complexities of love as his subject matter, and the stellar cast he has assembled, Love Life promises to be something very special.'

Speaking this week at Edinburgh Television Festival, BBC4 Controller, Richard Klein announced The Spies Of Warsaw adapted by the great Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais for BBC4 from Fresh Pictures. Two ninety-minute film adaptations of Alan Furst's acclaimed novels will bring to BBC4 a combination of historically located, intelligent narratives, interlaced with flawed, romantic and utterly compelling characters. Furst, widely recognised as the current master of the historical spy novel, evokes a Europe stumbling into a Second World War, his taut and richly atmospheric thrillers grace the bestseller lists right around the globe. They have been described as 'Casablanca meets John le Carre.' Richard Klein said: 'Alan Furst is one of the world's finest writers on war and the costs of war on human relationships. It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that BBC4 will be dramatising for television one of his best known novels, Spies Of Warsaw. Furst and Four are a very good fit and I hope our audiences will enjoy the result of this collaboration.' The characters of Alan Furst's best-selling spy novels roam the foggy nights and steal across the rainy, cobbled streets of Prague, Berlin, Warsaw, Rome, and Paris. Furst's protagonists join the ranks of the Resistance in one way or another. They include faded nobility, b-movie filmmakers, newspapermen, ship's captains and compromised businessmen as well as waiters, shopkeepers, jaded intellectuals, tarnished grand dames, and boozy British secret agents. Together they march in the underground army that seeks to fight back against the Nazi occupiers. Spanning the decade from 1933 to 1943, as the Germans slowly consolidate their political stranglehold on Europe, Furst's stories are portraits of subjugated peoples who try to resist the suffocating inevitability of Hitler's regime. They show the potency and the importance of espionage and pure intelligence in the run up to the war. Furst captures the history as well as the humanity.

BBC3 controller Zai Bennett has axed Hotter Than My Daughter - because it was shit and nobody watched it - and says that 'a question mark' is hanging over 'make-under' show Snog, Marry, Avoid. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday, Bennett said he thought that BBC3 is safe from the axe as the BBC tries to make twenty per cent budget cuts as a result of last year's licence fee freeze. However, it could face some cuts, in areas such as drama, with BBC3 currently only making about three a year. Bennett defended his channel's programme names, saying people had to 'go back about three years' to find so-called 'shouty titles,' but admitted there had been some discussion about renaming forthcoming comedy Pramface. He said lots of people who do not watch the channel like to make pronouncements on BBC3 but some titles were 'sticks to hit us with.' He announced that Billie Piper is to star in a new comedy pilot for BBC3 called Tom and Jenny and confirmed a second series of the critically-acclaimed Afghan war documentary series Our War. When asked if he wanted to follow in his predecessor Danny Cohen's footsteps and become BBC1 controller, Bennett responded that he did not. He also said he wants to do more episodes of Young Voters' Question Time and said it is being refreshed.

King Charlie Brooker has produced a spoof British detective show titled A Touch of Cloth for Sky1. John Hannah, Suranne Jones, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Adrian Bower are among the cast for the classic crime drama parody. Based on Boris Starling's Messiah, Brooker and Daniel Maier (Harry Hill's TV Burp) have written the script, which was commissioned by Sky's Head of Comedy Lucy Lumsden. 'Witty, naughty and unashamedly silly - Charlie Brooker gives the British TV detective genre a right good comedy kicking with this one-off special for Sky 1 HD,' Lumsden said. Hannah stars as DCI Jack Cloth, a maverick, heavy-drinking loner, who throws himself into work following the mysterious death of his wife, while Jones is cast as no-nonsense sidekick DC Anne Oldman. It is billed as 'an all-encompassing parody of every police procedural ever written.' Produced by Zeppotron, Endemol UK's comedy and drama production arm, A Touch of Cloth is a one-off two-hour show. Brooker said: 'After you've seen A Touch of Cloth you'll never be able to watch another detective show again. Not because it's a devastating piss-take, but because you'll have smashed your TV to pieces in a disappointed fury.' Heh. Crazy guy. Annabel Jones, exec producer at Zeppotron, added: 'Having tackled zombies in Dead Set, A Touch of Cloth is a very funny and reliably corpse-strewn homage to the best of British cop shows. We're delighted to have such a wonderful cast and such a great detective in John Hannah, who we're sure will get to the bottom of things. But not too quickly, or the final fifteen minutes will consist of awkward whistling.'

The Simpsons' Harry Shearer has signed up to play Richard Nixon in a new drama for Sky Arts. Nixon's The One, which has been described as a 'comedy drama,' has been drawn from the infamous Watergate tapes. The drama, which also stars The Damned United's Henry Goodman as Henry Kissinger, will feature lines taken verbatim from the recordings, which were made public in the 1980s. Shearer and his collaborator Stanley Kutler listened to hundreds of hours worth of material to produce the programme. 'Having grown up in LA, I'd had Nixon in my brain my whole life and it recently struck me that the current portrayals of the man were leaving out the wonderland of his emotional complexity,' Shearer said. 'To me the key point of the comedy was that these conversations were being held, usually during working hours, by what was then usually described as the most powerful man in the world.' Nixon's The One's executive producer Jimmy Mulville suggested that viewers will be 'genuinely shocked and hopefully amused by some of the opinions expressed by the Nixon White House,' adding: 'It's a genuinely funny show and a startling historical document.' Meanwhile, Sky Arts' channel director James Hunt said: 'The Nixon tapes are probably the most complex and controversial set of records from a US presidency. The recordings reveal such a rich picture of a man consumed with egotism, but it is also hugely funny. To have such an intriguing and complex story brought to life by this award-winning cast, and in Nixon's own words, is hugely exciting for Sky Arts.' News of Nixon's The One comes shortly after Sky Arts announced that it will broadcast the Italian crime drama Romanzo Criminale.

Channel Four has announced that it has commissioned a new comedy about phone hacking. The one-off film, currently called HACKS, is described as 'a satirical swipe' at the recent scandal. The comedy is set at a fictional newspaper and follows a group of journalists desperate to get good stories 'by any means necessary.' However, things are about to go wrong. The special has been written by Guy Jenkin, who has previously worked on Outnumbered, Drop The Dead Donkey and Spitting Image. Jenkin joked that he wants the project, currently at the script stage, to be 'faster and funnier than all the enquiries so far.' Channel Four's head of comedy Shane Allen said: 'We are very excited about HACKS, and it's great that Channel Four can be so quick off the mark to shine a satirical light on what's been happening in the media over the last few months.' HACKS is expected to air on Channel Four in the winter. Drop The Dead Donkey, which Jenkin created with long-time collaborator Andy Hamilton, ran from 1990 to 1998 and was set in the offices of the fictional TV news company GlobeLink News. The ensemble cast of the BAFTA-winning show included Stephen Tompkinson and Neil Pearson.

Jamie Lee Curtis has signed up for a guest role on NCIS. The True Lies star will play Charlotte Ryan, an employee of the Department of Defence, according to TV Line. The character, who will appear in a special two-part storyline, will serve as a romantic interest for Gibbs (Mark Harmon). 'Don't be surprised if there are sparks between Gibbs and Ryan,' said NCIS executive producer Gary Glasberg. 'We're expecting some real chemistry.' Glasberg also praised Curtis's casting, calling the Halloween actress 'enormously talented. Jamie's shoot-from-the-hip style embodies everything we want from Ryan,' he said. '[She has] humour, heart, strength, and a lot of fun. We couldn't be more excited she's here.' Curtis previously starred alongside NCIS lead Harmon in 2003 film Freaky Friday and has also appeared in such films as The Fog, Trading Places and A Fish Called Wanda. Her past television credits include ABC series Operation Petticoat and the sitcom Anything But Love, which ran from 1989 to 1992.

Channel Four and ITV are challenging BSkyB over the viewer data it gleans about their programmes, calling on the government to address the issue in the next Communications Act. The Channel Four chief executive, David Abraham, speaking as part of a panel session at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday, said the broadcaster intends to make a submission about the issue to the government ahead of a green paper on the scope of the Communications Act. 'If our content is being watched behind a pay wall and that data is used to negotiate advertising deals for the owner of that platform it is an issue,' he said. 'As a public broadcaster I would say that information should be made available to the provider of that content.' He added that he was 'not specifically talking about Sky,' saying his view on data usage applied to 'all platforms that can extract behavioural information.' Abraham said that, as public service broadcasters, Channel Four and the BBC had a responsibility to lead the way in being clear with how their data is used. Abraham is on a mission to make better commercial use of audience information about Channel Four output – he has previously called such data 'the new oil' for broadcasters in the digital era. Fru Hazlitt, managing director of commercial and online at ITV, said that the broadcaster 'of course' supported Channel Four's view. 'Sky make most of their money because most people want to watch our free-to-air content,' she said. 'Actually the most important thing is both David and us pay a fortune for that content. Our duty as a commercial broadcaster is to see what consumers will pay for and that comes down to data. It has got to be a huge mission for us.' Ed Vaizey, the lack of culture minister, speaking more generally on the issue of data and privacy, said he did not want to 'set any hares running but it is a major issue.' Vaizey added that the upcoming green paper is a 'blank sheet' and welcomed Abraham's intention to make a submission on data usage. He described the government's focus for the next Communications Act, which the government plans to introduce before the next general election in 2015, as 'privacy, pipes, porn and piracy.' Vaizey said he wanted to see transparency in how data is used. 'My instinct is for self-regulation, for solutions to come from the industry,' he added. He went on to talk about the issue of media plurality and market dominance in the Internet era. 'Media plurality on the web is a huge question,' he said. 'It is a big issue, to a certain extent it seems exempt from these [existing rules that apply to normal world]. It is an interesting question.' He said there is a need to separate the issue of market dominance and abusive dominance by technology companies such as Google. 'In theory web dominance, if it is abusive, shouldn't be exempt,' he added.

Amber Heard has defended her new series The Playboy Club against critics. The Parents Television Council, Women's rights leader Gloria Steinem and The Good Wife star Christine Baranski are among those to have criticised the show's concept - for a variety of different reasons, admittedly. Responding to the comments, Heard told Collider: 'It wouldn't have any effect on me, even if they had seen the show. But, they haven't seen the show so what does that matter to me?' The actress added that questions about the NBC drama's content are 'legitimate' but insisted that its female characters are 'empowered by [their] sexuality. Women who are empowered by it and have choices based off of their sexuality are very different from the ones that are being taken advantage of,' she said. 'I have to make that distinction because, in 2011, we should not see the two as the same thing. They are very different.' This example of stiletto-feminism was brought to you, dear blog readers, by Amber Heard who also claimed that she had been 'blown away' by 'the amount of trailblazers [and] trend-setters' that she met while researching The Playboy Club. 'There were many women who went on to do things, like have careers and be entrepreneurs,' she said. 'There are women who have talked to us about their experiences. They might exist, but I have yet to meet an ex-Bunny who's disgruntled about her experience.'

BBC4 has picked up the rights to the Australian drama The Slap. The eight-part series, based on the award-winning novel by Christos Tsiolkas, focuses on what happens after a man slaps a child who is not his son at a barbecue. The drama is told from the point of view of eight characters as the boy's parents take the man to court. The 'slap' ends up affecting all of the people involved in different ways. The BBC promised that The Slap will bring 'to vivid life questions of parenting, the rights of children, race, class, sexuality, and the different perspectives of men and women.' The cast of The Slap includes Cold Case's Jonathan LaPaglia, Home and Away and Grey's Anatomy actress Melissa George, Hotel Rwanda star Sophie Okonedo, Charlotte's Web and Australia actress Essie Davis and Neighbours actor Alex Dimitriades. The BBC's head of programme acquisition Sue Deeks described The Slap as 'a phenomenon,' adding: 'This fine Australian adaptation brings the novel's keen-eyed dissection of suburban living to the screen with tremendous performances - it is a truly powerful, compelling and thought-provoking watch.' Meanwhile, BBC4's controller Richard Klein said: 'The book was a runaway success and I'm pleased to bring this very well made tale of our times to the channel. It reflects BBC4's desire to bring viewers the best programming from around the world and its focus on social contemporary issues will bring a different tone to the channel.'

Geordie Shore has, shamefully, been given a second series after proving to be a record-breaking ratings hit for MTV. The second run will be broadcast in 2012 and will follow the popular larger-than-life characters Gaz, Vicky and Jay as they live and party in the North-East to the disgruntlement of locals. Produced by Lime Pictures, the show's next series will be extended to eight episodes. 'Audiences have been hooked on the show,' said MTV in a statement. Which is true put probably says more about the kind of audiences MTV gets in 2011 than it does about anything else quality related. 'Since its launch this June, it has become the highest-ever rated series on MTV.' As though that justifies anything. You could put shit in a nice box and, with clever marketing it might sell. But it would still be shit. 'The Newcastle-based show that brought "tanning", "tashing on" and "getting mortal" to the masses will be returning in early 2012, filmed once again in and around the North-East town famed for its lively nightlife and larger-than-life characters.' MTV is currently broadcasting the summer Magaluf Madness specials, which the cast filmed while on holiday in the Spanish island.

Fred West's daughter was scared of Dominic West when she saw him playing her father in a new ITV drama, the show's executive producer has said. Appropriate Adult focuses on the period between Fred West's arrest and his subsequent suicide. The drama also follows the relationship between West and Janet Leach (Emily Watson), who served as his guardian during police interviews. Appropriate Adult's executive producer Jeff Pope has now told the Sun that Dominic West's portrayal of the serial killer was so uncanny that his daughter was unnerved by it. 'When Fred's daughter Mae first saw Dominic playing him she was mesmerised,' he said. 'She felt he had captured the evil essence of him - his character, his mannerisms, even his gait.' Pope also revealed that Janet had found Dominic West's acting scary, saying: 'When Janet visited the set she couldn't go over to him for ages. It took her back seventeen years and to her it was the same man she met.' Meanwhile, Watson said: 'It felt like I was sitting opposite Fred West. And Monica [Dolan] as Rose was absolutely terrifying.'

Grey's Anatomy's executive producer Mark Gordon has started developing two new shows for ABC. Gordon is working on a pair of comedies for the network, The Hollywood Reporter claims. Stuck In Reverse focuses on a father who tries to reconnect with his children after a near-death experience. The second project, Generation Ex, will focus on second marriages and parenting. As well as working on Grey's Anatomy, Gordon's credits include Private Practice, Criminal Minds, Army Wives and Reaper. He is also developing a third project for ABC, Americana, which is described as 'a family soap set in the fashion industry.' Earlier, Gordon's colleague Shonda Rhimes began working on a new ABC project. Gilded Lillys, set in 1895, concerns the people surrounding New York's first luxury hotel.

Alan Dale has joined the cast of ABC's new fantasy drama Once Upon a Time. The ABC drama stars Jennifer Morrison as Emma, a young woman with a troubled past who moves to a small town where the magic of fairytales appears to be real. The Neighbours and Lost actor Dale will play the father of Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), according to TV Line. 'It's a really pivotal role, and a pivotal part of the Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming story that we don't think has been told yet,' said producer Adam Horowitz. Dale is initially booked for just one episode, though Horowitz hinted that he could reappear later in the first season. 'We're leaving the door open for a larger tale to potentially tell with him,' he explained. The actor has previously appeared in episodes of The West Wing, 24, Ugly Betty, The OC and Torchwood. Others confirmed to appear in the show include Buffy actor Harry Groener, Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito and Falling Skies star Jessy Schram.

The ITV director of television, Peter Fincham, has defended his flop breakfast franchise Daybreak, while admitting it is still 'a work in progress' nearly a year after launch. Fincham told the Edinburgh International Television Festival: 'It's a good show.' Which it isn't. 'It's a show we'd like to get to a different place from where it is just at the moment. It's a work in progress.' That's certainly true. He said Daybreak, which replaced the long-running GMTV in September last year, was 'not as bad as media coverage suggested.' Which, to be frank, suggests that if Fincham really does believe that he's got no place running ITV. 'It's a lot better than it's sometimes characterised,' he added. Which, it isn't. 'It will continue to improve. Breakfast is a very distinctive part of the schedule.' Asked about comments made by Daybreak host Adrian Chiles, who described the programme earlier this year as 'a crock of shit,' Fincham said: '[Chiles] is a brilliant television presenter.' Which he isn't. 'His stock in trade is to speak his mind. I have no problem with that.' He added that he had confidence in Chiles and his co-presenter Christine Bleakley, 'no ifs, no buts.' Fincham conceded that the success of period drama Downton Abbey came as 'a pleasant surprise,' even though ITV was always hopeful it would prove a hit. 'We thought it would go well but never, ever say "I know that show's a hit" before the audience has decided. It's a not a science, it's a guessing game.' He also denied that ITV is too dependent on Simon Cowell. 'These shows do not need him sitting there every week,' he said, referring to Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor, which have both returned to ITV this year without Cowell on their judging panels. ITV is currently looking for comedy ideas, Fincham added. He conceded that the broadcaster 'lost its way' in the genre at one point. 'Every year we go to the screenings [of new US TV shows] in Los Angeles and this year the comedy was better than the drama,' he said.

Ben Savage has signed up for a guest role in the new season of Bones. The Boy Meets World actor will play a former shipping store employee who is caught up in a criminal investigation, according to TV Line. '[He's a] murder suspect who is married to another suspect who has bought a lottery ticket with another two suspects,' explained executive producer Stephen Nathan. 'Who done it?' Savage also confirmed his casting on Twitter, writing: 'First day on the set of Bones. Great show and a very talented cast!' The former child star is best known for playing Cory Matthews on ABC's Boy Meets World from 1993 to 2000. Since the show's conclusion, Savage has appeared in episodes of Chuck and Without A Trace. Morgan Fairchild will also appear in the seventh season of Bones as the CEO of a toy company.

Pat Monahan has been named as the winner of Show Me The Funny. Which will of no doubt be of interested to the four people still watching the show by the time it finished.

Dave's comedy debate show Argumental is to relaunch with an eight-part fourth series. Comedian Sean Lock will take over as host, while Peep Show's Robert Webb will be captain of one of the debating teams. The new run will also include new graphics, an updated set and a feature which allows viewers to play along with the on-screen arguments in real time, using dual-screen technology. 'Argumental has built up an enviable level of credibility in the comedy community,' said Dave's Steve North. 'The addition of Sean Lock and Robert Webb, coupled with the play-at-home technology, makes this series more relevant than ever to Dave's savvy viewers.' UKTV's Sarah Fraser added: 'Tiger Aspect has done a great job to completely reimagine Argumental whilst retaining its most fantastic qualities as a place where Britain's top comedians can riff freely on the topics of the day. I'm thrilled to have Sean Lock and Robert Webb on board.' The previous three series of Argumental featured John Sergeant as host, with Marcus Brigstocke and Rufus Hound as the captains of the red team and blue team respectively. The identity of the second team captain in the relaunched version of the show has yet to be confirmed.

Comic and Last of the Summer Wine actor Russ Abbot is to play Tommy Cooper in a new BBC Radio 3 drama, it has been confirmed. Glass Chair Chair Glass imagines what would have happened if the comedian and magician had met absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco. Dame Harriet Walter will also star in the drama, while Vera Drake actor Allan Corduner will play Ionesco. The ninety-minute play will be broadcast on 18 September. The story has been written by Annie Caulfield, whose credits include the radio drama The Von Trapps and Me, which told the story of The Sound of Music from the point of view of the baroness. Caulfield told The Stage there was a 'showbusiness rumour' that Cooper and Ionesco had once met, and that her drama imagines this took place in 1975 in Paris. Abbot starred in BBC1 comedy Last of the Summer Wine from 2008 until it ended last year. He has also recently appeared on stage in Oliver! and The Producers. He is best remembered for his self-titled comedy series which ran during the 1980s and 90s. Abbot also scored a number of chart hits, including 'Atmosphere', which made the UK top ten in 1984. Although yer actual Keith Telly Topping much preferred the Joy Division original.

Outnumbered's Tyger Drew-Honey has predicted that the show will end after five series. Drew-Honey, who plays Jake, believes that the award-winning sitcom could tire once fellow young actors Daniel Roche (Ben) and Ramona Marquez (Karen) 'mature.' Speaking to What's on TV, the fifteen-year-old said: 'I think there is a chance of a fifth series, but I don't think it will go much further than that.' Drew-Honey added: 'Not many people had seen kids that young on TV before because there is a saying, "Don't work with children or animals," but Dan and Ramona were so endearing I think it attracted a lot of viewers. If it gets to a point where they aren't cute any more, though, I think it will have to stop. The point of Outnumbered is that it is set around the house with the school run and the madness of that. If everyone is mature I just don't think it will work.'

Sir Alex Ferguson has reportedly lifted his ban on talking to the BBC after seven years of avoiding post-match interviews. The Scumchester United manager has not given interviews to the corporation since 2004 after a BBC documentary made allegations against his son, Jason. Thursday's announcement followed a meeting between Ferguson and BBC executives. A 'source' allegedly close to the discussions said that neither party had apologised but had agreed to put aside their differences and move on. 'It wasn't about apologising, it was more a case of letting bygones be bygones, moving forward rather than dwelling on the past,' added an alleged 'source.' A statement on The Scum website said: 'Sir Alex Ferguson and the BBC have decided to put behind them the difficulties which led to Sir Alex feeling unable to appear on BBC programmes. This follows a meeting between Sir Alex and the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, and BBC North director Peter Salmon, and the issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Sir Alex will now make himself available to the BBC for Match of the Day, Radio 5Live and other outlets as agreed. No further comment will be made by either party on this issue.' Ferguson imposed 'a lifetime ban' on the BBC in 2004 in protest at a TV documentary about his son, Jason, who was then working as an agent. The Scum's manager has said he would only speak to the corporation again if it apologised for the documentary, called Fergie and Son, which was broadcast on digital channel BBC3 and subsequently repeated on BBC1. A meeting between Ferguson and the BBC's director general was brokered by Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards earlier this year in a bid to end the feud. The BBC has consistently said it would not apologise for the content of the documentary, leading to a seven-year impasse. Three years after the documentary was broadcast, Ferguson said: 'I think the BBC is the kind of company that never apologise and they never will apologise. They are arrogant beyond belief.' Which, coming from Ferguson was one of the funniest bits of irony anybody could ever remember hearing. Under Premier League rules, Ferguson incurred a fine every time he refused to speak to the BBC. Clubs are required to make players and coaching staff available to its contracted domestic rights holders, BSkyB and the BBC, which pour £1.8bn into Premier League clubs over three years. The BBC is believed to pay one hundred and seventy million pounds for the rights to show highlights on BBC1's Match of the Day. Viewers of Match of the Day and listeners to BBC Radio 5Live have grown accustomed to Ferguson's absence from the airwaves, with The Scum's assistant manager Mike Phelan standing in for Ferguson. Well known for his fiery temper, Ferguson has periodically imposed bans on virtually every media organisation at one time or another during nearly twenty five years as The Scum's manager. Sky Sports was banned for several weeks in 2003 after he was doorstepped by one of its reporters, and earlier this year he was caught on a microphone asking a club press officer to ban a journalist who asked a question about Ryan Giggs at a press conference. After some Scum matches, Ferguson has avoided talking to journalists altogether, instead giving interviews to the club's official TV channel, MUTV. Speaking about the ban last year, Match of the Day host Gary Lineker said: 'It's a shame. We would like him to speak to us because we respect him and his teams, and always have done. It makes no difference to the programme because it's action-led. But it does make a difference to the Manchester United fans. They are the ones missing out. I get letters saying: "We never hear from Sir Alex," and I have to explain. It's something he feels very strongly about, so what can you do?'

The F1 Sky television deal could be 'good for the sport,' F1 2011 developer Codemasters has said. From next year until 2018, the BBC will show half of all races live, while Sky will broadcast coverage of all practice sessions, qualifying and every race. Senior producer Paul Jeal said that the Sky deal could raise the profile of F1 home and abroad, like it did with football. 'I think everyone's initial reaction is disappointment, especially when something changes. [The] BBC has done such a great job as well,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'I think, ultimately, Sky did a lot of good for football, and I think they could do a lot for raising the awareness for the sport. I think there might be a dip upfront, but you don't know what they've got planned. They're not having adverts. It depends on the strength of their team as well. F1 is moving into America next year with an American race, and I really do think that Sky could really help push it.'

Channel Five has announced a new series which will search for the country's best family of home cooks. Real Food Family Cook Off will be hosted by former Celebrity MasterChef winners Lisa Faulkner and Matt Dawson. Funded by Tesco, the show will also be broadcast on the Good Food channel. Each episode will see two teams made up of three family members go head to head. Taking part in two cook-offs in each episode, the teams will have just thirty minutes to prepare and plate up their chosen recipes. The families will face critique from series judge Ainsley Harriot, as well as a varying weekly celebrity guest. The seven-episode series will comprise four heats, two semi-finals and a grand final. The cook-offs are being filmed at family favourite locations around the UK including London Zoo, Portsmouth, Greenwich Park and Kensington Gardens. 'The Real Food Family Cook Off is all about bringing families together through cooking,' said Channel Five commissioning editor for entertainment, daytime and soaps Greg Barnett. 'It's a great format and as well as providing fantastic entertainment through the fabulous talent and teams we've attached to the series, there are inspirational and accessible recipes everyone can try at home.'

Motown executive Esther Gordy Edwards - the sister of label's founder Berry Gordy - has died at the age of ninety one. She served as senior vice-president and was charged with exposing the unique Motown sound to international audiences. She also led the efforts to turn Motown's original headquarters Hitsville in Detroit into a museum. Berry Gordy started the Tamla label in 1959 with the Motown imprint following a year later. A statement on the Motown Museum's website said Edwards died 'surrounded by family and friends' on 24 August. Edwards - Gordy's eldest sister - held several positions within the label but is best known for turning Motown's famed Studio A - The Snake Pit - into an attraction after the company moved most of its operations to Los Angeles. Gordy called her 'one of my biggest assets at Motown.' He said: 'Esther turned the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument.' After Motown became established, Edwards took an active role in management and booking tours, including the legendary Motortown Revue in the early 1960s. In the mid-1960s, she served as Motown's vice president and chief executive officer. She was succeeded in this role by Smokey Robinson in 1972. Edwards later served on the board for the Detroit Bank of Commonwealth and the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce. Stevie Wonder said in a statement: 'She believed in me. When I was fourteen years old and many other people didn't or could only see what they could at the time, she championed me being in Motown. I shared with her many of my songs first before anyone else,' he added.

Treme actor Michael Showers has been found dead in the Mississippi River. He was spotted in the water near New Orleans' French Quarter on Wednesday morning by a passing steamboart captain, according to local daily the Times-Picayune. Showers, who was forty five years old, appeared in a recurring role as police captain John Guidry on the HBO drama. A coroner's representative said that he appeared to have been in the water for about two days. An autopsy is due to take place to establish a cause of death. A spokesperson for the St Bernard's Sheriff's Office also told reporters that the actor, who lived in Chalmette, was reported missing by his girlfriend on Tuesday when he failed to return home following a night out. Showers had made guest appearances as a character actor in a number of TV shows including Breaking Bad and The Vampire Diaries.

A photo album only featuring images of Condoleezza Rice has been found in the ransacked complex formerly occupied by Colonel Gaddafi. Positive proof that the old dictator really is clinically insane. It has been speculated that Muammar Gaddafi owned the album, having publicly referred to the former US Secretary of State as 'a darling' in a 2007 interview. 'I support my darling black African woman,' he said to Al-Jazeera at the time. 'I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. I love her very much.' See, mad as toast. MSNBC has published images of the photo album, which features various shots of Rice. The Independent has reported that the ownership of the album is currently 'unknown.' Meanwhile, a passport belonging to Gaddafi was also found by rebels in the complex, and features the only known spelling of his name in Latinized text. Gaddafi refuses to speak any language other than Arabic in public. It appears that Gaddafi's family and the leader himself use the spelling 'Gathafi,' rather than other well-used forms.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is all about the pretty green. But, which one's pink, again?
Incidentally, I'm not sure if you already know this, dear blog reader, but if you listen really closely to the video of Pulse, exactly fifty nine minutes and twenty one seconds into the piece you can clearly hear someone in the audience bellow 'Look at that fuckin' pig!' Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping doesn't think that's any way to talk about Dave Gilmour but, anyway ...

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