Thursday, September 08, 2011

It's All About The Pants

Downton Abbey will be broadcast in the same timeslot as the last series of [spooks], it has emerged. The BBC will schedule the spy show in the prestigious Sunday 9pm hour on BBC1, where it will go head-to-head with ITV's hit period drama. However, a BBC spokesperson played down the clash, stating: 'Downton and [spooks] are very different shows and offer a real alternative for audiences. 'This is the last ever series of [spooks] and we wanted to celebrate this and make it a special event for viewers in the Sunday 9pm slot. It is not unusual for drama to go up against drama here, for example, David Tennant's Single Father [was opposite Downton Abbey] last year and ITV's Vera was up against BBC1's Exile earlier this year.' Downton Abbey's first series in 2010 averaged a colossal nine million in the ratings last year, while the ninth series of the long-running [spooks] had an average of between five and six million viewers per episode.

The British Science Fiction Association have issued an apology to Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat for an 'offensive' tweet made by one of its committee members last Friday and sent to the writer. At the time Moffat retweeted the comment asking 'Does everybody get this?' Although the tweet came from a personal account, the BSFA committee felt the individual concerned was seen as closely linked to the organisation. They wanted to make clear they did not endorse either the choice of wording or the sentiments expressed in the offending tweet. A letter of apology has been sent to Moffat, who told the Association that he understood the circumstances and has taken no offence from the BSFA itself. The tweet, posted by one Martin Lewis on 2 September said: 'And while we are on the subject of massive cunts let's add Steven Moffat to that list.' Charming. Although, as Steven himself noted recently in relation for the BBC, 'at least they spelled my name correctly.'

John Barrowman has been busy promoting his new CD, but will also be launching a range of 'male grooming products' on 12 September. Named HIM, the range will be available exclusively from shopping channel, QVC. Honestly, I'm not making any of this up! The actor and presenter is also subject of a new stage musical, Stalking John Barrowman, in which two 'eccentric' fans set up a detective agency to snoop on the star's life. Described as 'a very traditional Broadway sound with a sort of Disney element,' musical director Patrick Steed said: 'I hope he'll be flattered. There should be loads in there for the fans – it will appeal to a lot of people who love Doctor Who and Torchwood and people who follow his career.' Flattered? He'll probably want a part in it!

Meanwhile, John's old Doctor Who co-star David Tennant co-hosted the Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio last Friday, discussing his current projects and joining in the general mayhem of the programme - you can watch two videos from the show on You Tube, with David discovering the delights of 'Building Tennis' and 'Fish Face Friday' in which he gets smacked in the mush with a rainbow trout. A number of West End luminaries including David Tennant have also put some of their underwear up for auction to raise money for the Make A Difference Trust. The auction is being run on e-bay and items have been signed by the celebrity in question. And, probably, sniffed by them at one time or another as well. Steven Inman, charity director, said: 'This is a novel and fun way to raise money for good causes and we are fortunate to have the support of so many big names backing The Pants Project and its aims to help sick people in hardship. The pants are destined to become must-have mementos and are sure to attract a lot of interest from fans.' And fetishists one would imagine.

Daniel Mays has admitted he appeared in Doctor Who to impress his son. Although one is sure the money helped as well. The Ashes To Ashes star played Alex, the father of George, a frightened little boy who is at the centre of Night Terrors, the most recent Doctor Who episode. Daniel revealed: 'I have a five-year-old son, Mylo, who's a big Doctor Who fan. I think the quality of the show has got better and the calibre of guest actors they get in is of a high standard, but the key to the story for me was the relationship between this father and son. It's really quite touching and moving.' The Made In Dagenham star confessed he doesn't like watching himself but he will watch the episode with his son. He said: 'I must admit I'm not a great fan of watching myself back, but I'll watch it with Mylo. I think he'll really enjoy the episode and lots of his friends at school are huge Doctor Who fans. Matt signed some photos for them, which made their day. I think I was the best dad in the school that day!'

Red or Black? continued to struggle on Wednesday night, while an Osama Bin Laden documentary performed well for Channel Four, the latest overnight audience data has revealed. Simon Cowell's game show Red or Black? averaged 4.65m for ITV in the 8pm hour, with a further one hundred and ten thousand on timeshift. The programme returned from 9.30pm with 4.46m and one hundred and fifty thousand on ITV+1, as account executive Andy Morton missed out on winning the one million smackers prize. Once again, a bit of context in necessary. Both figures are not exactly disasters in this day and age but ITV had, it would seem, assumed the show was going to be much bigger than it has been and sold their advertising space within and around it at levels that unlikely to impress those companies who paid the price but them found that only four or five million people were watching instead of, you know, eight or nine million. Bin Laden: Shoot To Kill, a rather fine documentary on the dramatic US raid in Pakistan to kill the world's number one terrorist, which yer actual Keith Telly Topping recorded and then found that his DVD didn't like the disc he'd chosen to record it on, was watched by 2.32m on Channel Four from 9pm and a further three hundred and eleven thousand on C4+1. Celebrity Big Brother continued to perform reasonably well for Channel Five, attracting 2.11m in the 10pm hour.

Sir Bruce Forsyth has said that there is room for both Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor on TV. Which, of course there is. There's room for everything with a bit of give and take on both sides. Following reassurances from BBC1 controller Danny Cohen that the two shows will not clash over the coming months, Forsyth told TV Times that he believes the dancing competition is 'more family-friendly viewing' than its ITV rival. 'It's probably the only family show on TV, and I'm including The X Factor in that, because we get a very varied audience from children to old people,' he said. We're sure the producers of Doctor Who and a number of popular soap operas would probably disagree with that but, we kind of know what he's getting at. 'It's what I've been used to all my life, working to family audiences, whereas The X Factor is mainly watched by teenagers. They get wonderful ratings and good luck to them, there's room for two big shows on television and I'm so glad that we're both on.' Forsyth was among the Strictly Come Dancing stars to walk the red carpet at the official launch of the 2011 series. Meanwhile, he also told the magazine that people around him have changed since he received a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list earlier this year. 'People ask me if I feel any different - I don't, but everyone else has changed. A lot of people do call me "Sir Bruce" now which is a nice feeling, it's much more friendly than calling me "Mister Forsyth,"' he said. 'I'm getting used to it and if people want to call me "Sir," that's lovely and if they don't then that's fine as well. I'm certainly not going to correct people!'

By the way, anyone else reckon Robbie Savage looks uncannily like a lost Gibb brother from the Bee Gees in his Strictly publicity photo?
Tragedy, is it not?!

Sitcoms from stand-up comedians Jason Cook and Pippa Evans are among those to be performed as part of a BBC initiative to develop new ideas for broadcast. They are among the six scripts to be performed by actors as part of the BBC's first Salford Sitcom Showcase next month. The hope is that one or more of the ideas will be commissioned into a series for one of the BBC channels. Cook's show is called Hebburn, after the South Tyneside suburb where he is from, and is being developed with top comedy production house Baby Cow with the aim of making it to BBC3. Evans – who performs on the comedy circuit in character as embittered singer-songwriter Loretta Maine as well as being part of the Showstoppers! improvised musical troupe – is working on a show called Be Our Guest. The other shortlisted shows are: Citizen Khan, based on Adil Ray's character as a self-appointed 'community leader', as featured on Bellamy's People; Up! a student comedy from Life of Riley creator Georgia Pritchett; a show called Samdwiched aimed at BBC1 by writer Tony Sarchet, who previously created the Radio 4 series Delve Special, which starred Stephen Fry as a spoof investigative reporter and Single White Male, a show being developed for BBC2 by Mock The Week and Have I Got News For You writer Dan Gaster and collaborator Rob Colley, who writes for Graham Norton.

Trudie Goodwin, famous for her role as June Ackland in the ITV cop show The Bill, is to join the cast of Emmerdale as Georgia Sharma. 'With Jai and Charity's engagement announced, Mr and Mrs Sharma and their stunning daughter Priya are set to arrive in Emmerdale, keen to meet their future daughter-in-law,' Emmerdale's press office say. Georgia is described as 'a formidable and demanding yet witty mother.' Georgia's business-obsessed husband Rishi will be played by actor Bhasker Patel, who has a wealth of TV and film credits including Trial and Retribution and Holby Blue. Their 'fun-loving and flirtatious' daughter Priya will be played by actress Fiona Wade. Fiona has appeared in Lewis, Silent Witness, Where the Heart Is and three series of Grange Hill from 1997-99. Stuart Blackburn, Emmerdale's producer said 'I'm delighted to welcome Trudie, Bhasker and Fiona to the cast. There are plenty of trials and tribulations in store for the ever popular Sharma family.' Current storylines see the Sharma sons running a sweet factory. Jai (played by Chris Bisson) and Nikhil (Rik Makarem) have been seen working hard for quite some time now but as the rest of their family arrive on the doorstep life is going to get a lot more complicated for the brothers Emmerdale executives promise. Trudie Goodwin said 'I'm absolutely thrilled to be playing Georgia in Emmerdale. She is a difficult-to-please woman who is set to make life difficult for Charity. I can't wait to start filming next week.' The new arrivals will be seen on-screen from November.

The BBC has commissioned a pilot episode of a hi-tech CGI game show for Saturday nights. Cloned sees four contestants attempt to distinguish a real person from their computer-generated clones as they complete a number of tasks and challenges. The programme will utilise green screen technology and post-production techniques to create the identical clones of well-known celebrities, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Executive editor for entertainment commissioning at the BBC Karl Warner said: 'Cloned is an exciting new format which pushes the boundaries of production and game show mechanics.' Cloned was devised by former English teacher George Hutton, after he took part in a BBC training course called Future Formats. 'I'm so pleased that BBC Entertainment's first Future Formats has resulted in this Saturday night pilot,' commented Kate Phillips, head of Future Formats at the BBC. 'Nearly all the students are now working as development researchers both in and outside the BBC.'

Ofcom have outlined proposals which could potentially see the Border TV Region split up with the Scottish part being taken over by STV in 2014. The Border region which covers most of Cumbria in Northern England along with parts of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders in Southern Scotland merged with Tyne Tees in February 2009. Many Southern Scottish viewers have always felt their news coverage has been 'severely under whelming,' even before the ITV regional news cost cutting. Ofcom's plan aims to tidy up the regulation of commercial channels in the UK. The current broadcast licenses end in 2014, after this time, it may well mean that the south of Scotland could be handed over to none ITVplc company STV. In the past at times Border in south Scotland would broadcast some programming from STV, including Scotsport. In 2011, STV enhanced their regional news coverage with programmes coming from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Border Television quietly celebrated fifty years on air last week. STV began broadcasting in 1959.
A journalist working for the Gruniad has been questioned by police officers probing alleged information leaks from the Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking at the Scum of the World. Amelia Hill, one of several reporters at the newspaper who have been writing about the phone hacking scandal, was quizzed under caution several days ago. The move follows the arrest of a Metropolitan Police officer last month for allegedly leaking information about the phone hacking investigation to the Gruniad. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Gruniad said: 'We can confirm Amelia Hill has been questioned in connection with an investigation into alleged leaks.' The newspaper has argued that the case could have grave repercussions for the relationship between journalists and off-the-record sources, such as police officers. It added: 'On a broader point, journalists would no doubt be concerned if the police sought to criminalise conversations between off-record sources and reporters.' The Metropolitan Police is currently contending with various allegations that its officers may have had a corrupt relationship with the Scum of the World, the disgraced, disgraceful and now defunct Sunday tabloid at the heart of the phone hacking scandal. An inquiry is currently underway examining 'alleged corruption and abuse of power' in police relationships with the media. E-mails from Scum of the World publisher News International have allegedly implied that some its journalists previously tried to buy the contact details of royal family members from royal protection officers.

Oscar Pistorius, the man who made history as the first Paralympian to compete alongside able-bodied athletes, stormed out of a BBC Radio 4 interview this week after being asked whether he was 'an inconvenient embarrassment' to the sport's governing bodies. The twenty four-year-old double amputee, known as 'the blade runner' for competing on special carbon fibre legs, won a silver medal at the IAAF World Championships as part of South Africa's 4x400 metre relay team. He was controversially dropped for the final after running in the heats, but hopes to compete at both the London 2012 Olympics and the subsequent Paralympics. However, the athlete was not impressed on Wednesday morning when he was asked in a BBC interview how his participation might be viewed by South African authorities and the International Association of Athletics Federations. Interviewer Rob Bonnet asked: 'Some people regard you, no doubt, as an inspiration to Paralympic athletes, no question about that. But it might also be said that you're an inconvenient embarrassment to the South African authorities and the IAAF because, effectively, you're taking them into uncharted ethical waters here. What's your reaction to that?' Pistorius, who won a verdict three years ago ruling that his blades did not give him an unfair advantage in competition, immediately responded: 'I think that's an insult to me and I think this interview is over.' Despite Bonnet insisting that the question was not intended as an insult, Pistorius added: 'That is an insult. Thank you very much.' A BBC spokesperson said: 'This was a frank interview which, as we acknowledged on air, didn't end as we would have hoped. Oscar Pistorius has been a focus for controversy and ethical debate in sport. This interview reflected that controversy, but it was never intended to cause offence.'

A veteran Tory MP has accused the BBC of 'bias' in its news reports and criticised female BBC newsreaders for smiling while reading out serious items. No, honestly. I wouldn't make up something as wretchedly trivial as this. Speaking this week in the House of Commons, David Amess said that the end of the digital switchover in 2012 would be a good time to 'rethink' the current funding structure of the BBC. So, no obvious and quite staggering self-interest there, then. The MP for Southend West claimed that the BBC 'shows bias' on several issues, particularly its reporting on the events in Israel, which he said was covered in a 'highly disproportionate manner.' Amess, in case you were wondering is a leading member of Conservative Friends of Israel pressure group. So, again, no obvious self-interest there. He also criticised 'one or two female newsreaders' on the BBC News team for smiling when they read out serious news stories. But, noticeably, didn't name names since, one imagines, he was very conscious that the 1891 Slander of Women Act were some of his subsequent comments to be repeated outside of Parliamentary Privilege, he'd quite possibly find himself up on a charge. 'I don't know whether we have brilliant presenters,' said Amess. 'I would just say that it annoys me when one or two female presenters, I don't know whether they've had too much botox or something, when they are presenting the news and it's a very serious subject, they are smiling, which I find slightly annoying.' Amess, he said, is mostly concerned that the corporation has a 'fervently anti-cuts' agenda as it faces up to a sixteen per cent reduction in real terms to its income under the new licence fee settlement agreed last year. So, one imagines that the next time somebody suggests cutting MPs wages, Amess will give the idea his full and total backing as not to do so would appear to cast him as a towering hypocrite of the first order. And, that would never do. 'More poignantly, [the BBC] is fervently anti-cuts and ensures that this message pervades every aspect of BBC programming,' he said. 'Since the general election the BBC has embarked upon a consistent policy of criticising government actions, which is rather amusing given that the director general declared "bias at the BBC" - so he must have recognised there was bias - "was a thing of the past."' This, incidentally, is the same David Amess who was fooled into filming an elaborate video warning against the dangers of a fictional Eastern European drug called Cake by the Channel Four TV show Brass Eye during the 1990s and even asked a question about the fake drug in Parliament. The drug purportedly affected an area of the brain called Shatner's Bassoon (altering ones perception of time), can give the user a bloated neck due to massive water retention (allegedly known in the then non-existent Czechoslovakia as 'Czech Neck') and was frequently referred to as 'a made-up drug' (a drug, they were told, not made from plants but made up from chemicals). Amess also accused the corporation of paying 'absolutely ludicrous' salaries to its senior management. He added: 'The director general - eight hundred and thirty eight thousand. This is madness. Other directors' pay, as of March 2011: one gets four hundred and eighty eight thousand, another one gets five hundred and seventeen thousand. Not to mention what the financial controller gets.' Amess, in case you were wondering dear blog reader, faced criticism from voters in his own Southend West constituency after his expense claims were revealed. Amess claimed four hundred pounds a week for food - I mean, come on, not even Eamonn Holmes goes through that much in a month - and also claimed for a second home in London despite the fact that his constituency is in commutable distance from the capital. He has since failed to answer various calls from his local newspaper the Evening Echo, after he was confronted on his expenses whilst out canvassing, seeking refuge by running into a local hairdressers to avoid the press. In addition, Amess has visited the Maldives on several occasions - 'In September 2007, David Amess visited the Maldives, on a trip paid for in part by the government of the Maldives, yet no registration of the trip appears in the Register of Members' Interests. Amess visited the Maldives again between August and September 2008, paid for by the Maldives government. The visit was registered in September 2009, a year late.' Nice work if you can get it, I'm sure you'll agree dear blog reader. Amess asked fifteen questions in parliament relating to the Maldives before his interest in had been registered - a fact that can be checked in Hansard. The parliamentary question numbers were published by the BBC website. Perhaps that's why he's so anti-BBC? Perhaps we'll never care. Also speaking in the debate, lack of culture minister Ed Vaizey said that the BBC is 'a fine broadcaster,' but stressed that 'action is being taken' over concerns about its bias. Which sounds, very much, like the government attempting to interfere with the independence of the BBC which is not only against the Royal Charter, it's also against the law. Vaisey added that the corporation would in future have 'annual impartiality reviews' and regular 'impartiality seminars' to 're-educate staff.' Oh, re-education. How very Soviet. One hopes that these 'impartiality seminars' will be about all perceptions of bias not just those that the government doesn't like? Vaizey added: 'It's right and proper that we acknowledge, I think, that the BBC is one of the finest broadcasters not just in this country but in the world. It sets a quality bar which is why we have such high quality television and radio in this country.' But not for too much longer if people like your chum Amess gets his way it would seem. Personally, I have only one further question for Amess, as a licence fee payer and voter - you know, one of those 'annoying little people' who pay your wages - in 2010, Sir Thomas Legg's commission into MPs expenses suggested that you had been overpaid a sum of one thousand one hundred pounds and six pee. My question, sir, is this. The leader of your party is, it would seem, very concerned that all wrongdoers should suffer the maximum consequences of the law as it currently stands (except in the case of ex-tabloid editors who went to a good school who should be 'given a second chance'). So ... can you tell us, please, why you claimed eleven hundred quid to which you were not, it would appear, entitled? Take your time. I love living in a democracy where freedom of speech is a given, don't you, dear blog reader?

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we've got a bit of saucy seventies kinky Mockney reggae. Bet this one didn't get played a lot of The Jimmy Young Show.

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