Monday, October 10, 2011

I Close My Eyes For A Second And Pretend It's Me You Want

The executive producer of The Simpsons has said that the show's recent renewal is more a beginning than an end. The future of the long-running animation had been in doubt until FOX announced on Friday that it had renewed the series for two more seasons. 'Our mood is elation,' executive producer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly. 'Believe me, we don't look at this as these will definitely be the last two. We just want to keep fighting and go as long as we can. We really feel this isn't an end but a beginning. It's cliché, but it's the truth.' As part of the show's renewal both producers and voice actors were forced to take an unknown pay cut, but Jean claimed that it wasn't too much of a surprise. 'They understand the world we live in is different in many ways from 2007,' he explained. 'Everybody loves this show and realises it's the greatest job in the world and they want to keep doing it.' When asked how long he expects The Simpsons to continue for, given that it has just been renewed up to season twenty five, Jean predicted that it would potentially reach thirty seasons before the show ends.

The X Factor fans have complained that Saturday evening's edition of the ratings titan was 'too long.' Not all of them, you understand because that would've meant twelve million people making simultaneous complaints and, to be honest, I think even those of us who couldn't give a sodding monkey's chuff how long The X Factor is might've noticed that. On Saturday evening The X Factor was on-air on an - admittedly ridiculous - two and a half hours from 7.30 and 10pm for the first live episode of the current series. For some fans of The X Factor that was far too long - and some viewers were not impressed by the number of advert breaks the show had either. This is all, of course, according to a couple of newspapers with specific agendas to push so, you know, as ever with regard to these kind of stories, a vat of salt is probably required. The X Factor is the latest show to be hit by complaints over the frequency and length advertising breaks. ITV's popular Sunday evening drama Downton Abbey has also had similar whinges made by fans. Allegedly. Actually, they've mostly been made by the Daily Scum Mail 'on behalf' of fans. ITV themselves insist that the advert breaks are within Ofcom's regulations - and that since they're a commercial broadcast, the clue is in the title - but the fact another ITV show has been hit by such complaints, clearly shows that the press are not impressed. The Mirra - for instance - claims that over the course of The X Factor on Saturday evening over a million viewers switched off - something the paper puts down to the length of the show. Saturday's edition averaged 10.4 million viewers across the one hundred and fifty minutes with a peak of 12.7 million viewers. It is undeniable that across the two and a half hours some viewers did switch off - possibly to watch other programmes such as Merlin on BBC1 as its ratings were up slightly on last week's episode. It's also worth noting that during the thirty minutes (7:30 to 8:00) when X Factor went head-to-head with BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC show was slightly head on live viewers (nine million versus eight and a half million) and on audience share (thirty three per cent against thirty one per cent). The Gruniad Morning Star's take on all this was: The X Factor off key as it falls to three-year ratings low. They continued: 'The X Factor's first live show of the series saw viewing figures down by nearly two million on last year's live opener.' The Daily Scum Mail also weighed in with: X Factor loses One Million viewers (and five weeping wannabes) as viewers tire of ad break overload. So, there you go, dear blog reader. We might as well not bother with the rest of the series then. Joe Public has spoken.

Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire on the location of the Doctor Who Christmas special: 'You looks well-nang, blood. And I'm not even lying nor nothing. And this is me, right, "you is a hardcore Time Lord. And shit." Isn't it, though?'
My great thanks to my old mate Marty for alerting me to this photo and for supplying a far better - massively disrespectin' - punchline that I's gonna come up with. Harsh, but fair.

Former Emmerdale actress and 'sex kitten' Roxanne Pallett is to play a schoolgirl in BBC drama Waterloo Road. And, suddenly, I'm interested. The twenty eight-year-old - more famous for her off-screen exploits and alleged 'sexy image' than any obvious acting ability - is to play a seventeen-year-old student. Pallett began filming with the show last week. A 'show source' allegedly told the Daily Lies, 'There aren't many actresses who can play someone more than ten years younger than them.' Yes there are, there are hundreds of them, mate. And if you work in television and didn't realise that then I reckon you're a very good candidate for cutting under Delivering Quality First. They allegedly added, 'she looks so good for her age. Loads of women watching will be desperate to know her secret.' In ITV's Emmerdale Pallett played troubled Jo Sugden, wife of long running character Andy. Pallett left the Yorkshire dales in 2008 after three years to 'pursue a theatre career.' Since then she's done ... err, well there was Dancing on Ice. And panto. And she fronted a Pringles campaign. A 'BBC insider' allegedly told the tabloid: 'There is always plenty of drama on Waterloo Road and Roxanne's character will be right in the middle of it.' Which sounds like exactly the sort of thing that a 'BBC insider' wouldn't say in a million years - using no word longer than two syllables for a kick-off. But then, this is the Daily Lies so, more likely than not, the 'BBC insider' is a fictional construct similar to the alleged 'BBC insider' who gave them all of those juicy quotes about Lady GaGa appearing in Doctor Who last year. There are lies, dear blog reader, there are damned lies and then there are things you read in the Daily Star.

The British National Party is under investigation by the European Union and the Metropolitan Police for alleged fraud and breaches of electoral law. The dual investigations come as a former BNP administrator told the BBC's Panorama programme that she was 'instructed to falsify invoices.' Those invoices were then submitted by the BNP to the Electoral Commission. The BNP has strongly denied any suggestion of wrongdoing. As fascist numskulls usually do. The allegations come as the party struggles with debts run up during the 2010 general election campaign. Internal party documents seen by Panorama reveal that twelve months ago the BNP owed creditors more than five hundred and seventy thousand smackers. Party chairman Nick Griffin recently said that the party now owes just fifty two grand. Former party worker Marion Thomas said after the 2010 general election she was instructed by the party's treasurer, Clive Jefferson, to alter invoices and in at least one case stamp an outstanding invoice as 'paid.' The invoices were submitted to the Electoral Commission and had been altered, Thomas said, in order for it to appear that the BNP had complied with the law on election spending. Asked how she felt about doing this, Thomas said: 'I made my objections known.' She added: 'You can't do that. That is fraud.' Jefferson told the programme that Thomas's allegations are 'untrue.' Thomas, who now works for Britain First, a rival political organisation, has since been interviewed about her claims by detectives from the Metropolitan Police who are investigating alleged breaches of electoral law by the BNP. That investigation began after Richard Barnbrook, who used to be the BNP member of the London Assembly and who was Griffin's 2010 election agent, went to the High Court to say that he had submitted printing invoices totalling nearly ten thousand wonga as paid when they, too, were outstanding. Griffin also signed those returns. Both he and Barnbrook, who has since been expelled from the party and now sits as an independent in London, have said they 'acted in good faith,' believing the bills had, indeed, been paid. The High Court judge has referred the case the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police were notified. Another former party worker, Alistair Barbour, was recruited to Griffin's European staff after he and one other BNP candidate were elected members of the European Parliament in 2009. Barbour was hired to work on European Parliament business and was to be paid out of the two hundred and sixty thousand quid pot of EU money that each MEP has available to them to pay for staff and expenses. He told the programme that some money intended for MEP business was diverted to help bolster the party itself. 'Europe was the big cash cow you know, "let's get our noses in the trough and see what we can get out and see what we can fund the party with,"' he said of the approach to the MEP funds. He added: 'This is what it was all about, party work and just trying to figure out what expenses we could get out of the European Union.' Other party 'insiders' have, allegedly, told the programme that at one point electricity from Nick Griffin's European constituency headquarters on an industrial estate in rural Cumbria was siphoned to the unit next door which served as the BNP's national headquarters. When the European Parliament's fraud unit, OLAF, travelled to Cumbria five months later to investigate the allegations they found no evidence of an election scam but Panorama understands that they continue to investigate other allegations of misuse of European money by the BNP. The BNP has denied using money from the European Union to fund national party work.

A huge 'comedy carpet' has been unveiled on Blackpool seafront, featuring catchphrases and jokes by eight hundred and fifty comedians and writers.
No one knows why. Comic legends are featured in the giant engraving made of granite and concrete. It features one hundred and sixty thousand individually-cut letters spelling out the phrases. It was officially unveiled by Ken Dodd on Monday. The project has taken five years from conception to installation and is integrated into the Tower Festival Headland at the foot of Blackpool Tower. The centre of the carpet features five sections devoted to Dodd, Les Dawson, Morecambe and Wise, Frankie Howerd and Tommy Cooper. Around the edge of it, there is a list of comic performers and writers from the days of music hall and variety, through to contemporary performers. When a passer by was asked what he thought of it so far he replied 'ruggish.'

I'm here all week.

Anyway, the age of austerity is set to claim yet another significant scalp in the form of Channel Four's popular property programme Relocation, Relocation. With consumers in belt-tightening mode and banks seeking mega-deposits to get on the property ladder, the show – fronted by mumsy Tory cheerleader Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer – is set to be 'put on ice,' reports the Sun. 'In this current climate it is hard enough for people to buy one house, let alone two,' a Channel Four 'source', allegedly, said. It appears that the future of the parent series - Location, Location, Location - is secure, at least for the moment, as a Channel Four spokesperson told the tabloid 'Kirstie and Phil are busy filming Kirstie's Handmade Britain and Secret Agent — both on air this autumn — as well as a new series of Location for 2012.'

When ITV's Daybreak decides which programme to enter for the Royal Television Society awards, it probably won't pick last Wednesday's edition. One only suggests this after the breakfast programme suffered an unfortunate string of gaffes including a failing microphone, cameras pointing at the wrong people, images of the crashed New York helicopter during a preview of the 'entertainment news' and orange-faced Christine Bleakley waving a pen in front of Lucy Verasamy as she attempted to forecast the weather. And all of that was just in the opening five minutes. It didn't get any better thereafter, with newsreader Tasmin Lucia Khan ending a clip of Amanda Knox arriving home in the US with the line: 'Meredith Kercher there, speaking in Seattle.' Daybreak, which had a famously troubled start after it replaced GMTV, from which it has never fully recovered. They always say that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

Meanwhile, here's another little dose of everyone's favourite pass time. Daybreakwatch, in which we all have a right good laugh at the continuing misfortunes of Britain's most hilarious TV show by checking out their ratings and audience appreciation index scores:-
26 Sept 546k, AI 71
27 Sept 724k, AI 69
28 Sept 695k, AI 68
29 Sept 804k, AI 70
30 Sept 746k, AI 67
3 Oct 860K, AI 67
4 Oct 762k, AI 68
5 Oct 767k, AI 69
6 Oct 788k, AI 72
7 Oct 741k, AI 70
So, yet again that's 'hardly anybody's watching and, those that are, don't seem to like it very much.' No change there, then.

Speaking of ratings, the Strictly Come Dancing results show saw ratings nearing ten million overnight viewers while the X Factor topped eleven million and Downton Abbey continued its strong second series for ITV. It was, generally, a really good night for both main channels as Edwina Currie became the first celebrity to be voted off the current series of Strictly Come Dancing. The Sunday evening results show was seen by an impressive 9.8 million viewers over one million more viewers than the Saturday evening edition which had 8.7 million on overnights. The X Factor results show also performed well for ITV with a strong eleven and a half million viewers - higher than the overnight average of 10.4 million who tuned in for Saturday's marathon edition. Following The X Factor was period drama Downton Abbey. The fourth episode of the second season had 8.8 million viewers at 9pm with an additional four hundred and fourteen thousand viewers on the ITV+1 time-shift channel. Elsewhere on Sunday evening Countryfile on BBC1 had a strong 7.1 million viewers at 6.30pm (the shows highest audience since it pulled in 7.5m on 5 December last year followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.8 million viewers. Spy drama [spooks] pulled in 4.5 million overnight viewers at 9pm.

A member of the Monty Python's Flying Circus team - have a guess which one, dear blog reader - is said to be 'annoyed' about the forthcoming BBC comedy-drama about the Life of Brian controversy. Holy Flying Circus, due to be screened on BBC4 next Wednesday, revolves around the infamous 1979 televised debate between John Cleese and Michael Palin and Christians who believed their film was offensive. According to the Independent, whinging old embittered gasbag Cleese 'offered to contribute to the research,' but 'was never consulted.' He has since seen the script and was 'disappointed,' believing it to be 'full of inaccuracies' according to an 'unnamed' - and probably fictitious - source. On the other hand, Terry Gillam - the American one - said: 'I've had no involvement. I just met people yesterday who's seen it and they said it's really funny. Some in the group thought it was a bad idea because it's not us. The thought of Python stopping anyone. One of our members was making phone calls. "Just stop it. Just stop it."' And, now we know which one. The film - written by Tony Roche, co-writer of In the Loop - makes no pretence of being accurate. It is billed as a 'fantastical reimagining' of events surrounding Cleese and Palin's debate with the Bishop of Southwark and Malcolm Muggeridge. Shakespearean actor Charles Edwards, who plays Palin, said: 'In the context of this film, Palin is the group's moral compass but whether or not Michael Palin is or was that in real life I have no idea. It's irrelevant in a way: the thing with this film is it is so removed from reality. It is categorically not a biopic. Other than the debate, which is obviously a fact and the fact of Life Of Brian itself, everything else around that is exaggerated or imagined.' And even in the film itself, Darren Boyd, who plays Cleese, addresses the issue by telling the audience: 'I'd just like to point out that this is a fictional representation of me based loosely on my Basil Fawlty persona and in real life I'm really a lovely, lovely fellow.' Iain Johnstone, who produced the original TV debate, said that he was 'led to believe' Holy Flying Circus would be 'as meticulously researched as the play and film Frost/Nixon.' An odd comparison to make since, as David Frost will tell anyone that listens, whilst he loved both the play and the film they're both full of artistic-licence. 'Why bother to put in made-up material?' he told the Independent. 'They could've researched it properly and it would've been just as funny.'

BBC Radio 4 was largely insulated from the BBC's cuts last week, but if it ever finds itself short of a panellist on Just A Minute, it could always turn to BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten. The former Hong Kong governor is, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, increasingly beginning to sound like another ex-MP, the late Clement Freud.' 'I don't want you to think we've taken all this as simply as a discussion about the automatic beaker disposal unit,' Patten told BBC staff ahead of the big DQF reveal last week. And asked if he was looking forward to the National Audit Office's investigation of the BBC Trust's accounts, Patten replied: 'I'm sure if the NAO have additional ideas about how we should be negotiating aircraft carrier contracts or whatever, we will follow them through.' Patten, who pointed out that the Trust is reducing its own budget from 0.35 per cent to 0.312 per cent of the licence fee, appeared to think it had no case to answer.

Milton Jones has signed up to narrate a Christmas Facebook animation, retelling the nativity story. Web-users can cast their online friends in key roles such as Joseph and Mary in the Roll On Christmas film, due to launch at the end of the month. The characters in the two-minute story are made of toilet roles, with friends’ faces superimposed on them. The project is a collaboration between the Bible Society, Christian humour webzine Ship of Fools and Jerusalem Productions. Ship of Fools editor Simon Jenkins said: 'Our cunning and playful plan is that Roll on Christmas will entertain Facebookers but also send them away considering an important truth beneath the laughter.' Jones, a practising Christian, said: 'I'm very happy to be involved in Roll on Christmas. It sheds new light on a beautiful and timeless story, especially if you've ever used a toilet roll. In fact, these toilet rolls will touch everyone. This is another shameless example of Christians jumping on the bandwagon of Christmas.' Milton, described by The Times as 'king of the surreal one-liners,' and a particular favourite of this blogger, has been a panellist many times on Mock the Week, and was recently to be seen on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow. His ninth radio series was recently commissioned for BBC Radio 4.

The new series of Dallas will be broadcast in the UK on Channel Five. The broadcaster announced that it has picked up the exclusive rights to the new episodes of the classic soap opera. The ten-part series, which was ordered by American cable channel TNT in July, will feature original cast members Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman. They will be joined by the likes of Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and Brenda Strong. 'We are thrilled to be bringing the new-look Dallas to Channel Five,' Five's director of programmes Jeff Ford said. 'With its alluring mix of wealth, seduction, scandal and intrigue, there is something for everyone on the Southfork Ranch and it's a hugely exciting addition to our 2012 schedule.'

A local radio station in England has escaped a rebuke from media regulator Ofcom after it apologised for airing an 'offensive' joke about people with dwarfism. 106 Jack FM is a local commercial radio station covering the Solent region in the south of England aimed at listeners aged over forty and focuses on classic and contemporary rock music. A listener contacted Ofcom to complain about a promotional line for the station, which said: 'Never buy a dwarf with learning difficulties. It's not big and it's not clever. 106 Jack FM.' In response, Jack FM said that its promotional productions were comedy 'one liners' that 'reflect the irreverent style of the station.' The network said that it had also received a complaint about the joke and had apologised directly to the person concerned, explaining that the line was not 'specifically intended to target anybody with disabilities.' Jack FM said that while it tries 'to push boundaries and get people talking,' it recognised that on this occasion the joke had offended people. It has therefore withdrawn the promotional line from its play out schedule. In its ruling, Ofcom noted that the joke had the potential to offend listeners, because 'the intention seemed to be to derive humour from linking "dwarf" with "not big" and "learning difficulties" with "not clever."' Whilst it noted that the licensee said it had not "specifically intended to target anybody with disabilities," Ofcom considered that listeners were likely to understand the joke as being directed at people with dwarfism and learning difficulties. 'It therefore had potential to offend,' said the regulator.

No one was happier to see the back of the recent Indian summer heatwave than the employees of ITV News after the air conditioning broke down in the studios and newsroom at ITN. It's not easy looking good in high definition when the thermometer hits thirty one degrees. 'Unbearable,' was how one 'insider' allegedly described it. Half-a-dozen fans - that's wind-blowing fans, not 'big fans of...' - were brought in to help cool down the one hundred-plus staff. Among them, of course, were newsreaders Natasha Kaplinsky and Nina Hossain. Who were, on doubt, getting a bit hot and sweaty.

The BBC has been criticised by deaf campaign groups over 'ludicrous' computer-generated subtitles that named the Labour leader 'Ed Miller Band' and announced a visit by the 'Arch bitch of Canterbury.' Hard-of-hearing viewers have been left 'utterly perplexed' over a string of bizarre errors in subtitles during BBC programming, including the Ireland rugby team last week being renamed 'Island' it was claimed. In January, a BBC Breakfast item featured a reporter visiting a farm and speaking of how the pigs 'love to nibble anything that comes into the shed, like our wellies.'
The subtitles, however, changed the last word for 'willies' and the incident became an Internet sensation after a picture was posted online.
During the Queen Mother's funeral the subtitles reportedly also called for 'a moment's violence' for the deceased Royal. Such errors have become so regular that a website has been set up by viewers. Some subtitles are pre-recorded before the show goes out, but live subtitles are done by a stenographer typing words phonetically as they listen to a show. But the BBC will also use speech recognition, involving someone speaking into a microphone and a computer picking up the words. This method can lead to words being switched, sometimes with embarrassing results. Emma Harrison, the director of public engagement at Action on Hearing Loss, said that she receives a regular stream of complaints about errors in subtitling. 'Access to television is really important to people with a hearing loss,' she told the Daily Torygraph. 'We urge all broadcasters to monitor the quality of their subtitling to ensure high standards, and invest in technology to reduce mistakes so people with hearing loss can access television in the same way as hearing people.' A spokesperson for the BBC recognised the importance of subtitles and said that the corporation was 'constantly striving to improve accuracy' in the service. 'There are occasions, particularly during live broadcasts, when mistakes will happen but we do all we can to keep this to a minimum and are constantly striving to improve accuracy.'

I'm indebted to my good friend Scunny Steve for the following gems: Someone Sits and Comes Up With This Shite - Number One (in an occasional series) from the Metro who breathlessly inform us that: 'The sky is the limit for Cheryl Cole after she was voted the nation's favourite fantasy companion on a long-haul flight. The Girls Aloud star picked up more than a third of the votes. Around two thousand people (or, people who are obviously not complete and utter morons with shallow worthless lives) took part in the survey, carried out on behalf of Air New Zealand. And, again, nobody knows why. UK general manager Chris Myers said: 'Cheryl Cole has again cemented herself as the nation's sweetheart, being chosen as the British celebrity that most Brits like to cuddle up with on a flight to Los Angeles.' Uh-huh. Fascinating. I think I'd sooner take my MP3 player and good book, personally. Meanwhile, Someone Sits and Comes Up With This Shite - number two: 'Pop star and philanthropist Alexandra Burke is encouraging people to upload a photo and accompany it with five words to tell the world what matters most to them.' The description of Alexandra Burke as 'a pop star' rather than 'a person who once appeared on a talent show and had one big hit with a cover version afterwards' is questionable enough in and of itself, dear blog reader, but 'philanthropist'? I certainly never knew Alexandra Burke collected stamps.

Media regulator Ofcom has launched an investigation into how ITV mistakenly included video game footage in a documentary that supposedly showed the IRA shooting down a helicopter with weapons supplied by Muammar Gaddafi. ITV – which is also facing a separate investigation by the regulator into Aviva's sponsorship of the hit drama Downton Abbey – broadcast the game footage in the first episode of its current affairs show Exposure, which was shown last month. The episode, Gaddafi and the IRA, was meant to provide a hard-hitting launch for the show. But the broadcaster was forced to issue a hugely embarrassing apology after some viewers noted that key footage was, in fact, a sequence from computer game, Arma 2. ITV blamed 'human error' which led to the use of the games clip, which was labelled 'IRA film 1988,' and said it did have the correct footage. Ofcom said on Monday that it was launching an investigation to see whether the incident constituted a breach of its broadcasting code. The media regulator is also investigating whether Aviva's sponsorship of the latest series of Downton Abbey strays too close to advertising. Under Ofcom's broadcasting code, Aviva – which has been criticised for promoting life insurance while the show's storyline featured scenes of soldiers dying in the trenches during the first world war – is not allowed to broadcast 'advertising messages or calls to action' in the credits. According to the broadcasting code: 'The focus of the [sponsorship] credit must be the sponsorship arrangement itself.' The last major broadcaster to run afoul of the broadcasting code in this manner was BSkyB in February last year with Currys sponsorship of The Simpsons.

A Michigan woman has filed a lawsuit against the distributors of Drive after claiming that the film's trailer was misleading. Sarah Deming - who is clearly not as mad a toast - has lodged legal papers against FilmDistrict for allegedly 'promoting the movie as similar to' the Fast and Furious franchise. '[FilmDistrict] promoted the film Drive as very similar to the Fast and Furious, or similar, series of movies,' Deming's lawsuit reads, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 'Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film, having very little driving in the motion picture. Drive was a motion picture that substantially contained extreme gratuitous defamatory dehumanizing racism directed against members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoting criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith.' Deming is seeking a full refund of her cinema ticket and hopes that her individual case will lead to a class-action lawsuit against Hollywood to stop the release of so-called 'misleading movie trailers.' Director Nicolas Winding Refn won the Best Director accolade at Cannes Film Festival this year for Drive, which has received critical acclaim since its release.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's The Searchers inventing 80s indie-pop nearly twenty years before Johnny Marr first picked up a Rickenbacker!

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