Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Just Sometimes I Get So Lonesome I Could Die!

It was yet another quality Friday BBC comedy night, starting with Have I Got News For You with Danny Baker and Louise Bagashite Mensch ('a Tory MP and Chick-Lit author who describes her work as "trashy and without merit." On the other hand, her Chick-Lit novels aren't great either!') both on terrific form. Guest host Xander Armstrong, however, as usual got the majority of the best lines. 'This is very spooky indeed,' Xander said at the beginning of the episode. 'I was hosting this show the week that Saddam Hussein was captured. I was hosting this show the week Osama Bin Laden was captured. And today, ladies and gentlemen, the day Westlife split-up, here I am!' This wasn't quite the premier joke of the episode, though. That was either Ian Hislop's interjection 'So, Gaddafi's dead. Big comedy moment there,' or Danny's suggestion that since evil dictators are often found underground there must be an online facility called something like 'Tunnels for Tyrants.' Danny also noted that he was a big fan of Gaddafi's radio broadcasts: 'He used to say "the running dog treacherous vultures of Washington shall pay for their duplicity in the noble blood of a desert race. And now, for Tracey and all at number thirty five, here's The Beach Boys!"'
God bless you, Candyman, we're all so glad you're back and fighting fit.

Saucy minxette Victoria Coren in Would I Lie To You? claimed that whenever she is stuck doing a crossword she always rings up former tennis player Tim Henman and he's 'never let her down.' Tragically, this wasn't a euphemism for something. It was, of course, a total and utter lie but, unfairly, her yarn also included the suggestion from Victoria that she had first met Tim when she'd been writing a newspaper article about him and that they had played mixed doubles together. This blogger, and I suspect most of the rest of the red blooded male audience watching, now have the image stuck in our minds of Victoria Coren in a - very short - pleated skirt grunting like Monica Seles as she serves tennis balls at us, very hard. Which although not entirely unpleasant is, frankly, not fair. Not ruddy fair at all. Again, this was a splendid episode full of this show's trademark elements - David Mitchell's angry sarcasm, Rob Brydon's witty asides and Lee Mack's downright hilarious blokey pith. Add to that Rhod Gilbert on fine form and a splendid guest appearance from MacKenzie Crook (particularly in his Mystery Object Round which was an orchidometer a peculiar device used to measure testicle size!) A particular highlight was Rob Brydon beginning to read something in an accent. He chose a sort of vague West Country burr at which point Mitchell chipped in with 'I thought you were doing it in an accent?' 'I would never claim to have your range as an actor, David' Brydon replied. Then he slipped into an inscrutable Mitchell impression to add: 'Shall I do posh and repressed or repressed and posh?!' Fantastic.
And then, of course, there was Qi and the long-waited first appearance of The People's Scientist, Professor Brian Cox of Manchester University (and, you know, D: Ream). You really should see his Large Hardon Colluder, dear blog reader. All this, in an episode that also had Sue Perkins shaking her funky stuff (twice) and discussing her Second Law of Sexual Dynamics and Ross Noble taking about tossing Ewoks (don't ask!) And there are people that will try to convince you that the BBC doesn't do comedy!
Also, having been assured by some daft American glake that the world was going to end in The Rapture on Friday night yer actual Keith Telly Topping felt like getting a bit rapturous on his own. So, he sorted out his various affairs and then spent his last few hundred quid on wine, brandy, pills, a good old fashioned arse-rattling curry and the company of two Big Dirty Women. So, when he woke up - you know, alive - on Saturday morning yer actual Keith Telly Topping found himself ... twenty four carat stoney broke. But, to be fair, not totally miffed in the long run. I mean, when all's said an done the continued existence of humanity means that the football's still on today. And that Strictly and Celebrity MasterChef and Qi: XL will be on the telly tonight. Surely those things, alone, are worth keeping the human race going for at least another day. Maybe a bit longer. I mean, I'm sure we'd all like to see how [spooks] ends tomorrow, as well. So, let's celebrate. I think I've got a bottle on wine left over from last night's shenanigans which one of those Big Dirty Women didn't drink. So, party, my place. Err ... bring your own nibbles.
Ah, but perhaps the world is coming to an end after all. Doctor Who's Matt Smith has admitted, during an unguarded moment, that he is keen to establish a career in Hollywood. The actor hinted to VH-1 that he may try out for acting roles in Los Angeles, once filming on the next series of the BBC's popular SF family drama is complete. 'I've got another year of Doctor Who, but then I'm certainly going to come and give it a shot,' he said. '[I'd like to] hang out in LA.' Cue, at this point, numerous tabloid Matt Smith Quits stories and a variety of fandom meltdowns across the globe. Great. Just what we needed, when everything was starting to quieten down, a good old-fashioned bit of hyperbole and over-reaction where Doctor Who is concerned. One imagines Moffat will be delighted. Matt also revealed that he is friends with fellow actor Andrew Garfield, who has been cast as the title character in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man. 'People like Andy have come over, and he's a mate of mine,' said Matt. 'I'm very proud to see him doing Spider-Man, because we did a play together, and [he's] Spider-Man now. It's incredible.' The actor previously told the Radio Times that he was unsure when he would leave Doctor Who. 'There's no break from [the show],' he said in August. 'It's a conveyor belt of things to do but it does get lighter. That said, I'm being creative and challenged and, you gotta pay the bills.' Last year, it was revealed that Smith had signed a contract to remain with Doctor Who for this year's Christmas episode and a further thirteen episodes to be filmed through 2012.

Channel Four sitcom The IT Crowd has come to an end after four series, its creator Graham Linehan has told fans. Joining a question and answer session on social news website Reddit, he said: 'I'll say right off the bat, the bad news is no IT Crowd series five. I just wasn't looking forward to it the way I used to,' added Linehan. The show, about the socially inept employees of an IT support centre, will return for an extended special next year before bowing out. Its fourth series, shown last year, attracted an average audience of two and a half million viewers, significantly higher than Channel Four's regular audience figures in that timeslot. Mixing hi-tech geek jokes with old-fashioned farce, the show starred Richard Ayoade as Maurice Moss, Chris O'Dowd as Roy Trenneman and Katherine Parkinson as their long-suffering boss Jen Barber. O'Dowd has gone on to star in Hollywood films Bridesmaids and Gulliver's Travels, while Ayoade won critical acclaim for directing independent British movie Submarine earlier this year. The IT Crowd was filmed in front of a live studio audience - a deliberate decision by Linehan, whose previous shows include Father Ted, Black Books and Big Train. 'I always think that if everybody's doing one thing, it's probably an idea to do the exact opposite,' he told the BBC in 2006. Explaining his decision to end the show, he told fans: 'I felt that the last series was a nice strong point to go out on, and anything further might just be running on the spot. You don't do your best work when you're running on the spot. I did three series of Father Ted, one of Black Books, one of Big Train, so I feel a personal sense of achievement that IT Crowd made it to series four.' Linehan added that he had attempted to work with outside writers to create a fifth series, but that it hadn't worked out. On his future plans, the writer said: 'The good news is the special, which is a big, juicy story with great storylines for all the characters (I think), and maybe a film. It all depends on whether I come up with a good idea for one. One good enough to attract all the cast. It needs to deserve to be a film, though. So it's got to be big on all sorts of different levels.' Linehan also hinted that he would like to work with Steve Delaney, who writes and performs BBC Radio 4 comedy series Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! Fans joining the online discussion inevitably expressed their disappointment that The IT Crowd is drawing to a close. Referencing one of the show's running jokes, one user suggested: 'Have you tried turning it off and on again?'
The BBC has referred the royal solicitors, Farrers, to the profession's disciplinary body over their work for the Scum of the World during the phone-hacking scandal. Julian Pike, a partner at the firm, admitted to a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that he had known all along that the Scum of the World executives had been making misleading statements to parliament and the public when they claimed a lone 'rogue reporter' was to blame for the hacking. But it has emerged that Farrers sent a letter to the BBC in March threatening to sue for libel when Panorama suggested that News International executives had made misleading statements – a letter Pike has since defended. In correspondence revealed by the Gruniad, the BBC had alleged: 'News International executives made statements, that have subsequently shown to be misleading and untrue, that Clive Goodman was "one rogue journalist" at the News of the World who commissioned Glenn Mulcaire to "hack" into voicemail messages.' Pike replied from the offices of the law firm in Lincoln's Inn Fields that News International had 'made it clear that at no stage has any executive of the company made public statements knowing them to be misleading or untrue. If you make any suggestion in the programme that any News International executive has made a statement knowing it to be misleading and/or untrue this will be highly defamatory and the relevant individual(s) will be entitled to commence proceedings in respect of which they will be unquestionably successful.' The BBC said in a statement on Friday that the Panorama team 'were surprised to hear Mr Pike's testimony since, on the face of it, it seems to contradict one aspect of what he'd written in a letter to the programme.' It added: 'As a result, we have written to the Solicitors Regulation Authority today seeking advice in relation to their rules governing the conduct of solicitors.' According to SRA rules, it may be a disciplinary offence under the code of conduct for a lawyer to do anything that 'misled or had the potential to mislead clients, the court or other persons.' The SRA said: 'If a complaint was brought to us about anyone regulated by the SRA, we would of course investigate the complaint thoroughly.' In July the SRA announced it was launching a formal investigation into the roles played by a number of solicitors in the phone-hacking affair. Pike denies that he wrote a misleading letter to the BBC. He said his admissions to parliament only concerned the case of Gordon Taylor, one of those whose phones were hacked, and who received four hundred and twenty five thousand smackers in a secret settlement. Pike wrote: 'The letter to the BBC is headed: "Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman." The passage which you quote obviously has to be read in the context of this heading, ie in reference to Mulcaire and Goodman. The evidence given to the select committee yesterday, as you will know, concerned the Gordon Taylor case. It does not relate to "Mulcaire and Goodman," not least because Goodman had no involvement in the Taylor case. Consequently, the conclusion you are drawing is therefore incorrect.' At the Commons hearing, Pike had impressed at least one of the committee members, Labour MP Tom Watson, with what he called his 'brutal honesty.' Pike said that he knew MPs had previously been 'misled' by the testimony they were hearing, but he had kept quiet. Another MP, Paul Farrelly, said: 'You have told us that you were aware from the moment that News International came in front of parliament that it was not telling the truth and did nothing. Does that make you uncomfortable?' Pike conceded that it would be 'not ideal' to read headlines saying: 'Queen's solicitors knew News of the World was lying to parliament and did nothing about it.' But he added: 'There is no obligation on me as a lawyer to go and report something that I see within a case where there might have been some criminal activity.' Earlier, Pike, who had been released from normal client confidentiality on the issue by the special News International committee seeking to manage the scandal, denied that he had a reputation as a bully. He said he realised in 2008 that the 'single rogue reporter' story was wholly untrue. 'The advice given in 2008 was that three journalists other than Goodman were involved in phone-hacking. It was advised by counsel and ourselves that there was a powerful case to support a culture of illegally accessing information in order to get stories.' But the following year, 2009, when the Gruniad revealed there had been a cover-up, a succession of News International executives denied in public that any such culture existed. And, they stuck to that story - and the 'lone rogue reporter' defence until the start of this year.

Actors Georgia Taylor and Ben Turner are to leave the BBC1 drama Casualty before the end of the year in an 'explosive and heart-stopping' exit. The duo, who play Ruth Winters and Jay Faldren respectively, are to make their exit from the medical drama later this year and producers have promised their exits will be dramatic. Taylor joined the cast of Casualty in 2007 and has an eventful few years in Holby's Emergency Department. Storylines featuring the character include her mis-diagnosis of several patients, her suicide attempt and being rejected by Nick Jordan (Michael French) after a one-night stand with him. Turner joined the cast in 2008 and his character's relationship with Doctor Winters has proved to be popular with fans. Casualty recently filmed its last episode in Bristol after twenty five years in the city. The medical drama's has moved to new studios in Cardiff, Roath Lock, where Doctor Who and the period drama Upstairs Downstairs are also filmed. Welsh language soap Pobol y Cwm is also be filmed at the studios.

Question Time is to be broadcast from parliament next month. The BBC has announced that the David Dimbleby-fronted debate show will air from Westminster for the first time in its thirty two-year history. Question Time's editor, Nicolai Gentchev, told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'I hope this magnificent venue inspires the debate among our panel and audience.' The move coincides with Parliament Week in the UK and comes during the production team's much-criticised move from London to Glasgow. Earlier this year, the programme achieved a similar landmark after airing from Wormwood Scrubs prison. Question Time returned for a new series earlier this year, following a London riots special in August.

Ofcom has invited comments on the process of measuring media plurality in Britain, following the controversy that surrounded Rupert Murdoch's botched bid to acquire Sky. The media regulator was involved in a public interest test of the bid by Murdoch's News Corporation to acquire the sixty one per cent of Sky that it does not already own, in response to concerns over how the deal would impact the plurality of media sources in the UK. News Corp ultimately withdrew the bid following cross-party political pressure in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the Scum of the World. But in its report to the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt on the Sky bid last December, Ofcom said that the current framework around media plurality should be subject to reform.

Channel Four streamed live coverage of a hippo carcass being devoured by predators in Africa, presenting the 'most comprehensive illustration ever of nature's food-chain in action.' Hippo: Wild Feast Live was streamed live on the Channel Four website, bringing the African savannah direct to British desktops and classrooms. The hippo carcass was located in Zambia's Luangwa Valley by a section of the Luangwa river frequented by a host of predators and scavengers, including leopards, lions, Nile crocodiles, hyenas, wild dogs, baboons, monitor lizards and the notorious honey badger. Yes, the notorious honey badger. The coverage used fixed camera rigs, motion detectors, infra-red cameras, laser thermometers, digital microscopes and electronic tracking systems to follow the predators as they feasted upon the poor unfortunate - though, thankfully dead - hippo. The live streaming was an interactive experience as viewers were encouraged to tweet questions to presenter Mark Evans, from Inside Nature's Giants, who presented the first of the Channel's daily updates from the site. A series of two-minute live updates will be broadcast on Channel Four each evening from 21 to 26 October. A full ninety-minute programme will follow on 7 November at 9pm recapping the entire consumption of the carcass. Video clips of the key action, including commentary, will be made available on Channel4.com every day, giving additional insights into the animals' behaviour and the biological decomposition. The production team will also use GPS trackers to monitor the movements of lions, vultures and other predators to see how the flesh is transported. A laser thermometer and digital microscope have been deployed by an expert entomologist to help capture the extreme close-ups of different insects, such as maggots and microbes, feasting on the carcass. 'The river is a prime location for some of the biggest predators in Zambia - we may well see fierce showdowns between rivals for these vital calories - from Nile crocodiles and lions to hyenas and the notoriously vicious honey badger,' said Evans. 'The eating mechanisms of the different animals is fascinating - from crocodiles who use each other as leverage for a "death roll" to twist off the meat - to marabou storks who gulp down pounds of flesh which they store in their gullets.' Channel Four specialist factual commissioning editor Tanya Shaw added: 'This interactive project builds on the success of Elephant: Life After Death which followed a five-tonne elephant being transformed into six million calories worth of fat, meat and guts, feeding a whole new cycle of life. This time, by streaming the action live we are dealing with wildlife at its most raw, bloody and immediate - it will be fascinating to see how events unfold and we want viewers to interact with the experts and share this unique content with their friends.'

The BBC has ordered Citizen Khan, a six-part sitcom. The comedy will be produced at the BBC's new studios in Salford. Produced by BBC In-House Comedy, Citizen Khan will be shot at MediaCityUK and will be broadcast on BBC1 in autumn 2012. Citizen Khan is described as a warm family comedy set in the capital of British Pakistan – Sparkhill, Birmingham. It follows the trials and tribulations of self-appointed Muslim community leader Mr Khan (played by Adil Ray) and his long suffering family. 'It's been an incredible journey so far working with a great writing team, cast and invaluable support from all at BBC Comedy. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to bring laughter to our living rooms,' said Ray. Khan is a larger-than-life character, a small man with big dreams and strident opinions. Like many of us he's struggling to make ends meet – but he's proud of his thriftiness – witness his suit which he's had since 1979 and ancient yellow Mercedes. Things would be so much easier if everyone just shut the hell up, listen to him and followed his lead, but his obsessively house-proud wife and two feisty daughters have other ideas. Created by Adil Ray, the character Mr Khan has already featured online, on radio and now on TV – fulfilling In House comedy's development strategy. Khan first came to the public's attention in the BBC2 series Bellamy's People, before featuring as a caller in the Radio 4 comedy series Down The Line. In 2010, Adil reprised his role to feature in his own web series for the BBC Comedy website with twelve episodes, in which he covered a variety of topics such as the general election, cricket, even delivering his own Christmas message to the nation. 'Citizen Khan will bring wonderful new comic talent and a fresh flavour to the heart of BBC1' said Danny Cohen. 'I am so proud that In House Comedy has a quartet of wonderful studio sitcoms on BBC1 in the next year – Miranda, Ab Fab, Mrs Brown's Boys and now Citizen Khan' added Mark Freeland, the Head of BBC In-house Comedy. 'The audience were rolling in the aisles at the Salford Sitcom Showcase and I am sure that Citizen Khan will have them roaring with laughter on BBC1' concluded Peter Salmon, the Director BBC North.

Maroon 5's Adam Levine has entered a war of words with US broadcaster FOX News, which has been using the band's songs as background music. Levine described FOX News as 'an evil fucking channel,' prompting FOX to question Levine's right to describe his work as 'music.' 'Dear Fox News,' Levine tweeted. 'Don't play our music on your evil fucking channel ever again. Thank you.' Although he's a host on the talent show The Voice, on rival network NBC, Maroon 5 songs such as 'This Love' and 'She Will Be Loved' have soundtracked many TV montages on many different networks. FOX supporters and pundits were quick paint Levine's remarks as a liberal smear. Writing on her popular blog, the FOX contributor and conservative journaist Michelle Malkin referred to the tweet as 'bigotry. [It's] irrational, self-defeating, blanket hatred,' she said. Greg Gutfeld and Adam Levy, hosts of Red Eye on Fox News, seemed even more offended. Levy compared Maroon 5's work to the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation techniques.' Well, if it's that bad, stop using it, then. Shortly after, while recording Red Eye, they deliberately played a clip from Maroon 5's 'Sunday Morning'. 'If you go to iTunes and search under the category called "crap", that comes up!' Gutfeld said. Blimey. Did you think that up all on your own, mate, or did you have help?

FIFA has asked an external committee to lead a new investigation into the collapse of a former marketing partner. Documents relating to the case are believed to show senior FIFA officials were paid kickbacks in return for granting World Cup television and sponsorship rights during the 1990s. FIFA president the odious Sepp Blatter said: 'This is an issue which has been raised by the national associations and members. The executive committee has decided that this case should be opened.' Blatter said that the executive committee will examine the documents relating to the company, International Sport and Leisure, at a meeting in December. World football's governing body has repeatedly blocked attempts by journalists to have the documents released. Last year, lawyers acting for FIFA and its senior officials paid five and a half million Swiss francs to settle the case and keep their identities secret. Blatter also detailed an overhaul of FIFA's ethics bodies and announced the creation of three 'task forces' and a good governance committee to drive through reforms. He laid out a two-year timetable for implementing the reforms. Regarding the ISL case, Blatter said: 'The executive committee has at my request agreed that in the meeting of 16 TO 17 December we will re-open this file. If there are any measures to be taken they will not be taken by the executive committee - it is not the body that can take sanctions or release anyone. So we will give this file to an independent organisation outside of FIFA so they can delve into this file and extract its conclusions and present them to us.'

And so to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. I feel the fact we survived The Rapture is a signal that we need something a bit special for this particular slot today. So, here's Matt Johnson tying Nenah Cherry to a railway line for starters!

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