Sunday, October 09, 2011

Only My Love Holds The Other Key. To Me.

Edwina Currie has become the first alleged celebrity to leave this year's Strictly Come Dancing. Which, essentially, proves the old adage that nobody likes a Tory.
Asked by hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman to sum up her exit, Currie stated: 'Well I feel sorry for Vincent, because he has worked very hard. He's been a terrific teacher, he really, really has. Anything that we did wrong is entirely my fault. Whoever dances with Vincent is a very, very lucky woman.'
Tommy Watson (power to the people!), the Labour MP who has played a central role in helping expose phone hacking at the Scum of the World (and is, as a consequence, just about the only MP that the vast majority of voters in this country don't think of as self-serving licebags) should stand down from the Commons culture, media and sport select committee - on which he has been such a thorn in the side of News International - after becoming deputy chair of the Labour party, the chairman of the committee has suggested. The MP for West Bromwich East was appointed to the shadow front bench by Ed Miliband, in Friday's reshuffle. He is Labour's deputy chair and campaign co-ordinator. John Whittingdale, the Conservative committee chairman, claimed that 'parliamentary convention' dictated that members of the shadow cabinet should not sit on backbench committees. But he has no powers to force Watson to stand down. Which is probably just as well as Tommy himself shows no intention of doing so. Whittingdale said: 'If Tom is going to be a member of the shadow cabinet he should step down, no question. It would be unprecedented for a member of the shadow cabinet to be on a select committee. On the front bench you are bound by collect responsibility and so you are not independent. It would go against the whole principle that these committees are made up of backbench MPs.' Watson's dogged pursuit of News Corporation executives over phone-hacking at the Scum of the World has won him a popular reputation with the general public. In July, he led the questioning of Rupert Murdoch during the media tycoon's appearance in front of the committee – a performance which led Time magazine to describe him as 'the man who humbled Murdoch.' However, Watson said he would not stand down, writing on Twitter: 'To be clear: I don't hold a front bench policy brief so remain on DCMS select committee. The Tories can say all they like. I'm not budging.' He pointing to the example of the Tories' own deputy party chairman, Michael Fallon, who currently sits on the Treasury select committee. Watson said: 'No doubt the Tories will comment on his role.' Whittingdale cannot force Watson, who was appointed by a ballot of Labour MPs, to stand down. He said he would raise the matter with the liaison committee, the group of thirty two select committee chairmen set up to oversee their operations, adding: 'I am surprised that he thinks he can stay on. I will certainly raise this with the chairman as something that will have to be considered.' Whittingdale added: 'I would say without hesitation that Tom has been an exceptionally effective member of the committee, not just on phone hacking. I will be extremely sorry to lose him. But this is not about Tom, it is about the principle.'

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has provided a vague update regarding when series seven will be broadcast, insisting 'I simply don't know!' The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine recently confirmed that the new series will start filming in February next year, and will be shown next autumn. Speaking to Total TV Guide, Moffat - seen left with, ahem, 'a friend' - explained: 'Our plans are still in flux. It's not a secret that we'll be moving to later in the year, but as to how many episodes there are going to be, I simply don't know.' He added: 'I will absolutely guarantee that you're not going to feel disappointed or short-changed. It will be a quite remarkable time for Doctor Who.'

ITN has revealed that Channel Four News has changes ahead - at least, visually. The programme has moved into a 'virtual studio' based on the previous glass set, with a view of the ITN offices as a backdrop, while over the next month the regular studio is being refurbished. ITN are keeping very quiet about the exact changes but do admit the new look will see a 'brighter, lighter' studio with 'more interactivity.' The new permanent set won't, however, be a virtual set. 'You'll notice our presenters sharing more of the programme. Some of our viewers told us they want to see the second presenter doing more, so we're working that into the programme. You'll also see more helpful indicators of what's coming up, more regular debates and a pacier opening to the show,' said an ITN spokesman.

Boring, whinging old gasbag John Cleese has 'berated' the state of BBC comedy. Well, if you don't like it, pal, write something better yoursaelf. The last thing you wrote for the BBC was over thirty years ago - talk about living on past glories. The Fawlty Towers creator claims that he was recently sent two 'terrible' scripts by the corporation. Christ, I really hope one of them was mine! (Unlikely, just in case you were wondering - Out of Order is currently still in, ahem, 'development hell'!) Cleese told the Sunday Torygraph - who, of course lapped all this up like a fly nibbling on shite - 'I was sent two scripts by the corporation which I was initially very excited about. But then I read them and they were terrible. It doesn't mean what it once did. They have lost sight of the fact that the script is the most important thing. Twenty years ago, there were thirty or forty great scriptwriters in the UK - most of them at the BBC. Now, there are only seven or eight.' Yeah. And then the war came along, and the Kaiser was defeated and ... For God sake, can't all these ghastly old bores who bang on about how 'rilly great' it was back in 'the good old days' just go to the pub and whinge about the state of the world of today like most pensioners? Revealing his explanation for the alleged decline, Cleese added: 'Shows are getting smaller audiences, as there are so many channels, so writers are paid less. Perhaps, there isn't the incentive to get into the industry.' Oh, there is, trust me. If only to get rid of the like of you, matey.

Coronation Street's Helen Flanagan is reportedly considering leaving the show after a series of panic attacks. The twenty one-year-old has battled with anxiety while filming scenes as Rosie Webster for the ITV soap and, according to the Sunday Mirra, is looking to tackle her issues away from work. 'It's no secret Helen has been ­struggling ­recently,' an alleged 'insider' allegedly said. 'She's been working hard and the stress has got to her. ­Experiencing those panic ­attacks has really shaken her up badly. She has said she doesn't want to renew her contract. Corrie may have to face up to The Street without Rosie ­Webster.' Flanagan admitted to finding her panic attacks 'very scary' and has since sought help from co-star Kym Marsh. Most normal people who found themselves in such a frightening situation would've probably sought help from, you know, a licenced professional medical expert but, hey, whatever. The character Rosie Webster was recently given her own online Coronation Street spin-off, which follows her attempts to launch a modelling career in London.

There's an interesting take on the BBC cuts from the Gruniad's Steve Hewlett here. 'By avoiding any mention of headline grabbing whole-service cuts he has as yet avoided anything resembling the full-on licence-payer revolt sparked by his earlier attempt to close 6Music. Thompson says, and plainly hopes, that the planned cuts to services – "scope" in DQF jargon – such as daytime originations on BBC2, overnight services on BBC1 and 2, some bespoke local radio programming [my italics], some sport, starting with the Formula 1 Sky deal, and so on – will pass most licence payers by. And, if initial press reaction is anything to go by, he may well be right. What's more, if you look beyond the immediate emphasis on service cuts to the emerging vision for the future shape of the BBC's services, an almost coherent picture is becoming visible. By aligning BBC3 with BBC1 and BBC4 with BBC2 – mirroring what is already happening in radio with Radio 7 becoming 4Extra and 6Music running in tandem with Radio 2 – the corporation is refocusing on its most salient and potent brands.' Hmmm ... nice to see my favourite part of the Beeb - and, as noted earlier in the week, on one which I consider to be the last proper bastion of yer actual public service broadcasting - being dismissed in less than a sentence.

BARB have released the final, consolidated ratings figures for Saturday 1 October which included the following: Strictly Come Dancing - 8.75m, Doctor Who - 7.67m, Merlin - 6.40m , All Star Family Fortunes - 3.70m (plus two hundred and fourteen thousand on ITV+1) and The X Factor - 11.23m (plus six hundred and sixty five thousand on ITV+1). So, will we see a story in the Sun or the Mirra tomorrow about All Star Family Fortunes getting near enough four million less viewers than Doctor Who? Will we shite. Still, if nothing else it does give us the opportunity to do the 'Can you hear Vernon sing? No-oo! No-oo! Can you hear Vernon sing? I can't hear an effin' thing,' malarkey one more time. In terms of series analysis. Doctor Who finished its sixth series with an official series average of 7.52 million per episode across the thirteen parts, and with an average timeshift of 1.79 million per episode - higher than any other drama series this year (Above Suspicion was second, with 1.60 million). That's slightly down on last year's series average of 7.73m and more or less exactly the same as David Tennant's second series in 2007 (7.55m). In a bad week for the BBC it's nice to know that at least the popular formats that it's already got aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

And, speaking of such, the BBC has confirmed a new series of historical legal drama Garrow's Law - starring Andrew Buchan, Alun Armstrong and Lindsey Marshal - will be broadcast later this year. Garrow's Law, the acclaimed legal drama inspired by the life of pioneering Eighteenth Century barrister William Garrow, played by Buchan, will return to BBC1 for a third series. The RTS award-winning drama sees a return of the barrister to the Old Bailey to champion the rights of prisoners against the powers of the State. An outstanding cast, led by Buchan, the great Alun Armstrong (playing attorney John Southouse) and Lyndsey Marshal as Lady Sarah Hill, with Rupert Graves playing Sir Arthur Hill and Aidan McArdle as Garrow's courtroom rival Silvester. New addition Harry Melling joins the cast as a regular and plays the role of George Pinnock, Southouse's nephew. Guest stars for series three include Lark Rise to Candleford's Olivia Grant who plays Lady Henrietta, Sir Arthur Hill's mistress, Derek Riddell who will appear as silk maker Matthew Bambridge, Patrick Baladi (Mistresses) who plays General Picton, and Downton Abbey's Cal Macaninch who plays police constable Richard Lucas. Garrow was (wrongly) convicted of 'criminal conversation' – a euphemism for having sex with another man's wife – at the end of the last series. As we join him in series three, he is at last free to live with the love of his life, Lady Sarah Hill, but her private agony is the absence of Samuel, her young son, held emotional hostage by her dastardly ex-husband, Sir Arthur. The cost to her of Samuel's absence – and the cost to Garrow of her attempts to get him back – will test their relationship to the limit. Meanwhile Southouse's nephew turns up in unexpected circumstance in episode two and provides both challenge and consolation to Garrow. As the French Revolution turns Europe upside down, new philosophies, new passions and new demands sweep through England. Attempted regicide, industrial sabotage, colonial brutality, police intimidation and election rigging are all on trial as the Establishment battle to retain their grip on the status quo. Garrow's Law series three is co-created by Tony Marchant, produced by Nick Pitt and directed by Bryn Higgins. The series will consist of four parts, and was filmed at BBC Scotland's Dumbarton studios earlier this year.

Harry Hill has denied reports that he is quitting TV Burp. Using his official blog, the stand-up comic insisted that nothing had been agreed, while revealing he still enjoys working on the show. 'Still having a lotta fun with TV Burp - still got sixteen shows to write! No decision on the future!' In his previous blog post however, Hill said: 'Good to see everyone again but we all agreed we have very nearly had enough.' Speculation mounted a fortnight ago upon whether Hill, who is married with three young daughters, had left due to the half-a-year filming commitment to each series. One report claimed that the forty seven-year-old had turned down a million smackers pay rise to stay with ITV beyond 2012.

If Jason Manford thinks he can put his Twitter flirtation scandal behind him, he's got another think coming. Even Victoria Coren took a pop at him on BBC4's erudite quiz show Only Connect this week, saying that her programme was 'more convoluted that Jason Manford's explanation for his desktop folder marked "boobs."'

David Cassidy has sued Sony over alleged unpaid Partridge Family royalties. The singer became a teen idol from the 1970s TV show. Cassidy claims that his 1971 contract entitles him to fifteen per cent of sales generated from merchandise bearing his image, including lunchboxes, board games and magazines. He told CNN that he is owed 'in excess of millions of dollars. It's just a matter of being fair and doing the right thing. Just be fair, be real, be genuine, don't be greedy,' he explained. He added that his manager told him that he had only received five thousand dollars from merchandise. Sony has yet to comment about the legal action. 'For nearly forty years, defendants have swindled Mr Cassidy out of his rightful share of the profits from The Partridge Family, and when Mr Cassidy has inquired as to the matter, have lied to him so as to continue to conceal their deception,' Cassidy's lawyer claimed at Los Angeles County Superior Court. 'Mr Cassidy has reason to believe, and does reasonably believe, that defendants have been perpetrating a scam. [They] will continue to go to any and all lengths necessary, no matter how despicable, to avoid upholding [his contract].'

Two concerts will take place in Liverpool to mark ten years since the death of George Harrison. The youngest of the Beatles, Harrison died of lung cancer on 29 November 2001 at the age of fifty eight. The concerts will be held at St George's Hall and The Cavern Club on the anniversary of his death. Acts he signed to The Beatles' Apple label, Brute Force and The Radha Krishna Temple, will be among those to perform at the events. Others include The Mersey Beatles, Singh Strings, Andre Barreau from The Bootleg Beatles and the Dovedale School Choir, the primary school that Harrison attended during the 1940s. Visitors from the Radha Krishna Temple will be feeding all the performers and audience at both concerts free or charge. The St George's Hall concert will be a free ticketed event. Harrison's post-Beatles career started with the critically acclaimed solo LP, All Things Must Pass. He later became a film producer in 1979, backing Monty Python's Life of Brian, The Long Good Friday, Time Bandits and Mona Lisa through his company Hand Made Films. He was known for his spirituality, embracing Indian culture and Hinduism in the mid 1960s and his wickedly dry sense of humour. Like, for instance, the time in 1965 when the pilot of a plane that was scheduled to ferry The Beatles between cities in the US proudly showed off his aircraft's rope ladder. 'I take it,' noted George, dryly, 'that we'll only be cruising at an altitude of six feet?' The perm her wore throughout 1978 - see left - was pretty funny as well.

Meanwhile, George's former bandmates, Sir James Paul McCartney CBE, has married his third wife, the American heiress Nancy Shevell at a ceremony in London. Let's hope this one goes a little bit better than the last one. The couple posed for pictures outside Old Marylebone Town Hall register office after being showered with confetti by wedding guests. Shevell, fifty one, from New York, is an heiress to a haulage fortune. She is Sir Paul's third wife after Linda McCartney died in 1998 and he split from second wife Heather Mills during an acrimonious divorce in 2008. Shevell wore a white, long-sleeved dress and held a bouquet of roses, while the former Beatle wore a dark suit with a white shirt and pale blue tie for the occasion. Hundreds of fans gathered outside the central London register office to see the couple arrive and depart from their wedding ceremony, and barricades were erected. A considerable presence of journalists and photographers also waited for several hours before the newlyweds finally emerged. The wedding party spent more than an hour inside the venue before emerging on the steps of the building. The couple then returned to their home in St John's Wood for a reception with family and close friends, including Ringo Starr. When asked who he felt after tying the knot for a third time, Sir Paul told waiting reporters: 'Terrific, thank you. I feel married.' Shevell, who was married for 20 years to American lawyer and political candidate Bruce Blakeman, became engaged to Sir Paul in May. The couple began dating four years ago in the upmarket Hamptons area of Long Island.

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day something form the Macca lurv-song oeuvre might seem appropriate. One of the good ones, as well. Yer Keith Telly Topping's always loved Henry McCulloch's majestic solo on this one.

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