Thursday, October 13, 2011

She's The Kind Of A Girl That Makes The News Of The World

As mentioned yesterday, dear blog reader, the BBC Trust has launched a public consultation on the - controversial - set of proposals from BBC management for changes to the services that the corporation provides and the way it operates. The so-called Delivery Quality First initiative. Licence fee payers can read the proposals and take part in the consultation exercise at the BBC Trust website, here. So, I urge you, take this opportunity to highlight what you think are the good things that the BBC does and comment on what the Trust proposes to do in the future. Speak now, or forever hold your remote control.
ITV has commissioned a new discussion show for 2012, to be fronted by ITV News' political editor, Tom Bradby. ITN Productions will produce the eight-part series, which will, they claim, tackle 'the hot topical issues of the week.' In each programme Tom will be joined by four studio guests to talk through the controversies and talking points of the past seven days. Drawn from across a range of backgrounds, the panellists 'will contribute diverse perspectives to half-an-hour of compelling discussion on the stories that people really care about, from politics to popular culture.' Filmed at The Hospital, the series will be broadcast on ITV in the spring in a weeknight slot.

BBC Worldwide has announced that the global BBC iPlayer App for Apple's iPad has expanded into Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The app, which debuted in eleven Western European markets in July, and then expanded to Australia last month, enables users to access an extensive on-demand archive of contemporary and classic BBC content. Viewers in Finland, Sweden and Denmark can subscribe to the app for €6.99 a month, or €64.99 for an annual subscription, allowing them to stream content over WiFi or download programming to watch offline. They can also sample a selection of free content before committing to a subscription. Available shows include comedies such as Little Britain, A Bit Of Fry And Laurie and Absolutely Fabulous; dramas including Silent Witness and [spooks], as well as factual shows such as Horizon and The Hairy Bikers. Around one hundred hours of new content will be added to global iPlayer each month, including themed collections and music programming, such as live shows from Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Oasis. 'This unique video on-demand product combines the classic with the contemporary and allows subscribers [to access] seventy years of brilliant BBC programmes, wherever and whenever they want,' said Jana Bennett, BBC Worldwide president. 'We launched the global BBC iPlayer because we think there's an untapped market for the "best of British" shows, both for Brits living abroad and for all those people we know have a love of great British television.' The global version of the BBC iPlayer app is currently in pilot phase, presumably before Worldwide embarks on the key US launch later in the year. Matthew Littleford, the new general manager for Global iPlayer, said: 'We're proud to be one of the first international broadcasters to give access to our shows in a perfectly packaged app. Reviews of the app have been overwhelmingly positive since its launch in eleven other Western European countries and in Australia earlier this year. The extension into Finland, Sweden and Denmark is an important step in our strategy of pursuing multiple platforms for our programmes and brands, taking British programmes to new digital audiences around the world in an innovative, creative and easily accessible format. During this pilot phase we have an exciting vision for what this service could become and will develop it based on feedback from within all markets.'

Lara Pulver, who will be appearing in the next series of Sherlock has teased that the famous detective has an 'infatuation' with her character Irene Adler. Pulver signed up to play Irene in August and will appear in one of the new episodes. Pulver told the Digital Spy website at the Crime Thriller Awards that there will be a spark between Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Irene. 'Steven Moffat's written an episode about Sherlock dealing with what love is, rather than Sherlock really knowing what being in love is,' she said. 'We're both very much playing a mind game with each other. We've met our matches with each other.' Asked if there could be romance between the pair, Pulver - who is currently starring in [spooks] added: 'It's kind of deeper than romance. It's kind of infatuation.'

Simon Cowell's Red or Black? will only return if the game show's format is overhauled, ITV's chief programmer said in answer to a question to Jonathan Ross in front of an audience of advertisers. Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, said that he had not decided whether to recommission the show in an interview at the commercial broadcaster's star-studded '2012 upfronts' designed to showcase programming for the new year. Ross was interviewing Fincham in a chat show-style format – and decided that his first question would be about Red or Black?, which despite considerable hype and huge expectations on the part of ITV received a mixed reception from audiences and industry observers alike when it was broadcast over seven nights in September. Fincham said 'I haven't made that decision yet' when asked by Ross whether Red or Black? will return next year. 'It is a big show, the sort of thing ITV should be doing on a Saturday night. [It's a show I] want to make some changes to. I'm nearly there, but not quite ready yet.' The show attracted an average audience of around four million per night, a reasonably solid performance under normal circumstances, but nowhere near the levels that ITV executives had confidently expected from a very high-budget Cowell show fronted by its two biggest presenters, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. The format of Red or Black?, which gave contestants the chance to win a million smackers by guessing either red or black to the outcome of a series of celebrity-fronted challenges, has come in for criticism. Claudia Rosencrantz, the former controller of entertainment at ITV, ordered a pilot of, essentially, the same show eight years ago but passed on it because, she believed, audiences wouldn't like a format requiring 'no skill.' ITV's 2012 upfronts were held at London Television Centre on the South Bank, with comedian Leigh Francis in the guise of his character Keith Lemon, The Only Way is Essex regular Mark Wright and X Factor judge Louis Walsh among those in attendance. The audience – Britain's major media buyers – were shown Julian Fellowes' upcoming drama Titantic and the new series of female detective programme Scott & Bailey and live performances from Pixie Lott and Rebecca Ferguson. Fincham admitted that Red or Black? had received a 'sightly bumpy ride,' although he was probably referring to the controversy surrounding a former criminal winning £1m and several other contestants being pulled after background checks rather than the disappointing ratings and negative audience feedback. However, the audience levels of the show, less than half that of successful Cowell stablemates such as Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor, arguably indicates that it needs to be rejigged if the broadcaster is to achieve ambitions of turning it into a franchise which it can sell overseas. Cowell has previously said he wants to take the show, which is co-produced by his production company Syco and ITV Studios, 'around the world.' It is thought that ITV is considering options for a new-look Red or Black? that include running it just one night a week. 'The feeling is it might come back as a big Saturday night show but it's a question of how you work that logistically and make it work if it's just once a week,' said a source who worked on Red or Black? 'It's a big expensive show.' The series, which like other Cowell efforts was filmed in an arena, is thought to be one ITV's most expensive productions per episode.
Mazher Mahmood, the former Scum of the World investigations editor, has denied any knowledge of phone hacking during his time at the paper, telling a court he hoped perpetrators would be 'sent down' for their activities. And, so say all of us. The Scum of the World 'fake sheikh', now working for The Sunday Times, was giving evidence at Southwark crown court in the trial of two Pakistan cricketers and an agent accused of trying to fix part of last year's Lord's Test. The Scum of the World gave Mahmood one hundred and fifty thousand smackers in cash which was subsequently handed to the agent, Mazhar Majeed, in an effort to prove his commitment to fixing sporting events. Mahmood, whose identity was shielded by protective screens, said that the sum was the largest he had ever been given in twenty years of undercover investigations – a measure of how convinced the Scum of the World management was of the guilt of the players involved. Alexander Milne QC, acting on behalf of Mohammad Asif, the fast bowler who along with Salman Butt is standing trial for cheating at gambling and accepting corrupt payments – charges which both men deny – suggested to the court that Mahmood's managers' certainty denoted something else. 'The News of the World has experienced several problems,' he said. 'Do you know of Glenn Mulcaire?' Mahmood replied: 'I have read about him but I have never met him, never spoken to him.' Milne pointed to a Mahmood interview in 2008 in which he claimed Mulcaire's activity was 'an isolated incident,' something which was a standard News International claim at the time. 'I said it was sad that an incident like that can overshadow all the good work we do,' said Mahmood. 'That's absolutely my position now. I never spoke to Glenn Mulcaire in twenty years. I hope the guys responsible go down for it.' Milne went on: 'It is in the context of phone-hacking that you receive information relating to Mr Majeed.' Mahmood replied: 'This story has nothing to do with phone hacking. There was no hacking involved.' Mahmood told the court that after publishing his spot-fixing story on 29 August last year he had received death threats, though he did not disclose from where they came. The case continues.

The BBC has been forced into reverse gear after it was revealed that a deal to make Top Gear satnavs voiced by Jezza Clarkson breached its own editorial guidelines. About fifty four thousand of the devices had already been made, and many of them delivered to shops, before the mistake became apparent. The BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, will now donate all of the proceeds from the sales to Children In Need to bypass rules which prevent the show's presenters 'endorsing' motoring products. The Top Gear satnav features Jeremy giving instructions in typically sardonic style: 'Keep left – if you're not sure which side left is you really shouldn't be on the road,' he tells drivers. 'After seven hundred yards, assuming this car can make it that far, you have reached your destination, with the aid of thirty two satellites. And me. Well done.' The corporation's commercial arm said that no more of the Top Gear satnavs, made by TomTom, would be produced, meaning those already on the shelves are likely to become collectors items. Remember, if you take it out on the box, you're halving the value. A plan to allow existing TomTom owners to download Clarkson's voice to update their models has now been dropped. A BBC Worldwide spokesman said 'launch plans were too advanced to prevent the physical product going on sale in retail outlets' by the time the problem was identified. The spokesman added: 'In order to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest in the minds of viewers, BBC Worldwide and TomTom have agreed that all monies that would have been due to BBC Worldwide will be paid to Children in Need, together with an additional charitable donation by TomTom.' The TomTom Go Live Top Gear edition was being rush-released for the Christmas market and was expected to be a huge hit among fans of the popular BBC2 show. But 'senior BBC figures', according to the Gruniad, felt that it may potentially have breached a rule which says that presenters 'must take particular care not to endorse any product or service which could be covered in the programmes on which they work.' A 'source' allegedly told the Communist hippie lice at the Gruniad that the costs in terms of compensation to TomTom incurred by BBC Worldwide had been 'negligible.' It is understood the electronics firm will talk to Worldwide about further voice deals. Clarkson, whom the Gruniad notes hurriedly 'had no role in setting up the deal,' will not make any money from the sale of the fifty four thousand devices already made.

Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie has announced that Young Apprentice will be broadcast on Monday nights this autumn. The reality show spin-off, which was previously named Junior Apprentice and went out on Wednesday evenings, will begin on 24 October at 9pm. The Amstrad businessman - and outrageous megalomaniac - also revealed that Young Apprentice will be broadcast for eight straight weeks. Now in its second series, teenage candidates no older than seventeen will once again compete for a twenty five thousand quid cash injection for their business careers. Mathematician Arjun Rajyagor won the competition's first run in spring 2010.

Mary Portas has spoken about a variety of unflattering comments which she reportedly made earlier this week in which she branded the female members of the cabinet 'an ugly bunch.' The alleged retail expert and 'television personality' was quoted, by that bastion of truth and honest reportage, Heat magazine, as referring to the women in David Cameron's cabinet as 'an ugly bunch' and criticising their choice of clothes. She was quoted as saying. 'I could not look at them. They do dress up for my meetings, but I just want to go, "Please no, not that necklace, not that skirt." I'd say let's just put a bit of sex and glamour in there!' In the same interview with Heat the magazine claimed that the self-styled 'fashion guru' also said that she didn't understand why Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was heralded as a fashion icon. Portas' comments were quickly picked up on by other news outlets - including this blog - and were widely reported drawing criticism from some quarters, humour from others and, frankly a 'I couldn't give a shit about nonsense like that, I've got more important things to worry about in my life than this bollocks' attitude from most. However, in an interview with the Daily Torygraph Portas insisted she 'doesn't bash women' - which, we'd imagine, is jolly good news for women everywhere - and that her comments were 'taken completely taken out of context.' So, in other words she did say what she's quoted as saying. Fair enough. Once again, this blog is forced to note that the comments appear to be a bit rich coming from someone like Mary whose face resembles one that's just be smacked with a wet haddock for the majority of the time. Portas told the Torygraph's Hannah Betts that she 'I wouldn't even know who the women in the Cabinet are. When you watch me, you know that I do a lot of things tongue-in-cheek – it's about humour.' Yes, because calling women ugly is effing hilarious, isn't it? 'Everything I've been trying to do is to make women of that age group visible and able to wear clothes that reflect where they've come in life and what they've achieved. I'm very candid, straightforward and I've got a very naughty sense of humour.' And a  big mouth. 'But I do not want to be one of those women who are bashing – that's just not my take.' In the interview with the broadsheet Portas also revealed that she had written to the four female members of the cabinet about her comments. Portas is currently an advisor to David Cameron on 'revitalising Britain's declining high streets' and also has her own Channel Four series - Mary Queen of Frocks. And the coincidence of this story appearing on the very week that the programme started, thus generating lots of publicity for it, is, surely, just that, a coincidence. Portas defected to the broadcaster from BBC2 were her series Mary Queen of Shops was a popular programme. In it Portas would allegedly 'help' struggling shops turn around their fortunes doling out her blunt and outspoken views.

Seth MacFarlane has claimed that he is hoping to end Family Guy soon. The creator of the hit FOX animated series - which recently launched its tenth season - told The Hollywood Reporter that whilst fans of the show are still passionate about it, part of him feels that the idea ran its course several years ago. MacFarlane explained: 'Part of me thinks that Family Guy should have already ended. I think seven seasons is about the right lifespan for a TV series. I talk to the fans and in a way I'm kind of secretly hoping for them to say we're done with it. There are plenty of people who say the show is kind of over the hill but, still, the vast majority go pale in the face when I mention the possibility.' MacFarlane also expressed interest in bringing the series to the big screen following its cancellation, adding: 'Creatively, that would be the way to do it for me. Do a really fantastic final episode while the show is still strong.' Earlier this year, MacFarlane announced plans to remake Carl Sagan's classic eighties space documentary Cosmos.

The CW network has picked up Sarah Michelle Gellar's drama Ringer for a full series. It is the first pick up of the season for The CW but is hardly surprising given the show's reasonably solid ratings performance so far and the amount of publicity surrounding the drama which marks Gellar's return to a lead role in television since the finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer seven years ago. Since the supernatural series ended Gellar has mostly worked in films - most of them not very good ones. The drama also stars Ioan Gruffudd, Nestor Campbell, Mike Colter and Kristoffer Polaha. While Ringer has now been picked up for a full season fellow new dramas The Secret Circle and Hart of Dixie had yet to receive such orders.

Doctor Who's Karen Gillan has discussed how she would like to eventually exit the show in the new Brilliant Book of Doctor Who. In an interview, Gillan explains: 'I don't want Amy to pop up again every so often, because for me it would take away from the big, emotional goodbye.' She adds: 'Steven Moffat wants it as well. When Amy actually, properly leaves, we both really want it to be for good.' Pondering whether this could mean that Amy would be killed off, the actress comments: 'I think it could be done, if you tackled it right. Death could be an option.'

Stephen Fry will be swapping Qi for horseplay as he will soon be starring as a horse in a new BBC radio drama. The comedian, presenter, writer and national treasure has been cast as Napoleon's horse in a Radio 4 production which begins of 25 October. The four-part series, Warhorses Of Letters, is a comedy about the secret love between the steeds of the French emperor and the Duke of Wellington. Ah, Sir Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1769 to 1852). Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite ever Prime Minister. Largely because he was the one responsible for more dead Frenchmen than the rest put together. Fry, of course, previously played the Iron Duke in the final episode of the third series of Blackadder. In which his regimental coat of arms was, infamously, 'two crossed dead Frenchmen atop a mound of dead Frenchmen motif.'

US X Factor host Steve Jones is stunned - at least according to the Metro - at the lack of fame which he has so far received in America. Yeah well, they've got proper stars over there, mate. They haven't really got much use for a full-of-his-own-importance Welshman. well, except for Rhys Ifans, I suppose. But, Jones believes that 'it could go mega for me here so I have to be prepared for that.' Don't do it on our behalf, Steve. Seriously. Meanwhile, Dermot O'Dreary, who lost out on the US X Factor job to Jones, apparently refuses to discuss the American version of the show whenever the subject is brought up. 'I am totally focused on the UK version and that really does take up all of my time,' O'Dreary claims. We believe you, mate, thousands wouldn't.

Barbara Windsor and Sheridan Smith are among the stars who have signed up to take part in Sky1's Little Crackers. The series, which broadcasts during the festive period, sees various celebrities making short autobiographical films. The first batch - shown last year - included some of the best comedy shorts produced for British TV in decades. And one episode by that waste of space Victoria Wood which should have been shovelled into a pit and murdered. Windsor and Smith have now signed up to take part in the show alongside Mount Pleasant's Sally Lindsay. Comedians Johnny Vegas, the wretched and hateful oaf Jack Whitehall and Harry Hill will also make films as part of the project. Sky's head of comedy Lucy Lumsden said: 'Little Crackers 2 is set to be one of the highlights this Christmas season. We have some of the best actors and comedians serving up some brilliant comedy shorts - perfect for the cosy winter nights.' They will join Alan Davies, Shappi Khorsandi, John Bishop, Jane Horrocks (that's another one yer actual Keith Telly Topping won't be watching on pain of having hot things shoved in my eyeballs) and Sanjeev Bhaskar, who have already signed up to take part.

Paul Merson has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after crashing his Mercedes into a lorry on the M40 near Warwick in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Merson, forty three, was pictured leaving hospital with blood stains on the arms of his white shirt and cuts on his face. He appeared to have had stitches for one wound, above his eyebrow. Merson, formerly of Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth, and now a Sky Sports pundit, told the Daily Mirra: 'I fell asleep and just hit the central reservation. I banged my head on the windscreen and the car is a write-off. I'm very lucky to have survived. I managed to get out by myself and the emergency services were brilliant. Now I just want to get home and have some rest.' Merson had been driving back to his home in Sutton Coldfield from a charity event in aid of Children in Need in Battersea. A police spokeswoman said: 'We received a report of an accident on the M40 northbound between unctions fourteen and fifteen at 3.12am this morning involving a black Mercedes ML350 and a lorry. Following a roadside breath test, the forty three-year-old male driver of the Mercedes was arrested on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol. He was taken to Warwick hospital for treatment to a cut to the head. A blood sample was taken for analysis.' The lorry driver, according to the Gruniad, suffered whiplash injuries during the crash and is 'recovering at home after hospital treatment.'

The FBI has arrested and charged a Florida man in a probe of e-mail hacking that targeted Hollywood celebrities, US law enforcement officials say. Christopher Chaney, thirty five, of Jacksonville, was arrested on Wednesday on charges stemming from a year-long probe known as Operation Hackerazzi. He is accused of hacking into more than fifty e-mail accounts. According to an FBI statement, Chaney offered up photos from the accounts to celebrity blog sites. He is also alleged to have stolen financial information and film scripts through hacking e-mails. 'Unfortunately, Mr Chaney was able to access nude photos of some of the celebrities and some of them were uploaded on the Internet,' US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr said. Birotte confirmed that a recently circulated nude photo of Scarlett Johansson is part of the investigation. Chaney is charged with hacking Google, Apple and Yahoo e-mail accounts. He set up each account to forward a copy of every e-mail received to himself, according to the charge sheet issues by a Los Angeles grand jury. He faces up to one hundred and twenty one years in prison if convicted on all twenty six charges, including accessing and damaging computers, wire tapping and identity theft. Chaney allegedly used several online aliases, including 'anonygrrl' and 'jaxjaguars911.'

A motorbike made famous by Happy Days is up for auction. The Triumph Trophy TR5 was ridden by Henry Winkler's character Arthur Fonzarelli, in the classic ABC sitcom between 1974 and 1984. Presumed lost for many years, collectors are expected to rush to a Los Angeles auction house on 12 November to bid for the bike. According to Autoblog, stuntman Bud Ekins held onto the bike until 1995 before selling it to his friend, Marshall Ehlers, who was not aware of the Triumph's importance. The bike is expected to fetch more than ninety thousand dollars at the auction. Which is, of course, cool.

This very evening, as it happens, yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be attending yer actual Scunnie Stevie Drayton's latest Record Player event at the Tyneside Cinema. It's Abbey Road this time around, Paul McCartney's finest solo LP by a considerable distance. So I'm very much looking forward to that malarkey - hanging round, as it were, in an octopussy's garden in the shade. And all that. If you're in the vague North Tyneside area and you like the thought of sitting in a darkened room with twenty or thirty other like-minded souls listening to an LP - on vinyl - played in its entirety (with lots of air guitar permitted) and having a couple of drinks whilst doing so, why not come along to this or any of Steve's future events. Full details of which can be found here. Personally, I'll be going to most of them. Except the Queen one. I hate hippies!
And, from there, to something else. Here is the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a sizzling prime-cut barbecue classic from Big Tony Joe White, which was later covered by Elvis. Personally, I've always preferred the original, though. Smokin'.

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