Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Always Wanted To Be Free

The latest Absolutely Fabulous revival will lead BBC1's festive line up, it has been announced. The Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley sitcom, which has been revived for two twentieth anniversary specials, is expected to feature in the channel's Christmas Day schedule alongside Doctor Who, EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has never found Ab Fab quite as thigh-slappingly amusing as many other people but, it is very popular, admittedly. David Jason's first new BBC comedy in twenty years, The Royal Bodyguard, will also be broadcast over the winter period. Despite The Royle Family taking a break this Christmas, actress Sue Johnston will still be seen on BBC1 in one-off comedy Lapland. Elsewhere, Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson and David Suchet star in an adaptation of Great Expectations, while Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood and Christopher Eccleston lend their considerable talents to The Borrowers. or, rather, Fry and Eccleston lend their considerable talents and Wood lends her 'n talent what-so-bloody-ever' to the gig. Can't stand that full-of-her-own-importance woman and her wretched, laugh-free comedy.

Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have revealed what most of us kind of expected anyway, that they are 'in the dark' about the much-talked-about-but-don't-hold-your-breath proposed movie adaptation. It was reported last week that Harry Potter director David Yates is hoping to make a 'radical' film reboot of the BBC's popular family SF drama. 'I have absolutely no idea what it will be about,' Smith told host Fearne Cotton on her Radio 1 show. 'We're not really anything to do with it.' The actor added that he had 'no clue' the film was in development until it was announced, explaining that both he and co-star Gillan had 'read [the news] in the paper. There's always rumours about a Doctor Who film,' suggested Gillan, who plays companion Amy Pond. 'I remember them saying that Johnny Depp was going to be the Doctor a couple of years ago.' Both actors went on to say that they 'doubt' they will appear in any potential Doctor Who film. That is, of course, if such a project were ever to see the light of day. Which, this blogger still considers to be highly unlikely. As my old mate Peter Linford recently noted, 'you can accurately age Doctor Who fans by how many different unmade Doctor Who movie proposals they can remember!'

British TV productions have won five awards at the International Emmys in the US, including best actress for Julie Walters. She was honoured for her BAFTA-winning portrayal of Mo Mowlam in Channel Four's Mo, a biopic about the late politician. Christopher Eccleston was named best actor for his role in Jimmy McGovern's Accused on BBC1, which also won best drama series. Each episode told the story of a character who ends up in court. Eccleston played a plumber who found twenty thousand smackers in the back of a cab but was arrested after it turned out the money was forged. Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne won best arts programme. The series, about a group of teenagers training to star in a new opera for the world renowned Glyndebourne opera house, was produced by Twenty Twenty Television for BBC2. Twenty Twenty also won the non-scripted entertainment award for The World's Strictest Parents, which aired on BBC3. Lady Gaga made a surprise appearance at the ceremony, which was hosted by actor Jason Priestley at the Hilton hotel in New York. The singer presented an honorary prize to American Idol's executive producer, Nasty Nigel Lythgoe, another British export. Albeit, one that we're somewhat less proud of than, say, Julie Walters or Chris Eccleston. Gaga said Lythgoe was her favourite TV executive - he returned the compliment, describing her as 'the most creatively talented woman in showbusiness right now.' Do you two need a room, or what? Chile won its first international Emmy for children's programme, What Is Your Dream? Belgium won best comedy series for Benidorm Bastards, a controversial hidden camera show which follows seven elderly people playing tricks on young people. Canada picked up the best documentary prize for Life with Murder, about a family torn apart when a twenty-year-old is charged with the murder of his nineteen-year-old sister. Swedish crime drama Millennium won best TV movie or mini-series and Portugal won the prize for best telenovela - a term for a limited-run serial drama popular in Latin American - for Blood Ties.

There's a quite superb piece by David Quantick, a writer I've always had a lot of time for, in the Independent on the subject of 'used to be funny but now, really isn't' Adrian Edmondson's ill-informed and grumpy comments on their being too many panel shows on TV. Which, you may remember dear bloger reader, From The North described last week as 'another example of Tony Garnett Syndrome. That age-old truism that people in television just haven't got a buggering clue how lucky they are to do the job they do rather than working in a call centre and, thus, spend much of their time whinging that things aren't just so.' Edmondson might still be described as 'TV funnyman' in Caravan Times but most TV viewers might be of the opinion that the last remotely funny thing he was actually involved in was twenty years ago, at least. Like his contemporaries Lenny Henry, Ben Elton, Robbie Coltrane and Alexei Sayle (although, thankfully, not his former partner, Rik Mayall) he's another one of the angry young men of the early eighties who's been living on past glories for far too long now. Quantick's assessment begins thus: 'There's something about the passage of time with people, which enables us to escape one cliché only to become another. Last week, Adrian Edmondson made the journey – pioneered by legends as disparate as Kingsley Amis and Johnny Rotten – from angry young man to grumpy old man. Edmondson, whose work with Rik Mayall was so violently exciting in the early 1980s, is still kicking against the pricks, only these days the pricks are, as it were, members of the corporation.' Good start. 'He is, it appears, fed up with the hand that fed him,' continues the writer. '"TV scripted comedy is so hard to get on that it's almost pointless trying," he told the website Digital Spy. "There's only one channel that make it and that's the BBC. And they are full of ********." I don't know what "********" is, but I doubt it's an eight-star rating. It's a grumpy claim, but it's also one based on experience. Edmondson is no stranger to scripted comedy; he's in much of the best of it, from Channel Four's star-making Comic Strip shows to the BBC's own The Young Ones and Bottom (he was also a bit weird in Holby City, but that's probably not what he means by "scripted comedy"). And as he looks around now, he doesn't like what he sees, which is, according to Edmondson, "just lots of people being clever. Lots of people just having the kind of conversation you would have at a dinner party." He singles out panel shows such as Eight Out of Ten Cats (Channel Four, as it happens) and BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Most of the dinner parties I go to aren't as funny as TV panel games (perhaps there's a panel game idea in that? Dinner Party, in which Sean Lock and Reginald D Hunter are asked where they're going for their holidays and whether they have found a good school for their children. I think I'll drop an e-mail to Living TV). Despite this, I'd have to say that Edmondson has a point. Turning on the TV these days does seem to bring with it the risk of seeing five comedians in a row, two on each side of a host, in fairly interchangeable ranks. Often they are the same people. David Mitchell and Jimmy Carr both host panel shows and appear on other people's shows, frequently together. They are, fortunately, extremely good television comedians, excellent at the spontaneity and speed that a decent panel game needs, but it can be difficult to work out sometimes if you're watching Qi, Have I Got News For You, Eight Out of Ten Cats or Would I Lie to You?,' begins Quantick pulling few punches. As I say, this blogger has always rated Quanitck highly as a writer of wit and considerable pith and, in his, he's on truly rip-roaring, arse-kicking form. 'As Edmondson goes on to point out, it's almost always "all blokes." This is partly society's fault – the evils of the patriarchy trickling down into comedy – and partly because many women comics don't enjoy the neurotic competitiveness of quickfire panel games (at least one well-known female stand-up of my acquaintance hates the aggression and one-upmanship of these shows, where the joke that gets in is not the funniest, but the loudest and fastest). Comics such as Sarah Millican and Jo Brand tend to thrive when they're given space to work, not when everyone is bellowing at each other. So yes, there are lots of panel games, and they are a bit interchangeable – there's one for music, one for sport, one for news, one for know-alls and one for Chris Moyles – and there are too many men and we could do with a bit more variety both inside and outside the format. (It's been twenty years and still nobody has even piloted my panel game idea, The Tibetan Quiz of the Dead.) There's a paucity of sketch shows. Even on Radio 4, the sketch show is less well represented than it might be, while, after the failure of a batch of sex-based sketch shows a few years ago, television seems to have abandoned the genre altogether. (It has been left, rather excitingly, to go feral in pubs and clubs hosted by clever, untelevised sketch comedy groups such as Oxford's The Awkward Silence). Variety, too, is in short supply, although I'd give a thumbs-up to both Harry Hill's TV Burp, a quite extraordinary surreal show for which, I admit, I write, and to The Rob Brydon Show, an excellent hybrid of chat and comedy. Edmondson is right that about eighty per cent of channels make no comedy at all; even Dave, the repeat-filled TARDIS of recent British comedy, makes hardly any original programming. It does, however, seem unfair to harangue the BBC for shouldering the burden of finding work for every comic talent in the UK on budgets that wouldn't buy a silver-topped cane on Downton Abbey.' Then, Quantick makes his point, and concludes: 'The BBC is far from perfect. Apart from the NHS, it's the last great nationalised institution, and, like the NHS, it's a mixture of public brilliance, generosity of spirit and dumb bureaucracy controlled by people who should be working on the seabed instead in cosy boardrooms. It can committee an idea to death and it has the classic big organisation's fear of actually producing anything (unlike small independent producers, nobody at the BBC can lose their job if they don't make a show). But it does makes comedy programmes. Lots of them. It made Miranda. It made Ricky Gervais' shows. It made Outnumbered, and The Thick of It, and Rev, and Marion and Geoff, and The Mighty Boosh and Mrs Brown's Boys. It makes popular comedy, and weird comedy – and things that aren't entirely comedy, like the brilliant Being Human and, when it's at its best, Doctor Who. I don't want this piece to be an advert for the BBC. It moves very slowly. It's just cancelled Shooting Stars, and seems unable to give Reeves and Mortimer the millions they deserve. It still hasn't found a decent new sketch-show format. And any world that contains even repeats of Two Pints of Lager is one that no other intelligent space-faring civilisation would ever want to contact. But it is, as Edmondson points out, almost the only one doing it. Channel Four's commitment to comedy is improving but most of its satellite output still appears to be 1990s episodes of Friends (an old criticism that I'll stop repeating when it stops, er, repeating). Sky is spending millions on new comedy but doesn't have the audiences (the first episode of the BBC-rejected This Is Jinsy was apparently watched by only fifty thousand people, which is less than might follow a cartoon cat on Twitter). And ITV still seems not to have moved on, sitcom-wise, from the early 2000s, when I was told by one of its executives that there was "no point" making situation comedies as they were too expensive and took too long to establish. The BBC makes panel games because they're fairly cheap. It's also why it shows endless 'comedy roadshows', where you can see one or other of the stand-up comedians from the panel games doing their material at the Hammersmith Apollo in front of big neon signs reading MICHAEL MCINTYRE. But it doesn't entirely fill up our screens with reality shows and celebrity competition shows. It is, however, prone to the worst of television's current obsessions, the utterly pointless celebrity travelogue show, in which well-known people go to a place they know little or nothing about and make jokes about it. Sometimes these can be imaginative, true, as when Al Murray – famous for his rabidly xenophobic character the Pub Landlord – explored Germany and its culture in a reversal of his TV persona. But generally they aren't, and the programme consists entirely of a comedian going round Britain asking people what they do and interrupting them when they reply. These shows are almost entirely devoid of content, humour and entertainment, but they only cost a few train fares and a presenter's fee to make. Edmondson's Ade in Britain is on ITV this Friday at 4pm.' I do hope that the author will forgive me in quoting him at such length - on a strictly 'non-profit-making-for-review-purposes' fair-usage style basis, of course - but that was, I'm forced to admit, fucking brilliant. David Quantick, I want to have your babies.
Hugh Grant has told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics that he believed the Scum Mail on Sunday may have hacked his phone. The actor said that he could not think of any other way the scum right-wing bully boy newspaper could have got its story in 2007 about his conversations with 'a plummy-voiced woman.' The Scum Mail on Sunday said that it 'utterly refutes' Grant's claim, which it described as 'smears.' Earlier, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler said that she did not sleep for three days after discovering that her daughter's phone was hacked. Grant's suggestion that the Scum Mail on Sunday may have hacked his phone is the first time that anyone has publicly claimed a newspaper not owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch was involved in the practice. The article, which Grant sued - and won damages over - claimed that his relationship with Jemima Khan was on the rocks because of his late night calls with 'a plummy-voiced' studio executive from Warner Brothers. 'It was a bizarre story and completely untrue,' Grant told the inquiry. 'Thinking about how they could possibly come up with such a bizarre, left-field story. I realised there was a great friend of mine in Los Angeles whose assistant is a charming, married middle-aged lady, who is the person who rings you instead of the executive. I cannot for the life of me think of any conceivable source for this story in the Mail on Sunday other than the voicemails that were on my mobile telephone.' Counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, said Grant's claims were 'pure speculation.' He was still the diffident, self-deprecating Grant who has won audiences around the world as a light comic actor – not an especially good one, as he occasionally says himself, though his ad-libs in the high court were often better than some of his movie scripts. But he also revealed himself to be thoughtful, articulate, brave in an unheroic way and – at least twice – very kind and humane. No longer the foppish stereotype Brit, more high-minded Gary Cooper in Mr Deeds Goes to Town. How his tabloid tormentors will punish him in the future for this performance ... if they can. Predictably, the Scum Mail on Sunday later went on the attack and firmly denied his account. In a statement the paper said: 'The Mail on Sunday utterly refutes Hugh Grant's claim that they got any story as a result of phone hacking. In fact in the case of the story Mr Grant refers to, the information came from a freelance journalist who had been told by "a source" who was regularly speaking to Jemima Khan. Mr Grant's allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media.' Jemima Khan subsequently disputed the Scum Mail on Sunday's version of events on Twitter, saying that it was not true 'a source close to her' told a freelance journalist about 'the plummy voice woman.' She said: 'The first time I heard anything about this was when I read about it in the Mail on Sunday.' Given that this is a story which Grant sued the Scum Mail over - and won - it comes down, ultimately, to whom you believe, I suppose. I'll leave that entirely up to you, dear blog reader. It was another of the witnesses, the novelist, feminist and anti-censorship campaigner Joan Smith, who complained that tabloid morality – such as it is – is locked in the straitlaced 1950s while the rest of society has moved on. In court, Grant's plentiful girlfriends were rarely identified by name, while postmodern euphemisms like 'additional partner' were also deployed. Keen to protect them from yet more horrid publicity, Grant referred to 'girlfriend one' and 'girlfriend two' yet his gallantry only served to underline how much some things have changed since Queen Victoria set the tone. There was the incident with the prostitute in Los Angeles, which showed how absurd it was to claim that he had 'traded on his good name' – 'I've never had a good name,' he said self-deprecatingly. But the film that he had just made then still did well, he added. Asked why he had eventually issued a statement about Tinglan Hong, the mother of his child, Grant explained it was important to say that she was – and is – 'a friend, not a formal girlfriend,' lest tabloids claim she had been jilted. Grant also told the inquiry that one national paper in 1995 described the inside of his London flat - shortly after it had been broken into. 'The front door had been shoved off its hinges. Nothing had been stolen, which was weird,' he said. 'Shortly after that, a detailed account of what the interior of my flat looked like appeared in one of the papers. I remember thinking who told them that? Was that the burglar, or was that the police?' The incident had happened around the time of Grant's arrest in Los Angeles with a prostitute, and the 'press storm' which followed it. He also claimed that the Sun and the Daily Scum Express had invaded his privacy by publishing details of his medical record which, he claimed, they had 'appropriated for commercial profit'; he had brought between six and ten libel actions over the past seventeen years; he accepted undisclosed libel damages in April 2007 over claims his relationship with Khan was destroyed by a flirtation with a film executive and his behaviour around Liz Hurley's wedding; he and girlfriends have been 'chased at speed' by paparazzi and that he experienced press intrusion over his relationship with the Chinese actress Tinglan Hong, when pictures were taken with a telephoto lens. The actor said although Hong was followed by paparazzi, newspapers 'seem not to have anything to print that could link her to me until I visited the hospital after the birth when again there seems to have been a leak from the hospital' where the child was born. Grant said that he received a phone call the next day from the Scum Mail, and that subsequently the Daily Lies was also interested in the story. But he said that he refused to comment, believing that to do so would give the paper confidence to publish. He said that the Scum Mail had adopted a 'fishing technique and they didn't want to print the story based solely on the hospital source because that might have been unethical or possibly illegal so they needed a comment from my side and that is why I said nothing.' The Scum Mail did not publish an item about Grant, his baby, or Hong, and eventually the news of the birth was revealed by an American magazine, US Weekly, at the end of last month, which the actor said was the product of a 'fleeting affair.' Shortly after, Hong was 'besieged' by photographers, Grant said, and the actor was forced to take out an injunction to force them to go away. When questioned by Robert Jay, QC to the Leveson inquiry, Grant said he believed that the information could not have come from elsewhere, saying that the only other people who knew were a female cousin of his who would not have leaked the information, and Hong's Chinese parents, 'who spoke no English.' Earlier, Mrs Dowler and her husband, Bob, were the first witnesses to give evidence. She said they had called the thirteen-year-old's phone repeatedly in the weeks after she went missing, but the voicemail had become full. Mrs Dowler said she could access it again because some of the messages were deleted after the private detective working for the Scum of the World had hacked the phone number. And she recalled telling friends, 'she's picked up her voicemail.' She added: 'When we heard about the hacking that was the first thing I thought.' The private detective concerned, Glenn Mulcaire, later issued a statement in which he deny that he was responsible for deleting messages from Milly's mobile. It was nine years later during the trial of their daughter's killer that the Dowler family were told by police that her phone had been hacked. Mrs Dowler said: 'As soon as I was told it was about phone-hacking, literally I didn't sleep for about three nights because you replay everything in your mind and just think, "Oh, that makes sense now."' The couple also described how they were secretly photographed as they privately reconstructed Milly's last walk, seven weeks after she disappeared. Mrs Dowler said: 'We put out missing leaflets and a telephone number. That number had changed and I was checking to see if the right poster was up and I was touching the posters to see if they were the right ones. That Sunday, that photo appeared in the News of the World. I remember seeing it and I was really cross. They had obviously taken the photo with some sort of telephoto lens. How on earth did they know we were doing the walk on that day? It felt like such an intrusion into a really, really private grief moment.' Mr Dowler was asked what he would say to the Scum of the World publisher News International. He told the inquiry: 'We would sincerely hope that News International and other media organisations would look very carefully how they procure, how they obtain information about stories. Obviously, the ramifications are far greater than what appears in the press.' The inquiry also heard from Graham Shear, a lawyer who represents celebrities and who is an alleged victim of the practice himself. He said that he was shocked to discover that reporters had turned up outside his home moments before he was due to meet clients there. He also said papers that published 'kiss and tell' stories consciously assessed whether the potential costs in damages outweighed the revenues that could be gained through extra sales. Writer and campaigner Joan Smith told the inquiry that she believed her phone was hacked while she was in a relationship with the MP Denis MacShane. She said: 'The tabloid press seems to live in a 1950s world where everyone is supposed to get married and stay married and anything that happens outside that is a story. I think we have a tabloid press which is almost infantile in its attitude towards sex and private life.' Beyond court Twitter was abuzz with idle speculation that one of the women lawyers present was clearly infatuated with Grant, effortlessly glamorous. It serves as a reminder that there is always a market for gossip, even when the star is playing himself and has just revealed he wouldn't hand over secret tapes he made of ex-Scum of the World hack Paul McMullan confessing to heinous offences – 'too harsh, I didn't want to send him to prison.' Such humanity, but it is not just celebrities whose privacy is ravaged, Grant reminded Leveson. Hundreds of celebs he knows would forgo damages and apologies 'if they'd just make an undertaking never to mention their names again.' The Dowlers, one suspects, would probably say yes to that too.

The BBC's director general Mark Thompson has 'hinted at a possible U-turn' over planned cuts to its local radio stations, according to the Gruniad, telling MPs 'we don't want to preside over the decline of local radio.' That doesn't sound like hinting at a possible U-turn to this blogger, rather a shallow piece of 'don't blame me, guv, I just work here' rhetoric. Time, as ever, will tell. Cuts to the BBC's forty local stations in England, which will account for two hundred and eighty jobs or about twenty per cent of their workforce, have prompted a far bigger public response than any other part of the corporation's Delivering Quality First seven hundred million quid cost-saving plan. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, BBC 'insiders' said that they no longer expected the cuts to be implemented as outlined in DQF, although they said that it was 'too early to say' how or to what extent they would be changed. The corporation is no stranger to reversing planned cuts to its radio services, having ditched plans to axe digital services BBC Radio 6Music and the Asian Network. Both of which, of course, have a minute audience compared to local radio. Thompson said that the cuts facing local radio were 'not as harsh as elsewhere in the BBC' - which is only true of one or two selected pockets; now if he'd said the cuts facing Radio 4 are not as harsh as elsewhere in the BBC, the factual accuracy of that statement could not have been faulted - but admitted 'at the sharp end the numbers are daunting. Local radio is an incredibly precious services and if you look at the services as a whole, local radio is one of the most protected of all BBC services,' Thompson told MPs on the House of Commons public accounts committee on Monday. 'The BBC Trust is currently asking the BBC about local radio and I am quite sure the trust and management will listen very carefully to what the public has got to say about it,' he added. 'If we press ahead with the proposals in their current form I would still expect to keep a really close eye on what's going on in terms of the quality, range and effectiveness of local radio and if we felt that it was dropping we would do something about it. We don't want to preside over the decline of local radio.' A number of MPs have already criticised the planned local radio cuts as 'unfair, unjustified and a travesty for listeners.' BBC Trustee Anthony Fry, who appeared before the committee alongside Thompson and the BBC's chief financial officer Zarin Patel, said that the cuts to local radio services had been the 'subject of considerable debate' between the Trust and management ahead of DQF's publication. It follows comments by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten who last week described local radio as the 'glue' which held local communities together and was 'a more trusted way of getting information than anything else.' The Trust's public consultation over the findings of DQF is running concurrently with a second consultation specifically into BBC local radio. Both consultations will come to an end on 21 December. If you're a licence fee payer and you have any particular views on either subject you can do so, here. 'This is a genuine consultation and we have to take account of what people say about the BBC's role in providing services which the market doesn't provide,' Patten told BBC Radio 5Live's Drivetime programme last Wednesday. 'Local radio like everything else has taken some cuts, or proposed cuts in that [DQF] process. Of all the things we have put forward the issue which has created the most concern is those proposed reductions in output or sharing of output in local radio.' Patten has recently been on a tour of some BBC local radio stations to see for himself how they operate, including BBC Radio Manchester, Radio Berkshire and BBC WM in the West Midlands.

On Tuesday, the Sun was having a right moan - or, rather, ITV was using the Sun to have a right moan - about Strictly overlapping with The X Factor final. For fifteen minutes. They don't like it at all. Because, of course, everybody knows that the BBC should clear the schedules and show nothing but the test card opposite the sainted X Factor, don't they? 'ITV bosses are reportedly furious after BBC chiefs have scheduled Strictly Come Dancing to clash with The X Factor final on 11 December,' they shriek. The BBC, meanwhile, note that the two programmes have been overlapping like this for most of the last three months and wonder why its only now that ITV are complaining. Could it be something to do with how many viewers the respective shows are currently attracting? A BBC 'insider', the tabloid claims, 'hit back' alleging the rival channel is only upset because Strictly beat the talent show in the ratings last Saturday after pulling in twelve and a half million punters compared to The X Factor's eleven and a half million. The 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'The shows have overlapped several times this year. Only now, after they lost out at the weekend do they complain.' Get in. It's, frankly, about sodding time that somebody at the BBC developed a pair of balls and starting standing up to this kind of crass bullying from their commercial rivals and their arse-licking pals in the right-wing press. Come on, BBC, stand up for yourselves - the licence fee payers are with you. Well, most of them, anyway. The Sun is read by approximately three million people a day,. The BBC, by contrast has one or more of its services consumed by over twenty million people, daily. They've got the guns but you've got the numbers. And as for those jumped up pipsqueaks at ITV its just about high time they were all slapped down and put in their place. Which is in the gutter by the looks of the majority of their output.

Although, to be fair, not all of it. Case very much in point. Hat Trick Productions have started production on two, hour-long, episodes of Case Sensitive a series based on the highly acclaimed psychological suspense novels by Sophie Hannah for ITV. The complex and original stories adapted into a crime drama for ITV saw an average for six million viewers for the first run of episodes, 'The first series of Case Sensitive was 1.4m and three share points above this year's average performance for Monday and Tuesday evenings in the 9pm slot,' ITV state. Case Sensitive stars Olivia Williams as DS Charlie Zailer with Darren Boyd as DC Simon Waterhouse. ITV's Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie adds, 'I'm thrilled to see Olivia and Darren reprising their dynamic partnership as Zailer and Waterhouse. It's a compelling and disquieting story and Sarah Williams has delivered a superb adaptation of Sophie Hannah's highly contemporary crime novel.' Other cast for the second series include Peter Wight, Ralph Ineson, Eva Birthistle, Theo James and Emily Beacham. The broadcaster has also revealed details of the storyline for the next chapter in Case Sensitive with Charlie taking out her frustrations in a kick-boxing class, where she meets Ruth a young music teacher. Ruth has a new boyfriend Aidan, with whom she has fallen madly in love. She believes she can unlock Aidan's extraordinary talent as a pianist. And when he asks her to marry him, she accepts. But there are two problems. Firstly, she is married to someone else, a fellow teacher, and secondly, Aidan has admitted that in the past he killed someone. In turmoil Ruth asks her new gym buddy DS Zailer how she might 'help a friend' check if her partner has a criminal record of any kind. Charlie is immediately suspicious. Fearing that her new friend is in danger, and despite the opposition of her boss DCI Proust she starts to investigate, only to uncover a story of thwarted dreams and murderous jealousy. Case Sensitive is currently filming on location in Buckinghamshire and London. The new two-part story is based on the best selling novel The Other Half Lives and has been adapted by Sarah Williams. BBC Worldwide are responsible for international distribution.

It's only been a mere twelve days since the final of Big Brother was broadcast on Channel Five - to almost complete indifference from the viewing public - so that must mean its time for the presses relentless milking of the show to start again in earnest. Cue the first story in the Scum Mail - not even a Desmond newspaper, please note - about who might appear in the Celebrity Big Brother house when it returns in January. Yes, here it comes again despite the last series – featuring the likes of paparazzo Darryn Lyons – ending only on 8 September. Apparently Boy George has demanded one million smackers to appear in the next series, after deciding that an offer of seven hundred and fifty thousand quid just wasn't enough danger pay for making an utter and complete fool of himself. If George does sign on the dotted line it would mark a comeback of sorts after he was meant to appear on the Channel Four version in 2009 but was denied as he was still on probation after serving a sentence for falsely imprisoning a male escort.

X Factor judge Tulisa could be banned from making her signature 'arm gesture' to audiences at the start of each show, as Ofcom launches an investigation into whether by doing so she is 'illegally promoting her new perfume with her tattoo.' No, I'm not making this up and it's not 1 April. Honestly. The media regulator has also received 'a small number of complaints' about swear words that the singer Rihanna had emblazoned on her shoes during a performance on Sunday night's results show. Ofcom has not yet decided if it will launch an investigation into the incident. Tulisa has become known for greeting the studio audience and viewers at home by holding her forearm across her chest and flashing her tattoo, which says The Female Boss, when she is introduced alongside the other judges at the start of each X Factor show. Last month the N-Dubz singer, twenty three, unveiled a new perfume called The Female Boss in a launch at the Oxford Street branch of The Perfume Shop. Media regulator Ofcom has received complaints that her overt display of her tattoo breaks strict rules on the promotion and reference of commercial products by talent. Complaints from whom, they didn't say. Other perfume producers, one imagines. Ofcom say that they have 'received complaints' about her action on the main X Factor show and also in a segment shown in The Xtra Factor. The segment on The Xtra Factor made explicit reference to The Female Boss perfume and discussed the connection to her signature move, including showing a clip. Ofcom has launched an investigation to see if the brandishing of Tulisa's tattoo, which she is thought to have got at the start of the year, is in breach of broadcasting regulations. And, once again dear blog reader, let us just stand back and marvel at the utter shite some people chose to care about. Late last year Ofcom received almost three thousand complaints from people with nothing better to do with their time about 'raunchy dance routines' by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera during last year's X Factor finals. Ofcom eventually cleared the routines - and criticised some of the press coverage of the case - but warned that the show was 'at the limit' of acceptability for a pre-9pm broadcast. The furore over The X Factor final routines helped prompt 'an Ofcom crackdown' on 'raunchy routines' and song lyrics being broadcast before the watershed. In January Ofcom found The X Factor in breach of product placement rules after presenter Dermot O'Dreary appeared to encourage viewers to download songs by that week's guest acts Diana Vickers and Michael Bublé. Last month Ofcom ruled that ITV's This Morning was in breach of the broadcasting code after Amanda Holden – who was being interviewed about Britain's Got Talent and Shrek the Musical – used the opportunity to plug a group of law firms whom she is involved with.

Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon has scoffed at Nancy Dell'Olio's demand for an on-screen apology after Dixon described Dell'Olio's dancing as 'not very feminine.' Dixon now appears to be calling the American-Italian’s bluff after the fifty-year-old reportedly fired off legal warnings, threatening to sue for 'defamation.' Dixon made the disparaging remark about how 'far apart' Dell'Olio's legs were during the Halloween episode of the popular celebrity dance competition. Dell'Olio was subsequently voted out of the competition. Waiting by the phone for Nancy’s lawyer, Dixon told the Metro: 'I haven't had the call yet. I'll let you know if I do.' Defending her comments, she added: 'I don't get involved in the pettiness and I'm just always honest – nothing is ever personal.' Dixon said that she and Dell'Olio had 'kept a wide berth' since. 'I honestly, hand on heart, haven't seen Nancy since she left the show. I wasn't aware that she was upset.' Despite her remarks adding to the show's booming ratings, Dixon admitted she did not know if she had done enough to convince BBC bosses to ask her back again next year. She admitted: 'They keep you waiting, they never tell you, they never reveal all their cards so fingers crossed because it's been a blast. I'll have to wait and see if they ask me.'

Ed Balls has admitted that watching Antiques Roadshow makes him cry. The BBC show, hosted by Fiona Bruce, sees experts appraising items brought in by members of the public. Balls, the shadow chancellor, has now confessed that he 'gets emotional' when he sees the programme. And this is the man who wants to be in charge of this country's finances?

ITV has signed a non-exclusive deal with Jonathan Ross, understood to be worth just less than two million quid, to air three more series of his ITV1 Saturday night chat show. Ross, whose existing two-series deal was due to expire early next year, has signed a deal that will keep The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV until early 2013. Under the deal Ross will front three series of ten episodes of his chat show, which has so far had guests including the odious Jamie Oliver and Lady Gaga, as well as two further Christmas specials. This year's Christmas special is set to feature guests including Tom Cruise. Sources estimate that the new two-year deal is worth about two million quid. Ross signed his current deal with ITV in July last year months after quitting the BBC, where he was the corporation's highest-paid star, reportedly on about £5.7m a year for work including his BBC1 chat show and film review programme, and Radio 2 Saturday show.

Allegra Stratton is to return to Newsnight, succeeding Michael Crick in the key post of political editor. The Gruniad Morning Star political correspondent is a former Newsnight producer who also worked on The Andrew Marr Show and This Week. Accepting the position at the BBC flagship television news programme Allegra said: 'It's a privilege to be returning to Newsnight. It is a great programme with an important role in stimulating political debate, especially at such a turbulent time both here and abroad. I'm very sad, though, to be leaving the Guardian. I'm proud to have worked there and have benefited immensely from the wisdom, kindness and good humour of my colleagues.' Newsnight editor Peter Rippon said he was delighted to welcome 'such a talented journalist as Allegra to the team. The Newsnight political editor is a cornerstone of the programme and Allegra's appointment is crucial to our continuing success,' he said. 'Our audiences expect us to hold Westminster to account and to bring them the inside stories and with Allegra's experience I have every confidence she will be able to fulfil their expectations.' Michael Crick left the job to join Channel Four News in July as political correspondent.

Sky News presenter the odious pie-gobbling Eamonn Holmes and ITV newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky are 'being tipped' to take over hosting Daybreak, with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley having been widely reported to have been sacked by the ITV's breakfast show. There have been persistent rumours that the thoroughly incompetent pair may be dropped from the show, which has failed to mount a serious challenge to BBC Breakfast since replacing GMTV in September 2010, although ITV have always denied that their roles are under threat. ITV did not confirm Chiles and Bleakley's departure on Monday, with a spokesman saying that the broadcaster did not 'comment on speculation.' However, Chiles was widely quoted in the People on Sunday saying that he and Bleakley had been told they would leave Daybreak in the new year 'with our dignity intact,' but that 'dark forces have leaked it for their own ends and I am mightily unhappy about it.' A spokesman for Chiles on Monday said that he had not given any quotes to any media outlets. So, either he's lying or the People is. According to further tabloid reports, odious lard-bucket Holmes – a former presenter at Daybreak's predecessor GMTV who now presents the Sky News Sunrise breakfast show – and Kaplinsky, who in August signed an interim presenting role at ITV, have been approached about taking over at Daybreak. Reports that Daybreak's two main presenters are to leave the show emerged following an announcement on Friday by ITV that Bleakley is to take over from Holly Willoughby as co-host of ITV's Twatting About On Ice. According to reports, Chiles will 'focus' on hosting ITV's thoroughly wretched football coverage and another series of his, hugely under-performing, Sunday night chat show. Chiles and Bleakley signed multi-million-pound three-year deals with ITV last year – reported to be worth as much as six million quid – after defecting, traitorously, from the BBC1's The ONE Show. Chiles left the BBC allegedly in high dudgeon allegedly following the decision to bring in Chris Evans to host The ONE Show on Fridays. Although it subsequently emerged that he had been in negotiation with ITV for several months prior to this. ITV relaunched GMTV as Daybreak to coincide with the arrival of the curiously orange Bleakley and Chiles in September 2010. Daybreak's ratings have been about half what rival BBC1 show Breakfast attracts.

There was a bizarre moment during Sky Sports' live coverage of the Premier League clash between Moscow Chelski FC v The Thieving Scouse Schleps at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Moscow Chelski FC were awarded a free-kick in the twentieth minute. Didier Drogba took the free-kick which went just wide, hit the net support stanchion and rolled across the back of the net. The reaction of Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, Drogba, and some of the Chelsea fans behind the goal made many believe, including the commentators Martin Tyler and Gary Neville that the ball was in the back of the net thus giving Moscow Chelski FC a one-nil lead. It seems only the graphics department at Sky Sports knew it wasn't a goal as they didn't alter the scorecard or play out the 'goal bumper' before the replay. Nice recovery by Tyler at the end, though. 'I'm with them!'

Now one very definitely from the 'No Shit, Sherlock' school of utter crap. Sitcoms cheer you up, according to new research. A survey claims that watching TV comedies is the British people's 'favourite way to give themselves a lift.' Conducted by the television channel G.O.L.D – which, of course, just happens to show a lot of old sitcoms – the poll found that eighty four per cent of people felt happier after watching a favourite episode. And more than two thirds of the two thousand adults polled and who prostituted themselves by actually answering these inane questions, preferred watching a sitcom to drinking a glass of wine or 'chatting to their mother.' What about those who enjoyed watching a sitcom, with a glass of wine, and their mother? The survey also found that forty two per cent of the respondents preferred to watch sitcoms alone, rather than with families or friends. Paul Moreton, general manager of G.O.L.D, said: 'Sitcoms truly are the social fabric of this country.' depends on the sitcom though, surely? I don't think you'll find many people who feel better after an episode of Come Back Mrs Noah.

The actress and director Julie Delpy is to make a biopic of late Clash frontman Joe Strummer called The Right Profile, according to trade magazine Variety. The title is, of course, named after the song which appeared on The Clash's 1979 LP, London Calling. In itself, it's about a film star - Montgomery Clift - so the title's certainly apt. Variety says that the film will focus on Strummer's sudden disappearance from public life in 1982 - the story of which is, like many aspects of The Clash's history, the subject of myth, rumour and mundanity in equal measure. Delpy has just finished filming Two Days in New York with Chris Rock, who plays her love interest. She found fame in films Before Sunrise and Killing Zoe. In 2007, she wrote, directed and starred in Two Days in Paris. Strummer, born John Mellor, formed The Clash with Mick Jones and Paul Simonen in 1976. Along with The Sex Pistols, they were leading figureheads of London's punk rock scene. But the band could never be fully pigeonholed and also incorporated sounds as diverse as r&b, soul, reggae and funk. Politically aware, The Clash became known as champions of left-wing causes and for their inflammatory, intelligent songs such as 'London Calling', 'Complete Control', 'White Man In Hammersmith Palais' and 'White Riot'. They called their magnificent - if highly eclectic - 1980 triple LP Sandinista, after the left-wing guerrilla movement in Nicaragua. Strummer led the band until it broke up in 1986. He went on to a strangely unfulfilled solo career before he formed The Mescaleros in 1999 which he fronted on two magnificent CDs until his death from heart failure in 2002, at the age of fifty. Following his death, his wife Lucinda set up Strummerville - a music trust aimed at providing young musicians with things like rehearsal spaces and the use of recording studios.

Shakespearean actor John Neville, who also starred in The X Files and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, has died from Alzheimer's at the age of eighty six. The British-born actor died at Toronto's Wellesley Central Place on Saturday. Neville emigrated to Canada in 1972 and directed its Stratford Shakespeare Festival between 1986 and 1989. In 1956, he alternated the roles of Othello and Iago with his friend Richard Burton at London's Old Vic theatre. The following year, he was cast as Hamlet opposite Dame Judi Dench in her first major stage role. He took over the helm at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival when it was under financial and artistic pressure. 'John Neville's brave programming and careful stewardship helped save the festival at a time of extreme financial hardship,' said Antoni Cimolino, the festival's current director. Its artistic director, Des McAnuff, said: 'His charisma and charm were matched by the generosity of his spirit.' Neville also had more than one hundred film and television credits, including the title role in Terry Gilliam's cult hit, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He had a recurring role as The Well-Manicured Man in The X Files in the 1990s. He also starred in the film based on the TV series. Latterly, he appeared alongside Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt in Crime and Punishment, and in David Cronenburg thriller, Spider. He was a great Sherlock Holmes in 1965's A Study in Terror, starred as the Duke of Marlborough in the 1969 BBC2 serial The First Churchills, played Isaac Newton in Star Trek: The Next Generation and appeared in movies as diverse as The Fifth Element, Urban Legend and Crime and Punishment. Neville was a member of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of Canada. He was born in London in 1925 and served in the Royal Navy in World War II. After the war, he attended RADA and made his professional acting debut in an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Regent's Park in London. A private funeral will be held, followed by a public memorial in the New Year. Neville is survived by his wife of sixty two years, Caroline, six children and six grandchildren.

A man accused of injecting a woman's buttocks with a mixture of cement and tyre inflater has been arrested. Oneal Ron Morris, thirty, was detained in Florida on Friday and charged with practising medicine without a licence and causing serious bodily injury. The woman, who paid seven hundred dollars, later suffered with abdominal pain, infected sores and flu-like symptoms. Police photographs suggest that Oneal Morris may have had a similar procedure done on himself. Detectives describe Oneal Morris as a transgender man who dresses as a woman and claim he used a tube to inject a woman in several places on her buttocks. The victim's body was filled with a mixture that included cement, mineral oil and flat-tire sealant and the incisions were apparently sealed with superglue. Sergeant Bill Bamford, from Miami Gardens Police, said that when the pain had become too much Oneal Morris had told the woman: 'Don't worry, you'll be fine. We just keep injecting you with the stuff and it all works itself out.' Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'hard ass', does it not?

A dog walker's desperate attempt to control his unruly hound as it chases a herd of deer in a Royal Park has become an overnight Internet sensation after the clip went viral on You Tube. A smartphone user was quietly filming a group of deer in the peaceful surroundings of London's Richmond Park when the quiet is suddenly shattered by cries, off-screen, of 'Benton! Benton!' As the shouting gets louder, the amateur cameraman spins around to see a huge number of deer stampeding across the park, chased by a loose Labrador and its despairing owner. The herd continue to charge across the grass then veers off towards a road into the path of oncoming traffic as a well-dressed man staggers into view screaming 'Jesus Christ! Benton!'
The film cuts off with a stifled giggle from the cameraman as the owner's calls go unheeded and Benton races off into the distance, still chasing the deer and still pursued by his anguished owner. It's the little snigger right at the end that makes it genius. The clip was uploaded to You Tube last week and has already attracted over two hundred thousand hits. One viewer described the video as 'the funniest thing I've ever seen,' while another claimed he 'laughed til [sic] I cried.' Mind you, those are exactly the sort of comments you often see on You Tube describing anything from a chap getting hit in the plums with a football to Saddam Hussein's hanging. The viral hit has also sparked a number of spoof videos, including one where the clip is played in reverse, showing the dog, deer and hopeless owner running backwards to the Benny Hill theme tune. Crazy guys.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here a bit of yer actual Bruce Ruffin and some UK pop reggae. Large.

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