Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Barenaked Ladies

You know that an alleged 'celebrity' TV programme is in serious trouble when the announcement of its forthcoming participants concentrates on Chesney Hawkes (he is the one and only, apparently) and former Brookside actress Jennifer Ellison. ITV's midnight announcement of the identity of the contestants in this year's Twatting About On Ice must've come as a shock - and a severe disappointment - to anyone who actually values the word 'celebrity' and all that it's supposed to mean. It also probably helps to explain why the announcement which, in the past, has usually been made before New Year has been kept back so late this time around. The fifteen contestants for this year's series also include Sugababes singer Heidi Range and former child actor Corey Feldman for the seventh series of the ITV show, which returns on 8 January. The world of soap is massively over-represented by Hollyoaks actor Jorgie Porter, Emmerdale's Matthew Wolfenden, Coronation Street's Andy Whyment and EastEnders' Laila Morse. Children's TV duo Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes will also take part, along with ex-Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere and ex-Dallas actress Charlene Tilton. Britain's top alpine ski racer Chemmy Alcott, freerunning founder Sébastien Foucan and 'fitness guru' Rosemary Conley complete the thoroughly miserable line-up of hasbeens, wannabes and never-will-bes.

Good old reliable Daily Scum Mail - they were so DISGUSTED with the naked back and naked legs of a naked pre-watershed Lara Pulver that they printed the offending naked shots on page nine, so that all of their readers - naked or otherwise, I couldn't possibly say - could all be DISGUSTED in their own homes too. In all their naughty naked naughtiness. Though, it is nice to see even the majority of the Scum Mail's readers aren't buying this particular example of hypocritical scum-flecked sick agenda-soaked bollocks from the worst scum excuse for a 'newspaper' in, probably, the world. And, I used the word 'newspaper' quite wrongly. The comments section of a Daily Scum Mail page, for once, is - for the most part - an oasis of sanity in a thoroughly mad world. How'd that happen? What readers may find particularly impressive is the following thought, articulated by one Scum Mail reader: 'Rosie Huntington-Whitely; Reese Witherspoon; Andrea Corr; Rochelle Wiseman; Mischa Barton; Allesandro Ambrosio; Jessica Alba; Lizzie Cundy; Myleene Klass; Tom Felton's girlfriend Jade (who?); Michelle Keegan; Olivia Palermo; Kyra Sedgwick; Vanessa Hudgens; Rhea Durham; Victoria Silvsted; Jessica Alba (again) and Maria Menounos. What do these ladies have in common? They are all pictured in a bikini on the right hand side of this [Daily Scum Mail] page.' A spokesman for the BBC said: 'We're delighted with the critical and audience response to the first episode [of Sherlock], which has been extremely positive, and have received no complaints at this stage.' Indeed, at the moment such ludicrous complaints as there have been, seem to be mostly a handful of glakes on Twitter (and, once again let us all marvel at how Twitter appears to The Arbiter of All Things) and in the pages of the Daily Scum Mail. So, you know, nowhere actually important. Meanwhile, another Twitter user, a Mr S Moffat of London, noted: 'To all concerned about the reported nudity in Sherlock's opening episode - rest assured it's still available on iPlayer. DVD from the 23rd.' Lara Pulver, meanwhile, has admitted that she felt 'vulnerable' filming the nude scenes in the show. However, she told the Sun that filming the scenes was also empowering. 'I have never felt so vulnerable in my whole life and in feeling that vulnerability it unleashed an inner power,' she said. 'I thought, "OK, I'm naked, I'm exposing everything, you can't hide behind Spanx, you can't hide behind a dress." It's like, "I'm completely naked, what of it?" There is something about being a woman and being naked that's great and I thought, "Let's just celebrate that."' Pulver added that her co-stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have both stripped off for roles before and joked that Freeman enjoyed her nude scenes a little too much. 'Martin is always naughty,' she said. '[His nickname] "Martin Freehands" is so true. He was like, "Oh, there she is. She's naked and there's her arse crack and off we go..."' Crikey.

After Sunday's barnstorming opener, Sherlock continues this coming weekend with the unsettling tale of a certain dog. Russell Tovey guest stars in The Hounds of Baskerville - Conan Doyle's classic 1902 novel has been given a modern-day spin by Mark Gatiss, with Sherlock and John investigating a top-secret army base in the wilds of Dartmoor!
Consolidated ratings time now from BARB and a two week catch-up. Firstly, here's the Top Twenty for week ending 18 December:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - BBC1 Sat - 13.34m
2 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 10.01m
3 EastEnders - BBC1 Tues - 9.93m
4 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 8.65m
5 Merlin - BBC1 Sat - 8.39m
6 BBC News - BBC1 Sat - 7.82m
7 The Royal Variety Performance - ITV Wed - 7.30m
8 Young James Herriot - BBC1 Sun - 6.73m
9 The National Lottery Draws - BBC1 Sat - 6.54m
10 My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas - C4 Tues - 6.37m
11 Death In Paradise - BBC1 Tues - 6.29m
12 Without You - ITV Thurs - 6.17m
13 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 6.04m
14 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.90m
15 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 5.70m
16 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.55m
17 Winter Wipeout - BBC1 Sat - 5.51m
18 The ONE Show - BBC1 Mon - 5.50m
19 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.38m
20 Soap Quiz - ITV Fri - 5.30m*
For BBC2, the final four episodes of MasterChef: The Professionals pulled in 3.26m, 3.71m, 3.55m and 3.82m respectively. University Challenge also managed a three million plus audience (3.10m).

Top Twenty for week ending 25 December:-
1 Downton Abbey - ITV Sun - 11.60m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Sun - 11.33m
3 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sun - 10.77m
4 Coronation Street -ITV Sun - 10.51m
5 Absolutely Fabulous - BBC1 Sun - 9.07m
6 Strictly Come Dancing - BBC1 Sun - 8.50m
7 Outnumbered - BBC1 Sat - 8.47m
8 Merlin - BBC1 Sat - 8.18m
9 Michael McIntyre's Christmas Comedy Roadshow - BBc1 Sun - 8.09m
10 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.72m*
11 The Gruffalo's Child - BBC1 Sun - 7.64m
12 Lapland - BBC1 Sat - 6.89m
13 The Queen's Christmas Message - BBC1 Sun - 6.69m
14 All Star Family Fortunes - ITV Sun - 6.36m
15 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 6.11m
16 Film: Ratatouille - BBC1 Sun - 6.01m
17 Without You - ITV Thurs - 5.65m
18 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Fri - 5.42m
19 Young James Herriot - BBC1 Mon - 5.08m
20 Film: Monsters Vs Aliens - BBC1 Sun - 5.00m
In all cases, unless indicated with an asterisk, ITV figures include ITV HD.

UKTV has reported its highest-ever audience figures at Christmas 2011, closing a record-breaking year for the pay-TV joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks International. UKTV's channels, including Watch, Dave and Good Food, held a 6.6 per cent share of the TV viewing on Christmas Eve and a 5.1 per cent share on Christmas Day, up 19 per cent on 25 December 2010, according to data supplied by BARB. Christmas Eve was UKTV's highest-rating individual day ever, with Watch, Dave, G.O.L.D and Yesterday accounting for around a one per cent share of all day viewing. 24 December also saw Dave attract its highest-ever audience figures. G.O.L.D, which mainly repeats classic comedies, was the fifth most-watched TV channel on Christmas Day, with a 1.8 per cent share. The channel was buoyed by perennial Christmas favourites Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, including new commission, Morecambe & Wise: Greatest Moments. UKTV also held a 5.3 per cent share of viewing on New Year's Day, up by twenty two per cent year-on-year. Last August, Virgin Media sold its fifty per cent shareholding in UKTV to US company Scripps Networks International in a deal worth three hundred and thirty nine million notes. Overall, UKTV enjoyed a successful year in 2011, including week fifty one and fifty two bringing its highest ratings, averaging a 4.8 per cent and 5.3 per cent share of the viewing audience respectively. Combined, the network averaged a five per cent share of viewing over the fifty two weeks, up by a tenth on the previous year. UKTV's flagship pay-TV channel Watch endured a rather difficult time following its launch in October 2008, including a chat show fronted by Richard and Judy being dropped after attracting very low viewing figures. However, the network found its feet last year, including magic show Dynamo: Mission Impossible reaching nearly one million punters in its debut series.

The world's finest actor, Richard Schiff, has said that there is a 'darkness' to his role in Once Upon A Time. The former West Wing star has signed up to play the father of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), King Leopold. He has now told Entertainment Weekly that his 'intricate' storyline will involve flashbacks to his life with Snow White and the Queen. 'He certainly seems to be a happy guy at first glances,' Schiff said. 'They wrote him as a happy-go-lucky guy. [He doesn't] desire anything. But at one point he says, "I have a prosperous kingdom, a beautiful daughter, and a lovely Queen," and I decided to make the Queen line not as excited as the other two items on that list. In other words, he's unhappy and I don't think people are ignorant [to that]. So there's a little bit of darkness underneath him.' Schiff also revealed that he has no idea whether he will return to the show in future episodes. 'The actors all seem to think I'm coming back, but that's a discussion I've not had with anyone else,' he said. 'But they all say, "You have to come back because you explain this and that" and "You're the reason that ..." But really, they're all guessing along with [viewers].' Amy Acker and Sage Brocklebank are among the other guest stars who have recently signed up for appearances in Once Upon A Time.

Sir David Attenborough has hit back at claims made by the former chancellor Nigel Lawson that his recent natural history series Frozen Planet promoted climate change 'alarmism' and 'lacked objectivity.' Ahead of the final BBC episode in early December, Attenborough wrote a personal plea in the Radio Times warning of the impending dangers of global warming, in which he pointed to scientific evidence that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. The article prompted criticism from Lawson who is a prominent climate sceptic. He wrote in the same issue that 'when it comes to global warming [Attenborough] seems to prefer sensation to objectivity' and that 'Sir David's alarmism is sheer speculation.' Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, Attenborough strongly refuted the suggestion that he lacked objectivity: 'I am very, very cautious about making sensationalist claims about how disastrous continuing change will be. The most extreme and sensationalist claim I make, or statement that I make, is that a rising sea level that keeps rising – and it looks as though it could well do – will flood some of the greatest cities in the world, including London. It is an accurate statement and not an exaggerated one.' The series, which ran from late October to early December 2011 – and earned consolidated viewing figures of around ten million – included a final episode, On Thin Ice, in which the presenter highlighted the impact of global warming on the polar regions. A task he says he finds far from enjoyable. 'I wish that I didn't have to educate people on climate change,' said Attenborough. 'I would much rather make films which are simply unadulterated pleasure in the natural world. But if you are aware of what's happening to the natural world then you have to have some sense of responsibility. People should be aware of the danger that it is in. It's not the sort of programme that I particularly want to make for enjoyment's sake. It's the kind of programme that I have to make, otherwise it would be irresponsible.' There was also speculation that the episode would be dropped when the series broadcast in America, due its focus on global warming. However, the Discovery Channel has confirmed that it will broadcast the entire series in the US in March 2012 and that earlier reports that it wouldn't were, in fact, a crock of old bollocks. When questioned on the likelihood that American audiences would not want to see the final episode, Attenborough said: 'I don't know how solid a decision that was, but I do know that when I was an administrator and we used to buy from overseas, we decided how much of it we wanted to show. Of course if you make the programme, then you're jolly sorry that they aren't going to use it. It was tempting to say that it was reactionary North American people who don't believe in climate change, but I think that was probably quite unjustified. I would have regretted it had it happened, but in the end of course it didn't.'

ITV has dropped its Formula 1 website after more than twelve years following the joint broadcasting deal between Sky and the BBC. The website, launched in 1999, closed down at the end of last year. ITV, which broadcast F1 on TV up to 2008, said that it was the 'right time to bow out' as Sky and BBC will jointly cover the motorsport from this year. 'We've had twelve great years, including three since ITV gave up the broadcast rights to the sport,' said ITV. 'With F1 embarking on a new era in 2012 in which the sport will be televised by both BBC and Sky, now seemed the right time to bow out.'

British cartoonist Ronald Searle, best known for creating the fictional girls' school St Trinian's, has died aged ninety one. His daughter Kate Searle said in a statement that he 'passed away peacefully in his sleep' in a hospital in France. Searle's spindly cartoons of the naughty schoolgirls first appeared in 1941, before the idea was adapted for film. The first movie version, The Belles of St Trinian's, was released in 1954. Joyce Grenfell and George Cole starred in the film, along with Alastair Sim, who appeared in drag as headmistress Millicent Fritton. Searle also provided illustrations the Molesworth series, written by Geoffrey Willans. The gothic, line-drawn cartoons breathed life into the gruesome pupils of St Custard's school, in particular the outspoken, but functionally-illiterate Nigel Molesworth 'the goriller of 3B.' Searle's work regularly appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Punch and The New Yorker. Aside from his school stories, he was a savage satirist, and some of his darker material was informed by his time as a prisoner of war during World War II after being captured during the surrender of Singapore. There, he worked on the infamous Railway of Death - a Japanese project to create a rail link between Thailand and Burma, the construction of which led to the death of more than one hundred thousand labourers, including sixteen thousand Allied prisoners. Some of the work he created whilst being held captive is displayed at the Imperial War Museum in London. Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe paid tribute to Searle, whom he described as his hero. Scarfe said: 'He was clever and he was funny and he could draw. A lot of cartoonists come up with an idea first but Ronald could really draw.' Gruniad cartoonist Steve Bell said that Searle's work stood out for its 'genuine wit, intelligence and unabashed ambition.' Anita O'Brien, curator at the Cartoon Museum, said Searle was 'absolutely unique.' She added: 'He really was one of the most important cartoonists, not just in Britain, but in the rest of the world. Many people were influenced by his work. He did so many things, he was so versatile, so talented, so prolific. He will be incredibly missed and there was no one else like him.' Chris Beetles, who held several exhibitions of Searle's work at his gallery, said: 'He had become the yardstick by which all those professionals in his trade judged themselves, and his witty draughtsmanship was the standard to which they aspired. Over my forty-year collecting and art dealing lifetime, I have never encountered a cartoonist with his consistency of drawing ability, and such an inventive range of humour from burlesque to surrealism.' His work for Radio Times included many sketches accompanying radio dramas such as the first play by John Galsworthy, best known now for The Forsyte Saga, in 1948 and productions of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in 1949. But he also illustrated documentaries and talks, of which the most striking was 1947's The Enigma of the Japanese: Searle drew the Radio Times billing and appeared in the programme itself to discuss his wartime captivity. Across his career, Searle won a number of awards, including prizes from America's National Cartoonists' Society and France's prestigious Legion d'Honneur in 2007. But St Trinian's was his most enduring work - spawning five films between 1954 and 1980. After a twenty sevenyear hiatus, the series was revived in 2007, with Rupert Everett in the headmistress role. The movie also starred Russell Brand, Colin Firth, Talulah Riley, Jodie Whittaker and Gemma Arterton. A sequel, St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, was released two years later. Simon Winder, from Penguin the company that published St Trinian's said: 'We are all extremely sad to hear of Ronald's death. He was a marvellous, remarkable man and a great artist. I can think of nobody who did more to ridicule and undermine 1950s Britain and St Trinian's and Molesworth will endure forever as masterpieces of comic anarchism.' A full statement from Searle's family read as follows: 'Ronald William Fordham Searle, born 3 March 1920, passed away peacefully in his sleep, after a short illness, with his children, Kate and John, and his grandson, Daniel, beside him, on 30 December 2011 in Draguignan, France. He requested a private cremation with no fuss and no flowers.'

A man has been arrested at a Walmart in North Carolina after attempting to buy items with a million dollar note. Police revealed that the man insisted the bill was real after trying to buy four hundred and seventy six dollars worth of goods, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Investigators explained that Michael Fuller, fifty three, was trying to purchase a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other items before store employees called the authorities. Fuller was charged with 'attempting to obtain property by false pretence and uttering a forged instrument,' and 'being a cretin', probably. He is currently in jail on a seventeen thousand five hundred dollars bond. He is expected to attend court on 3 January. The largest dollar bill is currently one hundred dollars. Notes up to ten thousand dollars were phased out in 1969.
And, on that bomshell, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. A total dancefloor groove from The Whispers. Stylish threads, guys.

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