Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Down Your Street Your Crying Is A Well-Known Sound

Just three weeks into its run, the sitcom The Royal Bodyguard has turned into a quite staggering flop for the BBC. The first three episodes of the - really not very good at all - David Jason vehicle have had overnight audiences of 7.05m, 4.50m and 2.94m respectively. Can any dear blog readers remember any other show which has gone from seven million punters to under three million in just two weeks, because I'm struggling to? Even worse from the producers' point of view is the show's audience Appreciation Index scores which, for the first two episodes were - a hugely underwhelming - seventy one and seventy three. So, not only are people deserting The Royal Bodyguard in huge numbers but, it seems, even the ones who have stayed with it don't like it very much.

ITV has called for a review of the procedure for selecting contestants after it emerged that a male escort with a criminal conviction appeared on its Saturday night dating show Take Me Out. ITV, which just months ago pledged to make more 'contestant' checks after a man who served a prison sentence for assault won a one million pound jackpot on Simon Cowell's flop game show Red or Black?, blamed the production company Talkback Thames. 'We are disappointed that this contestant's record was not picked up as part of the background checks carried out by Talkback Thames, the producers of Take Me Out,' said a spokesman for ITV, scrambling to distance themselves from any blame as far and as quickly as possible like the coward scum they clearly are. Not my fault, guv. Ask anyone. We're only in it for the profit. 'We have asked Talkback Thames to carry out an immediate review of its procedures on this show.' Contestant Aaron Withers, thirty two, appeared on the most recent edition of the popular ITV dating show in which men try to impress a line-up of thirty women to secure a date. Withers told the producers of the show, which is hosted by Paddy McGuinness, that he was 'a semi-professional surfer and an asphalt layer.' However, he failed to inform them of a conviction for assaulting a woman and her boyfriend in a pub last June and that he had advertised his services as a male escort on a website called Platinum Select. A spokeswoman for Talkback Thames, which also co-produces ITV hits including The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, and therefore presumably doesn't appreciate being spoken to by ITV like they were there to lay a new carpet, said that it would be starting an investigation into its procedures for reviewing prospective contestants after failing to pick up on Withers' conviction. 'During the application process we ask contestants to declare any convictions and background checks are carried out on each individual, in line with industry practice,' said a spokeswoman for the production company. 'Aaron's criminal record did not come to light. We will be reviewing procedures.' Take Me Out, ITV's latest attempt to breathe life into the dating format after the demise of the long-running Blind Date nearly ten years ago, sometimes attracts audiences of about five million viewers (although, more often than not, it's less than that). The incident is an embarrassment to ITV coming just four months after a tabloid storm engulfed the risible Red or Black? Contestant Nathan Hageman took home a one million smackers jackpot despite having served a prison sentence for assaulting a woman. That prompted an investigation into the background of the remaining contestants in the week-long game show, which ran last September, resulting in several being removed from the final stages of the series.

Lara Pulver, whose role as an (occasionally naked) whip-wielding dominatrix in BBC1's Sherlock prompted more than one hundred complaints from readers of the Daily Scum Mail has spoken about the malarkey. Pulver said there was something 'really empowering' about her role as Irene Adler in the New Year's Day episode of the hit BBC1 drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. She revealed the intricacies of filming a nude scene for television in an interview for the new issue of the Radio Times. 'They give you a self-adhesive bra that sticks to you and imagine a sanitary towel made of tan Lycra, but with wire through it so it cups the underneath of you. And Louboutin shoes,' said Pulver. 'Paul McGuigan very sweetly said to me, "Okay, the choice is we spend hours shooting it to avoid seeing straps or we take all that off and shoot it quickly." I thought I couldn't put myself through being there all day, practically naked anyway, so I might as well get completely naked and get it done in a few hours.' Asked by her co-star Una Stubbs: 'So you took it all off?' Pulver replied: 'Yes. There's nothing to hide behind, no mask, and something really empowering takes over.' Pulver added: 'Martin said a few things but they were harmless. They were both supportive and by the end of it I wouldn't move on to the next line until Benedict had stared at my boobs!' The actress said she bore similarities to her TV alter ego, who flirted with Holmes while wearing only diamond earrings, lipstick and heels, and went on to strike him across the face with a riding crop while perched suggestively on a chair. 'There are huge elements of our characters that are us. But I don't go around whipping people. And I'm not a lesbian,' she told the magazine. Pulver, whose credits also include True Blood and [spooks], said the adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories was a hit because it did not 'underestimate people's intelligence.' She added of the detective: 'I think he has so much going on in his genius brain that he doesn't even think of women as sexual beings. A beautiful woman could walk past him naked – as I did – and it doesn't register.'
Dominic Mohan has claimed that the Sun no longer uses private investigators. Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, the editor of the newspaper made a distinction between investigators and 'search agents.' Mohan said: 'Yes, private investigators have been used in the past without the permission of the chief executive officer, but now new controls are in place.' Asked if investigators were used to secure ex-directory telephone numbers, Mohan said: 'I'd make a distinction. I've used search agents in the past, but I wouldn't describe them as private detectives.' Of whether such 'search agents' were used now, with or without the permission of the chief executive officer, he added: 'Yes, search agents can, there is a distinction.' In his written statement to the inquiry, Mohan said: 'The Sun has used private investigators in the past to assist journalists on stories, but I am not aware of any private investigators being commissioned under my editorship. The Sun does, however, regularly use news agencies and search agents to trace the addresses and telephone numbers of people we would like to contact in connection with stories.' He added that these 'desk-based individuals or agencies' search publicly-available databases for information, such as Companies House records and electoral rolls. Mohan added: 'It typically costs between fifty quid and three hundred smackers to obtain an address for an individual from such an agency. Last year, the Sun paid approximately one hundred and sixty five thousand pounds in fees to a small number of such agents.' In his own witness statement, former editor of the Sun odious slime-bucket of scum Kelvin Mackenzie said: 'As far as I know we never used private investigators but I am certain that public officials would have disclosed important information to us and that depending on what that information was we would have paid them. I am wholly supportive of public officials whistle blowing to the Sun even if we have to pay money. After all, the police pay informants to disclose information.'

John Torode and Gregg Wallace will return for an eighth series of MasterChef later this month after a curiously up-and-down 2011 in which two of the franchises three formats achieved some of their best ratings figures but one had a far worse time of it. BBC1's biggest cooking show is back and John and Gregg will be judging the very best contestants from thousands of applicants. Amateur chefs selected to make the TV stages were invited to cook a 'spectacular' dish for Wallace and Torode in the MasterChef dining room. After the blind tasting, the judges must select twenty four chefs to go through to the first heats. From the twenty four successful contestants, only twelve will earn MasterChef aprons. In the heats, the final contenders will take part in the infamous Invention Test, which will involve them using ingredients ranging from surf clams and rabbit to rump steak. After two contestants are eliminated, the remaining chefs will experience the pressures and stress of a professional kitchen. The third and final challenge will involve returning to the MasterChef kitchens and cooking one final dish to demonstrate their new skills. 'It's a new year, a new MasterChef, bundles of talent, huge amounts of potential, amazing cooking - now the fight can begin!' said John. Gregg added: 'MasterChef is back and the eighth series is very exciting. We've got some fantastic talent cooking their hearts out in some truly outstanding places. As we know, cooking does not get tougher than this!' That sounds like a queue for a title sequence. What's the deal, India?

Now, here's one for all the Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star to get uppity about. Jeremy Clarkson earned more than two million smackers in one year from the company set up to maximise profits from the global exploitation of Top Gear. Accounts for Bedder Six, created by Clarkson and Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, reported a sixty eight per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £15.2m. Clarkson, who reportedly earns about a million quid for presenting Top Gear, owns thirty per cent of the firm and was paid £2.14m, according to accounts filed at Companies House. A spokesman for BBC Worldwide, who pointed out that profits made by Clarkson do not come out of the BBC licence fee, said that he represented 'excellent value. Jeremy and Andy's roles in the business represent excellent value and they are getting much less than many others comparatively,' he said. 'It's entirely normal for creative talent to participate in the commercial global success of a show and format like Top Gear.' BBC Worldwide owns just over fifty per cent of Bedder Six, which was formed by Clarkson and Wilman in 2006. The Worldwide spokesman pointed out that the company's success brings money back into the BBC. 'In the four years since it was started, Bedder Six has turned over more than one hundred million pounds, and grown its profits almost five-fold, with the vast majority of this being returned to the BBC and reinvested back into the UK show,' they said. Or, as we said when exactly the same story ran in the Gruniad Morning Star this time last year, in other - slightly less provocative - words, a major shareholder of a business which pays the BBC for the right to distribute a brand (of their own devising) makes some money from this by being successful, internationally and the Gruniad, apparently, believes this equates to a story which their mostly left-wing readers would all like to have a bloody good tut at. How wonderfully, typically, scummishly, British. That's called Capitalism, lads. I'd get used to it because it isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Clarkson has, apparently, created one of the few things this country can still export to improve the country's trade balance and the Gruniad, seemingly, still disapproves. Hippy Communist scum.

Fancy a list of the Top Ten non-soap dramas of 2011 by average timeshift, dear blog reader?:-
1 Downton Abbey - 2.16m
2 Doctor Who - 1.79m
3 Above Suspicion - 1.60m
4 Doc Martin - 1.59m
5 The Jury - 1.44m
6 Scott & Bailey - 1.43m
7 Merlin - 1.39m
8 Waking The Dead - 1.37m
9 Silent Witness - 1.30m
10 Torchwood - 1.27m

The latest episode of Leverage - The Radio Job - this week featured the return of Tom Skerritt as Nate's wastrel of a dad, a plethora of Doctor Who in-jokes ('bow-ties are cool, okay!') and Die Hard references and a really unusual storyline about someone messing with Nate Ford's head.
The show's - fourth - season finale is next week.

BBC Studios and Post Production chief executive Mark Thomas is to leave the corporation's commercial subsidiary after four years in charge. Thomas will depart BBC S&PP in April, and the corporation has not indicated as yet who will replace him. He joined what was then BBC Resources in 2008 and helped transform the company following the sale of BBC Outside Broadcasts to SIS. BBC S&PP is now the UK's largest provider of studios, post production and digital media services to the broadcast and media industry. Under Thomas's leadership, the business has just completed its best ever year, generating its highest profitability since it was formed in 1998. 'There is never a good time to leave a job like this one, but one of the responsibilities of a CEO is to know when it's time to move on and let someone new take on the challenge of building on what everyone here has achieved over the last few years,' said Thomas. John Tate, the new chairman of BBC Studios and Post Production, added: 'Mark leaves S&PP in terrific shape for the future, having engineered a complete transformation of the business since he arrived in 2008. His vision and drive have ensured that valuable long-term contracts are now in place, new revenue streams have been secured, and the organisation is more agile, customer-focused and efficient. He leaves with our thanks for everything he has done, and with our very best wishes for the future.' Thomas's departure follows the recent appointment of BBC creative supremo Alan Yentob as a director on the board of BBC Studios and Post Production.

How Sex Works, the new three-part documentary which started a series of programmes on BBC3 surrounding sexual behaviour and which the Daily Scum Express got their knickers in a twist over last week began its run on Monday night. The show, produced by Pioneer, sees young adults talking openly about their first sexual encounters, along with the science behind the act. An audience of six hundred and twelve thousand watched. So, as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's mate Ian asked, did it peak too early? Do you think it'll go down next week? He's here all week.

Sinead Keenan has admitted that leaving Being Human was a 'difficult decision.' It was announced this week that the actress will not return for the next series of the BBC3 paranormal drama. Writing on Twitter, Keenan said: 'It is with a very heavy heart and a little relief that I can now tell you that I will not be appearing in S4 of Being Human. I cannot tell you how difficult it was to make the decision to leave. I've had three wonderful years on [the show], some of the best I've had in my acting career.' Keenan also confirmed that she has not filmed an exit storyline for her character Nina. 'I believe my departure happens off-screen,' she said. 'I haven't filmed anything for series four.' Michael Socha and Damien Molony have joined the Being Human cast as series regulars, while original star Russell Tovey has filmed his final scenes as George. Mark Gatiss, James Lance and Mark Williams will also play guest roles on the show.

Grumpy, greedy, pompous, overpaid, recently unemployed ITV failure Adrian Chiles may no longer be waking up (a few of) the nation on ITV's breakfast TV flop Daybreak, but it still turned out to be a profitable 2011 for the former The ONE Show man. Yer man Chiles, back on ITV presenting its miserably piss-poor live FA Cup coverage (as well as an equally dreadful Sunday night chat show) his company Basic Broadcasting Limited made a massively greedy profit of £1.4m last year, up from an already greedy nine hundred and fifty six thousand quid in 2010, reports the Sun. Worth getting out of bed for whilst it lasted, Grumpy. And, unlikely Clarkson - see above - who made his mint by creating a product and then sticking with it and the network that gave him the opportunity to make it in the first place, Chiles made most of his coin this past year by being spectacularly disloyal to the BBC and proving to be ruddy useless at presenting breakfast telly. So, jolly well done there.

TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson said he has 'let down' his family after being cautioned by police for shoplifting and said he will 'seek treatment.' Police arrested the sixty-year-old at the Tesco store in Reading Road, Henley-on-Thames on Friday. Worrall Thompson, from High Wycombe, was questioned and given a formal caution. He apologised for his 'stupid and irresponsible actions' and said he hoped he could 'make amends.' In a statement, he added: 'I am of course devastated for my family and friends, whom I've let down and will seek the treatment that is clearly needed. I am not the first, and I certainly won't be the last person to do something without rhyme or reason - what went through my head, only time will tell. Of course, I must also apologise sincerely to Tesco, with whom [I've] had a long and genuine working relationship, and to all the staff at the Henley branch, many of whom I've got to know over the years. I am so sorry for all my recent stupid and irresponsible actions. Hopefully in the future I can make amends.' A police spokesman said the incident involved 'low value goods.' Tesco declined to comment, describing it as a 'police matter.' In a statement, police added: 'Thames Valley Police arrested a sixty-year-old man from High Wycombe following a report of shoplifting offences. The man has been issued with a formal caution for these offences.' The chef has appeared on shows including the BBC's Ready, Steady, Cook and ITV's Daily Cooks Challenge. He opened his first restaurant in London in 1981. In 2009, he had to close four of his restaurants because of an 'unexpected but decisive fall in revenue across the businesses from September 2008.'

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has praised police for the 'fair and thorough investigation' into child sex allegations made against him. The actor, who plays Kevin Webster, was arrested in September after Greater Manchester Police received a complaint about 'an [historical] sexual assault.' However, lawyers decided there was not enough evidence to charge him. Le Vell said that he was 'delighted to be completely exonerated.' Before the decision was announced on 1 January, Le Vell had strenuously denied all the allegations and continued in his role in the TV show. He said that 'following the conclusion of the police enquiry into allegations that have been widely publicised in the national press, I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the Greater Manchester Police for the fair, thorough and independent investigation that they have conducted. I have maintained my innocence throughout and I am delighted to be completely exonerated by the decision that there will be no further action taken in this matter,' he said. 'I would like to thank the public sincerely for their loyal support during what has been a most difficult and upsetting phase in my life. I also want to give special thanks to my colleagues on Coronation Street and ITV for their unwavering support of me. It is now my intention to continue working and hope to put this extremely difficult period behind me.'

Richard Hopkins, a TV executive who developed, pitched and produced Strictly Come Dancing, has died from cancer at the age of forty seven. Hopkins also helped to sell Strictly to the US and was executive producer on season one of Dancing With The Stars. His other credits included series producer for the first Big Brother. David Mortimer, who co-founded production company Fever Media with Hopkins, paid tribute to 'one of the greatest producers of his generation.' Hopkins worked on Strictly while he was creative head of format entertainment at the BBC, a role he held between 2003 and 2006. The format was eventually sold to more than thirty five different countries. During his time in the role, he oversaw and worked as an executive producer on shows including Mastermind, The Weakest Link and A Question of Sport. He also worked as an executive producer on shows including the BBC's Fame Academy and Sky1's Fear Factor and was series producer of Channel Four's The Eleven O'Clock Show which helped to launch the careers of Ricky Gervais and Sacha Baron Cohen. At Fever Media, set up in 2006, he was executive producer on shows including The People's Quiz on BBC1, and BBC3's Move Like Michael Jackson. His joint managing director at Fever Media, David Mortimer, said: 'Television is, by its nature, an ephemeral business, so very few of us can hope to have any lasting legacy. Richard was a glorious exception to this rule and, as one of the greatest producers of his generation, he quite literally got the world dancing.' BBC entertainment commissioning controller Mark Linsey also hailed Hopkins as 'one of the leading entertainment producers of his generation. His drive, energy and passion was an example to us all and whatever the size of the project, regardless of the broadcaster, he gave it the same professionalism and dynamic approach.' He added: 'People who had the pleasure of working with Richard will always remember him as a joy to work with and someone absolutely dedicated to his profession.' Hopkins, who died on Saturday, is survived by his wife Katy and his three daughters.

Experts are trying to work out how to remove a small metal memorial plaque, which has been stuck to stonework on Hadrian's Wall. The Roman wall is a World Heritage Site and a scheduled ancient monument, making it illegal to deface or damage it in any way. The National Trust is consulting with English Heritage on how to remove the plaque without any damage being done to the stonework. The plaque, at Steel Rigg, was reported to authorities before Christmas. Andrew Poad, who looks after Hadrian's Wall properties for the National Trust, said: 'We are currently exploring ways of trying to remove it. What we do not want to do is commit another criminal offence by damaging the stonework by removing it.' The plaque reads: In memory of Nick White, from your Aussie mates, and bears the date August 2010. Local resident Joan Thirlaway said: 'I was taking a photograph of the sycamore tree, as everybody seems to do, and I noticed something was catching the sun and beaming almost like a searchlight. I thought that someone had left a tin can on the wall, so I would pick it up. When I went over I saw this plaque glued onto the wall. I just couldn't believe someone had done this, and no-one had removed it.'

Monday night's FA Cup Third Round tie between The Arse and Dirty Leeds will be remembered for Thierry Henry's two hundred and twenty seventh goal for the North London side. Before that, the best moment of the evening came when simian-featured defender-turned-pundit Martin Keown was thwacked on the back of the head with a ball by the players warming up pre-match. The Gruniad Morning Star suggested that it was Dirty Leeds substitute Michael Brown who struck the offending shot. If so, then well done Michael. We all owe you one.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, he's a tale of parting, loneliness, betrayal and redemption. And sex. And one of the greatest ever rock n roll on telly performances. Introduce the men, Keef.

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