Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes You Need Somebody If You Have Somebody To Love

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought that John and Gregg from MasterChef, described as 'a slightly more mature cooking version of Ant and Dec' were on particularly fine form on The ONE Show on Monday night. Although we could all, probably, have done without Alex Jones's witless witterings regarding Sherlock. Trying watching the episode if you want to understand what happened, love, like normal people! oh, and if you could manage to get rid of the paint-stripper voice as well, that'd be lovely. It's starting to get right on my tit.
Now, this blogger has said it before but it bears repeating, dear blog reader, some people simply have too much time on their hands. And thank God for that, frankly! Here's forty eight years of Doctor Who in nine minutes and twenty six seconds. Whoever you are 'BabelColour', you're marvellous. 'You're serious, aren't you?' 'About what I do, yes. Not, necessarily, the way I do it!'
Dom Joly has announced that he has signed up to front a new ITV show. The Trigger Happy TV comedian will star in new hidden-camera prank series Fool Britannia, which will reportedly be broadcast on Saturday evenings in October for eight nights. Well, that sounds staggeringly original. It will be broadcast before The X Factor, in the slot previously taken by Harry Hill's TV Burp, which is likely to end its run this year. Joly tweeted: 'If you are in the UK you are now a legitimate target. [It] will never be as good as the superb TV Burp but [I] will give it my best.' Oh, please, let him try and pull one of those 'this was last funny on Game For a Laugh thirty years ago' stunts on me, I'll be delighted to give him a good talking to before refusing to sign the release for them to broadcast it! The comedian was said to be developing a new reality series last year with ex-Big Brother producer Daniel Nettleton. In the event it appears that rather than developing a new reality series, he's merely gone for the format of his old one. Well, why sell an idea once, when you can sell it half-a-dozen times under different titles?
Revenge is supposed to be a dish best eaten cold. But why stop at one dish when you're having a good time? At the Leveson inquiry into phone-hacking on Monday, Chris Patten, Tory ex-cabinet minister turned grandee and gourmet, treated himself to a MasterChef-style five-course banquet that spared neither politicians nor the newspapers before which so many had cravenly 'grovelled.' 'Yes, it's completely true,' he said, that Rupert Murdoch had personally intervened to prevent HarperCollins from publishing his China-sensitive memoirs about his governorship of Hong Kong. Murdoch did so during his attempt ('always doomed') to expand his media empire into China, where he was not the only foreign businessman to think (erroneously) that it would help to kowtow to Beijing, said Patten. He did so in a matter-of-fact sort of way, as if addressing a class of school children, on the day the inquiry abandoned the fetid alleys of Fleet Street and breathed fresh air again by grilling the chaps from the BBC and other terrestrial TV channels. They speak the same kind of language as the lawyers; not so much a grilling as a gentle toasting with plenty of butter slapped on. So 'Lord Barnes' (Judge Leveson's slip of the tongue) was giving evidence as chairman of the BBC Trust, not as chancellor of Oxford University. But he is also the first real politician to face Leveson, so the Murdoch story was prompted by David Barr QC, counsel for the inquiry, who had just emerged from a dry two and half hour exchange with Mark Thompson, nice-chap-but-a-bit-boring director-general of the BBC. Thompson, whose successor will be paid a lot less than his six hundred and seventy grand a year, so Patten had told Monday's Murdoch-owned Times, had been meticulous in explaining the myriad safeguards, rules and reviews which guard the BBC's reputation from vulgar tabloid error. By the sound of it, it is a miracle that Panorama ever gets on air. Not a man to use one word where ten will do, when Thompson hesitates he does not say 'Er,' but 'Er, er, er, er' occasionally with an added 'um, um.' When Patten's turn finally arrived he was crisp and rather witty, with just a hint of barely concealed boredom. He told Leveson that he had won an apology, secured his fifty grand author's advance and sold extra copies in the US via a cover sticker proclaiming 'the book that Rupert Murdoch refused to publish.' Cash and an apology from the Murdochs is pretty routine nowadays but, in the twilight years of the last century it as unheard of. This was a good ten years ago which makes Patten a Hugh Grant before his time, the Sienna Miller of the Tory party. Twisting the knife, he even praised Murdoch as a serious newspaperman and as an 'entrepreneurial genius' online. No vendetta, he added. Rupert will be livid. By the time Patten had finished, most of his fellow politicians – Labour, Tory and Lib Dem – must have nursed hurt feelings too. They would all sleep better and take better decisions if they worried less about front pages and saw less of editors and proprietors, he advised them. Lady Thatcher mostly saw journalists she thought intelligent rather than admiring – he cited the Gruniad columnist, Hugo Young – so she could argue with them. 'They were chalk and cheese in their political views.' Patten said the present crop of MPs were mistaken in believing newspapers determined their fate and should realise that Rupert Murdoch's help is only available when it wasn't needed. 'I think major political parties, and particularly their leaders, over the last twenty or twenty five years have often demeaned themselves by the extent to which they've paid court on proprietors and editors,' he told the inquiry. 'Of course I'm in favour of talking to editors and journalists, but I'm not in favour of grovelling and I think politicians have allowed themselves to be kidded that editors and proprietors determine the fate of politicians. I think that there's plenty of evidence that in some cases, particularly News International newspapers, they back the party that's going to win an election. So they give you what you don't need in return for more than a great deal of faith,' he added. Alas, the myth had since evolved that newspapers could decide elections rather than back the side which was going to win anyway ('help you don't need' Patten said). In a dig at David Cameron, Patten revealed that he had met the prime minister only once since becoming chairman of the BBC Trust in May 2011. 'I'd have presumably seen the prime minister and other party leaders more frequently if I'd been a News International executive,' he said. As party chairman, Patten had rarely seen or phoned any media people. At that point Lord Leveson must have recalled ex-Sun editor, Kelvin MacKenzie's testimony that he told John Major (after Patten had lost his seat at the 1992 election) that he would 'pour a bucket of shit' over him. Organise a Chequers sleepover, as another PM (Gordon Brown) had done for Murdoch cronies? Patten shuddered at the thought. It was all so pointlessly 'demeaning.' In all this he rarely mentioned any of them by name, not Blair, Cameron or other Fleet Street greasers, preferring instead to name-drop the likes of Tom Stoppard, Coriolanus, John Milton and Ian Hislop (twice). Not to mention 'Mrs Dave Bowie'! In its way it was magnificently anti-populist, but it could also serve as a cautionary tale: lesser men they may have been, but the greasers climbed higher up politics' greasy pole than did fastidious Lord Patten. On the other hand, it looks like he might make a rather decent chairman of the BBC Trust - first one of those we've had for a while - which, in the great scheme of things, could prove to be rather more important.

The Usual Suspects and In Treatment star Gabriel Byrne is making a return to UK television to take the lead role in Channel Four's conspiracy drama Coup. In what is understood to be his first UK TV role in almost twenty years (1994's Screen Two drama All Things Bright and Beautiful was probably the last), Byrne will play reluctant hero Tom Dawkins. In the four-part thriller, which is loosely based on the novel A Very British Coup by former Labour MP Chris Mullin, politician Dawkins takes on the might of the establishment in a bid to uncover the truth behind an industrial accident in Teeside. Byrne's casting is something of a coup itself for Channel Four, because although the Irish actor appeared in some UK television productions in the 1980s and early 1990s, he has since worked almost exclusively on films in the US. Coup is due to begin filming next month and will air later this year. It has been penned by Cops and Lennon Naked writer Robert Jones and will be produced by Johann Knobel, who worked on The Shadow Line and Shameless. The executive producers are Jason Newmark, Ed Fraiman, George Faber and Charles Pattinson. Coup is being made by independent producers Company Pictures and Newscope Films. A Very British Coup was, of course, previously adapted for television by Alan Plater and Mick Jackson in an acclaimed four-part drama in 1988 starring the late Ray McAnally.

Almost seventy per cent of the British public distrust red-top tabloids in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, according to a new survey, the results of which are published in the Gruniad. That, in and of itself isn't so surprising. What is is that, seemingly, around thirty per cent of the British public do trust tabloids. What, are you people on drugs or something? In a study of two thousand one hundred UK adults in January, sixty eight per cent of respondents said they did not trust red-tops – including the Daily Lies, the Daily Mirra and the Sun – 'to do what is right.' However, faith in the UK media overall actually rose fifteen per cent last year among a separate group of five thousand six hundred glakes adults who described themselves as 'university-educated people' who regularly follow the news. Middle-class wankers who read the Gruniad Morning Star over their frappuchinos, in other words. The Edelman Trust Barometer, published on Tuesday, is an annual survey that measures Britons' trust in the government, business, media and non-governmental organisations. US firm Edelman is one of the biggest global PR and communications groups. This is the first time that Edelman has asked a representative sample of UK adults about how much they trust the media, so year-on-year comparisons are unavailable. The huge fall leaves red-tops trailing behind social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as information sources that the public trust in this way. Edelman's study suggests that broadcasters including the BBC and Sky News are among the most trusted media organisations, ahead of broadsheet titles such as the Gruniad and the Torygraph.

According to the Metro, Alesha Dixon is reported to be 'upset' to find that Simon Cowell is openly boasting in the press that he poached her from the BBC for the Britain's Got Talent panel simply because he believed this would hurt Strictly Come Dancing's ratings. Well,why the hell did you think he'd hired you, Alesha? Your massive talent?
And, speaking of greedy deluded talentless women, Christine Bleakley is said to be 'relieved' to be off ITV's breakfast show flop Daybreak as 'she was worried the hours were making her look older than her years,' a 'source' has, allegedly said. One would've thought that was the least of the Curiously Orange ones problems.
Which brings us, rather nicely, to Daybreakwatch:
3 Jan 625k AI 67
4 Jan 704k AI 69
5 Jan 698k AI 73
6 Jan 638k AI 68
9 Jan 687k AI 74
10 Jan 615k AI 67
11 Jan 746k AI 67
12 Jan 709k AI 69
13 Jan 678k AI 71
16 Jan 722k AI 70
17 Jan 706k AI 71
18 Jan 729k AI 71
19 Jan 709k AI 70
20 Jan 681k AI 67
23 Jan 705k
... new faces, same old story.

Katherine Kelly's departure from Corrie on Monday night brought the ITV soap its best overnight ratings in several months. The evening's two episodes brought in initial audiences of 10.6m and 11.2m respectively. In what was ITV's best night of the year so far, Emmerdale's 7pm episode also had a better-than-usual overnight audience of eight million. With Above Suspicion pulling in six million and even the wretched Caroline Quentin vehicle Cornwall managing an overnight of 4.6m it was, by a distance, ITV's strongest performing primetime since The X Factor finished in mid-December. Nothing on BBC1 got anywhere near to those figures although EastEnders managed 9.1m and Mrs Brown's Boys continued its impressive second series run with 5.2m. Sadly (well, from David Jason's viewpoint, anyway) The Royal Bodyguard - which the BBC had put so much faith in - continued to tank with 2.79m. BBC2's best performing programme was, as usual, University Challenge (2.8m).

Twatting About on Ice judge Katarina Witt has apologised for describing Chemmy Alcott as 'a big woman' on this week's show. The German panellist denied suggestions that she was commenting on Alcott's weight when she expressed concern about the skier entering into lifts with professional partner Sean Rice. 'I feel sorry about a comment I made about Chemmy and I think I upset her a bit,' the Sun quotes Witt as saying. 'I said she's a big girl and she misunderstood. I meant it in a complimentary way, that she is a tall girl. As a skater I was a big girl, I was tall, I was big. I must say I am sorry. I think it was really a language thing so sorry, sorry Great Britain.' Don't apologise, Katarina. This blogger is no expert on the matter but he reckons Chemmy in big in all the right places and none of the wrong ones.

Television viewing maintained record levels in 2011, as big shows such as The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing kept the average viewer watching the goggle box for four hours and two minutes every day, a new report has revealed. According to TV marketing body Thinkbox, commercial TV channels (non-BBC) were 'responsible for maintaining the record viewing level', as they accounted for sixty four per cent of all linear TV viewing, up 1.3 per cent on 2010. For the younger, and supposedly 'vital' sixteen the thirty four demographic, the commercial viewing share rose to seventy two per cent. Using figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, Thinkbox found that average daily TV viewing in 2011 was at exactly the same level as the previous year. The average viewer watched twenty eight hours and fourteen minutes of TV a week, down by one minute on the previous year's figures. Given that, this blogger is, clearly, doing about three people's work each week. Thinkbox found that the average person consumed eighteen hours and eleven minutes of commercial TV a week, an increase of twenty two minutes a week on 2010. In the last ten years, commercial TV viewing has increased by more than three hours and thirty minutes a week. Viewers watch two hours and thirty six minutes of non-BBC TV a day, up thirty one minutes a day over the last ten years. The increase in commercial TV viewing has also meant that people are watching more TV adverts, as commercial impacts during 2011 were up 2.6 per cent year-on-year. The average viewer watched forty seven adverts a day during last year. BARB's official figures do not cover TV viewing on other devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, but the body has been monitoring these viewing devices since 2005. The collected data suggests that there is an additional 1.2 per cent of TV viewing via other devices, and that rises to 2.9 per cent for sixteen to thirty four-year-olds. According to BARB, 90.6 per cent of all linear TV was watched live as it was broadcast in the UK last year, while only 9.4 per cent was 'timeshifted' on those digital video recorder services such as Sky+ and Freeview+ that yer actual Keith telly Topping doesn' know how to operate. Non-live viewing was up from 7.6 per cent in 2010, which was largely due to more households owning a DVR service, estimated at fifty per cent of UK households. In DVR households, 84.7 per cent of TV was watched live and 15.3 per cent consumed via timeshift within seven days - this level has remained roughly stable since the first DVRs were introduced ten years ago. Thinkbox believes that total linear TV viewing levels will now stabilise after a sustained period of record growth. The body feels that new technology innovations, such as high definition and timeshift, have enhanced the TV experience and 'magnetised' viewers to living room set. It also pointed to the fact that around ninety seven per cent of UK homes now have access to a digital TV service, while video on-demand platforms such as BBC iPlayer are sending people 'back to the broadcast schedules.' Around eighty nine per cent of people use on-demand TV to catch up on missed live shows. Another issue not flagged up by Thinkbox but potentially significant is the rise of 'second screening', the use of smartphones and tablets to access social media services around TV shows. As Twitter and Facebook activity around programmes like Strictly Come Dancing and Sherlock sometimes appears almost as compelling as the programmes themselves, this is creating a 'virtual water cooler' phenomenon, in that people do not want to miss out on the live TV event. Another important issue around 'second screening' is the high chance of viewers being exposed to spoilers, giving away important details about the show before they have had chance to see it. 'These figures explain why so many tech companies want to join the TV industry. Many companies are flocking to launch new TV services or social media services that feed off people's love affair with TV,' said Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox's managing director. 'It is obvious that people want to watch TV programmes on the best screen in the home if they can and 2012 will bring more opportunities to do that with the sale of connected TVs and more catch-up TV services to the TV set. And alongside that there is now a wide variety of personal screens to watch TV on which make TV even more convenient; tablets are really delivering an excellent mobile TV experience. TV continues to be the most effective form of advertising there is and the instant responses that second screens enable is making it even more so.'

Amanda Holden will miss Britain's Got Talent auditions in Blackpool on Tuesday after admitting herself to hospital yesterday. Well, that's one way of getting out it, I suppose.

Jon Snow, the veteran Channel Four newscaster, has warned that television journalists are being 'starved of the opportunity' to develop the stature of previous generations of broadcasters because of the pressure to respond to short-term demands from executives, competitors and new media. Giving the annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture, Snow contrasted the demands of the present day with his experience in Uganda in 1976, where the impossibility of producing film quickly meant he could produce emotive journalism unconstrained by deadlines or time. 'The speed and pace of what all of us is doing is starving television journalists, in particular, of the opportunity to develop the stature and presence of our forebears. These were people who had days in which to prepare their stories, dominated a tiny handful of channels and became iconic figures in the medium,' he said. Snow began his career at ITN in 1976, and that year travelled to Uganda to report on the impact Idi Amin was having on the country. 'Because I was not constrained by immediate "live" deadlines and the rest, I had time to hang about to try to grab an interview with the tyrant,' he said. In those days it would take three days for a report to hit the airwaves, he said, but on a visit to Egypt last year 'I tweeted, blogged, reported, fed the bird and then anchored that night's Channel Four News live from just outside [Tahrir] square.' But Snow said the current era represented a 'golden age' for journalism, partly because when comparing Uganda in 1976 with Cairo in 2011, 'the actual time spent on the journalism was no more than today – maybe even less. Sitting in Uganda, there was no Google, no ready comparative resource, no means of checking anything other than what you had witnessed.' He said it was important for broadcasters to give their reporters 'time in the real world. Bosses must carve out time for journalists to get out of the newsroom. If I'm any good as a journalist, it is not only because I have travelled to more than a hundred countries to report.' Snow said newspapers had suffered from the absence of a 'credible regulator' compared with television. He was not advocating that Ofcom should take on the job of regulating the press, he said, but 'an independent system with its own powers to investigate wrongdoing seems an essential.' Statutory regulation had not necessarily damaged reporting on TV. 'If we can practice cutting-edge journalism on television with regulation, I see no reason why an Ofcom-style regulator (although not necessarily an identical system) with full access for public complaint should not be perfectly applicable to the print world too,' Snow said.

Noel Gallagher is to be honoured with the godlike genius prize at this year's NME Awards. The former Oasis songwriter and guitarist follows acts like The Clash, Paul Weller and New Order in winning the award. He picks up the award as Blur prepare to collect this year's outstanding contribution to music prize at the Brit Awards next month. Oasis won that particular accolade back in 2007. Gallagher, who launched his solo career fronting The High Flying Birds in 2011, will pick up his prize at the NME Awards on 29 February at London's O2 Academy Brixton. 'I would like to thank NME for bestowing upon me such a great accolade,' he said. 'I have dreamed of this moment since I was forty three years old. I accept that I am now a genius, just like God.' Noel wrote the majority of Oasis's hits including chart-toppers 'Don't Look Back In Anger', 'Some Might Say', 'All Around The World', 'Go Let It Out' and 'The Importance of Being Idle'. (And, 'Supersonic', 'Whatever', 'Live Forever', 'Wonderwall', 'Roll With It', 'Rock n Roll Star', 'Champagne Supernova', 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out', 'Little But Little', 'Stand By Me' ... you know, a few good tunes, basically!) He quit the band in 2009 after falling out with his brother, Liam. His debut solo CD made it to number one in the album chart. NME editor Krissi Murison said: 'For the best part of two decades, the voice of one man has dominated the pages of NME more than any other.' But, since Morrissey's still busy suing them at the moment, they're giving the award to Noel instead. 'Opinionated, intelligent, passionate and always hilarious - Noel walks and talks it better than any other musician out there, and it's just one of the reasons why the British public loves him so dearly. No individual has written as many sing-out-loud classics as Noel. His songwriting has defined a generation.' Aye.

Now, of course, if yer actual Keith Telly Topping was really smart at this point he'd have an Oasis song for today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Unfortunately, I used one as recently as yesterday. And so, instead, we have a truly remarkable performance and one that, I'm sure Noel would approve of. The Blind Boys of Alabama's take on what is, by a considerable distance, the least likely gospel song ever written.

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