Wednesday, February 01, 2012

On Such A Timeless Flight

Strictly Come Dancing's Len Goodman has branded - which is, of course, tabloid-speak for 'described' only with less syllables - Britain's Got Talent boss Simon Cowell 'spiteful and mean' for poaching Alesha Dixon from the BBC1 show. Which, Cowell almost certainly is but, what y'gonna do, Len, nitch him up to teacher like a dirty Copper's Nark? Fer Christ's sake, grow up, you're as bad as each other. Cowell has previously said that he offered Dixon a judging slot on Britain's Got Talent based 'Seventy-thirty on the fact she was on Strictly and the fact I liked her.' Something which has, according to reports, gone down fantastically badly with greedy talentless waste-of-space Dixon herself. So, that's good for a laugh even if nothing else is. Cowell reportedly added that there was 'unbelievable rivalry' between the two talent shows. But speaking on Richard Bacon's BBC 5Live show, Goodman said: 'If that is the case - shame on you, Simon.' It was announced last month that Dixon was to join judging panellists Cowell, David Walliams and Amanda Holden on the ITV talent contest. Goodman added that he would never 'knock the opposition' (just grass on them) and that he 'enjoyed' Cowell's shows. 'I think it is spiteful and mean if that is the case that Simon said: "I just want to be spiteful towards Strictly." Because why would you want to do that? Why would you want to spoil millions of people's pleasures? It's not the right way to behave, so if that is the case - shame on you, Simon.' Bacon also asked the Strictly judge whether he thought his former colleague Arlene Phillips would return to the panel, now Dixon has left. 'I don't know. I've got a feeling if they asked her to come back, that she would,' he said. 'I would be perfectly happy if Arlene was to return because I thought she did a great job while she was on it.' Clearly, the BBC didn't, that's why she got the tin-tack in the first place.

The new series of Upstairs Downstairs is, reportedly, to feature 'a lesbian romance', it has been claimed. Because, as we all know, there are, genuinely, very few things in life that can't be improved, immeasurably, by lezzing them up. True story. Doctor Who actress Alex Kingston and recently-announced guest star Emilia Fox will portray secret lovers Dr Blanche Mottershead and Lady Portia Alresford when the BBC historical drama returns later this year. So, that'll be, what, twenty million viewers for the first episode? This blogger will certainly be watching. Writer Heidi Thomas said of the pair's 'covert and difficult' relationship: 'These are two brilliant, intellectual women who have a deeply romantic friendship in the tradition of the great Edwardian romantics, which gives each of them endless stimulation and satisfaction.' She further teased to the Mirra: 'It causes a bit of a stir when it all comes out, but Blanche finds support and sympathy from an unlikely quarter.' Kingston, who previously described Blanche as 'complex and intriguing,' suggested that her character would 'fight against prejudices of the time' for her new love. 'She is quite a radical, very used to a free existence, and doesn't understand why she would have to conform to the beautifully-kept world they've created for themselves,' she explained.

Three days after the latest series of Top Gear began and the Gruniad Morning Star still haven't published a story about some mythical group of individuals being 'outraged' at some perceived insult to them, personally, over the opening episode. Truly, dear blog reader, we are living in The End of Days.

Bill Kenwright is to reprise his role of Gordon Clegg, son of Rovers barmaid Betty Turpin, in Coronation Street. The character will return to Weatherfield for the funeral of Betty - actress Betty Driver died late last year. Producers have since been working out how to best pay tribute to the actress and the character. Gordon Clegg was originally introduced as the son of Betty's sister Maggie Clegg (Irene Sutcliffe) who ran the Corner Shop. However, it was later revealed that Gordon was not Maggie's son at all but instead the secret love child of Betty herself. The character has featured on and off during the years with Kenwright's last appearance in the role in 1995. After which the character was played by Geoffrey Leesley in for several appearances in the early 2000's. The news of Kenwright's return to Coronation Street was made by Sharon Marshall on ITV's This Morning. Marshall revealed 'We've got a little announcement to make about Betty and the funeral plans. Betty's funeral will be screened in April. There's been so many rumours in the press, but there's only one person who they've actually asked to come back - and that's Bill Kenwright, who played her on-screen son.' Press reports had linked Julie Goodyear and Jean Alexander as possible returnees as well though the latter has declined returns on previous special occasions. A report earlier this year claimed that producers were not planning on bringing any characters back for the funeral but that was quickly contradicted. Kenwright, of course, is these days best known as the chairman of Everton and a successful stage and film producer.

Matt Smith has said that he probably won't stay in Doctor Who for as long as the seven years that Tom Baker played the lead role. Not that anybody has suggested for a single moment that he would. There is, at the moment, some confusion within a fandom as to how long,exactly, Smith wants to continue playing The Doctor caused by fans jumping on every single thing the poor lad says and picking it apart for clues. Some reports suggested that at the recent NTA awards Matt said he has 'no plans' to leave Doctor Who any time soon. Other reports claimed that he has 'just one year left' in the BBC series based on a throwaway line he gave in the same interview. Really it's all rather tiresome and it would probably be best if everybody just stopped getting so excited, shut-the-hell up and let the chap get on with his job and worry about what happens when it happens. Including this blog. But, anyway, the latest brick in the saga is the following: 'I just sort of take each year as it comes, really,' Matt told Blastr. 'We've got all the rest of this year to get through, and then we'll just sit down and review it from there and see where it goes. But I love playing the part, and I love working with Steven Moffat. I think there will need to be a younger, cooler person than me — or maybe an older, cooler person, who knows? But I don't think I'll be doing it as long as Mr Baker.' So, there you go. Clear as Matt Smith wants it to be. Everybody happy? No? What an unexpected surprise.

Tuesday nights continue to be Toxic Tuesday for ITV. The channel's miserable flop game show The Exit List dropped to a new low of 1.68m (with a further one hundred and twenty thousand punters on ITV+1). That's even lower than the 1.71m another of their game show formats, High Stakes, pulled in last year. The Exit List was beaten by not just BBC1, but also BBC2 and Channel Four (their documentary on the sinking of the Concordia which had an audience of 2.87m plus three hundred thousand on C4+1, almost double what ITV managed). The BBC's new drama Prisoners Wives launched with a somewhat underwhelming 4.9m. And, if you want a truly horrifying statistic, two hundred and eighty seven thousand desperate and wretched souls watched the opening episode of the second series of Geordie Shore on MTV.

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are scheduled to appear at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August, presenting a Sherlock Masterclass alongside the show's producer Sue Vertue.
BBC1's Question Time and Mock the Week have been criticised in a report about television diversity for featuring 'token women' on their panels. The shows were singled out, along with BBC2's Qi, for failing to put enough female faces on screen. Commissioned by the BBC for the Cultural Diversity Network, the report said there was a tendency in drama, comedy and entertainment programmes to feature older people as 'peripheral or token figures.' Viewers described them as 'props for other stories' rather than a central character. There was praise for characters such as the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey, Patrick Trueman in EastEnders and Coronation Street's Betty Turpin for their positive portrayal of older people. But there was a mixed verdict on another BBC1 show, Strictly Come Dancing, with concern that older contestants such as Ann Widdecombe were only being included as figures of fun. 'Whilst Strictly Come Dancing was commended as a programme that included contestants from a range of ages it was also felt to sometimes mock and at worst be exploitative of certain older contestants,' said the report published on Tuesday. It was part of a trend in the media identified by viewers of mocking older people and characters in comedy and drama. A seventy two-year-old viewer, one of one hundred and eighty people of all ages who took part in the survey, said: 'We didn't like older people making a fool of themselves on telly, producers and directors are taking advantage and are using it for entertainment. An example of this would be Come Dancing. Its just embarrassing. I don't like seeing older folk being exploited.' The report said that viewers felt these presenters had been treated unfairly, 'particularly when they had been replaced with what people felt were less qualified but younger, more attractive women.' Viewers said older women were treated differently to older men, such as Sir David Attenborough, Sir Bruce Forsyth and a 'host of newsreaders' for whom their age 'appeared to be seen as advantageous.' One viewer said: 'Getting rid of all these older newsreaders, and bringing in young, glamorous kind of females, you're kind of forgetting the older person. Which they shouldn't because it's nice to grow up to older faces, and more mature faces, rather than just having women in their young twenties that haven't really got the experience.' he experience for what? To read an autocue? Jeez, the shit some people chose to care about. BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale was referenced as an older presenter who had been 'ousted' from TV but continued to appear on the radio. The report said: 'There was concern that there were no female equivalents of David Attenborough and that male newsreaders were often much older than their female equivalents.' A panel of industry experts who took part in the survey acknowledged that TV programmes can sometimes portray older people as the 'adorable idiot.'

Meanwhile, TV viewers are largely satisfied with the portrayal of different age ranges in the media, a study by the Creative Diversity Network has found. Just seventeen per cent of those surveyed expressed 'mild dissatisfaction' with how the media deals with age in general. It follows the case of Miriam O'Reilly, who successfully sued the BBC for age discrimination after she was dropped as a presenter on Countryfile. The report said that age portrayal was 'less of a priority' than quality programmes. However, it showed some concern across all age groups about the lack of middle and older aged women on television. Director general of the BBC Mark Thompson said broadcasters should take note of any dissatisfaction expressed by viewers. 'There are lessons here for the BBC and the rest of Britain's broadcasters,' he said. 'We should also note the concern, expressed by older people generally, about the need for greater visibility for older women. While, of course, there are many older women presenters and actors across our airwaves, this is something that needs to be addressed.' The findings suggested that young people were far more concerned than the older generation about how they were portrayed on TV. In the poll, forty per cent of sixteen to twenty four-year-olds said they did not agree with the way their age group was represented in the media. The report said: 'Although there is perceived to be plenty of coverage of young people on television, much of this portrayal is viewed as unduly negative.' It added that young people are often seen to be involved in 'risky behaviours' and are shown to have a 'disrespectful nature.' However, the authors suggested that the timing of the poll, which was conducted around the time of the London riots last year, may have influenced young people's responses. The BBC's media correspondent Torin Douglas said: 'After all the headlines about Miriam O'Reilly and the lack of older women on TV, it's unexpected to find that it's young people who are most concerned about the way they are portrayed. And most people aren't that concerned at all - the report says only seventeen per cent of those questioned were dissatisfied with the way the media deals with age.' The Creative Diversity Network comprises of several media outlets, including the BBC, ITV, ITN and Channel Four. The BBC is the current chair of the body, and had championed research into ageism when it took on the role.
Plans for the launch of a new Sunday version of the Sun as a replacement for the Scum of the World have reportedly been put on hold following the arrest of four senior journalists connected to the paper. Known as Project X, the Sun on Sunday has been widely rumoured to be in the works for some months, including recent reports suggesting that late April had been earmarked for its launch. However, the Financial Times cites 'three senior insiders' at publisher News International as allegedly saying that the alleged project has been allegedly halted after raids by police on four senior journalists at the weekend. Allegedly. The men were named by colleagues as Graham Dudman, a former managing editor of the Sun, and Fergus Shanahan, a former deputy editor, along with the paper's current head of news Chris Pharo and the serving crime editor Mike Sullivan. They were all questioned by police on suspicion of corruption under the 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act, as well as aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office. A serving police officer was also arrested at the weekend, and all five men were bailed until April and May. The Financial Times said that News International is allegedly 'concerned' that the negative publicity surrounding the arrests would damage the launch of the Sun on Sunday. The paper would get the publisher back into the lucrative Sunday market following the decision to close the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World at the height of the phone-hacking affair. But one alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'It has gone way on to the back burner since Saturday.' Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter of the Scum of the World, has even claimed: 'The launch of that newspaper is not even being discussed now.' News International declined to comment on the report.

David Harewood has claimed that there are better roles for black actors in the US than in Britain. Harewood, who plays the CIA's deputy director David Estes in Homeland, suggested that a lot of his British peers are travelling to the States for work. Speaking at a London BAFTA screening of the drama, he said: 'I think unfortunately there really aren't that many roles for authoritative, strong black characters in this country. We just don't write those characters - that's a fact. So a lot of my contemporaries are going to America. I kind of thought I'd missed the boat.' Harewood cited Idris Elba as an example of a British actor who had been successful in the US after a difficult start in the UK. 'I can remember talking to him years ago about his frustrations and he told me, "I'll go to America" and I thought, "What are you doing that for?"' Harewood said. 'Look at him now. The guy's a huge star. So he made the right decision to go when he did. And now he comes back and is doing Luther.' Harewood acknowledged that it took Elba 'a long time to crack it' but added: 'Now he can come back and he's a national treasure. For me, that's what I knew I needed to do because I simply wouldn't have been given a role of that weight or authority here in the UK.' Harewood, who has also starred in the movie Blood Diamond and the BBC television series Robin Hood, later admitted that he would 'encourage' young black actors to 'get to America. Or to at least try and have that ambition in your back pocket,' he continued. 'Because they do seem to embrace a more diverse palette and I think that's sad, but that's just the facts. I want to encourage people to get there as quickly as they can.'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been revealed as the surprise guest star in The Simpsons' five hundredth episode. Simpsons exec-producer Al Jean admitted that there had been 'discussion internally' on whether to use Assange and said that his cameo was 'satirical' and wouldn't alter his current legal situation. Assange was hunted down by casting director Bonnie Pietila after Simpsons creator Matt Groening heard reports that the political activist was interested in appearing on the long-running animated comedy. According to Entertainment Weekly, Assange recorded his lines in a secret location and didn't meet with producers because of his house arrest legal status in the UK. Assange is scheduled to appear on Wednesday at the Supreme Court to appeal extradition to Sweden for sex crimes allegations. The Simpsons' landmark five hundredth episode is broadcast on FOX on 19 February. It will be shown in the UK on Sky1 later in the year. In the episode, Homer and Marge will attempt to go 'off the grid' after discovering that the Springfield citizens want to have them removed from the town and are holding secret town hall meetings without them. While on the run, they will bump into Assange, who has been billed as their 'new Ned Flanders.' Al Jean has promised that there will be several more 'much less controversial' celebrity guest cameos in the episode.

A thirty three-year-old man has been prosecuted after he attacked three Toys R Us customers with toy lightsabers. Y'see, this dear blog reader is what Americans are driven to when they've got Piers Morgan on their TVs. When police arrived at the scene, David Canterbury from Hillsboro, Oregon began swinging his, ahem, 'weapon' at the officers. Oh, please tell me 'did the noise' as well! It only works if you do the noise! He had one lightsaber in each hand, reports The Oregonian. One officer's attempt to use a taser on Canterbury failed when he deflected the hit with a lightsaber. Police eventually overpowered and arrested him at the toy store. Hopefully using The Force. Considerably. Afterwards, Canterbury 'apologised' to everyone that he had attacked and stated he intends to undergo mental health treatment. None of the victims required medical attention although a couple were later heard muttering 'this isn't the man you're looking for, you can go about your business.' The man was sentenced to forty five days in jail for assault and resisting arrest. Canterbury has also banned from the Toys R Us store. And the Death Star.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a somewhat appropriate number from Sir Elt.

1 comment:

David Alexander McDonald said...

I'm betting on Matt Smith leaving Who in 2014, outlasting Tennant by a smidgen, and possibly before the end of the 2013-2014 series, but after whatever 50th anniversary shenanigans they're planning. And there'll be insane attempts to keep the event secret -- doomed to failure, of course.