Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Try To Make Ends Meet, You're A Slave To Money, Then You Die!

Tragically, this is not the BBC's official Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary trailer. But it should be.
If only all Doctor Who fans could match the creativity and positiveness of those in fandom who can do stuff like this. We can dream, dear blog reader. Dreaming (as Blondie once said) is free.

We can now confirm what was rumoured earlier in the week. Mark Williams and two other guest stars have been cast in the new series of Doctor Who. Filming on the seventh season of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama got underway on Monday in Wales. Although it's still early several guest stars have already been confirmed for the new series. The Fast Show's Mark Williams was spotted by eagle-eyed fans filming on location with lead actors Karen Gillian, Arthur Darvill and Matt Smith. The current rumour seems to be that he'll play Rory's dad. Mark, as mentioned last time, has a long and varied career; to a worldwide audiences he's known as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films. On television he's appeared in Being Human, Merlin, New Tricks, Red Dwarf, The Indian Doctor and Saxondale among many others. He also makes rather good documentaries about the industrial revolution for Discovery. Talented lad, Mark Williams. According to press reports another Harry Potter-associated name has also been confirmed as a guest star; David Bradley who played Agnes Finch in the films. A fabulous actor with a huge and varied CV in TV, movies and on stage, David voiced one of the scheming Shansheeth's in The Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor (which guest-starred Matt Smith). His other credits include Waking The Dead, Five Daughters, Prisoners' Wives, Eternal Law, Ashes To Ashes and Ideal. He's also great in the movie Hot Fuzz. Meanwhile, Sherlock's Rupert Graves is also reportedly appearing in the new series of Doctor Who. The actors other credits include Garrow's Law, Scott & Bailey, Single Father, Ashes to Ashes and Midnight Man.

In the least surprising bit of TV industry news of the year so far, Eternal Law has been cancelled by ITV, according to its star, Samuel West. The fantasy drama, from Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes co-creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah, followed two angels who work as barristers to help troubled humans. West played Zak Gist on the show and broke the news of its cancellation on Twitter. 'Alas there will be no more Eternal Law,' he confirmed. 'Not enough people watched it. A thousand thanks to those of you who did, and said such kind things.' He added: 'I'll miss Zak and the gang enormously, but I'm very proud of the work we did. And we'll always have York. Onward!' Also starring Orla Brady, Ukweli Roach and Tobias Menzies, Eternal Law drew 5.43m viewers when it premiered on ITV in January. However, by the sixth and final episode, audience numbers had dropped to just 2.95m. Because it really wasn't very good. Sadly. Sometimes one can look for complex solutions as to why certain TV shows don't pick up the audience that one might've thought they would. But, sometimes, the answer is staring you in the face.

As yet unconfirmed reports suggest that ITV is set to cancel the African drama Wild at Heart because of falling ratings. The seventh season of the Sunday evening drama starring Stephen Tompkinson is currently being shown on ITV but has seen a noticeable drop in ratings. Wild at Heart at the moment is broadcast in-between the main Twatting About on Ice show and its results show which usually benefits the drama with a big lead-in. However, Twatting About on Ice has also seen its ratings slump for the current series which has impacted on Wild at Heart - the massive success of Call the Midwife on BBC1 has also dented the drama's ratings. On Sunday evening Wild at Heart dropped to 5.7 million viewers and now the Mirra - with little supporting evidence, it should be noted - claims that ITV will axe the series. An alleged 'insider' (anonymous, of course, and therefore, almost certainly invented) allegedly told the tabloid 'Everyone involved knows it's expensive to make and it's not as popular as it used to be so it's not rocket science. The cast and crew love making it, but all good things come to an end and we've had a good run.' An ITV spokesperson denied any decisions had been made and wouldn't be until the series concluded its current run. Wild at Heart launched on ITV in 2006 and proved to be a hit for the channel; it's original line-up consisted of Tompkinson alongside Amanda Holden who quit in 2008.

Andrew Marr's royal documentary The Diamond Queen came to the end of its three-part run with nearly six million overnight viewers maintaining the vast majority of its audience from previous episodes on Monday night. Marr's - rather sycophantic but, nevertheless, well-made - portrait of the monarch had 5.8 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm on Monday. It began with 6.2 million two weeks ago. The Windsors were neck-and-neck with ITV's Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis psychodrama Whitechapel, but only when ITV+1 figures are included. Whitechapel was watched by 5.5 million viewers on ITV, live, rising to 5.8 million when the timeshifted channel is included. BBC2's Charles Dickens' spoof The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff followed up its Christmas special with the first of a new three-part series. It began with 1.6 million viewers between 8.30pm and 9pm, including seventy four thousand punters on BBC HD. It was up against the penultimate episode of Channel Four's SuperScrimpers, which was also watched by 1.6 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm.

Sky Arts is to broadcast the Israeli drama Hatufim which is the template upon which the acclaimed American drama Homeland is based. In the UK Homeland - featuring British actors Damien Lewis and David Harewood following the Idris Elba, Dominic West, Tony Head and Hugh Laurie route of going west, young man, for yer actual superstardom - launched on Channel Four at the weekend with over two million viewers. And, not for nothing, impressed the hell out of this blogger, who's now seen preview tapes of the first seven episodes and reckons it might just be the best thing the Americans have produced since Lost ended. Maybe even since The West Wing. It's that good. 24 with brains, basically. Anyway, Sky Arts announced that it has acquired Keshet Broadcasting's acclaimed Hatufim. It will receive its UK television premiere on Sky Arts 1 in May. Hatufim (literally Prisoners of War) was Israel's number one TV drama in 2010. It's slightly different from Homeland although the basic ideas are similar. It focuses on the story of three IDF soldiers who were captured by a Hezbollah splinter during active service behind enemy lines in Lebanon. Seventeen years later, tow of the soldiers are released (the third died in captivity) and the story of their lives during their imprisonment unfolds as they attempt to reintegrate back into society: they try to cope with the pressures of being reintroduced to their families and friends, as well as handling the national hero status which is thrust upon them. Prisoners of War's gripping plot unravels, non-linear, through three time plains; before their capture, life in captivity and proceedings in the present day, which all intertwine to reveal dark secrets about the soldier's time with their captors. Through the duration of the series, personal drama, struggles and challenges help paint a picture of what exactly happened in the long years the men were incarcerated. The ten-part series, written and directed by Gideon Raff, was hugely successful when it was broadcast on Israeli commercial channel Keshet Broadcasting. It will be shown in the UK with English subtitles, ala Borgen, Spiral etc.

Actor Matt Milne is to join the cast of ITV drama Downton Abbey for its third season. The Digital Spy website revealed that Milne would join the cast as a new footman named Alfred who will be the nephew of Mrs O'Brien (Siobbhan Finneran). The third series of Downton Abbey will chronicle the early years of the 1920s following the second season's coverage of the First World War. American actress Shirley MacLaine has already been confirmed as joining the cast playing the mother of Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern). Matt Milne made his professional acting debut in the critically acclaimed movie War Horse and will also appear in the forthcoming movie Wrath of the Titans. The third series of Downton Abbey, once again written by Lord Snooty his very self, Julian Fellowes, and is currently being filmed. It will likely the broadcast on ITV this Autumn followed by a second Christmas Special.

The BBC has commissioned a new sitcom from David Schneider. Odd face, strange teeth, but a very funny chap. The Day Today and I'm Alan Partridge actor will star as a local authority's chief registrar Malcolm Fox in the Radio 4 series Births, Deaths and Marriages. He has also written the show, which will be recorded in front of a studio audience from next month. His character us described as 'a stickler for rules' who would be 'willing to interrupt any wedding service if the width of the bride infringes health and safety.' Alongside him are rival Lorna, brought in to modernise the department, geeky Luke and ditzy Anita who gets her words and names mixed up. With hilarious consequences. Schneider has previously written the popular children's series Uncle Max, which he also starred in, and was one of the screenwriters of the 2001 Eddie Izzard movie All The Queen's Men. Sounds rather good, actually - albeit, a bit like The Brittas Empire. BBC radio are obviously hoping for a whacking great success with this one.

Ryan Giggs can now, officially, be named as the footballer behind a legal order preventing the publication of details of an alleged extra-marital affair. Giggs sought the injunction in April after a Sun article about an alleged unnamed player who may or may not exist, and his alleged affair, or otherwise, with an alleged model who may or may not exist. His lawyer (who definitely does exist) told the High Court that Giggs now 'consented' to the lifting of the anonymity part of the injunction. Giggs is trying to claim damages for distress from the Sun, alleging that it breached his right to privacy. Giggs's lawyer - Hugh Tomlinson QC - said that his client was claiming damages for the subsequent re-publication of information in other newspapers and on the Internet. 'He has suffered damage and distress by the chain of events that has been set off by the publication of the article in the Sun,' he said. 'We say the printing of information on the front page of a national newspaper can give rise to an action for misuse of private information.' Tomlinson said the Sun article had 'generated a large media storm' and that the damages claim was about 'providing effective protection' for Giggs's right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights. But the newspaper counterclaimed that Giggs's claim was 'dead in the water' and should be thrown out of court. After hearing legal arguments at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Tugendhat reserved his decision on whether the case should go to trial. Giggs had been granted an injunction on the basis that TV presenter Imogen Thomas - the woman the Sun accused him of conducting an affair with - appeared to have been trying to blackmail him. However, the 2003 Miss Wales and former Big Brother contestant took legal action against him and, in December 2011, Giggs accepted that she had not been blackmailing him. Or anything even remotely like it. In court on Tuesday, Giggs's lawyer claimed that the injunction that had been supposed to stop his client from being identified as the subject of the Sun's story had been breached by thousands of people on the Internet. Giggs, a former Welsh international who has played for Manchester United for twenty years, was widely identified on social networking sites and in a Scottish newspaper. In May, Lib Dem MP John Hemming also named Giggs during an urgent Commons question on privacy orders. Using parliamentary privilege to break the court order, he said it would not be practical to imprison the seventy five thousand Twitter users who had named the player.

Digital station Jazz FM (nice!) has apologised after what appeared to be part of a pornographic film soundtrack was broadcast during one of its shows. Listeners to Mike Vitti's show on Saturday heard about five minutes of groaning in the background as music and adverts played. A statement from Vitti was posted on the station's website on Monday. 'Please accept our profound and sincere apologies for any offence we may have caused,' it read. 'Unfortunately we had an unauthorised access to the live feed on Jazz FM on Saturday 18 February at 7:15pm which resulted in a highly regrettable incident. Rest assured we have taken steps to ensure that there will be no repeat.' On his Twitter feed on Tuesday, Vitti - who is also head of programming - wrote: 'I'm truly sorry but we have had a major hack into the feed. Engineers looking into it now, once again, profound apologies.' Vitti added that he would apologise on air on his next show. He went on to tweet that he 'was going to London after last week's fiasco. Not been in a good mood these last few days. Can't understand why someone would do that.' The station has an average weekly audience of about half a million punters and covers many jazz genres, including funky, Latin and big band. Vitti's Funky Sensations show features such artists as Rick James, Teddy Pendergrass, George Duke, Booker T and Roy Ayers.

Amy Childs is to make a British version of Paris Hilton's show The Simple Life – with fellow witless The Only Way is Essex ... thing Harry – for Channel Five, reports the Sun. Dubbed The Simpleton Life, the show will, according to the tabloid, see the pair – who spent most of their time in The Only Way is Essex seemingly flummoxed by many everyday chores – tackle tasks such as living like locals in the Outer Hebrides, going deep sea fishing and spending a day in a Welsh coalmine. Unmissable.

The BBC has defended its coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral on its News Channel following complaints from viewers about its duration. The broadcaster received one hundred and eighteen complaints - seemingly from glakes with nothing better to do with their ladgeful time than whinge about shit like this - about the Channel's coverage of the four-hour service on Saturday. The corporation said it was 'part of the News Channel function to be there when major stories take place.' Whether the funeral of Whitney Houston qualifies as 'a major story' is another matter entirely, of course, but we'll let that one pass for the moment. Another thirty four complaints were received from people upset that the service had been interrupted by other news. Live coverage of the service began at 17:00 GMT and continued until just before 20:30 GMT, with the BBC continuing to report on the story afterwards. 'The News Channel's coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral reflected the significant interest in her sudden death as well as acknowledging the impact she had as a global recording artist,' said the corporation in a statement. It acknowledged that 'some people felt there was too much coverage' but said BBC1's teatime bulletin, radio bulletins and other services had still given viewers 'the best access to the day's other news stories.' Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and R Kelly performed at the service, which took place in Newark, New Jersey. Actor Kevin Costner, who starred with Houston in The Bodyguard, gave a eulogy. It was rather moving, to be fair. This blogger is still note entirely sure we needed three hours of uninterrupted coverage of it, though. The forty eight-year-old singer was found in a bath in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on 11 February. The cause of her death will remain unclear until the results of the toxicology tests are announced.

One of Channel Four's biggest sponsors admitted it was 'displease'd with the broadcaster's controversial Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier campaign for its hit documentary series, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Honda, which sponsors all of Channel Four's documentary output, said that it had 'informed C4 of our unhappiness with this poster campaign' in an e-mail sent to the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain. The billboard campaign, which features the words Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier over images of Gypsy girls and children has been criticised as 'offensive and racist' and prompted more than one hundred complaints to the advertising watchdog. Honda had also received about thirty five complaints from unhappy members of the public and indicated both in direct correspondence and when contacted by the Gruniad Morning Star that it distanced itself from the phraseology used. Paul Ormond, Honda UK's general manager, corporate affairs, said: 'We have had concerned members of the public ringing us thinking we have some control over editorial content. We have responded by saying we have no control over content but we have made our concerns known to Channel Four that we are unhappy that we are being linked to this through the tone of the advertising campaign.' The company said it wanted to 'strengthen its two-way communication' with Channel Four about the broadcaster's future projects so it did not get any 'unwanted surprises.' Ormond added: 'We are working with them very positively, we have had a long association with them. We felt it right and proper to tell them our concerns.' Channel Four documentaries are topped and tailed with the strapline 'Documentaries on Four – sponsored by Honda.' The Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier poster also features the Honda logo in the bottom right-hand corner. The motor manufacturer has the opportunity to opt out of specific Channel Four documentaries, as it did with a programme about whaling. Some of the complaints received by Honda concerned a related documentary, Gypsy Blood, part of Channel Four's True Story documentary strand, which viewers said featured cruelty to animals. Yvonne MacNamara, director of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, which has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, said she was 'absolutely delighted that Honda UK has taken a principle stand against racist treatment of Travellers.' She added: 'Honda UK is a massive multinational company, it is therefore no surprise that Honda UK would not wish to be associated with the racial denigration of minorities in Britain. Honda UK is one of Channel Four's biggest sponsors and advertisers. We are delighted they have told Channel Four that they are deeply unhappy with Channel Four's grossly racially offensive poster campaign. We call on Channel Four to immediately withdraw their national billboard advertising campaign, which has done so much damage to the reputation of Travellers, including exposing Traveller children to racial abuse and violence. We call on Channel Four to urgently review their so-called documentaries that give a skewed and damaging picture of Travellers.' Ormond, in an e-mail response to the Travellers group, said: 'Honda does not have any editorial say or control in the making or editing of the programme content or the content of the posters surrounding the programmes. We would not want to be associated with any racist comments which we deplore and I would add, we have informed C4 of our unhappiness with this poster campaign.' A Channel Four spokeswoman said: 'We have an excellent relationship with Honda and are in regular contact with them. We have had a small number of complaints about the poster campaign and are confident that all aspects of it fully comply with ASA guidelines. We also are in regular contact with the Gypsy and Traveller communities featured in the programme and posters and have had very positive feedback.'

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a new class of planet: a waterworld with a thick, steamy atmosphere. The exoplanet, GJ 1214b, is a so-called 'Super Earth' - much bigger than our planet, but smaller than gas giants such as Jupiter and Uranus. Observations using the Hubble telescope now seem to confirm that a large fraction of its mass is water. The planet's high temperatures suggest exotic materials might exist there. 'GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of,' said lead author Zachory Berta, from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The planet was discovered in 2009 by ground-based telescopes. It is about 2.7 times the Earth's diameter, but weighs almost seven times as much. It orbits its red-dwarf star at a distance of just two million kilometres, meaning temperatures on GJ 1214b probably reach above two hundred degrees celsius. So, you know, if you're intending to go there, pack some sunscreen and hat would seen to be sensible advice. In 2010, astronomers released measurements of its atmosphere. These suggested that GJ 1214b's atmosphere was probably made up of water, but there was another possibility - that the planet was covered in a haze, of the type that envelopes Saturn's moon Titan. Berta and his colleagues used the Hubble Space Telescope's wide-field camera to study the planet as it crossed in front of its star - a transit. During these transits, the star's light is filtered through the planet's atmosphere, giving clues to the mixture of gases present. The researchers said their results are more consistent with a dense atmosphere of water vapour, than one with a haze. Calculations of the planet's density also suggest that GJ 1214b has more water than Earth. This means the internal structure of this world would be very different to that of our own. 'The high temperatures and pressures would form exotic materials like "hot ice" or "superfluid water", substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience,' said Berta. The planet's short distance from Earth - in cosmic terms, anyway - makes it a likely candidate for follow-up observations with the James Webb Space Telescope, which may launch by the end of this decade. The study has been accepted for publication by the Astrophysical Journal.

Sunderland footballer Nicklas Bendtner has been banned from driving for fifty six days and fined six hundred and sixty smackers after he was caught speeding in his Porsche. The twenty three-year-old striker was clocked at one hundred and three mph on the Woolsington bypass, near Newcastle Airport, in December. Maybe he was just hurrying home to watch some good telly. Can't blame him. Newcastle magistrates were told he was on his way to the airport and was late for a flight. That's less understandable. The player, who is on loan from Arsenal, was not in court. He had earlier admitted speeding. The Danish international striker was recorded doing 103.6mph for a distance of 0.137 miles by a police Vascar system installed in a patrol jam jar.

The second in our new, recurring, series The Silliest Names In Television, From The North presents ... Matthew Amroliwala.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, someone the other day - whom, I suspect, had watched The Wizard of Oz the night before - demanded that I show a bit of vim and verve. Okay, I will. Here's the vim.
And, here's The Verve.
Ever been down?

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