Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Anger Management

Ideal, dear blog reader. The BBC3 sitcom which was cancelled by the effing glake who, in his time as controller at ITV2, thought it was a reet good idea to commission a series from Kerry Sodding Katona. It was a bit good. Ideal, this is, not the Kerry Katona show. Anyway, Tuesday night saw An Ideal Night Out at The Stand comedy club in Newcastle featuring Johnny Vegas, creator Graham Duff and cast members Seymour Mace, Ben Crompton, Alfie Joey and Peter Slater. And, lots of jokes at Zai Bennett's considerable expense. And, like the show itself, it was proper terrific. Unfortunately, due to a late kick-off, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had to nick off before the end to catch the last bus home (and to pick up a prawn Ruby on the way home cos he was pure-dead Hank Marvin, so he was). But, at least he caught all of the stand-up sections and most of the quiz. The highlights were Seymour's impeccable Gladys Knight & The Pips routine, Alf's regular trick with the toy aeroplane and Ben's little observational piece on the differences between Corrie and EastEnders as highlighted by their title sequences. ('One you get a shot of community and warmth, the other you get a fucking map!') Johnny ('sponsored by Jacamo, so if you like what he's wearing you can buy it afterwards') was also on terrific form with a short routine about how anger management has made him more angry but less funny! According to 'insiders' (ahem) it is hoped there were may be further Ideal Night Out events around the country if suitable venues can be found. If any are announced, From The North will bring you the details, dear blog reader.

The latest rumours on the return of Doctor Who is that the series will 'possibly' (great word that) be starting mid-to-late November leading straight into Christmas with the new companion revealed at Christmas. Still just a rumour, of course so, as ever, take such potential scheduling tips six months in advance with more than a pinch of salt.

And, following the conclusion of the back-on-song third series of Whitechapel on Monday evening, Rupert Penry-Jones tweeted that 'there is a good chance that there will be more.' Excellent.

James Herbert's best-selling ghost story The Secret of Crickley Hall is to be adapted into a BBC1 drama starring Suranne Jones. The story is about a family who move to Crickley Hall to start a new life after their son goes missing. But they quickly discover the building is haunted and events there begin to terrorise them. Jones will be joined by Miranda actor Tom Ellis and Douglas Henshall, who starred in Primeval. Jones, who is best known for playing Karen McDonald in Coronation Street, called the storyline a 'classic haunted house spine-chiller.' The three-part drama will be scripted and directed by Joe Ahearne, who has worked on dramas including Ultraviolet and Doctor Who. 'Everyone loves a good ghost story and James Herbert is an iconic writer in the genre,' he said. 'He's come up with a really thrilling and moving story that delights you while it's terrifying you,' added Ahearne. The adaptation of Herbert's ghost tale comes shortly after the revival of another haunted house story. Daniel Radcliffe's The Woman In Black recently became the most successful British horror film in two decades. The film, based on Susan Hill's novel of the same name, topped the UK box office for three weeks and has taken a total of fourteen and a half million quid since it was released in February.

Is Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes a big Cheers fan? One only arsks after yer actual Ted Danson – more recently of Bored to Death and now CSI – described his love of all things Downton Abbey. (Note, all the Americans are at it, it would seem, it was only a couple of weeks ago that David Boreanaz was saying pretty much the same thing and angling for a part at the same time.) Not only that, but Ted and his wife Mary Steenburgen would take a couple of cameo roles at the drop of a hat. 'We're watching the second year in this country and my wife and I are completely hooked – I can't wait for Crawley to get out of his wheelchair and fall in love with Mary,' Danson told the new issue of Radio Times. 'It's so sad that you guys only make six or seven episodes a year.' Yeah, but they're six or seven good ones, Ted. A necessary difference between British and American productions. As for the possibility of a cameo role, Danson didn't need asking twice. 'Oh, yes! Although it would make my wife horribly jealous. If we could go to England, the two of us, and be in Downton Abbey, we'd be the happiest people on the planet.' Lord Snotty, it's over to you.

Paul O'Grady is to front a six-part ITV series on the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home just months after his talk show was cancelled by the channel. The Liverpudlian entertainer is well known for his love of dogs – with a number of his own animals featuring in the various guises of his chat show – and will examine the work the home’s staff do in all areas of pet rescue, care and veterinary services. O'Grady will also track the stories of individual animals and some of the bigger characters at the rescue centre, which cares for ten thousand dogs and cats a year. And, he'll hope it'll do for his career what Animal Hospital did for Rolf Harris's and make him the one who had to break the news that 'poor little Rover didn't make it' to the nation. The six part Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs (working title and, one hopes, to be changed since that'll mean the poor cats will feel left out of it) will be produced by ITV Studios rather than O'Grady's own Olga TV. It was commissioned by ITV's Jo Clinton-Davis and Alison Sharman and the executive producers are Alexander Gardiner and Mark Scantlebury. Kate Jackson is the series producer. For The Love of Dogs is being lined up for an early peak slot later this year. ITV binned Paul O'Grady Live in October after two series. The show attracted audiences of up to 3.7 million in a peaktime 9pm slot on Fridays.

Twatting About on Ice viewers have complained about its poor subtitles during its live shows. The ITV show has been condemned by the National Deaf Children's Society for a long list of 'bizarre and confusing' subtitles throughout its broadcast. And, for its bizarre and orange female presenter who talks in a language that even those with hearing can't understand. Probably. Incorrect captions during the show included the lines: 'Across the ice and the Samaritans and speedo you,' and: 'The choreography for this "routene" it's quite a blasphemy.' Host Phillip Schofield is later seen to be apparently saying: 'They will be toasted to their limits.' Which, to be fair, if they had, I'd've gladly watched. Campaign officer Ian Noon said: 'Shoddy subtitling shows that broadcasters are not making access for deaf viewers a priority. Deaf young people all too frequently find that the subtitles for their favourite shows are riddled with mistakes and hugely out of sync with speech. There's no excuse for poor subtitles like this - even on live programmes. But ITV is not the only channel guilty of bizarre and confusing subtitles. Through basic planning such as involving the subtitler in rehearsals and sharing scripts and plans in advance, broadcasters could dramatically improve live television for deaf viewers.' ITV has since defended its hard-of-hearing content, stating that live programming often produces mistakes. Twatting About on Ice 'is a live programme and therefore has live subtitling which is a challenge for any broadcaster,' the channel said in a statement. 'We are now also subtitling seventy per cent of the programmes on ITV Player, our on-demand catch-up service.'

Actress Bonnie Langford has said she would 'love' to return to Doctor Who if asked. But, she's not going to be so don't let that worry you.

John Barrowman has joined Shonda Rhimes new ABC pilot Gilded Lilys. Entertainment Weekly reports that the actor has joined Rhimes new period pilot as Julius Lily, the 'playboy son' of family looking to open at hotel in New York. Gilded Lilys is set in 1895 and revolves around the opening of the first grand and luxury hotel in the city. It was recently reported that Sarah Bolger, who played Mary Tudor in Showtime's The Tudors, had also signed up for the project. Barrowman is best known for his role of Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood most recently playing the role in the 2011 series Miracle Day. Barrowman also appeared in several episodes of Desperate Housewives as eco-terrorist Patrick Logan. In 2000 he appeared in the short-lived soap opera Titans in America.

Highlights of the latest Ofcom bulletin include forty two rejected complaints about various aspects of Top Gear (mostly from hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers, one imagines), including twenty three received on 28 December after the Gruniad Morning Star had organised a carefully orchestrated stirring up the shit over the Top Gear Christmas India special the day before. Nice to see Ofcom - wholly pointless quango, elected by no one as they may be - slapping down such rank and utter glakery with righteous fury. The complaints covered subjects that included alleged 'Offensive language', alleged religious and/or beliefs discrimination, 'generally accepted standards' (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) and 'animal welfare.' Not a single one of which, just to repeat, was upheld. Good. The list of other programmes about which Ofcom received complaints which, allegedly, 'after careful assessment, Ofcom has decided not to pursue because they did not raise issues warranting investigation' include Ten O'Clock Live, You've Been Framed, Blue Peter, Coronation Street, notorious ITV breakfast flop Daybreak, the live draw for the Fourth Round of the FA Cup (no, really!), Gillette Soccer Saturday, Mock The Week, Shameless and The Magicians.
A 'massive bureaucratic over-reaction' of police having to record all contact with the media should be avoided, former Met chief Lord Condon has said. He told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards there had to be 'clear rules' of engagement for the police's dealings with journalists. Yes. Like 'do not accept any payment from them for information given' for one thing. Oh, hang on, isn't there that real already? Lord Condon was Metropolitan Police Commissioner between 1993 and 2000. During his time there was 'a small but significant' number of officers whose behaviour was 'totally unacceptable.' He said this behaviour varied from minor disciplinary issues right the way through to serious criminal matters. He said that police regulations were amended in 1999 to deal with 'bad officers.' Police leaks to the press were a concern when he was commissioner, he said. How sad that he doesn't appear to have done anything about it, merely waited for a decade and then claimed that they were 'a concern.' Condon said that his relationship with the media would be the single thing dominating his life 'for every waking minute I was on duty.' He told Lord Justice Leveson that in the event of a major act of terrorism in London, there would be 'an insatiable demand for the commissioner of the day to be saying things about it, to be reassuring the public, to be giving information.' Lord Condon said policing was 'intensely political' but, in his view, the commissioner must be without any favourites in the media and must treat the press without fear or favour. He told the inquiry that he tried to meet every newspaper, TV and radio editor once a year to explain the work he was doing at the Met. He said that his preference was to have meetings with editors on police premises but occasionally would meet them at their office or in restaurants. Whether they had champagne or not, he didn't say. Condon added that he introduced a code of practice for acceptance of gifts and hospitality in 1997. He told the inquiry that accepting hospitality could be the start of a 'grooming process' which leads to 'inappropriate and unethical behaviour. In any walk of life, hospitality can be appropriate, can be sensible, can be necessary, can be ethical,' he said. 'But on the other side of that, it can lead to inappropriate closeness, and in some cases that can lead to criminal behaviour.' Lord Stevens, Met Commissioner between 2000 and 2005, then told the inquiry that he oversaw a major anti-corruption initiative as deputy commissioner at the Met from 1998. He told the hearing that he did not like 'off-the-record' police briefings to journalists, especially if officers were giving their opinion. Lord Stevens said that he was absolutely determined not to favour any one newspaper group when he was at the Met. Asked about the force's inquiry into phone-hacking, after he had left, he said he found it 'difficult to criticise' but added that he hoped as commissioner he would have been 'quite ruthless' in pursuing the allegations. 'I would like to have thought that as commissioner I would have picked up on the issues the Guardian raised. I would have been quite tireless about pursuing them,' he claimed. During their tenures at Scotland Yard, Stevens and Condon said that they met editors from all national newspapers. Both denied favouring any particular editors. Stevens said that he and his wife dined with Neil Wallis and his wife, as part of a charity project to take a convoy to Romania. Former Scum of the World deputy editor Wallis, who was later employed by the Met as a public relations adviser, did not eventually take part in the convoy. Stevens met former Scum of the World and Sun editor well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks twelve2 times in his five years in the commissioner role, and said that she was concerned to push her desire to introduce the so-called Sarah's Law. Both men claimed that their relationships with the media during their tenure were 'entirely professional.' Stevens had his autobiography serialised in the Scum of the World and wrote columns at seven thousand quid a pop, a contract which he terminated in October 2007 over concerns about the phone-hacking convictions. 'I would never have written the articles if I had known what I now know,' he claimed. Stevens said that he resigned following the conviction in 2007 of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire over phone-hacking. 'I saw Colin Myler and Neil Wallis and told them I didn't want to continue. I never gave them reasons but from that night on I never saw them again,' he said. Stevens claimed that his decision to end the contract with the paper was 'fuelled by other information' he had received around that time about 'some unethical behaviour in relation to one or two articles that had got headlines in the News of the World.' He did not elaborate and, astonishingly, was not pressed to do so by either Leveson or Robert Jay. He added that it was important for there to be 'relations' between the police and press 'for the right reasons,' such as investigative journalism. Stevens also accused former Home Secretary David Blunkett of 'briefing' the media against him. He said: 'Every now and again I was seeing headlines saying he was going to sack me and things like that, which of course had never been said to my face. I found that quite difficult, especially as we were getting superb results.' Blunkett later responded to these accusations by saying that he was 'familiar' with Stevens's recollections, but claimed that his briefings had been public, for example when he stated that he wanted the Met to reverse a fifty per cent increase in street robbery. The pendulum of police and media relations has swung too far away from openness in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, with police officers terrified to speak to the press, Stevens claimed. Lynne Owens, chief constable of Surrey Police, formerly of the Met, told the inquiry that she did not want to risk meeting press in a social setting, which journalists found 'slightly strange.' Responding to Robert Jay's comment that this was an 'extremely austere approach,' she said it was 'entirely appropriate.' Would that one or two of her colleagues displayed a touch of the same austerity.

An asteroid with a one-in-six-hundred-and-twenty-five chance of striking Earth in thirty years' time has been identified by NASA. The four hundred and sixty foot ball of rock named 2011 AG5 is potentially on a collision course to hit this planet on or around 5 February 2040. So, if you've got anything planned for 6 February, might be an idea to either put it on hold for a bit, or bring it forward. Just in case. The United Nations Action Team on near-Earth object (for such a group does exist, it's not just Bruce Willis and the guys from Armageddon) has begun discussions about how to divert the asteroid, amid fears that the likelihood of a collision could increase over the next few years. While the object has the potential to wipe out millions of lives if it landed on a city, it is far smaller than the nine mile wide asteroid which is believed to have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs sixty five million years ago. Still, chances are that if it did hit it would cause a nuclear winter which would destroy much of the planet and, essentially, render much human achievement to date essentially futile. So, that's a cheery thought, eh? Scientists have only been able to observe half of 2011 AG5's orbit, and are hoping to obtain more information about the asteroid's course between 2013 and 2016, when it will be possible to monitor it from the ground. This will allow them to decide whether action needs to be taken to attempt to alter the course of the object. NASA has said that options include deflecting the asteroid by attaching a probe to it and using the extra gravity this would create to steer it away from Earth over the course of millions of light years. Nuclear weapons could also be used to break up the asteroid, although this would probably create a potentially deadly shower of rocks entering the Earth's atmosphere. According to sky scans carried out by NASA, there are around nineteen thousand 'mid-sized' asteroids of between three hundred and three thousand feet wide within one hundred and twenty million miles of Earth. Which doesn't sound that close but, in cosmic terms, it's literally next door. All have the potential to destroy an area the size of a city were they to strike. Can this blogger suggest Sunderland since it's not really a city. The Aphophis asteroid, which is the size of two and a half football pitches, is on course to pass close to the Earth in 2036, coming within eighteen thousand miles of this planet. Scientists expect that it will be visible from most of Europe, Africa and Asia. Especially if it crashes into the palnet, then it'll be really visible.

The remaining members of The Monkees are unlikely to attend the funeral of singer Davy Jones this week, his former band mate Micky Dolenz has revealed. 'The family wants to keep it very, very low-key and very private,' the sixty six-year-old told Billboard magazine. 'And you can imagine as soon as one or two or any of us were to show up, it would very quickly be degraded.' Jones, who died in Florida on 29 February, was the youngest member of the group. Born in Manchester in 1945, the former child actor was brought together with Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork to form a US alternative to The Beatles. The band enjoyed huge fame with their television show and a string of hits. Plans are afoot to hold public memorials in New York and London, while a third event may take place in Los Angeles. Jones, said Dolenz, 'had fans and family and associates on both coasts and two continents,' adding it was 'pretty early days to be making too many plans.' Though Dolenz said he had been 'communicating' with Nesmith and Tork, there are no firm plans for them to perform at any of the proposed memorials. 'I can see us getting together to do a memorial concert,' he told Billboard. 'But right now I can't imagine anything else happening.' In 2011, Jones joined forces with Dolenz and Tork for a series of US gigs to mark the band's Forty Fifth anniversary. But the tour was abruptly curtailed last August, a cancellation Dolenz attributed to 'business' reasons and 'internal matters.' The Monkees last toured as a quartet in 1997, after which guitarist Nesmith ruled out any further performances with the group.

A man is reported to be suing the Baptist Church for ten million quid, claiming that it was responsible for ruining his football career. Arguimedes Nganga from Forest Hill was a semi-professional footballer but retired at the age of twenty five to become a Baptist in 1989. He believes he could have gone on to play for a top-tier team like Manchester United, according to the Evening Standard. Nganga, now forty six, said: 'I could definitely have had a long career in the Premiership. I see many players playing today who I am not inferior to, and perhaps even better than. Most midfielders are either defensive or attacking, but I was both. I had something new.' Nganga was earning two hundred quid a month in Portugal's third division, but claimed that he would have made twenty thousand smackers a week had he not given up football. He added that the church 'conspired to defraud me of my finances, time and my life.' The Baptist Union has stated its intent to defend against Nganga's claims.

Robert Sherman, who penned songs for Disney classics including Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book with his brother Richard, has died in London aged eighty six. His death on Monday, initially announced on Facebook by his son Jeff, was confirmed by his agent, Stella Richards. 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' and 'It's a Small World (After All)' were among the Shermans' many compositions. The duo won two Oscars and were nominated for seven others. Born in 1925 in New York, Robert was the son of Al Sherman, a celebrated songwriter who achieved success on Manhattan's Tin Pan Alley. It was Al who first challenged his sons to try songwriting, a challenge they met in 1958 when they had their first US hit, 'Tall Paul.' The Annette Funicello song caught the attention of Walt Disney, who invited the Shermans to become staff songwriters at his studios. In 1964 they wrote 'It's a Small World (After All)' for an installation at the New York World's Fair which went on to become a popular fixture at Disney's theme parks. Mary Poppins, released the same year, featured some of their most enduring compositions, among them 'A Spoonful of Sugar' and the Oscar-winning 'Chim Chim Cher-ee'. The Shermans worked again with actor Dick Van Dyke on 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, for which they wrote popular songs including 'Truly Scrumptious' and 'Me Ol' Bamboo'. For 1967 favourite The Jungle Book, Robert and Richard wrote 'Trust in Me', 'Colonel Hathi's March' and 'I Wan'na Be Like You'. The Aristocats (the first film yer actual Keith Telly Topping ever saw), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (the second film yer actual Keith Telly Topping ever saw!) and the Winnie the Pooh shorts were among other Disney productions to feature their words and music. The Sherman brothers were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the US National Medal of the Arts in 2008. A decorated soldier in World War II, Robert Sherman was also a painter, screenwriter and novelist.

And so, in tribute to the Shermans, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And don't blame me if you get this stuck in your head all day and it just will not shift itself. It's happened to me many, many times, dear blog reader.
(It's also got the same chords as 'No More Heroes' by The Stranglers so, if you want to try singing that over the top you'll find they go together ... remarkably badly, actually.)

1 comment:

David Alexander McDonald said...

That should be "millions of miles" rather than "millions of light years" I'd think, else that rock has a very long orbit and we don't need to worry about it for, oh, probably a couple of billion years at least...if it's traveling very very fast.

Throwing in "It's A Small World" is a heinous act, young man. That sodding thing earworms me even without playing it, thanks to a horrifying experience in Disneyworld. I have learned over the years to counter it, however...but picturing Snow White going dwarf-bowling.