Friday, March 23, 2012

Blue Friday

Russell Tovey, Ashley Walters, Lara Pulver, MyAnna Buring, Thomas Turgoose and Yasmin Paige are amongst the actors confirmed to star in Channel Four's Coming Up - the annual talent initiative which offers up-and-coming writers and directors the opportunity to showcase their work on national TV. Ben Stoll, Drama Commissioning Editor, Channel Four said: 'Coming Up epitomises Channel Four's passion for discovering and supporting new talent. It's a fantastic opportunity for emerging writers and directors to see their distinctive ideas realised on screen, whilst allowing audiences to get the first glimpse of the storytellers of the future. Add to the mix some of the most exciting current acting talent, and I think we can expect some thrilling pieces of work.' Now in its eleventh year, the scheme has launched the careers of some of the most exciting writers and directors in British TV - and is the only UK initiative offering aspiring talent the opportunity to make an authored drama with a guaranteed network broadcast. This year's Coming Up directors include Prasanna Puwanarajah, who was recently selected to direct a short film for the Olympic opening ceremony and MJ Delaney who came to prominence with Newport State of Mind, one of the most talked about viral videos of 2010. Writers include Tom Wells who was this year awarded the Critics Circle New Playwright Award for his acclaimed play The Kitchen Sink and Vivienne Franzmann who was a teacher for twelve years before writing her first play, Mogadishu, for which she was nominated for the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award.

Matt Smith has praised the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman as the show's new companion. Unlike some of the pond scum who form a part of its 'fandom'. Smudger believes that Coleman, formerly of Emmerdale and Waterloo Road, gave the 'most interesting' audition in front of showrunner Steven Moffat. During an interview with BBC Radio Wales, Smith said: '[It's] very exciting news.' Confirming that he has already met Coleman, Smith added: 'I was part of the audition process where we met a number of wonderful actresses. But I think Jenna responded to Steven's writing in the most interesting way. We're very excited to welcome her to the Doctor Who family.'

Harry Hill's TV Burp is broadcasting its final edition this Saturday after eleven years, according to fans who claim they watched the live recording. Despite a tabloid rumour earlier this week claiming that the comedian had changed his mind, a picture of the TV Burp cast and crew posing in front of the audience for the last time has emerged on Twitter. Ex-EastEnders actress Cheryl Fergison appears in the shot, as well as TV Burp's own version of the much-loved, now-deceased soap character. Big Brother's Brian Belo is also visible in the front row, while recurring puppet Lord Sugar-Sweetie and monstrous wild child Wagbo are both tipped to make final cameos. The Digital Spy website reported an audience member stating: 'Harry said not to take notice of the Sun rumours.' Which, indeed, two of the writers had already confirmed earlier in the week.

Sport Relief 2012 kicks-off on Friday and at BBC North it will be by Royal command as the Queen waves the starting flag for the Sport Relief Mile in Salford. Audiences have already seen Helen Skelton, David Walliams and John Bishop put themselves through serious physical challenges to raise funds for the charity, and on Friday evening Sport Relief will be broadcast live from Television Centre, starting at 7pm on BBC1. In this Olympic year programmes include Strictly Come Dancing with an underwater dance sequence, a special edition of Absolutely Fabulous with some very special guests for Patsy to sneer at, Zara Phillips and Sir Steve Redgrave joining the cast of Twenty Twelve, and Amir Khan and Jermain Defoe adding to their knowledge with help from Stephen Fry and the cast of Horrible Histories. Plus odious full-of-his-own-importance Frank Lampard and his equally odious (and orange) missus in an Outnumbered sketch. So, that'll be worth avoiding if you can manage it, dear blog reader. Ob Saturday evening BBC3 broadcasts JLS Sing for Sport Relief with the band joined by guests including Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks. Also worth missing, I'd've said. Then, on Sunday Sport Relief 2012: The Mile Show is on BBC1 at 1pm, as people around the UK take part in a sponsored run. Shrill, squealing Alex Jones, Matt Baker and John Inverdale host live coverage from The Mall, Glasgow and Manchester. Over a million people will run a Sport Relief mile this weekend, raising funds for charity work at home and abroad.

Episode two of ITV's flop drama Love Life dipped to 3.4 million viewers, according to overnight data. The drama, which premiered to 3.93m last week, fell to 3.39m in the 9pm hour. Love Life was soundly beaten by BBC1's John Bishop's Sport Relief Hell, which got 5.2m and was preceded by Watchdog. BBC2's Hairy Bikers' Bakeation grabbed 1.11m from 7pm. It was followed by Natural World (1.68m) and White Heat (1.1m) another contender for the drama flop of the year so far. But then, despite all the trailers, it is on BBC2 so they a million there isn't anywhere near as bad as three-and-a-half million on ITV. Embarrassingly, however, White Heat was beaten by Channel Four's Mary's Bottom Line (1.52m). Ouch. And, Channel Five's Inside the Titanic (1.44m). Even bigger ouch. Overall, BBC1 won primetime with 22.9 per cent of the audience share ahead of ITV's 20.9 per cent.

Stephen Fry has confirmed he and Sir Ian McKellen will pay a copyright licence fee so a Southampton pub can carry on trading as The Hobbit. The pub was threatened with legal action by Hollywood film firm the Saul Zaentz Company which accused it of copyright infringement. It later offered to 'resolve' the dispute over the pub's name and decor by licensing it to use JRR Tolkien brands. Landlady Stella Roberts said she had been 'shocked' by the actors' offer. She said: 'I had a telephone call on Saturday evening, while we were trading, from Stephen Fry's business partner and manager. That's when he told me. I was very shocked. They've said as soon as they finish filming they would like to come down and visit the pub.' However Roberts said that she was not 'celebrating just yet.' She added: 'Until everything is in black and white, on paper, we're going to be a bit reserved because it could be one hundred dollars this year and twenty thousand next year. They have said to us they will offer us a licence to trade, but we don't know whether it means trading as The Hobbit, whether we still have to get rid of all our artwork, cocktail names, everything. We just don't know what's entailed.' Actor and presenter Fry, who is in New Zealand working on the forthcoming film of The Hobbit, posted on Twitter: 'Ian McKellen and I pleased that The Hobbit pub appears to be safe. Between his FB and my tweet I hope we helped common sense prevail.' His agent, Hamilton Hodell, confirmed that Fry and Sir Ian had agreed to pay the fee for the pub's copyright settlement with SZC. Both actors had criticised the film company's action. Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings films, described the film company's actions as 'unnecessary pettiness' and Fry said it was 'self-defeating bullying.' A Facebook campaign set up by the pub's users has more than fifty seven thousand supporters. SZC owns the worldwide rights to several brands associated with author JRR Tolkien, including The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. Producer Paul Zaentz told the BBC trademark law dictated it had to act against infringements of its brands, but were open to licensing the pub to use them. He said: 'When it's an established business, we like to get the company to acknowledge they are using our trademarks, stop selling infringing articles and then we will grant them a licence for a nominal fee - approximately one hundred dollars a year.' The pub in Bevois Valley, which is popular with students, has traded with the name for more than twenty years. It features characters from Tolkien's stories on its signs, has Frodo and Gandalf cocktails on the menu and the face of The Lord of the Rings film star Elijah Wood on its loyalty card. A letter from SZC had asked the pub to remove all references to the characters.

Simon Cowell has told the BBC to 'get their sense of humour back' over the rivalry between The Voice and Britain's Got Talent. Cowell, who will return to ITV's Britain's Got Talent as a judge when the new series starts on Saturday – the same night as the launch of BBC1's The Voice – questioned whether the BBC should be doing a Saturday night singing contest. He defended the scheduling of the ITV show saying he had 'every right to arm ourselves so we are in a good place to beat them.' Cowell, speaking at the launch of Britain's Got Talent on Thursday, said he would be watching The Voice but only 'about five minutes of it. Not the whole thing. Of course [the BBC] is in the business of doing [talent shows]. But when you get to a point where you mess around with the schedule and it affects the viewers, when you go head-to-head that to me is silly rivalry,' he added. 'Of course I love competition but if you ask do we need another singing talent show I would query whether you do or not. In my opinion they don't like the fact The X Factor is successful. They have every right to compete with us and we have every right to arm ourselves so we are in a good place to beat them.' The BBC has accused ITV of moving Britain's Got Talent in the schedules to go head-to-head with The Voice. ITV has said by scheduling The Voice in March – Britain's Got Talent traditionally launches in April – the two were always going to clash. Asked about his comment that he had decided to 'punish' the BBC by poaching Strictly Come Dancing judge the greedy, talentless Alesha Dixon to join the judging panel of Britain's Got Talent, Cowell claimed it was 'all a bit of fun. I had approached Alesha to join X Factor a long time ago. Once we decided we were going to make [Britain's Got Talent] four people on the panel, I thought I would love Alesha to be on the show,' Cowell added. 'Part of me thought to myself there is so much rivalry with Strictly and X Factor, they are always messing around with the schedule, The Voice was one hundred per cent intended to be a competing show to X Factor so I thought great, we'll nick Alesha.' Dixon herself said it was 'a different vibe' on the ITV show to Strictly Come Dancing. Plus, more money, of course. Lots and lots and lots of lovely wonga. 'On this show I have come into myself, I feel like more of myself on this show,' she wittered. Of her decision to switch channels, Dixon claimed, unconvincingly: 'It's not about the money, it's about doing different things. I honestly don't make decisions based on money, that's the truth.' One or two people might have even believed her. The BBC have been talking up the credibility of The Voice, including its coaches, who include Sir Tom Jones and Jessie J, and the standard of the singers taking part. Cowell said: 'I think they better get their sense of humour back. It was intimated that I had offered Tom Jones a role on one of my shows. I met the guy once in Vegas. I think the offer he was thinking about was Opportunity Knocks, it wasn't one of my shows. They are winding this up to try and be like it's a big kind of battle. It's not. The shows go out at the same time, may the best one win. In terms of credibility it's down to being good and being successful. I tell you what I am going to do, I am going to back my talent against their's this year, that's for sure.'

The shocking murder of teenager Shakilus Townsend, lured to his death in a 'honeytrap' plot three years ago, is being dramatised by BBC3 as part of a season of programmes examining how crime affects young people. My Murder, which will be broadcast next week, tells the story of Townsend, a sixteen-year-old from South London who was led into an ambush by Samantha Joseph – a girl he was smitten with but who betrayed him to her ex-boyfriend and his gang. Townsend bled to death after being beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed six times. Joseph, her boyfriend, Danny McLean, and five other youths were found guilty of murder and given life terms. Written by twenty eight-year-old playwright Levi David Addai, the BBC3 drama stars Attack the Block's John Boyega as Townsend, and has been made with the co-operation of the teenager's family. 'It wasn't a gang killing – it was a boy who met a girl,' said Addai, who last year won the Alfred Fagon award for his play Blacklands. 'I hope people don't think: "It's just another urban drama, it's another black boy killed, it's another gang thing." For me, it's a story about a boy and a girl, and him trying to get with her it's a simple story and something we can all relate to – those heightened emotions of being a teenager.' The writer, who is also from South London, said the research material underlined his feeling that Townsend could have come from his own circle of friends. 'I did feel like I knew that guy. It was really hard to read [the research]. He was so charming and popular.' A drama seemed like the most compelling way to bring Townsend's story to the attention of the audience, said Clive Edwards, executive editor of current affairs for the BBC, who commissioned My Murder. 'Our job is to find the right kind of way of talking to a young audience about the issues that matter to them. Gang crime, knife crime, growing up on the streets of Great Britain – these are a very important part of that.' Addai said that he was keen to ensure the teenagers in his drama behaved – and spoke – in a realistic way. 'I wanted to keep Shak rounded, because he wasn't an angel by any means,' the writer said. 'Slang or youth speak is pretty much understandable – you can see what the intentions are. It was really important to capture the essence of the world that he lived in.' BBC3's Criminal Britain series will include documentaries on rape and sexual violence, a programme focusing on what it means to be mugged, and an examination of what life is like for young people whose parents are in prison.

The BBC has ordered two more series of Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle. Which this blogger considers to be about as funny as a rash on the knob but, it is very popular. With students and Gruniad Morning Star readers. Executive producer Armando Iannucci broke the news on Twitter this week.

Ex-Twatting About On Ice contestant Chloe Madeley has reportedly vowed to expose the 'backstage bitchiness and corruption' of the show in a tell-all book. The (alleged) 'TV presenter' (no, I've never seen her present anything either), who came third in last year's series and went on to date eventual winner Sam Attwater, cited the ITV competition as inspiration for her first novella. 'It's about all the backstage bitchiness, the corruption and everything that goes on,' she told the Torygraph. 'Obviously, I will have to change the names for legal reasons, but it is based on what goes on behind the scenes of these contests. It started as a short story, but now it is at the stage of a novella.' Madeley elaborated that the atmosphere on Twatting About On Ice had put her in mind of a school, with the judges as teachers and contestants becoming like 'gossiping' students. 'I don't know if it's coincidence or deliberate, but the judges kept their distance from us,' she explained. 'They kept themselves pretty separate. It's a bit like school. We all gossiped like mad. We moaned if we were on the receiving end, but when we found out something about someone else we'd all be huddled in the corner smoking and swapping titbits.'

David Beckham's father is among the individuals suing News International over alleged phone-hacking by the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. Ted Beckham has joined a string of public figures suing News Group Newspaper, the News International subsidiary that published the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who allegedly carried out the disgraced and disgraceful paper's dirty work.
Beckham has issued a claim form in his full name of David Edward Alan Beckham at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. News International has settled fifty five out of sixty initial civil claims for invasion of privacy from phone-hacking victims including Charlotte Church, Jude Law, Sienna Miller, former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell and the son of the serial killer Harold Shipman. However, the publisher could face up to two hundred more civil actions, with figures including Cherie Blair, the wife of the former Prime Minister, the singer James Blunt, Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Alex Best, the wife of the ex-Manchester United footballer George Best, having already filed. Others who have filed claims include Colin Stagg, the man wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell, TV personalities Jamie Theakston and Jeff Brazier, former boxer Chris Eubank and footballers Peter Crouch, Kieron Dyer and Jermaine Jenas. The publisher has also received almost fifty inquiries regarding the compensation scheme it set up last year for victims of phone-hacking.

So, any road, on Thursday evening as per usual yer actual Keith Telly Topping attended the latest Record Player event at the Tyneside run by the God of Groove his very self, yer actual Mr Scunthorpe Steve Drayton. This was first of two back-to-back double-headers, A Blue Period (if you will) night featuring Joni Mitchell's Blue and Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. The former, I hadn't played all the way through for, probably, twenty years. The latter, I'd I didn't really know that well ('So What?' was familiar but that was about it). So, that was interesting. Top night, as it happens. Excellent sounds, jolly good company, won a fiver and had a Ruby Murray on the way home. What more can one ask?! Well, you know, world peace and all that. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping won the quiz again which proves that, clearly, he's spent his entire life absorbing far too much pop culture for my own good. Thus, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. I'm really trying to resist the temptation to say 'niiice!' but it's hard!

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