Saturday, March 10, 2012

Burn That Mother Down!

Homeland's Damian Lewis has revealed that President Barack Obama is such a big fan of the US conspiracy drama that he's invited the actor to dine at the White House. 'It turns out it is his favourite show,' Lewis told Graham Norton, in an interview on BBC1. 'But the big news is that he has invited me to the White House for dinner. I am going with Helen, my wife, to dinner next Wednesday. I am going to fly to Washington, have dinner and fly back. There will probably be a thousand of his closest friends but I don't care. I'm going.' When asked about the outcome of Homeland, in which he plays an American soldier rescued following years of captivity in the Middle East, Lewis replied: 'It will be psychologically and emotionally devastating. People will be satisfied, there will be resolution of a kind and there will be one or two surprises along the way. It leaves itself open to return.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, who's seen all twelve episodes of this astonishingly good series, can confirm this. Asked if he will be in season two, he said, 'I can't tell you that.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping can. Showtime recommissioned the series some months ago and it's due to begin filming a second series in the spring.

One interesting little sidebar in relation to Damian, at this week's Ideal night at The Stand in Newcastle one of the cast mentioned that Britain's other pre-eminent fine ginger actor, the great Tom-Goodman Hill, used to always bemoan the fact that seemingly every time he went for a part a few years ago, Damian Lewis would invariably also be up for it. And would, usually, get it! However, since Damian first found fame in the US, with Band of Brothers, it's now Tom who's got an impressive CV longer than the average arm of the law. Two very fine actors of course, but quite different, save for the similar carrot-top-barnet. I somehow can't see Tom being quite so magnetic as Damian in Homeland. But, then, it's difficult to imagine Damian pulling of something with a lighter touch, like PC in Ideal, or Felicity Kendal's ginger-bastard-love-wasp-vicar in Doctor Who, somehow!

More than five million punters watched the climax to Manchester United's Europa League defeat by Athletic Bilbao on Channel Five. Five's coverage of the Europa League last sixteen first-leg tie, which United lost 3-2, had an average of 3.4 million viewers between 7.30pm and 10.15pm. The match itself, which kicked-off at 8pm, had 4.2 million viewers, with a five-minute peak of just over five million between 9.50pm and 9.55pm. It is Channel Five's biggest Europa League audience of the season, eclipsing the average of 3.3 million who watched Manchester United's second-leg tie against Ajax on 23 February. Channel Five also beat ITV's Champions League coverage of Barcelona's 7-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen the previous night. Champions League Live averaged 3.1 million on ITV between 7.30pm and 10pm on Wednesday, with live coverage of the match itself averaging 3.4 million. ITV's Champions League audiences have been badly hit by the exit of three of the four English sides in the competition, with the fourth, Chelsea, also facing elimination in next week's second-leg tie. Plus, the fact that their coverage is hosted by odious grumpy greed bucket Adrian Chiles, of course, doesn't help. Channel Five benefited with both Manchester United and Manchester City slipping into the Europa League, giving it an unanticipated ratings bonanza. However, the prospect of an all-Manchester final receded with defeat for both English sides on Thursday night so the ratings boost may prove short-lived. ITV4's coverage of Manchester City's 1-0 defeat by Sporting Lisbon peaked with 1.4 million viewers. The digital channel's Europa League programme, which also including AZ Alkmaar's tie against Udinese, averaged six hundred and forty thousand viewers between 5.30pm and 10.35pm. The Manchester City match had a five-minute peak of two million towards the end. BBC2's new big-name drama White Heat began its six-part run with 1.9 million viewers including one hundred and twenty thousand on BBC HD. White Heat narrowly had the edge over Channel Four's Make Bradford British documentary, which had 1.8 million viewers on Channel Four. BBC1's Sport Relief special, David Walliams's Big Swim, was watched by 3.3 million viewers also between 9pm and 10pm. It was beaten by the final part of ITV's three-part Trevor Eve drama Kidnap and Ransom, which had four million viewers.

The opening episode of Wor Sarah Millican's first TV programme also proved to be something of a minor ratings hit to Thursday evening. The comedy talk show – which featured guests Chris Packham, the wildlife expert, and sex therapist Tracey Cox – attracted just over million viewers to BBC2. That was more than ten per cent of the total TV audience at the time and, crucially, up eighty one per cent on the average figure the channel gets for the 10pm Thursday slot. Reviews were largely positive, too, with critics instantly warming to Millican. Some patronising glake of no consequence at the Gruniad said: 'Her deadpan asides and sudden glances to camera have a touch of Eric Morecambe and her sudden shut-downs are things of beauty impossible to reproduce in print. The format's not right yet, but once it is, hopefully television will become Millican's world and we can live in it.' Likewise, the Independent noted: 'Her delivery is a bit tele-prompter stiff for the straight-to-camera sections and the format is a bit woolly (bit of Harry Hill telly commentary, bit of Graham Norton tease-the-guest), but she is funny.' The Metro's Keith Watson added: 'It's unlikely we'll get another series of comedy gold The Mrs Merton Show, so make do with comedy Brasso that is The Sarah Millican Television Programme, pretty much the same thing, only voiced by Vic and Bob creation Davey Stott. It's hard to dislike Millican's mix of the matronly and the slutty and she does a nice line in filth (On Newsnight: "It sends me right off. I don't even need a milky drink, much to my boyfriend's disappointment"). But too often she plays it safe. She says she likes her YouTube cat porn hardcore and she should go the same way with her TV show. We can take it. Millican may not be edgy (a blessing, given the Frankie Boyle trend of "say it just because it's controversial") but her brand of comedy is unstoppably likeable, earnest and teamed with occasional titillation it ought to prove a hit with most who reside in the living room.' The Daily Torygraph was more unequivocally positive, saying: 'Millican pinpoints her humour with the precision of a heart surgeon.'

Bones's executive producers Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan have revealed that they expect the show to be renewed for two more seasons. Hanson explained that he was feeling 'pretty confident' about the future of the series at PaleyFest, Deadline reports. 'There's always the business side between the studio and the network, and they have to figure our license fees and things,' he said. 'But, I hate to say this, in many ways, Bones is FOX's most successful hour-long scripted drama. I'm pretty confident that we'll be back for seasons eight and nine.' Meanwhile, Nathan explained that the writers are confident enough about the show's chances of renewal that they will end the current season on a cliffhanger, saying: 'It'll change the course, certainly the beginning, of season eight.' Bones will move to Monday nights when it returns from its mid season break on 2 April on FOX.

The BBC have played down - seemingly ill-informed - press speculation about 'technical issues' surrounding BBC Breakfast's launch in Salford after Easter. The Gruniad Morning Star - with no quite obvious sick anti-BBC agenda on display - reported on Wednesday that an alleged 'insider' had allegedly claimed there was 'a huge systemic problem that won't be fixed for some time.' However, Rod Beards, manager of News projects, told Ariel that was, basically, all a load of downright mendacious lies. He said that any issues were a 'typical result of teething problems associated with major start-ups' and were being 'effectively managed.' He added: 'We believe we have resolved the vast majority of these now, and are dealing with other snags as they arise, thanks to sterling work by our local operations and support teams and our technology colleagues. There are no implications for either the BBC Breakfast pilots or the timing of the launch itself.' He neglected to add, 'besides, anything you read in the Gruniad in relation to the BBC has to be weighed against the fact that it'll have been written by some louse-scum pretentious middle-class frappuchino-drinking twat from Islington who hates the BBC on general principle because we make Top Gear.' He didn't say that because, of course, he's far too polite to do so./ But, I'm not. The move of BBC Breakfast from London is the final part of the first relocation wave to MediaCityUK and some of the show's staff have already had their induction at the BBC North base. The decision to move the show - which means more than three hours of live broadcast will come daily from Salford for BBC1 - has attracted criticism from some quarters about whether the programme will attract as many high-profile guests outside London. But, as the majority of this criticism has come from people in London exactly like the afore-mentioned arseholes at the Gruniad, nobody else in the country gives much of a shit about what they think. There have also been issues with fire alarms going off at the MediaCityUK complex which hosts BBC North and other media tenants. In late February, two alarms went off in the space of twelve hours at the BBC buildings, taking Radio Manchester and 5Live briefly off air, during which back-up tapes were played. A fire alarm also went off last Saturday in an adjacent studio block owned by Peel Media, from where Football Focus was broadcasting live. A BBC spokesperson said: 'There have been a few occasions when the fire alarm has been triggered which has resulted in buildings being evacuated. False alarms do happen and the priority is to ensure the safety and security of our staff by evacuating the buildings.' More than two thousand staff are based at BBC North, although DQF plans mean one thousand extra extra posts will move to Salford in the next few years, including BBC3.

ITV's new series of Britain's Got Talent is to launch on the same night as BBC's new flagship talent show The Voice, according to former BBC traitor Alesha Dixon. Appearing on Thursday's edition of Lorraine Kelly's ITV show, Dixon - a talentless greed bucket who quit Strictly Come Dancing to move to BGT, said it would launch on 24 March. However, ITV has refused to officially confirm the talent show's start date. Over the last four years, BGT has begun during the first few weeks of April. A BBC statement said the corporation took the 'unprecedented step of confirming our start date several weeks in advance to try and avoid any clashes with other broadcasters.' Speaking about joining the ITV talent show, Dixon said: 'It's incredible, it's good fun. It's going to be on 24 March, so it's coming soon.' From 2008 onwards, BGT which has helped launch the careers of Diversity and Susan Boyle, has started between 11 April and 17 April. The first year it was broadcast in 2007, it began in June. An ITV spokesman said: 'Britain's Got Talent has been in an established slot in the Spring since 2008 and remains incredibly popular with our audience, averaging more than eleven million viewers in 2011 blah, blah, bastard blah. This year we will once again be celebrating the UK's uniquely talented entertainers.' And on, and on, and on, the shit dribbled from the disgusting, slavvering, brown-tongued, disgraceful mouths. The traditional primetime TV clash usually happens towards the end of the year between Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. However, ITV have been getting a bit uppity of late, specifically in their brazen attention to ruin the BBC's carefully-worked-out Sunday night scheduled in March. Which, in the case of putting Corrie on to undermine the season finale of Call the Midwife, failed spectacularly, but, in pushing the opening Upstairs Downstairs to a later start-time, probably succeeded better than they could have imagined. Comedian David Walliams joins Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell as part of the BGT judging panel this year. The Voice, which is adapted from a Dutch format, features singers Jessie J, Will.i.am, Sir Tom Jones and Danny O'Donoghue. The four artists are acting as coaches and will mentor singing contestants hoping to win a record deal with music label Universal.

Len Goodman has promised that he will never quit Strictly Come Dancing - unlike some people who shall remain talentless and odiously greedy - and claimed that he owed the BBC a debt of loyalty. The veteran dance teacher said that he would remain on the panel for as long as the broadcaster didn't 'get fed up with me,' and insisted that his heavy workload with Strictly and the US series Dancing with the Stars wasn't too much for him. 'I have no intention of stopping or slowing down. I'm in a position where I could do that, but once I stop I know what would happen, I'd be sitting indoors on a Saturday night watching Strictly Come Dancing and I'd be thinking, "That's a bloody stupid thing to say" and "I wish I'd kept going,"' he told the Mirra. Goodman, sixty seven, also dismissed reports that the Strictly judges were unhappy with their pay. 'But if they give me more, I'm not going to say no to it,' he joked. Commenting on traitor Alesha Dixon's departure to ITV to judge Britain's Got Talent, he added: 'The BBC were wonderful - they didn't know who I was really, I'm just a dance teacher. They gave me an opportunity to do Strictly Come Dancing, which was a life-changing event really, and I think that they deserve my loyalty, and my loyalty is what they will get.' A rare thing in TV these days, that is.

The BBC is developing an ambitious new scheme to create an iTunes-style store that would enable UK consumers to download new and old BBC TV shows, it has emerged. PaidContent claims to have 'learned' that the BBC wants to make all its programmes available on a download-to-own basis under an initiative called Project Barcelona. It is thought that content on the store would be priced from around £1.89 per show. The website claims that Project Barcelona has been negotiating with the independent producers that make some of the corporation's programmes, and has already received support on what is viewed as a potentially strong way to combat piracy. However, independent production trade body PACT is thought to be 'concerned' about the scheme, particularly over the share of revenue and potential impact on already-declining DVD sales. In a statement to PaidContent, a BBC spokesperson said: 'In addition to BBC iPlayer, the BBC already makes some of its content available on a download-to-own basis. Any proposal to extend this facility would require not just the support of the industry but formal approval by the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust.' The as-yet-unannounced Project Barcelona could mark a radical shift in the way BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, monetises the corporation's huge archive of content in the digital world. All households in the UK already pay an £145.50 annual licence fee to fund the corporation, enabling them to watch BBC shows on television and on the catch-up TV service BBC iPlayer for a thirty-day period. After that, the rights are handed to Worldwide, which sells the programmes on DVD, and licenses the content to digital distribution services, such as iTunes, Blinkbox, Netflix and LoveFilm. However, the corporation is thought to be concerned that only around seven per cent of its archive programming is offered for sale, suggesting that third parties are 'cherry picking' the most commercial content and leaving the rest. Project Barcelona is thought to be about the BBC making all of its content available for paid download in an own-branded service, including all-new material, shortly after the thirty-day transmission window. The download platform would enable the BBC to more broadly promote its older content, as well as provide the producers with a bigger cut than they currently get on iTunes. The corporation will handle all administration costs of the platform, and it could generate at least thirteen million quid in revenue for independent producers over the next five years. PaidContent suggests that the project is 'about making what is effectively seen as non-commercial programming available to the market at a price and ease of use that will encourage consumers to purchase programmes that the commercial market would not make available due to the poor returns and risk involved.' If it can overcome the disagreements with the production companies, the new download platform could provide the BBC with a strong new revenue stream in the digital world, particularly as it faces major spending cuts. However, the approach would still have to get full approval from the BBC Trust, which may be concerned about the corporation entering a major commercial venture that could muscle out other download services.
Jermaine Jenas, the England and Stottingtot Hotshots footballer, has become the latest public figure to sue News International over alleged phone-hacking by the Scum of the World. The twenty nine-year-old midfielder filed a suit against the publisher and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire at the high court in London on Thursday. News International has settled fifty five out of sixty initial civil claims for invasion of privacy, but could face up to two hundred more, with figures including Cherie Blair, the wife of the former Labour prime minister, and Alex Best, the wife of the ex-Manchester United footballer George Best, having already filed. Others who have filed claims include TV personalities Jamie Theakston and Jeff Brazier, and footballers Peter Crouch and Jenas's former Newcastle team-mate Kieron Dyer. The publisher has also received almost fifty inquiries regarding the compensation scheme it set up last year for victims of phone-hacking. News International settled thirty seven civil actions in January – including high-profile actions brought by the actor Jude Law and the son of the serial killer Harold Shipman – in a bid to prevent them from going to trial, and paid out to another twenty one victims of phone-hacking last month.

A FOX News reporter has been caught asleep live on air. Doug Luzader was scheduled to discuss the presidential candidacy for the Republicans before he was found sleeping in Washington. The footage was swiftly uploaded on to YouTube and has attracted more than three hundred thousand hits.
MP Eric Joyce has been fined three grand and banned from bars for three months after he admitted assaulting politicians in a House of Commons bar. The Falkirk MP attacked Conservative MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew during a brawl at the Strangers' Bar. He also hit Tory councillors Luke Mackenzie and Ben Maney, and Labour whip Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield. After sentence at Westminster Magistrates Court, Joyce said he intended to stay on as an MP. The former soldier - who was suspended by the Labour Party following the brawl - has already announced his intention not to seek re-election in 2015. Joyce was given a twelve-month community order which included a curfew order from Friday to Sunday. As well as a three thousand knicker fine, he was ordered to pay fourteen hundred smackers in compensation to his victims. He had earlier pleaded guilty to four charges, including one of assault by beating. Police were called to the Palace of Westminster following reports of a disturbance shortly before closing time on 22 February. The MP was reported to have lashed out after declaring there were 'too many Tories' in the bar. Joyce had to be restrained by several officers following the attacks, which witnesses described as like a scene from The Wild West. Prosecutor Zoe Martin said he shouted at the police: 'You can't touch me, I'm an MP!' Andrew was left bleeding from the nose while Wilson also suffered a cut to his face after attempting to restrain Joyce. The court was told that tables were upturned during the fracas and Joyce had looked 'possessed' and 'out of it.' Joyce was held at a central London police station for several hours before questioning during which time he broke a window pane. He told officers he had drunk 'three or four glasses of wine.' Jeremy Dein QC, defending, said Joyce wished to expresses his 'shame and embarrassment. He is unreservedly apologetic for what occurred on the night in question,' he told the court. Maney is a Conservative councillor on Thurrock Council and was in the bar as a guest of Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price. Mackenzie is a Conservative councillor on Basildon Council and an aide to South Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe. Joyce has been MP for Falkirk since December 2000, and before entering politics had served in the Army Education Corps as Major. Under parliamentary rules, he would have automatically lost his seat if sentenced to more than twelve months in jail. He has a previous conviction for drink driving.

American singer Jimmy Ellis, who sang on the classic hit 'Disco Inferno', has died at the age of seventy four. 'Disco Inferno' was a 1976 Grammy award-winning hit for The Trammps - founded in Philadelphia by Ellis and his friends - and was used in the movie Saturday Night Fever the following year. The band also recorded 'Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart', 'Hold Back the Night', 'I Feel Like I've Been Livin' (On The Dark Side Of The Moon)' and 'That's Where the Happy People Go'. Ellis continued to tour with The Trammps until 2010. He died in a nursing home in South Carolina from complications from Alzheimer's, according to his family. The Trammps had a constantly changing line-up, but the original members played together when 'Disco Inferno' was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

Which, I suppose means that there can only be one Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Sing it one more time, Jimmy.

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