Thursday, March 22, 2012

I've Seen Everything, But The Girl

As - thoroughly - expected several lesser spotted species of The Special People have all had their say on the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman in Doctor Who on an Interweb near you. To anyone that would listen and, indeed, anyone that didn't want to. By the way, Jenna, welcome to fandom. It's a reet laugh, so it is. If in doubt, ask Moffat, he'll tell you all about the inherently contradictory nature of some of it. And the hideously inappropriate sense of entitlement that some of the odious creatures who inhabit it have about themselves and their relationship to a television programme. Anyway, dear blog reader, there have been the usual grumbles from the usual suspects. The sort of thing you'd expect: 'Well, that's a bit of a drop from thinking it was going to be an acclaimed, award-winning up-and-comer to it being an ex-Soap. Nice one Moffat' and 'I've neither heard of her or recognise her but I'm disappointed that she appears to be such a predictable choice. You just know she's going to be feisty and go-getting and out-smart the Doctor at every opportunity while prancing about in mini-skirts. Such a bore.' Uh-huh. There was also the downright bizarre: 'I hope she's an android or alien because otherwise this is a pretty boring and predictable choice.' We can only assume he or she is talking about the character and not the actress. Although, with fandom, one can never be too sure. And then, on Facebook we got the worst of the lot: 'I could use another Donna Noble-type companion, instead of a helpless waif.' Oh Christ, here we go again, I thought. Because yer actual Keith Telly Topping was somewhat minded of the night that Cat Tate herself was cast (for the second time) as Donna Noble back in 2007. And, in particular, the moment when some arsehole of absolutely no importance on what was then Outpost Gallifrey confidently stated 'she had neither the depth or the range as an actress for this part.' Which, clearly proves that the arsehole of no consequence in question had never seen Cat Tate in anything other than The Runaway Bride and hadn't liked that. Because, like The Catherine Tate Show or loathe it (and I'm more in the latter camp than the former), the one thing that it unquestionably demonstrated was that she did have depth and range as a character actress. Now, personally, I haven't got a great knowledge of Jenna-Louise Coleman's previous work. I stopped watching Ememrdale when it was still a farm and I have only some very vague memories of her playing a naughty lesbian schoolgirl in Waterloo Road. Not unpleasant memories as it happens! However, I think it might be an idea for me - and for everyone else, for that matter - to actually watch her in the role before anyone starts to witter on about 'helpless waif' cliches and other such ill-informed bollocks. It's only fair, after all. One thing which yesterday's splurge of press coverage has proved (should 'proving' have been at all necessary) is just how big a news story Doctor Who continues to be - despite a few faint rumblings to the contrary from a couple of sections of The Special People. The first indication of an announcement of a new companion came in the middle of the weekend, and the media have been desperate to find out who, when and how ever since fuelling much speculation. Soaps tend not to generate this level of interest even when when they're killing off a character much less casting a new one. Doctor Who is pretty much unique in this respect. That this comes in the run up to Britain's Got Talent and the launch of The Voice shows just how Doctor Who-hungry the Britain media still is. Doctor Who (unlike most of drama) actually generates news, rather than just having it passively reported and the more salacious and sensationalist aspects spoiled.

Amanda Holden has revealed that she is to host Andrew Lloyd Webber's new Jesus Christ Superstar talent show, Superstar. There had previously been rumours that the Britain's Got Talent judge (and Big Top flop) was being lined-up for the programme, but her involvement was only confirmed on Wednesday on ITV's This Morning. Speaking to hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, she said: 'I am [hosting] - it's terrifying. We haven't signed on the dotted line yet, but I am and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to talk about it!' Holden made light of her recent alleged 'near-death experience' during the birth of her child, saying: 'As I have a West End background, and I nearly met Jesus the other week, I'm the best qualified.' Talking about what stage the competition had reached, she commented: 'They've gone all over the country and Andrew said they've even had some girls auditioning as well. And I'm not sure they've sorted out the judging panel yet, but it's going to be a huge arena tour and it'll go worldwide.' It was recently announced that Melanie C and Jason Donovan will be judges on part of the show.

Ex-Brookside actor Brian Regan has been jailed for lying about his part in a gangland killing. Regan's sentence can be revealed following the conviction of Jason Gabbana, twenty nine, for ordering the murder of a nightclub doorman in Liverpool. Bahman Faraji, forty four, was shot dead at close range outside the Belgrave public house in Aigburth in February 2011. Regan, fifty four, who played Terry Sullivan in the soap, was jailed on 25 January for four years and ten months. Gabbana, of Score Lane in Childwall, was found guilty of murder at Liverpool Crown Court. Faraji was accused by Gabbana's defence of drug dealing and running an illegal protection racket. Regan, St Marys Road, Garston, was cleared of murder but convicted of perverting the course of justice after it emerged he lied to police when he was first arrested, telling them he was with his partner Christine Lines at the time of the murder. In fact he was snorting cocaine in a car as Faraji was shot dead yards away at close range on the evening of 24 February 2011. Regan admitted driving gunman Edward Heffey to and from the hit but told the jury THAT he did not know his passenger was carrying a sawn-off shotgun and was planning to kill Faraji. Regan also disposed of a pair of gloves he wore on the night. The sentence, following a trial which ended in January, could not be reported until the conclusion of the Gabbana case. Gabbana was convicted of murder by an eleven to one majority. Heffey, of Beloe Street, Dingle, and Simon Smart, of Kylemore Way, Halewood, who police said set up the killing, were also convicted of murder at Liverpool Crown Court. Regan's best friend Lee Dodson, of Logfield Drive, Garston, was cleared of murder. The trial heard that Regan was hooked on cocaine and began dealing it to fund his habit as his acting career declined. After he admitted driving the gunman, the court ordered security to be stepped up around Regan and security guards sat between him and the rest of the defendants. He was also designated a 'vulnerable prisoner' and held in an isolation wing in jail. When Heffey's guilty verdict was delivered, a woman and a young man in the public gallery angrily interrupted proceedings and had to be ejected by police. Heffey appeared to lunge towards Regan in the dock and was swiftly taken down to the cells by security officers. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Regan's girlfriend Christine Lines, who was accused of perverting the course of justice by helping the ex-actor dispose of the gloves. The matter was ordered to lie on file and she will not face a retrial. Lines admitted permitting or suffering her premises to be used in the supply of cocaine and was sentenced to thirty months imprisonment suspended for twelve months. Gabbana, Smart and Heffey will be sentenced either Friday or Monday, Mrs Justice Davies said.

Dominic West and Emily Watson have won Royal Television Society Awards for their performances in ITV's Appropriate Adult. The pair won the best male and female actor prizes for their roles in the drama about the serial killer Fred West. BBC1's Luther was named best drama series, while Coronation Street won best soap and continuing drama. Channel Four won the most awards at the ceremony with ten. West beat Daniel Rigby and John Simm for the their roles in the Morecambe and Wise biopic Eric & Ernie and thriller Exile respectively. The judges said that West 'shockingly, wittily and superbly captured the most horrific characteristic of a serial killer: his terrifying charm.' Watson was praised for her 'incredibly skilled and extraordinary portrayal of an ordinary woman by an actor at the height of her powers.' She played Janet Leach, who sat in with West during his police interviews, assisting him and safeguarding his rights. The actress beat This Is England '88 star Vicky McClure and Ruth Negga, who played Shirley Bassey in BBC drama Shirley. Derren Brown - The Experiments also won best entertainment, while Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret was named best science and natural history. Other awards saw wins for Gareth Malone who was named best presenter for his role in The Choir: Military Wives and Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die, which won best single documentary. The BBC2 show, which followed the best-selling author as he examined the case for assisted suicide, was described by the judges as 'groundbreaking, revelatory and profoundly moving.' Russell Tovey and Sarah Solemani also won the comedy performance award for their roles in BBC3's Him and Her. Children's drama Tracy Beaker was also a winner, while CBBC's Newsround won best programme for their documentary on autism. Special prizes were given out to ITV director of drama Laura Mackie, while veteran producer Beryl Vertue, whose credits include Sherlock and Men Behaving Badly, won the lifetime achievement award.

Meanwhile, Luther's creator Neil Cross has revealed that he is planning a film version of the series. The writer told BBC Radio 4's Front Row that he intends to make the movie once the BBC crime drama has ended. 'We'll wrap up Luther as a TV show, but I think we'll then probably make the leap to the big screen,' he said. Cross added that the television incarnation of Luther would have a 'powerful and moving ending. The final scene of the final episode is great and we wouldn't want to continue [beyond that],' he explained. 'We'll go out big and leave it at that.' Last year, Luther star Idris Elba admitted that he is also keen to make a film based on the show. 'I really do want to make Luther into a film,' he said. 'I think that's where the ultimate Luther story will unfold - the big silver screen.' The Golden Globe-winning drama will return for a third run of four sixty-minute episodes later this year.

ITV has announced a two-part dramatisation of Ruth Rendell's thriller Thirteen Steps Down by Primeval writer Adrian Hodges. Attack the Block's Luke Treadaway stars as Mix, a repairman and occasional gigolo who believes that he is haunted by the Rillington Place serial killer John Christie. He lodges with an eccentric landlady, Gwendolen (played by Geraldine James), in a self-contained flat that’s a shrine to top model Nerissa Nash (played by Elarica Gallacher). As his obsession with the cover girl grows, viewers discover the roots of his violent outbursts and the connection between him and his landlady. [spooks]'s Gemma Jones and former Bond girl Maryam d’Abo also star. Filming begins in London and Dublin for five weeks at the end of March. Laura Mackie, director of drama at ITV, said: 'Ruth Rendell's characterisations and plot weaving create irresistible stories for contemporary television dramas. Adrian Hodges' enthralling script perfectly captures the spine-chilling and eerie suspense of Thirteen Steps Down.'
The Times's crime editor has told the Leveson inquiry that the paper did not make former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Andy Hayman a columnist as 'a favour' for services rendered. Questions have been raised about the paper's hiring of Hayman, who oversaw Scotland Yard's original 2006 investigation into phone-hacking at fellow News International title the Scum of the World. However, Sean O'Neill, giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday, denied there was 'anything improper' about this and claimed that he only approached Hayman after failing to persuade another senior Met officer, Peter Clarke, to write for The Times. He said he was 'instrumental' in suggesting that his paper should take on Hayman whom, he claimed, was being 'pursued' by the Daily Torygraph as a possible columnist at the time. 'Frankly now I wish I had let the Daily Telegraph sign him up. It would have been better for him and for us,' O'Neill told Lord Justice Leveson. Appearing at the inquiry earlier in March, Hayman was asked by Leveson whether he thought writing a Times column 'creates or runs the risk of creating a perception of a relationship which goes beyond that which is appropriate.' Hayman - who had previously been described as 'a dodgy geezer' by a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee replied that 'with hindsight' he could see Leveson's point. Commenting on Hayman's notorious appearance before the Select Committee when his apparent bullish and confrontational attitude had been the subject of much public discussion, the journalist Simon Hoggart suggested that Hayman 'must be given his own sitcom, a blend of Life On Mars and Minder, starring Hayman as Del Boy. Put it this way: I wouldn't let him sell me a cheap Rolex, if I wanted to know the time.' It was revealed at the inquiry that Hayman was paid ten thousand smackers a year for his column, which he said was arranged while he was 'on transition to retirement.' Hayman wrote for The Times between September 2008 and May 2011. O'Neill also told the inquiry in Wednesday an official report criticising relations between Scotland Yard and the media reads like an 'East German ministry of information manual.' He said that Elizabeth Filkin's recent review of the Metropolitan police's interactions with journalists has created a 'climate of fear.' Good, frankly. I hope they're effing bricking it. 'I found this document patronising and ultimately dangerous for future accountability of the police,' O'Neill added. 'It has already created a climate of fear in which police officers – who may want to pass on information that is in the public but not the corporate interest – are afraid to talk to the press. Despite its repeated talk of openness and transparency, the key passages in the Filkin report refer to a clampdown on "unauthorised contact" between police and the press.' Filkin's recommendations, published in January, advised officers to avoid 'flirting' and accepting alcohol from journalists. O'Neill quoted a passage from her report calling on the Met to 'create an environment where the improper disclosure of information is condemned and deterred.' He said that this read 'as if it comes from an East German ministry of information manual rather than guidance for public servants in Twenty First Century Britain.' A Twenty First Century Britain in which, let us not forget, journalists from News International have, allegedly, indulged in practices such as phone-hacking (another very Stasi-type actively) and, allegedly, bribing police officers and other officials. Just before you start getting too carried away with the manifest injustices of life, Sean matey. O'Neill also expressed concerns about new restrictions on journalists and police officers sharing meals and drinks. 'I do fear that the ability to build a trustworthy relationship with someone is going to be seriously inhibited if you cannot have a coffee or a pint or a bite to eat with them,' he said. 'I do think that's a concern, and I think it's quite important for senior crime journalists to be able to meet senior police officers and talk openly and freely without necessarily a watchdog or press officer sitting on your shoulder recording every word or listening in on every word.'

MPs on the lack of culture select committee will recommend that advertisers sign a pledge to withhold millions in advertising spend from any newspaper which does not support a new press complaints body and follow its rules. John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, claimed that the plan would 'act as an ultimate backstop' to ensure the replacement for the Press Complaints Commission had teeth and the backing of the entire publishing industry. Well, it will if advertisers follow this, presumably non-binding, suggestion. 'We want a stronger self-regulatory system that is seen to be effective and command confidence,' he said, speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star after making a presentation at the annual conference of ISBA, the trade body for UK advertisers. 'One of the great challenges is that it has to have all publishers sign up and accept the code. If you don't have a statutory underpinning it raises the question of how you persuade recalcitrant publishers to accept the code and jurisdiction of the [new] body.' The plan would see the UK's biggest advertisers sign up to a voluntary pledge through ISBA. UK companies spend £2.4bn annually on newspaper advertising, £1.3bn on national titles and a further £1.1bn on regional newspapers. 'Advertisers have considerable leverage through the power of money, just as was demonstrated when advertisers pulled money from the News of the World over the Milly Dowler affair,' Whittingdale said. 'The agreement would make it clear that they will expect any publication in which their ads appear to be a member and subscribe to the body's rules. It seems this is a very clear way in which we could create a real incentive, real pressure, without parliament having to legislate. It would be a clear signal [from advertisers] of their wish to be seen to be responsible and promote good practices.'

FOX has pulled its freshman comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter from its schedules after low ratings. The comedy starring Jamie Pressly and Kristi Lauren has been dropped from the schedules after just a handful of episodes. FOX was widely expected to pull I Hate My Teenage Daughter from Tuesday evenings but has made the move earlier than originally believed. After Tuesday night's episode of the comedy had attracted just 2.9 million viewers - with a 1.2 rating - FOX acted. Swiftly and with the ruthlessness of a serial killer. And killed the serial. In its place repeats of Raising Hope will air for several weeks. I Hate My Teenage Daughter will return for the remainder of its episodes in the Summer. Given its performance so far, a renewal for another series is unlikely.

Ed Milimolimandi has been accused of stealing a gag from Sarah Millican in his response to the Budget. The opposition leader raised laughs in the House of Commons with his reference to the monied background of most of the Cabinet. Referring to ITV's Downton Abbey, written by Top Tory Lord Snooty, Millband joked: 'We all think it's a costume drama. They think it's a fly-on-the-wall documentary.' Good joke, actually. However, very people with big noses on Twitter were quick to point out, a similar line had been used in Sarah Millican's BBC2 show last Thursday. Political PR guru Dylan Sharp was one of the first to point out the similarities: 'Wasn't that line on Downton Abbey nicked from Sarah Millican's TV show?' he asked. Comedy reviewer Stephanie Merritt gave the idea more traction by writing on the Gruniad Morning Star website that she was impressed with Miliband's quick wit 'at least until a minute or so later, when it occurred to me that I had heard the line somewhere before. Then it came to me: the comedian Sarah Millican had used a strikingly similar joke on her BBC2 show.' Although Millican's idea was similar to the one used by Milimolimandi (or supplied by his speechwriters, more likely), she had expressed it in a different way. Her original version was: 'I watch any costume drama about the upper classes. What was that brilliant show last year full of posh people dressed up in ridiculous outfits being fawned on by people who are common as muck? Oh, that's right The Royal Wedding. Downton Abbey must be like watching Big Brother for the Queen.' So, actually, not the same joke at all, just drawn from the same generic comedy pool.

Keep your eyes open, dear blog reader, for the episode of CSI featuring former Charlie's Angel Jacqueline Smith as David Hodges mother. It's hilarious.
BBC Radio 4 has commissioned a brace of new radio dramas from independent production company CPL Productions, including one about the making of the BBC sitcom Dad's Army and another about the friendship between Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor. Dear Arthur, Love John, by West End playwright Roy Smiles, will chart the relationship between Dad's Army stars Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier and focus on the creation of the beloved TV series. Lowe and Le Mesurier were men of wildly different temperaments and backgrounds, yet bonded while working together on the series over the course of its nine-year run and became friends. Anton Lesser will play John Le Mesurier in the drama, while Robert Daws will play Arthur Lowe. Rock and Doris and Liz, written by former EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, will explore the friendship between Hollywood star Rock Hudson and actresses Day and Taylor, while a third commission, Like a Daughter, is a play examining wills and family relationships. CPL's head of radio, Liz Anstree, said in a statement: 'The commission of three further afternoon dramas from Radio 4 means we can build on our reputation for producing first class content, working with some of the best talent in the industry.' Dear Arthur, Love John will be broadcast on Monday 7 May, while Rock and Doris and Liz will go out on Monday 18 June. Like a Daughter does not currently have a scheduled transmission date.

Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra, best known for his long-standing collaboration with director Michelangelo Antonioni, has died. Guerra, who scripted more than one hundred screenplays, was nominated for three Oscars for his work on Antonioni's Blow Up, Fellini's Amarcord and Casanova 70. 'Tonino lived through practically a whole century of Italian culture. We have lost a poet, a genius and marvellous person,' said former Italian culture minister Walter Veltroni. Born in 1920, Guerra, who was also a poet and a sculptor, began to write during World War II, when he was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Germany. He went on to co-author some of the defining Italian films of the 1960s and 70s, working with a host of legendary directors including Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti. His prolific career spanned some four decades, and later saw him working with contemporary Italian filmmakers such as the Taviani brothers and Cinema Paradiso's Giuseppe Tornatore. Tornatore's Stanno Tutti Bene, on which Guerra collaborated, was remade in 2009 as Everybody's Fine - with Robert De Niro and Drew Barrymore. 'Tonino had a unique gift for creating images; he was not a technical screenwriter,' director Marco Bellocchio, who worked with Guerra on Henry IV in 1984, told trade paper Variety. 'Instead, he was a real artist with a fertile imagination and a genius for storytelling that is becoming ever more rare in the film world these days.' Guerra also worked with foreign filmmakers including Steven Soderbergh and the Greek director, Theo Angelopolis, winning a prize at the Cannes Film Festival for the 1984 screenplay Voyage To Cythera. He was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival in 1994.

Which, of course, brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of Day. And one of the greatest four moments of sixties cinema. Spank that plank, Jeffrey.

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