Friday, April 13, 2012

Now All The Stations Are Silenced, Cos They Ain't Got A Government Licence

As reported widely for most of this week, Doctor Who has been filming on-location in New York. it's a small fishing village in the West Atlantic, you might've heard of it. Anyway, it was confirmed last month that the fifth episode of the BBC's long running popular family SF drama's seventh series was to be shot in New York. New images taken on-location feature Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the city's Central Park.
The US episode will write out companions Amy and Rory and will also feature the Weeping Angels (and, possibly, River Song, along sources still differ on that matter). Smith recently hinted that the pair's impending exit storyline 'could be incredible.' well, we weren't expecting anything less, Smudger. 'I think we've got some really exciting episodes,' he said. 'We did the read-throughs for episodes one and five and they are extremely extraordinary.'

Robert Glenister has admitted that he regrets appearing in Doctor Who. The Hustle actor featured in 1984 four-parter The Caves of Androzani starring Peter Davison. And he was rather good in it in this blogger's opinion. Although, seemingly, not in his own. Generally considered by the cognoscenti to be one of the better 1980s Doctor Who stories, The Caves of Androzani was Davison's swansong and was broadcast in March 1984. 'I probably shouldn't say this,' Glenister told the Radio Times 'but about thirty years ago I played an android in a Doctor Who story.' No, you probably shouldn't have Robert, you'll have the Special People after you, pointing out that, actually, you played the duel role of Salateen and his android duplicate. And, you don't want that, trust me. 'I still get people outside the stage door with that picture of me looking about twelve and I am appalled at myself every time I see it. I looked like a complete berk and wish I never had to see it again.' Oh, I dunno. Now, if it has been Robert's other 1980s TV appearance with Davison, the sitcom Sink Or Swim, I'd've agreed with his mortification!

A challenge to find out who could make more money from a second hand shop in London's Brick Lane helped BBC1's The Apprentice to seven million overnight viewers on Wednesday – its biggest audience of the current series so far. Lord Sugar-Sweetie's business reality show had a 28.6 per cent audience share 9pm and 10pm on Wednesday and predictably had the better of a Foyle's War repeat on ITV, which was watched by 3.3 million viewers. The Apprentice was up on the six and a half million punters who watched last week's episode – when it was up against coverage of Moscow Chelski FC's Champions League quarter final on ITV – and the 6.3 million audience for the week before that. On 21 March the eighth series of The Apprentice launched with 6.4 million viewers – its lowest-rating opening night since 2008. Elsewhere at 9pm, Channel Four's The Sinking of the Concordia, featuring mobile phone and camera footage taken by passengers on the stricken liner, drew 2.4 million viewers. The Channel Four documentary beat BBC2's new Bettany Hughes series Divine Women: When God Was a Girl, which was watched by one million viewers - including yer actual Keith Telly Topping who rather enjoyed it. Channel Five's US drama NCIS picked up 1.9 million viewers. The second series of Channel Four's topical satire Ten O'Clock Live finished with 1.1 million viewers between 10pm and 10.55pm. It was up against BBC2's Apprentice spin-off show, The Apprentice: You're Fired!, which attracted 2.9 million viewers between 10pm and 10.30pm, and Newsnight, watched by nine hundred thousand punters between 10.30pm and 11.20pm.

The BBC is to make a four-part British Asian comedy series presented by Meera Syal. Meera Syal's Asian Comedy Story, for the Asian Network, will feature two documentaries, charting the genre from Goodness Gracious Me to mainstream stand-up stars, followed by a stand-up night to be broadcast in two parts. That show will be recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House, on 30 April and feature Imran Yusuf, Shazia Mirza Kulvinder Ghir, Mickey Sharma, Asian Provocateurs, Humza Badman and Sami Shah. The shows will be broadcast over four consecutive nights in July as part of the digital radio station's Stars On BBC Asian Network season, which channel controller Bob Shennan calls 'our most ambitious, varied and exciting programming yet.'

Yer actual Stephen Fry and Primeval star Dougie Henshall will lead the cast of ITV's Ian Rankin adaptation Doors Open. The two-hour film, which has been adapted by James Mavor and Sandi Toksvig, is based around an audacious arts heist and is set in Edinburgh's corporate banking and fine art world. One of Rankin's best-selling books, Doors Open follows Mike Mackenzie (played by Henshall), who becomes bored by his millions and business. After an evening drinking, Mackenzie teams up with his close friend Professor Gissing (Fry) and the love of his life Laura Stanton to come up with a plan to swap priceless masterpieces for accurate forgeries. Laura Mackie, director of drama at ITV, said: 'Doors Open is full of excitement with many twists and turns and it is as much of a love story as an art heist. We have an A-list cast lined-up to bring Ian Rankin's great characters to life.' Collision's Marc Evans will direct the project. Fry described Rankin's novel as 'breathless and ingenious', revealing that he picked it up at an airport a year ago. 'As I read I just knew it would make a thrilling, charming and original TV drama,' he said. 'I also adored the character of Professor Gissing and a shamefully vain part of me refused to see anyone else in the role. I am so thrilled that ITV were of the same opinion and that all of us at Sprout Pictures have managed to put together what I believe will be an entertaining, suspenseful art heist thriller which will appeal to audiences at home and abroad.'

Nigel Havers has revealed that he was 'hacked off' about not being cast in the first two series of ITV's Downton Abbey. The actor, who is a long time friend of the period drama's creator, yer actual Lord Snooty his very self Julian Fellowes, spoke of his relief at being asked to play Lord Hepworth in last year's Christmas special. 'I've known Julian Fellowes all of my life so I was really hacked off that he didn't ask me to be in it in the first place, but now I've finally been asked to be in it, it's really nice,' he told Lorraine. Havers is currently starring in ITV soap Coronation Street as male escort Lewis Archer. 'Being in Coronation Street has been one of the highlights of my career,' he said. And, as we noted when he last said that, for God's sake man, you were in Chariot's of Fire, have your careers aspirations really sunk that low?! 'It was a big honour when I was asked to go on. I said, "God, I'd love to go on, I'll do it straight away."' He added: 'I was very nervous and I was amazed by the street because the houses are two-thirds of the actual height. I love doing it.'
Senior Scotland Yard staff showed 'poor judgement' in their relationship with ex-Scum of the World executive Neil Wallis, the police watchdog has opined. Wallis was appointed as an adviser to the Met and his daughter also secured a job with the force. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said that professional boundaries at the Met 'became blurred. In neither case did we find evidence of corruption, but in both cases we found that policies were breached.' The Independent Police Complaints Commission found that the former head of Public Affairs at Scotland Yard, Dick Fedorcio, 'effectively employed' Wallis before a written contract was prepared or agreed. Fiasco - who had been at Scotland Yard since 1997 - resigned last month after the Met Police decided to launch disciplinary proceedings against him. The IPCC said the 'integrity and fairness' of the process of awarding a contract to a public relations company run by Wallis was 'compromised.' Fiasco 'failed to monitor the contract' and 'did not seek the approval of the police authority or ensure a vetting check was completed,' it said. The IPCC also criticised former Assistant Commissioner Champagne John Yates over the appointment of Neil Wallis's daughter, Amy, to a job at the Met. Yates sent an e-mail to the then head of the human resources department at the Met, Martin Tiplady, about Amy Wallis in which he described Neil Wallis as a 'great friend (and occasional critic) of the Met in past years and has been a close adviser to Paul [ex-Commissioner Stephenson] on stuff/tactics in respect of the new commissionership.' The IPCC found no evidence that Yates had 'directly influenced' the appointment of Amy Wallis and no evidence amounting to yer actual misconduct but said that the e-mail was 'seen by more junior staff' as 'an instruction' to find her a job and it was 'poor judgement to do so, bearing in mind the appearance of favouritism.' Releasing two reports on Thursday, IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass said: 'Despite the growing phone-hacking scandal, which must have exercised the MPS at a senior level and which was beginning to damage the reputation of the Metropolitan Police in late 2009, senior people appear to have been oblivious to the perception of conflict. It is clear to me that professional boundaries became blurred, imprudent decisions taken and poor judgement shown by senior police personnel.' It was revelations about a former senior Scum of the World journalist having such a role at Scotland Yard which prompted the force's then commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson to resign from his post in July last year. Wallis was arrested on suspicion of phone-hacking last year although he has not yet been charged with any crime. His company, Chamy Media, was paid twenty four thousand smackers by the Met for PR advice between October 2009 and September 2010.

A sketch in a TV comedy show, which featured a blind man groping a life model, has been ahem, 'pulled' after the police were called by onlookers. Students at Southend Adult Community College were unaware that they were being filmed by hidden cameras as part of a prank for Channel Four's I'm Spazticus. College principal Stephen Layman said they were 'shocked' and 'stunned' by the filming. A Channel Four spokesman said that students 'didn't see the funny side, so as a gesture of goodwill we won't be broadcasting the footage.' Forthcoming sketch series I'm Spazticus - which has been commissioned to tie in with the London Paralympics this summer - features 'disabled performers pranking able-bodied members of the public.' Produced by Zeitgeist Television for Channel Four, it 'uses the world of comedy to explore the world of disability.' The sketch, filmed three weeks ago at the college in Essex, showed a blind man groping a nude model during a life-drawing class. Both the unnamed blind man and model were in on the joke. Sounds thigh-slappingly hilarious in a total Benny Hill-style(e). However, the unwitting students were, reportedly, 'horrified', leading some in the class to call the police. Police did respond although no further action was taken. Because, presumably, the life model was a willing accomplice to these witty shenanigans and malarkey for the purposes of merriment and japery. And all that. 'Southend Adult Community College agreed in good faith to participate in a project which we were informed was aimed at challenging people's attitudes to disability,' said the principal, one Mr Lay. No, really, that's the chap's name. What can y'do, you know? 'We were shocked and surprised to discover the filming that took place within the class did not reflect the brief supplied. Since this incident took place three weeks ago we have received categorical assurance from both Zeitgeist Television and Channel Four that none of this material will be used.' Well, he sounds like a right good laugh, and no mistake. An award-winning pilot of I'm Spazticus was first broadcast as part of Channel Four's Comedy Lab strand in 2005. Speaking this February, producer Jamie O'Leary said: 'Whilst this is far from revenge TV, we hope it is both barrier and groundbreaking - it will never be worthy and box-ticking but hopefully funny.' Some students, apparently don't think do, Jamie. And, considering they make up the majority of Channel Four's comedy audience, that's probably not a good sigh.

For eight nights, the pioneering electro band Kraftwerk are playing sold out shows - not at a concert hall, but at New York's Museum of Modern Art in the museums' tall and relatively narrow atrium, covered with 3D video and robotic installations. MOMA is hosting a complete retrospective of Kraftwerk's music and art. The Düsseldorf band are widely considered the pioneer of electronic music. They started composing minimalist synthetic melodies crossed with catchy tunes in the late 1960s and got their international breakthrough in 1974 with the song 'Autobahn'. Kraftwerk are also notorious for their reclusive nature - no interviews - and for sending robots instead of the band's members to press conferences. They allowed a selected group of press to film just three minutes of their MOMA shows. The BBC filmed the beginning of the Kraftwerk song 'Radioactivity' and a snatch of 'The Robots', and discussed the influence of the band with Klaus Biesenbach, the curator of the MOMA retrospective, and David Fricke, the senior editor of Rolling Stone magazine. Which you can see here. Fricke defines the band as 'The Beach Boys with machines' (which is actually one of the best descriptions of Kraftwerk I've ever heard) and calls the Kraftwerk performance 'probably the hottest show of the year.' And, if you don't know what all the fuss is about, where the hell have you been for the last forty years?
Director Samuel West and writer Lee Hall hope that a revival of Alan Plater's 1968 play Close the Coalhouse Door can teach a new generation about fighting for their rights. 'I make no secret of the fact that I disagree with the direction of our current government,' notes west. Me neither, although the alternative are probably just as bad. Still, that's democracy for you, mate. The play is forty four years old and centres on the lives of miners in Newcastle. West - the actor-director who starred in Howard's End - and Billy Elliot writer Hall are both self-declared political animals. There is more to the revival, which opens at Northern Stage in Newcastle on Friday, than just the resurrection of a neglected theatrical treasure. When the play first came to the city in 1968, it was a - genuinely - massive hit. Stories of pitmen going to the theatre instead of St James' Park on a Saturday afternoon, and of coachloads of miners rolling up at the theatre in their Sunday best, have passed into local folklore. The plot revolves around a Newcastle family (the Milburns) looking back on one hundred and forty years of tradition and of miners' struggles against pit-owners and politicians. But Plater's irreverent saga of bickering brothers and plucky underdogs, coupled with songs by Alex Glasgow, is more than just a dry lesson in the history of industrial relations. Starting in the 1830s, it recounts how pioneering unions were formed and went on strike, in protest at long hours worked by young boys and 'bonds' that tied miners to punishing rules and conditions. By joining together for strength in the face of hardship, the miners gradually won more rights as the decades wore on. 'The play becomes very relevant because it is a celebration of having collectively achieved something as a nation that I think we're in danger of throwing away,' says Hall. 'It's a reminder that the life we rely on now was not always the case. People had to fight for it.' The play has lessons for people hit by of the current financial crisis and austerity cuts, he believes. 'There's a feeling now that it's so hopeless and there's nothing we can do and we just have to put up with it because it's the inexorable forces of history and economics. [In the play] you see that every thirty or forty years, just in one industry alone, exactly the same things happen again and again. But what they didn't do was just to sit and take it. What they did do was to fight back.' Okay then, off you go and do that, we'll be right behind you. The play is 'very provocative' in today's climate, he claims. West, the son of British acting legends Timothy West and Prunella Scales and a former member of the Socialist Workers' Party, is similarly strident. And, also, similarly rich. He accuses the coalition government of using the financial crisis as 'an excuse' to reduce living standards and turn individuals against each other. 'That's not how progress is made and it isn't how the miners progressed in this country,' he says. 'I thought it was a story that needed to be told.' West winces at the thought he is 'preaching' and insists it is a good piece of theatre. Which, like all of Plater's work, it is. 'It's not at all narrow agitprop.' Many people will disagree with the pair's politics and with Plater's interpretation of history, which firmly pits the gutsy workers against the evil elite. And while it was a hit in Newcastle first time around, the play was a flop when it moved to the West End. The North-East folk saga, dominated by the mining industry's heroes and villains, did not strike a chord in London. The thick Geordie brogue probably did not help, either although that didn't stop the BBC from producing a fine adaptation as part of The Wednesday Play strand in October 1969 starring John Woodvine, James Garbutt, Dudley Foster, Colin Douglas, Alan Browning, Geraldine Moffat and Kevin Stoney. This time the show, a co-production between Northern Stage and Live Theatre in Newcastle, is going on tour after its run in the city. Hall and West are confident that it will fare better in places like Richmond-upon-Thames, Guildford and Oxford than it did in the West End. For the new version, Hall, a friend and protege of Plater, has added a short scene at the beginning to take people back to 1968, and one at the end that gives the 1968 family's rose-tinted vision of how the next forty four years would pan out. Unfortunately, Newcastle United have not ended up as winners of the European Cup for fifteen years in a row (albeit, they've had a good season so far this year). But Hall and West want the miners of the past to deliver a serious message to the audiences of the present. 'I'm not sure that plays can make any difference, but they can make people think,' Hall says. 'If it reminds one single person that what is purported to be inevitable is not inevitable, then it will have been worth reviving. I think its big message is that the people of the ninety nine per cent, the ordinary people, have some power and can alter things. I think it's a timely reminder to people that that is the case.' Although, as Marge Simpson once wisely noted, 'I guess this proves that one person can make a difference. But, mostly, they shouldn't.'

Skyfall has unveiled new promotional images showing Daniel Craig's James Bond back with the classic Aston Martin DB5. And, well tasty it is an'all. Bloody hell, five minutes driving that thing through the Swiss mountains and you'd be shaken and stirred. Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe also feature in the pictures for Skyfall, which is expected to release its first trailer on 25 May in front of screenings of Men in Black 3.
Campaign groups and activists are calling on broadcasters, including the BBC and Sky, to boycott the Bahrain Grand Prix following recent disturbances in the Gulf state. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is to meet all twelve F1 teams this week in Shanghai to discuss whether the Bahrain Grand Prix should go ahead, the BBC reports. 'Sources' within the sport have allegedly said that a number of teams expect the race on 22 April to be called off amid concerns over safety following violent unrest in Bahrain. Plus, you know, the fact that the government are killing its own citizens and to have a car race in the midst of that might, just, seem to be a little bit ... how can we put this? Disgusting? Last year, the Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to be the opening round of the 2011 season, but was postponed after civil unrest broke out in the Kingdom. But discussing the situation in 2012, a senior official at governing body the FIA told the BBC: 'The race is still on. The situation is not like last year.' Should it go ahead, human rights campaigners have called on the broadcasters of F1 not to air the race as a protest against recent activity in the country. Dr Ala'a Shehabi, an activist who has been talking to Ecclestone, confirmed that she will write to the BBC and Sky, which share the rights to the sport in the UK. 'Formula One is all about advertising, marketing, it's more about the commercial side than the actual sport itself,' she is quoted as saying by the Gruniad. 'So we know that in broadcasting, you're encouraging all of the commercial interests in the sport which puts finance over human rights. That is what the major moral issue is here.' Err, the BBC don't have any commercial interests, love. That's, sort of, their raison d'être as it were. 'If we can target the broadcasters, we can at least cut some of the possibility of profits made from advertising, at least. We will be asking them (the broadcasters) to examine their endorsement of Formula One. If they stay unquestioned, they won't think twice about broadcasting.' Since the Arab uprisings of 2011, there have been continued calls for reform in the Gulf state of Bahrain, coming from the country's Shia majority against the Sunni ruling family. In a statement, the BBC said: 'As the race had been officially sanctioned by the FIA we would expect to cover the events as part of our contractual obligations. However, we are in regular communication with the FIA and will be monitoring the situation closely.' Sky had no comment on the situation. Which is very unusual for them because they've usually got so much to say for themselves about all manner of stuff. Maybe somebody should have asked Kay Burley direct, she's usually good for a quote.

The actor Colin Tarrant took his own life after becoming depressed, a coroner has ruled. Colin, who lived in Bristol, was best known for his role in ITV's police drama The Bill, which was axed in 2010. Flax Bourton Coroners Court heard how the fifty nine-year-old was found in his bathroom by his partner on 25 January. He died in hospital the following day. The inquest heard the actor had been trying to sell his home in London without success. Colin and his partner, Sabrina Morris, had visited their GP after he had been feeling depressed about his financial problems. Detective Constable Adam Smith told the hearing: 'Mr Tarrant had not been sleeping and according to Sabrina Morris had become extreme in his behaviour. Miss Morris was unable to reason with him and according to Miss Morris, Mr Tarrant had become unwilling to listen to advice on how to deal with the difficulties he was experiencing in selling a property. Mr Tarrant was given sleeping tablets and anti-depressants by his doctor. As Mr Tarrant left the surgery he received a telephone call informing him that the sale of his property had fallen through for a second time.' Dr Nicholas Ring, Colin's GP, had found the actor was suffering from moderately severe depression. He told the inquest: 'I specifically asked him if he had thoughts of suicide but he indicated that although he felt desperate at times he would not consider suicide because of his partner and child.' The GP added that he had wanted to see Tarrant again in a couple of weeks for a follow-up appointment. Detective Constable Smith confirmed there was no third-party involvement. A post-mortem examination found the actor had died from complications caused by stab wounds. Colin played the role of Inspector Andrew Monroe in The Bill and since leaving the series, which ran for twenty six years, he had been in a number of shows. The actor, who was born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, leaves behind his partner, Sabrina and two sons, Juma and Louis.

Television ratings for the first six games of the Indian Premier League season are nineteen per cent down on last year, local media has reported. The Hindustan Times said Tam Media Research, which is the country's top rating agency, has confirmed an initial decline in interest at the start of the fifth season. Cumulative reach, which is the number of people who watch a programme for at least a minute, has gone down by twelve per cent from one hundred and one million last year to ninety million this year. The fall for this year's IPL, which runs from 4 April until 27 May, mirrors the decline in crowds at the grounds last year, blamed on 'viewer fatigue' caused by the preceding World Cup.

Liverpool's director of football, Damien Comolli, has left the club 'by mutual consent', the Reds have announced. Comolli was appointed by club co-owners John W Henry and Tom Werner following their takeover of Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws in September 2010. He oversaw a major spending spree - or 'waste' as most normal people called it - which included the signings of Andy Carroll for thirty five million quid (yes, that's thirty five million quid. For Andy Carroll), Luis Suarez for twenty two million knicker, Jordan Henderson for sixteen million quid, Stewart Downing - a man who can't cross a ball to save his life - for twenty million smackers and Charlie Adams for eight million notes. So, in other words, it's all his fault. Comolli said: 'I am happy to move on from the club and go back to France for family reasons.' Yeah. Family reasons. Of course.

Meanwhile, the president of UEFA has hit out at 'bandits and crooks' for the escalation of Ukrainian hotel prices ahead of the Euro 2012 football championships. Speaking in Lviv, one of the venues, oily little toerag the odious Michel Platini said that the rising cost of accommodation worried him, and called on the authorities to 'prevent it.' Which, they're not going to so, you know, what's yer next trick, Michel? He added that some hotels were 'not respecting room contracts' which had already been agreed. In response, Ukraine's deputy prime minister pledged to take action. Speaking alongside Platini, Borys Kolesnikov said he would 'take appropriate measures' within the next thirty days to solve the problem. 'It's annoying to have made a lot of investment and then say to people that they can't come because there are bandits and crooks who want to make a lot of money during this Euro,' Platini said. Well, this is part of FIFA, after all, an organisation that knows plenty about crooks and bandits. 'You can't change (the price of a room) from forty euros to one hundred and then up to five hundred just like that, from one day to the other, this just is not done,' he said. Platini is due to open a new airport terminal in the city later with President Viktor Yanukovych. The championships, which are being held in Ukrainian and Polish cities, begin on 8 June.

As mentioned last time around, it was Singles Night at The Record Player on Thursday at the Tyneside. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was first on with 'Complete Control'. He didn't win, of course, but at least he was artistically free. But no, it's not the winning that's important, dear blog reader, it's the taking part. (Although, winning's quite nice as well.) Then again, neither did Gary Numan so I was in good company. We did all get certificates, however! In fact it was just like the cycling proficiency test when you're ten. Only, less bikes, obviously. In the event, the winner was yer actual Jeff Brown from Look North with his tale of the long, hot summer of '76, sun, sand and (ahem) tits. And a very nice Isley Brothers 45 to boot.
Anyway, a pure-dead smashing night - good company, top tunes, a glass of wine and two (yes two, count 'em) bottles of weak lager and then picking up a Ruby Murray on the way home. It's becoming a Thursday night ritual, so it is. Next week it's Mr Bonio and The U2 Group (it's all right, it's Achtung Baby, the good one), then Stevie Wonder the week after and events have been announced for near enough every week thereafter until another Summertime Singles Night on 7 June.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's one for everybody who thinks London is the centre of the universe. And, also, nine of the most genuinely exciting nine minutes in the history of British television. Don'tcha just love Paul's green socks?!

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