Monday, April 09, 2012

What's On The End Of The Stick?

Are we sitting comfortably, dear blog reader? Then I'll began. Today, we start off with some of yer latest actual Doctor Who news. Let there be joyous befuddlement throughout the land, and shit. However, it's probably important that I say this up front. If you're one of them people what get all uppity and growly and hot under the knickers when you're accidentally spoilerised then you should probably be advised, there may well be one or two - relatively minor - plot spoilers ahead. Along with, of course, all the usual casting news and the like. So, if you don't want to know that Amy and Rory are leaving ... well, it's a bit late for that now, really, isn't it? Anyway ...
The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine has reported that the fourth episode of the new series will be produced on its own as 'Block Three', to be directed by Douglas Mackinnon, who previously filmed The Sontaran Stratagem and The Poison Sky. The episode will also be the second script written by Chris Chibnall for this series. This will then be followed by 'Block Four', due to commence production in May, and introduces viewers to a new traveller in the TARDIS in the form Jenna-Louise Coleman's character - I think we're still calling her Avocado for the moment - as part of the 2012 Christmas Special. This will also be the first story to be produced in its entirety at the new BBC Roath Lock studios in Cardiff Bay. Steven Moffat described the audition process for the new arrival: 'I sat down and wrote a scene, from a pretend story, that I thought covered everything a Doctor Who co-star might have to do. And that one scene ended up being three scenes, and two of them I liked so much, they snuck themselves into real episodes, and one I liked even better because during it we all realised Jenna was our one and only choice. We all sat and watched this - me, Caro Skinner, Marcus Wilson and Andy Pryor - and I'm sure you could hear our heart rates soaring. Because there it was, right in front of us, the new team and the new show.' Casting director Andy Pryor described the process of short-listing for roles to DWM: 'My original list was probably a couple of hundred names, which I whittled down to around fifty. Then I began auditioning in earnest - in the intake stages, I'll audition maybe twenty people at a time for a role like this - and showing the best of them to Steven, Caro and Marcus. For smaller roles and guest parts we usually audition somewhere between three and five people, but for such an enormous part it's a bigger deal. Between us we shortlisted further and recalled a small selection to read with Matt. We met some brilliant actresses for the part, but when Jenna auditioned with Matt, we all knew instantly that she was the one.' After photos featuring classic Daleks were revealed by the BBC and Moffat last week, one owned by former head writer Russell Davies has also, reportedly, been pressed into action. The arrival of 'her' at the studios were marked by brand manager Edward Russell: 'Oh look. It's me and Caroline Skinner posing with Russell's Dalek on her way to the studio! Daleks are female, right? It make so much sense. For one they have skirts.' The executive producer herself added: 'Russell's Dalek has arrived on set - I'm talking her through her part!' Russell's partner, Andrew, saw it off: 'Our Dalek on its way to TV stardom in Cardiff,' he tweeted, to which Steven Moffat replied: 'We'll all look after it. Except for The Doctor, who'll probably blow it up. Sorry, he does that.'
Spoiler warning still in effect, by the way, just in case you were wondering.

Yer actual Matt Smith his very self has told the Independent how things are progressing with filming on the new series: 'It's really great. I think we've got some really exciting episodes. We did the read-throughs for episodes one and five and they are extremely extraordinary. Really, really pleased with them, so if we get them right, the Ponds' final hour could be incredible. We will be making some Doctor Who in New York which is incredibly exciting.' Meanwhile, in the last week we've had the age-old 'once-every-couple-of-years' story that the next Doctor may be - I'm not sure how to put this, dear blog reader - a ladygirl. Well, that is according to that ever reliable bastion of total accuracy and truthful reportage the Daily Scum Express, one will. Their alleged 'show insider' allegedly said: 'The fiftieth anniversary series will end with a very big twist - The Doctor becoming a woman will give the show a new lease of life.' That is, if their anonymous 'show insider' even exists. Which is, frankly, unlikely. The alleged newspaper then shows spectacular lack of imagination in casting choices by citing the Sherlock actress, the divine Lara Pulver, as being 'one of the front-runners.' This is another 'Benedict Cumberbatch is the new Master' story, isn't it? So, when we all wake up on the morning of 24 November 2013 and The Doctor remains, you know, male(ish), do you want to be the first to suggest to the Daily Scum Express that they've been had, or shall I?

And, finally in today's Doctor Who section, this blog has also received confirmation that the supposed 'Amy in tears and Rory storming out' bit of exterior location which was reported by several national newspapers last week as Karen Gillan's leaving scene was, in fact, a scene from episode one of the new series and not episode five after all. Several of those present on location noted a clapperboard indicated that the scenes in question was 'Episode One, Scene Sixty Four.' Other recent location filming has involved shooting at Cardiff University, Bute Esplanade and the Mount Stuart Square area in Cardiff and, over the weekend, at Bristol University. The latter, at least, does seem to be from the Amy and Rory departure episode judging by the presence of a couple of Weeping Angels on set.

Right, dear blog reader. So if you've been avoiding all of the spoilers above, you can open your eyes now. And, to prove it, here's a picture of the true meaning of Easter.
No, sorry, not that, this.
Bugger. I just fancy a Cadbury's Creme Egg right now an'all. But, tragically, all of the shops are shut today. Because it's Easter. Damn you, Easter Bunny, damn you to hell!

Ahem. Right. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has - grudgingly - congratulated the BBC after The Voice was watched by more overnight viewers than Britain's Got Talent over the weekend. The music and media mogul and miserable Scotsman praised BBC1 controller Danny Cohen and The Voice via Twitter. He wrote: 'A slightly irritated congrats to Danny and the BBC.' See, he can't even say something nice without saying something nasty. What a class act that bloke is. An average of 9.54 million viewers watched The Voice on Saturday, compared with 9.43 million for BGT, according to overnight statistics from the two broadcasters. The BBC's singing competition also had a bigger share of the audience - 41.1 per cent - when it aired between 19:00 and 20:20. ITV's talent show had a 37.3 per cent share when it was broadcast between 20:00 and 21:15. Wee Shughie McFee - his face twisted into a savage snarl - also made a light-hearted reference to Pudsey the dancing dog who appeared on Saturday night's Britain's Got Talent, saying The Voice 'didn't have a dancing dog!' No, indeed. That's probably why more people watched it, Shughie. ITV said that Saturday's broadcast of Britain's Got Talent was watched by a peak audience of 11.9 million - 11.3 million excluding ITV's +1 channel. The Voice's peak was lower - 10.7 million - but the BBC said it had won 'by a massive margin' (and they really did emphasise the word 'massive'!) in the twenty-minute crossover after 2000 BST when the two shows went head-to-head. The Voice averaged ten million during this period, against 6.2 million for Britain's Got Talent, the BBC said. After recording fewer viewers once more, Wee Shughie McFee is said to be 'angry and ready to make changes' to the way Britain's Got Talent is produced. 'Simon wants the biggest show on TV, so this won't be a happy Easter for production staff. He will be raging and on our case to make it much better,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Daily Mirra.

Meanwhile, the Sun reports that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads will 'attempt to adopt a more 'gentle' image in order to keep up with The Voice.' Wee Shughie McFee is said to be concerned that the more light-hearted, and far less mean-spirited, BBC1 show has started to overtake BGT in the ratings. An alleged 'insider' allegedly told the Sun: 'He'll learn lessons from it.' The alleged 'source' allegedly added: 'Simon wasn't happy when he saw the ratings. He likes to be number one in everything he does. He has told producers they must make BGT even better. He is known as being a perfectionist and this will will only renew his desire to beat The Voice.' Wee Shughie McFee is also said to be concerned about musicians opting to appear on The Voice instead of The X Factor later this year. 'The big fear is that viewers will start seeing The Voice as the leading singing show,' the alleged source allegedly said. 'That would mean the best singers flocking to apply to it instead of The X Factor - and these shows live or die on their talent. Simon always learns lessons. He will be seriously considering whether he has to be nicer to contestants. He has softened his Mr Nasty image over the years. But maybe now he needs to turn fully into Mr Nice. It's clear viewers are starting to get a taste for more positive shows.'

Brendan O'Carroll says he has turned down a 'ridiculous' amount of money to remake Mrs Brown's Boys for America. He said the premium HBO network wanted him to make a one-of special to test the water for a full series – but turned down the offer to spend time more time with his family. The fifty six-year-old told the Irish Daily Lies: 'This is going to sound very lazy - I work twenty six weeks a year and I take twenty six weeks off, that's the way my life is and that's the way I like my life. Those twenty six weeks off I spend with the people I want to spend time with. There's no money you could pay me to give those up. In the United States they're offering ridiculous money but they're looking for two years' work. Now I could get a real job and do two years' work. I don't want to do that. I'm in a very privileged position.' A third series of Mrs Brown's Boys has been commissioned for the BBC and RTE, and is set to be broadcast later this year.

Denise Welch has reportedly threatened to quit ITV's Loose Women to 'concentrate on her acting career.' Wow. Stop the presses.

Anyway, moving on ...

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, was blindsided by Treasury plans to restrict tax relief for philanthropists, the National Theatre's artistic director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, has claimed. Hytner is one of a number of figures from the arts and charities campaigning for the government to 'think through' the impact of its changes to tax relief in the budget. The government thinking about stuff. Oh, my dear, you're so naive. The chancellor, George Osborne, announced that anyone seeking to claim more than fifty grand of tax relief in one year would be subject to a cap at twenty five per cent of their income. The budget document recognised the knock-on impact of the plans, and promised to 'explore with philanthropists ways to ensure that this measure will not impact significantly on charities that depend on large donations.' Hytner, speaking on the BBC, said the budget decision was already having an impact, describing it as a blow. He said forty million quid of already committed gifts to the National was now 'under threat. A lot of that money has been pledged in instalments over the next four years in good faith by generous wealthy individuals who will now obviously be having to look at whether they can meet their obligation because they planned their donation under current regulations. There are a significant amount of people who plan their giving according to what they are left with at the end and if they are going to be left with less they will have to adjust their giving accordingly.' Hytner said that the changes, part of a wider coalition package designed to impose a cap on relief for high income earners, 'came completely out of the blue and I have to say I think it came completely out of the blue for the Department of Culture as well. I just don't believe they were included in these discussions.' He added that the vile and odious rascal Hunt has 'been very eloquent on the benefits of philanthropy and how necessary it is for us – those who have hitherto been dependent on government subsidy – to go out and raise money. That is what we have been trying to do.' Hytner also pointed out that the vile and odious rascal Hunt himself 'frequently cited the United States,' where those who earn more than one hundred and fifty million dollars a year give eight times more of their income to charity than those in the UK. The vile and odious rascal Hunt 'has set out to change this and it appears that the Treasury has completely pulled the carpet from under him,' Hytner said. He added: 'We have got ourselves into a position now where it is probably easier to raise eight million dollars from Americans for the British National Theatre than it is going to be raise money from our British supporters. I would hope those within the government who were blindsided by this will be able to persuade the Treasury that they are doing something that makes no sense according to their own policies.' Aid organisations have also said they fear they will be badly hit by the reforms. Unicef has already been warned by one donor who was lining up a six-figure gift that it may now be pulled because of the budget changes. The Treasury argued that in its 2011 budget it provided a tax break for people who donate ten per cent of their legacy to the arts. From this month such philanthropists are eligible for a ten per cent reduction in inheritance tax bills – a move that could result in more than three hundred and fifty million wonga's worth of additional legacies in the first four years of the scheme. But a survey by the Charities Aid Foundation after the 2012 budget claimed eight out of ten major philanthropists who expressed a preference had warned the plans to cap tax relief on major donations would reduce the amount of money given to charity.

Veteran journalist Mike Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on US news programme Sixty Minutes over four decades, has died aged ninety three. A spokesperson for CBS said that he had died on Saturday and had been in declining health in recent years. Wallace was one of the original hosts of Sixty Minutes when it began in 1968. He went on to interview the likes of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X and Yasser Arafat before announcing his retirement in 2006. However he still continued to do the occasional report for the show, including interviewing Jack Kevorkian - the American doctor who claimed to have assisted more than one hundred suicides - in 2007. 'He was one of the great pioneers in journalism,' anchor Bob Schieffer said during CBS's morning news programme. 'We are all going to miss him.' In almost forty years on Sixty Minutes, Wallace worked on some eight hundred investigative reports. Known for spending hours preparing for interviews, he was famed for his sceptical follow-up questioning. He interviewed every US president since John Kennedy - except George W Bush - and dozens of other world leaders such as Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khomeini and Deng Xiaoping. A host of celebrities were also subjects including Janis Joplin, Hugh Hefner, Tina Turner, Salvador Dali and Barbra Streisand. CBS's Morley Safer paid tribute, saying: 'Wallace took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.' Wallace is survived by his wife, Mary, son Chris and stepdaughter and stepson, Pauline and Eames.

A newsreader in Greece became the victim of an egg attack live on television last week. Panagiotis Vourhas was interviewing a local politician on Epiros TV1 when protesters burst into the studio and pelted him with eggs and yoghurt. Vourhas had been criticised for inviting a spokesman of an openly neo-Nazi party onto his talk show the previous week. Epiros TV1 said that the seventeen intruders, whose faces were hidden behind handkerchiefs, broke into the studio during the Friday evening broadcast. Watch the incident here. it's hilarious.

The president of Turkmenistan has won his country's first car race following a last-minute decision to enter. Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, who came to power in 2007 following the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, drove to the track in his green Bugatti sports car to watch the event in capital city Ashgabat. However, he suddenly asked to take part and completed the race in a Turkish-made Volkicar, winning the challenge. The car will now be given to the national sports museum. The BBC reports that the move was choreographed to display the president as a man of action. Berdymukhamedov, a former health minister, was re-elected to lead Turkmenistan, which gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, in February with ninety seven per cent of the vote. He is apparently a fitness fanatic and wants to turn Turkmenistan into a renowned sporting nation.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we have the greatest song ever written by anybody ever in the history of the world. Speak ye to your people, Vic.

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