Monday, May 07, 2012

Knit One, Pearl One, Drop One, Curl One

Britain's Got Talent beat The Voice in the latest overnights ratings battle for the second week in a row. The ITV show attracted an average audience of 9.8m on Saturday night, while its BBC1 rival drew an average 8.2m viewers. On Sunday, Britain's Got Talent again triumphed over The Voice with its first live semi-final reaching 9.5m viewers. The Voice's results show drew an audience of 6.6m. Neither shows clashed on either Saturday or Sunday. Britain's Got Talent recently moved to a later slot after The Voice consistently beat the programme in a head-to-head clash. Last month, Britain's Got Talent's head judge Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads congratulated BBC1 controller Danny Cohen and The Voice via Twitter on the show's ratings success. Cohen, said that media reports of a rivalry between the two shows had been grossly exaggerated. 'I'm a fan of ITV's entertainment shows,' he claimed. 'Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and others have said very nice things about The Voice. We want viewers to enjoy both shows. I don't think we should get too involved with rivalry or who's beating who or who's slightly ahead of who.' A teenager and her performing dog and a Welsh choir went through to the finals of Britain's Got Talent on Sunday whilst for Hannah Berney and Ruth-Ann St Luce, their dreams of riches beyond avarice were crushed when they were voted off The Voice. Meanwhile, police were called in by the BBC last week after disgraceful racist comments were posted on Twitter about The Voice contestant, Ruth Brown. The comments have now been removed. Not that that will stop the individual or individuals who posted them being hunted down like the dirty racist dog(s) they are and, hopefully, banged up at Her Majesty's for a decent interval just like the kid who thought it was funny to make racist comments about Fabrice Muamba when he was fighting for his life in a hospital bed. Good riddance to bad rubbish, frankly.

So, anyway, here's a bit of analysis on The Voice's first eight episodes worth of overnight ratings - from, please note, someone who has watched every episode so far and, for the most part, enjoyed them all.
Albeit, the Daily Lies have another potential theory on the reason why some viewers have, seemingly, voted with their feet. Holly Willoughby's tits.
Yes, it is hypocritical and laughable.

In other Sunday overnight ratings, the opening episode of Planet Earth Live drew a very healthy 5.4m for BBC1 opposite Britain's Got Talent whilst earlier, Countryfile was watched by five million viewers. The season finale of Homeland on Channel Four had a series high of 2.4m with a further five hundred thousand viewers of C4+1.
And, speaking of Homeland, the second season of the US espionage thriller will be broadcast in the UK on Channel Four, the broadcaster has confirmed. The first twelve episode run, starring Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, ended on Sunday, with the show's second season currently scheduled to premiere in the US on Showtime on 30 September. The continuity announcer revealed that Channel Four had signed the rights to Homeland season two, with the news later confirmed on Channel Four's official website. The first trailer for Homeland's second season recently debuted online, posing a number of unanswered questions from the show's first season. New plot details and characters were also revealed after details of casting calls for the series were made public last week. Damian Lewis recently claimed that Homeland has 'hit the zeitgeist' after being discussed in the political pages of the New York Times.

There;s an excellent interview with BBC2 controller Janice Harlow in the latest Gruniad Morning Star in which she talks to some wanker of no consequence. You can read it here.

The great Phil Davis told the Independent about what roles interest him the most: 'I like films and plays that are about real life, I'm not interested in superheroes or things going to the moon and all that. What I like is films about real people, dealing with real problems and what it's like to be alive in London in 2012 – well, not just in London, in this country. Those are the things that interest me, things that are genuine.' Nobody had the heart to point out to him that the episode of Doctor Who he appeared in four years ago was set in Pompeii in 79AD. Best to just let it lie, I'd've said.
Amanda Holden has insisted that she would never sleep with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-face chef off Crossroads. For which, frankly, humanity should be grateful dear blog reader. Imagine the children.

Meanwhile another Britain's Got Toilets judge, David Walliams - the relatively sensible one - has claimed that the country is 'suffering' from one of his predecessors, slimy, odious twat-faced horrorshow (and drag) Piers Morgan, being in the public eye. The Little Britain actor admitted that he is 'baffled' as to why Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads raised the disgraced and sacked former tabloid newspaper editor Morgan's profile by signing him for Britain's Got Talent in 2007. Walliams, now a panellist himself on the ITV show, told the Sun: 'I kind of never will understand why Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads decided to make Piers Morgan famous, and now we're all suffering as a result.' Walliams also appeared to suggest that the nation's sweetheart Wor Cheryl Cole's critiques on The X Factor lacked substance. Walliams said of The Heaton Horror: 'I thought Cheryl Cole was great on X Factor, because you didn't really listen to anything she said but you just liked looking at her.' Wye-aye, man.

Back to The Voice, now. remember that, it was the show all of the tabloids were raving about a month ago? Anyway, Will.i.am has reportedly 'come under fire' from 'execs' after his incessant tweeting during the live shows. According to the Mirra, the Black Eyed Peas singer was caught tweeting via his BlackBerry on sixteen occasions during the Saturday night broadcast of the programme. Alleged 'sources' allegedly 'close to the show' allegedly claim that alleged 'bosses' have, allegedly, reprimanded him, saying: 'This isn't tolerated whatsoever. We need to show more respect to the people at home. It's like he can't be bothered. This isn't a mickey-mouse satellite channel, this is the BBC where high production values are key. He's making a mockery of the show.' Just to confirm, dear blog reader, the BBC is not a mickey-mouse satellite channel. The Disney Channel, however, is. Glad we got that one cleared up. Will.i.am took to his official Twitter account to defend his actions, insisting that live tweeting is a way for him to 'connect' with viewers. 'If you saw me on my phone I wasn't being rude. TV, phone, laptop & tablet, if I don't tweet during live TV I'm not connecting to people watching in the new way,' he said.

Douglas Henshall will play the lead role in new BBC1 drama Shetland. The two-part crime thriller has been adapted by David Kane, from the series of books by award-winning writer Ann Cleeves. Set against the backdrop of the Shetland Isles, the drama follows Detective Jimmy Perez (played by Henshall), a native who returns home after a long time away. The uncovering of human remains and the accidental shooting death of an elderly woman soon leads to trouble for Perez, as he and his team find themselves at the centre of a family feud threatening to tear the community apart. 'I am very much looking forward to working with David Kane, filming in Scotland and being back on BBC1,' said Henshall. The forty six-year-old actor's recent credits include BBC1's The Silence and South Riding as well, of course, as Primeval and Collision for ITV. He is also currently filming period ghost drama The Secret of Crickley Hall for the channel. 'Shetland has a fantastic combination of writing, acting, directing and producing talent,' said BBC Scotland's head of drama Christopher Aird. 'It is a hugely exciting story and part of a project to bring the very best drama to BBC Scotland in the coming years.' Shetland will film on location in Scotland and will be broadcast later in 2012.

Once a barren media landscape, now awash with ways to receive news, as of Sunday the Middle East boasts yet another pan-Arab news network, after Sky News Arabia switched on its transmitters. Co-owned by BSkyB, the new arrival in the regional market will have the same pacey twenty four/seven approach as yer actual Sky News. Only without the odious Kay Burley. It has spent the past year hiring and getting established in the heartland of its other shareholder, the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation, owned by Sheikh Yer Man City's owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Like its competitors – al-Arabiya, al-Jazeera and Alarab – Sky News Arabia claims a commitment to independence and reporting without fear or favour. 'They are going to see that we are different,' says its head, Nart Bouran. 'The issue of balance is going to distinguish us.' The newcomer faces a sceptical reception. Regional rivals who have risen and prospered over the past decade have constantly touted the same virtues. Just as vehement has been the retort from those on the wrong end of the established networks' coverage; viewers and broadcasters alike say true independence remains elusive in this part of the world. Bouran says he's determined to avoid partisanship and has made programming choices that set the network apart. 'We won't have political programming, long discussions about issues. If we have analysis it will be about what's happening at the time. We won't get two guys [in a discussion] who just want to kill each other.' One key point of difference, he adds, is that Sky News Arabia will have an editorial advisory committee. 'That's the agreement between the two shareholders and the board and that's how everyone wants it to be. It's not just going to be left to me and my team.' BSkyB had no objection to the oversight, and Roger Alton, the executive editor of The Times and Chris Birkett, the executive editor of Sky News, will sit on the six-person board. Sky News was a driving force in beginning the process just over fifty three weeks ago with the Arab spring in full swing. By then, Tunis and Cairo had fallen and Tripoli, Manama, Sana'a and Damascus were wobbling. But the most extraordinary geopolitical story since the fall of the Berlin Wall had left Sky stretched. It was clear to the company that the forces unleashed by the Arab world's popular revolts were going to take years, if not decades, to play out, far outstripping its capacity in manpower and expertise. A network that catered directly to the Arab world, but that hired bilingual reporters who could report for the parent broadcaster should the need arise, was thought to be the best way to try to dominate coverage from the Middle East. Sky News Arabia can also tap into BSkyB's existing bureaux, meaning both broadcasters have a pool of around twenty worldwide to call on. Of the established networks, al-Jazeera can go close to matching it for reach and probably has far deeper pockets, as well as a proven track record. But Sky News Arabia is confident that its content – and features such as high definition and an iPad app – will make inroads into al-Jazeera's audience, which covers a vast swath of the Sunni Arab world. In an e-mail to staff, Sky News called the project 'a sign of the strength of our brand, the scale of our ambition and our relentless quest to challenge the status quo.' Because, of course, they need challenging. That 'forty years of thirteen bar boogie and original use of demin' is starting to get so old these days. Whether it can achieve the last goal will be a measure of the network's success. The current players' struggles reflect how fraught such a quest can be in the Arab world, where many of broadcasting's best traditions, such as speaking truth to power, have yet to take root. Ownership of Sky Arabia's rivals is dominated by powerful figures. And the networks are often open to criticism that they are 'activist stakeholders' in regional affairs, using their reporting to shape a reality that reflects their masters' worldviews. Al-Jazeera is owned by a distant cousin of the Emir of Qatar. It has been repeatedly challenged by Syria and Iran for alleged hostility towards their respective Shia Muslim regimes in its coverage of the revolts in each country. Muammar Gaddafi and the rulers of post-revolutionary Egypt also accused the network of subversive acts that aimed to topple them. Gaddafi banned al-Jazeera correspondents from Libya during the uprising which ousted him. Syria's Bashar al-Assad has also forbidden entry to al-Jazeera reporters. Al-Jazeera's main rival, al-Arabiya, was opened in the late 1990s as a Saudi buffer to the station, which Saudi Arabia's ruling family had accused of insulting them. Now Dubai-based but Saudi-owned, it too has been criticised by the Shia Islamic world, where it also struggles for access amid an atmosphere of deep distrust. In Lebanon and Iraq, there is no shortage of news channels – each of them claiming to have a mandate on truth. However, their coverage is heavily skewed towards the stances of their owners, in most cases feudal lords or heads of political factions. The war for influence and truth in the Middle East is bitterly contested and has perhaps become even more so as the stakes in the post-revolutionary region continue to rise. 'It is very important to be critical,' says Entifadh Qanbar, who runs a new Beirut-based network, Asia TV. 'But it's close to impossible.' Qanbar, who has been a long-term adviser of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who helped topple Saddam Hussein, singles out the Gulf states as a corrosive factor in regional media coverage. 'Oil produced so much money and money produced so much funding for super studios, gorgeous women hosts and coverage that is nothing like what a free press should offer," he argues. "There is no investigative reporting, no such thing as constructive criticism.' The Iran-backed broadcasters are guilty of the same sorts of shortcomings, with no network yet able to claim the moral high ground of independence. Will Sky Arabia's editorial charter and approach truly distinguish it from its rivals? 'There are cultural issues in the region, which will stop broadcasting here from ever becoming the open rigorous debate that is in Europe or the US,' one regional television executive says. 'Powerful figures don't like being criticised and often won't stand for it. There are punitive measures for those who dare to break social norms of deference and paying homage to patrons. What will happen when Sky News Arabia have to criticise the Emirati rulers?' he asks. 'Will they go for it or look the other way? We will wait and see.'

The Avengers has smashed the record for the biggest US opening weekend, taking two hundred million dollars, early figures show. The previous best opening weekend was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which opened in July 2011 with one hundred and sixty nine million dollars. The Disney film was called Avengers Assemble for its UK release. Included in the top five of biggest openers are The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3. The Dark Knight took one hundred and fifty eight million dollars in its opening weekend in 2008, while Spider-Man 3 took one hundred and fifty one million Both superheroes will once again be seen on screen during the summer. The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon, failed to beat the final Harry Potter's first day takings record of ninety one million dollars but surpassed it over the following two days. No other big films dared go up against it, with only the British film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel being released on the same day. The Avengers has so far taken six hundred and forty one million dollars worldwide.
Orbital's Paul Hartnoll has been talking about Matt Smith's guest appearance during the techno dance-duo's set at Glastonbury in 2010. Which you can see in all it's magnificent green-laser glory here. It all started with a chance encounter at a party following the Coachella festival that year. 'I was approaching the fridge to go and get a beer, and I thought "That bloke in front of me looks like Doctor Who." I tapped him, and I said, "Excuse me, are you Doctor Who?" He turned round to me with the biggest grin and said, "Well actually, yes I am." We just had a beer together and a chat and he said "Oh, I'd love to come on stage and introduce you one time." Our lighting guy who was with us said, "Why don't you come on at Glastonbury?" [Matt] sort of flipped out and said, "Oh my god, I've never been to Glastonbury, that'd be brilliant." So we just kept in touch. He said if you can get me and five friends into Glastonbury, I'll do it, so we did. He had a great time. That was brilliant. He was absolutely peaking.' Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.

A chemical found in curry is to be tested for its ability to kill bowel cancer tumours in patients. Curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric, has been linked to a range of health benefits. Studies have already shown that it can beat cancer cells grown in a laboratory and benefits have been suggested in stroke and dementia patients as well. Now a trial at hospitals in Leicester will investigating giving curcumin alongside chemotherapy drugs. About forty thousand people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK each year. If the disease spreads around the body, patients are normally given a combination of three chemotherapy drugs, but about half will not respond. Forty patients at Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital will take part in the trial, which will compare the effects of giving curcumin pills seven days before starting standard chemotherapy treatment. Prof William Steward, who is leading the study, said animal tests combining the two were 'one hundred times better' than either on their own and that had been the 'major justification for cracking on' with the trial. He said: 'Once bowel cancer has spread it is very difficult to treat, partly because the side effects of chemotherapy can limit how long patients can have treatment. The prospect that curcumin might increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy is exciting because it could mean giving lower doses, so patients have fewer side effects and can keep having treatment for longer. This research is at a very early stage, but investigating the potential of plant chemicals to treat cancer is an intriguing area that we hope could provide clues to developing new drugs in the future.' Joanna Reynolds, from Cancer Research UK, said: 'By doing a clinical trial like this, we will find out more about the potential benefits of taking large amounts of curcumin, as well as any possible side effects this could have for cancer patients.'

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. I've always loved basic, inherent limited ambition of this one, personally. 'We're gonna score one more than you.' Not twelve more, but one. That's all you need. Come of Roy, get them playing.

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