Thursday, June 07, 2012

And We Are All Together

Martin Clunes has appeared to rule out any proposed revival of his classic sitcom Men Behaving Badly, suggesting that the show would appear 'too seedy' now that the cast have aged. Clunes appeared alongside Neil Morrissey, Caroline Quentin and Leslie Ash in the series, which ran on ITV and then later the BBC between 1992 and 1998. Asked if he could see Men Behaving Badly returning to TV, the fifty-year-old argued that the lad culture present on the show would make for uncomfortable viewing nowadays. 'To be perfectly honest, the others haven't aged as well as I have so I think it would be a bit unfair,' he joked to the Radio Times. 'It would all be a bit too seedy.' Clunes revealed in 2008 that a planned Men Behaving Badly reunion was scrapped because Quentin 'suddenly felt quite strongly' against it. The actor has said in the past that he still holds 'fond memories of the show' and remains close friends with his co-stars.

Zooey Deschanel's sitcom New Girl will return to UK screens later this month, it has been confirmed. New Girl will now be broadcast on E4 rather than Channel Four because the broadcaster believes the show has 'a stronger appeal' with the sister channel's younger audience, reports Broadcast. New Girl still has thirteen episodes of its twenty four-episode run still to be shown in the UK. A Channel Four representative said: 'We're constantly looking at what's best for our content across the portfolio of channels and while we were very happy with New Girl's performance on C4, we saw that the profile of New Girl was skewing significantly younger than the C4 slot average and was more in line with the E4 target demographic. E4 is the ideal UK home for Jess and the guys and we're very excited to see them move there in June.' New Girl, meanwhile, has been picked up for a second series by FOX in the US and has been something of a ratings hit in its homeland. The comedy - starring Deschanel, Jack Johnson, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris - picked up only moderate figures in the 8.30pm slot on Fridays on Channel Four, but proved more successful on the broadcaster's catch-up services, regularly topping their monthly charts.

As noted in a previous blog, the BBC appear to have scored something of an own goal with their ruddy abysmal and fatuous drivel broadcast around the diamond jubilee which - as anybody with half a brain could have predicted - gave way too much fuel to the corporation's shit-scum detractors. Watching any public event on the national broadcaster of course is, for some mouthy-scum, an ideal opportunity to shout obscenities at the television set, particularly when the event in question is so long-winded, overtly-pompous and time-consuming as a four hour long, rain-sodden 'riverside pageant.' For some the complaining is half the fun – never mind the lese-majesty of Fearne Cotton and the sick bag, or the lack of gravitas charges levelled at Tess Daly. But for professional sour-faced bully boy critics of the corporation, the simplest error of judgement is more serious. The odious lice at the Daily Scum Mail, of course, complained on Wednesday that chairman Lord Patten and director general Mark Thompson showed 'not a trace of shame' as they sat in the box at Monday's diamond jubilee concert, before moving on to assault the 'bloated bureaucracy' for its 'support of mass, uncontrolled immigration.' There's only the Scum Mail could manage to shoehorn immigration into a story about whether a TV show was any good or not. The number of complaints about the coverage of Sunday's event - at just over two thousand four hundred - cannot be ignored, some of these critics describing Sunday's river pageant as 'inane' and 'tedious.' Which it was. And, yer actual Keith Telly Topping knew that it was going to be inane and tedious before the thing even started, that's why he - apart from a few minutes just to confirm my suspicions - studiously avoided the damn thing and watched a James Bond DVD instead. The volume of complaints has been much talked about but, to be honest, two thousand isn't all that many - the BBC got three times that number when an animated Graham Norton appeared over the end of an episode of Doctor Who! It certainly doesn't suggest that the BBC is way out of touch with the national mood – a figure ten or twenty times greater perhaps would. The peak audience of twelve million for the Thames pageant is reassuring, and the seventeen million peak for the Gary Barlow-led concert on Monday was better still. Alleged BBC 'insiders' were, allegedly, quick to refuse to accept that the BBC got anything wrong. To help make their case, they released the audience appreciation index figures, which are more normally kept for internal eyes only. They showed an eighty two out of one hundred approval among viewers for the coverage of the armada along the river Thames (not eighty two per cent as most newspapers have quote. AI figures are always presented as a score out of one hundred rather than a percentage). Yet, the broadcaster's floundering attempts to make the pageant interesting – and the hostile reaction in some parts of the press, particularly to the segment in which a massively out of her depth Cotton interviewed Paloma Faith about her jubilee 'sick bag' – are still unfortunate at time when Patten is choosing a new director general. Two of the internal candidates for the top job in British broadcasting - George Entwistle, the director of BBC Vision, and Tim Davie, director of BBC Audio and Music - were involved in the diamond jubilee steering group. Yet, neither of them appeared on the airwaves to defend the corporation the next day (Entwistle was, apparently, 'on holiday'). A critical item on Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday morning had no serving BBC executive on hand to respond. Later in the day, the task fell to poor old Alan Yentob, the corporation's chief creative officer. The decision to adopt a lighter tone in coverage of Sunday's pageant – which some have described as a misguided entertainment-led approach rather than the news-oriented model adopted by Sky News – emerged as a response to criticism of the BBC's treatment of last year's royal wedding coverage. That was felt to be 'too dry and reverential' in contrast to ITV's coverage. In Wednesday's aftermath, the corporation was unapologetic for the change of tack, which Yentob said on Radio 4's The Media Show was intended to reflect 'popular participation' in the event. Yentob has also said that while it is 'fair to criticise' some parts of the broadcasting, he does not believe 'you can say in every aspect that this thing failed. Nothing gets a universal three cheers.' In this situation, it is easy to argue that the BBC simply cannot win. Ten years ago, the BBC said it had received about seven hundred complaints about David Dimbleby's coverage of the Queen's golden jubilee, saying that the announcer 'talked too much' and was, at times, disrespectful. But it is the corporation's attitude to the inevitable criticism that is often as important: on this occasion, the BBC has been slow to defend itself, reluctant to admit any error at all, while would-be leaders are nowhere to be seen.

Sports fans will watch an average of twenty seven hours of coverage of the Olympic Games on TV this summer, research suggests. Since yer actual Keith Telly Topping intends to be watching not far off that amount each day then someone, somewhere, is obviously getting away with less than their fair share. That amounts to ninety seven minutes a day during the seventeen days of London 2012. The survey of two thousand viewers for digital television service Freeview also found that football fans plan to watch an average of eleven Euro 2012 matches on TV. Pfft. Lightweights. The study suggests many people will be viewing on bigger television sets than before and millions will watch the Olympics and Euro 2012 at work. Five per cent of those interviewed by pollsters YouGov said they planned to watch at least an hour a day of football or Olympics coverage in the workplace. The average worker expected to watch the Olympics at work for eighteen minutes a day. At home, the average television set is now four inches larger than during the previous Olympics - and almost a quarter of those in the survey said they would be watching on a screen of forty two inches or larger. Far fewer said they would be viewing on smartphones or tablet computers - but eight million people are set to be sharing their experiences online, while watching TV. The survey - called Summer on the Sofa - found that more than one hundred and eighty million Olympic-related tweets are expected to be sent during the Games. One or two of them might even have something worth saying hidden away in them. More than half of those asked said they would be watching this summer's events with their partner, and a quarter would be watching with friends. Ilse Howling, managing director of Freeview, said: 'This unprecedented summer of sport promises to be the most exciting in our lifetime as the nation joins together in living rooms up and down the country to enjoy the epic moments as they unfold. Despite the growth of smartphones and tablets in recent years, the report highlights the importance of the shared viewing experience as we look forward to watching landmark sporting events.'

And, here's another BBC investigation on a less well know sporting activity surrounding the Olympics, London 2012: Will the Olympics bring more prostitutes?To which the obvious answer is, gosh, I hope so.

Rare behind-the-scenes footage from the second movie version of Doctor Who has been discovered and will be screened for the first time in decades by Kaleidoscope the voluntary, non profit-making group devoted to the appreciation and research of vintage television. It comes from a recently discovered episode of the BBC's 1966 'youf TV' show A Whole Scene Going. Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope said: 'A Whole Scene Going is an exciting TV find. For Doctor Who fans there’s a fascinating glimpse into the making of the feature film Dalek Invasion of Earth: 2150 AD, showing Peter Cushing as The Doctor on the set along with director Gordon Flemyng and lots of Daleks. For music lovers there are priceless performances by classic British beat band The Spencer Davis Group as well as American singer/songwriter Judy Collins. Sixties pop shows were routinely shown live or wiped after transmission so it's great to find one that slipped past the eraser's magnet!' The brief clip shows movie Doctor Peter Cushing preparing to battle arch foe the Daleks during the making of an early big-screen adaptation of the long-running popular family SF drama. The black and white footage, taken on the set of cult sixties film Dalek Invasion of Earth: 2150 AD, also captures director Gordon Flemyng behind camera as he talks with stunt-men and plans out the movie's climatic final scenes. The material is the first to be uncovered documenting the 1966 film and forms part of a previous lost show found recently in the possession of a collector living in Wales. Though the BBC wiped the master-tape of A Whole Scene Going, a copy of the weekly magazine show — also featuring an interview with Flemyng and musical performances by The Spencer Davis Group — was made and found its way on to the collector's circuit. Classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope, which recovered the unique 16mm film print in conjunction with the Tim Disney Archive, said the find will 'delight' Doctor Who and vintage music fans alike. Tim Disney of the TDA said: 'How this print came into existence or found it's way to a Welsh village, we'll never know. However, one theory is that it could have been film recorded by BBC Wales from the network feed down the line from London for transmission at a later date.' A Whole Scene Going was a short-lived TV teen culture magazine show hosted by Wendy Varnels and Barry Fantoni; up until now only a handful of clips from the show were known to exist together with the first episode which featured a memorable performance by The Who and an interview with Pete Townshend which will be familiar to dear blog readers via the movie The Kids Are Alright. The recovered edition, from March 1966, captures Flemyng at Shepperton Studios while directing an action-packed finale involving Cushing and an army of Robomen thwarting a Dalek plan to drop a giant bomb into the Earth's core. Dear old Peter, of course, played the Time Lord in two Flemyng-directed films during the height of Dalekmania, also starring in 1964′s box-office hit Doctor Who and the Daleks. Interspersed with the footage is an interview with Flemyng — who died in 1995, aged sixty one — revealing that he preferred making 'entertainment pictures' as opposed to more high-brow films, but 'didn't take them any less seriously.' The emergence of A Whole Scene Going has also got music fans excited with the discovery of a rare interview with The Spencer Davis Group, who also perform their then current chart-topping single 'Somebody Help Me Now' in the studio. Kaleidoscope and the TDA — who bought the film print privately from the collector — are currently in the process of returning a digital copy to the BBC Archive. Eager fans will get the chance to see the recovered footage for the first time in more than four decades at Kaleidoscope's next screening event, taking place in Stourbridge on Saturday 9 June.

England are the fourth best international football team in Europe ahead of Euro 2012, according to FIFA's latest world rankings. Which shows exactly how much faith one should put in such nonsense. Roy Hodgson's side has moved up one place, from seventh to sixth, after successive 1-0 friendly victories over Norway and Belgium. Spain have retained top spot, while Germany and the Netherlands are third and fourth respectively. Uruguay are second, while Portugal have dropped five places to tenth. Croatia and Denmark are the other two European sides who occupy the top ten, while Italy (twelfth), Russia (thirteenth) and France (fourteenth) sit outside. The Republic of Ireland, who open their Euro 2012 campaign against Croatia on Sunday, are eighteenth in the world. Poland, despite moving up three places, are the lowest-ranked team in Euro 2012 in sixty second, while fellow host nation Ukraine are fifty second. Uruguay's position is an all-time high for the South Americans, while fifth-placed Brazil and seventh-placed Argentina make up the rest of the top ten. The FIFA world rankings are compiled every month, with ranking points accumulated according to results, the importance of the matches played and the strength of opposing teams. And are, frankly, a load of old toot.

Ukraine's manager claims that an act of 'sabotage' may have caused the outbreak of food poisoning affecting ten members of his Euro 2012 squad. The players suffered the illness prior to the friendly against Turkey in Germany, which they lost 2-0. 'It happened in Germany, but it is impossible to establish the causes - all ate different food,' Oleg Blokhin told Ukraine television. 'It may have been sabotage, I do not know. It cannot be accidental.' Striker Andriy Shevchenko and midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk are two of the players affected. However, Ukraine were hopeful that the players would be fully fit in time for their first group match on Monday. 'They were out running this morning, so we would expect that they will all be fine for the opening game against Sweden,' said a team spokesman. Dynamo Kiev midfielder Denys Garmash was the worst affected, but was keen to prove himself after being omitted from his country's previous two games. 'He was in the roughest condition,' said team doctor Leonid Myronov. 'He was vomiting violently and we had to try to clean his stomach using all available methods of detox. He was extremely eager to play and said before the game he felt okay.' The initial problem was reported by the team masseur but it was not long until several of the co-host nation's leading players complained of similar symptoms. 'He could barely finish his work with the team,' added Myronov. 'At 4am Denys Garmash came to me with the same trouble. A bit later Taras Mykhalyk, Andriy Voronin, Artem Milevsky, Andriy Shevchenko and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk all complained of feeling indisposed.'

Oily UEFA president Michel Platini says that any players who walk off the pitch at Euro 2012 due to receiving racial abuse from the terraces will be booked. A BBC Panorama programme highlighted racism incidents at grounds in Poland and Ukraine, who co-host Euro 2012. Manchester City and Italy striker Mario Balotelli threatened to walk off the pitch if he believed he was a victim. But Platini said: 'It's a yellow card. It's not a player - Mr Balotelli - who's in charge of refereeing.' Platini insists that officials will deal with any incidents. He added: 'It's the referee who takes these decisions. Referees can finish the game. They have this power in case of racism,' Platini told the BBC's David Bond. 'That is, I think, the best way to protect the game against racism. The referee has been given advice and he can stop the game if there are problems.' Platini dismissed suggestions that his reputation would be tarnished if there was racial abuse at Euro 2012. 'My reputation because there are racists in Poland and Ukraine - are you joking? You think I am responsible for the racists in the rest of Europe or in England or in France?' he said. 'My responsibility is not to do nothing - and we have done a lot to change the rules, to change the regulations, to help You're Fair and Never Again. We help them, we do a lot for racism - but I am not responsible for society. The society is not so easy. You have some problems and we have to organise these Euros from the beginning with some problems because these two countries never welcome so big an event in the past. It was a big challenge for Poland, big challenge for Ukraine, a big challenge for UEFA - and we have done our best.' Asked about the footage shown in Panorama's documentary, he said: 'We are shocked about racists but we are trying to do something; we have to fight against that. I feel bad. Of course I feel bad because I am not a racist.' The fifty six-year-old also insisted the issue of racism is one that extends far beyond the two host nations of Euro 2012. Platini, who has been UEFA president since January 2007, said: 'If you want to have a programme on racism you can go everywhere now because there is an increase in the nationalists in many, many countries. It is not just a fact only in Poland and Ukraine. You can go in France, United States, in England and you will find the problem of racism. You have more nationalists in many, many countries in east of Europe - that is true.' The UEFA president has previously criticised the host nations, describing Ukrainian hoteliers as 'bandits' for the rising cost of accommodation and bemoaning the quality of pitches in Poland. The Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, has downplayed fears over racist attacks in Ukraine, saying hooligans were known to the authorities and security services 'will be watching all the matches closely.'

And, in another classic case of 'shoot the messenger' the BBC has been accused of 'sensationalism' over claims in the Panorama documentary that racism and antisemitism are rampant in Ukraine and Poland. Hang on, didn't we have all this in 2010 when the Panorama claimed that FIFA was full of crooks? And, sorry, remind me, wasn't that subsequently proved to be true? The documentary, Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate, was screened last week. It included footage of Polish fans chanting antisemitic slogans and giving Nazi salutes, and showed a group of Asian supporters being beaten and punched at an end-of-season league match in Ukraine. The graphic footage prompted the former England defender Sol Campbell to urge England fans to stay away from Euro 2012 and 'watch it on TV' instead. He added: 'Don't even risk [going] because you could end up coming back in a coffin.' On Wednesday, however, Jonathan Ornstein, the executive director of the Jewish community centre in Krakow, accused the BBC of selective reporting. He said he was 'furious' at the way Panorama had 'exploited me as a source' and claimed it had 'used me and others to manipulate the serious subject of antisemitism for its own sensationalist agenda.' In an angry statement to the Economist magazine, Ornstein said Panorama's reporter Chris Rogers had interviewed him for more than an hour. Ornstein said he told Rogers that the small number of racist and antisemitic fans in Poland 'do not represent Polish society as a whole' and urged him to interview two Israeli footballers who played for Wisla Kraków. 'The reporters responded that this line of inquiry "didn't fit their story," a response which perplexed me at the time.' Ornstein complained further that the programme was 'tendentious.' It 'completely disregarded anything positive I said and aired only comments critical of Poland,' he wrote. The BBC flatly rejected Ornstein's comments. The corporation said that it had made clear the interview was being carried out in the context of football-related racism and antisemitism in Poland. It denied refusing the offer to interview the Israeli players because it 'did not fit the story.' But England fan groups also dubbed the controversial documentary 'unhelpful' and said that it had given the misleading impression racism in Ukraine was rife. Mark Perryman, the 'convenor' of the London England fans' group, said racism in Ukraine undoubtedly existed but was 'very specific' and took place at an 'inter-club' rather than at a national level, with a far-right fan culture similar to that of southern Europe. Perryman also noted that there had been no cases of racism or hooliganism when England last played in Ukraine in 2009, or during recent visits there by Premier League teams including The Arse, Stottingtot Hotshots, Sheikh Yer Man City and Everton. Yuri Bender, a journalist who follows Ukrainian football closely, described the footage of violence in the Metalist stadium in Kharkiv as 'pretty shocking.' But, he claimed the club, FC Metalist Kharkiv, had told him the fans involved were subsequently arrested and banned – a fact Panorama did not mention. The club also said that Panorama had watched another league match in Kharkiv where nothing happened, with this omitted from the film. Speaking earlier, Bender said fears of racism in Ukraine had been exaggerated. He told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'My wife, who is of Afro-Caribbean origin, and our two mixed-race children have accompanied me to Ukraine on several occasions, to Lviv in the west, Kiev in the centre and the Donbass region in the east, of which Donetsk is the capital. There has certainly been no abuse directed against them and in fact quite the opposite.' The BBC responded that it had followed up after the attack with the Ukrainian FA and the police, and had simply been told three weeks later they were investigating. It added: 'We filmed two games at the stadium and featured both in the programme. The second game was when the attack took place. At the first game we filmed several thousand people appearing to give a Nazi salute. This was shown in the programme. We also interviewed the local police chief who claimed that this was actually the fans pointing at the opposing fans.' But, let's be brutally honest about this, nothing excuses the disgusting words and actions shown in the BBC programme or, frankly, the denials and passive-aggressive blame-shifting from the host countries. 'There's racism other places, too!' is one of the cheapest and lamest excuses there is.

Adam Clayton out of The U2 Group's former personal assistant and housekeeper has gone on trial, accused of stealing almost three million euros from The U2 Group's bass player. Carol Hawkins, from Lower Rathmines Road in Dublin, pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one hundred and eighty one counts of theft. She is accused of stealing money from two of Clayton of The U2 Group's bank accounts over a four year period from 2004 to 2008. The guitarist is due to give evidence in the trial which opens on Thursday. Clayton of The U2 Group attended court on Wednesday, and was joined by The U2 Group's manager Paul McGuinness in the public gallery. The fifty two-year-old bass player, dressed in a navy suit with a white shirt, listened as the registrar listed every charge against his former assistant. It took almost two hours to arraign forty seven-year-old Ms Hawkins on all the charges. The alleged thefts totalled two million eight hundred and sixty two thousand five hundred and sixty seven euros. The court heard that on one occasion in 2007 she made a single withdrawal of three hundred and ten thousand euros. The remainder of the alleged transactions ranged from one thousand euros to thirty six thousand euros over the four-year period. Judge Patrick McCartan swore in a jury of seven men and five women for the trial. The case involves more than thirty witnesses - although, tragically, these are not thought to include Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group, Mr The Edge out of The U2 Group or, indeed, the other one out of The U2 Group - and a two thousand five hundred page book of evidence. It is expected to last six weeks. A bit like the average concert by The U2 Group.

Steven Spielberg has paid tribute to late author Ray Bradbury. The legendary science-fiction writer died earlier this week at the age of ninety one. Spielberg explained in a statement that the Fahrenheit 451 author was a huge influence on his own career. 'He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,' the director said. 'He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.' Bradbury had previously spoken of his fondness for Spielberg's work. In 2003, he told the Newark Star Ledger: 'Close Encounters is the best film of its kind ever made. It takes too long, but the transfiguration at the end, with the splendid arrival of the mother ship - that makes up for everything. I was so amazed and changed when I saw it that I went over to the studio to tell Spielberg what a genius he was. And he said, "You know, I never would have done this film if I hadn't seen It Came From Outer Space when I was a kid."'

And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Time for some Be-Atles, I reckon.

1 comment:

Greg said...

A Men Behaving Badly reunion would have been "brilliant". I think there would have been a way to make a great new episode of it while still showing the characters have evolved. Gary & Tony could still get into all sorts of mischief.
I used to watch that show religiously but have to admit I haven't looked at it for a few years. Maybe because I watched them so many times when the series was in its prime. Maybe it's time to go back for a re-appraisal.