Friday, November 16, 2012

He's Waiting In The Wings, He Speaks of Senseless Things

Sherlock co-creator and Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has been handed the top prize at this year's Writers' Guild Awards. Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods A'fore He) was honoured with the special award for outstanding writing. Accepting the award, he told the London ceremony: 'Write what you love. I've never loved anything as much as Doctor Who and Sherlock.' However he and his Sherlock oppo, yer actual Mark Gatiss, lost out to ITV's Appropriate Adult for the award for best TV short-form drama. Screenwriter Neil McKay's acclaimed Fred West drama also beat This is England '88 writers Shane Meadows and Jack Thorne to the prize. Starring Dominic West, Appropriate Adult has already been honoured with TV BAFTAs, RTS and Broadcasting Guild Awards. BBC3's Being Human - created by another of Moffat's Doctor Who team Toby Whithouse - won the Writers' Guild award for TV drama series, while Hollyoaks writer Nick Leather won best continuing TV drama. BBC4 comedy Holy Flying Circus, written by Tony Roche, won best TV comedy. The Doctor Who spin-off Sarah Jane Interferes, written by Phil Ford, took the award for best children's TV script for its episode The Curse of Clyde Langer. Other winners included Dexter Fletcher's directorial début Wild Bill, which won best first feature film for him and co-writer Danny King. We Need To Talk About Kevin won best screenplay for Lynne Ramsay and Rory Stewart Kinnear. The awards were handed out in London on Wednesday night by The Writers' Guild of Great Britain, which supports writers across every media, from books, theatre, TV and radio. Rachel Delahay won best play for The Westbridge, a Royal Court production that ran at Peckham's Bussey Building, while best play for children and young people went to Brendan Murray for Hare and Tortoise. There were also two awards for radio writing, with Radio 4's Pandemic, by John Dryden, winning the drama category and Matt Berry's I, Regress winning best radio comedy. Best fiction book went to Patrick McGuinness' The Last Hundred Days, and best video game script was won by Paul Crocker's Batman: Arkham City.

Lovers of the late and very much lamented BBC3 sitcom Ideal would have been well-served by the latest episode of BBC2's Hebburn, She Doesn't Just Give It Away. Firstly there was a brief cameo appearance by local broadcasting legend, the housewives choice and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's occasional writing partner Alfie Joey as the Pearson family doctor.
There was also a - very welcome - turn by Ideal's creator, Graham Duff as Jack's - rather helpless - new boss at the Hebburn Advertiser.
it was another quite superb episode of Jason Cook's warm and inclusive family sitcom, which - again - highlighted what a fantastic double act Vic Reeves and Gina McKee are.
And, the Stag Night subplot, Ramsey and Big Keith's discussion about condoms and Gervaise's tuneless karaoke version of 'Spice Up Your Life' were the cherries on the cake. Best episode yet.

Incidentally, speaking of yer man Alfie, there's a very good interview with him at our mutual mate Malcolm Holt's Sunny Side of the Street website, here.
Channel Four's mini-series Secret State lost a sizeable chunk of its initial audience on Wednesday night, overnight data indicates. The Gabriel Byrne political thriller's second episode drew eight hundred and six five thousand punters at 10pm, down from the 1.05 million that overnight punters that watched its premiere last week. BBC2's second series of The Hour began with 1.34m. MasterChef: The Professionals (2.55m) continued its rich vein of form in the 8pm hour - Lee and Oliver being the two chefs eliminated this time around - while DIY SOS returned to BBc1 with 3.89m. With I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) making way for international football, ITV's appallingly poor coverage of the England versus Sweden friendly between 6.45pm and 9.45pm scored 5.01m. However, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! NOW! was still broadcast on ITV2, benefiting from the absence of the main show by posting a series high of nine hundred and thirty nine thousand brain-dead victims of society at 10pm. The spin-off was the second-most-watched multichannel broadcast of the day, losing out to an explosive 'first look' episode of Hollyoaks on E4. Meanwhile, BBC1's 9pm offering of Brazil with Michael Palin had an audience of 3.53m, 2.41m watched Grand Designs on Channel Four, and Channel Five's film screening of Erin Brockovich attracted 1.23m.

Cinemax has announced plans to produce a more episodes of Hunted. The Gruniad Morning Star reported on Wednesday that the Melissa George spy drama had been cancelled by BBC1. However, Hunted is co-produced with the US cable network Cinemax, which will now, it seems, proceed with the show without the BBC's involvement, according to Deadline. 'We are making plans with creator and executive producer Frank Spotnitz and Melissa George to present a new chapter in the Sam Hunter mythology,' Kary Antholis, President, HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, said. 'We are very pleased with what Hunted has done for Cinemax's brand and are very excited about what lies ahead.' It is currently unclear what format the return of Hunted will take, if it indeed happens at all, but the show is not expected to return 'in its current form.' Spotnitz was previously rumoured to have begun planning a second season, which would have been set in Berlin.

Phillip Schofield has been 'disciplined' by ITV for brandishing a list of alleged paedophiles with links to the Conservative Party at Prime Minister David Cameron on This Morning. One hopes, rather, that it hurt. Four - unnamed - members of his production team have also been 'censured' by the broadcaster. Ofcom has also launched an investigation into the programme. Several op-ed pieces have been written over the last few days considering that Schofield might, just, be the luckiest man in the history of broadcasting given that his colossally crass and amateurish actions were overtaken in the days immediately following it by the BBC Newsnight crisis which had rather meant that those parts of the media which might, under normal circumstances, have been actively looking to crucify yer man Schofield have, frankly, had bigger fish to fry. ITV in massive cock-up is a headline the likes of the Gruniad and the Daily Scum Mail would happily print, but only if they don't have the opportunity to do a BBC in massive cock-up story instead. Rent-a-quote Conservative MP, who seems to have an opinion on pretty much everything, especially stuff that's got bog all to do with him, Rob Wilson had 'reported' (for which read 'snitched up like a Copper's Nark') ITV to the media regulator, while criminal justice minister Damian Green called the stunt 'silly and tasteless.' Which it was. So, why is Schofield still in a job when, for instance, George Entwistle and Iain Overton are not? When it was claimed that some of the names on Ze List had been visible to viewers at home, Schofield apologised, blaming a 'misjudged camera angle.' With staggering ineptitude and numskullery he seemed not to have grasped that what people were complaining about was not the visibility of Ze List but the fact that, Joe McCarthy-like, he'd produced Ze List at all. Ofcom will also investigate BBC's Newsnight after it broadcast a programme which led to Internet speculation that wrongly named a Tory grandee - former Conservative Party treasurer Lord McAlpine - as having been involved in the abuse of children at a care home in Wales. Which he was not. The ITV director of television has said that Schofield will continue presenting This Morning, despite being reprimanded for handing Cameron Ze List. Peter Fincham, speaking to ITV News, confirmed late on Thursday that ITV had received a legal letter from Lord McAlpine about the This Morning incident last week. Fincham said the broadcaster would be responding 'quickly' to McAlpine's letter and to another from John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, asking him if he thinks the broadcast 'represents responsible journalism in the public interest.' Perhaps another question that Whittingdale should be asking is why the prime minister of this country is going on a lightweight fluff programme like This Morning at all. Is it because he thinks it's easier being interviewed by non-entity light entertainment presenters like Schofield and Holly Willoughby than by a proper broadcast journalist like, say, Paxman? Is that why so many politicians seem to crop up on Daybreak? Fincham said he had 'spoken' to Schofield and 'left him in doubt' about the 'wrong and misguided' incident last Thursday, in which Schofield handed the prime minister Ze List of Tory politicians allegedly linked to child sex abuse, which he said he had found after 'three minutes of online research.' However, Fincham said Schofield, who has been subject to 'appropriate disciplinary action' along with four This Morning production staff, would remain on-air. 'The way that This Morning interviewed the prime minister last Thursday, or that portion of the interview, was wrong. It was misguided,' Fincham said. 'In live television, all sorts of things can happen. That doesn't mean they should happen,' he added. Well, indeed. I mean, someone, somewhere, clearly believed that an interview with the prime minister should be carried out by a man who spent the first decade of his TV career in a double act with a gopher puppet, that's the real scandal here. 'I'm not happy that this happened. We have editorial processes and checks in place and to be honest with you they weren't followed.' Fincham 'declined to discuss' the disciplinary action that had been taken against Schofield and others. 'I've discussed that with him and I think he's under no illusions that this was a lapse in ITV journalism. This is something we shouldn't have done,' he said. He added that ITV had 'moved fast' to 'sort out the problem,' concluding an investigation within a week and taking 'quick and decisive' action. He said he was 'confident' that 'this sort of thing' would not happen again.

This Morning is top of 'a very long list,' including Sally Bercow, wife of the Commons speaker, of those facing possible legal action from Lord McAlpine over false accusations in relation to child abuse. McAlpine's solicitor, Andrew Reid, said on Thursday that if those on the list (not Ze List but, their own list) failed to come forward and apologise he would 'have no choice' but to sue. Some people, including Gruniad Morning Star columnist George Monbiot, have already apologised. In an interview on Radio 4's The World At One Reid singled out This Morning presenter Philip Schofield. Reid also mentioned Bercow, who had tweeted, 'Why is Lord McAlpine trending?' – a reference to the fact the peer's name was being repeatedly mentioned on Twitter. Reid said he and McAlpine were 'determined' to take 'tough action' after the Tory peer's name circulated on the Internet in relation to the 2 November Newsnight broadcast, which claimed that a senior Conservative politician had been involved in child abuse in a Welsh care home. The Newsnight story has already cost George Entwistle his job as director general, and McAlpine is preparing to sue anyone who directly linked his name to the broadcast. 'The next person on our list is in fact the This Morning programme, run by ITV, where Phillip Schofield managed to embarrass the prime minister and then destroy my client's reputation,' Reid said. One supposed the irony there is that last week it Schofield who had Ze List. And, now he finds himself on another one. 'What [Schofield] did really was very, very low and I am amazed it was allowed, absolutely amazed. It sent everyone on the Internet, those that couldn't read what was there [on Schofield's list] naturally would have been made more keen to see who was referred to, and I think at the top of the list was Lord McAlpine,' he added. Reid said those in the list (his list, not Schofield's Ze List) would receive 'a thirteen to fourteen page letter' formally notifying them of legal action, with forty eight hours to respond. He said 'Mrs Bercow' was among the 'well known' people who had tweeted who McAlpine would be pursuing. 'She hasn't yet been in touch and apologised and I am most surprised she hasn't done so. Hopefully she will and reach an arrangement with us.' However, he seemingly wasn't aware that Bercow had already apologised on Twitter, posting on 12 November that she was 'very sorry. Was irresponsible and mischievous' before adding that she did not believe her original tweets were, actually, defamatory. Reid added that among those who have already come forward to apologise were Monbiot, who blamed his 'stupidity and thoughtlessness' for a tweet naming McAlpine. 'We've had two apologies and I'm acknowledging them now. [Monbiot] has sent me two apologies to pass on to Lord McAlpine,' Reid said. According to Reid, Monbiot said in his apology: 'I am feeling worse than anything else I have ever done, though I realise that is as nothing by comparison to what you have gone through with the help of my stupidity and thoughtlessness.' Reid hinted however this would not be the end of the matter and Monbiot may also have to make a settlement. 'What we are basically saying to people is, "look we know, in inverted commas, who you are; we know exactly the extent what you have done and it's easier to come forward and apologise and arrange to settle us because this is cheaper."' Reid described the rumour and innuendo which swirled around the Internet before and after the Newsnight broadcast as 'so vile [and] disgusting,' and said there would be 'no escape' for those who later deleted their tweets. He added that McAlpine's legal team had been watching people who had been taking down tweets but said that they did not understand that 'we already have all the information' and noted how their tweets have rippled around the world. 'We have managed to find a couple of firms of experts who are able to find the pre tweets, the post tweets, the effect of the tweets and the retweets so what starts as maybe one [tweet], ends up with a hundred thousand or more,' Reid said. He added that people had to understand that the Internet was not just 'a closed gossip coffee shop,' where you can say 'the nastiest thing possible with impunity. Let it be a lesson to everyone that trial by Twitter, trial by the Internet, is a very nasty way of hurting people unnecessarily, and it will cost people a lot of money,' Reid said.

Later in the day came the news that the BBC has settled with Lord McAlpine over his libel claim about a Newsnight broadcast which led to him being wrongly implicated in child abuse. The damages, agreed thirteen days after the broadcast, total one hundred and eighty five thousand smackers, plus costs. Or, about eighteen episodes of EastEnders, if you prefer. 'The settlement is comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made,' the corporation said in a statement. The Tory peer had said it was 'terrifying' to find himself 'a figure of public hatred.' Lord McAlpine added: 'I am delighted to have reached a quick and early settlement with the BBC. I have been conscious that any settlement will be paid by the licence fee-payers, and have taken that into account in reaching agreement with the BBC. We will now be continuing to seek settlements from other organisations that have published defamatory remarks and individuals who have used Twitter to defame me.'

Former Radio 1 DJ and self-styled 'Hairy Cornflake', yer actual Dave Lee Travis has been arrested as part of the police probe set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Police said that a man 'in his sixties' from Bedfordshire was being held on suspicion of sexual offences. The Met said their investigation into alleged abuse by Savile and others - Operation Yewtree - had so far recorded two hundred allegations of sexual assault. They have now identified about four hundred and fifty potential victims of sexual abuse. The arrest of Travis is the fourth so far in connection with the Savile investigation. In a statement, the Met said the latest arrest 'falls under the strand of the investigation we have termed "Others"' meaning that the allegations are unrelated to Savile. But the force said that the 'vast majority' of the four hundred and fifty possible victims were alleging sexual abuse by the former TV presenter and - alleged - naughty old scallywag Savile his very self, who died last year aged eighty four. DLT is best known for his twenty five-year stint on Radio 1. His career on the station came to an end in 1993 when he resigned on-air in a legendary stroppy rant, telling his listeners he was 'unhappy with changes' that were taking place. Travis also presented many editions of Top of the Pops in the 1970s and 1980s. Following the arrest, the BBC said it had postponed the transmission of an edition of Top of the Pops from 1977 hosted by Travis which was due to be broadcast on BBC4 that very night. Another edition of Top of the Pops, from a week later and presented by Kid Jensen went out in its place. It was that one featuring Legs & Co dancing to 'Black Betty'. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been looking forward to that one for ages so it's nice to get it a week early. This does mean, though, that if the BBC are effectively airbrushing both Savile and Travis from their archives then that's probably about half of their TOTP episodes which they'll never be able to show again. And that's harsh. In the spate of allegations made in the wake of Savile's alleged abuses being exposed, ex-Sky presenter Vivien Creegor, fifty five, claimed that Travis had 'molested her breasts' during a Radio 4 broadcast, while another woman claimed that he had put his hand up her skirt. Travis told the Sun at the time: 'It's nonsense, completely untrue. If police get in touch, I'm happy to get it sorted. I hate being tarred with the same brush as Savile.' BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said: 'The police said a couple of weeks ago that Savile was a predatory sex offender - one of the worst sex offenders that they had come across. The figures that we are being given today suggest that the scale of his offending is even worse than was first feared.' Savile, a Radio 1 DJ and presenter of the Jim'll Fix It show on BBC1, was a household name in the 1960s, 70s and 1980s. But since his death in October last year, details have emerged suggesting that he was a paedophile who regular abused young people on BBC premises, in various care homes and even in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, over a period of five decades. On Sunday, former BBC producer Wilfred De'Ath, who is in his seventies, was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences. He was later bailed until December.

After former Channel Four chief executive Andy Duncan's dishevelled appearance in front of cameras during the Celebrity Big Brother racism row, many observers noted acting director general Tim Davie's lack of a tie during his first TV interviews about the BBC Newsnight crisis. Former PR man John Bradshaw e-mailed Davie saying he looks 'silly and lightweight' without one, reports the Torygraph. 'I do wish you well in restoring public confidence in the BBC,' Bradshaw said. 'And a small piece of advice, if I may – remember ties? Buy and wear a tie. You will not be taken seriously without a tie. Men look very silly and lightweight without a tie.' He also told Davie not to worry, that a tie is 'not hard to wear' and 'it will be worth it.' Despite Davie's packed schedule of crisis meetings, he took the time to respond: 'Thank you for your feedback. You will be happy to hear that I will be wearing a tie today.'

ITV2 has announced a new comedy set in Ancient Rome entitled Plebs. The six-part series - which sounds about as funny as an afternoon at the genital torturers - features Friday Night Dinner's Tom Rosenthal and Trollied actor Joel Fry as the owners of 'a lazy slave with a major attitude problem' named Grumio, played by Ryan Sampson. The characters are joined by 'sexy newcomer' Cynthia (Sophie Colquhoun) and her sarcastic slave Metella (Lydia Rose Bewley), who move into the 'flat' next door. Plebs will follow the 'three desperate young men from the suburbs as they try to get laid, hold down jobs and climb the social ladder in the big city. Plebs is an exquisitely written and brilliantly performed comedy,' claims Myfanwy Moore, ITV's comedy commissioning editor. 'We are thrilled to join the gang in Ancient Rome and do as the Romans do.' Controller of Digital Channels and Acquisitions Angela Jain added: 'Plebs is one of those very rare shows that makes commissioning decisions easy. The superb cast, the stellar writing and meticulous attention to historical detail are all part of the joy of this thoroughly modern comedy.'

So anyway, dear blog reader, as mentioned in the previous blog update, on Thursday night yer actual Keith Telly Topping of this very parish attended Uncle Scunthorpe's latest Record Player event at The Tyneside. And, from the opening power chords from Mick Ronson's Les Paul on 'Watch That Man' to the dying embers of Mike Garson's discordant piano on 'Lady Grinning Soul', truly, yer actual Aladdin Sane has never - not never - sounded more mighty and thrilling and just a bit dangerous in its righteousness. Be it noted, however, that yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self did - despite rumours to the contrary - not throw a party that lasted all night, part-take in any of yer actual Quaaludes or, indeed, red wine or, for that matter, fall (wanking) to the floor. Neither did be particularly love chimney stacks. No matter how inviting they may (or may not) have been. Mr Jones his very self, of Bromley, nevertheless, did. Passionate bright young things, that is all.

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