Thursday, November 22, 2012

We Are Fireworks, Slowly Glowing

BBC1 has announced five new drama series for 2013. New shows from [spooks] creator David Wolstencroft and Scott & Bailey's Sally Wainwright are among the commissions. Controller of Drama Ben Stephenson said: '2012 has been a record-breaking and award-winning year for BBC Drama and our new thirty one hours of programming illustrates our sheer dedication to British Drama. The BBC commissions more drama than any other broadcaster with over four hundred and fifty hours of drama a year delivering a range of high quality, creative, ambitious television. We are the home of British Drama and combine the UK's hottest talent both on and off screen to produce the highest quality programmes that aim to up the ambition and scale of our output.' Wolstencroft's The Escape Artist will run for three hour-long episodes and will focus on Will Burton, a talented and charming barrister who uses his legal expertise to acquit the notorious prime suspect in a murder case. With shocking consequences. The six-part Happy Valley is written by Wainwright and follows police officer Catherine Crowther as she is drawn into a murky world of kidnap and revenge. The other commissions include The Great Train Robbery - a two-part serial which tells the story of the 1963 crime, the most infamous heist in British history. Writer Chris Chibnall and director James Strong will reunite on the project, having previously collaborated on BBC2's acclaimed Munich air disaster drama United. What Remains is a four-part series from Inside Men writer Tony Basgallop - the crime drama is described as a 'state-of-the-nation whodunit' which focuses on the discovery of a young woman's corpse and the lives of those connected to the victim. The final new drama is By Any Means - a six-episode thriller from Hustle's Tony Jordan that follows a clandestine police department run by maverick cop Jack Quinn. In addition to the five new series, the BBC has also confirmed that Martin Shaw's Inspector George Gently will return for a seventh series set in 1969.

The chief executive of the Royal Opera House and the BBC's former director of news, Tony Hall, has been appointed the corporation's new director general. BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said Lord Hall was 'the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis.' Hall, who starts next March, said he was 'committed to ensuring our news services are the best in the world.' The appointment follows the resignation of George Entwistle earlier this month after just fifty four days in the job. Entwistle quit on 10 November, saying that as editor-in chief he had to take 'ultimate responsibility' for a Newsnight investigation which had led to the former Conservative Party treasurer, Lord McAlpine, being - wrongly - accused of child abuse by some people on the Internet. Sixty-one-year-old Lord Hall is due to take over the role - currently occupied by acting director general Tim Davie - in early March, on a salary of four hundred and fifty grand a year. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller offered her congratulations, saying Lord Hall had 'a very strong track record in successfully leading iconic organisations.' She added: 'It is important now that Tony Hall gets to grips quickly - to provide the stability and certainty that the BBC needs, and restore public confidence.' The BBC needed 'to take a long, hard look at the way it operates and put in place the changes required to ensure it lives up to the standards that the public expects,' Lord Patten said. 'Tony Hall is the right person to lead this.' He went on: 'Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider. As an ex-BBC man he understands how the corporation's culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the corporation - that it can be inward-looking and on occasions too institutional. But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences.' Lord Hall said: 'This organisation is an incredibly important part of what makes the United Kingdom what it is. And of course it matters not just to people in this country - but to tens of millions around the world too. It's been a difficult few weeks - but together we'll get through it.'
Rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove has highlighted Conservative misgivings about Lord Justice Leveson as he publicly mocked the judge a week before the publication of the Leveson report into the future of the press in Britain. As the leaders of all three main parties gave undertakings to victims of press intrusion that they will respond quickly to the Leveson inquiry, the lack of education secretary joked that the judge should be given 'the Bureau of Investigative Journalism award for commitment to truth-telling.' The bureau, of course, was behind the recent Newsnight report which precipitated a series of events that led to the resignation of George Entwistle as director general of the BBC. Speaking at the annual Spectator parliamentarian of the year awards, rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove said: 'It's a pity that His Honour Brian Leveson cannot be here so he could receive the Bureau of Investigative Journalism award for commitment to truth-telling for his wonderful comments: "I don't really need any lessons in freedom of speech, Mr Gove, really I don't."' Rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove remarks came as David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Milimolimandi reportedly assured victims of phone-hacking in separate meetings that they would not allow Leveson's findings to be 'kicked into the long grass' of a future parliament, according to the Hacked Off campaign. The victims, who included the mother of the missing Madeleine McCann, were told by the leaders that they would support the second phase of the Leveson inquiry going ahead once the criminal investigations have been completed, said Hacked Off. The victims urged the party leaders to 'work together' once Leveson's report is published, and not to divide on party lines. The report is expected late next week. There is a general expectation that the Liberal Democrats and Labour will back Leveson, including proposals for some form of statutory underpinning of independent regulation, so long as it is seen as workable. The Tory position remains opaque, although Cameron himself has publicly backed the concept of fines and a right of reply. But rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove and London mayor (and hairdo) Boris Johnson, made clear that many Tories have grave reservations about the Leveson inquiry. Johnson, who was made politician of the year at the Spectator lunch, was warmly applauded by rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove when he said: 'Don't you think for one minute of regulating the press.' Rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's decision to mock Leveson in public shows that rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove is spoiling for a fight with the judge who summoned him to give evidence after the former Times journalist - and chief Murdoch cheerleader - warned in February of 'a chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression which emanates from the debate around Leveson.' In his appearance before the inquiry last May, rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove warned that statutory regulation of the press could threaten 'precious' freedom of speech. Labour 'sources' expressed concerns about rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's decision to confront Leveson in public at the very moment when victims of some of the most appalling examples of press intrusion were meeting the main party leaders. Speaking before the release of rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's remarks the founder of Hacked Off, Brian Cathcart, said: 'There is a danger that in this debate that the voice of the victims can be lost when we hear the voice of the press very loud.' He added: 'All the leaders understood the importance to hear from the sufferers and we have proposed to all of the leaders that when the Justice Leveson has reported they meet the victims again. They all recognised the vital need for radical change in the way the press is regulated and all the leaders agreed that the best way forward is an all party approach. We urged them to meet as soon as Leveson has reported to meet on an agreed approach.' Christopher Jeffries, falsely identified as a murder suspect last year by several newspapers said that the meetings were 'very encouraging since all three leaders made it clear that the status quo cannot be allowed to continue and the old system of press self-regulation has failed and has to be replaced.' He added: 'They were all on record as saying that on the assumption Leveson's recommendations are proportionate and workable then they will aim to work together to implement those proposals.' Margaret Aspinall, of the Hillsborough Support group, said: 'We have to make sure there is no intrusion of private lives especially when it comes to people who have lost.'

The BBC may axe its re-runs of classic editions of Top of the Pops on BBC4 as a result of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Vintage shows from the 1970s featuring the disgraced presenter have already been pulled from the schedule, and last week BBC4 shelved an episode presented by Dave Lee Travis after the self-styled hairy cornflake's recent arrest. The BBC is currently broadcasting editions of the chart show from 1977, but BBC4 controller Richard Klein said that he had not yet decided whether to continue into 1978 - just at the point where yer actual Keith Telly Topping was most looking forward to watching them. So, if this blogger's voice counts for anything, Richard, keep 'em going. 'It is complex and it is difficult to judge,' Klein told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch on Wednesday. 'These are judgments we are making on a case-by-case basis. It requires us to be cautious and careful without overreacting, to take into account public sensibilities and legalities, and hopefully we are going to get it right.' He added: 'At the moment we actually haven't scheduled 1978, so we'll take a view. We have only done it the last two years [beginning with 1976] so if we didn't do it again it wouldn't be the end of the world and audience figures have declined quite markedly. It has done a good job, whether I choose to continue or not I don't yet know.' Asked whether the Savile fallout was a factor in his decision about the 1978 reruns, Klein said: 'Of course it is. How else are we supposed to respond? We have to think about this and make a judgment and hopefully we will get it right. That's all we can do.' BBC4, which has a two per cent share of the television audience and a weekly reach of about ten million viewers, faces big cuts as part of former director general Mark Thompson's notoriously badly-though out Delivering Quality First programme of cost-savings. Klein gave an insight into the extent of the cuts on the channel, saying the amount of money he had to spend on-screen had fallen 'about eight to nine million pounds' to twenty six million smackers a year. All of the channel's entertainment budget has been axed, except for Victoria Coren quiz show Only Connect, which has been saved due to its cult following, along with thirty per cent of the channel's comedy spend and all of its history budget. Midweek originated drama will also come to an end after its most recent commission, PG Wodehouse drama An Innocent Abroad, starring Tim Pigott-Smith and Zoe Wanamaker, the last of its type on the channel. 'That era is over, I am sad about that. We have had some great successes,' said Klein, pointing to BBC4 shows such as The Road to Coronation Street and Monty Python biopic, Holy Flying Circus. 'It is a shame because it was a forum for new writing and new talent and a very particular sort of film,' said Klein. He said BBC4 had been targeted for cuts because it delivered the smallest amount of 'unique reach,' viewers or listeners that did not use any other BBC service. 'That was Mark Thompson's strategy, he felt reach was the thing to protect and that was the principle behind it.' Asked what he thought of the principle, Klein said: 'If I disagreed with it wholly, I would leave, wouldn't I?' He added: 'I can't say I'm happy about it, what channel controller would welcome this sort of thing? It's tough to take when the channel is doing so well. But I do firmly believe there is life after cuts.' Klein said he wanted to use arts, culture and music to drive BBC4's distinctiveness. 'I'm not going to pretend it's going to be easy.' The BBC4 controller said he was 'deeply saddened' by George Entwistle's resignation after only fifty four days in the job. 'I think it's a real shame and I felt very sorry for him.' He added: 'I think morale is okay, it's been better, but it's been worse. It's as you might expect. The events of the last three or four weeks have been quite shocking for a lot of people and inevitably it takes a bit of time to work through that. The BBC is a very resilient organisation and people do focus far more than maybe is given credit to them on delivering good programmes.'

Klein also unveiled programmes for BBC4's 2013 line-up, including US comedy acquisition Parks and Recreation. Another BBC4 comedy for next year is Bob Servant, a TV version of the Radio 4 show featuring Brian Cox as the eponymous pompous Dundonian businessman. BBC4 drama next year will include Hinterland, a detective series set in Aberystwyth and Young Montalbano. The factual line-up features Pain, Pus and Poison, a three-parter presented by Dr Michael Mosley about how scientists used the world around us to conquer commons afflictions. Michael Grade and The World's Oldest Joke traces the history of the joke, while the Storyville documentary strand will feature a film about comedian Richard Pryor. Presenter Danny Baker has landed a new BBC4 show celebrating great albums, just weeks after quitting his BBC London radio show. He will host the three-part discussion show. The channel has also bought hit US show Parks and Recreation, starring Rob Lowe and Amy Poehler. Currently in its fifth series in the US, the show has achieved a cult following in the UK through DVD sales. Klein called the EMMY-nominated show - which follows the antics of an Indiana town's public officials - 'one of America's smartest comedy series. To accompany this, the channel is taking a year-long look at comedy, with a drama from award-winning writer Nigel Williams about PG Wodehouse and films celebrating some of our oldest jokes, exploring what makes us laugh and showcasing some of our most popular comedians, from Richard Pryor to Simon Amstell,' Klein said. BBC4 has become renowned for its Friday night music documentaries on artists including Prince, The Kinks and Squeeze and its Britannia strand of documentaries on different musical genres. Klein said the channel's new LP show, fronted by Baker, 'won't be the top ten that it usually is. We're going to celebrate the album. There's a "golden age of the album" which we're going to look at,' he said. 'It's not a list show. The principal point about the golden age of the album is to say: "what is it that makes an album great? What are the qualities you need to have?"' Baker, who still broadcasts on BBC 5Live, bowed out of his afternoon BBC London programme earlier this month, after he learned from his agent that the show would be axed later this year. The presenter hit out repeatedly at the BBC during the programme, in which he called his bosses 'weasels.' BBC4 has had huge success with foreign dramas such as Wallander, The Bridge, Spiral, Borgen and The Killing, which returned for a third season on Saturday night with more than a million viewers. Hinterland, a new detective series based in the coastal Welsh town of Aberystwyth, has also been commissioned. It stars Richard Harrington as Tom Mathias, a brilliant but troubled man on the run from his past. New drama An Innocent Abroad, starring Tim Pigott-Smith and Zoe Wanamaker, will tell the story of writer PG Wodehouse's fall from grace and how he became a pawn in the biggest propaganda battle of World War II. Richard E Grant follows in the footsteps of artists who have lived, loved and painted on France's glorious Cote d'Azur in The Riviera: A History In Pictures, one of two new series exploring the history and art of France.

Epic drama World Without End will be broadcast on Channel Four in early 2013. The historical series - based on Ken Follett's best-selling 2007 novel - will star Cynthia Nixon and Peter Firth. Ben Chaplin, Charlotte Riley, Rupert Evans, Tom Weston-Jones and Miranda Richardson will also feature in the mini-series - a sequel to 2010's The Pillars of the Earth. Set two hundred years after its predecessor, World Without End charts events in the fictitious town of Kingsbridge as The Hundred Years' War wages and the shadow of the Black Death stalks the lands. In the wake of the devastation, young apprentice Caris (played by Charlotte Riley) must inspire the townsfolk to rise up and fight to save Kingsbridge from ruin, and usher in a new era of freedom, innovation and enlightenment. Filming on World Without End took place in Hungary, Slovakia and Austria with [spooks] director Michael Caton-Jones at the helm.

ITV has defended its care of participants in 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) after the comedian Brian Conley left the programme earlier this week for 'unspecified medical reasons.' The fifty one-year-old, who left the popular reality show on Monday on what the broadcaster would describe only as 'medical grounds,' had been seen breaking down in tears following a row with his fellow contestant, the boxer David Haye last week. Conley has spoken publicly about having depression, but it is not known whether this had any bearing on his decision to depart the Australian jungle. His agent said that the comedian had spent forty eight hours 'being treated' for 'a medical condition' that had been 'resolved,' but would not comment on the nature of that condition. 'We can confirm Brian has been discharged from hospital and is delighted to be back with his family recuperating,' said Ian Johnson. 'He would like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and concern.' An ITV spokeswoman said that the safety and well being of contestants was 'of paramount importance,' adding: 'All contestants are assessed by independent medical experts before contracts are signed, and again before entering the jungle. We also have contact where necessary with the celebrities' GPs. Medical personnel are also available twenty four hours a day in Australia to provide support if needed.' Although she would not comment on individual cases, the spokeswoman confirmed that contestants were 'assessed psychologically' as well as physically. The tension between Conley and Haye erupted after the boxer kicked two burning logs on to the forest floor. The row left Conley in tears and prompted an apologetic Haye to say: 'Maybe I've got to be a bit more sensitive, a bit more careful about what I say around him. And then try to pick up his spirit somehow and not do anything that unsettles him and upsets him.' Before entering the jungle, Conley had spoken of how much he was looking forward to his time in Australia. 'I am fifty one and this is an experience that money cannot buy,' he said. 'This is a trip I will take to my grave and I will never forget.' Last year the comedian Freddie Starr had to be removed from the 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) camp and withdrew from the show after just three days when he suffered what was thought to be an allergic reaction. Starr had taken part in the programme at the age of sixty eight and just a year after suffering a major heart attack. His ill health followed his participation in one of the programme's notorious eating challenges, and he was taken to a cardiac unit to be monitored. Until Conley's exit, most attention had been focused on the (soon to be former) MP Nadine Dorries's decision to swap the Commons for the jungle and eat ostrich anus – and on the ex-Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan, who has also spoken of her struggle with depression.

Meanwhile, yer actual Johnny Vegas has revealed that he has been asked to take part in 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) The comedian claimed that he has turned down the show on several occasions, as he would hate having to 'beg' for food on national TV. 'Every year I happen to be in the supermarket where I can buy stuff and I don't have to beg for it,' he is quoted as saying in the Sun. 'You're shopping and they ring up and go, "Would you like to do 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)?" You're like, "Yeah but you see I'm here and I've got nine Twixes. I don't have to do a task!"'

UKTV, the broadcaster owned by BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, has secured a valuable fourth channel slot on Freeview. UKTV said that it was 'excited' to extend its reach on Freeview with a deal for channel twenty five on the platform. Dave Ja Vu, the one-hour catch-up channel of entertainment network Dave, is to hold the slot on a temporary basis from January 2013 while UKTV 'firms up permanent plans.' Dave Ja Vu was forced to drastically reduce its hours on Freeview in June 2011 when UKTV launched the Really network on the platform at channel twenty. Really, the third UKTV brand to launch on digital terrestrial television after Dave and Yesterday, recently moved up the Freeview TV guide to channel seventeen. Viewers will be able to access Dave Ja Vu on Freeview Channel twenty five in January 2013, offering the chance to catch shows such as Red Dwarf X an hour after their broadcast time. Or, in the case of Top Gear, Qi or Mock The Week, some years after their initial broadcast time. UKTV has not yet indicated whether the +1 channel will take the slot permanently, or whether it will launch another one of its channel brands on Freeview.

Journalists from BBC News and BBC World Service have won five out of thirteen Foreign Press Association Media Awards at a ceremony this week. BBC correspondent Paul Wood won Journalist of the Year for his team's courageous coverage of the bombardment of Homs. Cameraman Fred Scott was part of the team reporting from Syria. Robert Peston's BBC2 programme on the banking crisis, The Great Euro Crash, won the prize in the Financial/Economic Story of the Year category. Peston shared the award with his production team, John Thynne and Sam Bagnall. Natalia Anteleva and Wesley Stephenson's moving programme for World Service Assignment and Radio 4's Crossing Continents on human rights abuses of women in Uzbekistan received the Radio Story of the Year award. Steph Atkinson, Rob Unsworth and the BBC Current Affairs team in Salford won the TV Feature/Documentary of the Year award for Escape from the World's Most Dangerous Place. The BBC3 programme is an account of a Somali-born model's trip back to the land of her birth. Mark Daly, Murdoch Rodgers and Marcus Ryder of BBC Scotland Investigates won the award in the Sports Story of the Year section for their programme Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys.

There's a very good piece by yer actual Uncle Scunthorpe Stevie Drayton on the Chortle website on his plans to save comedy from itself here. Check it out. Although, beware, it does contain some strong language. As is not unusual with Uncle Scunthorpe.

Police in Russia are searching for a woman whom they claim injured a goalkeeper with a firework which she, allegedly, smuggled into the stadium concealed in her vagina. A police spokesperson said they are hoping to 'crack the case' anytime soon. Nah, lissun. Video footage has emerged showing a female Zenit St Petersburg supporter throwing the firework at Dynamo Moscow goalkeeper Anton Shunin. Shunin was rushed to hospital with damage to his eyes. The goalkeeper was later discharged with a course of antibiotics. Whether that was for damage done by the firework or something else entirely, we just don't know.
An alleged police 'source' allegedly told Interfax that this method of smuggling goods was common, and was often done in the form of contraception. 'During the inspection of the stadium after Dynamo's match against Zenit, the police found dozens of condoms in the ladies' room,' the alleged 'source' allegedly said. More violence also broke out during the match with fans from both teams blaming each other. RT.com claims ninety two people, including three females, were arrested after the match, which was abandoned after thirty seven minutes. If the perpetrator of the attack is caught, it is reported that she may be issued a heavy fine, given community service of up to two years or face a jail term of up to five years. A meeting is to be held this week to discuss the incident and could see a technical victory awarded to Dynamo.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's Siouxsie.

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