Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sweet Sanity, Did You Call When I Was Not Here?

Principal photography for the Mark Gatiss biopic drama exploring the creation of Doctor Who, An Adventure In Space and Time, kicked off on Sunday 3 February, with the writer proclaiming: 'It begins!' Executive Producer Caroline Skinner added: 'I am on set - in 1963! An Adventure in Space and Time begins.' And, Producer Matt Strevens commented: 'Standing on the set, Day One. Very exciting.' As previously reported, the show's first Doctor is being played by David Bradley (with Strevens noted 'what a lovely man he is. Being very gentle. He's going to blow people's socks off in this'). Another of the original cast, Carole Ann Ford, has now been confirmed as being played by Claudia Grant - as reported by the agency run by William Hartnell's actual granddaughter Jessica Carney. The actors to play the roles of Hartnell's other cast-mates, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, have yet to be announced. The set in question mentioned by Strevens was the lobby of BBC Television Centre itself, which had been made up to resemble the BBC Club as seen in the iconic photograph of producer Verity Lambert alongside the original cast. Though details of the scope of the drama have yet to be formally announced, actor Peter Purves suggested at last weekend's William Hartnell Years convention that the drama would focus on Verity Lambert's time as Producer. Talking about the drama itself, yer man Gatiss also told the Radio Times: 'It's mostly the personal journey of William Hartnell and his relationship with Verity Lambert. Eventually he had to leave, and none of us like to find that we are replaceable.'

Britain's finest living broadcaster Danny Baker's new BBC4 series in which the likes of Jezza Clarkson debated the merits of the greatest rock LP of all time began with nearly half-a-million viewers. Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown, a - genuinely delightful - celebration of the vinyl LP which also featured former Smiths and Blur producer Stephen Street and the critic Kate Mossman among its guests, had four hundred and sixty seven thousand punters between 9pm and 10pm on Monday. The show marked a return to the small screen for yer actual Dan The Man, who is also scripting a new The Muppets Show-style series for BBC1. His BBC4 format will be broadcast on three consecutive nights on BBC4 this week. The second series of Channel Four's The Undateables ended with more than three million viewers, beating a Midsomer Murders repeat on ITV. The dating show had 3.2 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. It beat the second half of Midsomer Murders, another showing for a story about a headless horseman, which averaged 2.9 million viewers between 8pm and 10pm. Also at 9pm, the second part of BBC2's Stephen Poliakoff drama Dancing On The Edge had 1.8 million viewers including one hundred and fourteen thousand on BBC HD, down from 2.3 million for its Monday night opener and, almost certainly not worth the cost of all of those endless trailers. At the same time on Channel Five, the second series of the Dallas reboot could only manage seven hundred thousand viewers between 9pm and 10pm. BBC1's hugely popular Death in Paradise easily won the slot with six million viewers. Earlier, the second course of BBC2's The Mary Berry Story had 3.1 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, including one hundred and forty four thousand punters on BBC HD. The BBC2 show had the better of Channel Four's Supersize vs Superskinney, watched by two million viewers. Channel Four drama Utopia had nine hundred thousand viewers between 10pm and 11.05pm, the fourth of its six-part run. It lost out to BBC2's The Sarah Millican Television Programme, with 1.7 million viewers including one hundred and fifty thousand on BBC HD. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with twenty three per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV's 16.8 per cent.
And now, here's a picture of Stephanie Flanders wearing a dress that looks like it was made out of a pair of curtains.
London's BBC Television Centre is to be developed into a hotel, flats and offices but will also see the broadcaster make programmes in three of its studios. The two hundred million quid development plans for the historic site have revealed the building's forecourt will be opened up to the public. The main circular building, known to BBC employees as The Doughnut, will become a hotel and apartments. Studios One, Two and Three will be refitted. Other buildings will be transformed into offices and houses and the fourteen-acre site will also house the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. David Camp, chief executive of developers Stanhope, said: 'The BBC will continue to have a significant presence at Television Centre and we will be bringing new life into the site with new public routes, spaces and uses.' A statement on Stanhope's website said that some offices would be 'aimed at occupiers in the creative sector providing new employment opportunities,' adding that there will be 'a variety of public uses, including a cinema, health club, restaurants and cafes, which will benefit the local community.' It said the 'much-loved listed buildings at Television Centre will be retained,' and these include the main circular building and the front flank of Studio One, which are Grade II listed. The BBC said six years ago that it wanted to sell the famous West London building, which opened in 1960 and played a central role in its history. Programmes recorded there include Fawlty Towers, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Blue Peter and Strictly Come Dancing, as well as earlier series of Doctor Who. Other developments for the site include replacing the drama block, restaurant block and multi-storey car park with new residential buildings and town houses. The East Tower will be replaced with a more slender and differently positioned residential building. The south of the site will also feature a 'village green' of houses for families with private rear gardens. Television Centre was built on the former site of the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition and was designed by the architects Norman and Dawbarn.

The extraordinary success of Channel Four's Richard III documentary on Monday night – 3.7 million viewers, more than twice the channel's typical peak-time share – showed there is a big audience for TV shows featuring people digging stuff up from the ground. If only the channel had a format featuring people unearthing historical relics on a regular basis. You know, a bit like Time Team, you might think, the long-running archaeology show which was cancelled by Channel Four after nearly twenty years last year. Bookmakers Paddy Power are so convinced that Channel Four will return to the topic that is offering odds of just four to one that Time Team will be revived. Not only that, it reckons Philippa Langley, the Edinburgh-based screenwriter who drove the Richard III project, will be its presenter. A Paddy Power spokesperson, showing a keen eye for where the last Plantagenet king fits in with recent Channel Four history, said: 'Richard III may be up there with other historical characters like Stalin and Nasty Nick in terms of reputational issues, but Philippa was a sure-fire, teary-eyed win on last night's programme. We can't help but think her earth-moving days on TV don't end here.'

Sky has confirmed plans to broadcast its first ever live Formula 1 in 3D ahead of the 2013 season. Viewers will be able to watch the third test session from the Circuit de Catalunya on Sky 3D, as Sky experiments with 3D coverage of the sport. All four days of the session from 28 February to 3 March will be shown on Sky 3D, as well as simulcast in standard and high definition on Sky Sports F1. Sky's F1 commentator Martin Brundle said: 'This is a special moment for Formula 1 fans and exactly the kind of innovation and access that Sky Sports F1 promised. 3D will show us the real challenges of the race track with added depth and perspective. It will be a new, immersive experience for viewers and I can't wait to see what F1 action in 3D will reveal.' Sky Sports F1 executive producer Martin Turner said that the 3D broadcast will be 'ground-breaking. We're as excited as the next fan to see what Formula 1 will look like in 3D. It's uncharted territory, but this is a big opportunity to experiment and innovate, and we're grateful to Formula 1 Management for working with us on this,' he said. 'Sky is a world-leader in the field of 3D broadcasting, so in partnership with Formula 1 we're in the best position to answer public appetite and take up the challenge of bringing live F1 in 3D for the first time.' Sky describes the broadcast as 'one-off 3D coverage' and has not indicated whether it could be extended to a full practice, qualifying or race session in the 2013 season. F1 becomes the fourteenth sport that Sky has broadcast in 3D.

Disney is 'exploring an exit' from the UK TV sport market after ESPN lost several big broadcast deals including live Premier League football. ESPN, Disney-owned and the largest sports broadcaster in the US, was all but unknown in the UK until its launch three years ago on the back of a deal to screen forty six live Premier League games a year. But the channel's threat to BSkyB's dominance proved to be short-lived after it was outbid for the latest Premier League rights by BT. ESPN's current Premier League contract expires at the end of this season. ESPN has also lost other key sports contracts in the UK including Serie A, Ligue 1, Major League Soccer from the US and Premiership Rugby. Just last year the sports broadcaster was bullishly looking to ramp up its UK presence. But Jay Rasulo, Disney's chief financial officer, said following publication of the US media and entertainment giant's first quarter earnings on Tuesday that ESPN had 'experienced losses' in the UK because of more expensive sports rights and was 'exploring an exit.' The cost of live Premier League games grew seventy per cent in the latest round of rights deals with BSkyB and BT paying more than three billion quid between them. A spokesman for ESPN UK said: 'We have been saying for some time that we are exploring a range of potential options for our business. We are not going to discuss specifics.' According to an alleged 'source' allegedly with knowledge of the situation, ESPN is allegedly exploring alleged options including the alleged potential sale of some of its UK operations. However, it is thought that any restructure will ultimately result in some form of continued presence for the US sports brand on British television. ESPN runs three TV channels – the flagship ESPN UK-only channel, which broadcast live Premier League games, and ESPN Americas and ESPN Classic – which are aired in thirty five countries across the European region and beyond.
She has taught the nation how to cook for almost five decades, but now yer actual Delia Smith her very self has announced that she has presented her last TV cookery show. The doyen of small-screen nosh is turning her back on television because she was 'tired of having to entertain,' according to the Daily Torygraph. Smith said she was 'still passionate' about teaching people how to cook, but would do it online rather than on TV. Delia first presented her BBC show in 1973 and appeared as recently as 2010. 'When I started, there was further education in the BBC; now you have to entertain,' said Smith, who will launch a new online cookery school later this month. 'This is the future for me and the population. It's miles ahead. If you do a TV programme now, it's got to entertain.' Smith said the BBC was keen to work with her again after her three-year deal with Waitrose, during which she appeared in adverts for the supermarket chain, came to an end. 'As soon as my Waitrose contract ended, the BBC called me up and said "what can we do?,"' said Smith. 'I said "no, thank you." I am afraid to say this is the end when it comes to Delia on the telly.' Smith made the comments at a trade show in Birmingham, the Torygraph reported. She was dropped by Waitrose by 'mutual consent' last month. She said her new venture, The Delia Online Cookery School, was 'the best way to teach people to cook.' However, it is not the first time Smith has announced her TV retirement, previously saying in 2003 she was giving it up to 'spend more time with her beloved football team, Norwich City,' where she is a director. Smith presented her first TV cookery show, Family Fare, in 1973, with her most famous series, Delia Smith's Cookery Course, beginning five years later. Her other TV series included Delia Smith's One is Fun in 1985, Delia Smith's Summer Collection in 1993 and How To Cook in 1998. Her more recent series, How To Cheat At Cooking in 2008, proved controversial because its recipes included pre-prepared food. She looked back on her career in the 2010 BBC series, Delia Through The Decades. Smith left school with no qualifications and began training as a hairdresser, before taking a job as a dishwasher in a small restaurant in Paddington. She began writing on cookery for the Daily Mirra magazine in 1969, and married the deputy editor, Michael Wynn-Jones. The couple are joint majority shareholders in Norwich City.

We end today's blog update with some very sad news. The actor Robin Sachs, best known for his role in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has died at the age of sixty one. Robin's deliciously suave and villainous character, Ethan Rayne, was the arch nemesis of Giles (played by Robin's mate, Tony Head). The London-born actor also played the evil General Sarris opposite Tim Allen in Galaxy Quest. His ex-wife Casey Defranco called him 'a wonderful person, extraordinarily talented as an actor.' Staff on his official website wrote: 'Please join us in raising a glass to Robin - goodbye, dear friend. Thank you for all the laughter and the cookies. We will miss you so very much.' The son of actors Leonard Sachs and Eleanor Summerfield, Robin's CV also includes Ocean’s Eleven, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Brideshead Revisited, The Disappearance, Herman’s Head and Rumpole of the Bailey. Having graduated from RADA (where one of his contemporaries was Mary Tamm), Robin's first major film role was with Hammer, in the 1972 cult classic Vampire Circus. He went on to play Adam Carrington in the 1991 miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion when the original actor Gordon Thomson was unavailable. Robin worked on several SF shows, with appearances in Babylon 5, Star Trek: Voyager and Torchwood: Miracle Day. His stage work included touring productions of Hamlet and Twelfth Night. Later in his career, Robin also provided voices for several video games including Mass Effect 2 and 3 and Resident Evil Damnation. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has very fond recollections of meeting Robin - for an interview in Los Angeles in 2001 - during which Robin was, momentarily, stumped for an answer to a (probably extremely boring) question from this blogger having been distracted by a pretty girl in an extremely short miniskirt walking by the bar we were sitting! 'Terribly sorry, I was miles away ... You were saying,' he smiled, when finally managing to tear his eyes, reluctantly, back towards me! A lovely memory of a lovely man. Ah, bless you, Robin. We'll miss you.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's a righteous slab of Northern Soul from yer actual Hurrah!

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