Thursday, August 01, 2013

I Just Can't Believe It's True

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has described the making of Doctor Who's much-anticipated fiftieth anniversary special as 'unbelievably tough.' The showrunner told press at Comic Con that stretching the show's regular budget to fit a feature-length episode was 'extraordinary difficult. We were trying to push the boat out and as ever we didn't have enough money,' said The Moffinator. 'We were making a feature-length Doctor Who on the schedule and budget for an hour. We're doing it in 3D on the budget for 2D.' However, Moffat added that the anniversary episode - which will feature both current lead actor Matt Smith and his predecessor yer actual David Tennant - 'looks amazing. I think it's a lot of fun and I think you'll see some stuff you haven't seen before,' Moffat claims. 'And you'll see it in three dimensions if you don't mind the headache and glasses!'

The new Doctor will be revealed in 'a special live programme' on Sunday, the BBC has announced. There had been much speculation earlier in the day that this would be happening when Starburst magazine reported that the BBC has shifted Sunday night's edition of Celebrity Mastermind on BBC1 to make space for 'a special live event.' The half-hour show, presented by Zoe Ball, will feature an interview with the new lead, as well as the current Doctor Matt Smith his very self and executive producer The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat. 'The decision is made and the time has come to reveal who's taking over the TARDIS,' Moffat said. 'For the last of the Time Lords, the clock is striking twelve.' Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, is on BBC1 at 7pm on 4 August. According to the official announcement, made at midnight on 1 August, Ball 'will unveil the twelfth Doctor in the first ever interview in front of a live studio audience set against the backdrop of a swirling vortex, amongst Daleks and the TARDIS.' Smudger, who has played the Time Lord since 2010, announced in June that he would be bowing out in this year's Christmas special. The announcement sparked much speculation about who might take over, with Peter Capaldi, Ben Daniels, Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw among the bookies' favourites. Not that the bookies have a frigging clue about who's likely to be chosen, they're just guessing like the rest of us. The decision to reveal the twelfth Doctor on live television in front of a studio audience is a far more lavish announcement than Matt Smith, who was revealed on a special Meet the New Doctor edition of Doctor Who Confidential. Considering that Smudge was a relatively unknown name when he was unveiled in January 2009, it could be inferred that the new Doctor is, perhaps a more established actor to warrant such fanfare. Then again, the show is very high-profile at the moment, in its fiftieth year and with a movie-length anniversary special coming in November. Fans in America will be able to watch the unveiling live via simulcast on BBC America. Charlotte Moore, the new Controller of BBC1 said: ‘BBC1 is the home of big live events and this special live show is the perfect way to reveal the identity of the next Doctor and share it with the nation. The Doctor is a truly iconic role and I'm more than excited.' Ben Stephenson, the BBC's drama controller, said: 'Amongst all the speculation and betting, there has been lots of fun and intrigue at work as we've been using the codename Houdini as a decoy. It's the biggest secret in showbiz, even those working with the new Doctor on other projects at the moment have no idea they are in the presence of the twelfth incarnation.'
As previously noted, there was a strict, three-line embargo on this announcement before midnight on Wednesday. Typically, however, at least one national newspapers thought that didn't apply to them and put up a page announcing the announcement - in this case, the Metro. It was, hurriedly, removed - presumably when someone at the BBC threatened to give them a good hard kick in the Jacob's cream crackers - but, as usual, someone in fandom managed to cache it before it disappeared! You can probably bet a decent amount of coin that Metro won't be getting too many BBC exclusives any time soon.
Meanwhile, some plank has created a gigantic embiggened Dalek sculpture made entirely of straw. The display, in a field in Nantwich, Cheshire, was reportedly built by the local Snugburys ice cream store. No one knows, exactly, why.
The return of Celebrity MasterChef pulled in a first-night audience of four and half million million overnight punters on Wednesday evening. The 2013 edition of the cooking series' celebrity version - featuring the likes of big cuddly Katy Brand, scowly Janet Street-Porter, Rockin' Ronnie's former missus, Jo Wood and ... some Scouse blonde ... thing that nobody's ever heard of - served up 4.7m at 8pm on BBC1. Yer actual Nigel Havers's appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? was the most-watched show of the night with five million viewers at 9pm. Earlier, a repeat of The Sheriffs Are Coming was seen by 4.3m at 7pm on a generally quite decent night for the channel given the time of year. On BBC2, Restoration Home attracted 1.5m at 8pm, followed by Queen Victoria's Children, which gathered 1.1m at 9pm. ITV's You Saw Them Here First was watched by 4.5m at 8pm. Thereafter, it all fell apart a bit with Neighbourhood Force securing but 2.3m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Extreme Diet Ward brought in eight hundred and fifty five thousand at 8pm, while the latest Twenty Four Hours in A&E was seen by 1.8m at 9pm. Channel Five's finale episode of Myra Hindley: The Untold Story interested seven hundred and ninety nine thousand at 8pm. Big Brother continued with 1.3m at 9pm, followed by Love/Hate with six hundred and forty six thousand at 10pm. On BBC3 an episode of Family Guy topped the multichannels at 11.30pm with eight hundred and fifty two thousand.

The Great Escape is, reportedly, to be remade for television by the BBC. Despite the fact that the original movie is still shown on British telly more often than the news. The 1963 movie classic - directed by John Sturges - is based on the book by Paul Brickhill, which will form the basis of the new TV adaptation, Broadcast reports. Brickhill's original book - extremely loosely adapted for the big-screen - was a non-fiction account of a mass escape from Stalag Luft III in Sagan during 1943. The new serial is being developed by the BBC alongside GK-TV and Open Circle - the latter currently owning the rights to The Great Escape. The 1963 movie charted an escape by Allied prisoners of war from a German POW camp during World War II and starred Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, and just about every other actor working in the business at the time. The Americans (mostly) got away. The British (mostly) got shot. And, if you've ever got a bit of time on your hands, try working out how it was that Steve (disguised, as Eddie Izzard once brilliantly noted, as 'an American man on a motorbike') manages to get from Poland to the border of Germany and Switzerland in less time than James Garner and Donald Pleasence make it there in a bastard plane?! The film made back almost three times its budget upon original release and has since become a staple of Christmas television on UK television channels. And, they'd've all gotten away if it hadn't been for that daft plank Nigel Stock tripping over his own feet in front of the guard. And, don't even get yer actual Keith Telly Topping started on Gordon Jackson's elementary, schoolboy type error.

David Walliams and Catherine Tate's new BBC1 sitcom, Big School has been given an official launch date. The secondary school-based comedy kicks-off on Friday 16 August at 9pm. Big School features Walliams playing chemistry teacher Mister Church, who has taught at Greybridge School for years. On the day he is preparing to hand in his notice, he changes his mind suddenly when he falls in love at first sight with new arrival, French teacher Miss Postern (played by Tate). Philip Glenister plays lothario gym teacher Mister Gunn, and Frances de la Tour is cast as the headmistress, Ms Baron. Joanna Scanlan, Daniel Rigby and Steve Speirs are also among the cast.

Mary Lynn Rajskub will return to 24, it has been confirmed. The actress will reprise her massively popular role of Chloe O'Brian in new limited series 24: Live Another Day, FOX announced at the Television Critics Association press tour. The twelve-part drama - which also sees Kiefer Sutherland back as armour-plated killing machine Jack Bauer - is expected to premiere in April 2014, showrunner Howard Gordon recently revealed. 'I am thrilled to be working with Howard and the writers again - and of course Kiefer,' Rajskub said in a statement. 'I'm going to start sharpening my computer skills now!' Rajskub debuted as CTU analyst Chloe in 24's third season and remained with the series until its final regular run in 2010, with her character becoming a huge fan favourite. In fact, to be honest, most of us preferred her to Jack. The forty two-year-old actress previously admitted that she had 'high hopes' of returning to the role one day. Beyond Rajskub and Sutherland, no further casting has been announced for Live Another Day.

Broadchurch is to be remade for US television. Of course it is. And, we ask once again, has nobody got any original ideas bastard for TV shows in America? Stupid question, really. The crime drama - which was shown on ITV in March - will be adapted by FOX, for broadcast in late 2014 or early 2015. Like the original, Broadchurch the remake will follow a police investigation into the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on an idyllic beach in a small seaside community. Series creator Chris Chibnall will write the remake's premiere episode and also executive produce. 'Broadchurch is the kind of storytelling that grabs your attention and keeps you riveted with every minute - which is exactly what we look for in an event series,' said FOX's chairman of entertainment Kevin Reilly. 'We love the layered characters, we've seen how well-received it's been in the UK and we're lucky to be able to bring a new version of this mystery to the US audience.' Which, will be shit like every other American remake of a British format (or, European, for that matter). The original Broadchurch - which starred David Tennant and Olivia Colman - will premiere on 7 August on BBC America. A second series is also currently in the works.

British families are more likely to watch TV together now than they have been in over a decade, according to a study. Communications regulator Ofcom said ninety one per cent of adults watched their main TV set once a week - up from eighty eight per cent in 2002 - but their attention 'may be distracted.' It said the popularity of smartphones and tablets was taking teens out of bedrooms back into family rooms. Most family members now multi-tasked while sitting in front of the TV, the survey of three thousand seven hundred over sixteens found. Far from technology pulling family time apart, it said, the huge growth in mobiles was actually having the opposite effect. Family members are being brought together just as they were in the 1950s and 1960s when a TV set in the living room was likely to be a home's only screen. 'There are number of factors that are fuelling this - we're now watching on much bigger, better television sets,' said Jane Rumble, Ofcom's head of media research. 'But also, there's the rise of connected devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. We're coming into the living room today clutching those devices, they offer a range of opportunities to do things while we're watching television.' More than half of those surveyed said they distracted themselves from television by talking on the phone, texting friends, using social networks or even watching different content altogether on YouTube or other streaming sites. A quarter of those asked also said they were 'media meshers', people who use devices to do something related to the programme they are watching. This might be tweeting or using tie-in apps for shows such as Britain's Got Talent. Backing up a long-regarded view of the sexes, the research said it was women who were more likely to multi-task when watching TV. These changing habits have left advertisers needing to adapt but change is slow in happening, said Daniel Knapp, director of advertising research at the IHS consultancy. 'Advertising is an extremely conservative industry, focusing on what works and where a return on investment is clear,' he told the BBC. The trend has been attributed largely to massively increased ownership of smartphones and tablets. Ofcom said that just over half of adults now use a smartphone, up from twenty seven per cent just two years ago. The number of tablet owners has more than doubled too, from eleven to twenty four per cent in a year. It means the average UK household owns more than three devices capable of connecting to the Internet, with one in five homes having more than six. In contrast to the proliferation of mobile devices, the number of televisions we own is steadily decreasing. Teenagers' bedrooms, once incomplete without a small TV in the corner, are now less likely to have sets. According to Ofcom's data, fifty two per cent of UK children aged five to fifteen have TVs in their room, compared with sixty nine per cent in 2007. Watching television - particularly sports and other live events - is becoming a pursuit enjoyed solely in the living room on TVs that are getting larger. Sets measuring forty three inches or above accounted for just over fifteen per cent of all TV sales during the first three months of this year, said Ofcom. Despite the popularity of on-demand services such as the BBC's iPlayer, the huge majority of TV watching is still, largely, as-broadcast. 'Although there are changes in audience behaviour, when it comes to overall scale, on-demand still cannot complete with linear TV,' said Knapp. The Communications Market Report, which the regulator publishes once a year, also looks at habits across various different parts of our digital lives. Tablets are seen by parents as a great way to keep children entertained with apps, as well as providing a way for the youngsters to watch the programmes they want while the adults view other shows. One in three parents said they encouraged their child to use their tablet for school or college work. For teens and younger adults aged sixteen to twenty four sending messages via mobile Internet messaging apps, rather than the typical SMS text, is now more popular. And compared to older generations, this age group has 'less restraint' when it comes to what is off-limits. One in five sixteen to twenty four year olds said they considered it reasonable to start a relationship via text, e-mail or instant message. Sixteen percent said they had 'no problem' with ending a relationship in this way. Two percent of over-seventy fives surveyed thought the same. The other ninety eight per cent simply asked for a nice cup of milky cocoa.

Mark Lawrenson's appearances on Match Of The Day are to be cut next season as the BBC seeks to 'freshen up' its flagship football show. What a shame. Anyway ... The former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws defender's name was omitted completely when the corporation announced its list of pundits for 2013-14 on Thursday, prompting suggestions that he had been sacked. However, a BBC spokesperson later confirmed that the fifty six-year-old remained on the Match Of The Day presenting team but with 'a reduced role' for the new campaign. He will continue to be a regular presence on Match Of The Day 2 and Radio 5Live. Match Of The Day's punditry team has attracted increased criticism in recent years, with the emergence of Gary Neville on Sky intensifying scrutiny on the quality of their analysis. But while Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer have kept their jobs (in yer man Wor Shearer's case, probably because he threatened to elbow someone in the mush if he got the tin-tack) as lead pundits on the programme, Lawrenson, who also held that status, is the main casualty of the revamp. From next season he will join a roster of pundits who will appear alongside Hansen and Shearer, a pool that includes the former Moscow Chelski FC manager Gianluca Vialli, his former Moscow Chelski team-mate Gus Poyet, odious little greedy shit and malingerer Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Sir Les Ferdinand and crazed Robbie Savage. The BBC is introducing changes across its media platforms for next season and also announced that full-of-his-own-importance mouth on legs Ian Wright will co-host Six-O-Six, 5Live's football phone-in show, alongside the former Sky, ESPN and ITV presenter Kelly Cates. Wright and Cates, the daughter of the former (sacked) Liverpool manager Miserable, Scowling Kenny Dalglish, replace Alan Green, who departed Six-O-Six towards the end of last season, to rejoicing throughout the land. Wright has hosted a football phone-in on Absolute Radio for three years (not forgetting, as if we ever could, his - truly hilarious - stint as a host on Live From Studio Five) and will be joined on 5Live by Wor Chris Waddle, who has been confirmed as a regular pundit on the radio station along with Kevin Kilbane and John Hartson. On Match Of The Day 2, Mark Chapman has replaced the dreadful Colin Murray as presenter and will also host the new MOTD2 Extra. Dan Walker is to present 5Live's preview show on a Friday night as well as Football Focus while Jason Mohammad will front a revised Final Score on Saturdays. The corporation is extending its coverage of women's football next season having invested significantly in the recent Women's European Championship in Sweden. Despite England's disgracefully poor group stage exit, their three matches attracted an audience of over one million punters per game and the BBC will broadcast England's World Cup qualifiers live and commentate from selected midweek Women's Super League fixtures.

Italy's supreme court has upheld the prison sentence given to ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud. Which is funny.

The BBC has apologised after an image of Prince William with an obscene doodle - of a big knob and small bollocks -  drawn on his head was shown on BBC Breakfast. It was spotted by some eagle-eyed viewers who, seemingly because they had nothing better to do with their time, then tweeted a freeze frame of the image. A statement from the BBC said that the image was shown 'fleetingly' within a comedy promotional video. 'We failed to spot the offending material within it. We apologise for this.' it said. The video, provided by allegedly 'humorous' barbershop group Barbershopera, was shown during a segment promoting their appearance on the programme.
The Queen was expected to urge Britons to pray and 'remain united and resolute' in the event of the 'madness' of nuclear war, newly released official papers from 1983 show. The script for a hypothetical broadcast has the monarch describing the threat to the 'brave country' as 'greater' than any other in history. The speech, devised by Whitehall officials at one of the most fraught Cold War periods, was never recorded. The document, released by the government under the thirty-year rule, was drawn up as part of a war-gaming exercise in the spring of 1983, which worked through potential scenarios. Among the other pieces of history released from the archives on Thursday were: Margaret Thatcher blocked a twenty one-year-old William Hague from a potential job as a Treasury adviser, saying that Billy Fuzz's appointment would be 'a gimmick' and could prove 'an embarrassment.' As, indeed, his current stint as Foreign Secretary has, aptly, proved. Also, Mad Old Nutter Thatcher secretly wanted the Army to move coal around the country in the event of a miners' strike; government officials considered deliberately flooding Essex and Kent to prevent London being swamped by a tidal surge as it waited for the Thames Barrier to be completed; the UK sent a laser weapon designed to 'dazzle' Argentine pilots during the Falklands war and a senior government official had urged Thatcher to 'seek out a fertile female panda' for London Zoo before a visit to China in 1982. Although it was only a simulation, the text of the Queen's address - written as if broadcast at midday on Friday 4 March 1983 - seeks to prepare the country for the ordeal of an forthcoming nuclear conflict. The script, which starts off by referring to the Queen's traditional Christmas address, reads: 'The horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy with the growing family of the Commonwealth. Now, this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds. I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father's inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me. But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all, the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.' Striking a personal note, the script continues: 'My husband and I share with families up and down the land the fear we feel for sons and daughters, husbands and brothers who have left our side to serve their country. My beloved son Andrew is at this moment in action with his unit and we pray continually for his safety and for the safety of all servicemen and women at home and overseas. It is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defence against the unknown. If families remain united and resolute, giving shelter to those living alone and unprotected, our country's will to survive cannot be broken.' The speech concludes by saying the Queen's message to the nation was 'simple.' I'm off to my nuclear bunker, I advise you to do the same before the bombs start falling, basically. It adds: 'As we strive together to fight off the new evil, let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be.' In the war-gaming exercise, Orange bloc forces - representing the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies - launch a chemical weapon attack on the UK. Blue forces - representing NATO - retaliate with a 'limited-yield' nuclear strike, forcing Orange to initiate a peace process. The exercise came in the year that US President Ronald Reagan both enraged and alarmed Moscow with his denunciation of the Soviet Union as 'the evil empire', his plans for a 'Star Wars' ballistic missile shield in space and the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles to Europe - including to Greenham Common. Tensions increased when the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner which had strayed into their airspace, killing all two hundred and sixty nine people on board. A NATO military exercise, codenamed Able Archer, then nearly triggered an actual conflict with the Soviet leadership apparently convinced that it was cover for a genuine attack. The Soviet Union and the US later negotiated a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons, and the Cold War eventually came to an end with the collapse of Communism at the end of the decade.

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd joined Shane Warne in criticising the decision to give Usman Khawaja out in the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. It's to be hoped that Rudd was equally outraged by umpire Tony Hill's decision not to give Steve Smith out LBW from a ball from Stuart Broad which would have missed leg stump and off stump, but smacked straight into middle. Khawaja was ruled to have been caught behind despite video replays suggesting that he did not hit the ball. An angry Rudd tweeted: 'That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen.' Legendary Australia leg-spinner Warne, commentating on Sky Sports, added: 'That's a shocker, an absolute shocking decision.' The decision review system has been under constant scrutiny during the Ashes following a series of controversial decisions - against both teams. The latest incident will only increase concerns. On-field umpire Hill gave Khawaja out for one shortly before lunch on the first day, believing the batsman had edged Graeme Swann to wicket-keeper Matt Prior as he attempted to drive the off-spinner. Khawaja asked for the decision to be reviewed, but, despite Hot Spot technology appearing to back his view that he had not touched the ball, television umpire Kumar Dharmasena upheld Hill's call. 'There was daylight between bat and ball, there was no hot spot and no noise,' said Warne. 'The only noise was when the bat hit his pad. You can see the bat hitting the pad, the ball goes past, no noise. There was clear evidence there as well. That is a ridiculous decision.' As it happened, Australia had their best day of the series so far. Michael Clarke scored a vital century as the Aussies breathed life into their flagging Ashes campaign by dominating the opening day of the third Test. Trailing two-nil and needing a win to have any chance of regaining the Ashes, Australia won the toss and reached three hundred and three for three by the close at Old Trafford, with Clarke unbeaten on one hundred and twenty five and Smith seventy.

For today's Keith telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we have a little work of disturbingly sexy genius from Mary Lou Lord with Semisonic.

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