Thursday, August 27, 2015

Heroes & Villains

The speculation continues as to whom Maisie Williams will be playing in her two-episode guest stint in Doctor Who. The actress's character details have been, largely, kept under wraps by the production although showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has confirmed that she is not a new incarnation of a past Doctor Who character. In a new interview released by BBC America in the US, The Moffat coyly suggests that he can reveal 'very little' about Williams's guest role at this time. 'There's a load of things about why we cast her and why she's the right choice, and why she's amazing,' Steven says. 'I can only talk about them once you've seen the show.' 'She's fantastic,' yer actual Peter Capaldi added. 'She's such a gifted actress… She's so young. She turned eighteen while she was working with us. She came in and she did a performance that I thought was so mature, so clever. I was really, really impressed by it. I don't really want to give away too much about what she does, but what I will say is that she's quite cosmic. She's not quite what she seems.'
Doctor Who has secured five nominations for this year's BAFTA Cymru Awards. Yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self have both been recognised in the acting categories, while the show itself is up for three technical prizes. Capaldi is nominated against Richard Harrington (Hinterland) and Rhys Ifans (Dan Y Wenallt) for best actor while Jenna faces competition from Mali Harries (Hinterland) and Rhian Morgan (Gwaith) for best actress. Will Oswald's work on Dark Water has received a nomination for best editing, whilst the Doctor Who festive special Last Christmas is among the Special and Visual Effects nominees. The show's title sequence could also win an award following its redesign for the eighth series. Elsewhere, Set Fire To The Stars leads the pack with seven nominations, while Da Vinci's Demons follows with six. The recipient of this year's Huw Stephens will present the 2015 BAFTA Cymru Awards in Cardiff on Sunday 27 September. There's lovely.
Doctor Who series nine is getting a prequel. The Doctor's Meditation will première next month, as part of the US cinema screenings of Dark Water and Death In Heaven in 3D. Scheduled for 15 to 16 September at various cinemas across the US - but, not Britain - the screenings will feature appearances from yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self, with a panel hosted by Wil Wheaton. The BBC is yet to announce if The Doctor's Meditation will be screened to fans outside of the US, or if it will be released online. The prequel is set shortly before the events of series nine's opening episode The Magician's Apprentice - but its plot and setting remains, at this time, a secret.
Lego has signed a ' mutli-million pound' deal with the BBC to create a Doctor Who Lego set with mini-figures, the TARDIS and representations of many of the enemies The Doctor has taken on. The partnership is 'a huge deal for the BBC' and could – in financial terms alone – be the biggest shot in the arm for its commercial subsidiary since the success of Teletubbies in the 1990s. At least, according to the Daily Scum Mail. So, probably not, in that case.
Panorama was Monday night's most-watched overnight programme outside of soaps, while a repeat of Sherlock also performed marginally above expectations for BBC1. According to overnight data, Panorama was seen by 2.86m at 7.30pm, while a repeat of the Sherlock episode His Last Vow had an audience of 2.16m from 8.30pm. On BBC2's strongest night of the week, University Challenge was watched by 2.76m at 8pm, before Only Connect averaged 2.14m at 8.30pm and The World's Busiest Railway 2015 interested 2.78m at 9pm. Qi followed with 1.17m (6.8%) at 10pm. ITV's Vet School continued with 2.29m at 8pm, while Travel Guides drew 2.14m at 9pm. Bear's Wild Weekend With Miranda - steady - brought in eight hundred and seventy thousand punters for Channel Four at 8pm, before Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody was seen by 1.37m at 9pm and Muslim Drag Queens appealed to nine hundred and fifty thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Inside Scientology ... And Escaping The Witnesses was watched by 1.15m at 9pm, while The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door brought in six hundred and twenty five thousand viewers at 10pm.

Good gracious, dear blog reader, watching Only Connect on Monday evening this blooger was suddenly aware that if Victoria Coren Mitchell's breasts get any larger, the poor lass will be in serious danger of toppling over. This blogger is merely concerned for her, y'understand. There's a possible health and safety issues at stake. Obviously.
Of course, if you're wondering, the lovely Victoria was extremely pregnant when filming of this latest series of the popular BBC2 lateral-thinking quiz was taking place; Vicky and David's daughter, Barbara, was born in May. Though, as this blogger's mate Danny Blythe pointed out, her pregnancy bump seems to get bigger and smaller as the current series of Only Connect has progressed: 'I suspect that old Doctor Who favourite, "production order not being transmission order."' Indeed, for those of us who remember Sarah Benny's last pregnancy, thanks to Channel Four's decision to show episodes of Property Ladder in any old order they fancied, Sarah appeared to be 'with child' longer than the average gestation period of an elephant.
        All of these observations, incidentally, come from a lengthy Facebook thread - I know, I know, 'get a life' - in which a discussion on the subject of famous television pregnancies brought up many memories of the episode of Neighbours where Daphne's pregnancy ended with her giving birth by the riverbank without removing her knickers of, indeed, her dungarees. Which is a hell of a trick if you can do it.
This blogger must say that he was fair flabbergasted the contestants from Kellogg College, Oxford didn't know that The Shining Path were a rather bloodthirsty revolutionary guerrilla group in Peru in Monday night's episode of University Challenge. Pfft, students these days, I don't know. In't maaa day, we knew every single bunch of crazed, psychotic anarcho-syndicalist Marxist nutters the world over. Plus, who they were fighting (and whether those they were fighting were backed by the CIA - which they usually were), what their cause was and, which Labour MPs were their 'close personal friends' and raised lots of money for them to buy weapons and bullets only to then deny having done so twenty years later when they were Minister For Overseas Development.
Educating Cardiff got off to a strong start on Channel Four on Tuesday according to overnight figures. The behind-the-scenes look at Willows High School appealed to 1.58m at 9pm. However, the launch is down slightly on the 1.80m who watched the first episode of Educating The East End last year. Earlier in the evening, The Three Day Nanny averaged 1.05m at 8pm. BBC1's New Tricks was the night's most-watched programme outside of soaps with 4.97m overnight viewers at 9pm. On BBC2, Natural World brought in 1.97m at 8pm, before The World's Busiest Railway 2015 continued with 2.13m at 9pm and Goodness Gracious Me's India special interested 1.24m at 10pm. ITV's Bargain Fever Britain was watched by 2.21m at 8pm, while School Swap: The Class Divide was watched by 1.17m at 9pm. On Channel Five, The Dog Rescuers With Alan Davies dipped to nine hundred and thirty two thousand at 8pm, while The Great Big Benefits Wedding had an audience of nine hundred and fifty five thousand viewers at 9pm. Twelve Years Old & On Benefits followed with six hundred and twenty three thousand at 10pm.

The Great British Bake Off continued its genuinely remarkable performance in the overnight ratings with 'Dessert Week' on Wednesday. According to overnight data, 9.57m viewers tuned in at 8pm to see how the bakers got on with their Crème brûlées and that. Later, Britain's Spending Secrets was watched by 4.74m at 9pm. On BBC2, Horizon appealed to seven hundred and twenty thousand at 8pm and The World's Busiest Railway 2015 continued with 1.64m at 9pm. A Foyle's War repeat brought in 2.08m for ITV between 8pm and 10pm. Channel Four's Posh Pawn was watched by one million punters at 8pm, before One Born Every Minute drew an audience of 1.20m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Nightmare Neighbour Next Door interested 1.07m at 8pm, while Undercover Benefits Cheat averaged 1.15m at 9pm. Wentworth Prison followed with five hundred and eighty nine thousand at 10pm. Meanwhile, Sky 1's The Force: Manchester gathered two hundred and fourteen thousand at 10pm.

Russell Davies is adapting A Midsummer Night's Dream for BBC1. Big Rusty will return to Cardiff for the ninety-minute production, to be broadcast in 2016, it was announced at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival this week. 'I've wanted to make this for the BBC for my entire adult life - and only the BBC can put on a play like this, for all the family, smack-bang in the heart of prime-time,' the award-winning writer and showrunner said.
'With a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action, it needs the brilliant Doctor Who team in Cardiff to bring it to life.' A new six-part series from Twelve Years A Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen was also been formally announced at Edinburgh - the as-yet-untitled drama will follow a West Indian community in the heart of London across three decades, beginning in 1968 around the time of Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech. Tony Jordan - Hustle and Life On Mars co-creator and former lead writer on EastEnders - is also working on a Tamla-Motown musical drama, Stop! In The Name Of Love, which is set to span four episodes. Following 'six smart, diverse thirty-something women in contemporary England', Stop! will feature its characters belting out classic Motown hits - with the songs reflecting 'the situation and emotions of the characters.' So, could be really good like Blackpool, could be shite like Mamma Mia. It'll be interesting to see which.
Comedy writer, filmmaker and all-round top chap, Armando Iannucci has called for an industry-wide defence of the BBC and British programme-makers. The Thick Of It creator made his remarks when making the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Which you can see, in full, here. The award-winning writer behind The Day Today, The Thick Of It and Veep has accused ministers of effectively trying to kill off the BBC and urged people to defend it against scum politicians and twats the likes of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Armando said it would be 'bad capitalism' to diminish the national broadcaster and suggested the debate about its future had been 'poisoned' by the self-interest of the newspaper industry. 'If the BBC were a weapons system, half the cabinet would be on a plane to Saudi Arabia to tell them how brilliant it was,' Iannucci told an audience of leading TV executives at the festival. 'And yet, it's quite the reverse. They talk of cutting down to size, of reining in imperialist ambitions, of hiving off, of limiting the scope, with all the manic glee of a doctor urging his patient to consider the benefits of assisted suicide.' In a speech entitled We're All in This Together – deliberately echoing the language used by the chancellor, the vile and odious rascal Osborne – Iannucci said the 'extremely subjective opinions' of senior ministers were putting the UK on 'a dangerous path, a creeping imperial ambition that's doing international harm to our stock. It's more important than ever that we have strong, popular channels that act as beacons, drawing audiences to the best content,' he said. 'Faced with a global audience, British television needs its champion supporters.' Armando, of course, also co-wrote I'm Alan Partridge, wrote the movie In the Loop and created and wrote the hit HBO sitcom Veep. He delivered the fortieth annual MacTaggart Lecture, which has previously been given by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke and Jeremy Paxman among others. Iannucci continued his praise for British programming by saying the global success of American TV shows had come about because they were emulating British television. 'The best US shows are modelling themselves on what used to make British TV so world-beating,' he said. 'US prime-time schedules are now littered with those quirky formats from the UK - the Who Do You Think You Are?s and the variants on Strictly Come Dancing - as well as the single-camera non-audience sitcom, which we brought into the mainstream first. We have changed international viewing for the better.' With the renewal of the BBC's royal charter approaching, Iannucci said: 'If public service broadcasting - one of the best things we've ever done creatively as a country - was a car industry, our ministers would be out championing it overseas, trying to win contracts, boasting of the British jobs that would bring.' In July, the government issued a Green Paper setting out issues that will be explored during negotiations over the future of the BBC, including the broadcaster's size, its funding and governance. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale appointed a panel of eight people to 'advise' on the charter renewal, including former Channel Five boss Dawn Airey and journalism professor Stewart Purvis, a former editor-in-chief of ITN. Iannucci bemoaned the lack of any 'creatives' involved in the discussions. 'When the media, communications and information industries make up nearly eight per cent our GDP, larger than the car and oil and gas industries put together, we need to be heard, as those industries are heard. But when I see the panel of "experts" who've been asked by the culture secretary to take a "root and branch" look at the BBC, I don't see anyone who is a part of that cast and crew list. I see executives, media owners, industry gurus, all talented people - but not a single person who's made a classic and enduring television show. No [Steven] Moffat or [Sally] Wainwright or [Jimmy] Mulville or [Jed] Mercurio. Nor do I see anyone from our world-class post-production industry or from design or drama, no-one from the enormous world-beating service of day-to-day production, to give their views, to offload their expertise on the difficulties and the joys and the challenges of making world standard public service broadcasting. It's like a car company was looking into what car it should make next, but only spoke to the managers and not to any of the engineers, or drivers. You cannot have a meaningful "root and branch" review of television, if you’re only going to deal with one branch. Iannucci suggested one way of easing the strain on the licence fee was 'by pushing ourselves more commercially abroad. Use the BBC's name, one of the most recognised brands in the world,' he said. 'And use the reputation of British television across all networks, to capitalise financially oversees. Be more aggressive in selling our shows, through advertising, through proper international subscription channels, freeing up BBC Worldwide to be fully commercial, whatever it takes. Frankly, don't be icky and modest about making money, let's monetise the bezeesus, Mary and Joseph out of our programmes abroad so that money can come back, take some pressure off the licence fee at home and be invested in even more ambitious quality shows, that can only add to our value.' Armando, who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, said that the British television industry felt 'under attack' and that his US counterparts could not understand why the government would want to reduce the power of the BBC rather than encourage it further. 'To them it looks like we're going mad,' he said. 'This is toxifying something that could otherwise make more money internationally. Simply put, it's bad capitalism.' He also contrasted the criticism of the BBC with the expansion of global media giants, saying: 'Capitalism is pursued where it helps the BBC's competitors and a most peculiar form of Maoist state control is advocated when it doesn't. It's Facebook and Google who came along and ate up all newspapers' classified ads. Yet it's the BBC, who run no ads, that gets the blame, while it's Google and Facebook that get the helpful tax arrangements from HMRC.' He also dismissed claims of left-wing bias at the BBC, asking: 'How can a Corporation be left-wing when it has perpetuated the career of Ann Widdecombe?' Iannucci, who has worked for Sky, HBO and Channel Four as well as the BBC, quoted from both James Murdoch The Small's infamous 2009 lecture and one given by The Small's father, billionaire tyrant Rupert, in 1989, to suggest that both believed that media groups could no longer focus on one area, unless that media group happened to be the BBC. 'Dismantling [the BBC] is madness. The question shouldn't be how do we cut it down to size, but why should we?' he said. 'It makes no economic or cultural sense to tell this country's best online media presence, one that serves the public freely, that projects our cultural impact globally, to make itself a little bit worse.' In a passionate but humourous speech, Iannucci made it clear that when it came to 'bias' the press had far more to answer than the BBC. 'Where does it come from, this spooky force bending the ear of chancellors and ministers and civil servants and asking them to cull the BBC?' he asked. 'Let's for the sake of argument call this force "M, for Mysterious." The BBC is funded by and speaks to the country. The country is not the government. More people pay for the BBC and watch it than vote for any one political party. And politicians convinced that, because they are in government, their views and values are the majority opinion of the day, are slaves to an illusion. But believe me, saying tonight We're All In This Together', I'm not being ironic,' he added. 'Playful, maybe, but deadly serious. British television needs to be at its strongest: with a big global fight ahead, we need to consolidate all our talent and expertise.' Hours before Iannucci's high-profile intervention, ministers were already seeking to allay concerns about the future of the corporation. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, the lack of culture secretary, claimed that it was 'unfortunate' there had been a 'need' to strike a speedy financial settlement with the BBC after the election to 'cover a financial deficit', before the discussions about the renewal of the BBC's charter had even begun. One or two people even believed him. Asked by veteran ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart whether the 'desire' to 'diminish' the BBC was 'unfinished business' from his days as an adviser to Margaret Thatcher, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said this was 'absolute nonsense.' No one believed that. 'Nobody is talking about dismantling the BBC,' he claimed.

The BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, has warned that further cuts to the corporation's funding and remit could result in more than thirty thousand job losses across the TV industry. Having seemingly finally woken up to the fact that the BBC are in a fight for their lives against these scummish right-wing ideologuelouse-bastards, Hall's comments came ahead of the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's turn at Edinburgh. Hall said that cuts to licence fee income would result in 'an economic downturn' which would stretch beyond the corporation itself. 'New research shows that, because of the boost the BBC provides, if you cut the licence fee by twenty five per cent you'd lose about thirty two thousand jobs across the whole economy,' said Hall. 'These aren't just jobs at the BBC, but across the TV industry – at independent producers, suppliers and studios up and down the country.' Hall added that the BBC had been 'a breeding ground for creative excellence', citing Tom Hooper, who started out on EastEnders and went on to direct The King's Speech and The Theory Of Everything director James Marsh, another former BBC employee. 'When series like Game Of Thrones are choosing where to film, they know that the UK has the skills to deliver,' he said. 'Our research tells us that as much as audiences enjoy the big US blockbusters like House Of Cards and Breaking Bad, they also want programmes set in the UK. That's why British shows like Happy Valley, Luther, Poldark, Sherlock and Broadchurch are so popular and many household names made their breakthrough on BBC shows. Without the BBC's investment the number of British shows made will fall.' Hall argued that critics - ie self-interest scumbags at the commercial broadcasters and in other parts of the media - who say the BBC is 'too big' are mistaken, despite the corporation growing from two channels to nine since 1994. He said that the TV landscape had seen channel numbers grow from sixty one to five hundred and thirty six over the same period and that the BBC had, in fact, shrunk in relative size compared with its commercial rivals. 'The BBC accounts for a far smaller proportion of television now than it did twenty years ago,' he said. 'Globally, we have less than half the revenue of Sky and a sixth of the revenue of Disney.' Hall said that despite this, the BBC plays 'a critical role' in the 'Britishness' of British TV at a time when a new generation of US rivals are emerging. 'As huge American companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple start to make programmes and services of their own, we need to think carefully about what makes British telly special,' he said. 'It is all too easy to take [the BBC] for granted, and with the government deciding on the future of the BBC, there is much at stake. A strong BBC also contributes to a strong UK economy. A strong BBC will help deliver a strong Britain.'

BBC's Head of Television Danny Cohen has said that the public doesn't want 'a market failure corporation' which is only permitted to make niche programmes to 'fill the gaps' left by rival broadcasters. Cohen, was also making a pre-emptive strike against the lack of culture secretary's review of the size of the corporation. He said that the viewers 'love' programming diversity. 'I believe we need a strong BBC that offers a wide range of British-made programmes – dramas, documentaries, news and entertainment,' said Cohen, in a comment piece in the Radio Times. 'I don't believe the public want a "market failure" BBC that fills the gaps by only making the kind of niche television that commercial TV simply won't make. They want a BBC that can compete with the very best the world has to offer, driving up standards and delivering for them night after night.' Last month, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale announced a 'fundamental' review of the size and scope of the BBC, including questioning whether it should continue to strive to be 'all things to all people.' As though being that was, in any way, a bad thing. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's comment fits with the views of some scum right-wing critics and various self-interest knobend commercial rivals who have called for the BBC to have a 'market failure' remit, meaning fewer entertainment shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice. Cohen argued that without a strong BBC, UK television could end out become too populated with US imports, and that the British public 'doesn't want everything in box form.' He pointed to the fact that the BBC1 schedule has no US programmes in prime time; twenty years ago this figure was twenty per cent, yet the channel is responsible for some of the biggest hits on TV. 'UK viewers can relish US shows while at the same time cherishing what has made UK television different,' he said. 'The UK public love the variety and cultural richness of British-made television. Our viewers also tell us that they appreciate the range of stories we tell. Long series, short series and high-impact single dramas all play a critical role in this. The public doesn’t want everything in box-set form.' Cohen said that the corporation is a 'cultural crown jewel' and should be viewed as intrinsically linked to the international success of British-made TV. 'The BBC is one of the crown jewels of British public and cultural life,' he said. 'It unifies the UK, drives the creative industries and provides stimulation, entertainment and companionship for vast numbers every day. I want a vibrant, competitive British TV sector that showcases British production companies, designers, writers and actors and boosts our economy and standing in the world.' Cohen defended the corporation's right to make entertainment shows. 'I don't know why entertainment has suddenly become a dirty word in the context of the BBC,' he said. 'The battle for Saturday nights between BBC and ITV has been going on for decades. It has driven standards. I believe that we should keep fighting for entertainment on Saturday nights on the BBC that reaches a wide range of people up and down the country, from all different sorts of backgrounds,' said Cohen. He added that the corporation should be making shows for audiences who put entertainment 'top of the list' of what they want from the BBC, rather than 'niche' TV programmes that 'get the seal of approval from opinion formers. A show like The Voice, it's really popular with young people, diverse audiences and less well-off audiences and it matters to them as much as Strictly, and we should make sure that we offer both,' said Cohen. BBC1's talent show The Voice was singled out in the government's consultation paper, due to be debated ahead of the BBC's Royal Charter renewal, for being 'similar' to ITV's The X Factor. It said the format had been 'developed overseas' and bought by the BBC at 'a reported cost of around twenty million pounds.' However, Cohen argued that 'bought in' formats - such as The Apprentice, Dragon's Den and University Challenge - are 'a tiny proportion' of the BBC's total output. 'Every so often we look to the wider world and see something that's amazing that we bring to BBC audiences,' he said. 'We actually do it a lot less than we used to, but it's also the same strategy that's brought us Borgen and The Killing.' Cohen admitted that Saturday night programming was one of the 'hardest things' to get right, adding, 'we are in a continual process of looking for the next big Saturday night thing.' He highlighted a new show, Getaway Car hosted by Dermot O'Dreary, coming early next year, and the return of Strictly in September. 'Our content is distinctive,' added Cohen. 'But we will always aim to make the popular good and the good popular.'

Danny Cohen has also said he is 'truly sorry' Sir Tom Jones got the hump over the way he was dropped from The Voice. Sir Tom claimed that he was given 'no idea' and 'no warning' that he would not be returning to the BBC talent show. The singer was a judge for the first four series of The Voice, but will be replaced by Boy George for the forthcoming series five. 'I've got huge respect for Tom and I'm truly sorry he's upset, because I am a big fan of his,' said Cohen. 'I think he's a gentleman, I think he's an extraordinary figure in music and you'll have seen the huge respect that all of the artists have had for him on The Voice throughout.' Cohen added that he was 'excited' about the new-look panel, which will feature George and Paloma Faith alongside Ricky Wilson and when the show returns in September. 'These things happen over time,' said Cohen, 'but I would never would want Tom to be upset and I am sorry that's the case.' Cohen would not comment on whether he could see the singer returning to The Voice coaching panel for a later series, in a similar fashion to Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's The X Factor return. However he added: 'I'd like him to go out on the BBC this year in something else. I hope he's back on the BBC very soon, I really do.'

The BBC missed out on an opportunity to secure new Top Gear presenter Chris Evans on an exclusive deal after Channel Four signed him first. Danny Cohen admitted this week that he was 'surprised' when Evans committed to front a new series of his Channel Four show, TFI Friday. Channel Four signed up Evans to a full series as soon as it became clear that a one-off anniversary special of TFI Friday, broadcast on 12 June, had been a massive hit with viewers with an overnight audience of nearly four million punters. By the time the BBC announced on 16 June that Evans would succeed Jezza Clarkson on BBC2's Top Gear, the Channel Four deal had already been done, according to the Gruniad Morning Star quoting anonymous - and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'industry insiders.' It meant that the BBC was unable to insist Evans focus solely on Top Gear. The new run of TFI Friday, due to be broadcast on Channel Four in the autumn, will also be two episodes longer than previously thought, a ten-part run. Alleged Channel Four 'insiders' are allegedly 'hopeful', if it is a hit, that it will return for more series in the future. Cohen said earlier this week that he was 'a little bit surprised' when Evans signed up for a full series of TFI Friday. 'He's made a commitment but after he's finished [TFI Friday] he will be solely focused on Top Gear from the new year. He is working on it all the time,' Cohen said on Tuesday. He said Evans's enthusiasm for Top Gear was 'absolutely immense' and added that it would 'not conflict' with his Radio 2 breakfast show. The last time Evans presented both TFI Friday and a daily radio breakfast show for the BBC, in the late 1990s, he walked out on Radio 1 after it refused his request to take Fridays off to concentrate on the Channel Four show. Cohen said: 'He has got more energy than anyone I have ever met. I think he will manage fine.'

Rafe Spall will lead the cast of ITV's one-off film about paranormal investigator Harry Price. The actor will star as the real-life sceptic in the two-hour paranormal thriller Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. Set in 1920s London, the drama will delve into the life and career of the investigator, who studied paranormal and supernatural claims. On his casting, Rafe said: 'I'm delighted to be portraying Harry Price for ITV. It's a fantastic piece of history that has mass appeal and I can't wait to start filming.' Harry Price: Ghost Hunter will be produced by Bentley Productions, and will be broadcast on ITV in 2016. Filming will begin in London next month.

The BBC has revealed it wanted to make royal drama The Crown - written by Peter Morgan - but 'couldn't compete' with the amount of cash Netflix was prepared to pay for it. Danny Cohen called the series 'a classic BBC subject' but said that they couldn't match the US streaming service's budget, 'even though we would have loved to have been a co-producer with Netflix on it.' Netflix is rumoured to be spending one hundred million smackers on the drama, directed by Stephen Daldry, which will document the Queen's life since 1947 over six series, and scheduled to be broadcast in 2016. Season one of the drama is being filmed in Cambridgeshire at the moment, with Claire Foy playing the Queen and former Doctor Matt Smith as the Duke of Edinburgh. But Cohen said there were 'no hard feelings' towards Netflix. 'I understand their model - they want global rights to put it on all their services,' he said. 'They're really good at what they do and they've got very ambitious plans to give themselves global scale in a short space of time. You've got to respect that.'
Poldark is definitely coming back to the BBC for a second series - no surprise, since it was BBC1's major drama hit of early 2015. But rumours - not from anybody that you'd trust as far as you can spit, admittedly - that the BBC has renewed its Cornish period drama through until 2020 are, it would seem, just that - rumours. Though media reports claimed that Poldark had been re-commissioned for a further five series, a BBC spokesperson has told the Digital Spy website that there is 'no truth' to such claims. The second series is expected to run for ten episodes, two more than the first. The debut series adapted two of Winston Graham's original novels, leaving ten more Poldark books to be tackled - so the show certainly doesn't lack for source material. 'It is impossible to predict these things, [but] it does continue, the books are there,' Aidan Turner said back in April.
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's - really rather good - sitcom House Of Fools has been cancelled by the BBC. The broadcaster confirmed that the comedy won't be returning to BBC2, following the conclusion of its second series in March. A spokeswoman told the Radio Times: 'BBC2 and BBC Comedy would like to thank Vic, Bob, [producer] Lisa Clark and everyone else involved in making House Of Fools, but after two fantastically inventive series the show won't be returning.' It is thought that it was the comedy's somewhat underwhelming ratings which led to its cancellation. The first episode attracted an audience of 1.27 million in 2014, but figures quickly fell below the million mark. The second series averaged around one million viewers per episode, but that, seemingly, wasn't enough to get a renewal.
Broadchurch's Olivia Colman will return to comedy in Flowers, a new 'darkly humorous' Channel Four series which aims to 'challenge the traditional sitcom.' Whatever the fek that means. Colly, who came to prominence in Peep Show, and has since appeared in comedies Rev and Twenty Twelve, is probably best known for her dramatic roles in BBC1's The Accused and ITV's Broadchurch. She is due to appear in a third series of the thriller. She will play a music teacher called Deborah in Flowers, opposite The Mighty Boosh and Nathan Barley actor Julian Barratt, who takes the role of Maurice, her husband. The show, which began life as a pilot last year, features the eccentric Flowers family and their 'struggle to live harmoniously.' Deborah suspects that Maurice, an author, is having a homosexual affair with his Japanese illustrator, but tries to maintain a seemingly normal family life in the crumbling old house that is also home to her odd mother and dysfunctional twenty five-year-old twins, Amy and Donald, who are battling over the affections of the same girl. Sounds, from that description, about as funny as a boil on the knob frankly. But, you know, often the most unlikely successes have the worst imaginable premise so we'll have to see. Time will tell, it usually does. Channel Four promises that Flowers will also feature 'strange neighbours' and will swing from 'the magical to the mundane to the downright mad.' Daniel Rigby, winner of the 2011 best actor BAFTA for his acclaimed role in Eric & Ernie before his career got stalled by those sodding awful BT adverts, will play Donald, and Friday Night Dinner's Sophia di Martino takes the role of Amy. Flowers is written by Will Sharpe who also appears in his six-part comedy series as the illustrator, Shun. 'This is a comedy about people who are struggling and the situations that can arise when you refuse to admit there are problems,' said Sharpe. 'The word dysfunctional doesn't even come close to describing quite how brilliantly peculiar the Flowers family are,' said Channel Four's deputy head of comedy, Nerys Evans. The show is due to be broadcast next year and is being made in association with the US broadcaster NBC Universal's new comedy-based video on demand platform. Channel Four has also announced that early next year it will broadcast explorer and former paratrooper Levison Wood's latest challenge – walking the entire length of the Himalayas. It follows the success of his 2013 trek along the Nile. Wood has already begun his seventeen hundred-mile Himalayan walk, which started in Afghanistan. Last week he had to call a temporary halt after it was widely reported that he broke his arm when the taxi taking him and his guide to their overnight accommodation crashed off the road. Continuing the theme of adventure, Channel Four also revealed that it is to show an animated version of Michael Rosen's book We're Going On A Bear Hunt next Christmas – to be made by the same company that produced the hugely popular The Snowman & The Snowdog. Channel Four's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, said: 'Going On A Bear Hunt is magic, a book that will be brought alive for a whole new audience.'

The X Factor has taken the unprecedented step of releasing its full schedule for series twelve in hope of dodging an 'unavoidable clash' with Strictly Come Dancing. In the wake of ITV director Peter Fincham publicly asking the BBC to prevent head-to-head clashes, a full list of dates and times for The X Factor was released on Wednesday. The first major clash between ITV and the BBC could come on Saturday 5 September when an X Factor audition show is scheduled for 8.15pm and Strictly Come Dancing lines up a musical performance from Jess Glynne on its own series thirteen opener. During its Boot Camp rounds late in September, The X Factor will take a month-long break from its Saturday shows. Beginning on 20 September with round one of Boot Camp, The X Factor broadcasts a string of five consecutive 'Super Sunday' episodes at 7pm - at least in part because of ITV's coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

BBC4 will offer viewers a real-time Rudolph's eye-view of a two-hour sleigh ride through Lapland, its latest 'slow TV' offering after half a million viewers watched the dawn chorus and an uninterrupted, commentary free canal boat trip. The reindeer ride through Lapland's frozen wilderness will be broadcast on BBC4 at Christmas, a two-hour fixed-rig film in which the only noise will be the crunching of snow and the tinkle of the reindeer bell. And the tinkle of the reindeer having a tinkle. Probably. The Sleigh Ride will be one of two new documentaries in the 'slow'TV” tradition alongside the ninety-minute documentary The Oak Tree. The channel’s first slow TV season of 'deliberately unhurried' programmes was broadcast in May, intended as an antidote to the digital age and reflecting a recent Scandinavian TV phenomenon that can be traced back to the earliest days of film. Ridiculed by some of the BBC's regular enemies with a sick agenda, the programmes, nevertheless, pulled in average ratings above the normal for their time slots. The BBC's Director of Television, Danny Cohen, said: 'We want BBC4 to be more and more characterful with a slightly eccentric quality to make shows no one else would make. We have been struck by the audience's passion for quite slow television.' Cohen declined to say whether the Lapland documentary would culminate in a visit to the country's most famous resident. 'I can't give away the ending,' he said. 'We are going to leave that for viewers on the night.' Slow TV became a hit in Norway in 2009 with a seven-hour film about a train journey, followed by a twelve-hour knitting marathon and the live broadcast of a five-day boat trip watched by more than half of the country's population. The Lumiere brothers did a similar thing, in shorter form, at the turn of the century, a tradition which was continued with the BBC's 'potter's wheel' interlude film, among others, in the 1950s. The BBC said that The Sleigh Ride would give a 'unique point-of-view of a Sami reindeer herder travelling across the terrain in real time' taking in the 'awe-inspiring beauty of a white wonderland; with the possibility of spotting a wild moose. Or, even two.

A man who shot two journalists on live TV in the US state of Virginia died after shooting himself, police have said. Vester Lee Flanagan, an ex-employee of WDBJ7 TV known professionally as Bryce Williams, was in a car that was surrounded by police following a chase. WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward were killed some seven hours earlier during a live interview in the town of Moneta. The gunman later uploaded a video of himself opening fire at close range. The White House has urged Congress to, rapidly, pass gun control laws in the wake of this latest shooting. Not that they will, of course. Virginia State Police said that the suspect's vehicle had been spotted on the Interstate Sixty Six highway following the shooting and crashed off the road after being pursued by officers. 'Troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,' the force said in a statement. He later died in hospital, a police spokesman added. The Twitter account of Flanagan suggested that he had held a grudge against WDBJ7 and Ward and Parker, specifically. Police said that his 'utterances' on social media the previous evening had suggested the attack was pre-planned. Flanagan had been told by his bosses to seek medical help after colleagues at the television station where he worked with his victims repeatedly complained about him, according to memos 'obtained' by the Gruniad Morning Star. The attack on the journalists took place at a large shopping centre, Bridgewater Plaza, near Smith Mountain Lake. Parker was starting a breakfast TV interview about tourism at the shopping centre when suddenly shots could be heard, the camera spun and dropped to the ground. The footage then captured what appeared to be a fleeting image of the gunman, who was wearing black trousers and a blue top - and holding a handgun. The woman who was being interviewed, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, survived the attack and is in a stable condition in hospital following surgery. Bryce Williams's Twitter and Facebook pages, both of which have now been suspended, subsequently showed video shot by the gunman. They depicted him raising a handgun, training it on the trio, and opening fire fourteen times. The TV station's own footage of the attack recorded only eight of the shots. Staff at the TV station, which continued broadcasting after the live report, expressed shock and sadness at the loss of their colleagues. 'Alison and Adam died this morning at 06:45 shortly after the shots rang out,' the station's president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, announced on-air. 'I cannot tell you how much they were loved by the WDBJ7 team. Our hearts are broken.' He described the suspected killer as 'an unhappy man' who was 'difficult to work with' and had to be escorted from the TV station by police officers when he was dismissed. A complaint filed against the station with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the suspect had been dismissed, Marks added.

It has been more than ten years since Cold Feet left our screens, but ITV could be about to revive the show for a new series if media reports are to be believed. Because, it would seem, ITV wouldn't know 'an original idea' if it smacked them, geet hard, in the mush with a wet kipper. The cast of the quite amusing if a bit over-rated comedy drama, including James Nesbitt, Hermione Norris and John Thomson, are all thought to be in talks with the channel about reprising their roles. Fay Ripley, Robert Bathurst and twisty-faced Helen Baxendale are also tipped to return should the revival be given the green light, according to the Mirra. Rumours of a potential reunion series first surfaced in July, but it is now looking increasingly likely that ITV will bring the series back in its traditional Sunday night slot, filling the void that will be left when Downton Abbey concludes later this year.
Major congratulations to the BBC commentary team at the World Athletics Championship on Tuesday for managing to get through an entire Long Jump competition containing some bloke called Wang without resorting to any obvious double entendre. Until the very end when Steve Backley said 'Wang's bronze is massive for China.' Well, clearly. The competition was, of course, won by the very excellent Greg Rutherford.
Channel Five is to broadcast US magic show Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas, hosted by Jonathan Ross. The show, which is filmed at the Penn & Teller Theatre at the Rio in Las Vegas and is broadcast on the CW network in America, sees the illusionists trying to figure out tricks performed by magicians from around the world. A previous version of the show was previously broadcast on ITV in 2011, and this blogger rather enjoyed it but it was axed after one series. It was broadcast by The CW last year and after decent ratings the network ordered a second series which is currently on-air. A third season has also been commissioned. 'The public's appetite for this magical duo has never abated,' said Channel Five's Head of Acquisitions, Katie Keenan. 'Pair them with Jonathan Ross in a glamorous Vegas setting and you have event TV at its best.' And, a Daily Scum Mail campaign of hate waiting in the wings, too. One supposes.

John Kettley, a former BBC weather presenter, says that the Met Office lost its weather forecasting contract with the corporation because it wanted too much money. Kettley, a weather forecaster in the 1980s, said that with the corporation having to cut costs as part of the licence fee settlement, there was 'an air of inevitability' that the contract would be put out to tender. 'There is no doubt about this, the Met Office will be gutted by this decision, it is a big loss in their revenue,' he said, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday. 'One of the big problems over the years has been they have wanted more and more each time the contract has come up for renewal. At the same time the BBC has been squeezed by the government and who knows what is going to happen to the TV licence [fee]. In a way it was an impasse and it was perhaps something that was likely to happen anyway.' The Met Office, which has held the contract since the corporation's first radio weather bulletin in 1922, will continue to provide the BBC with severe weather warnings. The BBC will put the main contract out to tender with Dutch and New Zealand firms thought to be likely contenders. 'Other people can do forecasts,' said Kettley, who worked at the BBC for the Met Office for thirty years before leaving in 2000. 'I have my own consultancy. I forecast for different people. Other people are out there who can do similar jobs. Whether they can do it as well as the Met Office on TV and radio and the enormous commitment that is, I'm not too sure at the moment.' Kettley, made famous by the 1988 novelty record 'John Kettley Is A Weatherman' (if you missed it, don't worry, it was crap), said that the BBC has to 'get as much value as they can' from suppliers. 'Our viewers get the highest standard of weather service and that won't change,' said a BBC spokeswoman. 'We are legally required to go through an open tender process and take forward the strongest bids to make sure we secure both the best possible service and value for money for the licence fee payer.' The BBC pointed out that the graphics used during weather forecast bulletins are already supplied by another provider. The corporation has no plans for any major changes to its on-air presenting team as a result of the change in contracted supplier. A new weather forecasting company is expected to be appointed later this year.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch received an enthusiastic reception from a celebrity-packed audience on the official opening night of Hamlet in London. His Sherlock co-star Mark Gatiss his very self described Cumberbatch as 'magnificent. I always knew he had it in him,' Mark told the BBC. 'We're all very proud and impressed.' Cumberbatch's mum, Wanda Ventham, described him as 'a bloody good Hamlet.' Then again, she is his mum she's hardly like to to express an criticism, bless 'er! Other famous names in the audience at the Barbican on Tuesday night included Benny's Sherlock cast mates Martin Freeman and Louise Brealey, Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens and Ray Davies of The Kinks. The modern dress production, directed by Lyndsey Turner, has been described as the fastest-selling play in British history. It sees Cumberbatch's Prince of Denmark make a number of costume changes. His clothes include a scarlet military jacket, a David Bowie T-shirt and a hoodie. Benny appears in the opening scene listening to Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy' on an old gramophone. Also in the cast are Ciaran Hinds as Claudius, Anastasia Hille as Gertrude, Leo Bill as Horatio and Sian Brooke as Ophelia. The play has already made headlines after preview performances featured the famous 'to be or not to be' soliloquy shifted to the start of the play. It now appears in the second act.
Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May's forthcoming Amazon show is unlikely to get many viewers in the UK, Piers Morgan has forecast. And, having 'not many viewers' is something which the vile and odious oily twat Morgan knows all about, of course.

Earlier this week, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping flicked onto Sky Arts and found himself stuck in the middle of David Bowie's Serious Moonlight tour video, with no obvious means of escape. This blogger's main memory of that particular tour was when The Grand Dame Her Very Self played Wembley and Smash Hits got a lot of the pop fraternity who'd gone along to give them a soundbite or two for a double-page spread they did on the gig. So, you had various Duranies and Bananaramas and people out of Big Country wittering on about how, like 'toadally grrrrrreat' it all was. And, then there was Ian McCulloch, who'd been the biggest Bowie fan in the world for years. His comments were the sound of a bitter and disillusioned man: 'I didn't like the suit, for a start because it was crap!'
       Still, it could have been worse.
       And, indeed, for the rest of the 1980s, it was.
And now ...
It's always so entertaining to pick up the newspaper (well, if you can call the Metro 'a newsapaper', which is probably pushing the definition of what a newspaper actually is) and read a letter from some self-imagined morally superior twonk sneering at the upset - real or imagined - of others. Natalie Booth herself isn't going 'back to school on Monday' one imagines, dear blog reader. More likely attending the Job Centre.
Just to clarity, this blogger is a fifty one year old chap whose idea of a good 'boy-band' is The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them). Keith Telly Topping just really dislikes sneering, in all its forms. So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's the work of another early-twentysomething boy-band who were, in their time, sneered at by 'serious' types. As some Nostradamus of no importance in the New Statesmen confidently stated late in 1963, 'They are probably just about to begin their slow descent: the moment when someone thinks of making a film with a pop idol normally marks the peak of his curve. In twenty nine years' time nothing of them will survive.' What do you predict for an encore, mate? 'The Titanic? That'll never sink...'