Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade's End

And so, dear blog reader, we reach the two hundred and fifty eighth - and last - blog posting of 2009. At the start of this decade yer Keith Telly Topping was still working for the Civil Service and writing books for Virgin in his spare time - evenings, weekends, holidays, sick days. 'Blogs' themselves were still, largely, something that a few Americans with more time on their hands than they knew what to do with created to post pictures of their cats to anybody that was interested (and, indeed, anybody that wasn't). If you wanted to get hold of a hot new tune you'd just heard on the radio you went to a 'record shop' and 'bought the CD.' If you heard about some excellent new TV show on the other side of the world, you'd have to wait for about six months and it might, eventually, turn up on a broadcasting network in your general vicinity. Unless, like me, you had a lovely friend or two who'd send you over a video tape of it. Doctor Who was a range of books published by the BBC featuring characters from a TV series that they used to make and, likely, never would again. Because, as some chap from ITV famously noted 'families don't watch TV together anymore.' Simon Cowell was the boss of a small independent record company and most people, if asked, couldn't have picked him out from a line-up of other equally unknown individuals. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The West Wing were battling it out for the title of 'the best TV show in the world', Keith Telly Topping's beloved Magpies were not even close to being unsellable, Oasis still had two men called Gallagher in their ranks, Jeremy Clarkson was an out-of-work former chat show host, Barack Obama was a lawyer in Chicago, Pierce Brosnon was still James Bond and Tony Blair was the Prime Minister. That was The Noughties, that was. And now it's all over and here come The Teenies.

David Tennant has said that viewers will be left heartbroken by the final 'brilliant' plot twists as he bows out of Doctor Who. Tennant, who has been acclaimed by many viewers as the best Doctor in the Time Lord's forty six year history, gave a hint about the epic climax to The End of Time, which airs on BBC1 on New Year's Day. The story sees the tenth Doctor staring into the face of death as the prophecy 'He will knock four times' looms. Tennant told BBC Breakfast: 'Coming to the final episodes, you [think] will these live up to one's hopes for what that finale will be? And then you read the script - The Doctor's been told he's going to die, he knows he's going to die, so you get to play that new flavour with this character that you've got to know so well. Suddenly you're playing a man who knows his end is coming. He's been told: "He will knock four times" and you get The Master with these four beats in his head and you think, well, that's what that is. When you find out tomorrow night what that really means - [it] just breaks your heart - it's brilliant.' David confessed to being 'maybe a little jealous' of the new Doctor, Matt Smith, because of the fantastic time he would be having in the job. Tennant, who has filmed a pilot for a show in the US, Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, was asked about his plans for the future. He said: 'I'm sort of waiting to hear, to be honest with you. It could go one of two ways and I'm literally waiting to be told.' Asked what he would be doing if he had not taken the Doctor Who job, Tennant said: 'Who knows? It's like Sliding Doors isn't it? Things can work out very differently. Even when I accepted it I had no conception that four years later it would still be going strong.' In another interview, Tennant was also asked about speculation that Madonna had approached him to take part in a movie project. But he told GMTV: 'I've never met the woman. She's never called me.'

The BBC has announced a five-part Doctors special to air in January. The daytime medical drama will tackle a week-long storyline called Master Of The Universe, which features Lewis Cutler, a fellow student and friend of Doctors regular Jack Hollins, becoming entangled in a hostage and shoot-out situation at Letherbridge University. The plot, which begins on 25 January, features Alexander Vlahos as Lewis. Other guest stars include Steffan Rhodri, Tom Kane and Rebecca Ryan.

Myleene Klass has criticised political correctness for 'alienating immigrants.' WENN reports that the television presenter believes people who move to Britain should make more of an effort to integrate into society. 'It is sad that we are not supposed to fly the Union Flag for fear of what that might misrepresent,' she said. 'Or that we aren't supposed to say "Merry Christmas" anymore for fear of offending someone. What is all this "Season's Greetings" business? It's so infuriating - in trying to please everyone, we please no-one.' Klass added that her Filipino mother had successfully integrated into British culture when she arrived in the country. 'My mother arrived from the Philippines thirty three years ago and is probably the most British person I have ever met,' she explained. 'She made a decision to embrace our customs, culture and language. She refused to speak with fellow Filipino nurses on the wards for fear of offending her English counterparts.' Klass continued: 'The government should encourage integration and education instead of sending out bills in dozens of different languages which only creates alienation.' So, that's Myleene Klass's considered and not at all wholly worthless views on immigration and political correctness, dear blog reader. Tune in tomorrow to hear Paris Hilton's thoughts about possible solutions to the problems of the Middle East.

A former BBC governor has criticised the corporation, accusing the broadcaster of ageism, losing direction and paying staff 'extraordinarily large salaries.' Baroness James of Holland Park, a Conservative peer better known as the crime writer PD James, was guest-editing the Today programme on Radio 4. She asked the BBC's director-general Mark Thompson why there were thirty seven BBC executives who earned more than the Prime Minister. 'It is really quite extraordinary that three hundred and seventy five BBC employees earn over one hundred thousand pounds,' said Lady James, eighty nine. 'An organisation that has thirty seven of its managers earning more than the Prime Minister surely ought to ask itself "Is this justified?" Somehow the people who are making the programmes don't receive this largesse – it seems to be a huge great waste of middle management which is very difficult to justify,' she said. Lady James said that although some BBC programmes were of 'superb quality,' others were difficult to justify, including Britain's Most Embarrassing Pets, Dog Borstal and Help Me Anthea, I'm Infested. 'If one opens the Radio Times, it might not be easy to pick out which [programmes] were made by the BBC,' she said. Thompson replied that there was a public demand for the BBC to provide entertainment on Saturday evenings, which sometimes led to clashes with ITV schedules. But, he added that at other times their programmes were 'more different than they have been at any time in the history of the BBC. I believe that if John Reith and his colleagues who founded the BBC came to today's BBC they would be surprised and heartened by the fact that people inside the BBC still have a passionate enthusiasm for what they do.'

Vinnie Jones has reportedly agreed to 'look after' Paul Gascoigne in the Celebrity Big Brother house. Let us all hope, for the sake on any potential children that Gascoigne made wish to father in the future, that this 'looking after' is somewhat different to the way Jones infamously handled Gazza in 1988 (see right). According to the Sun, Jones has secured a one million dollar fee from Channel 4 after promising to 'keep an eye' on the troubled Gascoigne in a special deal with producers. It is thought that show bosses believe the former footballers will boost ratings for the new series, which starts on Sunday night. A source close to Jones told the newspaper: 'He's been offered a massive chunk of cash. He was planning to take January off - but one million dollars for three weeks' work was difficult to turn down.' The insider added: 'It doesn't even sound like work to Vinnie if it means a chance of three weeks with Gazza. They go way back and still keep in touch.' Gascoigne himself has struggled with alcohol-related problems and depression in the past, but has allegedly been given the all-clear to enter the house following consultations with a psychologist. Whereas Kerry Katona, reportedly, hasn't. That's got to sting. The latest rumours follow reports that Jones had been negotiating hard in last-minute discussions with producers.

Sharron Davies has reportedly alienated her Dancing On Ice co-stars by making 'catty' remarks behind the scenes. According to the Daily Star, the former Olympic swimmer and TV presenter is the only contestant who is proving unpopular in training for the ITV reality show. A snitching 'source' told the newspaper: 'Sharron hasn't got off to a great start in terms of making friends. A few people have taken offence at some things she has been saying. Everyone else has been getting on like a house on fire.' And, when you consider dear blog reader that this 'everyone else' includes Heather Mills, that, also, has to sting somewhat. She's alleged to be the least popular vegetarian since Hitler.

Olly Murs - remember him? - has reportedly been offered a deal at a holiday camp. What, free bed and board if he doesn't annoy the other campers? According to the Mirror, Haven has offered the X Factor runner-up a job as part of its latest recruitment drive. 'Come to Haven, it's where all the losers end up'? Yeah, I can't quite see how they might think that would have the potential to be useful, personally.

Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi has criticised the boycott of Jersey Shore. The MTV show has been the subject of controversy after UNICO, a group representing Italian-Americans, called for its cancellation. Meanwhile, various companies including Domino's Pizza have decided not to advertise during the programme. However, Polizzi has now criticised the boycott in an interview with Steppin' Out. 'I just have one thing to say to Domino's, Dell, UNICO and all the other haters out there,' she said. 'Fuck you! If you don't want to watch, don't watch. Just shut the hell up. I'm serious... Fuck you!' Interesting attempt at winning over some hearts and minds, there, Snooki. Let us all know how that works out for you. Recent press reports have claimed that the cast of Jersey Shore are currently charging up to seven thousand five hundred dollars each to make personal appearances.

Tyra Banks is 'difficult to work with,' staff on her chat show have reportedly said. Banks announced the end of The Tyra Banks Show earlier this week, but her former employees have now allegedly described her as a diva. 'There had been a high turnover of employees for years,' a source told the New York Daily News, adding that it was 'pretty difficult to work for Tyra. She and the higher-ups on the production staff could be extremely brutal,' the insider added. 'She really is a diva.' The source added that it 'wouldn't be surprising' if rumours that staff hadn't been told about the end of the chat show prior to Banks' on-screen announcement were true. 'When the show moved from LA to New York, several staffers weren't even directly told about the change,' the insider said. 'They heard through the grapevine it was going to move locations. Even so, a lot of those people gave up their lives on the West Coast so they could continue working for the show. Now they're out of luck.' Another insider agreed that the America's Next Top Model host is hard to work with, explaining: 'Everything had to be done Tyra's way.' However, one employee claimed that they had enjoyed working with the former supermodel. 'Honestly, I don't know how it would be to work under her,' the source said. 'But for me, it was a good experience. Tyra just knows how she likes things done. And as for her "diva-ness," well, it sells.'

Fergie - who isn't the manager of Manchester United as I thought but is, apparently, a 'pop singer' of some description - has vowed that she will never wet herself on stage again. Sounds like a very good idea indeed to Keith Telly Topping, love. If you could also avoid crapping diarrhoea in yer own keks, that'd be pretty splendid too. The 'I Gotta Feeling' singer was photographed in 2005 with a wet patch on the front of her pants during a gig, which, she later admitted, was because she had not found time to visit the toilet before the start of her performance and has wee-wee'd herself mid performance. According to Showbiz Spy, Fergie now claims that she has learned a lesson from her mistake - which she once described as the most embarrassing incident in her life - and insists that she will not get caught short again. Well, that's a relief.

And finally, dear blog reader, we end the decade with a special moment. A few days ago I had an e-mail from a young man who signed himself as Matthew and who said that he was a regular reader of this very blog and that he liked it, particularly as it features 'lots of pictures of massive jugs.' That's a decidedly odd hobby you've got there, Matt old boy. But, as a new year and, indeed, a new decade are both almost upon us, especially for you, here's some more.And, with that, dear blog reader, it only remains for yer Keith Telly Topping to wish you all a safe New Year's Eve and I'll hope to see you again in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Too Much Tennant (Except on BBC Parliament)?

Craig Revel Horwood has claimed that the BBC 'would be mad' to cancel Strictly Come Dancing. Yeah, well they're not going to be doing that anytime soon so this story would appear to be a bit pointless, really. There's more danger of them cancelling The News than Strictly at the moment. The show's judge spoke out to dispel wild and unsubstantiated fears for the programme's future following negative comments in some organs of press (and, if you don't know which ones, you're obviously new to this blog) which surrounded the most recent series. Strictly's latest run of episodes sparked a - wholly manufactured - ageism row after Arlene Phillips was sacked from the panel and replaced by Alesha Dixon. The programme also failed to match The X Factor in the Saturday night ratings battle, though it remained a strong performer for BBC1. Speaking to Click Liverpool about the ballroom show's future, Horwood insisted: 'It's absolutely coming back. It's such a hugely popular show. With over ten million viewers the BBC would be mad to cancel it. What would replace it?' Revealing his desires for the next series, he added: 'I would love to see Arlene back. I really missed her this series. It was great to have Darcey Bussell join us but I do wish Arlene could come back.' So, you want Bruno sacked, then, is that it?!

The second and final episode of BBC1's star-studded adaptation of The Day of the Triffids finished with 5.6 million viewers, losing just five hundred thousand from the previous night's audience. The two-part adaptation of the John Wyndham masterpiece, which starred Dougray Scott, Joely Richardson and a fabulously evil Eddie Izzard (performance of a lifetime, that), had a twenty four per cent share of the audience between 9pm and 10.30pm, according to overnight figures. It was marginally down on the just over six million who saw Monday's opening instalment, but still easily enough to beat the 3.2 million who watched The Bill on ITV1 between 9pm and 10pm. So, everybody was happy. Except the Daily Mail who didn't have an opportunity for another 'BBC In Some Sort Of Disgraceful Shock (The Bastards)' exclusive. Not that a lack of actual facts ever stopped them from pulling one of those out the bag, of course. Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Sky Sports 1's coverage of the fourth day of England's test match against South Africa peaked with just a shade over seven hundred thousand viewers between 2pm and 2.15pm. Coverage of the game, which England won today by an innings and ninety eight runs, averaged three hundred and sixty six thousand viewers, a five per cent share, between 7.30am and 3.30pm. And, yer Keith Telly Topping would like to congratulate Straussy and his boys (and, particularly Swanny and Broady) for keeping this blogger hugely entertained whilst he's been snowbound in his gaff for the last few days.

A Conservative politician has accused BBC executives of 'promoting David Tennant at the expense of other actors.' Unfortunately, Keith Telly Topping can't tell you which other actors these might be, because the chap in question didn't elaborate further. Oh, great. Another politician who, seemingly, doesn't have anything more important to do for the people who elected him than to demonstrate to them his wish that he was employed as a TV reviewer instead. Get into line behind Jeremy Hunt and Harriet Harman, pal. Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans (no, me neither I'm afraid) made his comments after it was revealed that Tennant will have made seventy five appearances in three weeks on various BBC television and radio stations by the end of the current festive period. It is understood that twenty eight of the actor's appearances are in new programmes, whilst forty seven were repeats - mostly of Doctor Who on BBC3, which is hardly something that started just in the last few days but has been a regular feature of BBC3's schedules for most of the last five years. Still, again, why let a little thing like that spoil an excellent opportunity to get your name in the papers by slagging someone else's hard work off? It's the British way of doing things, is it not? Evans, who sits on the Culture Media and Sport select committee, told the Telegraph: 'Relying on such an overkill of one particular person is freezing out a lot of opportunity for a lot of up and coming people. Even the most dedicated fan might have thought that the BBC was turning into the David Tennant Corporation. I know thanks to digital TV we have two hundred channels, but two hundred channels of David Tennant doesn't seem to be much choice.' Interesting comments. Keith Telly Topping would advise Mr Evans, however, to check out the BBC Parliament channel where, I'm sure, he'll find that it is pretty much a David Tennant-free zone. Instead, he can watch endless hours of rent-a-quote gobshites wittering on about all manner of tripe and balderdash. Which he may enjoy. Or not. A BBC spokesperson insisted: 'These appearances were spread over several weeks and several channels. We would not expect any one audience to see more than a handful.' As well as being seen in Doctor Who, Tennant has appeared in Catherine Tate: Nan's Christmas Carol, Qi, Hamlet, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, guested on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and read stories for a children's show in recent days. Tragically, Mr Evans didn't say whom he'd rather see on TV than David Tennant, however. From The North is, frankly, rather surprised that Mr Evans has the time to watch all that much television. He seems to be a keen amateur photographer having, according to the Gruniad in July 2009, claimed for the purchase of four digital cameras over the course of eighteen months on his MPs expenses. Readers of this blog on low wages may also be interested to learn that Mr Evans voted against the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 and against every subsequent increase in it thereafter. In 2009 he was one of eleven MPs to back the Employment Opportunities Bill, which aimed to abolish the minimum wage altogether. Sounds like the sort of chap whom you'd expect to be right behind the endeavours of a successful young self-employed person working in a free-market economy, I'd've thought. If any readers find themselves frothing at the mouth over these reported comments, however, please don't bother writing to me about it, I just report the news. Mr Evans himself can be contacted c/o The House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. You might have heard of it. According to most of the national press for the last year, it's a big building on the banks of the Thames that's full of sleazy, corrupt, lying scum, apparently. And, also, lots of frustrated TV critics and schedulers, it would appear. Leave it to the professionals, guys and you stick to what you're paid for. Whatever that is.

One of Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, James McAvoy, is attached to star as James Bond's creator Ian Fleming in a film about the writer's colourful life, according to Pajiba. The movie, which is based on Andrew Lycett's excellent biography Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, takes place in the years of the author's life which inspired him to create the British secret agent. Fleming (along with his cousin, Christopher Lee) served as a Naval intelligence officer during World War II and then worked as a journalist and foreign correspondent for Reuters before going on to write Casino Royale in his Jamaican retreat, Goldeneye, in 1953. Very much looking forward to that one and, if any readers are looking for a thoroughly entertaining book for the New Year, check out Lycett's tomb. The first fifty pages or so are a bit heavy but, thereafter, it's brilliant.

Jo Brand and Bill Bailey are to front a new publicity campaign aimed at discouraging underage drinking according to reports. The pair will be joined by fellow comedians Josie Long and Russell Kane for an online viral scheme which is aimed at providing young people with information on the dangers of alcohol. The Internet messages, which are to be launched in the New Year, have been billed as an opportunity to educate children in a 'friendly and accessible' way. Now the great Bill Bailey, yes, I can certainly see that working well. But, Jo? I mean, don't get me wrong I'm a huge admirer of the lady and her comedy. But, let's be honest here, she's a bit 'in yer face', isn't she? Doesn't anyone think she might be a bit ... I dunno, terrifying, for this sort of thing? Anyway, a separate advertising campaign will later follow which is to warn parents about how their children can become 'vulnerable' due to drinking. The new initiatives are being introduced following a recent online survey on Mumsnet, which indicated that underage alcohol consumption was not a major concern for parents.

Kimberly Wyatt has claimed that new show Got To Dance could help young people avoid a life of crime. You know what else could, Kimberley? Not doing crime. Bit of a radical suggestion, I know, but that's Keith Telly Topping for you - full of madcap, hair brained ideas like that. The Pussycat Doll, who appears as a judge on the programme, explained that she had focused her teenage anger into her dancing. 'As a teenager I went through a lot,' she told the Sun. 'You try to figure out what life means and what your purpose is. Being able to go from school straight to my dance class, getting lost in the music and using dance as a way to let out my frustration meant the world to me and kept me out of trouble. I think there is a different outlet for aggression for every kid, it is good to see if dance might be the one that helps. I'm aware of the problems in the UK with teenagers and knives and I think after-school clubs and youth groups make a difference.' Right. So you think, maybe, if you were to go onto one of the rougher estates in, say, the urban North and try to preach your Little Orphan Annie-style message of progress-through-dance you wouldn't end up getting assaulted with a deadly weapon, do you Kim? Well ... good luck with that. Seriously, you're likely to need it.

And, speaking of people facing violence on a large scale, Kiefer Sutherland has said that he would like to work on a film version of 24. Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer in the drama, added that he would love the movie to be set in Europe. Well, indeed. By now Jack must've killed most of the terrorists, suspected terrorists and, you know, people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the entire North American continent. According to the Mirror, he said: 'We've been perpetuating the rumour for years!' Sutherland continued: 'We've wanted to film all round Europe. I think one of the great things about Europe, especially if you're going to do something where a two-hour film represents 24 hours, then it's very feasible to get from Eastern Europe to London in seven hours. 'It doesn't eat up all the time. Whereas if you're doing 24 episodes and you're trying to get, even from Miami to Washington, that's four episodes on a plane and people stop watching!' Depends who you kill whilst you're on the plane, I guess! He added: 'Europe has been something that we've all talked about as an opportunity for the film, which unfortunately just has not presented itself for us in the show.'

Adrian Chiles has claimed that a nasty accident in his youth nearly left him without his manhood. The forty two-year-old ONE Show presenter told the Observer about an incident where he was hit in the face with a cricket bat as a child, before going on to mention a much more painful near-miss he had several years later. 'When I was eleven I fell off my bike and chopped half my willy off,' he admitted. 'They had to sew it back on.' Aw, man. Too much information! But the Match of the Day host added that he did not let the unfortunate mishap interfere with his passion for football. 'I was such a man I didn't stay overnight [in hospital],' he added. 'It was the day of the cup final in 1978 and I wanted to get back and watch it.' Ipswich versus Arsenal. Actually, yeah, that was a pretty good one.

Susan Penhaligon has revealed that she regrets using Botox. The actress explained that she had the treatment 'on a whim' but ended up suffering from 'droopy brows,' which reportedly affects around one per cent of Botox users. 'I was a complete wally to have it in the first place,' she told the Daily Telegraph. 'It very nearly had a disastrous effect on my career and on my confidence as a person. I will never go near it again. I'm simply going to let nature do what it will to me.' Penhaligon continued: 'For many years, I never considered that I needed anything like Botox. But it has become increasingly acceptable and as I noticed more and more people having it, I got interested in it and started thinking, "Shall I have it to help me get work, or shan't I?"' She explained that she had a headache the morning after the treatment and added: 'I looked in the mirror and saw, to my horror, that my eyebrows had dropped, pushing my eyelids down. I resembled Roddy McDowall's character in Planet Of The Apes.'

The Church of England has announced that it opposes a proposal to allow product placement on television. In September, the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw suggested relaxing the rules on product placement to help television channels struggling to deal with a drop in advertising revenue. Under the proposal's guidelines, product placement would still be banned on children's television and BBC programmes. However, the Church of England fears that the move could erode the public's trust in broadcasters, BBC News reports. In a statement to the consultation, the Church said: 'Retaining trust in broadcasters' integrity and editorial balance is key to maintaining strong relationships between audience and broadcaster, which in turn has both civic, societal and economic benefits. For this reason, the Church of England is opposed to changes to the current regulatory regime, even outside public service content and news and current affairs.' Again, this blogger just has to ask - haven't you people got anything better to do with your time than interfere in matters that are none of your bloody concern. Still, I suppose it's marginally less offensive than buggering choirboys. Maybe if you did you might get a few more people in church instead of sitting at home watching Corrie. I suppose we should, perhaps, be grateful that the statement didn't pull the usual CoE trick of trying to shoehorn Jesus into a wholly inappropriate subject. 'As a small business proprietor, Jesus would have been outraged if such a proposal had been made regarding the Nazareth Broadcasting Corporation which would have allowed the bigger chain carpentry stores to undercut him through aggressive product placement in the popular documentary series Extreme Fishing with Peter of Galilae.' Et cetera.

Sky Sports Xtra will rebrand itself as Sky Sports 4 from next month, but the launch of a companion high-definition channel has not yet been confirmed. The change will come into effect from 6 January 2010, to bring the channel in line with the overall Sky Sports branding.

Radio DJ Tom Binns has been dismissed from Birmingham commercial station BRMB after he interrupted the Queen's speech whilst on air. After the station accidentally took a feed of the Queen's annual address on Christmas Day, the stand-up comedian and presenter opted to cut it off, telling listeners: 'Two words: Bor-ing.' Actually, Tom, that's just one word with two syllables. But, anyway ... He then introduced the next record, 'Last Christmas' by Wham!, saying, 'from one Queen to another...' BRMB owner, Orion Media Group, subsequently sacked Binns after a 'small number' of listeners complained about the comments, including one who issued a death threat. Well, it's to be hoped that the 'small number' are happy they've managed to lose a chap his job for doing nothing more outrageous than telling a not particularly funny joke. And I hope that the person who issued the death threat is thoroughly ashamed of his or her self. 'On Christmas Day, one of our presenters Tom Binns made some inappropriate comments surrounding the Queen's speech,' said Orion Media programme and marketing director David Lloyd, briefly removing his tongue from right up the Royal Mall. 'We do not condone what he said in any way, whether said in jest or not. We are making contact with the small number of listeners who were offended by Tom's comments and have complained to us to convey our apologies and have also apologised on air. Tom will now not be featuring again on our radio stations.' In response, Binns himself claimed that he cut the speech short because the station was actually supposed to be transmitting a news bulletin at the time. Speaking to the comedy website Chortle, he said: 'I knew it shouldn't be there, but having never heard it before, I didn't know how long it was going to go on for. I'm not trained to make editorial decisions, but I decided to get rid of it and make a joke. I then went into an old riff about how people say the royal family are good for tourism, but the French beheaded theirs and people still visit France. The next record was George Michael's 'Last Christmas', so I made some sort of comment about "going from one Queen to another" as a parody of a cheesy DJ.' You're sure it was a parody, mate, and not just regular cheesy DJ-speak? 'Nobody would have tuned in to hear the Queen's speech and I tried to deal with it in a funny way. After all they employ comedians to make jokes.' Binns described his dismissal as a 'knee-jerk reaction' and said that broadcasters are now 'scared to death' of any complaints following a series of high-profile controversies. 'It's got to the point where comedians aren't allowed to say anything that could possibly offend anyone anymore,' he added. Ah well, y'see Tom, the concept of freedom of speech isn't what it once was. Although, to be fair, if you'd tried that argument a couple of hundred years ago you'd've probably been hanged for treason. So, one reasonably might argue that this is progress. Her Majesty's thoughts on the matter are, tragically, unrecorded.

A talking meerkat's TV catchphrase is about to make it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Aleksandr's expression 'simples' topped a list of new words to be included in future editions of the dictionary if people continue to use them, reports the Sun. Compilers of the respected tome admitted the catchprase of Aleksandr - star of the price comparison insurance adverts - had taken the nation by storm. Susie Dent, of the Oxford University Press - who regularly appears on Channel 4's Countdown and is the author of one of Keith Telly Toping's favourite books on the subject of language Fanboys and Overdogs - hailed it her favourite word of the year. She said: 'Simples has quickly become a catchphrase said by anyone when they mean something is very easy to achieve. We may not like it, and it may well not last, but it proves that English is moving quickly and is as robust as ever.' The word 'defriend,' meaning to remove someone from a list of contacts on Facebook, is among other new words that may go in - along with 'tweetup,' a meet-up arranged via Twitter. And, it's not just new words that are making an impact. The archaic and seldom used 'redact,' meaning to obscure, came back to promanence this year thanks to the good old MPs' expenses scandal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dinner-Dinner-Dinner-Dinner Murrrr-Darrrr!

Taggart star Alex Norton has revealed that he thought the show was 'lucky to last a year.' The actor, who plays Matt Burke in the twenty five-year-old crime series which celebrated its one hundredth episode on Christmas Eve told the Sun: 'Taggart's amazing - one hundred not out. It's utterly incredible. What a milestone. To be in the one hundredth episode of Taggart was a real buzz. I've been in it now for eight years and loved every minute of it, so long may it continue. My greatest hope when I was asked to do Taggart was that I'd get a good three years out of it. To be honest, I thought I'd be lucky to last a year. But it just went on and on. Its success is extraordinary.' The drama, which STV have produced since it began in 1983, was rumoured to be on a cancellation list after ITV axed a number of high profile dramas in a budget-cutting operation earlier in the year. Hugo Speer spoke out at the time about Taggart's importance in the British drama industry. The Scot added: 'I must admit, I'd more or less resigned myself to the fact that we weren't going to film Taggart again. I just didn't see how, after all the toing and froing between STV and ITV. It was a worrying time. A lot of top dramas have been axed because of budget cuts. But it would have been a bloody shame for everyone involved. Taggart provides a lot of work for a lot of people in Scotland. I've got bills to pay, just like everyone else. I live in London, so I'll always need to work. There's even news that ITV are putting money into it. As far as I know, they are. The most important thing is we've been told that it's definitely going ahead, even if ITV decide not to commission it, but it's obviously good news if ITV are coming on board. I think we're aiming to start filming again in April, but I don't know. Taggart does fantastically well on the network for ITV. Colin McCredie keeps his eye on things and he's always scouring the net for info. He will email us and say, 'Last night's viewing figures were this. Even the repeats of Taggart get a lot more viewers than a lot of new dramas. You have to hope common sense prevails. It would have been silly for ITV to kill it off.'

Ricky The Hit-Man Hatton will reportedly make a cameo appearance in the next series of Shameless. According to the Sun, the former world light welterweight boxing champion was 'knocked out' to meet the cast of the Channel 4 drama. Knocked out, d'ya get it?! Oh, suit yourself. 'He was buzzing when he got the part,' a source said. 'Now he can't wait for the episode to be screened.' Hatton has already said in several interviews that he a huge fan of Paul Abbott's gritty Manchester-based comedy drama. The insider added that Hatton's cameo sees him confronting one of the main characters . Well, it's either that or get in the ring with Amir Khan, I guess.

David Tennant has denied wild Internet speculation that he will play The Riddler in the next Batman movie. The soon to be former Doctor Who star explained that he has had no contact with the producers behind the Dark Knight sequel, although he believes that he would be a good choice for the villainous role if asked. 'I probably should be [playing The Riddler],' the Guardian quotes him as saying. 'But you'd think my agent would have mentioned something if it was true.' Tennant previously admitted to being a fan of the 1960s TV incarnation of Batman and admitted that it would be a 'boyhood dream come true' to play The Riddler. Couldn't possibly be any worse than Jim Carrey's thoroughly crap interpretation Batman Forever.

The South Bank Show has broadcast its last ever edition. The show, which debuted in 1978, is believed to be the world's longest-running arts TV series and has been broadcast in over sixty countries. Presenter Melvyn Bragg had already decided to quit ITV before the programme was cancelled, saying: 'They've killed the show, so I thought I'll go as well.' The final episode visited the Royal Shakespeare Company, following director Michael Boyd as he researched the Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s for a forthcoming production. In the voice-over for the final scenes, Bragg noted: 'The brave work is continuing, keeping this now-well established British institution full of new life as it moves into the future.' Film-maker Sir David Lean once famously claimed that 'the best directors in Britain [were] working on The South Bank Show.' Subjects of previous films have included Sir Paul McCartney, Ken Dodd and the feminist Germaine Greer in 1978, The Velvet Underground (1985), John Cleese (1986), Manchester indie band The Smiths (1987), Raymond Chandler (1989), Douglas Adams (1991), Coronation Street (1995), Kenneth Williams (1997), Iain Banks (1998) and Trainspotting actor Ewan McGregor (2002). Keith Telly Topping's own favourite South Bank Show was Chris Hunt's stunning 1988 deconstruction of Hamlet featuring contributions from Richard Eyre and Michael Pennington and archive footage of Orson Welles, Richard Burton, Tyrone Guthrie and Huw Weldon. Other memorable films include Weekend in Wallop, The Movie Life of George, The Making of Sgt Pepper and John Lloyd's A-Z of British Comedy. Bragg will move to BBC2 to front two forthcoming documentaries on the subject of class. Meanwhile, ITV has commissioned ten retrospective documentaries to celebrate the South Bank Show's history.

Kym Marsh has been ruled out from appearing on the forthcoming series of Celebrity Big Brother. A Coronation Street spokeswoman has dismissed recent - widespread - speculation that the actress was planning to take a break from the soap in order to take part in the Channel 4 reality show. According to the Sun, Marsh had been 'given a strict dressing-down' from CBB bosses for hinting on Twitter about a possible appearance in the show's final series. However, Weatherfield chiefs have insisted that the Twitter page in question is a completely fake account. The spokeswoman said: 'It's completely wrong. She doesn't even have a Twitter or Facebook account. She doesn't use any of those accounts at all. They are all fake.' Brooke Kinsella, Ivana Trump and MC Hammer (Stop!) have all been linked to the Channel 4 series, which begins on Sunday at 9pm.

EastEnders took the lead in Monday's Bank Holiday battle of the soap, with an average audience of 9.6million viewers compared to Coronation Street's 9.2m. The latest episode of the Walford soap, during which the police questioned various suspects around the Square over Archie Mitchell's brutal murder, drew 9.61m from 8pm. BBC3's 11.30pm repeat added a further five hundred and sixty three thousand. Meanwhile, Coronation Street's double bill, which saw Kevin attend a consultation with Sally and Bill learn of Kevin's affair with Molly, was watched by 9.24m and 8.79m at 7.30 and 8.30 respectively.

Tests run by consumer publication Which? have found no significant decline in picture quality on the BBC HD channel, despite the recent controversy. After the BBC introduced new encoders on 5 August, the bitrate on BBC HD dropped from 16Mbs to 9.7Mbs, a reduction of nearly forty per cent. Freesat viewers subsequently reported various problems with picture quality and sound on the channel, with some accusing the BBC of failing to deliver a truly high definition service. In response, an expert Which? viewing panel ran a series of tests involving comparisons between archived pre-August BBC HD material and live broadcasts on Sky and Freesat. The footage was viewed on identical forty-inch HD TV sets. After running like-for-like comparisons of a range of programming over 'a lengthy viewing period,' the panel concluded that any difference in picture quality between the new and old BBC HD broadcasts was 'insignificant.' As recently outlined by BBC principal technologist Andy Quested, Which? also found that the perceived quality of BBC HD broadcasts differed from programme to programme, particularly dependent on whether the material was shot in the studio or outside. 'Even with the change in picture quality between programmes we assert that all BBC HD broadcasts are all of an HD quality,' said Which? TV expert Michael Briggs. 'If there is any difference between the new HD broadcasts and the old HD broadcasts, then it is tiny, and smaller than the existing differences between any two HD programmes filmed in a studio or on location.' Earlier in the month, BBC HD head Danielle Nagler said that she wants to 'draw a line' under the debate about picture quality on the channel.

Zoe Saldana has said that pre-production on the next Star Trek movie will start in 2010. Speaking to MTV, the thirty one-year-old revealed that the film's writers are still working on the script. 'I spoke to JJ [Abrams] and Bryan Burk, his producing partner at Bad Robot, and they are still in the middle of building the script with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci, and we'll probably be going into pre-production around this time next year,' she said.

The emergency phone call made by Charlie Sheen's wife which landed the Hollywood actor in jail over Christmas has been released by police. Brooke Mueller told the operator the forty four-year-old actor had threatened her with a knife during the 911 call leading to numerous press headlines along the lines of Sheen Threatens Wife With Knife. It's a jolly good job he didn't then go off on a rhyming crime spree otherwise we may have discovered that he'd been after his son with a gun and then he'd brought his daughter to the slaughter. 'Right now there are people that are separating us, but I have to file the report,' Mueller continued, later confirming her family were with her. The audio was released as Sheen was being released on five thousand dollars bail from a cell in the county jail. The Platoon and Hot Shots star had been arrested on domestic violence charges in the state's world famous ski resort of Aspen early on Christmas morning. Mueller had claimed that Sheen had hit her - but later retracted that story, claiming she had been drunk when she called officers. Police, however, are continuing to pursue the case. Sheen was charged with second-degree assault and 'menacing' as well as a misdemeanour charge of 'criminal mischief.' Those aren't real charge-names, are they? What next 'being a bit of a scallywag'?

Evangeline Lilly has claimed that she isn't interested in fame. The Lost actress grew up expecting to be a missionary, Now reports. 'I stumbled into this job on a whim,' she explained. 'It was completely by accident because I'm an intensely private person. I'm much too private to deal with being a public figure. That's not attractive to me.' She continued: 'In my home, we didn't watch TV, we didn't watch movies and we didn't have magazines with celebrities on the cover. All I wanted was to be a missionary. I had prepared to give myself over to poverty for the rest of my life and that was my goal. I'm not interested in fame.'

An MSP has written to the BBC Trust calling for a greater balance of news stories from all around Scotland in the corporation's output. Brian Adam, SNP member for Aberdeen North, claimed that there is currently a bias in the BBC's Reporting Scotland programme towards news coverage from the central belt, which is unfair to other parts of the country. Adam said that he would like to see regional opt-outs on the programme to boost levels of genuine local coverage and that the BBC has a duty to all licence fee payers in Scotland, but is 'not doing them justice' with its coverage the moment. 'As far as the BBC is concerned, Scotland is all one region. The result is that those of us living in the north or the Highlands see very little of our local news on the TV,' said Adam in his correspondence to the BBC Trust. 'While BBC Radio produces local opt-outs and STV broadcasts news for the north, the west and the east of Scotland, much of the BBC TV content is focused on the central belt. Both STV and the BBC have the facilities in Aberdeen, in Dundee, in Inverness, and I'm sure that people in the north east and Highlands would welcome more local reporting, as would others across the country.' In response, BBC Scotland head of news Atholl Duncan said that a broader range of stories from all around Scotland would be given coverage on Reporting Scotland in the future. However, Duncan said that there were no plans run regional news opt-outs as this would provide too significant a competitor for STV at a tough time for commercial broadcasters. 'In the New Year we do plan to increase the regional content on Reporting Scotland by running more stories from around the country,' he told BBC News. 'Reporting Scotland does cover the big stories from the Aberdeen area in detail. For instance, our coverage of the recent bad weather, the controversy over the Aberdeen bypass and the plans for the Trump golf course have all been covered extensively.' The government will next year start a trial in Scotland of its independently funded news consortia scheme, which is designed to create a vibrant regional news alternative to the BBC's coverage.

Cat Deeley has claimed that television presenters in America are 'a little Stepford.' The So You Think You Can Dance host also explained that she believes her Stateside success is down to her genuine nature. 'When I watch shows in America, I feel that some of the hosts are a little Stepford - in the nicest possible way,' she told the Radio Times. Is there, actually, a nice way to be Stepford? 'It feels as if they're more worried if the light is in the right place and they're standing right than they are about communicating with an audience.' She continued: 'The fundamental part of my job is to communicate with an audience in a very real way. I think I'm maybe a bit "realer" than typical American hosts.' However, Deeley also suggested that audiences in America are more responsive. 'It's a lot easier to get Americans to scream and dance and shout and clap,' she added. Indeed. As Mad Frankie Boyle once noted, you can usually manage to attract that sort of reaction from them with little more than a balloon on a stick. 'In Britain, it's almost as if we're ashamed of having ambition and drive.' No, that's not true at all Cat, chuck. We're just ashamed of making ourselves look like a complete tit.

A woman made an emergency 999 call to Greater Manchester Police to say that her cat was 'doing her head in' because it was playing with a piece of string. The force has released an audio recording of the call to remind people that the 999 service should not be abused. The woman said it was an emergency as it had 'been going on for two hours.' Well, just take the bloody string off it, you stupid woman! Between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, GMP said it had received one thousand three hundred and seventy seven 999 calls, but that only a fraction of them were concerning genuine emergencies. In another call, a man contacted emergency services to say he was stuck on a patch of ice in a street in Bolton and was too scared to go forwards or backwards. That'll be Paddy McGuinness on his way to Gregg's, no doubt.

A flatulent pig triggered a minor emergency in Australia when smells wafting from her farts sparked fears of a gas leak. Two fire engines and fifteen firefighters turned out in darkness to search for the source of the 'leak' at Axedale, near Bendigo in Victoria. Eventually, the culprit - a one hundred and twenty kilogram pet sow - was identified, reports the Melbourne Herald Sun. Fire chief Peter Harkins said: 'We got to the property and we could smell a very strong odour in the vicinity. It didn't take us too long to work it out because we could both smell and hear her. She got very excited when two trucks turned up and she squealed and farted and squealed and farted. I haven't heard too many pigs fart but I would describe it as very full-on.'

And, finally. Keith Topping's Always Look On The Bright Side of Life (2008).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time Is Out Of Joint Oh Cursèd Spite That Ever I Was Born To Set It Right

For anyone who is (vaguely) interested, yer Keith Telly Topping was on The Breakfast Show on BBC Newcastle this morning, reading the papers and, generally, talking about various TV-related subjects with the legend that is my oppo Alfie Joey. It was quite good, although listening to it back I sounded far more hyper than I actually felt at 7am when I climbed, unwillingly, out of my pit to make my weary way into the office. If you happened to miss it and are keen to find out what was appertaining in the area, it can be heard on Listen Again for the next few days. Just go here. I'm on from about one hour twenty minutes into the show and thereafter about every five minutes or so. Incidentally, young Razor who was producing took a rather fetching photo of the Alfster and myself (wearing a very silly hat) in the studio which I'll bring to your attention as soon as I have a copy. I look like a turnip, you'll love it! And, in a related radio preview notette, I should also draw your attention, dear blog reader, to the fact that starting tomorrow, for four days, on Simon Logan's Afternoon Show in addition to the usual Top Telly Tips there'll also be a series of short pieces on my favourite - and least favourite - TV show of 2009. They should be on between 2:30 and 3:00 each day with Top Telly Tips being back in its regular slot of 3:45 or thereabouts. Public service announcement ends!

Alexandra Moen has admitted that she will miss David Tennant when he leaves Doctor Who. Moen, who plays The Master's wife Lucy Saxon, added that she is still unsure about his replacement Matt Smith. Speaking to the Mirror, she said: 'I don't know about Matt. For me, it will always be David. Matt's too young. David is definitely my favourite Doctor. The thing about him is he's a genuine Doctor Who fan.' Moen praised Tennant, describing him as 'genuinely interested in people, caring and a hard worker. He also has a geeky charm and dry wit,' she added. 'He has this swoony effect because he is so approachable. He brings out your maternal instinct. Everyone loves him.' I'm presuming 'everyone' includes chaps as well, Alex. Because, I have to lay this one on you, love, none of us feel remotely maternal about Dave. However, Moen also said that Matt Smith could end up making the role his own. 'There have been so many Doctors and there's a lot of pressure, but Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant have shown that you have the licence to do your own thing,' she explained. 'Matt could be amazing. There's a real buzz about him coming in. The good thing for him is he is kicking off with a new production team so everyone's keen to make their mark.'

The official Vatican newspaper has praised The Simpsons. The New York Times reports that an article in L'Osservatore Romano celebrated the popular cartoon's Twentieth anniversary. The piece, called Aristotle's Virtues and Homer's Doughnut, praised the show's 'realistic and intelligent writing' and congratulated it on its handling of the characters' faith. The article claimed that Homer 'finds in God his last refuge' and said that his sometimes problematic relationship with religion is a 'mirror of the indifference and the need that modern man feels toward faith.' However, the article also criticised the programme for 'excessively crude language, the violence of certain episodes or some extreme choices by the scriptwriters.'

With the exclusion of Henry Ian Cusick from the final season's main cast, Lost fans have been murmuring about the possibility of not seeing his character, the great Desmond, again. The character infrequently appeared in the fifth season, and was left in a fairly happy ending with his beloved Penny, leading fans to wonder whether or not his happiness would stick. Well, we now know that Desmond will in fact be returning for at least one episode. Kristin dos Santos of E! Online, as part of her Twelve Days of Lost-Mas celebration, shared the revelation that Dessie would indeed be returning early on in Lost's final season, though she did not say whether he would appear beyond that. 'We will see Desmond again,' she confirmed, 'fairly on in the season. His first appearance will be with one of the Losties and the encounter is very surprising.' This is good news. Keith Telly Topping likes this news greatly.

Jim Shelley in his TV round-up of the year in the Mirror noted that the irritant of the year was, 'obviously, Amanda Holden for Big Top, Wild at Heart but mostly for fighting her way to comfort that crying kid on Britain's Got Talent before her mother could get there.'

Larry Lamb reportedly missed his character's dramatic Christmas Day exit scene in EastEnders, in which Archie Mitchell was murdered. The sixty seven-year-old actor was apparently devastated after he and his family were left watching a blank screen after his TV broke down. A source told the Mirror: 'It was a nightmare. He had been so excited as it was one of the highlights of his career.' Look it up on You Tube, Larry, it's bound to be there. The eventful episode of the BBC1 soap was the most-watched programme on Christmas Day, claiming nearly eleven million viewers, while his other show Gavin & Stacey played to over nine million later in the evening. Lamb, who has praised the decision to kill off his character, recently announced a new travel documentary on ITV.

Michelle Ryan has revealed that she doesn't want to return to EastEnders. Ryan, who played Zoe Slater in the soap, explained that she enjoyed her time on the show but wants to have the freedom to work on different projects. 'I always saw EastEnders as an apprenticeship,' she told the Daily Record. 'I always wanted to go on and do different things. I have some really good friends from that show but the door is closed.' She continued: 'I've always taken chances. I think that's how you progress - by stepping out and doing different things. I really do like my freedom and jumping from job to job. I just want to work with people I admire and respect, wherever that be - big budget, low budget, leading role, supporting role.'

Actress Margi Clarke has returned to filming with Coronation Street as Tyrone Dobbs's loudmouth mother, Jackie. Last week, the legendary fifty five-year-old Liverpudlian walked back onto the cobbles for the first time in a year to film scenes in connection with her son Tyrone's tumultuous marriage to his adulterous wife, Molly.

Mathew Horne has said that he is sorry for his overexposure on Christmas Day, which saw the actor star in Gavin & Stacey and Nan's Christmas Carol. He said on Twitter: 'I can only apologise on behalf of the Beeb for this scheduling. Even I'm bored of me.' You're not the only one, pal, though that didn't start on Christmas Day. Other actors to make numerous festive appearances were Larry Lamb and Tate, herself (Doctor Who, Nan's Christmas Carol). Despite the number of recurring appearances from BBC actors on Christmas Day, the broadcaster still produced fourteen out of the twenty most-watched shows, including all of the programmes above. Familiarity, it would seem, breeds ratings success.

STV chief executive Rob Woodward has publicly admitted for the first time that it was 'a major mistake' to axe popular ITV dramas in favour of more domestic programming. The station had recently stopped airing networked dramas, including ratings-winner Doc Martin and the long-running police drama The Bill, in a drastic cost-cutting operation. However, following a twelve per cent drop in all-day audience share in the last year and a reported profit loss of eighty two per cent, STV have been forced to strategically backtrack. According to Herald Scotland, Woodward said: 'We hope our audience will be pleasantly surprised when we unveil our schedule in the New Year. You can expect to see some more of ITV's drama back on the screens.' The Scottish licence-holder, producer of crime drama Taggart, has become more independent from ITV. In a pledge to broadcast more home-produced programming, STV recently underlined its wishes to become independent from the ITV network, like Irish broadcaster TV3. He added: 'When we schedule high quality, home-produced content it attracts a strong audience. What doesn't work is relying on old repeats or film stock.' However, out of forty nine opt-outs, STV only outperformed the rest of ITV on just five occasions. The Greatest Scot, broadcast over a week in November, could only muster thirteen per cent of the viewing audience. This was much lower than the thirty per cent average of event drama Collision, which launched with seven and a half million viewers on ITV. The decision to stop airing slot-winning drama also caused much controversy, leading to an ongoing financial dispute with ITV over programming debt. In the 2009 autumn season, STV only aired one new ITV drama, Murderland, which was set in Scotland and starred Robbie Coltrane. At the time, Woodward explained that his decision created 'more space in the schedule.' In September, the Scottish broadcaster announced its plans to scrap the ITV Evening News from its schedule, replacing it with a programme with 'a Scottish perspective.' It is unclear whether this move is likely to go forward in light of STV's latest rethink.

Skins will return for its fourth series at the end of January, E4 has announced. The new series, which sees all of the series three cast reprise their roles, will be comprised of eight episodes - two shorter than previously. 'We take great pride in the development of raw young voices in Skins,' said executive producer Bryan Elsley. 'This year, our writers and cast have stepped up and broken through to new levels of boldness. Funny, disrespectful, edgy, but also poignant and heartfelt, these stories try to go to the heart of what it means to be young today.' The new series will feature guest appearances from Chris Addison, Tanya Franks, Paul Kaye, Pauline Quirke, Simon Day, Dudley Sutton, Hugo Speer, Jenny Eclair and Will Young.

Marg Helgenberger's marriage will reportedly be ended by February. The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation star, who met her husband, the actor Alan Rosenberg, while working on Ryan's Hope in 1984, split from him last year after nineteen years of marriage. Helgenberger, who filed to end the marriage in March, cited irreconcilable differences, and is believed to have requested spousal support. According to TMZ, a Los Angeles judge is expected to sign off on the divorce papers by the end of January.

Paul McCartney has revealed that his objections caused the Nowhere Boy script to be changed. The recently released movie examines the relationship between John Lennon and his Aunt, Mimi Smith, who raised him from the age of five. However, McCartney told the movie's director, Sam Taylor-Wood, that he was unhappy with the portrayal of Lennon's aunt, the Daily Mail reports. 'I said, "Sam, this isn't true,"' McCartney explained. 'Aunt Mimi was not cruel. She was mock strict. But she was a good heart who loved John madly.' Taylor-Wood reportedly changed the script to show Mimi in a more positive light. However, she allegedly argued with McCartney about other parts of the film and he is said to have declined her invitation to see the movie thus far.

Katie Price has reportedly put her name forward to make a guest appearance in the next series of The Apprentice. The reality TV regular, who was recently paid three hundred and fifty thousand pounds to reprise her role in ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, was allegedly in a conversation with Sir Alan Sugar and Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden. Christ, I'll be that was a meeting of minds. Price is quoted by the Sun as saying: 'I'm not the brightest but I know how money works.' Yes, Jordan, we've noticed. Holden is said to have originally asked Sugar: 'Why don't you hire Katie for one of the tasks next year?' The sixty two-year-old businessman then reportedly responded that he thought the former glamour model could be 'an asset to the show.' Or, indeed, two. In November, the BBC announced that The Apprentice - as well as its first ever spin-off series Junior Apprentice - had been pushed back to summer 2010 because of May's potential general election.

Coleen Nolan has revealed in the Mirror today that she is finally happy with her body naked.

And, moving swiftly on from the very chilling thought of Coleen Nolan's naked body, Frank Lampard spent Christmas Day with his ex-fianceé Elen Rives for the sake of their children, according to press reports. The Chelsea and England footballer, who has been romantically linked with Christine Bleakley, has two children with the thirty four-year-old Rivas. A friend of the star told the Sun: 'Frank and Elen wanted the day to be normal for the children, but she has said the atmosphere was very tense. She still has feelings for Frank but is angry at how he has moved on so quickly. He just wanted to make sure the girls had a wonderful day and they did. He has moved on.' That's one bitchin' Copper's Nark of a 'friend' you've got there, Frankie. I trust he or she - if, indeed, he or she even exists - is off your Christmas card list for next year? The former couple were together for seven years, but reports claimed that Lampard cheated twice on the Spaniard. Despite this, Rives has admitted she still has feelings for the midfielder, saying: 'It wouldn't be fair of me to start a new relationship when I still think about him.' So do most of Moscow Chelski FC's support, Elen chuck, but I don't think many of those want to sleep with him. Although, they're a funny lot down Stamford Bridge what with all that 'one man went to mo' malarkey.

Next, it's time for yet another Kerry Katona story. This has been pretty much the YEAR of the Kerry Katona story, hasn't it, dear blog reader? She has, reportedly, been rejected from the final series of Celebrity Big Brother after failing psychological tests. The former Atomic Kitten and reality TV regular had been in secret talks with producers and was said to have 'sailed through' the show's interview process, reports the News Of The World. A friend (I'm presuming this is a different one to Frank Lampard's cos those two seem to move in somewhat different circles) said that the twenty nine-year-old cocaine snorting lard bucket had been 'banking' on the two hundred and fifty thousand pound cheque for her appearance, with reports suggesting that she faces eviction from her, actual, home in the New Year. 'Kerry is heartbroken,' said the friend. 'It's the first offer of work she's had in months and she's failed it because she isn't mentally well enough. She hasn't got a pot to piss in and she's looking like losing her home. She has bipolar disorder but controls it with medication. When she came back from the interview with the psychiatrist she thought she'd done really well. But when Kerry got the call saying the deal was off, she was horrified.'

And, finally, here's yet another sample of Keith Telly Topping's truly singular artistic pretentions. An installation piece entitled The Queue For The Bus (2003).

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Thank heavens that Christmas Day is over, dear blog reader. Yer Keith Telly Topping isn't, really, one to embrace the Bah! Humbug! School of Doodah and all that, various occasional manifestations of comedy miserablism aside. I've got no real problems with Christmas, per se. There's normally some good stuff on the telly, at least, and for that I'm always grateful. But, I've never been over much of a big fan of Christmas Day itself, not even when I was a saucepan. Everybody normally eats too much, drinks too much, has a big fight, ends up sulking and, by about five o'clock in the afternoon they're just sick to death of the day and wish to get back to something vaguely approaching normality on Boxing Day. Anyway, in spite of all that this year we had, The End of Time. Which was nice. No, not nice ... wonderful. The scene in the café between the Doctor and Wilf might, just, be my favourite ever in Doctor Who, right up there with 'Homosapiens, what an indomitable species...' and 'I was with the Filipino army during their final advance on Reykjavik' and the 'How shall a man know his Gods?' bit in The Aztecs. When Bernard Cribbins started crying and David joined in, I was well-ready for the flood. And then, when you thought that was as good as it was going to get, there was the sequence in the burned-out factory between Tennant and Mad John Simm that just ached. Some people seemed not to have enjoyed it, of course, that's inevitable. Some appear to have found it too confusing or brash for their sensibilities. I get that. But, I thought it had everything one could want; a resurrection for The Master straight out of Dracula AD 1972 and a bunch of Stig lookalikes with machine guns who are all rubbish shots. And Wilf's reaction to the TARDIS: 'I thought it'd be cleaner!' Perfect. Did anybody else find John Simm in a dress strangely alluring? Just me then...? Hang on. Why does everybody round here look like John Simm, today?

Anyway, onto the ratings: EastEnders was the most watched TV programme on Christmas Day, with just under eleven million viewers watching the brutal (though, thoroughly deserved) murder of Archie Mitchell, according to overnight figures from the BARB. The audience research body found that BBC shows - for the third year running - accounted for nine of the ten most watched programmes of the day, including all of the Top Five. The Royle Family, which had an average of 10.2m viewers, was second, followed by Doctor Who, which was watched by ten million on BBC1. Doctor Who also topped the viewing figures for the BBC HD channel with a further three hundred and forty thousand viewers there. The only ITV programme in the Top Ten was, as with last year, Coronation Street - the sixth most popular show - with just under eight million viewers. Gavin & Stacey, which is of course (mercifully) nearing the end of its final series, was fourth, with 9.2m viewers. It was followed by the charming children's animation, The Gruffalo, which had a well-deserved 8.8m viewers. Keith Telly Topping really enjoyed that one. And, that's about the first thing he's enjoyed which James Corden's been involved in since ... ever. Meanwhile, Catherine Tate: Nan's Xmas Carol attracted 7.1m people - slightly more than the 6.8m who watched BBC News and Strictly Come Dancing, the only BBC show to be beaten by its ITV opposition from two o'clock onwards. Shrek The Halls, which was seen by 5.6m people, was the tenth most popular programme, getting narrowly more than the Queen's Christmas Broadcast. Audiences on the whole were slightly down on last year. It was, by and large, a horrible night for ITV with Emmerdale (5.2m) being well beaten by Doctor Who, Agatha Christie's Poirot (3.7m) struggling against the BBC's big comedy guns and All Star Mr & Mrs (2.9m) having its bottom well and truly smacked by the EastEnders juggernaut at 8:00. BBC2's highlights were repeats of Dad's Army (3.4m) and Blackadder III (2.9) - which both managed to beat All Star Mrs & Mrs in the 8:00 hour - and the final James May's Toy Stories (2.6m) which will, at least, be repeated on Sunday and will hopefully pick up a few more viewers then. It didn't get any better for Channel 4 than the 1.3 million who watched Deal or No Deal: Scrooge or Santa at three o'clock. Overall, BBC1 had a massive thirty eight per cent average audience share during prime time, while ITV struggled to get just 19.3 per cent. BBC2 was third with eight and a half per cent. BBC3 had a strong night in multichannel homes, even outperforming Channel 4 during prime time with an average share of just over two per cent. Doctor Who Confidential, for instance, was watched by five hundred and seventy six thousand viewers in the seven o'clock hour,

Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna were crowned winners of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. The former The Bill actress and her professional partner beat the 2009 series champion Chris Hollins, runner-up Tricky Ricky Whittle and former contestants Rachel Stevens, Austin Healey and Gethin Jones. Bastian and Fortuna scored a perfect forty points from the judges after performing a faultless Viennese waltz. Judge Bruno Tonioli praised the pair's 'impeccable' routine and 'supreme beauty,' while Alesha Dixon said that the dance was 'beautiful.' Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly presented the show, which included a special performance by the cast of musical The Rat Pack.

Another Mitchell will send shockwaves through Albert Square in the New Year when Archie's secret son makes a surprise appearance in EastEnders. Despite not knowing his father, Danny - played by soap newcomer Liam Bergin - will arrive in Walford to attend Archie's funeral and curious to see his big sisters. As Ronnie (Samantha Janus) and Roxy (Rita Simons) have a blazing argument, he interrupts them, but they're dismissive of his presence. However, when Roxy states that they've just buried their dad, Danny retorts, 'I think you might have buried mine, too.' The Mitchell sisters are shocked and stunned by his response as they stare at the brother they never knew existed. Described as a 'loveable rogue,' Danny is said to be something of a charmer with an eye for the ladies, while guys instantly see him as competition in the alpha male stakes. Danny's father Archie (Larry Lamb) met his maker during yesterday's episode when a mystery assailant bonked him him over the bonce with the Queen Victoria bust which had featured so prominently in all of the trailers for the episode. All of which now, suddenly, make sense. Personally, I hope Ian Beale did it. If only cos it'll mean he's likely to be banged up which will give him something to be really miserable about. It might have been a bit of a grime subject matter for a Christmas Day episode - the really funny bit about him giving Janine a one-way ticket to Gdansk, notwithstanding - but then, when you think about it, somebody usually gets murdered in Albert Square at Christmas, it's how they set their watches in Walford. Anyway, tragically, Archie went to his grave knowing nothing of his son's existence, as his ex-wife Glenda (Glynis Barber) fled when she discovered that she was pregnant. Speaking of his forthcoming role, Bergin said: 'The first time I walked into Albert Square and saw the Queen Vic was a very special moment and I'll have that memory forever. All of my on-screen family have made me feel very welcome from the first moment that I met them and I am enjoying every minute working here.' The BBC soap's executive producer Diederick Santer commented: 'Liam is a fine young actor, and a proper East Londoner, who I've been keen to bring into EastEnders for quite some time. His character Danny Mitchell is something of an enigma.' He teased: 'Is he simply their kid brother, keen to get to know his exciting big sisters? Or is there something else that he's after?' If wouldn't be Easties if it wasn't the latter, would it?

The motoring show and particular favourite of yer Keith Telly Topping Top Gear was yesterday named as the nation's favourite television programme of the decade. The BBC2 series, which was completely reinvented in the early years of the decade, topped a poll commissioned for Channel 4 for a programme due to be broadcast next week. Called, with utterly staggering originality, The Greatest TV Shows of The Noughties. Can't do them for false advertising under the Trades' Description Act there. Top Gear was first broadcast in 1977 but BBC bosses grew tired of the show's format and decided, in 2001, that it needed to be refreshed. Many of the show's then-presenters defected to Five for the new Fifth Gear show, but by 2003 Top Gear returned with a line-up of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and (from the second series of the new show) James May and went from strength to strength thereafter. The show fought off tough competition from Doctor Who, The Office, The Simpsons and Qi to top the chart for Channel 4's show. When asked to comment Richard Hammond said: ''I could never say what the reason is for Top Gear doing so well since we started it, but I think there's always a sense that we'd still be doing it even if the cameras weren't here and that makes it real.'

Ekaterina Ivanova is reportedly planning to appear on Celebrity Big Brother. Ivanova, who ended her relationship with Ronnie Wood earlier this month, could earn one hundred thousand pounds for taking part in the reality series, the Sun claims. A source for the programme told them: 'Ekaterina is just the type of feisty character we want on the show. She's also very high profile and will no doubt have some great gossip about what life was like living with one of Britain's biggest rock stars. I've no doubt Ronnie will come in for some stick. She'll also appeal to younger viewers as she's quite the style icon. And I'm sure a few older male fans will seek her out.' yes, that sounds like just the sort of thing a television professional would tell a tabloid newspaper. So, that was the Sun's Big Brother 'exclusive.' Most other papers went for a story with a somewhat different angle in relation to the franchise. That the producers of Big Brother had been criticised for targeting amputee soldiers to appear in the next series. According to The Times, Veterans' charities 'condemned' Endemol after they attempted to recruit wounded servicemen and women to appear in the eleventh series of the reality television show. An e-mail sent to the Army Benevolent Fund from the programme makers said: 'As well as the open auditions we always cast the net far and wide. I'd like to politely enquire if any of your members would be interested in BB11?' An ABF spokeswoman, Annabelle Fuller, said: 'We're a charity, not a selection box for bad TV programmes. The people we help are often vulnerable.' Endemol reportedly asked the charity for case studies of soldiers who had been made homeless or severely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fuller later wrote on her blog: 'How heartless do you have to be to think that putting a homeless person in a house where they face a weekly eviction vote is a good idea?' Gotta say Annabelle, love, it's about a million miles away from being the sickest thing that's ever been dreamed up regarding this show. In a joint statement, Endemol and Channel 4 said: 'Big Brother aims to cast the net far and wide to ensure that a diverse range of people get the opportunity to audition and take part in the programme.' Oh, so you're making this a case of anybody who doesn't like this idea is a bigot, are you? That's novel. I'm almost impressed. Almost, but not quite. 'Many different groups and organisations have been approached as they have strong networks within more isolated communities and can help to spread the word about the dates of open auditions,' they continued.

Actor Charlie Sheen spent much of Christmas Day in a police cell after being accused of domestic violence. Officers arrested the forty four-year-old Platoon and Wall Street star on Friday morning after an emergency call from a house in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado. An ambulance went to the house, but no-one was taken to hospital. Police said that the Two and a Half Men actor was suspected of assault, menacing and criminal mischief. 'Menacing'? Is that an actual thing? He was subsequently released on eight thousand five hundred dollars bail. Sheen is, of course, the son of former-President Martin Sheen and the brother of actor-director Emilio Estevez. He was married in May 2008 to Brooke Mueller Sheen, a property investor who gave birth to the couple's first children, twin boys, in March.

A former Playboy model fainted in court after being found guilty of assaulting a woman in the washrooms of a Brighton nightclub. Glamour model Louise Glover, had physically attacked the woman whom she believed was attempting to seduce her husband. After being convicted of a vicious attack on Maxine Hardcastle, the twenty-six-year-old slumped to the floor in the courtroom at Hove Crown Court. Hardcastle is the daughter of the musician Paul Hardcastle. When Glover regained consciousness, she burst into tears and then proceeded to verbally abuse the judge, Charles Kemp, who demanded that she calm down. The former Playboy model of the year was informed that the judge would consider all sentencing possibilities, including a stretch of stir, when her hearing resumed on 4 February. After a jury deliberated for one hour, Glover was found guilty of carrying out an assault occasioning bodily harm. During the model's trial, the court heard how she hit the head of Miss Hardcastle against a toilet rim as many as ten times and had even tried to stuff the victim's head down the lavatory. Oh ... I'm having a horrible flashback to secondary school here. Anyway, the violent attack was said to have left Hardcastle covered in blood and her face sustained severe bruising. She also had scratches to her arms and legs and lost some hair. It emerged during court hearings that Glover had believed the victim had 'looked at her husband' in a Brighton nightclub. Glover claimed that she had simply been defending herself.

And, finally, television's first weather presenter George Cowling died on Christmas Eve, following a short stay in hospital. Cowling, eighty nine, had presented the first televised forecast from the BBC's Lime Grove Studios on 11 January 1954. He had joined the Met Office in 1939 as a meteorological assistant for the RAF and went on to work as a forecaster in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He appeared on the BBC until 1957 and remained with the Met Office until his retirement in 1981. In the days before satellite images, Cowling's main tools were pencils - and a rubber - for analysing the charts and a pair of dividers for measuring isobar spacing to give wind speeds. In order to get the graphics to the BBC, he had to transport a large bundle of rolled charts across London to the studios at Shepherd's Bush. In February 1957 he was promoted to RAF Bomber Command and subsequent postings included Singapore, Malta, Bahrain and Germany. He also worked as a senior instructor at the Met Office College and as principal forecaster at Heathrow Airport. In his biography for the BBC Weather website, he recalled a studio visit by Princess Margaret. Cowling warned her he had 'bad news' for viewers, with frost forecast. The Princess said: 'That's good news - I love the cold weather.' Stumped for something to say, the weatherman eventually replied: 'Perhaps ma'am, you don't suffer from frozen pipes like the rest of us!'