Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Credit Crunch Comes to Weatherfield

Some potentially world-shattering telly news here; ITV are alleged to have been affected by the current financial crisis to such an extent that they are now struggling to make their own programmes and, so, may give them over to independent companies to produce for them. Rumours suggest that discussions are already taking place over the future of Coronation Street due to severe cutbacks at ITV. That ever reliable bastion of truth and quality reporting, the Sunday Express has a story which alleges the long-running soap opera may no longer be produced by Granada Television - as it has been since 1960 - because ITV (persumably as an entity in and of itself) is struggling to cope with the impact of the recession. It is also suggests that, as an 'interim measure', Emmerdale may soon be made in Manchester rather than by Yorkshire Television in Leeds. That oft-qutoed spokesperson "an insider" told the newspaper: 'It's fairly certain that Leeds will be closed and Emmerdale will be run from Manchester, which is, effectively, the end of Yorkshire TV.' Just last week, ITV's executive chairman Michael Grade admitted that the financial state of commercial television had been 'severely challenged' (that would be 'cattle trucked' to you and me, pal) by the economic downturn. 'I've seen the cycle come and go over the years,' he noted. 'I have never seen anything quite as dramatic or profound as this in terms of the effect on advertising revenues.' Well, you know, having some decent programmes on your schedule might just help, Michael. I'm guessing here, mind but I thought I'd thrown that suggestion into your in-box to see if it warrents an acknowledgement. An ITV spokesman, meanwhile, confirmed to the Express that the broadcaster is currently holding talks over its future, but dismissed claims that its production wing would be closed completely. 'Operational reviews are taking place to ensure that ITV is in the best shape to meet the unprecedented challenges facing the economy,' he said. 'But there are no plans to drastically scale back, or shut, ITV Studios.'

Elsewhere, I am as delighted as a big fluffy delighted thing to report some very welcome news concerning the greatest TV show in the world, ever (well ... that doesn't have the words "Doctor", "Buffy", "Likely" or "West" in the title, anyway). Parker Lewis Can't Lose looks set to finally be coming to DVD in 2009. Keith Telly Topping will post more details when they've announced a release date (and, I'm speculating this is likely to be Region 1-only, at least to begin with, since the show never really had anything more than a tiny - albeit very dedicated - cult-following in the UK). But, seriously, that is - as Mikey Randall would doubtless note - "primo-rad, baby!" If you never saw it back in the day, Parker Lewis Can't Lose was just ... indescribably (and quite surreally) brilliant ... albeit, it's probably fair to say it did lose something significant during its third season. I'd completely forgotten what a great episode Radio Free Flamingo was!

Also, in the "about bloody time" column, the last week has seen a lot of industry rumours concerning the oft-speculated Sopranos movie. After the success of the film adaptation of another HBO series, Sex and the City, in an interview with New York Magazine two weeks ago, James Gandolfini for the first time since the show ended didn't flat-out deny that plans for a movie had been discussed, noting: 'Obviously it's the writing of the script and if David [Chase] comes up with something, then that would do it for me. It would be great to bring everyone back together.'

In the mean-time, whilst we wait developments, if you fancy a right good laugh, have about half an hour to kill and are - and this is very important - not easily offended by a surfeit of viciously profane language then you could do a lot worse than check this m*tha*u*k* out.

And, lastly (cos I've got 'stuff to do' frankly), this week's "Did You Know?" Did you know that Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes hard-man actor Dean Andrews, owner (as Ray Carling) of the hardest working moustache in the CID went to Oakwood Comprehensive School in Rotherham with Top Gear's James May. "While all the rest of us had sports bags, James walked around with a briefcase," noted Dean. Yeah, that sounds about right!