Thursday, August 13, 2009

Charles Dance Discovers Dumbing Down In TV Half-A-Decade After Everyone Else

Charles Dance has criticised ITV2 for keeping his new show off-air in favour of Paris Hilton's British Best Friend. The veteran actor revealed that university drama Trinity was pushed from the schedules to make way for Hilton's reality programme at the beginning of the year. It will now finally hit screens next month. Speaking to the Sun (whom, Keith Telly Topping is sure will be vastly sympathetic to the actor's plight), Dance complained: 'We're putting too much energy into junk and reality television.' And you've only just noticed this, Charles? Most of us realised that about five years ago. But, of course, you didn't think to speak out publicly on the matter until you were in a drama that was adversely affected by it? How very Twenty First Century. 'This show was going to be shown in January or February,' he continued. 'But they shelved it until September to put you know what in its place? Paris Hilton's British Best Friend, which is possibly the most execrable piece of television I've ever seen in my life. God knows what the ratings were. It's a piece of television for airheads, starring an airhead. It's just beyond me. Endless hours of reality television - surely by now there must be a consensus that it's crap?' Trinity, which also stars Echo Beach's Christian Cooke and Radio 1 DJ Reggie Yates, tells the story of a world containing 'recreational sex, recreational drugs, and random murder.' Actually, that sounds uncannily like Paris Hilton's British Best Friend.

BBC1 has axed Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday night results programme as it looks to beef up its Saturday schedule with an extended version of the celebrity dance show. The decision to run a single Saturday show, which will be about ninety minutes long, will avoid a clash with The X Factor on ITV, which is reported to be moving its results show to Sunday nights. Strictly Come Dancing, which will return for a seventh run next month, has aired a Sunday night results show since the fifth season in 2007. The new series, with former winner Alesha Dixon controversially replacing Arlene Phillips on the judging panel, will be preceded by two Friday night launch shows. A BBC spokesman told the Daily Mirror: 'We wanted to make Strictly Come Dancing an unmissable TV event so we are packing all the action into one dramatic show. Audiences will be watching, voting and seeing who is in and who is out on a Saturday night.'

And now, here is the news that Cameron and Chase fans have longed for: After two years spent mostly on the sidelines, Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer will be back at the sharp end on House this coming season. 'They are both thrown back into their old jobs,' Morrison revealed at The Teen Choice Awards this week. 'It's been great actually. I have been working a lot and there are things that happen to House very early in the season that have a domino effect on all of the other characters.' Those 'things' are said to involve a shake-up at Princeton Plainsboro that finds Foreman filling in for an ailing House. The transition is rocky to say the least. 'Cameron was always very close and protective of House,' she says. 'And to have her mentor be away in an asylum makes her contemplate life and career and him. Having him gone affects everyone he works with, personally and professionally.' Further complicating matters will be Cameron and Chase's status as newlyweds. 'This season starts a few months from where we left off last season in the finale and Chase and Cameron are finding their groove as a married couple,' reveals Morrison, who hints at some friction now that they're working alongside each other again. 'That might put some strain on the marriage,' Morrison continues. 'I think the audience will be able to enjoy seeing new things from all of us.'

Meanwhile, Morrison and Spencer's former House co-star, the brilliant Anne Dudek, has landed a role on USA Network's Covert Affairs, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dudek, who had a cult following as the cut-throat bitch Amber Volakis on FOX's medical drama, will reportedly co-star opposite Piper Perabo on USA's new project. Affairs centres on Perabo's character Annie Walker, a multilingual CIA trainee. Dudek has been cast as her sister. Ex-Ugly Betty star Christopher Gorham was recently added to the cast in the role of Auggie Anderson, a blind CIA military intelligence agent.

Also from the US, the title for the final season's premiere episode of Lost has been revealed. The opener of season six is named 'LA X', according to a Lost viral video on YouTube.

Some ratings news: Channel 4's excellent On Tour With The Queen made a decent start on Monday night, according to the overnight viewing figures. The first episode of the four-part series, in which the highly engaging Kwame Kwei-Armah follows the route of Queen Elizabeth's six-month global Commonwealth tour in 1953, pulled in 1.67m (7.6%) during the 9pm hour. Meanwhile, Tuesday's documentary The Autistic Me proved a success for BBC3 with six hundred and eighty thousand viewers (3.4%) for the 9pm hour. The figure was almost four times higher than the previous week's Sixteen: Too Young to Vote, fronted by EastEnders actress Melissa Suffield. The Autistic Me followed three young men with different levels of autism who are all trying to lead normal lives. It proved particularly popular with young female viewers. Just over forty four per cent of the audience was aged thirty four or younger and sixty per cent of the total audience was female.

Vernon Kay's brother Steven has been given his first ever presenting slot on GMTV. The primary school teacher will make his debut hosting a segment about 'back-to-school tips,' according to the Sun. 'I'll give Vernon a run for his money,' he joked. Shouldn't be that hard, to be honest Steven. Vernon himself, of course, got his big break when he was spotted by Select model scouts at The Clothes Show Live. He went on to land presenting roles on children's show FBi, T4 and Family Fortunes.

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, has claimed that she was unfazed by hoodies during filming for her new documentary. Ferguson, whose new series The Duchess On The Estate begins this month, also told Radio Times that she believes that she inspires people. 'I inspire people to get on and do things by rallying the troops,' she said. 'I'm an enabler.' So, no obvious maniacal and staggering self-aggrandisement complex there, then? She went on to claim that she was not daunted by spending time in areas where knife crime is common. Ferguson admitted: 'The hoodies I spoke to thought I was a toffee-nosed git and were effing and blinding.' They sound like particularly bright and articulate hoodies judging by the ones I've met. 'But that's fine,' she concluded. 'I wanted them to realise that not everybody is automatically going to think they are bad.'

Left Bank Pictures has confirmed it is developing two new detective dramas – an Aurelio Zen series set for BBC1, and an Inspector Banks special for ITV. The independent, founded by Andy Harries, Marigo Kehoe and Francis Hopkinson, has previously produced the multi-award-winning drama Wallander and the Oscar-winning film The Queen. The three-part feature-length Aurelio Zen series in development will be based on the books by the late Irish crime writer Michael Dibden, and are set in Italy. The first episiode, Ratking, is being adapted by Peter Berry (The Last Enemy), the second part entitled Vendetta by Simon Burke (Persuasion) and the finale, Dead Lagoon, by Patrick Harbinson (Hornblower). Dibden's eleven novels painted an often unflattering picture of Italy, with Zen being confronted with political cover-ups, petty bureaucracy and Mafia murders. Separately, Left Bank is developing Peter Robinson's 2002 novel Aftermath – one of the Inspector Banks Mystery series – to be adapted by Robert Murphy for ITV. The series follows Yorkshire detective chief inspector Alan Banks, who happens upon a grim case in which attractive young girls have fallen victim to a cunning psychotic killer whose identity is concealed behind a façade of respectability. As previously announced, Left Bank is also going into production of the second series of Wallander in Sweden.

ESPN has hired the great Bernard Hill, most famously for his award-winning performance as Yosser Hughes in the 1980s drama Boys from the Blackstuff, to star in its advertising campaign to promote its Premier League season coverage. The Disney-owned US sports broadcaster launches the TV advert tonight to publicise the launch of its British sports channel, which will broadcast the forty six live Premier League matches ESPN picked up the rights for after the demise of Setanta's UK business. The sixty-second ad, created by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, uses the tagline 'It's great to be here' and forms the main thrust of a multimillion-pound ad campaign backing the UK launch of ESPN.

The Teletubbies are reuniting for an eleven-date free stage tour as they target a new generation of tiny-boppers. Eight years after they last filmed for the BBC, Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are also releasing a dance remix of their song 'Follow My Leader.' The quartet will be hoping to re-create the success of their 1997 hit 'Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh,' which sold more than a million copies. There will also be a new DVD Ready Steady Dance and a re-release of their album complete with bonus mixes. The programme, which ran to three hundred and sixty five episodes, was seen in more than one hundred and twenty countries and has already sold more than thirty three million videos and DVDs. A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide said: 'This is about rejuvenating and refreshing the brand for a new generation of children.' The Let's Dance with the Teletubbies Tour starts at Westfield Shopping Centre near TV Centre on Thursday 10 September.

Bryan Singer is close to making a deal to direct a Battlestar Galactica movie for Universal. According to website HitFix, the X-Men and Superman Returns helmer is being courted for the new big screen take on Glen A Larson's science fiction property. Universal announced in February that is was pursuing a new movie spearheaded by Larson. The project is not related to the recent TV series, which has spin-off show Caprica ready to launch on Syfy next year. Singer was previously involved in an aborted Galactica TV series for Fox in 2001, but the big budget pilot was axed amid rising costs and concerns about the story - involving a sneak attack by aliens on Earth - evoking 9/11. Singer's original concept was to be a direct sequel to Larson's 1970s series.

BBC1 has ordered a third run of sketch series The Armstrong and Miller Show before the second has even aired. Ben Miller, who writes and performs on the show with Alexander Armstrong, confirmed to Broadcastnow that BBC1 controller Jay Hunt has given the go-ahead for a third series for 2010. The series will be produced by Toff Media, which is part-owned by Hat Trick Productions. The first seven-part series, produced by Hat Trick, attracted an average audience of 3.9m viewers on its first broadcast in winter 2007, airing on Friday nights after Have I Got News For You. The second series is set to air this autumn, most likely in the same slot, after the BBC shelved an original plan to air it on Saturday nights this summer.

FX is lining up the US remake of Life on Mars for the primetime slot currently occupied by True Blood. The network has bought the UK rights to the show, which originally aired on sister US network ABC this spring. The seventeen part series relocates the BBC's time-travel cop show from Manchester to New York and stars Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt and Jason O'Mara as Sam Tyler. And - Keith Telly Topping would like to assure dear blog readers who haven't yet seen it - it was actually great ... at least until about seven minutes from the end of the final episode, when it all suddenly went pear-shaped. Although a critical hit, the series was axed after one series as ABC struggled to find a sizeable audience. Kudos, which created the UK series, worked with Twentieth Century Fox Television and ABC Studios on the remake with showrunners Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg following an aborted earlier attempt with Boston Legal creator David E Kelley. Jason Thorp, managing director of Fox International Channels UK, said: 'The original Life On Mars and its follow up Ashes to Ashes have a huge fan base in the UK that numbers millions. We are therefore delighted to be able to bring this version to a British audience. Not only is it a faithful adaptation but it also offers something unique to its counterpart show by portraying a grim New York in the seventies, rather than the streets of Manchester.' Life on Mars will debut on FX at 10pm on Fridays from 9 October, once the channel has finished the first run of HBO's True Blood.