Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Born To Run - Lavatory Humour For Desperate People

Keith Telly Topping would like to take this opportunity to apologise for a quite unforgivable error that occurred in the selection of one of the photos used to illustrate a story in yesterday's blog. A picture that we published purporting to be of British National Party leader Nick Griffin was, it turned out, a photograph of 'A Nazi.' From The North unreservedly wishes to apologise for this mistake and for any inconvenience or embarrassment caused ... to the Nazi.

Sir David Attenborough yesterday fronted the BBC's first major step in putting its vast archive on the Internet by introducing a service that will permanently offer thousands of the greatest film moments from the corporation's world renowned Natural History Unit. Britain's best-known wildlife filmmaker has contributed some favourite clips from his own work to an initial offering of five hundred short films that are available on Wildlife Finder, a new division of the BBC's website. The service, which is supported by extensive background information on habitats and species, includes clips such as Attenborough's famous forest encounter with the Australian lyrebird as it mimicked the sound of lumberjack chainsaw gangs and the noise of car alarms. Fresh segments are to be uploaded to the site on a daily basis and, by early next year three thousand further clips - all between two and eight minutes long - will be available for viewing, along with audio recordings of the featured animals and birds. It is hoped that Wildlife Finder will reflect not only the diversity of the natural world but the depth of work produced by the Natural History Unit in Bristol, which has been making programmes for the BBC since 1957.

Billie Piper has been confirmed to star in forthcoming BBC1 drama A Passionate Woman. The Doctor Who actress will appear alongside Waking The Dead's Sue Johnston, New Tricks' Alun Armstrong and Frances Barber in the Kay Mellor-penned romance. Piper will play Betty, a young wife who falls in love with Polish neighbour Alex Crazenovski (Theo James) in the 1950s. Two decades later her affair will be exposed on her son Mark's (Andrew Lee Potts) wedding day. Johnston is cast as Betty in the 1980s, while Armstrong will portray her devoted but dull husband Donald. The younger version of Donald will be played by Armstrong's real-life son, Joe, best know as Alan A'Dale in Robin Hood. (It's not the first time that Alun and Joe have worked together, they were also in one of Mellor's previous dramas Between The Sheets.) Rachel Leskovac and Barber will feature as the younger and senior versions of Betty's sister Margaret. 'I am thrilled that we are bringing this beautiful drama by Kay Mellor to BBC1,' said BBC commissioning editor Polly Hill. 'It has its roots in something very personal for Kay, but it's also an epic love story that is played across four decades. We are delighted that the script has attracted such a wonderful cast led by Billie Piper and Sue Johnston and we are sure it will prove a real treat for the audience.'

Freeview users will need to retune their set-top boxes and TVs on 30 September as the service is upgraded. More than eighteen million homes will be affected. The move mainly aims to give more viewers access to Channel Five. However, those who have Channel Five at the moment will be unable to watch it until they have retuned. ITV3, ITV4 and some BBC radio stations will also be affected. About four hundred and sixty thousand households are expected to permanently lose access to ITV3 and ITV4. The technical changes behind the upgrade will eventually enable High Definition (HD) television to be broadcast on Freeview. HD is already available on the free-to-view satellite service Freesat. 'These are significant and necessary changes which will immediately bring Freeview viewers new channels, introduce new homes to exiting channels and prepare the platform for the future availability of Freeview HD,' said Ilse Howling, managing director of Freeview. All Freeview TV sets, set-top boxes and digital recorders, including TopUp TV and BT Vision boxes will need to be retuned from lunchtime on 30 September.

The BBC soap EastEnders took home half of the prizes at this year's Inside Soap Awards, including the night's most prestigious award for Best Soap. The Walford-based serial, which retained the top accolade for the second year running, tallied seven trophies compared to Coronation Street's five. Hollyoaks managed only one, while Emmerdale walked away empty-handed. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

Sacked Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips has criticised the show's panel for scoring contestants too generously. The embittered old battleaxe choreographer admitted that she was surprised to see Hollyoaks actor Ricky Whittle and Footballers' Wives stars Laila Rouass and Zöe Lucker achieving scores of thirty and above on Friday night. Speaking to the Sun, she commented: 'The marks are too high - ridiculously high. I've done an overall mark for everybody and theirs are nowhere near where mine are.' Presumably, nobody has yet had the heart to point out to dear old Arlene that since she was sacked her marks, actually, don't count any longer and that she needn't bother to keep doing them. 'I think Craig [Revel Horwood] is the only one marking what he sees - and he gets booed,' she added, presumably remembering with some fondness the old days when she used to get similarly hostile reactions from audiences. Phillips added that some celebrity dancers have managed to win over the judges by using their acting skills to cover up technical mistakes. 'Natalie Cassidy, Zöe Lucker and Craig Kelly are all actors and they know how to perform,' she explained. 'With Natalie she was telling the story so much with her face, I kept missing her feet. It's a bit like Derren Brown pulling the wool over your eyes. If you believe you can dance, you can act it and maybe that's why they're getting such high scores. If they carry on like this they'll have to start marking them out of twenty.' So ... how's life-post-sacking going for you, then Arl? Getting out, much?

Brendan Cole, meanwhile, is facing a right good dressing down from Strictly bosses after calling Craig Revel Horwood an 'idiot' during a spectacular live on-air rant. The Kiwi dancer lost his rag after Horwood criticised Cole's partner Jo Wood's rumba. Cole was also heard to shout: 'I'll see you outside.' The purpose of this would-be out-the-back liaison is, as yet, unknown dear blog reader. Horwood sparked Brendan's fury by lambasting Wood's technique and claiming that the best bit of her performance was when the fifty four-year-old was 'standing still.' Which, even Keith Telly Topping is forced to admit was pretty damn funny. But Cole fumed: 'That's just rude, arrogant and unnecessary.' And he turned to a tearful Jo and stormed: 'Don't listen to that Australian idiot.' A BBC insider told the Daily Star: 'Everyone knows Brendan is passionate and fiery. But producers will be having a quiet word with him. He must learn to control his temper.' And offering people out live on national TV too, I'd've said.

And he's not the only one gunning for Craig, it would seem. Enzo Calzaghe has claimed that the Strictly judge is 'very snotty and rude.' Joe Calzaghe's dad, himself pretty useful with his fists in his day, blasted Horwood for his critical comments on his son's first two dance routines. Joe and professional partner (and lover, allegedly) Kristina Rihanoff ended up at the bottom of the leaderboard in Week One, with Horwood describing the boxer's performance as similar to 'rigor mortis.' Enzo told WalesOnline: 'If I was there I'd throw a big bag of tomatoes at him! If I put Craig in the boxing ring, I wouldn't be so rude and demanding, he'd have to pick it up at his own pace. None of the dancers there are a Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, they are all finding it difficult. They are all really nervous.' Well, at least he didn't threaten to biff him on the conk, unlike some hard-as-nails dancers not a million miles away from TV centre.

Natalie Imbruglia has revealed that she turned down the chance to appear on Strictly some years ago. The Australian pop star and former Neighbours actress, thirty four, said that she had to turn the reality series down because she was too busy working on her music career. 'I have been asked to do Strictly Dome Dancing, but I said no,' she told the BBC. 'I was actually working, I was in the studio songwriting. It was years ago.' She added: 'I'm a dance school kid, so I'd probably be really good, but I would have been terrified.'

Joe Godwin has landed the most powerful job in children's television, after being named the new director of BBC children's. Godwin is currently head of news, factual and entertainment at CBBC but will replace Richard Deverell in November, when he relinquishes his controller of children's post to become chief operating officer of BBC North. Godwin started out as a BBC trainee and is a former producer of Blue Peter, but has also worked in the commercial sector, notably as interactive director and vice president of operations at Nickelodeon UK. His new role will see him leading BBC children's to Salford in 2011, as well as presiding over the CBBC and CBeebies services, which are managed by Damian Kavanagh and Michael Carrington respectively.

Ofcom has backed the producers of Wife Swap over an episode in which a baby was shown living in a dirty flat and eating chips. The regulator received fifty five complaints from viewers concerned about what they saw as neglectful treatment of an eighteen-month-old baby. The complainants argued that Channel 4 and the producers should have intervened when they saw the unhygienic conditions and poor diet endured by the child and also raised doubts about a scene in which the child was left in her cot with a wet nappy until midday. But Ofcom noted that the situation existed prior to filming and was in no way encouraged, condoned or created by the producers. It said the format of Wife Swap loaned itself to a situation in which the child's parents learned from their mistakes and that a sequence filmed six weeks later showed a healthier situation. Furthermore, C4 had ensured that the family was assessed by an accredited psychotherapist, the child's grandmother was to hand, a camera monitored the child's activity in its bedroom and at least one member of the production team was present in the house twenty four hours a day during filming. It rejected concerns about the wet nappy, as she did not appear distressed and was changed when she woke up, and noted that as well as crisps and chips, the child ate healthy food during the show. Ofcom also cleared Channel 4 and Objective Productions over Derren Brown's series of stunts grouped as The Events. The first three shows in the run, which saw Brown appear to predict the lottery and try to trick people into getting stuck on their sofas, attracted thirty one wholly predictable complaints. These pathetically ignorant concerns ranged from the show's deployment of apparent subliminal and hypnosis techniques to mislead viewers, the welfare of a cat that appeared to be a whisker away from being stabbed and a throwaway joke about the Lottery's bonus ball being of interest only 'women and gays.' As From The North has bemoaned on previous occasions, the utter nonsense that some people chose to care about continues to bewilder.

ITV is believed to be in advanced talks with former Reed Elsevier boss the excellently-named Sir Crispin Davis and ex-Channel 4 chairman and BMI founder Sir Michael Bishop about taking the non-executive chairman role. Ex-BT chairman the also excellently-named Sir Christopher Bland and Unilever's former boss Niall Fitzgerald are also considered to be in the frame for the chairman role, following the spectacular collapse of talks with former BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball last Friday, and the revelation that current executive-chairman Michael Grade will soon leave the company too. ITV is hoping to appoint a new non-executive chairman within weeks to stop a prolonged period of instability at the broadcaster. That chairman will first be tasked with leading a new search for a chief executive. The commercial broadcasters has already spent nearly six months searching for a new executive to take over from Grade in a process that has been described by some insiders as 'completely shambolic.' Previous candidates had included chief operating officer John Cresswell and HMV chief Simon Fox, as well as Apple's European head Pascal Cagni. Is it just Keith Telly Topping or does everyone who seems to be up for this job have a name that sounds like a minor Bond villain? I wonder if a thirst for world domination is one of the pre-requisites for the job?

CBBC has signed a co-production deal with Aardman Animations to produce a live-action comedy pilot based on stage show Men in Coats. The thirteen episode show, created by Mick Dow, will be aimed at both boys and girls aged seven to eleven and is currently in development. The story follows Mik and Moe, who have left their homeland of Wursturg to seek their fortune. Dressed in the traditional Wurstburgian costume of snorkel parkas, they swear to uphold their land's ancient decree of never speaking. The series follows their attempts to hold down a job, rent a room and simply have fun. Inspired by the stage show, it combines performance arts with surreal magic and camera trickery. The stage show boasts sell-out tours around the world and has generated thirty three million hits on YouTube, placing it in the top one hundred most-viewed Internet clips ever.

Emmerdale star Deena Payne has revealed more details about her recent work on a live music show. The actress, who plays Viv Hope in the soap, teamed up with her guitarist partner Steve Grant to create Barockestra, which gives classical favourites like Vivaldi's Four Seasons a rock-style twist. She first discussed the project on This Morning in July. Payne, who had a musical theatre career before joining Emmerdale in 1993, choreographed dance sequences and also customised authentic Baroque outfits for the production. She worked on the show during her recent one-year break from the Yorkshire-based drama. She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: 'Emmerdale took me away from all that I knew in the dance world, so I absolutely loved doing Barockestra. The show is a lot of fun and it's got so much energy in it. Steve is incredibly talented and he's worked hard to get this off the ground. A lot of the songs go from classical arrangement into a rock theme, which makes the music appeal to people in a more modern way.'

Gemma Arterton has agreed to star in new West End play The Little Dog Laughed. The Quantum of Solace and St Trinian's star, who last acted on stage in a production of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost in 2007, will play Ari, a fiery young woman living with a male character played by Robin Hood's Harry Lloyd. The comedy will also star Young Victoria's Rupert Friend and Diary of Anne Frank actress Tamsin Greig. The production is due to premiere in London early next year. Arterton, twenty three, will start rehearsals with the rest of the cast in December.

FlashForward had an impressive debut for Five last night, according to early viewing figures. The series premiere, which pulled in more than decent ratings in the US last Thursday, drew 3.19m for Five at 9pm last night. Despite making a strong start, the Joseph Fiennes-fronted drama failed to beat Five's fellow US import The Mentalist, which opened with 3.69m on Thursday, March 26, 2009, making it the most successful ever launch of any US drama shown on Five. Previous figures for the first episodes of Five's US imports include CSI premiering with 2.41m in 2001, CSI: Miami with 3.09m in 2003 whilst 3.35m tuned in for CSI: New York in 2005. House opened with 1.97m in 2005, NCIS achieved 1.63m in 2006 and the debut of Prison Break was viewed by 1.85m in 2006.

Celebrity Big Brother producers have targeted Lindsay Lohan as a potential contestant for the final series, according to reports. The Sun states that Endemol has been holding talks with the Hollywood actress in Singapore. The Mean Girls star was in the country playing a series of pop concerts, including a gig at the Singapore Grand Prix. However, a representative for Lohan has told Gossip Cop that the star will not be appearing in the reality show. '[Producers] have been calling and e-mailing her whole team and it has been a pass,' added the spokesperson. 'This is a tacky way to get cheap publicity.' Yeah, pretty much. Other celebrities linked to the next celebrity edition include Kerry Katona and snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan. Meanwhile, former footballer Paul Gascoigne has been tipped to appear. According to the Mirror, the troubled sports star has been offered one hundred thousand smackers by producers to enter the Channel 4 show. Gascoigne, forty two, has fought public battles with alcohol and depression in the past. Last year, he was sectioned twice under the Mental Health Act.

Saturday Night Live newcomer Jenny Slate swore during the show's season premiere. The twenty seven-year-old was recently announced as a new cast-member along with Nasim Pedrad after female comics Casey Wilson and Michaela Watkins were fired from the long-running comedy show. Slate made the on-air mistake in a sketch called Biker Chick Chat, which also featured guest-host Megan Fox, TV Guide has reported. The women in the scene were substituting the word 'fucking' with the usual TV euphemisms 'freaking' and 'fricking', but one minute into the sketch, Slate apparently said: 'You know what? You stood up for yourself, and I fucking love you for that.' The comedienne appeared to realise the gaff she had made as she paused and puffed out her cheeks after she uttered the word. The portion of the episode aired at 12:40am on the East Coast, when the Federal Communications Commission does not heavily regulate the airwaves as it would during prime-time hours. The West Coast broadcast featured an edited version with the naughty removed. Slate's mishap was similar to an incident on the show in 1981, when then cast-member Charles Rocket said 'I'd like to know who the fuck did it' at the end of an episode that featured a running parody of the 'Who shot JR?' storyline from Dallas. He was fired soon afterwards.

The woman who inspired the Beatles song 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' has died of lupus at the aged of forty six. Lucy Vodden passed away at St Thomas' Hospital in London following a long battle with the disease, according to a charity. The housewife was a schoolfriend of John Lennon's son Julian. She became the inspiration for the iconic song after Julian returned home from school with a drawing of her and told his father that it was 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds.' Lennon later took the title for his classic Lewis Caroll-influenced song about plastercine porters and kaleidoscope eyes, which featured on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP in 1967. 'It's so sad that she had finally lost the battle she fought so bravely for so long,' Angie Davidson, the campaign director for the St Thomas' Lupus Trust charity, told Reuters. Davidson added that Julian and his mother Cynthia, Lennon's first wife, were 'shocked and saddened by the loss of Lucy.'

Coronation Street star Michelle Keegan has insisted that she has natural breasts. The twenty two-year-old actress, who plays Tina McIntyre on the ITV drama, admitted that rumours of a secret boob-job started spreading after she was snapped at the beach. Speaking about her soap character, Keegan told the Daily Star Sunday: 'She's always pretty covered up. I think that's why the rumour started that I'd had a boob job. I got pictured in a bikini and people were like, "They're huge - she must have had her boobs done." But I can assure you that they are all mine. I have always been big - I get it from my mum's side of the family. They have all got huge chests. Tina wears a lot of T-shirts and jackets so when you see me on screen they don't look that big. The clothes she wears don't show them off at all. But I'm a Thirty-DD. And trust me, if you saw them in the flesh, you can tell that they are real!' Keegan recently claimed that she was a 'late developer' and didn't feel comfortable with her appearance until she left school.

A viewer of TV illusionist Derren Brown has claimed that he was left immobilised for twelve hours after watching one of his recent shows. Brown attempted to keep viewers stuck to their seats by playing a special video in his Channel 4 programme How To Control The Nation earlier this month. At the end of the stunt, Brown played another tape which was designed to free anybody who was unable to move. Johnathan Whitfeld, twenty six, has now told the Daily Star Sunday that only the first video worked on him, leaving him motionless all night. His partner Katie Dunn, twenty three, was out with friends while the programme was broadcast and reportedly went to bed assuming that Whitfield was joking when she returned home and spotted him sitting transfixed by the screen. Revealing what happened the next morning, Dunn explained: 'He was just saying, "I'm stuck, I need the loo." I didn't have a clue what to do so I texted a friend who I knew had watched it. She said Derren played a video at the end to free people. Luckily, Johnathan had also recorded the show so I found it, played it and he managed to get to his feet.' Whitfield added: 'It was dreadful. I can see the funny side of it now but at the time I wanted to sue him. I needed the toilet and was in agony for hours.' From The North believes you Johnathan. Thousands wouldn't.

X Factor flop Amie Buck has dated eleven footballers, a report has claimed. Presumably, not all of them from the same team because, otherwise, she'd've got herself the full set. The ex-lapdancer, who was joined on stage by another noted football groupie, Cheryl Cole, as she performed 'I'll Stand By You' at her audition, is currently said to be involved in a relationship with Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs. Former Hartlepool striker Jack Wilkinson has now told the Sun that he once had sex with Buck, twenty two, in a car at a golf club. He commented: 'It was the wildest sex I have ever had. She knows exactly how to please a man. It went on forever. She loves footballers. Who knows if it's the physique or the wallet that attracts her - but she definitely wants to be a WAG.' Yeah, but you only play in League One, Jack mate, so I'm thinking it probably wasn't the wallet in your particular case. According to the newspaper, Buck has also had romances with ex-Darlington player Clark Keltie, Spurs goalkeeper Ben Alnwick, former Newcastle United striker Obafemi Martins, his ex-Toon team-mate Smudger Smith, Middlesbrough's Matthew Bates, James Morrison of West Brom and David Edgar of Burnley. Her other rumoured flames include Scott Sinclair, who is currently at Wigan and Danny Simpson, currently on loan from Manchester United at Newcastle. Sounds like a fit girl. Viewers saw Buck failing to make it through to The X Factor's judges' houses stage at the weekend.

Heather Mills has again been tipped to perform on reality talent show Dancing On Ice. According to the Sun, Paul McCartney's ex-wife is getting a number of prosthetic limbs manufactured for her appearance and has been practising with a professional skater. A source said: 'Heather has often been linked with Dancing On Ice but this year she's finally decided to do it. She has been speaking to ITV and is really excited about the show. In typical Heather fashion, she is convinced she'll be a huge attraction. She knows she divides people but there's never a dull moment with her.' They added: 'Whatever people say about her, she's certainly entertaining.' And rich. Don't forget rich.

Unlike Kerry Katona, who has fuelled speculation that she is expecting her fifth child. The troubled, disgraced, cocaine-snorting, bankrupt, unemployable reality TV personality and singer was seen patting her stomach in front of desperate, slavvering papperazzi while looking at baby clothes in Mothercare in Wilmslow last weekend. According to the Sun, the former Atomic Kitten 'reckons having another baby will force her to stop taking drugs.' Cold turkey's probably cheaper, chuck. And doesn't ruin your figure either.

And, finally - Lily Allen has revealed that she once almost soiled herself on stage because she had chronic diarrhoea. Insert punchline here.