Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Come & Have A Go If You Think You're Hard Enough

So, dear blog reader, first up on today's initial update we have something rather unusual - a special From The North request for one of our regular punters. Especially for my old pal, Ian Abrahams, Keith Telly Topping proudly presents, for your slavering delight, this week's Eliza Dushku publicity shot. This is from the Dollhouse season two premiere episode which will broadcast in the US next Friday. And, yes, that his, indeed, 'Apollo out of Battlestar Galactica and Bradley Walsh's mate in Law & Order: UK' (the great Jamie Bamber). Early reports indicate that the episode focuses largely on Amy Acker's character and features a healthy dollop of Alexis Denisof. There is no "bad", so far!

This week's Waking the Dead - End of the Night - was a return to the show, after three years absence, for the great Ed Whitmore, writer of several of the series' most memorable episodes (Thin Air, Multistory, Fugue States). It was, frankly, a bit of a queer one. Beautifully acted, of course, that goes without saying (stand out performances from Michelle Dockery, Kate Fleetwood, Rory Kinnear and, especially, Corrie's Ian Mercer who gave one of the most chilling performances Keith Telly Topping can remember in a series that specialises in them). But the ending ... That's, what, the third time in four years that self-styled Olympian copper Boyd has managed to let the victim of a crime murder the bloke he's investigating at the climax? That's downright careless if you ask Keith Telly Topping. We all know Boyd's flawed but, how the hell does he stay in a job after pulling a stunt like that? Still, all plot silliness aside, there remains a power in Waking the Dead that you simply don't see in any other British crime drama (much less any other US crime drama) at the moment. In the week that Troy Kennedy Martin died, it's comforting to see somebody still prepared to take a few risks with the form. Albeit, I'm not sure what Troy would've made of Waking the Dead. He'd probably have admired its complexities and multi-layered characterisation but would have likely hated its occasional resorting to generic cliches and obvious misdirection. My other favourite writer on the show, incidentally, is Stephen Davis who wrote Special Relationship, False Flag and the extraordinary Final Cut. He, too, hasn't been scripting for Waking The Dead for a while (too busy writing for Silent Witness, no doubt).

Cheryl Cole has announced that she is 'too busy' to support husband Ashley at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Is it really too much to hope that Fabio Capello feels the same way? The twenty six-year-old, who is currently juggling appearances on The X Factor, a solo career and several other projects, said that she has no free time available to accompany Ashley to next summer's event. 'I've just been too busy to be honest, I haven't even thought about it,' she told talkSPORT. 'I don't really get involved with the other WAGs, I just do my own thing.' She also joked about telling X Factor co-star Simon Cowell to get a haircut, adding: 'I've told him time and time again. He just doesn't listen to anyone.' Yeah, we've noticed that.

Sir Paul McCartney has said that he and the other Beatles talked about reforming the band occasionally but never genuinely considered it as an option. The bassist, songwriter and, in Ian MacDonald's wonderfully descriptive phrase 'de facto musical director' of the band told Entertainment Tonight that the group feared that they would ruin their reputation and history if they were unable to match their past glories. McCartney said: 'We talked about it a lot and we always said that if we did it might not be great, whereas The Beatles' career had been great. We'd gone from A to Z and it had been a great journey. If now we were going to go to Z plus and it wasn't very good, you'd ruin the whole thing. So that was kind of our feeling. Even though the offers were huge and there were people going, "I'll pay you this to do it," we talked about it and we sort of said, "Nah." There was something not right about it.' Of his time as a Beatle, Paul added: 'I feel really privileged. People have nearly always got a good story and if they've got bad stories they don't tell them to me. I love playing music and to be able to bring along people into my world and give them a good experience and get the feedback is what I've always been trying to do all along.'

ABC is reportedly plotting a US version of BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey. According to Variety, the network will remake the comedy series for American audiences without the help of writers James Corden and Ruth Jones. ABC is said to have ordered a pilot for the series, which will be made by BBC Worldwide, along with two other sitcoms - one from Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith and the other from the executive producer of Samantha Who, Don Todd. Gavin & Stacey joins other British remakes stateside, including a successful one (The Office) and and, a critically acclaimed but soon cancelled one (Life On Mars). Place your bets now as to which this one is likely to match.

EastEnders actress Charlie Brooks has admitted that she finds it difficult to maintain her dream figure due to her soap commitments. The twenty eight-year-old star, who plays Janine Butcher on the BBC drama, recently vowed that she will never weigh more than nine stone again after becoming health-conscious. Brooks, who has a four-year-old daughter Kiki, dropped from a size sixteen to eight in 2005 after slimming down thanks to a new diet and exercise regime. Discussing her progress in an interview with Take 5, she revealed: 'I was a size eight, but at the moment I'm a size ten - I like to give myself half a stone to play with!' Asked if she has struggled with her weight since returning to EastEnders, Brooks replied: 'Definitely. I haven't managed to do any exercise for a few weeks really because I've been so busy filming and when I do get a break my priority is Kiki. Sometimes I'll do my exercise DVD in the front room with Kiki climbing on my back and usually I work out three times a week. It just depends on my storylines.'

Suranne Jones has announced that she is unlikely to return for Coronation Street's fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Current Weatherfield star Katherine Kelly (Becky Granger) recently claimed that Jones was hoping to reprise her role as Karen McDonald for the ITV show's milestone next year. However, asked if she will be back in an interview with Holy Soap, Jones replied: 'Probably not.' The actress admitted that she doesn't miss 'the scheduling and hard work' required for Coronation Street. However, she added that she remains friends with some of her former co-stars, including Simon Gregson, who plays Karen's ex-husband Steve. She commented: 'I speak to Simon all the time. I miss the people that I was friends with but I don't think Karen will be coming back.'

Former Strictly Come Dancing champion Mark Ramprakash has revealed that he would like to appear as a judge on the show. The cricketer - probably the last man who will ever achieve the feat of scoring one hundred centuries in the first class game - who triumphed with professional dancer Karen Hardy on the 2006 series, suggested that the BBC could recruit him as a temporary replacement for head panellist Len Goodman. His comments come following the decision to axe Arlene Phillips from the panel in favour of 2007's winner Alesha Dixon. 'I am available if the BBC ever want to give Len a bit of a rest and appoint another former winner to the judging panel,' the Daily Express quotes Ramprakash as saying. On the decision to drop Phillips, he added: 'I felt very sad for Arlene because she is very much a favourite of Strictly fans. I sent her an email saying how sorry I was at the way things had worked out. I haven't had a reply and I assume that's because she's been extremely busy.'

It is less than one month until the spaceship Destiny gets underway in SGU: Stargate Universe and we got our first glimpse of the new show's cast this week. The new Stargate series follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves after they are forced through a Stargate when their secret military research base is attacked. Leading the cast is, of course, Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Full Monty) as Dr Nicholas Rush. SGU also stars Louis Ferreira as Col Everett Young, the leader of the military contingent on the Destiny. His role will bring him into conflict with the civilians aboard as the first season progresses. Other cast include Lou Diamond Phillips Alaina Huffman and Brian Smith.

Veteran BBC Radio 4 continuity announcer Peter Jefferson is to leave the corporation a month after he turned the airwaves blue-with-purple-bits during the pips at the top of the hour. Jefferson, whose voice will be familiar to millions of Radio 4 listeners and has worked at the BBC since 1964, could be heard exhaling a very naughty word after he stumbled over his words during a programme trail. The BBC has indicated that his departure was unrelated to the incident but part of a general reorganisation of its Radio 4 announcer line-up to provide more opportunities for newcomers. 'We have a hugely experienced team of continuity announcers and newsreaders who add much to the quality of Radio 4, and Peter has been very much a part of the fabric of the network for many years,' said a spokeswoman. 'We are extremely grateful to him for his contribution throughout that time both as a member of staff and as a freelancer. However it is important that we look forward and it is in the light of these future considerations that we have decided to make some space on our freelance rota to provide more opportunities to newcomers.' Jefferson read the station's Shipping Forecast for many years and was also a contributor to Radio 4 shows Quote Unquote – on which he will still appear – and Poetry Please. He was reading a trail for Archive on 4 when he stumbled over his words just before 8pm on 18 August. 'Archive on Friday ... on Four on Saturday at eight ... fuck!' Don't bother looking for it on Listen Again, it's gone. Believe me, I've checked! In the event, only two listeners complained and it is understood that a number of people contacted the BBC to say they saw the funny side of the incident.

Fat fascism returns to Channel 4 with news that it has commissioned a new series titled My Big Fat Diet Show. The four-part programme, fronted by Anna Richardson, will see women of all shapes and sizes attempt to rid their Christmas excess with a two-week 'drop a dress size' diet. Additionally, Supersize vs Superskinny - also hosted by Richardson - has been renewed for a third series comprising eleven hour-long episodes. 'In our body-obsessed world it's brilliant to have two heavy-weight series for 2010,' said Channel 4's Andrew Jackson. 'To welcome Supersize vs Superskinny back for a third series firmly establishes it as the ultimate body dysmorphia magazine show.'

Mick Taylor's management have furiously denied press speculation that the guitarist was planning to sue The Rolling Stones. According to NME, Taylor's manager Jeff Allen said that the band's former member had been 'horrified' to read the report which suggested that he was planning to seek recompense for unpaid royalties. '[Mick] certainly didn't say that he was going to sue the Stones. Mick's got a very good relationship with the Stones,' Allen said. He continued: 'In fact, the last time we met up with them, him and Keith [Richards] were like long-lost lovers - hugging each other and happy to see each other. When Mick was ill either six or eight weeks ago with some kind of chest complaint, Mick Jagger had his office phone up to see what was going on, and then he phoned up the hospital just to check on Mick because they were worried about him. So there's absolutely no animosity between Mick and the Stones.' Taylor, of course, was a member of The Stones during one of the most important periods, from 1969 to 1974, replacing Brian Jones and playing on most of their best LPs, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and, their masterpiece, Exile on Main Street, before leaving and being replaced by Rockin' Ronnie Wood. You know, 'her off Strictly Come Dancing's' old man. Allen went on to strongly deny other aspects of the original article, adding: 'You can imagine the shock, horror and disbelief when that article came out in the Daily Mail.' The Mail, spreading alleged disinformation and borderline mendacity? Surely not?

And, speaking of newspapers and non-stories, the Sun today admitted that its front page story claiming Lord Alan Sugar was a Jewish 'target' for extremist Muslims was wrong. But, significantly, the paper did not apologise or offer a correction to readers about the 7 January 2009 story, which carried the headline Terror Target Sugar. The story quoted claims by 'anti-terror expert' Glen Jenvey that online Muslim forum was being used by extremists to target leading British Jews in revenge for Israel's invasion of Gaza. The story named Sugar, singer Amy Winehouse, producer Mark Ronson and Labour peer Lord Levy as among those allegedly being targeted by Islamic extremists. News International's daily tabloid subsequently removed the story, which carried the bylines of John Coles and Mike Sullivan, from its website. Jenvey has also appeared on BBC2's Newsnight as 'a terror expert' commenting on Internet monitoring of extremist groups. Today, the Sun ran a follow-up story on page two, with a picture of Jenvey, with a longer version online. 'Jenvey told how he fabricated the list of Jewish targets by posing as a fundamentalist on an extremist website where he urged others to suggest names,' the paper wrote. 'He then leaked the made-up list to a trusted news agency, used by the Sun, and online forum was wrongly accused of being used to prepare a backlash against UK Jews. Jenvey – who had been described as "an extremely capable and knowledgeable analyst" by Tory MP Patrick Mercer – said: "I'm fully responsible for the story. The Sun was deceived. The Sun did not know that I was behind the postings. I would like to apologise to all the British Jews who we scared and I'd like to apologise to The Sun newspaper.'" The magazine Private Eye later revealed that Jenvey, posting to the forum under the pseudonym 'Abuislam,' had in fact created the only evidence that pointed to anything other than a peaceful letter-writing campaign taking place on the website. Jenvey admitted that he posted on the website in an interview with BBC reporter Tom Mangold, aired on Sunday's edition of Donal MacIntyre's Radio 5 Live show. The Press Complaints Commission suspended its investigation of the story when Sugar announced he was taking legal action against the Sun.

Kayla Ewell has denied reports that she and her Vampire Diaries co-stars were spotted flashing their breasts at motorists last month. For which, I'm sure, I speak for all of the motorists when I noted there severe disappointment. Ewell was charged with disorderly conduct and released on bond along with Candice Accola, Sara Canning, Nina Dobrev, fellow actress Krystal Vayda and photographer Tyler Shields, Entertainment Weekly reports. Ewell explained that the group decided to stop and take pictures on a bridge but were later ticketed for loitering on a public walkway by Monroe County police officers. 'We are not the type of girls who flash our breasts. In all honesty, the size of my breasts aren't necessarily something people would be interested in. It's so ridiculous. I would never do that.'

And, we might as well finish off the latest blog with a couple of what they used to call in TV news circles 'the cat up a tree' stories. You know, those slightly eccentic little bits of fluff that News At Ten always used to end with, Reggie Bosanquet rolling his eyes as Anna Ford laid on the schmaltz.

Jessica Simpson has launched an online appeal to help track down her dog Daisy after it was snatched by a coyote. Yeah, I think that's going to be a recovery not a rescue, love.

Katie Price has said that she is 'bored' of all the tabloid stories about her break-up with Peter Andre. You too, eh? We're all so with you, Katie, hen.