Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Goings And Comings On Transfer Deadline Day!

Paul O'Grady has stated that he will leave Channel 4 if the budget of his tea-time chat-show is drastically reduced. The host of The Paul O'Grady Show told the Daily Mirror that he could not remain with the broadcaster if bosses went ahead with the plans to halve its two million pound funding. O'Grady said: 'Cutting it by half is outrageous. You're going to end up with the blandest of the bland and I won't be part of it. I really want to carry on. I like Channel 4 and I'm more than happy to stay and take a cut in my own wages, perhaps twenty per cent. But I'm not going to turn around to my staff and say, "We've got to cut your wages or sack you." They've been with me for six years - they have mortgages to pay and families to feed. I would understand if my ratings were down and the show wasn't performing but it consistently wins its slot and brings in good advertising revenue.' He added: 'If we take a fifty per cent cut, it means we'd only be able to afford a couple of cameras. We can't do five days a week for half the price. It would be crap. Honestly, it would be the bare arse of a show and it would be a compromise too far. I'd be mortified to do a show that's third rate. They said they can do Come Dine With Me for half the price, but we're not about four people eating a lousy dinner and moaning about it.' Well, not usually, anyway. The Paul O'Grady Show returns to Channel 4 on 24 September, though O'Grady's contract expires at the end of the year. Sky are, reportedly, favourites to land the presenter should he leave when his current contract expires. Presumably, he'll take the dog with him. C4's previous early evening show, Richard and Judy, left the schedules when the show was dropped in 2008 whilst Carol Vorderman departed from Countdown after she stated that she had been told to accept a ninety per cent pay cut. A Channel 4 source said: 'We are a commercial company and therefore not immune from the current climate. People have the right to look elsewhere when their deals with us end.' Meanwhile, the Sun have alleged that Graham Norton has quit BBC1 to return to Channel 4 to, effectively, take over from O'Grady. However, Norton's production company immediately poured ice cold water on this report. Graham Stuart, managing director and co-founder of So Television, told Broadcast: 'None of this rings true. I understand that everybody wants Graham but as far as [we] are concerned, we have worked long and hard to get where we are, which is beginning a new chat show on BBC1.' The rumours of Norton's move emerged over the weekend after his Totally Saturday gameshow flopped and Andrew Lloyd Webber became embroiled in a fight to end his BBC contract so he could take his musical reality show to ITV.

Derren Brown has described his new series The Events as 'potentially a career breaker.' The thirty eight-year-old illusionist and master of prestadigitation, who returns to Channel 4 on 9 September with a series of four special live event, also said that the series will be 'the first of its kind. [It's] based on the idea of performing for a audience, and doing quite high-concept stunts in each episode,' Brown said. 'The series is four one-hour episodes, and each one of those is very multi-layered. There are some elements that are pre-recorded, some elements are live, some elements are with an audience in a theatre, and they all lead to a big single event in each episode. It’s quite ambitious and, potentially a career breaker.' He added: 'There will be a large, nationwide interactive remote-viewing experiment, to see if the nation can see something that is hidden from view. So everyone will be at home drawing what they think the hidden object looks like. If it works, it won't be proof of psychic ability, because the methods I'm using won't be psychic. We're just trying to do stuff that hasn’t been done before, and this is certainly the first of its kind.'

Katy Brand has said that she will be shying away from doing sketches involving celebrities such as Kerry Katona and Amy Winehouse. Discussing the upcoming third series of her painfully thin and anaemic BBC3 comedy Katy Brand's Big Ass Show, Brand admitted that her latest sketches won't involve such people. 'I don't really like doing anyone who's having a really awful time, people like Kerry Katona and Amy Winehouse - we're laying off her, partly because there's not a lot to say. We've done Britney [Spears] in this series but I think she's on a bit of an upswing so it feels better doing that now. I also prefer to do people who are internationally famous as well, so we tend to steer clear of British TV stars. I think it's the A-listers who really deserve it to be honest!'

The one-off drama Framed performed well for BBC1 last night, according to overnight viewing figures. The BBC Wales production, starring Trevor Eve and Torchwood's Eve Myles, pulled in a more than decent 4.67m (an almost twenty per cent audience share) between 8.30pm and 10pm. The half-hour Would I Lie To You? followed, bringing in 3.41m.

The future of the DJ AM MTV show Gone Too Far is reported to be uncertain. DJ AM, Adam Goldstein was found dead in his New York City apartment on Friday, with drug paraphernalia reportedly found at the premises. It has been suggested that he died from an overdose although this had not been confirmed by any official source. The thirty six-year-old had just completed filming on the reality show with a focus on youth recovering from addiction, TV Guide reports. The show was to begin airing in October, though a representative said that no decision had been reached regarding the future of the show.

Ricky Gervais has reportedly angrily refuted a critic's claim that his new stage act contains material which is in bad taste, insisting that all of his jokes are 'justified comedically.' According to Contactmusic, the comedian launched his stand-up show Science at Edinburgh's Fringe festival this month. However, part of the routine has since caused a stir when one reviewer picked up on a punchline about the consequences of driving a car whilst drunk. Now Gervais has spoken out in defence of his material, insisting that although the joke is 'a big taboo,' the critic (for the Independent) had misrepresented what was said and twisted its original meaning. In a posting on his blog, Gervais wrote: 'I do the following joke live when talking about the perils of drink-driving, "I've done it once and I'm really ashamed of it. It was Christmas - I'd had a couple of drinks and I took the car out. But I learned my lesson. I nearly killed an old lady. I didn't kill her. In the end, I just raped her." The joke clearly revolves around the misdirection in the term "nearly killed," suggesting "narrowly avoided." But, as it turns out, "nearly killed" means something much, much worse. A big taboo I'll admit, but justified comedically, I feel.' He added: 'This is how a journalist in the Independent recounted the joke, "I nearly knocked this old woman over... but I didn't. I raped her." He then went on to say how disgusting and unfunny that joke is. He's right. It is both disgusting and unfunny. But that's his joke, not mine. It's nothing like mine. It contains no joke at all. He has shown how qualified he is to talk about humour.'

Dannii Minogue has reportedly claimed that she does not like to watch herself on television, particularly material from her teenage years. The star, who is currently a judge on reality show The X Factor, spoke out in an interview with the Observer Magazine. She said: 'I never watch myself on screen. God no. My friends send me YouTube clips from Young Talent Time saying, "This is hysterical." I say to them, "Okay, I'm going over to your mother's house, I'm going to find the photo albums, scan the pictures and drip-feed them to you weekly on an e-mail going, Isn't this hysterical?"'

Presenter Anne Robinson has waded into the debate over ageism in showbusiness, by saying that 'all television is sexist and ageist.' The sixty four-year-old made the comments in the Radio Times, ahead of her return stint as a Watchdog presenter, sixteen years after she first hosted the BBC show. 'There are a lot of pretty young things with not much talent appearing on television,' she said. Robinson recently denied she had undergone a second face lift. 'I'm quite pragmatic: If there was a lovely blonde with huge breasts and long legs who had my experience and wit, I'd be out of a job.' Oh, if only wishing made it so. (Incidentally, as my mate Daniel Blythe pointed out, the ludicrous assertion that there isn't a single leggy blonde who can match Ann Robinson's wit presumably excludes Victoria Coren for some wholly inexplicable reason. Because, if this generalisation does include her then in any potential 'who's the wittiest' contest between The Divine Vicky and Faceache Robinson, I know whom I'd have my mortgage on.)

Don't give up the day job was the general message to Jana Bennett in Edinburgh over the weekend as a raucous TV festival audience voted the guitar-playing director of BBC vision and her co-star, Sam Lewens, in second to last place in TV's Got Talent: Edinburgh Special. Bennett and Lewens, the Dragons' Den series producer, rocked their way through 'My Boss Just Wrote Me A Letter' in front of the judging panel, Louis Walsh, Amanda Holden and Jimmy Carr with Holden visibly curling up in her seat but managing to bite her lip in the presence of such industry power. Miserable choice of song? 'In keeping with the economic mood' or 'just to cheer up the troops with a laugh,' Bennett said aftrewards. Radio 1 producer Chris Cox, with his mind reading act, nudged one place ahead of the duo in the voting. But in the end, not even The Overnights, featuring former BBC musos Krishnan Guru-Murthy on bass and keyboardist Peter Fincham on the keyboard, could topple a woman singing 'Thank You For the Music' with her mouth closed. Now, that's talent.

Madonna is interested in casting David Tennant and Cate Blanchett in an upcoming musical, it has been claimed. The singer is said to want the pair to play King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, the American divorcée for whom he abdicated the throne in 1936, the Sun reports. And they always tell the truth. Madonna is believed to be producing and directing Wallis and has reportedly already met with Tennant to discuss the possibility of him starring in the film. A source said: 'The final script is now written and the locations have been scouted. Madonna is now trying to assemble the cast and put the finances in place. The first scene of the film is an old woman in her nineties living on her own in a Parisian flat. She starts to tell her life story to her housekeeper. It turns out the old woman is Wallis Simpson.'

Hollyoaks' producer Lucy Allan has admitted that she was shocked by the show's poor performance at the British Soap Awards this year. The Channel 4 programme failed to pick up a single prize at May's ceremony, despite being nominated in every category. Reflecting on the setback, Allan told Metro: 'To be nominated in every category, it was a bit of a shock, but the only way is up for next year.' She continued: 'My summary of it is that we probably came second in lots of stuff. There's no prize for second place but we acquitted ourselves very well and on the night I think our clips absolutely stood up.' Second eh? it comes right after first. Anyway ... Allan added that she is now hoping for recognition at the forthcoming Inside Soap Awards, claiming that Hollyoaks has 'strong contenders' in each category. She then joked: 'But after the travesty that was the Soap Awards I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at where we'd end up!' What's Rachel's line in Friends when Joey tells her he's up for a Soapie award? 'Wow, that's like the third-most-important awards you can get in soaps!'

Karren Brady is to take over from Margaret Mountford as an adviser to Lord Sugar on TV show The Apprentice. Ms Mountford quit at the end of the last series to pursue academic studies. A spokeswoman for production company Talkback Thames said forty-year-old Brady would be at Sir Alan's side for the sixth series. She is currently chief executive of Birmingham City Football Club and will accompany public relations executive Nick Hewer in monitoring the show's candidates. 'Lord Sugar has decided to appoint Karren Brady, who has appeared in The Apprentice before,' the spokeswoman said. Ms Brady has appeared in one-off episodes as part of a panel that puts candidates through rigorous job interviews. Brady was also chosen as team leader on a celebrity version of the BBC show for Comic Relief in March 2006, which saw her lead her team to victory, raising more than seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds for charity. Brady was appointed to Birmingham's board in March 1993, when only twenty three years old and, in 2002 became the first woman to hold such a post in the top flight of English football when the team was promoted. She was responsible for the company's flotation in 1997, thus becoming the youngest managing director of a UK plc.

Peaches Geldof will present GMTV's coverage of this year's New York Fashion Week. The silly little rich-girl-socialite and columnist will host 'behind-the-scenes access' and discuss all the 'hottest glamour gossip' at the event. Yeah, that's sounds just like the sort of 'that's not a real job'-type job Peaches would probably manage to land herself. 'Fashion is the thing that establishes creative talent and a person's aesthetic individuality,' she noted. Actually, love, I think you'll find that 'fashion' is conventional usage in dress, manners, etc., especially in or of polite society, or conformity to it. That's my reading of the subject, anyway. 'But most of all it's a fun way to express yourself,' she added. 'I love attending the shows and I am excited to be covering NYC FW for GMTV. NYC is the perfect backdrop for some of the most exciting new designers and old classics in the fashion world.' Is that the kind of flair for oration that her dad's millions have bought her in terms of anything appraoching an education? Bob, you were robbed, pal. Ms Geldof's fashion experience includes modelling on the runway for PPQ. She also writes a regular column for Nylon magazine (no, me neither) and is currently working on her own autumn/winter collection.

Brenda Blethyn is to star in a new ITV murder mystery based on the novel Hidden Depths by noted crime writer Ann Cleeves. Blethyn, the star of Secrets and Lies, Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, will play Vera Stanhope, a lonely detective inspector who investigates the murder of two young people found floating in water. The drama, which is set in contemporary Northumberland, will be directed by Adrian Shergold - whose previous credits include He Kills Coppers and Dirty Filthy Love - and adapted by Paul Rutman, who has written for Marple and Lewis. Made by ITV Studios, Hidden Depths will have controller of drama Kate Bartlett as executive producer. The ITV director of drama, Laura Mackie, said: 'Ann Cleeves's skilfully crafted mystery is a real page-turner, full of intrigue and emotion. I'm thrilled we're bringing it to ITV, especially with Brenda Blethyn taking on the central role. It is a great addition to our strong slate of crime drama.' Lee Bartlett, managing director of ITV global content, added: 'We're delighted to be in production on a new character driven crime drama, set in the North East.'

A wedding dress worn by Barbara Windsor in a classic EastEnders episode is being put up for auction, it has been revealed. Fans of the BBC soap saw Windsor's character Peggy Mitchell tying the knot with Frank Butcher (Mike Reid) in the lilac gown ten years ago. The outfit, which comes with matching shoes and handbag, is now expected to generate around three thousand five hundred pounds when it is sold by Valentine Auctions in Cosford, Shropshire on 14 September. Windsor's dress was originally put on sale at a This Morning charity auction in 2000 and has reportedly stayed with various private collectors since then. Valentine Auctions' spokesman Peter Andrews told the Express: 'Barbara Windsor has a huge fanbase, so the items are very special to many people. There are very few items of genuine EastEnders memorabilia other than a few photographs so the wedding outfit, which includes an authentic signed card from the actress, is extremely rare. It is bound to attract a great deal of interest from collectors and fans of the TV series.'

The father of one of the victims of Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright has criticised the BBC over its plans for a drama based on the murders. Brian Clennell, whose daughter was one of the five prostitutes killed, said the three-part series, Five Daughters, is coming too soon after the murders and will not be able to show the true complexity of the victims' situations. 'Anybody can make a drama about something but no one knows in depth what happened. They have no insight into how these women were brought up or what happened to them and how they got into drugs in the first place,' he told the East Anglian Daily Times. Wright's brother, David, also criticised the drama plans. He is campaigning for Wright – who maintains he is innocent – to be freed. He said: 'We are still in the process of getting a file together to submit to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and anything like this will be fictitious in some way and I am sure it will jeopardise a retrial. People should wait until the dust settles and the families have got used to the idea that their daughters have been murdered.' The drama, which is being written by Stephen Butchard, was revealed by BBC1 controller Jay Hunt last week and hailed as an example of the BBC taking risks with edgy programme content. Butchard said: 'Our hope is that this drama provides a glimpse of the real girls their families knew, and also leads to further debate on the impact of drugs and sex industries upon every town, every city in this country, and what action is or isn’t being taken.' A BBC spokesman, when asked about Mr Clennell and Mr Wright's comments, stated: 'The BBC is working with the mother and sister of Paula Clennell who are fully supportive of the drama. There are no plans that the police or the BBC are aware of for Steve Wright to launch another appeal after his last one failed.'

Children and vulnerable people should not be barred from shows such as Britain's Got Talent despite concerns over the tabloids' treatment of Susan Boyle and ten year old Hollie Steel, presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, said yesterday. The duo, who front BGT and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, said that it would be wrong for programme makers to censor those wanting to appear on reality shows. 'What would you then do, start censoring people because they won't be able to handle the fame and attention as well as you think they should?' McPartlin asked. 'You can't stop people coming on the show just because they don't handle it in the way we expect them to,' he added. Well, you could Ant, if you really wanted to. I think what you actually mean is you don't want to. Which is fair enough but you shouldn't be using that in place of the word 'can't.' 'It doesn't mean it's wrong. Susan Boyle performed three times on the show. The show didn't camp paparazzi outside her house, the show didn't put it in the newspapers.' So, it was her fault, was it? 'I personally believe that every care was taken with Susan Boyle and they looked after her very well indeed.' Dec Donnelly, who I must admit, I've usually got quite a bit of time for, hurried to agree with his partner: 'People don't turn up with it written on T-shirts how sane they are.' Wouldn't the world be so much nicer if they did, though. Think about that. 'I Am Mostly Sane.' I'd buy one. 'You can't tell by looking at somebody,' Dec continued. 'Susan was a single woman who lives in a small town in Scotland and came along to fulfil a dream. How do you stand there and say, "You can't go on, we're not sure you'll be able to handle it?" You can't do that.' Donnelly also defended the treatment of Hollie, who broke down in tears when she forgot the words to her song. 'She wants to be a performer, she chose to come along and her parents chose to support her coming along to the audition,' he said.