Monday, September 07, 2009

Is Jamie Oliver Cruel And Unnecessary?

It can be a funny old wide, wide world of Top Telly Tips at times, ladies and gentlemen. For example, did you know that the President-elect of the West African Republic of Gabon is Ali Bongo, dear blog reader? No, me neither. Well, you do now. And, he's having quite a bit of bother with some uppity rebels by all accounts. What a reet palaver. Presumably his method of dealing with any conspiring insurgents involves a sharp bit of the old prestidigitation for which he was so highly regarded as a TV face back in the 1970s. Wave about your magic wand, El-Presidente Ali Bongo, so that all the people of Libreville can sleep safely in their beds.

Annoying Jamie Oliver has been heavily criticised by various animal rights groups for castrating a bull in the name of 'entertainment.' According to the Sunday People, the celebrity chef can be seen holding down the animal whilst the dreadful deed is done in an upcoming episode of the wretched Jamie's American Road Trip. Andrew Taylor, the director of Animal Aid, said: 'The public is convinced Jamie Oliver is the real deal but hopefully this barbaric act will open their eyes to the fact he is a phony when it comes to animal welfare. He pretends he cares about animals but this makes an utter mockery of that. Castrating cattle in this way is vicious and grotesque and he's giving credibility to an ugly trade. If he thinks this is good primetime TV he has been duped.' Phil Brooke, from Compassion In World Farming, agreed: 'Jamie Oliver is taking part in something that's not only cruel but is also illegal in this country. If he is screening it to condemn it then I can understand why it would be shown. But if castration is just shown for the sake of it then it is cruel and utterly unacceptable TV.' Keith Telly Topping is forced to confess, dear blog reader, that this will by no means be the first occasion on which he has considered a TV show featuring Oliver to be 'a load of old bollocks.' Nevertheless, as a great believer in the concept of karma and the idea that what ye give so shall ye receive, he is rather looking forward to the day when the vile Oliver finds out just how the bull felt.

Another television chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall - who, despite being a bit of a knob, when all is said and done is still marginally less annoying than Oliver - has backed a supermarket's call for British diners to ask for doggy-bags to take leftover food home. Even in top class restaurants at which peasants like you and me wouldn't even get past the door. Fearnley Whittingstall agreed with an article in Waitrose Magazine urging more people to take home unfinished food when eating out. He said: 'I've been asking for doggy-bags for years and never been refused one - it's a shame to waste good food.' Twenty million tonnes of food are thrown away each year in Britain. That includes three million tonnes from restaurants alone, according to figures from Wrap, the government's environmental pressure group. Waitrose Magazine's editor, William Sitwell, said: 'The amount of waste restaurants generate is appalling. But diners need to get over their embarrassment and restaurants need to encourage their waiters to offer it.' Asking for doggy-bags is customary in America - indeed in most US restaurants waiters will automatically ask customers if they would like to take any leftovers home. Working on the obvious assumption that since the customer has already paid for it, they're entitled to all of it. However, in Britain many customers appear hamstrung by embarrassment or convention when it comes to saving leftovers. Can't understand it personally, you've paid for the food, why waste it? But Fearnley Whittingstall said: 'There's no need to be shy - any of the chefs in our places would be more than happy to give a doggy-bag.' I think that might well be just about the first time I've ever agreed with anything I've heard Huge Fearsome Whatsherface opine.

Randy Jackson has criticised the 'surreptitious' filming of his brother Michael's funeral in Los Angeles on Friday. A live video-feed of guests arriving at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park had been provided by the Jackson family to television companies in the hope that this would satisfy their (and the public's) seemingly unquenchable curiosity on all-thing Jacko-related. The feed ceased as the star's body arrived in a motorcade for 'privacy reasons.' However, several media organisations had chosen to ignore a 'no-fly zone' set up around the Forest Lawn cemetery. 'Many media organisations decided to ignore our wishes,' noted Randy. Hang on, I thought only governments and Civil Aviation Authorities had the right to impose 'no-fly zones,' not the family of some dead pop star? Anyway, a - nameless - news organisation (or several of them acting together) employed a helicopter to hover overhead which not only filmed the private ceremony, but 'also severely disrupted it,' according to Randy. And, you never thought for a second that was likely to happen? Okay. The Jackson family have now requested that the media stop showing this footage. Bet they won't, though. In a statement, Randy said: 'I was dismayed last night and again today at the coverage I saw on television of our ceremony for Michael.' Well, maybe if you're thought about, I dunno, holding it indoors perhaps that might have stopped them. Sometimes the solutions to many of life's problems are just staring you in the face.

Leonard Nimoy poked fun at his Star Trek colleague William Shatner during a rare - and much-anticipated - meeting of the two SF icons at an Atlanta, Georgia convention on Friday. Organisers of the Dragon-Con event couldn't believe it when the original Captain Kirk and Mr Spock agreed to converse with each other in what became a comedy event of epic proportions. Nimoy needled hid old friend about the fact he was not part of the new Star Trek franchise, which opened with a - highly-regarded - big-screen prequel to the original TV series this summer, asking him, '[Have you] seen any good movies lately?' Shatner, who has admitted that he was upset about not being asked to appear in the JJ Abrams blockbuster, asked, 'Why wasn't I in the movie?' Nimoy suggested that might have something to do with the fact his Kirk was killed off in one of the franchise's previous films, Star Trek: Generations. Shatner told his friend he has yet to see the film, although director Abrams had offered to screen it for him. The actor told Nimoy he refused to see the film at the cinema for fear of fans recognising him and asking, 'Why weren't you in the movie?'

The BBC has confirmed that it may invite British National Party leader Nick Griffin to appear on a future edition of Question Time. A spokesman said that the BBC was bound by the rules to treat all political parties with 'due impartiality.' Really? Did that apply to Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists in the 1930s? Or the National Front a few decades later? I'm pretty sure it didn't. Talks are being held with representatives from other parties, some of whom have previously refused to share a platform with the BNP because of its policies on race. Personally I'd like to see them all refuse to share a platform with a BNP on the grounds that they exist but that's just me and my, sincerely held, dislike of Nazi scum in general. Some people seemingly agree with me. Others probably don't. And, to be fair, that is their fundamental right in a democracy. Because, you know, it's a well known fact that fascists are very big on the concept of democracy. The BBC, however, say that no parties can dictate who should not be included on the show. Oh, but I bet they will though. In many ways it's something of shame that old rotter Ossie Mosley isn't still around ('He was popular and handsome, as Richard Burton/Cos I seen him on the box once, with his black shirt on'). I'm imagining the thought of him sharing a platform with that oily little nobody Nick Griffin - that'd have the erstwhile BNP leader quaking in his jackboots. A man who, as Mad Frankie Boyle noted on Mock The Week, 'looks like a plucked owl who's been fast-tracked into a management position with Greggs.'

More politics (sort of): Lovely Michael Sheen has announced that he won't be playing Tony Blair in any more movies. Sheen has just finished working on The Special Relationship, the third film in which he has taken on the role of the former Prime Minister. However, it is the last time he will do so, the Daily Telegraph reports. 'Goodbye Mr Blair,' Sheen wrote on Twitter. 'After three films, think I'm hanging up my Blair boots. If so, last word I ever said as Blair was "America." The irony...' Sheen previously starred as Blair in The Deal and The Queen.

Big Brother's tenth series final recorded the lowest finale ratings in the show's ten-series history, overnight figures suggest. An average of just 2.88m watched Channel 4 between 10pm and 11.15pm, a huge drop of almost two million viewers on the figures for last year's finale (which was, itself, the lowest-rated at that time). The audience peaked 3.26m around 10.30pm when Sophie Reade was confirmed as the winner. Immediately after the final, the last episode of E4's Big Brother's Big Mouth was seen by just over five hundred thousand viewers. Elsewhere, a My Family repeat brought in 3.12m to BBC1 at 8.30pm. It was followed by another repeat, the documentary Blackadder Rides Again, which averaged 3.38m in the 9pm hour.

Davina McCall hired extra security for the final episode after reportedly receiving death threats, it has been claimed. According to the Daily Mirror, a series of e-mails were sent to the Big Brother studios threatening to kill the presenter live on air. A source said: 'She was really, really terrified. On the show you wouldn't have realised anything was wrong, but behind the scenes she was very scared.' Police were alerted and extra security was provided, while McCall hired a private detective to track down the offender. The detective is thought to have traced the emails to a nineteen-year-old living near Manchester. 'She was very relieved when he was found,' the insider revealed. 'It was a very worrying time for everyone.' Why on Earth would anyone want to threaten to kill poor Davina? She's mostly harmless.

The News of the World this weekend featured a series of photographs of the dramatic moment when a sobbing Jo Wood threatened to waltz off Strictly Come Dancing after a confrontation during rehearsals. In a ludicrously pun-filled piece (example: 'she pulled a foxstrop') the paper reported that the tearful ex-wife of Rockin' Ronnie broke down during rehearsals on Friday after struggling to learn some of her new steps. However, they continued, Brendan Cole turned 'on the Cha Cha Cha-rm' (d'ya geddit?) and soon she had calmed down and was back strutting her funky stuff. Jo - whom the paper suggest recently landed an eleven-and-a-half million quid out-of-court divorce settlement with Rolling Stone Ronnie - stomped out during a group dance practice and, therefore, in front a several of her rivals. You don't wanna do that, Jo - they'll know the pressure's getting to you.

Meanwhile Britain's Next Top Model presenter Lisa Snowdon says that Strictly Come Dancing will lose its sparkle without departed judge Arlene Phillips. Lisa - who finished third in last year's series of the popular dance show - told the Sun that she loved the 'bickering' between the sacked sixty six-year-old judge and Len Goodman. And she questioned whether Arlene's younger replacement, Alesha Dixon, has enough experience for the role. Snowdon, thirty eight, said: 'I'm interested to see how it changes the dynamic of the panel. I loved Len rolling his eyes at Arlene in his grouchy way. I'll miss that.' So will Len, probably.

Keith Telly Topping hopes that a plentiful supply of good stiff drinks are on standby in the Queen Vic as EastEnders stars have reportedly been told by BBC executives to choose between taking a fifteen per cent pay cut or having less time on screen. According to the Daily Mirror, Barbara Windsor and Steve McFadden, who star as Peggy and Phil Mitchell, will see their three hundred and sixty thousand pound salaries reduced by around fifty grand. Meanwhile, Pam St Clement (Big Fat Cuddly Pat) will have a significant chunk lopped off her three hundred and thirty thousand smackers yearly income and Adam Woodyatt (Faceache Ian Beale) will earn just over two hundred and sixty thousand knicker annually. An insider on the soap said: 'Everybody realises there is a recession on and everybody has to do their bit. But some of the stars feel like they are being bullied into taking a pay cut. The licence fee has stayed the same and the same money is coming in. Yet the people who bring in the viewers are being told they have to take a cut. It is not fair and a lot of people are unhappy. Everyone who comes in can't work on other shows so they can't cut their hours and pick up work elsewhere.' I love the way that statement turned from a Churchillian 'we all realise we've got to do our bit' into a very Thatcherite 'but why should I do my bit' sentiment over the course of about four lines? However, a BBC source said: 'Most of the cast understand the reason behind the cuts and just appreciate having work in these difficult times when so many people are struggling financially.' Earlier this week, Jonathan Creek actor Alan Davies revealed publicly that he was accepting a pay cut. Other celebrities are also seeing their salaries fall. A BBC spokesperson added: 'EastEnders, along with other BBC programmes, has to reduce its budget over the next few years. Talent salaries are not excluded when looking to make these savings.'

Actor Chris Coghill is to make a dramatic return to Walford as his EastEnders character Tony King stands trial for rape. Tony was last seen in December as he attempted to flee the Square when his partner Bianca (Patsy Palmer) discovered that he had been having sex with her stepdaughter Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) since she was twelve. The police, however, arrived in the nick of time and arrested him. He has since been remanded in custody. In November, the case finally reaches court and while the Jackson family rally around in support of Whitney, the youngster becomes more and more confused.

Lastly in our EastEnders sub-section, a bit of sad-related news. The father of EastEnders star Samantha Janus has been found dead at his home, in a suspected suicide. According to press reports, Mr Janus is believed to have hanged himself in his one-bedroomed council flat following a long period of depression. On Sunday Samantha was seen to be visibly upset when she arrived at the building with her actor-husband Mark Womack. Speaking outside the Brighton property, Womack told the loitering tabloid scum: 'She asks to be left alone to grieve with her family.' From The North wishes to extend its sympathy to Sam and her family at this most difficult and distressing of times. Sentiments that are probably wholly inadequate but, I note without wishing to blow my own trumpet, more than a single newspaper managed to articulate in their reportage of the tragedy.

In a widely reported development, Peter Andre has admitted he never listens to some of his old albums. Does anyone?

Arqiva has appointed former UKTV chief operating officer John Keeling as the top content exec for its new VoD service. Keeling has been named platform controller and will oversee programming, marketing, branding and content for the yet-to-launch service. He will also be responsible for appointing key marketing staff for the forthcoming platform. Keeling spent six years at UKTV from 2001 to 2007, where he sat on the boards of both UKTV and BBC Vision. Since then he has been drafted in by ITV, BSkyB, Discovery Networks and the BBC to strategise, devise and implement executive-level organisational and personal development programmes. He also worked previously at MTV Europe. Arqiva revealed its plan to move into online content supply in July, having purchased the technology developed for the now defunct Project Kangaroo.

Rik Makarem is gearing up to set pulses racing in the Dales after landing a starring role in Emmerdale. The twenty seven-year-old model and martial arts expert will hit our screens on Friday night as good-looking factory boss Nikhil Sharma. Rik, who studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, admits playing the soap's sexy new ladies' man is a dream come true. He said: 'When I got the call I couldn't speak and my mum thought something awful had happened. When I told her I was going to be in Emmerdale, she started jumping around the living room. My whole family grew up watching the action in the Dales and I can't quite believe I'm now going to be part of it. Playing a ladies' man will not be hard as the Emmerdale girls are all stunning. Edna Birch better watch out.' Rik, who starred alongside John Barrowman and Eve Myles in the latest series of Torchwood, is part of the three-strong Sharma family, who set up a sweet factory in the village. Former Corrie and Shameless star Chris Bisson plays Jai, Nikhil's older brother, while ex-Hollyoaks actress Effie Wood plays little sister Priya.

Anna Friel is thinking of going blonde - to recreate a role that was made famous by brunette Audrey Hepburn. Fans of the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany's might be shocked to see a peroxide Holly Golightly. But Anna says the new stage version is based more on the novel, in which author Truman Capote described Holly as having short blonde hair. The star, who made her name in Channel 4 soap Brookside and recently starred in acclaimed US comedy Pushing Daisies, said: 'The inspiration for the play is the original book rather than the Breakfast at Tiffany's movie. We are still deciding whether or not to go with the book's description of Holly as someone with urchinshort blonde hair. We think this will throw people, who'll go, "That's not Holly!" I think this Holly is going to be a much tougher and more complex character than the film version.' Don't diss that movie, Anna - it's got 'Moon River' as its theme song, what's not to love?!

Former Emmerdale star Roxanne Pallett has expressed delight over the venue for her panto debut this winter. The twenty six-year-old actress, who played Jo Sugden on the ITV soap, recently signed up to take the lead role in Cinderella at the Newcastle Theatre Royal. Pallett has now revealed that the same theatre provided her first glimpse of life as a performer when she was three years old. She told the Northern Echo: 'I'm a great believer in fate and my mum told me, "The Theatre Royal is where you saw your first panto." She recalls me sitting down and my little legs being too short to touch the floor. So it's really special to be going back.' Pallett left Emmerdale at the end of last year in order, she said, 'to pursue a theatre career.' In June, she was forced to pull out of British Shakespeare Company performances after falling behind on rehearsals due to her Dancing On Ice tour commitments. And now she's doing panto. Nice to see that 'pursuing a theatre career' thing is going so well for you, Roxanne. It's a funny old world, innit?

The daughter of TV's Richard and Judy has revealed that her dad 'exploded with rage' when she told him she had crashed her car after boozing on cocktails. And, that Richard Madeley, he doesn't look like the sort of bloke you'd actually want to have exploding with rage in front of you, frankly. 'He yelled at me "you fucking idiot,"' sobbed Chloe Madeley as she 'confessed all about her drunken night of shame' according to the News of the World. Her mum, Judy Finnegan, is also alleged to have 'stormed': 'You could have killed someone - you could have killed yourself!' Underwear model Chloe, twenty two, gave an exclusive emotional interview to the newspaper after being banned from driving for twenty months last week.

Even an agony aunt needs an agony aunt, it would seem… This Morning's Denise Robertson has admitted she used to turn to ex-presenter Fern Britton with her own problems. Denise returned to the screen last week (unlike new presenter Holly Willoughby). She told the Sunday Mirror: 'Having Fern's arms coming round you is one of the best feelings I know. The thing I will remember most is her laughter.'

Beth Ditto has revealed that she would like to live in the UK. The American-born Gossip singer explained that it was easy to become famous in Britain, the Daily Mirror reports. 'I wish I could lose my passport,' she joked. Well, that's not hard, Beth chuck. Just put it somewhere 'safe' and then forget where. My mother does it all the time. 'I'd stay here without hesitation. I feel it's really easy to become big here.' Beth, love, you're big everywhere. 'They will take any old one trick pony off the street!' And that's a good thing, is it?! Beth, seen to the right in her infamous 'bare-ass nekked on the front cover of the NME' phase has recently been singled out by Professor Michael McMahon, a bariatric consultant from Nuffield Health apparently, as a bad influence on society. 'The increasing profile of larger celebrities, for example ... Beth Ditto, means that being overweight is now perceived as being "normal" in the eyes of the public.' Ah, fat fascism, where would we be without it? Personally, I'd quite like to see the good doctor take Beth on over twelve rounds of heavyweight boxing to see who's the fittest. Sounds like the kind of thing Channel 4 might like to broadcast in the vacant Big Brother slot.

Tom Selleck has won a lawsuit in which he complained that he was sold a lame horse. The hirsute Magnum star was awarded more than One hundred and eighty seven thousand dollars after a Californian jury agreed that he had been tricked into buying the animal, the BBC has reported. Selleck argued that the seller, Dolores Cuenca, had tried to pass off a show horse with a medical condition as fit to ride in competitions. However, the defence said that Selleck had failed to check the animal's vet records.

Former X Factor contestants Kirsty Weightman and Jack Stuckey ended their relationship just two hours after Simon Cowell convinced the ex-lovers to get back together. According to the Sunday Mirror, the pair started fighting as soon as they got home and Weightman discovered that Stuckey was seeing another woman. Weightman said: 'When we went home together to have a chat about things we were back to our old ways and started arguing almost straight away. Later I found out he'd already asked out my best friend and was also seeing a girl in Tesco's. I called him a prick and kicked him out. The thing is I really do love Jack. We were engaged and planning to get married in April 2013. So it seems a bit of an insult only a few months after we were planning the rest of our lives together he's with another girl.' Stuckey then revealed 'I didn't want to ask Kirsty out, I just wanted to get off stage as fast as possible. But the judges and audience were telling me to do it. I felt pressurised. I love Kirsty as a friend but we're not meant to be together. The minute we walked off stage we were at each other’s throats.' He added: 'I didn't cheat on Kirsty. I'm not that sort of bloke. I started dating Claire after we split up.' The duo, calling themselves Combined Effort, sang one verse of 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' in front of the judges before Stuckey broke down. They did not get through to the next round. So, that'll be your fifteen seconds of fame done then guys. Back to work on Monday, is it?

Kelly Osbourne has admitted that she does not always think her mother's Botox treatment looks great. Or, even, 'all right.' You and everybody I know, Kel. Except for, maybe, Ozzy. But, to be brutally honest, it's difficult to work out exactly what your dad thinks about pretty much anything. Anyway, according to Now magazine, the reality TV star and pop wannabe has revealed that her mom, Sharon Osbourne, tries to reassure her daughter that her plastic surgery didn't go drastically and horribly wrong and make her look like a mutant. 'Sometimes I'll look at her and I’m like, "Mum, you look like you've seen a ghost."' Horrorshow.

Cult comedy The High Life could be making a comeback - as a musical. The original cast - Siobhan Redmond and creators Alan Cumming and Forbes Masson - are all said to be desperate to be involved. The camp comedy, which ran for just one series on BBC2 in 1995, focused on the cabin crew at fictional airline Air Scotia. Hollywood star Alan played bitchy steward Sebastian Flyte, Forbes his sex-obsessed colleague, Steve McCracken, and Siobhan was their snooty stewardess boss, Shona Spurtle. Veteran actor Patrick Ryecart also appeared as the frequently bamboozled pilot, Hilary Duff. The series is now out on DVD and has proved to be an unexpected hit for BBC Worldwide, and the cast are now talking, seriously, about reuniting. Siobhan said: 'We are flirting with the idea of a musical version. I'll be there in a shot, even if I have to play Shona in a fat suit, sitting behind a desk. Everybody, including Alan, likes the idea, but whether or not it becomes reality I don't know. The logistics may prove impossible. Alan is pretty busy and Forbes is at the RSC but I think there might be some workshops happening. It would be good fun, wouldn't it?' Fun? The High Life? Dearee me, no...

Katie Price has reportedly been told that her lifestyle choices could amount to her losing custody of her children and five million pounds. According to the Daily Star Sunday, the glamour model was informed by her lawyer, Ambi Sitham, that her trips to Ibiza and new boyfriend Alex Reid will be taken into consideration by the court. Sitham said: 'Price's behaviour over the last four months is probably going to contribute to the custody arrangements, especially her well-publicised trips to Ibiza. She was obviously getting very drunk. In addition she has exposed her children at a very young age to a new relationship with Alex Reid. They will look into his background and at his suitability as a potential stepfather to Price's children. I should think the least the judge would decide is to grant joint custody of the children to Price and Andre. He might even get sole custody. Andre, coming from a strong Greek-Cypriot family background, has conducted himself as the model father.' It has come to a pretty sorry state of affairs, has it not dear blog reader, when a mother can't go off on holiday and be pictured falling down drunk and passing out in a pool of her own vomit without it reflecting badly upon her? What's the world coming to? Sitham added that Andre could claim money from Price: 'Andre will be able to show he contributed to the Katie Price brand. Before they met she was purely known as Jordan the glamour model. As a result of marrying Andre she was able to create an alter ego. I think she is in line for a bit of a shock.' Trying listening to one of Andre's old albums, mate, then talk to me about something being shocking.

A film in which Angelina Jolie appears topless has been re-released. An uncensored version of Gia, which was originally shown on television in 1998, has been released in high definition, the Sun reports. The movie is about supermodel Gia Carangia, who contracted HIV from a needle containing infected blood and died aged twenty six. Jolie, who plays Carangia, and indulges in a lesbian kiss with Lost star Elizabeth Mitchell in the movie thus increasing its likely appeal among a certain type of bloke who likes looking at that sort of thing. That'd be all of us, basically.

Have you ever wondered what a naked Janine Butcher (Easties' Charlie Brooks) would look like covered in two thousand quid's worth of tenners and twenties? Wonder no more, dear blog reader. Next week, Chelsea (Tiana Benjamin) strikes it lucky when she wins two grand on a scratchcard using a spare tenner her dad Lucas lends her. Ryan and Janine immediately spot an opportunity, so Janine sets to work trying to sell the young Fox a knock-off designer handbag. Ryan thwarts Janine's attempts and instead orchestrates a mugging. Janine returns home and finds Chelsea's stash of cash on her bed and when Ryan walks in, Janine is laid out in bed covered in notes. It's enough to turn any man's head almost as easily as thoughts of old Rubber Lips Angelina kissing Lost's Duplicitous Bitch on the mouth.