Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sunday After The Saturday Night Fever Before

The X Factor, not wholly unexpectedly, won the head-to-head ratings battle with Strictly last night with an average audience of 9.3 million punters (thirty eight per cent audience share) against the BBC show's 7.7m (thirty three per cent) according to initial overnight figures. This blogger wonders if we're now going to hear ITV's incessant, tiresome whinging about the decision to schedule the two against each other suddenly, and curiously, stop? The chances are, yer actual Keith Telly Topping suggests, high. The BBC's consolation, of course, will be that The X Factor's audience, although still hugely healthy, was down by more than a million viewers on the previous week's episode. Small crumb of comfort to the Beeb perhaps but, to be brutally honest, I think that's why Strictly has been scheduled where it is. Not necessarily to win the slot, but to keep The X Factor's audience marginally down.

On-screen, and much to Keith Telly Topping's disappointment, tennis ace (and owner of one of the nicest bums on the planet) Martina Hingis and her dance partner, Matthew Cutler, were the first couple to be voted off Strictly. Martina had faced Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding in the dreaded dance off. Both couples were dancing moody rumbas. Although Nasty Craig and Know-Nothing Alesha voted to keep Martina on, Fabulous Bruno voted for Rav and head judge Len, who had the casting vote, agreed. Meanwhile, some Strictly fans have been arguing that Alesha Dixon should be removed from her new role on the judging panel. And, in other news, the lightbulb is still on. The Mirror reports that 'thousands' of viewers have complained on the BBC website, while various forum and chatroom members are reported to have said that Dixon does not have enough experience for the job. So, that'll mean that actually about one hundred and fifty seven people have complained. That's usually around the real number when the tabloid press start playing 'musical switchboards' and talking about complaints in their thousands. Remember the audience figure for the episode in question - over seven and a half million. The singer reportedly asked for help from her mother and grandmother, who were sitting behind her during the first show on Friday. 'She was also seen asking fellow judge Bruno [Tonioli] for his advice,' an audience member said. 'They scored three of the eight dances the same and four of their scores were only one mark apart. When the dancers were being interviewed backstage and the panel were off-camera Alesha turned around in her chair between almost every dance and asked her family their view. We could see her mouthing, "What do you think?" then asking for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. I also heard her asking Bruno what he thought several times.' That's a top bit of snitching there, 'audience member.' The school sneak, were you? Did it make you feel like a man? Or, you know, woman. Delete as applicable. A BBC spokesperson said: 'We're pleased at how fantastically well Alesha was received for her debut on Strictly Come Dancing last night and delighted that so many people tuned in and enjoyed the show.' For which, read, 'we're desperate to get some sixteen to thirtysomethings watching this show, just shut up, it'll work in the long run. We hope.'

The Director General of the BBC has insisted that the institution values older women. Mark Thompson was defending the BBC after recent claims that it is ageist for replacing Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene, sixty six, with thirty-year-old Alesha. 'The BBC values the contribution of older women immensely,' he told WI Life, the Women's Institute magazine. 'The decision to replace Arlene Phillips on Strictly wasn't motivated by ageism, and no other broadcaster can claim to serve and represent older women as well as the BBC. However, this debate demonstrates that viewers want much more than just youth on screen, and at the BBC we've taken the points made very much on board.' Thompson added: 'More broadly, the whole industry needs to be reminded of the value of highly experienced presenters and performers.' He praised stars such as Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave and Annette Crosbie, and added that the BBC has a 'duty' to serve all audiences. 'Both in the programmes and the people on screen, serving and representing older women is a core part of what we do,' he said.

Illusionist Derren Brown's audience were more than just rooted to their seats on Friday night - some of them claimed to have been completely stuck. Brown's latest stunt saw him persuading viewers of his Channel 4 show they were temporarily immobile. And it seemed to work - a Channel 4 spokeswoman revealed that more than fifty thousand people rang the channel within three minutes of the screening on Derren Brown: The Events to say they were stuck to their chairs. Of the four million plus viewers who watched the show, one in four is estimated to have been affected by the stunt.

A man who allegedly stalked Fiona Bruce has appeared in court. According to the Sun, Peter Oakey was given a restraining order in December but has since broken it. As well as sending the television presenter three bouquets of flowers and twenty greetings cards, he reportedly wrote Bruce letters describing her as a 'firebird' and signing off, 'Your loving husband, Peter.' Oakey pleaded guilty yesterday to breaching the restraining order between February and May. He will be sentenced next month. Granting bail, Recorder Martyn Royall described the case as a 'serious matter.' Oakey refused to comment, but a neighbour said: 'He's not a bad person, and he has had a rough ride since his parents died.'

David Caruso's ex-girlfriend has dropped her legal case in which she demanded $1.2m from the CSI: Miami star. Lisa Marquez was also suing Caruso, owner of the hardest working sunglasses in showbusiness, for 'intentional affliction of emotional distress' (which, in English, mean 'being not very nice to me') and a house she said he had promised her. She claimed that Caruso was possessive and a reluctant father. Marquez and Caruso will each pay their own lawyers' costs and neither is to receive anything of value. The sunglasses, therefore, would appear to still be in his possession. Marquez filed the legal claim in April. A statement from Caruso's lawyer at the time said the case made 'false claims' in retaliation over child custody changes. Marquez had said she and the actor started a relationship in April 2004 when she was working as a travel agent. The couple moved in together later that year and Marquez claimed she had left her job at Caruso's request.

Sacha Baron Cohen will voice a character in The Simpsons, reports have suggested. Entertainment Weekly claims that the actor will play an Israeli tour guide who meets the family during a church trip to the Holy Land. The character is described as 'pretty angry but funny.' The show's executive producer Al Jean said: 'He's trying to get Marge to give him good grades on the comment card, and she goes, "You people are pushy" and he goes, "What do you mean, you people? You try having Syria for a neighbour! What do you have? Canada!"' The episode, named The Greatest Story Ever D'Ohed, is expected to air in the US on Palm Sunday. 'It'll be a show that all faiths can come together and be offended by,' Jean added.

Alex Carter has revealed that he did not enjoy the on-screen kiss with his co-star Sian Reece-Williams. The Emmerdale actor, who plays Jamie Hope on the soap, locked lips with Reece-Williams's character Gennie Walker as part of a romance plot between the pair. However, he said that the kiss was 'horrible' because the actress is dating one of his close friends. He told Reveal: 'It was horrible - it was the worst kiss I've ever had.' He continued: 'Sian, who plays Gennie, is actually going out with one of my best mates in real life - and he's bigger than me. It was really weird and she was finding it weird as well, which made it stranger, and The Woolpack was full.'

Cat Deeley has said that she is nervous about appearing at this year's Emmy Awards. The So You Think You Can Dance star, who will present an award at the ceremony, told E! Online that she is excited about the opportunity. "I'm a little bit nervous about it though," she said. 'I've done it back in England and I've hosted award shows back in England, but I've never actually done it before here. But I'm excited, you know? It's a really exciting thing to do.' Well, yeah it is. So long as you don't slag off the winner and say that somebody else should have got it instead. Avoid that and you should be all right. Deeley added that she was happy that she had been offered designer dresses to wear at the event. 'I'm having a whole plethora of dresses coming in,' she said. I wouldn't have used the word plethora, though. You're talking to an America, they won't have come across that before. It's got three syllables in it for a kick-off. 'I know I've got Matthew Williamson and Christopher Bailey [of Burberry] sending me over things so far, but I'm sure there'll be more.'

Yoko Ono has described Britney Spears as 'a survivor.' No, I haven't got a punchline for that one. Sorry. I can't work miracles.

Katie Price's former fiance, Gladiator Warren Furman, has angrily denied claims he was her alleged rapist. The thirty seven-year-old told the Daily Star: 'Whoever she claims raped her, it is certainly not me and I don't think anyone would believe anything she said anyway.' Meanwhile, 'a handful of people know who [the alleged rapist is claimed to be] but they are absolutely not allowed to even tell their loved ones,' a 'source' was quoted as saying in the Sun. Price maintains that she will never name the person whom she claimed attacked her but with speculation now rife all over the Internet on Thursday, according to the Daily Mail, one anonymous celebrity approached by national newspaper reporters (subsequently revealed to be from the Mirror) and categorically denied any involvement. 'The Mirror knows the identity of the man but can't name him for legal reasons,' the newspaper proudly reported on Friday. Of course, if any reader of this blog wishes to entire a simple Google search of certain keywords then they will, I have no doubt, be provided a plethora of rabid speculation on the identity of the individual concerned. (And, on the subject of which Premiership team he may, or may not, have once played for. Or which soap opera have, or may not, have been an actor in.) Most of this, of course, is as ill-informed and spiteful as much of the press coverage is (though, marginally less libellous, admittedly). But then, sadly, that's this story all over. Nobody comes out of it with any right to feel morally superior to anyone else. This blogger wholly included. And it's going to go on and on until the papers eventually get what they want - a name. Someone described as 'a former friend' of Price reportedly told Fabulous magazine that Price had been 'shocked' by the public's response to her revelation: 'She had no idea of the huge impact it would have and she's scared now - really, really scared.'