Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Warning: Biscuits Are Not Toys, You Can Have Someone's Eye Out With One.

Robert Webb has admitted that the BBC3 reality show he narrates is full of 'idiots.' Speaking to the Sun, the Peep Show and That Mitchell & Webb Look star explained that he only took the job on Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum for the money. That's as good a reason to do it as any, I suppose. Keith Telly Topping isn't in any way too proud to consider doing something similar. Even if it is on a show as shamefully bad as Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum. 'It's a reality show where twats aged seventeen to twenty five live in a house together and have big, stupid rows which I narrate,' Robert explained. 'And then, amazingly, the feckless idiot parents get to vote for the least annoying one and whoever is left, by default, wins the show.' Webb added: 'I think I injected a sufficient amount of disdain into that voiceover. I did it for the money of course. And I spent that disdainfully too.' Right on, Robert baby. That'll show 'em! He confessed that he had been so ashamed of the show that he didn't even tell his comedy partner, David Mitchell, about it. However, although Mitchell described the programme as 'personality paralympics,' he remarked: 'You feel a fool if you don't do voiceovers. It's money for what is essentially reading out.'

Hosted by one of Keith Telly Topping's cult TV favourites, Sue Perkins, The Big Food Fight is basically a food-lover's version of Qi and sees Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (a man who, in addition to being marginally less obnoxious than the disgraceful Jamie Oliver really can be said to know his onions) competing in a gladiatorial gastronomic battle against fellow chefs, aided by a celebrity guest. Tuesday night's opening episode saw Hugh and cohort, big Charlotte Church, taking on the housewives' choice, James Martin and Chinese food expert Ching-He Huang. There was plenty of comedy on offer as Charlotte was challenged to name ten of the dishes she could get at her favourite Chinese restaurant in Bridgend. Later, cooking met bondage as Hugh and James tried to make beefburgers while handcuffed to their teammate. We were also treated to a 1999 clip of a youthful looking Gordon Ramsay, telling an interviewer: 'I'm not a celebrity chef, I'm a cook… I'm not interested in signing a multi-million-pound deal.' So, what went wrong then, Gordon? Considering Channel 4 has already stretched the food show format to breaking point, it was hard not to find their latest offering surprisingly entertaining simply by virtue of its difference and wit – and best of all, there wasn't a single Pot Noodle in sight.

Another of Keith Telly Topping's cult TV favourites, Kirstie Kirstie Kirstie Allsopp, will try to stage the biggest second-hand sales and craft fairs the UK has ever seen in a second series of Kirstie's Homemade Home. Channel 4 features commissioning editor Andrew Jackson has ordered a second six-part run of IWC Media's series for spring next year. Building on the first series, in which Allsopp renovated a dilapidated Devon cottage, the presenter will visit six different towns, advising homeowners and meeting craft-makers, as well as encouraging locals to trade bargains. Each week she will meet a pair of homeowners keen to transform their homes on a small budget, uncovering their houses' best features and hidden treasures before taking them on a trawl of car boot sales, reclamation yards, skips and craft shops. Jackson said of the latest run: 'We'll be taking Kirstie's message to the people: she's evangelical about crafts and bargains and wants to spread the word. This series will be all about second-hand whether it be antiques, goodies in the car boot or even restoring things rather than getting rid of them.'

Kylie Minogue is reportedly planning a double wedding with her younger sister Dannii, claims Look magazine. The singer, who is currently dating thirty one-year-old Spanish model Andres Velencoso, reportedly plans to tie the knot in their home city of Melbourne and share her wedding with Dannii and her boyfriend Kris Smith. 'The girls have been joking for years about racing each other down the aisle, but now it looks like it could come true,' a source said. 'Dannii has been telling pals she has always dreamed of having a joint wedding with her big sister and this is the first time both sisters have been blissfully happy in relationships at the same time.' Ah, bless.

Katie Price is planning to challenge her new boyfriend Alex Reid in the boxing ring, it has been claimed. Price and Liberty X star Michelle Heaton will face off against Reid and the singer's partner Hugh Hanley at an extreme sports festival in Brighton next month, the Daily Mirror reports. From The North hopes that Alex doesn't do anything stupid like smash Katie right hard in mush and given her a good chinning. Because, that would be awful.

They might have only been dating just six months but a smitten Georgie Thompson has already revealed her plans for marriage and a family with Wor Declan Donnelly. The husky-voiced Sky Sports News presenter, who took Dec (sans Ant - just about the first time that either have been seen in public without being joined at the hip to the other one since before they were in Byker Grove together) along to her sister's wedding over the weekend, can't stop gushing about her lovely Northern lad. 'Things are going brilliantly with Dec,' the thirty one-year-old declared in a magazine interview this week. Some blokes have all the luck.

Come any big sporting occasion – like, for instance, the football World Cup or the Olympic games – and it's a long-standing tradition for some national newspaper to highlight exactly how many people and how much money the BBC will spend on covering it. It's usually the Daily Mail. Which may surprise some of this blog's readers since the Mail is normally such a thoughtful and balanced publication. But then, it is licence fee payers' money, after all. This sort of thing usually happens a month or two before the big event, so hats off to the Sun for blasting the BBC for the amount of money it will spend on the 2012 London Olympics a full three years before the event takes place. 'The BBC is to land licence-payers with a three million pound bill to send sport staff to cover the London Olympics from Manchester – just a year after it relocates from the capital.' The money will go on 'flights, train fares, taxis and accommodation,' says the Sun. Yeah. And? How much will the Sun be spending on reporting the same event, we wonder? In the interests for Daily Mail-style fairness, I think we should be told. Of course, none of this would have anything whatsoever to do with James Murdoch's recent bit of BBC-bashing, would it? No, of course not. Perish the very thought.

The BBC Trust has started a process which is likely to see the BBC rein in the size and scope of its activity – said by a senior BBC executive to be 'as big as Creative Futures.' The Trust has ordered the review to look at whether the corporation is too big, what sort of activities it should engage in and what role it should be playing in the digital economy. Insiders predict that instead of trimming back services across the board, the review will lead to see some BBC services being axed altogether. News of the review emerged today in an open letter from BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons direct to licence fee payers. He said BBC director general, Mark Thompson, had agreed to undertake the review. About half of licence fee payers want the charge to be smaller if given the option, according to an independent poll commissioned by the BBC Trust. The BBC would have to 'think bigger, even though it may mean the BBC becoming smaller,' Lyons added. His comments came in an unprecedented open letter to audiences, in which he released the findings of the Ipsos Mori poll, which surveyed two thousand and sixty eight adults about the future of the licence fee. Since 2007, five pounds and fifty pence of the fee has been used to pay for the digital switchover. Most viewers want it reduced by that amount after 2012, the survey showed. It also showed that most people did not want the money to go to other channels. Lyons said that the results reinforced the trust's 'concern about any attempt to use the licence fee to subsidise commercial operators, as proposed by the Government in its Digital Britain report.' He added that he now had a 'clear message' from the public, which will be put to the Government. Both Sir Michael and Mr Thompson have previously spoken out against government proposals to skim one hundred and thirty million pounds from the annual licence fee to be used as a fund for regional news on ITV and children's programmes. However, although most people surveyed said they wanted the licence fee to be kept within the corporation, only seventeen per cent said the digital switchover fee should be absorbed into BBC programme-making budgets after 2012. The BBC Trust's poll comes days after a separate survey for the Guardian suggested that four out of five people thought the UK should be proud of the BBC. Mr Thompson said: 'None of this comes as a surprise to us - our own tracking research has indicated that, at a time when public faith in many other British institutions is eroding fast, belief in the BBC is actually strengthening. Our services have never been stronger – just look at the summer of music, drama and sport we've been able to deliver to the public. And our approach to the editorial problems of the past two years and to the wider issue of openness and candour in public life seems to have struck a real chord with the public. But the poll must have made uncomfortable reading for those critics who would like the world to believe that trust and pride in the BBC is getting weaker rather than stronger. We've seen a pretty relentless onslaught from the press over the summer, culminating in James Murdoch's MacTaggart lecture. The most important thing to say about that lecture and about many of the recent attacks on the BBC is that they are desperately out of touch with what the audience themselves are telling us. ' From The North readers can see the full text of Lyons' open letter here and Thompson's e-mail to staff here.

Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson has called for more fresh blood at the upper levels of the broadcasting industry. Writing in his Financial Times column today, Johnson said he 'sensed a longing among stakeholders for fresh faces' in the media sector, contrasting it with the 'entrepreneurial' restaurant trade in which he made his name. Noting that media headunters have traditionally recommended candidates who have previously held senior roles, Johnson said: 'Will digital gatecrashers be invited to join the party? Will they want to, given the challenges faced by television, newspapers, radio, magazines and books? I hope so. New talent and ideas are needed.'

Coronation Street actor Ryan Thomas has revealed that he is trying to cut down on his shirtless scenes. The twenty five-year-old, who plays Jason Grimshaw on the ITV soap, confirmed that he has refused to show off his body for certain episodes in the past. 'There was one scene where Jason's granddad had died and it was the day of his funeral and I was coming down in just a towel, and I thought this should be more about the emotion - it didn't feel right for that scene,' the Sun quotes him as saying. Artistic integrity? On Corrie? Whatever next? Thomas added that he hopes the show's writers allow Jason to teach his nemesis David Platt (Jack P Shepherd) a lesson one day. He commented: 'I really want to see Jason smack David, I really want that to happen.'

Jill Halfpenny has claimed that her success on Strictly Come Dancing overshadowed her role in EastEnders. The thirty four-year-old actress competed on the BBC ballroom competition shortly after her Walford character Kate Mitchell left the soap in 2004. She went on to win the contest with her professional partner Darren Bennett. Reflecting on her achievement, Halfpenny told the Daily Record: 'When you leave a show like EastEnders, the one thing you never expect is to do something so quickly that almost eclipses that. Although people totally remember me as from EastEnders and still refer to it, of course, I am more so remembered for Strictly.' She continued: 'I entered Strictly being known as Kate Mitchell from EastEnders and I left being known as Jill Halfpenny, so that absolutely changed things for me. It was such an amazing part of my life and what's brilliant is I am still involved with it, in one way or another, every year. It's such a lovely thing to be involved in and I am so grateful to have had that opportunity come my way.'

Lynda Bellingham has claimed that the Strictly Come Dancing ageism debate has got out of hand. The series was accused of favouring the young after it replaced judge Arlene Phillips with Alesha Dixon and axed dancer Karen Hardy. However, Bellingham argued that the criticism levelled at the show's producers is unjustified. 'The whole ageism thing has got rather out of hand and is being taken out of proportion,' she told Digital Spy. 'It's an angle, but hopefully when the programme starts people will forget about all of that and just watch it for what it is - which is entertainment.' The actress also explained that she is proud to be representing senior women on the show. She said: 'I don't feel a pressure, I feel rather pleased to be representing them. I've just spent the year taking my clothes off in Calendar Girls trying to say to women of a certain age - all things are possible. This is just moving on from that.'

UKTV has reacquired the rights to ABC's Dancing with the Stars as the US version of Strictly enters its ninth series. Watch, which screened the eighth series of the show at its launch last autumn, will broadcast each episode around a week after their initial US broadcast. The show moved to the channel after a spell on Living TV and the latest deal was negotiated with BBC Worldwide by UKTV content acquisitions manager Lesley Pemberton. The series features the show's largest celebrity line-up to date, with Kelly Osbourne, Donny Osmond and Macy Gray among those taking part.

Production giant Endemol is to combine its global sales business under the new title Endemol Worldwide Distribution as part of a major push to radically grow the business. The new division, resulting from the integration of Endemol International and Southern Star International, combines the resources of the two global distributors and incorporates twenty thousand hours of content and more than two thousand formats, such as Big Brother, Deal or No Deal and Total Wipeout. It also underscores a concerted move into representing third party content, which most recently saw an international distribution and production deal with Jerry Seinfeld for his new comedy-reality format The Marriage Ref and a global distribution deal with Los Angeles-based reality producer LMNO Productions. The formation of EWD follows Endemol's acquisition of Southern Star Group, Australia's largest TV production and distribution company that owns Home and Away as well as ITV drama Wire in the Blood, in January.

A complete ban on alcohol advertising would have a devastating impact on the ailing TV, newspaper and magazine sectors, resulting in more than one hundred and eighty million pounds-a-year in advertising revenue disappearing from company balance sheets, according to forecasts. In the year to the end of June, seventy two million pounds was spent on TV advertss by alcohol companies, over forty six million ploughed into newspapers and magazines, twenty eight million went on outdoor billboards and posters, fourteen million on cinema ads and four and a half million pounds on radio advertising. A further fifteen million was spent on direct mail, according to figures from Nielsen, which does not have figures for online advertising. The total annual cost to the advertiser-funded UK media industry of a complete ban on alcohol marketing and advertising, as proposed by the British Medical Association today, would be one hundred and eighty million pounds, Nielsen said. 'You don't not implement a ban because of financial damage, but there would be a commercially devastating effect on all the main media,' said Jim Marshall, the chairman of media buying agency Starcom MediaVest and the chairman of the Media Futures Group at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. 'It would have a dramatic impact but it [the BMA report] misses a point. All the research as I understand it shows that advertising does not have the major impact [on binge-drinking culture] that would warrant an ad ban,' Marshall added. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport also distanced itself from the idea of a total alcohol advertising ban, pointing out that research has shown there is 'substantial uncertainty' over what impact it would have on binge drinking.

Melanie Chisholm is to make her West End debut in a production of Blood Brothers. The former Spice Girl - you know, the one who could actually hold a note - will take the lead role of Mrs Johnson in the play, the Daily Mirror reports. She will make her first appearance on 26 October at London's Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross Road.

Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts (the ginger one) turned up at a pub in central London to accept a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the Mercury Prize on Tuesday night. The twenty three-year-old was presented with a solitary twenty pound note after her band's hit 'The Promise' was named single of the year by music website Popjustice. 'How do I feel? I feel so liberated,' she joked as she posed for photographs. At the same event, the Sugababes were awarded worst single of the year for 'Girls.' They will receive a twenty pound invoice. The Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize was established as a light-hearted antidote to the more serious Mercury Prize - where the winner receives a first prize of twenty thousand pounds. 'The voting process is sort of a shambles,' said Popjustice editor and chairman of the thirty five-strong jury, Peter Robinson. 'I draw up a shortlist of twelve songs and then, over the course of the evening in a pub with a lot of alcohol, a group of judges who have applied through the website eliminate one song at a time.' Girls Aloud have won the prize five times in the last seven years. Roberts arrived for the ceremony during a particularly heated argument over whether her song or Tinchy Stryder's 'Take Me Back' should remain in the running. She later nominated Girls Aloud's own 'The Loving Kind' for worst single of the year. 'It was so interesting to hear people thrash out opinions on all the other bands and other songs - as daunting as it was,' she told the BBC News website. 'But the best song won in the end.' However, the Liverpudlian singer expressed dismay that the twenty pound note came 'in a little plastic container. You can't actually spend the money, but it's there on your shelf,' she laughed.

GMTV has acquired over two hundred episodes of animation in a deal with French company Moonscoop, including new series' Chloe's Closet and Hero:108. The terrestrial broadcaster, majority owned by ITV, has picked up shows including Fantastic Four, Code Lyoko, Cosmic Quantum Ray and new CGI comedy-action series Hero:108 for the Action Stations block. It has also acquired new series Chloe's Closet for preschool block The Fluffy Club. The series follows the adventures of a little girl who discovers new worlds while playing dress-up in her closet. Sort of like Mr Benn, only without the sinister shopkeeper figures and the massive gay overtones.

Hollyoaks star Emma Rigby has vowed to bow out 'in style' when she leaves the soap at the end of the year. The nineteen-year-old actress will film her final scenes as Hannah Ashworth in December following a four-year stint with the Channel 4 programme. Rigby has now revealed that she is hoping to mark the occasion by throwing a massive celebration with her show colleagues. 'I'd love a huge leaving party. I'm thinking of a Saturday Night Fever theme. It's one of my favourite films,' STV quotes her as saying. 'You've got to do it in style. I'm going to miss people so much - I already feel sad about it. You'll have me in tears in a minute!'

David Morrissey has said that he enjoyed his time working on Doctor Who and would gladly return to the programme if given the opportunity. The star appeared in 2008 Christmas special The Next Doctor, where he played a character who believed himself to be a Time Lord. Speaking at the press launch of the BFI London Film Festival, Morrissey told Digital Spy: 'I loved doing Doctor Who, I really did. In my total naivety I wasn't prepared for how mad it would get. People were camping out in my garden and so on. Russell [Davies] asked me to do this thing where it might be you, it might not be you, and I said "yes." He said "Don't tell anyone." I said, "Well, I'll tell my kids." He said, "No, don't tell your kids!" It was really weird. My kids were coming home from school saying, "Are you going to be Doctor Who?" and I said, "I can't say. Do your homework and I might tell you!" I was on breakfast TV and it was like being on Jeremy Paxman, they were really grilling me about it.' He continued: 'It was one of the happiest jobs I've ever done. It's so well run down there and I also had the pleasure of working with David [Tennant] again. We were somewhere, and I got out the car and it was like being a member of Take That. There were thousands of people. People shouting, screaming at him. David takes on the role of the Doctor not just as his character... He does the whole thing. Signing photographs, people bringing their kids to set, stuff like that. He really embraced the whole ambassadorial thing about being Doctor Who. I loved working with him, he was great.' Morrissey added: 'We filmed the Christmas special at the end of an eight-month run for him. He was first man on set, always making sure everyone's alright. I was full of admiration for him. So if they wanted me to do it again I'd be well up for it.'

An estimated twenty five million adults in the UK have been injured while eating during a tea or coffee break - with at least five hundred landing themselves in hospital, a survey has found. Injuries range from being scalded by hot tea or coffee while dunking to breaking a tooth while eating biscuits, reports the Daily Telegraph. The custard cream was found to be the worse offender. It beat the cookie to top a table of fifteen generic types of biscuit whose potential dangers were calculated by The Biscuit Injury Threat Evaluation. Custard creams get a risk rating of 5.63, this compared to just 1.16 for the humble Jaffa cake, which was the safest biscuit of all in the evaluation. Except, of course, that Jaffa cakes are not biscuits - as McVitie went to court to prove. Research company Mindlab International were commissioned by Rocky, a chocolate biscuit bar, to conduct the research. It found almost a third of adults said they had been splashed or scalded by hot drinks while dunking or trying to fish the remnants of a collapsed Digestive or Rich Tea. It also revealed that twenty eight per cent had choked on crumbs while one in ten had broken a tooth or filling biting a biscuit. More unusually, three per cent had poked themselves in the eye with a biscuit and seven per cent had been bitten by a pet or 'other wild animal' that was trying to get their biscuit. Aye. A tiger nearly had it away with my bourbon cream one time. I was just sitting there minding my own business, watching The ONE Show when this tiger appeared out of nowhere and went for me biccy. I was well-startled.