Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why Would Anyone In Their Right Mind Pay For Something They've Already Paid For?

Users of the BBC's iPlayer should be charged micro payments to use the online catch-up service said Lorraine Heggessey, chief executive of TV production company Talkback Thames. Heggessey was speaking at a BBC event on Tuesday. Tony Cohen, chief executive of Talkback's parent company Fremantle Media, has also spoken out in support of a revenue model for all catch-up TV. Fremantle is currently conducting a feasibility study of the concept. Which will, hopefully, tell them that the vast majority of people have a real and quite sincere low tolerance threshold for being ask to pay a second time for what they've already paid for once when they bought a TV licence. Most broadcasters now offer an online catch-up service and with advertising revenue falling in the commercial TV sector, there is increasing industry support for the idea of charging for it. Research carried out by Fremantle suggests that people would be willing to pay up to two pounds for certain shows. Yeah. Of course they would. These are the same people who illegally download all those music files and movies from the Internet, presumably? No? How really staggeringly curious. Thankfully, the BBC has a little bit more basic bloody common sense and says it has no plans to introduce such a fee. 'The cost of the BBC iPlayer is covered by the licence fee, so UK users have already paid for this service,' said a spokesperson. Indeed.

Stephen Fry's independent production company is planning to turn a set of novels about Oscar Wilde into a TV drama franchise. Sprout Pictures has optioned the rights to Gyles Brandreth's three The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries and Fry and co-managing director Gina Carter will develop the books. Fry said they would offer a 'dash of style, wit and romance' and reveal 'the mysterious and the macabre that is so wonderfully characteristic of the late Victorian world.' The novels feature Wilde solving a string of crimes with the help of his real-life friends Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Sherard and Sarah Bernhardt. Sprout, which has made three series of Kingdom for ITV and BBC2's Last Chance To See, sold a twenty five per cent stake to BBC Worldwide in February.

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse's sketch show has been moved to BBC2 because of low viewing figures, reports the website Chortle. Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul aired for two series on BBC1 and was one of the top ten viewed comedy shows of 2007. It was also, by a comfortable distance, the best thing the pair had done in at least five years, possibly more. However, Enfield revealed at yesterday's Broadcast TV Comedy Forum that the show has been moved by the broadcaster. 'It's now going to be on Two, because we only got five million viewers,' he said. 'Everyone says that's better for comedy anyway. The BBC have management targets and I don't have to get involved in all that - at least not until they say "You're fired."' Enfield also spoke about his critically slated 2000 Sky series The Brand Spanking New Show, admitting that the programme's faults were down to him. 'I was doing [the movie] Kevin & Perry Go Large at the time and I had my eye off the ball. I didn't go into the edits,' he said. 'There were some good sketches, but they appeared to be performed by someone in a panic. I got a kicking for it, quite rightly.'

Tom Meighan has launched an attack on reality talent shows including The X Factor. The Kasabian vocalist accused the pop managers involved of destroying the lives of contestants, the Press Association reports. Meighan said: 'I don't watch any of it. The design on X Factor, it's retarded, it's very backwards. Look what they do to people, pop moguls like Simon Cowell, they take people and then destroy them.' He added: 'Not just Simon Cowell, there's loads of them out there. I just think it's a very strange show. Poor Susan Boyle, it's unbelievable what's happening. I just can't get my head round it. It's wrong.' Pop stars now, seemingly, want to be TV reviewers as well as politicians. Tomorrow, dear blog reader, Britney Spears gives us her thoughts on the latest episode of CSI.

E4 is on the lookout for new British factual entertainment shows for the first time since Angela Jain took over as head of the digital channel. Jain told Broadcast that with Big Brother ending next year she was looking to add factual entertainment to E4's mix of comedy, drama and US acquisitions for 2011. Jain said all of these genres would benefit from the 'millions' of pounds freed up by Big Brother's demise but said it was likely that the channel would also air more repeats. Upon taking over E4 in 2007, Jain scaled back factual entertainment and C4 spin-off shows to focus exclusively on comedy and drama commissions such as Skins, The Inbetweeners and Dead Set. But she said she now wanted to find different ways of creating the 'live, event and entertainment' aspects of BB. 'Factual entertainment shows are notoriously hard to get right, particularly formatted ones. There have been budget constraints and I've had to focus my ambitions, but with the release of this money, I feel like I can do a couple of series in the genre now.'

BBC director general Mark Thompson has set BBC News a twelve-month deadline to recruit a female presenter over fifty, as the corporation battles accusations of ageism. He has also called on every BBC director to examine whether their departments should bring in more mature women presenters. 'There was a lot of discussion at the last BBC Direction Group about female presenters of a certain age and it was agreed that everyone would go back and look at whether their area had got the balance right,' an insider told Broadcast. Thompson has personally tasked BBC News director Helen Boaden with finding the newsreader, and her department has already started talks with the agent community. It is not yet clear whether the new recruit would work on BBC News Channel or the main BBC1 bulletins. So - a proper and sympathetic response to an area of valid public concern or an example of little more than crass tokenism designed purely to shut the Daily Mail up? Time will tell.

ITV is unlikely to go for thirty-minute comedies for the foreseeable future, ITV comedy commissioning editor Michaela Hennessy-Vass has warned. Speaking at Broadcast's Comedy Forum, Hennessy-Vass said she was focused almost exclusively on sixty-minute slots - effectively ruling out studio-based sitcoms. 'There are limited opportunities, in all honesty,' she said. 'For a half-hour comedy to work, it has to be something we can pair with something else so that it doesn’t feel too vulnerable and isolated. We are much more likely to commission more hour-long shows.' She noted, however, that a sixty-minute ITV slot, with advertising, was 'not so different' from a BBC half-hour. ITV recently extended Benidorm to an hour-long format and Hennessy-Vass said she wanted ideas with the same 'warmth and inclusiveness' as that show or the BBC's Gavin & Stacey. 'ITV comedy has to appeal to a significantly large audience and we don’t want anything esoteric, quirky or high concept,' she said. 'We want shows that reflect everyday life but don't feel tired.' All of ITV's comedies, comedy dramas and dramas are now aired in post-watershed slots and Hennessy-Vass said she was typically looking for six part series, with the possibility of eight for the right shows.

Titles for the first four episodes of Lost's sixth and final season have been revealed. They are:
601/602: LA X
603: What Kate Does
604: The Substitute

Countdown host Rachel Riley has impressed the show's producers by putting in more confident performances in recent months, according to a report. The twenty three-year-old Oxford graduate was appointed as the gameshow's new numbers and letters girl last year following the departure of the legend that was Carol Vorderman. A source told the Daily Express: 'When Rachel first joined the show she was a little quiet and struggled to impose her personality. It must have been daunting to replace somebody of Carol's stature and she was well aware that people were waiting for her to fall flat on her face. But since filming moved from Leeds to Manchester at the start of the summer, her confidence has really grown.' Earlier this week, viewers saw Riley showing off her figure by wearing a racy red miniskirt on the programme. The insider said: 'When Rachel initially came out of her dressing room there was a stunned silence from the crew before one of the cameramen started humming Chris De Burgh's 'The Lady In Red'. She is absolutely stunning and if she wore that dress every day I'm sure our viewing figures would go through the roof.'

BBC2 has commissioned a Gardeners' World spin-off, fronted by the series' assistant presenter, Alys Fowler. Produced by BBC Birmingham, Alys' Backgarden Supermarket [working title] showcases what Fowler describes as her 'punk rock attitude to gardening' and is designed to inspire young people who do not necessarily have a lot of outside space. Alys' Window Box might seem to be a better title in that case. It will demonstrate how to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs in a small garden, how to forage on public land, and what to do with the produce in the kitchen - from making soups and preserves to fermenting home-made brews. The series was ordered by BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, with Jo Ball, commissioning editor for factual features and formats. The series has already attracted criticism that Fowler was chosen because of her age and that it was ordered to replace the Gardeners' World Christmas special. However, the corporation said it has a number of Gardeners' World specials in the pipeline and that it does not always air a Christmas special in any case. The BBC also confirmed it is developing a project with Gardeners' World presenter Carol Klein. Last year, Klein accused the BBC of ageism after she was overlooked in favour of thirty eight-year-old Toby Buckland to replace Monty Don as the show's main host.

X Factor winner Steve Brookstein had an on-air row with a News of the World journalist on Richard Bacon's BBC Radio 5Live show on Tuesday evening. Brookstein, who won the first series of the ITV talent show in 2004, had an angry outburst after writer Jules Stenson claimed that his career had 'died.' Earlier Stenson mocked the singer, reminding him of a story the Sunday paper printed about him performing at a Pizza Express. 'The gig didn't go down too well though, did it Steve, you forgot your words,' he said. Responding to the jibe, the reality TV star commented: 'Do you know what? You've got a guy from the News of the World... So when it comes to music I can't really get into a conversation about them not understanding what I do and about me getting a session player in to play piano, who doesn't know the chords. It's a waste of time entering into a conversation like that really.' When Stenson followed up by suggesting that Brookstein was resentful of his career downturn, the 'Against All Odds' singer interrupted: 'Woah, woah, woah, wait there! Wait there! This is the spin and propaganda, tell the truth. I did an exclusive interview with you guys and I've still got the paper that I signed and it was a paid thing. But because of Max Clifford and because of Simon Cowell, you didn't go with my story and you ran with Simon Cowell's slagging me off. So don't even start on me. Don't start on me being dropped twelve weeks after having a number one record. Don't even go there. You don't know the facts, you don't know the truth and even if you did, you wouldn't print it. So don't even start!' So, that would be a 'no comment' then?

Strictly Come Dancing's Ian Waite and Darren Bennett are unhappy with the BBC's food standards, claim tabloid reports. According to the Mirror, the professionals have 'threatened to quit the show' over the poor meals they are given before the live shows air. The report claims that the celebrities and dancers were given 'lukewarm chicken strips, dried-up pasta, limp salads and fruit that looked out of date.' Sounds like a nice tasty meal to Keith Telly Topping although they could probably do with a few chips as well, dear blog reader. 'Dancers Ian Waite and Darren Bennett were particularly annoyed about the food and told backstage staff,' said a 'source.' Interesting. So, either this 'source' is telling the truth, in which case there are likely to be two less professional dancers lining up on the show tomorrow night. Or, as Keith Telly Topping confidently expects, this is another example of crass mendacity within the tabloid press in a desperate attempt to flog newspapers. 'They, along with many of the other dancers and celebrities, thought the food they were given in their dressing rooms was disgusting. Everyone was exhausted and hungry and they were really disgusted at the food. Many of the celebrities and dancers said they could not go on if this didn't change.' The insider added: 'The food [at the BBC bar] is great. They can get salads and more healthy options at the bar - but not until after the show's finished, which is a long time to wait when you're doing such a lot of physical activity.' A BBC spokesperson denied the allegations, saying: 'We are not aware of any problems with the food.'

Strictly professional Aliona Vilani has claimed that Rav Wilding makes her feel like a 'squeezed lemon' in training. The dancer, who is one of three new female pro-dancers in the BBC reality series, claimed that Wilding's strength left her feeling drained after their daily practice sessions. She also confessed that she broke down in tears outside the TV studios after Saturday's dance-off. 'I watched it back and I was smiling during the elimination, but once I got outside afterwards, I broke down and couldn't stop crying,' she told Claudia Winkleman on Strictly: It Takes Two. Wilding added: 'I thought we were going and then when Bruno [Tonioli] gave us one vote, I thought it was a token vote and that was it. Martina [Hingis] was so good as well.' The duo were saved from exiting the show in week one by head judge Len Goodman, who chose to eliminate tennis star Hingis instead. Speaking about their future in the competition, the Crimewatch presenter said: 'We tried really, really hard, we put thirty hours a week in and we still ended up in the dance-off, so somehow we've got to raise the game even more. On a personal level we've got to shine, otherwise the judges will say, "Why did we vote to save him?"'

PACT has hit out at ITV's tough new negotiating tactics, condemning the letters of intent it is sending to would-be suppliers that demand they waive the terms of trade. The broadcaster only signed up to the 2007 terms of trade this July, but since then has been requiring indies to agree to stringent terms before they enter negotiations. The letters of intent vary from producer to producer but, generally, demand extra View On Demand exploitation rights or extra repeats. It is alleged that they are being sent to all suppliers, including those negotiating recommissions, but that some of the bigger players have refused to negotiate on those terms. PACT chief executive John McVay said ITV was 'holding producers to ransom.' He has raised his concerns with Ofcom as well as ITV. 'We hear ITV when it says it is seeking to negotiate outside the terms of trade, but seeking and compelling are two different things. It is using bullying tactics,' McVay said. Bullies at ITV? Surely not.

Former Emmerdale star Roxanne Pallett has announced that she has signed an endorsement deal with Pringles. The twenty six-year-old actress, who played Jo Sugden in the Yorkshire-based drama, confirmed that she will soon travel around the country to advertise the brand's Extreme range of snacks. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Pallett revealed: 'It's amazing for me, I couldn't do any endorsements while I was on Emmerdale. I'm a down to earth northern girl, I really wanted to do something different to the usual lingerie deals that other girls get. They chose me because they thought I was feisty.' She added: 'I'm going on a UK tour for them in the next few weeks with our own Pringles Extreme team of girls - kind of like a gang of really tough Pussycat Dolls.' Who all eat crisps? Sound like Keith Telly Topping's ideal women, frankly. 'There's a world champion arm wrestler and a girl with the "keepy uppy" record.'

Ex-EastEnders actor Michael Greco has insisted that he has no regrets over his decision to launch a poker career. The former-soap star has become a professional gambler since bowing out as Walford's Beppe di Marco in 2002. 'After being in EastEnders it was either do this or take part in one of those awful celebrity reality television series. I would never do that,' BANG Showbiz quotes Greco as saying. 'The worst thing they asked me to do for a programme was to train greyhounds for a race.'

BBC2 will investigate the reliability of eyewitness accounts in a three-part series funded by the Open University. The BBC London Factual team will produce Eyewitness with the help of Greater Manchester Police. The series will investigate why people's memories play tricks on them, and will also examine the consequences of unreliable accounts, plus techniques for extracting more reliable eyewitness evidence. The BBC said: 'Mistaken eyewitness identification is estimated to cause sixty per cent of wrongful convictions. Getting accurate information out of witnesses involves a sophisticated understanding of how the memory works, the power of prejudice and why who we are determines how we understand what happens to us.' The series will attempt to show how police investigate crimes and the techniques they employ to work with witnesses' memories.

Former Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas has revealed her first project with Universal's Globe productions – co-executive producing a new ITV singing contest. The series Popstars to Opera Stars will be produced by Don't Tell the Bride producer Renegade Pictures and ITV Studios with Globe. The commission is the first product of Renegade's landmark tie-up with ITV Studios in December last year, to develop formats for UK broadcasters together and marks its largest ever commission. The project will be the first television programme Douglas has worked on since joining Universal in November last year. She resigned from the helm of Radio 2 last October in the wake of the 'Manuelgate' scandal, when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross make prank phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs.

E4 has picked up UK rights to glossy US teen musical drama Glee, from Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy. The thirteen part series follows a teacher trying to build a high-school 'glee club' into a world-class choir. The deal was brokered by Channel 4's head of acquisitions Gill Hay and Stephen Cornish, 20th Century Fox Television Distribution's senior vice-president and managing director of sales.

Five is to reinstate Shake!, the t(w)een strand it dropped in 2007, after signing a strategic sponsorship deal with Disney. The broadcaster will trial a two-hour Shake! block on Sunday mornings until the end of the year. It will air from 10am in place of repeats and lifestyle programmes such as Build A New Life In The Country. Initially, the slot will show Disney series such as Hannah Montana and the Emmy-award winning Wizards Of Waverly Place alongside Five programmes, including a repeat of post-apocalyptic drama The Tribe. Director of children's programming Nick Wilson said Shake! could begin commissioning and acquiring content if it is successful. 'If it does at least as well as the repeats that were there before, then we will look at making it a permanent fixture. If it works spectacularly well, it could spread to Saturday mornings as well,' he told Broadcast.

Jaclyn Smith's representative has denied reports that the actress attempted to commit suicide. The former Charlie's Angels star was said to be in critical condition following a gunshot wound to the head while in Honduras, E! reports. 'This is absolutely not true. I just spoke with her today. She is fine and in Los Angeles,' Smith's spokeswoman, Jay Schwartz said. However, she added that the woman involved in the incident did have a connection to the sixty three-year-old actress. 'It was her Charlie's Angels stunt double Sandra Franklin, but details are unknown at this time,' Schwartz said. In June, Smith paid tribute to her late co-star Farrah Fawcett, saying: 'Farrah had courage, she had strength, and she had faith. And now she has peace as she rests with the real angels.'

Television presenter Nick Knowles came to the rescue of a mother and an eight-week-old baby who were stuck in an overturned car near Taunton earlier this week. He noticed the crashed Ford Mondeo in a field off the B3227, near Norton Fitzwarren. Mr Knowles and two other motorists, one of whom was a nurse, helped the trapped pair, who have been named as Claire Williams and her baby Alexandra. Ms Williams was taken to hospital in Taunton with minor neck injuries. She was later discharged with her baby, who had no injuries. Mr Knowles - best known for the BBC1 shows DIY SOS and Wildest Dreams - had been on his way to work when he spotted the upturned car. The presenter, whose new series Real Rescues features tales of how passers-by have helped out at crash scenes, said his 'blood ran cold' when he heard a baby crying in the Mondeo.

An Abbey Road street sign is being auctioned on e-Bay to raise money for London transport schemes. This particular sign was installed six years ago, but removed in 2007 because of graffiti damage by Beatles fans. The Beatles' Abbey Road album, which sold millions of copies, features the street in St John's Wood on its cover. Westminster Council is auctioning forty two other West End signs, including ones for Bow Street and Covent Garden. A new enamelled steel Abbey Road sign is about to be installed although the council is working on a graffiti-proof prototype for use in the future.

And, in today's gratuitous toadying to the peoples of the world, Keith Telly Topping sends a big 'shout out' to everyone in Côte d'Ivoire, Kuwait and Cambodia. Keep doin' your stuff, boys and girls, we're all with you in spirit.