Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Jolly Close Shave

Okay dear blog reader, here's the deal. I'm going to get this one out of the way at the top of yer latest Top Telly News and then we're done with the subject once and for all, capiche? Octobeard. Yer Keith Telly Topping only went and won the damn thing. Could have knocked him down with a feather, so you could. If I was any of the others taking part, I'd demand a steward's enquiry, frankly. The judging was done yesterday by David Dade - the founder and president of The British Beard Club - live on Jonathan Miles' Morning Show. Sadly, Jonny had hurt his back the day before so Sue Sweeney was filling in for the day. Alfie Joey joined her for the announcement in a tense atmosphere with, literally, tens of people on the edge of their seat awaiting for the result. Anyway, Mr Dade considered that Keith Telly Topping's effort had 'good coverage, length and colour.' Jonny himself came second and probably would have won if only he hadn't shaved his 'soul patch' off! Jamie Wilko was third, Nick Roberts and Alfie a joint fourth and poor old Simon Hoban dead last. Ironically, Keith Telly Topping couldn't do an acceptance speech as he was out getting a haircut at the time the results were announced. True story. He's now gone from looking like a roadie for Hawkwind to looking like a roadie for The Selecter instead. And, just to clarify. There will be no more webcam images of horribly gurning fortysomething TV reviewers posted on the blog from this day forward. You people can only take so much punishment, I realise this now. Get well soon, Jonny by the way.

FlashForward continues to positively revel in its own complex dichotomy. This week's episode played, heavily, on by far the weakest aspect of the story - Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger's wet-as-a-slap-in-the-face-with-a-haddock pair of Mark and Olivia standing around bitching at each other in scenes so painfully overwritten they should come with their own release valve. Do the producers really think anybody is actually enjoying this? It's a pity, really, because elsewhere this is shaping up to be a jolly excellent show. The other major subplots - Dmitri's chasing of the 'Blue Hand' clue, the aftermath Janis' shooting, Wedeck's excellent dry and cynical world-view and, best of all, the revelation about the connection between Jack Davenport's character and Dominic Monaghan's character - are all progressing nicely. I think, possibly, as viewers we've been somewhat spoiled by the way in which many US TV shows are able to slowly play out their drama on a huge canvas so we've come to expect the same from every new one. I'm also slightly worried that they might be advancing the plot a bit too quickly to get viewers hooked (and, that's clearly working) but that, somewhere down the line, we're going to get about ten episodes of treading-water - in the way that, Lost's third season, for instance, seemed at the time to be a case of one step forward and three sideways every few episodes. But, credit where it's due, FlashForward has already managed to get its claws into me. And, hopefully they'll stay there for a long time to come.

And now, of course, for the hottest bit scheduling news of the month (if not the year): Doctor Who will return to BBC1 after seven long months on Sunday 15 November with The Waters of Mars. As previously revealed, the second of four specials airing throughout the year will feature David Tennant's Doctor alongside Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide. The Russell Davies and Phil Ford-scripted special will also feature Peter O'Brien as Adelaide's second-in-command Ed. The hour-long episode has been directed by Graeme Harper and produced by Nikki Wilson. For our American readers, the scheduling news is that it will air in your neck of the woods on 19 December in the US on BBC America.

David Tennant, meanwhile, has said he had to keep 'a stiff upper lip' while he was filming his final scenes for Doctor Who. 'It was very emotional saying cheerio,' Tennant said after a press screening of The Waters of Mars earlier this week. 'There's lots of scenes in the final episode that are very sad and were very sad to play.' He added: 'On the actual final day I was a bit of a puddle, but kept a mildly stiff upper lip.' The actor, who took on the role of the Time Lord in 2005, admitted he had been 'nervous' about seeing another actor on the role. 'I'm thrilled that it's carrying on,' he said, 'and know that everyone who's there is a great choice, but of course you feel a bit proprietorial.' The Waters of Mars will be followed by two episodes over the Christmas period that will see Tennant's Doctor once more pitted against The Master, played by John Simm before he regenerates into Matt Smith in 2010. As Keith Telly Topping recently wrote in a piece for Celestial Toyroom, 'I would love to have seen David Tennant stay for, perhaps, another year as the Doctor, if only to see what his favourite writer, Steven Moffat, could have done with the character when given total control over it. But, in the end, he took a bit of advice that Tom Baker once gave him to heart. "I wish," the fourth Doctor once noted, "that'd I'd left a year or two earlier, just before I stopped getting offered other things." I can't imagine for a single moment that David, one of the most in-demand actors in the world right now, is going to find any problems with type-casting now that he's left the role that he considers he was born to play. Leaving will still be a wrench, of course. For him and for the audience. Matt Smith has big tennis shoes to fill. But, that's the beauty of Doctor Who, you never quite know what you're going to get next. Maybe that's why we still watch it after all these years. Because of this unpredictability. However, it's important to remember that we never forget what's gone before. And we'll never forget David Tennant once the final credits of The End of Time roll.' Put your hankies away, we've still got The News to do.

There was an excellent bit of critique from the normally funny-as-a-kick-in-the-knackers Nancy Banks Stewart in the Gruniad earlier in the week: 'Apropos fine cuisine, last night in Coronation Street, Tony Gordon crashed to the cobbles clutching his chest, a traditional exit for Underworld owners. The prime suspects are Tony's black Glaswegian heart and Roy's full English breakfast. Only £2.95 for bacon, beans, black pudding, fried egg, fried sausage, fried tomato, fried bread and tea you could trot a mouse on.' Heh.

Alexandra Burke has claimed that singers on The X Factor are not urged to cry by producers. So all that embarrassing blubbing you did last year when you won was all 'natural', was it Alexandra? However, last year's winner told the Evening Standard that the contestants are told not to be overly-professional when they perform. Burke said: 'No-one's telling them to cry. I mean, they do advise you not to be too professional. They say, whatever emotion you feel, just let it out. If you're acting too professional, that will be your biggest downfall. It's like, people on that stage are crying for their dreams.' She added: 'All that anger or sadness or anxiety that you might feel in the week builds up, and builds up, and then it's just that one moment on a Saturday night. On live TV. They do say, "Don't repress it." Otherwise you don't look human.' Hang on ... people on The X Factor are human? seriously? I thought they were all the creation of some mad scientist working in a laboratory somewhere in Teddington Lock.

Simon Cowell has reportedly said that he is praying X Factor twins John and Edward Grimes do not win this year's show. Which will obviously come as a considerable surprise to many people at ITV who didn't realise there was anything higher than Cowell himself whom one could pray to. The reality talent impresario nevertheless added that he had to accept the decision of the public who vote for their favourite singers, the Mirror claims. Cowell is reported to have said: 'The twins are completely deluded and live in fantasyland but they are lovely. They thought Britney [Spears] would watch their performance and wanted to invite Robbie [Williams] to their party. I'm praying John and Edward don't win but there are reports they might be in the lead. You have to live with a public vote.' He added: 'If they win it would be a complete disaster. I would get on a plane and leave the country then sulk for about six months and Louis [Walsh] will be in serious trouble.' Well, in that case, Keith Telly Topping thinks everybody should ring in and vote for John and Edward. 'The fact is, it's a singing competition,' concluded Cowell. 'And they can't sing.'

Kelly Brook has claimed that she has been 'shocked' by various comments that Ant and Dec have made about her since her departure from Britain's Got Talent. The model and actress told the Daily Mail that she cannot understand why the pair have made public their constant jibes, insisting that she had no disputes with the cheeky-chappie presenters during her short-lived stint on the show as a judge. Brook was sacked from the programme after six days in January. Ant and Dec have since expressed their anger over her appointment, arguing that she was 'wrong from the start.' Reflecting on their complaints, Brook explained: 'Basically, I just don't think Ant and Dec liked me. Their egos are such that they were saying to themselves, "How dare she think she can come on to our show?," and since then they've been very vocal about their displeasure at me being there.' The model also denied Ant and Dec's recent allegation that she had never seen Britain's Got Talent before she was hired and was, thus, unaware of what they did on the contest. Brook claims that the duo simply misinterpreted a question she had asked about their backstage role. She added: 'I have to say it's the first experience I have had of that kind of behaviour and I was shocked by it, actually. I would like to apologise to them now if they thought I didn't know who they were. I do think they are very talented guys who are great at what they do. People love them on television and that's why they work consistently.'

Camilla Dallerup has said that she intends to back Phil Tufnell to win this year's Strictly Come Dancing. The Danish professional dancer, who won the 2008 series as the partner of Waterloo Road actor Tom Chambers, said that the ex-England cricketer 'looks like a natural' on the dance floor. 'I'm sitting at home watching it, clapping on the couch, waiting for him to come on,' Dallerup told the Digital Spy website. 'He's got the spirit of each dance and he's not a trained actor or dancer. For him to pick up the character and make us feel the routine through the camera is amazing. He never looks awkward and for a man, that is really difficult.'

The story behind the freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke's five-year battle to force MPs to reveal details of their expenses is to become the subject of a satirical BBC4 drama it was announced this week. Brooke is acting as a story consultant on the drama, which has a working title of The Heather Brooke Story. Not the most exciting of titles, perhaps, although it certainly can't be done under the Trades Description Act. Brooke told the Gruniad that her ideal choice to play herself on screen would be The X-Files and Bleak House actress Gillian Anderson, who is a fellow American and, also, a ginner. Casting for the drama, which will be filmed in December and broadcast sometime next year, has yet to be confirmed. BBC4's hour-long dramatisation will follow Brooke's tortuous battles with officialdom that began with a straightforward request under the Freedom of Information Act and saw the Commons authorities, led by the then-Speaker, Michael Martin, go to the High Court in a bid to prevent details coming out. Brooke fought for five years to get MPs' expenses made public, only for the Daily Telegraph to beat her to the bunch earlier this year. Full details of expenses were sold to the Telegraph, triggering the biggest political scandal of modern times, with many MPs forced to quit at the next election as a result of public anger at their - at best, dubious - claims.

Newspaper journalists sometimes joke that their cousins in broadcasting 'can't spell because they don't need to.' Occasionally they do need to, however. The main news item on Thursday evening's BBC1 Ten O'Clock News was presented in front of a graphic about the investigation into the Nimrod crash with the headline 'Damming Report.' Ouch.

Emmerdale newcomer Natalie Robb has claimed that she is 'loving' her role on the ITV soap. The show's producers announced in May that the actress had been cast in the tole of new Woolpack barmaid and mum-of-three, Moira Barton. The character, who forms part of the drama's new farming dynasty, made her debut in July. Robb told the Mirror: 'I love playing Moira - she's a down-to-earth farmer's wife who adores her family. It's great actually because I can be married in the day with three teenage kids and then I can hand it all back and have my single life at night.' Discussing her personal life further, the thirty four-year-old continued: 'I broke up with my long-term boyfriend last December, before I joined Emmerdale. He was French and I lived with him in the French Alps for about eight months, but it wasn't working out. Then this job came up and it couldn't have happened at a better time.'

ITV is trialling a live prime time variety show featuring number-based games which will invite viewers to phone-in for the chance of winning a big cash prize. Magic Numbers will feature a series of performances, pranks and games, with each segment generating a single digit. Once viewers can match two numbers from the last six digits of their telephone number, they will be eligible to call in and register for the final game. A randomly selected viewer will then be invited to answer general knowledge questions for a chance to win a cash prize. Sounds almost as complicated as the game show that Joey on Friends was supposed to be presenting, Bamboozled! In the non-broadcast pilot of Magic Numbers, filmed in ITV's London Studios by independent producer CPL, the top prize was two hundred and fity thousand smackers. Britain's Got More Talent host Stephen Mulhern presented the hour-long show, which included a performance by X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and comedy from stand-up John Bishop. It also featured a live cross to the commentary box of the Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid match at Stamford Bridge. Other segments included telephone prank by Cold Feet actor John Thomson, dance routines and fifty of the UK's best firefighters. Sounds ... thrilling.

Glamour model and sometime actress-wannabe Abi Titmuss has been cast in a Seagull Theatre production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The Celebrity Love Island star - with the enormous chest - will appear as Lady Macbeth at the Lowestoft venue on 18 November. She will also tour theatres in Sudbury, Bungay, Halesworth and Norwich for one-off shows. 'There is no stunt casting - this is someone who is earning her stripes,' said artistic director John Hales. 'She is a really, really good actress and that was one of the main considerations as we needed a strong female lead. To those who have not seen her she will be a wonderful surprise. She brings depth and heart to it and she will move people.' We believe you, John. Thousands wouldn't.

Denis Leary's company Apostle Films has recently acquired the rights to 1997 SF movie Gattaca for a TV adaptation. The company plans to develop the concept as an hour-long crime series set in the future, according to Variety. NCIS writer/producer Gil Grant has been contracted to showrun the project, which is being developed through Sony TV's international division. The film version of Gattaca was directed by Andrew Niccol and starred Ethan Hawke as a genetically inferior man living in a world where genetic engineering of humans is common.

Lost actor Henry Ian Cusick has reportedly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit. Chelsea Stone, who was a member of the show's production crew, filed the suit in April, claiming that she was sexually harassed and subsequently fired from Lost. She sued ABC and the production company, Grass Skirt Entertainment, for an undisclosed amount of coin. Cusick, who plays fan-favourite Desmond Hume on the series, was also named in court documents. He was alleged to have 'fondled the plaintiff's buttocks and breasts and kissed her on the lips.' Stone claimed that she was told by a supervisor to 'avoid contact' with the forty two-year-old. The parties reached a confidential settlement in a Los Angeles Superior Court on 5 October, TV Guide reports. Cusick's representative declined to comment on the matter.

Anna Paquin has suggested that viewers get uncomfortable seeing her naked in vampire drama True Blood. Not this Keith Telly Topping-shaped viewer, Anna, trust me. The actress, who played Flora in Oscar-winning film The Piano aged eleven, said that people find it difficult to see her strip off because they still think of her as an innocent child star. Although, again, anybody who saw her flash her panties whilst deflowering William Miller in Almost Famous will more than familiar with the concept! Paquin told Bang Showbiz: 'It's been a gradual evolution for me. It's probably weird for people to watch it and if they have this image of me as a sweet little child, but it's not weird for me.' She continued: 'My wardrobe is awesome. I'm practically naked the entire time - what's not to love?' Indeed.

Christopher Lee has been knighted by the Prince of Wales in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Best known for his performances opposite Peter Cushing in numerous Hammer and Amicus horror movies, Sir Christopher has featured in over two hundred and fifty productions in a career lasting the best part of sixty years. He was honoured for his services to both drama and charity. Also honoured at the ceremony were veteran rock and roll guitarist and singer Joe Brown, Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke and Marina Dalglish, the wife of Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish. Sir Christopher joked: 'I've done a lot of films that have become iconic, not necessarily because of me.' He also added: 'A whole new career opened up for me when I was in Lords Of The Rings and Star Wars. What's really important for me is, as an old man, I'm known by my own generation and the next generation know me too.'

Benidorm star Hugh Sachs has said that the ITV comedy series is successful because viewers recognise themselves in the characters. Speaking on This Morning, Sachs's co-star Paul Bazely also credited the show's writer Derren Litten for much of its popularity. 'I think people just recognise themselves - we don't behave very well on holiday as a nation and I don't think there's that many sitcoms about the vast majority of people,' Sachs said. 'Lots of people go on holiday and have rows in public.' Bazely added: '[What] Derren Litten captures very well is that you go on holiday with your loved ones and you do have rows with them but you still love them. So there's a warmth underneath it all.'

Dennis Hopper has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to his manager. The Easy Rider actor, aged seventy three, has cancelled all of his upcoming promotional duties and appearances in order to concentrate on his treatment. Speaking to the Associated Press, Sam Maydew confirmed that Hopper is being treated through a 'special programme' at the University of Southern California. He added that they are 'hoping for the best' but declined to comment further on the star's condition. Obviously, Keith Telly Topping asumes he's speaking for all of From The North's readership when he sends best wishes to Dennis. Fight this dreadful ailment with the same vigour and courage that you spent a career fighting the studio system, sir, and you'll be right as rain in no time.

A federal judge in Boston has ruled that Big Brother US winner Adam Jasinski is a flight risk. The thirty one-year-old, who won the CBS show's ninth season, was recently charged with attempting to sell two thousand Oxycodone pills. He reportedly told DEA agent Todd Prough that he used his five hundred thousand dollar prize money from the reality TV series to purchase thousands of the prescription drugs in order to resell them. Jasinski faces a maximum of twenty years in The State Pen and may also be fined one million dollars (or, twice as much as he won in the Big Brother house) for the possession charge. Now, that's poetic justice. US District Judge Leo T Sorokin has denied a motion to release Jasinski, E! reports. 'He is detained,' court clerk Maria Simeone said in an over-dramatic way that suggested she was angling for a role in an upcoming episode of Law & Order. '[The judge] determined that the government had met its burden of proof based on the evidence and that the defendant posed a risk of flight.'

The BBC has admitted it posted pictures of actors from the film The Firm on the Crimewatch website and wrongly claimed they were real football hooligans earlier this week. Earlier this week, the Sun also printed the pictures of The Firm actors on under the headline 'Hooligan Hunt' after the Metropolitan police had supplied them with the photos. The Sun is expected to run another story soon admitting to the mistake and laying all of the blame on the Met for the error. Because, as we all know, checking the veracity of a story is, in no way, a newspaper's job. The BBC also blamed the Met for the mistake, saying that the police had provided its Crimewatch show with the images. Earlier in the week the police released sixty six photographs of people they want to trace following the manic violence during a match between West Ham United and Millwall in August. Crimewatch ran an item about the search for the suspects on BBC1 on Wednesday night. The images of the actors did not appear on screen, but they were posted on the programme's website shortly thereafter. Although most of the photos pictured people who were allegedly involved in the violence, they also included six headshots of actors who appeared in The Firm, a British movie centred on football-related violence. The film was released shortly after the trouble at West Ham's Upton Park ground in East London, during a Carling Cup game against local rivals Millwall on 25 August. The original version of The Firm, starring Gary Oldman, was shown on BBC2 in the 1980s. A statement on the BBC's Crimewatch website said: 'Yesterday we published photographs of sixty six men supplied by the police who told us they were wanted in connection with violent behaviour at a football match. Six of the images supplied by the police were sent by them in error and the men pictured were not wanted for any crime. The police have asked us to pass on to the men concerned their sincere apologies for this mistake.' Police stated that the package sent to the BBC also included scenes from The Firm as it included parallels between the real-life fracas and the fictional fights depicted in the film. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Service apologised for the error. She said: 'Newham Borough Police regret this mistake and any embarrassment it has caused, and wish to apologise unreservedly to those affected. The borough is actively seeking to contact those persons whose images were released and will be offering personal apologies once they have been identified.' She added that an inquiry into the incident had been launched.

Sandra Bullock has admitted that she can be an annoying person. As anybody who's seen Speed 2 will, happily, avow.

Katie Price has claimed that she does not consider herself to be 'high maintenance.' The glamour model, best-selling autobiographer, 'TV presonality' and celebrity divocree made the astonishing claim during the recording of a new series of Channel 4's cookery program The F Word, the Sun reports. Price told the show's host, Gordon Ramsay, 'I'm not high maintenance, believe it or not.' Ramsay responded with incredulity: 'Katie Price, excuse me? That's like me saying I'm a vegetarian!' Price added: 'But I'm not! Okay my hair every three months costs fifteen thousand pounds - and that's because I go to LA and the flight costs a lot.' Sometimes, dear blog reader, a punchline just isn't necessary.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Queen Is Very Much Alive

Regular listeners to Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips on BBC Newcastle will probably be aware that there is a significant change happening as of today (Friday). Namely, my oppo for the last six months, Jamie Wilkinson, is leaving The Afternoon Show. Yesterday, we recorded our last slot together. It was quite emotional. In a thoroughly manly way, I hasten to add. Anyway, I reflected that somehow over the last five years I've managed to see off firstly Julia, then Alfie and now Jamie; it's starting to look like I'm a sodding Jonah to anybody who acquires that slot. It's been lovely working with Jamie - a really top bloke - for the last few months and I wish him every success in the future. And, if you're stuck thinking what you could possibly get for a very special present for someones birthday, anniversary or even divorce, check out Jamie's Bespoke Radio website for an off-beat and highly original possibility. Meanwhile, Keith Telly Topping's new partner-in-criminal-TV-reviewing will be Simon Logan who takes over The Afternoon Show on Monday coming. Simon's a nice chap too - albeit, he prefers The X Factor to Strictly. I'm gonna have to set him right on that score. So, if you were wondering, Top Telly Tips will remain in roughly the same slot, Monday to Friday at around quarter-to-four and available on 95.4FM for those of you in the vague 'North East of England' region or, online via the link to your right, for everyone else. And, also of course, I'm still working with the legend that is Alfie Joey on Alfie's Comic Cuts on Saturdays between 1pm and 2pm. Providing there isn't a lunchtime kick-off for the Magpies or the Black Cats. On a somewhat related theme, Octobeard (which was Jamie's idea originally) also finishes today. And, not a single second before time either. I think Jonny Miles has got the title sewn up (he's starting to look like Captain Birdseye!), however yer Keith Telly Topping will let all dear blog readers know the outcome when he knows it himself. Not that you're all exactly standing there with bated breath over this matter, I imagine. Although, I'm sure you'll be as thoroughly glad as I will be once I no longer have any possible excuse to post these horrible webcam pictures of myself with disgraceful facial hair on here in which I look like a sinister child molester. Only one more to go, dear blog reader. Brave heart, it'll all soon be over.

Vic Reeves has denied calling Jonathan Ross a 'bully' in the aftermath of the Manuelgate scandal. A report in the Daily Mail in February suggested that the comedian had criticised Ross for his treatment of ex-Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. However, Reeves has insisted that he was misquoted after defending the chat show host against the criticism he was receiving in the newspaper. He told the Edinburgh Journal: 'I said it's a big fuss over nothing and you lot should stop being bullies, then they printed Jonathan Ross should stop being a bully. That's the Daily Mail for you, they'll twist whatever you say and try and start a fight. They are terrible, awful gossip-mongers and troublemakers.' Oh dear. You've done it now. You'll be right on their shit-list, Vic. They'll be calling for the BBC to ban Shooting Stars as 'sick filth' before you can blink.

ABC has reportedly pulled a skywriting promotion for upcoming remake of V. The network had planned to use skywriters to generate giant red Vs above twenty six prominent US landmarks multiple times a day, TV Guide suggests. The creations were to mimic the spaceships that float above worldwide locales during the alien-themed show's premiere episode, which stars Elizabeth Mitchell. The termination of the promotional campaign follows a Washington Post article which highlighted the amount of pollution that the operation would cause although the network have stated that the actual reason for the change in policy was nothing to do with the negative publicity generated.

The Simpsons' Dan Castellaneta will appear in an upcoming episode of Desperate Housewives, according to TV Guide. Castellaneta, who voices Homer Simpson among other characters, will play the pilot of a plane that crashes on Wisteria Lane during a Christmas party on the popular series.

The BBC is to cut more than one hundred of its senior managers' jobs in a bid to slash its wage-bill by a quarter over the next three and a half years. The corporation will abolish eighteen per cent of the six hundred and forty three senior manager and executive director posts and will only recruit new staff 'at a discount' to the rates they can expect in the commercial sector. They have also frozen pay for all executive directors and members of the BBC Direction Group for a further three years – on top of the one-year freeze which was already announced – and have suspended their bonuses indefinitely. Other directors and senior managers will have their bonuses suspended for two years. The move marks a major change in the pay ethos of the BBC, which include the acceptance that there are 'a number of different markets for staff' within the BBC and that the corporation's approach to pay must be 'tailored to reflect that.' Previously, the BBC has argued that it operates within a marketplace and that reducing salaries would put it at risk of losing its best talent. Time will tell whether that belief was true.

Jamie 'Afro' Archer has claimed that he has lost his confidence after Big Band Week on The X Factor. The singer switched his song to U2's gospel anthem 'The Angel Of Harlem' at just twenty four hours notice last Saturday and claimed that he is still 'smarting' from the incident. 'I was thrown by it because it was so last minute. I wasn't able to perform it as well as I wanted to,' he said in a chat with vocal coach Yvie Burnett, reports Digital Spy website. 'I really am a bit concerned, I've lost my confidence a little bit in what we're going to do, what song we're going to choose. I just hope that we can get it right this week. It's on my mind and I can't stop thinking about it. Am I going to actually have to change my song? Until it's been heard and everyone has said that's brilliant and working, right up to rehearsals I'm going to be worrying about whether I might have to change it.'

Emmerdale actor James Hooton has said that he is planning to pitch a format for a video game show to television studios. Hooton, who plays Sam Dingle in the soap, recently attended the Eurogamer Expo in order to gain more connections with industry speakers at the event. 'I'm trying to get a games programme off the ground at the moment,' he told Eurogamer. 'I've meetings lined up with some of the big companies to try and get some sponsorship and backing for it.'

Anna Friel has declared that she had no doubts about appearing naked on stage for her latest role. The former Pushing Daisies and Brookside favourite features nude in the theatre version of the 1961 movie Breakfast At Tiffany's in London's West End. Her part - as the lead, Holly Golightly - has reportedly caused a stir since the production opened. Producers issued a ban on audience members taking photos of the actress whilst she was disrobed. Friel told The Paul O'Grady Show: 'At first I was nervous. There was a whole debate about when we actually rehearse the nakedness for the first time. It was in a rehearsal room which was very stark and cold and under fluorescent lights. I have never really had a problem with nakedness. I could sit here completely naked and be interviewed and not care. But I won't be doing that, don't worry!'

The BBC has ordered what has been described as the 'spiritual successor' to The Street from Jimmy McGovern's new production company. The Accused is a six-part series from RSJ Productions, which was founded by The Street's creator McGovern with the acclaimed drama's executive producer Sita Williams and script executive Roxy Spencer. The new drama is scheduled for BBC1 in autumn 2010 after a lightning commission from BBC controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson, who said that he had 'read the script on the Sunday and commissioned it on the Monday.' Asked about the potential for a fourth series of The Street, Stephenson said there were 'contractual difficulties.' But, he added: 'I wouldn't say it's dead, but it's complicated.' The third series of The Street, produced by ITV Studios, attracted more than five million viewers on BBC1. However it also looked to be the last after ITV announced that it intended to scrap its Manchester drama unit. McGovern said at the time that he would not allow the series to be produced by another broadcaster.

Blackpool and Desperate Romantics writer Peter Bowker is developing a new medical series for ITV. The new project will see Bowker, who began his scriptwriting career on the BBC's Casualty, reunited with Mammoth Screen, the independent production company he worked with on ITV's recent adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Laura Mackie, ITV director of drama, told The Stage that Bowker's drama was 'a very grown-up medical series' and that the show will be being built around a 'big character,' in the same way as ITV's Doc Martin. She added: 'One of the things we are looking for is a medical series and we have a couple of things in development. Pete is someone I love working with and I think he's had a purple patch recently. I first worked with Pete on Casualty - that was one of his first commissions - and he is very good on medicine. He has done Medics and Peak Practice.' Mackie said she did not want to reveal too much detail about the series in development, but that it would not be like Harley Street, last year's medical drama starring Suranne Jones, which was a critical and commercial flop for ITV. She also emphasised that the new show would be based around a strong central role, which she said broadcasters often 'shy away from,' and that this concept would mean the series did not clash with BBC shows such as Holby City. 'A lot of medical series are very ensemble and, if we do one, we don't want to tread on the toes of Casualty or Holby because they are brilliant and they do that very well,' she said. The new series does not yet have a working title and Mackie stressed it was just one of a number of projects being considered by ITV. The director of drama also revealed that Barbara Machin, the creator of the BBC's Waking the Dead, is developing a crime drama for ITV.

Thriller writer Peter Jukes has written an strongly-worded piece for Prospect about why he believes British TV has lost its way and why it can never hope to produce a series like The Wire. It's a somewhat familiar rant to anybody who saw Tony Garnett making an utter fool of himself earlier this year when whinging on a similar subject. But, it's still an interesting perspective to analyse for the average TV viewer. The breakup of the old American network cartel and competition from cable channels such as HBO and Showtime has, undeniably, been good for competition – the result is that series have had to toughen-up, rather than becoming dumbed-down. This flowering of talent has produced series such as Mad Men, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The West Wing and Sex and the City. In the UK, both Channel 4 and ITV have largely abandoned adult drama (with a few notable exceptions), leaving pretty much the entire genre in the hands of the BBC – and of one man in particular, their controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson. It's not that Britain is short of TV writing talent, argues Jukes, but rather that it hasn't worked out how best to use it. As a result, the US has cornered the market in what he describes as 'the high-end stuff.' Series which bears devoted watching and repeat viewing. Like [Spooks] for instance. Oh no, hang on, that's one of ours, isn't it? Sorry, my mistake. Prospect has a graphic which - they claim - demonstrates this point: One second-series episode of The Wire has twenty one interweaving story-lines. An episode of Kudos' acclaimed British drama, Life on Mars, combined four. Well yeah, okay fair point. They were four bloody goods ones, though. Plus, I'm not sure that counting the number of storylines in a drama is any particular indication of quality, per se. You'll find plenty of recurring plot-threads in the average soap, for instance. The only way to produce sophisticated, long-running drama like The Wire or even ER - the Americans have discovered - is to use a team of writers who collaborate under a show-runner, a system that US studios have cracked and which had now started to infiltrate British TV in the last few years. (That's the system they're now using on Doctor Who, to great success, for instance.) For a thirteen or twenty two episode series, it's simply too much for even one world class dramatist to write the whole thing (albeit, Aaron Sorkin tried to on The West Wing), but by the same token you can't hire hack writers to work on episodes in isolation. The result is that American viewers sit down to an evening of Damages, argues Jukes, whilst we get Casualty. It's also interesting that soaps are mere daytime fodder in America. In Britain, they 'clog the prime time slots' – and the former Holby City writer Jukes reserves most of his bile for them. He says writing for that show involved 'the most dispiriting experiences in my twenty five years as a dramatist. Soaps squeeze the creativity and innovation out of you.' Now, I'm not saying there isn't an element of truth in what Jukes is saying. And nobody has more time for US network and non-network drama than I. But, they're very odd series to be comparing. It's like comparing apples and bananas. Why Holby City with The Wire? Why not with [Spooks]? Or Torchwood? Or Shameless? Or any one of thirty or forty other fine examples of when British TV gets it dead right. Or, by the same token, why not compare CSI: Miami (the most widely-watched TV show not only in the US but, indeed, in the world, let us remember) with Waking The Dead and see which one emerges with the biggest balls? That's the trouble with comparisons, sometimes they work for you, sometimes they blow up up in your face.

And, on a related theme, BBC staff are plagued by 'morbid job insecurity,' which is 'debilitating' the corporation's ability to deliver its public service remit, Occupation director Nick Murphy has claimed. Murphy, who last Saturday collected a Prix Europa for his Iraq war drama, also criticised Channel 4, claiming that the film which scooped the Prix Europa for best documentary would never have got off the ground in the UK. 'There is no way Chemo would have been commissioned by C4 or the BBC and if it was, it would be buried away somewhere at 11pm,' he said. Well, hang on. You can't have it both ways, pal. It either would be commissioned or it wouldn't. If it would then the scheduling of it is utterly immaterial to the argument you're pushing. 'Everyone is terrified of losing their jobs. People at the BBC have a morbid job insecurity and it is affecting the programmes they commission. It is starting to debilitate public service broadcasting.' Yes but, as previously noted, public service broadcasting also involves entertaining the public, not just lecturing them, preaching to them and wagging your finger at them, something most people who casually used the words 'public' 'services' and 'broadcasting' in close proximity to each other seem to forget all too quickly. Chemo, by Polish filmmaker Pawel Lozinski, for channel TVP SA, shows life on a cancer ward through a series of literal close-ups of patients' conversations. Murphy, who has also made documentaries including How Art Made The World (for BBC2) and Paddington Green (for BBC1), said his experience with Occupation had been atypical and that it had been strongly supported by BBC executive Patrick Spence. The BBC responded that it was 'extremely proud' of its public service broadcasting track record. You want to try going to Peter Jukes' beloved America, Nick, and see how much support you get from the broadcaster system over there.

Over in the US, meanwhile, Syfy has handed a thirteen-episode order for a US version of Being Human. The show, which was of course originally developed by the BBC, centres around three twentysomethings - a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost flat- -sharing in modern-day Bristol. 'It turned out great as we can now do an American version,' said Syfy president Dave Howe. 'We've always been keen on vampires and werewolves, and we loved the originality of Being Human, the fact that the fantastical creatures in it are very young, accessible and charming.' Yes, Peter Jukes, America is so 'the land of innovation and originality,' isn't it? They've never had a single original idea in their head since 1776. And even that one they nicked off the French.

Paul O'Grady may soon be returning to ITV - but his production company, Olga TV, is poised to hang on to the tea-time Channel 4 slot that is currently home to his chat show, The Paul O'Grady Show. Sources close to Channel 4 told Broadcast that Olga TV director, and O'Grady's agent, Waheed Alli is close to signing a deal for a new 5pm show that would feature different presenters. A condition of the deal would be that O'Grady makes regular guest appearances. One source told Broadcast it was 'a done deal' because C4 was 'tempted' by O'Grady's involvement. 'Channel 4 is unhappy at losing O'Grady, but it's better to have him appearing occasionally than not at all,' said the nameless source. However, a Channel 4 spokeswoman denied this: 'We're continuing to talk to a number of production companies, including Olga TV, about ideas for the 5pm slot next year, but nothing's been decided at this stage.'

Zooey Deschanel will guest star in an upcoming episode of Bones, FOX has announced. The 10 December episode, The Goop On The Girl, will see Deschanel united with her sister Emily for the first time on-screen. She will play Margaret Whitesell, a distant relative of Emily's character, Temperance Brennan, who arrives when Brennan's father (Ryan O'Neal) invites her to spend Christmas with them. O'Neal is also appearing in the episode. FOX has also announced that the forthcoming one hundredth episode of Bones, which is due to air next spring, will be directed by the show's male lead, David Boreanaz.

The BBC's director of sports rights Dominic Coles has suggested that the 2013 Ashes cricket series should be simulcast on the BBC and Sky Sports. Yeah, like that's going to happen! A panel of experts led by former FA executive director David Davies is currently reviewing the list of sporting events that are protected for broadcast on free-to-air television. The England and Wales Cricket Board recently agreed a new three hundred million pound deal with Sky for exclusive England international cricket coverage, which comes into force next year and includes the 2013 series. Any attempts by the review panel to place the Ashes back on the list of protected sporting events would be strongly opposed by both the ECB and Sky, in a case of the former because it views the money gained from TV deals as vital for funding grassroots cricket development in the UK. Speaking to the Guardian, Coles said that the BBC cannot compete with Sky's financial muscle, but there is another way to resolve this issue by simulcasting the series on pay and free-to-air TV. 'We can never compete with Sky in terms of the vast amounts of money they offer. But since 2005 [when the Ashes were shown on Channel 4] the numbers watching sport on pay-TV have plateaued,' he said. I think Sky might beg to differ on that one, Dom, baby. Still, one can dream, at least. Dreaming, as Blondie once said, is free. (Or, at least, cheap.)

Myleene Klass has expressed surprise over the way the contestants behaved on the recent US series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Klass, who presented the NBC programme alongside Damien Fahey, suggested that participants were less than willing to enter into the spirit of the programme unlike their UK counterparts. Speaking on The Paul O'Grady Show, Klass noted: 'It's nothing at all like our version. It's so funny, you say, "Go on, put your hand into the rats and grab the star." [They say], "I'm gonna phone my attorney. I'm gonna sue." You think, how are we going to get around this - and you do - and then they're hungry and they say, "I want a pizza." So you have to explain the concept of the show every ten minutes. But it was brilliant fun.' Sounds like it. She added: 'It's just very different over there. A lot of the Americans thought we were on a set because their sets are so epic. People really just didn't believe that we were in the jungle. But believe me, we were. I didn't sleep properly for five weeks.' The show, which aired in June, featured celebrities including Janice Dickinson, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt.

Caroline Quentin is in talks to join The Bill in a bid to 'save the struggling show' claim the Mirror. Producers want to draft in the Blue Murder star as Sun Hill's Borough Commander to boost flagging ratings - as staff fear the ITV police drama faces the axe after a fresh wave of redundancies. Caroline would appear for six weeks in episodes written especially for her although it is understood that she is yet to commit. A show source said: 'Caroline Quentin has been asked to come in to try and boost the show's popularity. Scriptwriters have been told to write especially for her as ITV is keen to improve the ratings.'

The X Factor twins John and Edward Grimes have apparently been dragged into a potential international incident with the Chinese Embassy it has been claimed. The contestants' house in North London is said to be 'next door' to the Chinese Ambassador, and she is, reportedly, 'very irritated' by the permanent mob of screaming girls who hang around the area hoping for a glimpse of the boys. The ambassador, Fu Ying, is said to be so upset by the noise, litter, graffiti and general discombobulation that she has lodged an official complaint with the diplomatic service. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy allegedly told the Mirror: 'I can confirm there was a complaint. The reason is several times late at night and early in the mornings the teenage fans were noisy and disturbing.' Course, in China, they'd've sent the tanks in by this stage. That'd give the little sods something proper to scream about. Has anyone else noticed this disturbing tendency for Keith Telly Topping to come over all militaristic and reactionary when the subject of The X Factor is on the agenda? A mostly benevolent and almost hippy-style domestic policy, it's true, but tough on The X Factor and tough on the causes of The X Factor. It's a vote-winner, Gordon, I'm telling you ...

Chris Hollins has said that he is 'in panic' about his latest routine on Strictly Come Dancing. Shouldn't that be in a panic, surely? The BBC Breakfast presenter revealed that he will be performing a cha cha cha on Saturday's show, but admitted that he is very worried about his slow progress with the dance. 'Someone must have taken my brain out at the start of the week, because we are in panic situations again,' he told It Takes Two. 'Christopher Hollins is taking a long time to learn the steps, so you may see more trout pout, sucking lemons or "with a migraine" face as I try and remember my steps.' Hollins, who is partnered by Ola Jordan, added: 'Yesterday was so bad. You know when you speak to a dog and say, "sit down Rover," and all it hears is, "Rover, blah blah blah." Well, that was like me. All I could hear was, "Chris, blah blah blah."' Speaking about his future in the competition, he said: 'We don't train for twenty five hours a week for the fun of it. I am not ready to give in just yet. I'm really loving it.' Little known fascinating trivia fact related to Chris Hollins - he is, of course, the son of former Chelsea, Arsenal and England midfielder John Hollins, you probably knew that. What you might not know is that Chris is also the nephew of former Newcastle United and Wales goalkeeper, Dave Hollins. Now, John and Dave Hollins are, as far as Keith Telly Topping is aware, the only pair of brothers ever to have represented different countries at football. There you go, told you it was fascinating. Wake up!

BBC Wales is looking for two modern day families who would like to step back in time and take part in a new reality TV series, Snowdonia Farmhouse set in 1890. Commissioned from independent company Indus Television, producers of the innovative Coal House series, the new project aims to recruit two Welsh families, who will live in neighbouring farm cottages in Snowdonia, immersed in the harsh realities of nineteenth century life. Strictly no mod cons. In what Cardiff's head of English language programmes Clare Hudson calls 'a collision of social history and real life drama,' women will work the land, tend the livestock and run the family home while the men will work in the nearby slate mines. Their trials and tribulations will mirror the challenges faced by their forefathers over one hundred years ago. Filming will take place during March and April next year but the recruitment of families had already started.

The Full Monty director Peter Cattaneo is to return to his TV roots with a BBC2 sitcom about a frustrated urban Anglican vicar. Handle With Prayer (working title) is one of two new BBC commissions for Big Talk Productions and will feature In The Loop, Pride And Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean and Desperate Romantics actor Tom Hollander as Andrew Smallbone, newly promoted from a sleepy rural parish to the 'socially divided' area of St Botolph's in London. Unable to turn anyone away, Smallbone is faced with a catalogue of moral dilemmas as he juggles the needs of genuine believers - some on the streets or addicted to drugs - with the demands of social climbers using the church to get their children into the 'right' schools. 'It's the antithesis of any religious comedy you've ever seen,' said Kenton Allen, executive producer and chief executive of Big Talk. Given that most of the religious comedy we've previously seen has been - how can I put this nicely? Arse - then that shouldn't prove to be too difficult. 'Although the UK is supposedly an increasingly secular place, when it comes to the major events in our lives - weddings, births, deaths and the education of our children - many of us still turn to the church.'

BBC1 is to investigate the libel laws in a new six-part observational documentary co-production from BBC Scotland and Matchlight as part of a batch of orders from the nations and regions. An archaeological series from Northern Ireland's 360 Productions and two BBC Scotland series have also been commissioned this week. Libel (working title) will feature Britain's leading law firms and will follow high-profile libel cases as they happen. It will look at how UK libel law shapes the national press and ask why so many US celebrities bring libel cases in the UK rather than at home. BBC1 controller Jay Hunt, who ordered the series with documtaries commissioner Charlotte Moore, said it would have 'extraordinary access to a notoriously private world.' Also on BBC1, the three-part Dig 1940 will use archaeological finds to explore famous Second World War events from the 'most dangerous year in Britain's history,' which included the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The series is the first commission for 360, which is a partnership between Impossible Pictures and former Timewatch editor John Farren. He said: 'Britain was a nation in peril in 1940. This is the archaeology of three potential disasters, all averted.' As a big fan of Time Team's occasions specials covering that era, that one sounds to have great potential. The series was ordered by Hunt and history and business commissioner Martin Davidson to broadcast in the summer of 2010 marking the seventieth anniversary of the events it will focus upon. Meanwhile, BBC Scotland has secured commissions for Shipshape, a two episode look at the impact of the sea on British art and culture for BBC4 and a second series of the daytime quiz A Question of Genius.

The BBC did not bow to BNP pressure and allow party leader Nick Griffin to appear on last week's Question Time, according to Mark Thompson. And, on present levels of electoral support - around two per cent of the national vote - the party was likely to be invited onto the programme 'not more than once a year or less,' the director-general told the Lords Communications Committee yesterday. During a twenty minute questioning about the broadcast and the Griffin decision, Thompson was asked by the committee's chairman, that oily little runt Lord Fowler (remember him? 'Fowlpest' from Spitting Image) whether the invitation for the BNP to join the panel had been an initiative from the party and whether it was done to boost ratings. Thompson said the initiative had been the BBC's. 'This was in no part designed to increase ratings. The question of who appears is not decided on an ad-hoc basis, it is something that is under constant review,' he told the committee. '[Question Time] is not a competition you can enter.' He said the decision to allow the BNP its first appearance on the programme had been his decision, as editor-in-chief - taking advice from Ric Bailey of editorial policy and having briefed the BBC executive board as well as non-executive directors. Thompson repeated his view that it was for parliament, not the director-general of the BBC, to decide whether an organisation like the BNP, considered by many to be racist, should be banned from the airwaves. He refused to be drawn on whether, as Fowpest's suggested, Thursday's programme had been 'a crude and unpleasant shouting match.' You were a member of Thatcher's government, pal, you'd know all about nonsense like that. And, remind us how you got to be a 'Lord' in the first place? I certainly didn't vote for you. As Thompson may have to adjudicate on some viewer complaints about perceived bias in the show - there were two hundred and forty compliants after transmission - he said it would not be 'appropriate' for him to give a personal view. In a wide-ranging session which covered competitive Saturday night scheduling, out-of-London production, top-slicing and the future of project Canvas, Thompson was also quizzed on the rumoured sale by BBC Worldwide of the Lonely Planet travel guide. 'We are not seeking to dispose of Lonely Planet because of what's in newspapers,' Thompson said. A round of applause for that, at least. 'BBC Worldwide has no plans to sell the highly successful Lonely Planet travel information business. It is not up for sale,' a spokeswoman said.

Former Emmerdale star Jenna-Louise Coleman has admitted that she found it strange to go back to school for her new role in Waterloo Road. The twenty three-year-old actress signed up to play Year Twelve pupil Lindsey James on the drama earlier this year. Reflecting on her new role, Coleman told TV Times: 'It was surreal sitting in a classroom doing chemistry lessons again! And it felt weird putting on the uniform. At my school we didn't wear uniforms in sixth form, so I haven't worn one since I was sixteen. My school uniform was a bottle-green colour and we didn't wear ties as we had dicky bows. So I didn't know how to do up Lindsey's tie and had to get someone in the costume department to teach me!' Revealing what viewers can expect from her new part, Coleman continued: 'She's completely different to Jasmine Thomas, my Emmerdale character. She's a hard-nut to crack and a tormented soul, whereas Jasmine wore her heart on her sleeve and just cried all the time!'

Dannii Minogue has claimed that she posed for Playboy because she needed to solve a financial crisis. The Australian singer reportedly made the revelation in her recent TV interview with Piers Morgan, telling the former journalist that she felt desperate because she owed one hundred and fifty thousand pounds and could not afford to pay her rent. Keith Telly Topping would've loaned her a tenner if only she'd asked. In fact, he'd've robbed a bank for Dannii if only she'd asked. Anyway, Minogue infamously stripped off for the magazine in 1995 after splitting from her then-husband Julian McMahon. She is quoted as saying: 'My parents didn't want me to do it. My dad was saying, "Doing this is forever - you can never, ever change it." Kylie knew why I was doing it - I could have asked her for the money, but it wasn't in my nature. I never wanted to admit the trouble I was in. I should have been looking at my finances.'

Sarah Palin has claimed that she is 'appalled' by remarks made by the teenage father of her grandson, according to Entertainment Tonight. During an appearance on CBS's The Early Show on Thursday, nineteen-year-old Levi Johnston alleged that Palin had called her baby son, Trig, who has Down's Syndrome, 'retarded.' He also suggested that he knew various other 'secrets' about the former vice presidential candidate and governor of Alaska. In a statement, Palin said: 'We have purposefully ignored the mean-spirited, malicious and untrue attacks on our family. We, like many, are appalled at the inflammatory statements being made or implied. Trig is our "blessed little angel" who knows it and is lovingly called that every day of his life. Even the thought that anyone would refer to Trig by any disparaging name is sickening and sad.' In other words, Levi matey boy, when President Palin gets sworn in, Guantanamo's re-opening for business and you're gonna be its first customer.

Morrissey triumphantly returned to the stage at London's Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday night, and made light of his collapse during a recent concert in Swindon. 'Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a bumpy night,' he declared, launching into the Smiths' first hit 'This Charming Man.' That song had been the last one he played before collapsing with breathing difficulties on Saturday night. In London, he pretended to faint again at the song's climax, before springing to his feet and declaring: 'Thank you, Swindon!' Heh! Morrissey cracked a joke! We truly are living in the End of Days. The singer also spoke, briefly, about his collapse, when he told the sell-out crowd: 'The doctor said I shouldn't smile. I told him, "I don't."' Heh! Morrissey cracked another joke. Steady on, that's two in one lifetime. That's quite enough Stephen, you'll be after your own stand-up show on BBC2 next. A concert in Bournemouth, due to take place on Monday, was postponed, but the star's spokeswoman said he was now 'rested and absolutely fine.'

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad Impressions

It's BBC Newcastle's Octobeard Day Twenty Eight, dear blog reader. And, yer man Keith Telly Topping has - much to his surprise - to report that he's finally starting to warm to the Jesus of Nazareth (only, you know, ginger)-look. Which he's been slowly and steadily developing over the last four weeks after agreeing in a moment of madness to part-take in this malarkey. It's still itchy as buggery, mind! And, he remains eager for Saturday to come around so that he can give it some severe razor action!

We've reached that curious point of the year where a few of the American drama shows start missing the odd week because of the damned strange nature of how American network TV functions. Don't worry about it, dear blog reader, it has baffled far better brains than ours. Thus, there were no new episodes of, for example, Bones or CSI this week. There was a very good Lie To Me (Grievous Bodily Harm) which delved into Cal's murky past in England as a shady West Ham supporting con-artist although there was a feeling that the episode's author had based most of his knowledge of London on a couple of viewings of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Also, FlashForward took an interesting diversion into the series' political parallel universe in the episode Gimme Some Truth - which, once again, suggests a very good potential show in the making but one whose main, and most obvious, fault is a tendency by the writers to over-flower the dialogue to the point of genuine annoyance. Particularly between the Jospeh Fiennes and Sonya Walger characters whom one just wishes would shut the hell up whinging about the manifest unfairness of fate once in a while. Focusing, as the episode did, on two of the show's most interesting characters - Courtney Vance's dry, cynical FBI boss Wedeck and Christine Woods' suddenly-out-of-nowhere-lesbian Janis Hawk - was a good move. Stargate Universe is also looking potentially strong, although the fact that we're five episodes in and they've barely left the spaceship yet does rather suggest that the writers (and, we're talking about damned good ones like Robert Cooper, here) need to start thinking about getting a move on with regard to where they want to take the viewers. An audience won't wait around forever for something to happen. Witness Star Trek: Voyager. The TV highlight of the week, however, was Dollhouse's long-awaited Sierra-background episode, Belonging. This was, quite possibly, the best single episodes of any TV series so far this year this season. All the more remarkable when one considers that of the series' two notional 'stars', Eliza Dushku was reduced to a few quiet scenes of characterisation and Tahmoh Penikett was missing completely. Instead, we got a series of outstanding performances by Dichen Lachman, Harry Lennix, Olivia Williams and especially Fran Kranz as Topher finally, finally, got a bitter taste of just how horrible moral ambiguity can be in the great scheme of things. The episode got into the sort of deep areas of psychology that most dramas wouldn't dare to touch in a million years; issues like individual choice, abuse, care of the vulnerable and secrecy, handled in clever and oblique ways. And a truly outstanding script was aided by Jonathan Frakes' astute direction. Keith Telly Topping will say it again but it is a right bloody tragedy that more people aren't watching this show and that it will, in all likelihood, end once its thirteen season-two episodes are done. If not sooner. Meanwhile, generic tosh like CSI: Miami will just go on and on and on until the end of time. No justice.

BBC1 is to pitch its cult panel-show Qi against ITV's long-running police drama The Bill when the Stephen Fry-fronted quiz returns for its seventh ('G') series next month. Qi will move to Thursday nights at 9.30pm from 26 November in the run-up to Christmas, though it will then return to its traditional Friday night slot for the remainder of its run in early 2010. Remember, there's sixteen episodes this coming series. Ironically, Talkback Thames produces both Qi and The Bill, meaning it will have shows playing simultaneously against each other on the UK's two biggest terrestrial channels - something that, I think I'm right in saying, only Kudos have ever managed before. (Although, I'm sure one of you, dear blog reader, knows different.) Thursdays have become a fierce scheduling battleground since ITV changed The Bill's broadcast slot in July, positioning it as a weekly hour-long drama at 9pm. BBC1 has frequently countered it with ratings blockbuster New Tricks and - every time it has done so - it has gained the lion's share of the audience rating. New episodes of the popular Wall to Wall-produced crime-drama attract around seven million viewers compared to The Bill's average of between three-and-a-half and four million. Even repeat episodes of New Tricks' previous series have typically pull in more than four million. Qi made a successful move from BBC2 to BBC1 earlier this year. The sixth series was watched by an average of four-and-a-half million viewers. However, it is as yet untested on Thursday nights, which is not traditionally considered a home for comedy on the channel (unlike BBC2, where it very much is). BBC1 has yet to confirm what will be broadcast before it in the half-hour slot at 9pm.

Top Gear presenter James May's new series based around the toys of his youth helped BBC2 to a fine night in the ratings on Tuesday, out-performing every other channel except for BBC1 according to overnight figures. More than three-and-a-half million viewers tuned-in for the debut of James May's Toy Stories at 8pm, which followed James' quest to build a full-sized Spitfire from Airfix™. The show achieved over nine hundred thousand more viewers than the slot usually commands. The programme was only topped by BBC1's medical drama Holby City, which won the 8pm slot with 5.9m. Elsewhere, the ITV stalwart Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? came third in the race with 3.2m. Gok Wan enticed 2.2m for How to Look Good Naked. A further two hundred and thirty five thousand watched the show on C4+1. Five's Nature Shock documentary on the mysterious death of a family of elephants collected 1.2m.

ITV are going down the strip-scheduling route, it would appear, with the much-anticipated Collision, which will air 9pm for five nights from Monday 9 November. The five-part serial is described as 'a modern epic tale which explores how fragile our lives are. It focuses on how fate and the feeling of immortality behind the wheel play a part in modern lives, where events are not always in our control and ordered.' ITV have taken the decision to follow the successful lead of the BBC whose innovative broadcast of dramas like Criminal Justice, Occupation and Torchwood: The Children Of Earth across a single week brought much critical acclaim and positive ratings in the last eighteen months. Collison's extraordinary cast includes Douglas Henshall, Kate Ashfield, Paul McGann, Lucy Griffiths, Dean Lennox Kelly, his brother Craig Kelly, Claire Rushbrook, Phil Davis, Sylvia Syms, Jan Francis and David Bamber. It had been created and written by acclaimed author and screen writer Anthony Horowitz (Foyle's War) and co-written by Michael A Walker (Does God Play Football?).

TV and movie icon Barbara Windsor is set to say goodbye to everyone's favourite pub landlady, Peggy Mitchell, when she leaves EastEnders in 2010, the BBC report. Peggy Mitchell has been Queen of the Vic for most of Barbara's fifteen years in Albert Square and has famously yelled 'Get outta moi paaaaab' at pretty much every inhabitant of Walford at one time or another. Babs first appeared in EastEnders in 1994 and has since become one of the nation's most loved television matriarchs ruling the Mitchells with 'an iron fist and a heart of gold.' She was awarded an MBE in 1999 and was a Lifetime Achievement Award at The British Soap Awards in May this year. Keith Telly Topping believes that the former, just about, tops the latter. Barbara says of her departure: 'EastEnders has been wonderful to me and it's no secret that it changed my life all of those years ago. I'll be sad to leave Peggy behind; she's such a wonderful character to play. I have had the pleasure of working with a marvellous cast and crew and have made many lasting good friends. To have had the honour of showing the Queen around the set is something that will stay with me forever. I would like to thank the BBC for the incredible opportunity they gave me and above all, I must thank the wonderful viewers for their support over the years. I'm looking forward to the future and I suppose when all's said and done, I should spend a bit more time with my old man, as he's not getting any younger.' John Yorke, Controller BBC Drama Production & New Talent, says: 'To most of the British public Barbara is EastEnders, and it's almost impossible to imagine Albert Square without her. For fifteen years she's given her heart and soul to EastEnders – she's been a consummate professional, a national treasure and a joy to work alongside. We will all miss her hugely – both as a character, and as a friend.'

Channel 4 is to hold an online debate on the subject of the death penalty following the broadcast of its controversial fictional drama The Execution of Gary Glitter it has been announced. With a Channel 4-commissioned poll showing that seventy per cent of the public think the death penalty should be reintroduced, the broadcaster is to transmit a one-off, ninety-minute fictional drama imagining the consequences of capital punishment being reinstated. In the drama, the first person to be tried under a new Capital Crimes Against Children law is Paul Gadd, better known as 1970s rock-star Gary Glitter. Gadd will be played by Doctors actor Hilton McRae. Billed by Channel 4 as a 'courtroom drama shot in the style of a documentary,' the programme examines how society deals with its most serious offenders. The Execution of Gary Glitter is written and directed by Rob Coldstream and produced by Juniper Productions and will air on Monday 9 November. Samir Shah, the executive producer will then chair a debate on the death penalty afterwards on The head of documentaries and More4, Hamish Mykura, said: 'High-profile crimes against children often prompt calls for the return of the death penalty – this drama confronts the public with what many say they want.' I'm really not sure at all what to make of this. And that's, surely, one of the few occasions in his life where Keith Telly Topping has been, genuinely, lost for words.

League of Gentleman star and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss is to star in his own adaptation of HG Wells' Sci-Fi romance, The First Men In The Moon, for BBC4. Rory Kinnear (Waking the Dead, Silent Witness) will also appear in the ninety-minute drama, which is the first project to emerge from Gatiss and director Damon Thomas' independent production company, Can Do. Set in July 1969, 'as the world waits with baited breath for news of the Apollo 11 astronauts,' the drama focuses on ninety-year-old Julius Bedford (Kinnear) who recounts his own, secret, journey to the moon sixty years earlier. As a young man, Bedford met 'unworldly' scientist Professor Cavor (Gatiss) who has invented 'cavorite' – a substance which can be used to make objects immune to the forces of gravity. The BBC press office notes: 'Knowing a miracle when he sees one, and with a keen eye on profit, Bedford encourages Cavor to think big. And so the two men construct a copper and cast-iron sphere which will fly them to the Moon. But what terrors await them in the lunar interior? And will they ever succeed in returning to Earth?' Very much looking forward to that one.

Some of the UK's leading sports bodies have attacked Ofcom's proposed intervention in the pay-TV market claiming that it is 'fatally flawed in a number of key areas,' according to Broadcast magazine. The media watchdog yesterday published responses to its latest consultation, in which BT, Virgin Media and Top-Up TV filed a joint submission. As part of the review, Ofcom is currently considering whether to force Sky to sell its premium content, movies and sports, below the existing wholesale prices. The ECB said that it was 'very concerned that Ofcom has not sought to engage us in any discussions on this issues' and that 'this approach heightens our concerns that Ofcom has pre-determined its views on this subject and will seek a remedy that could have a very damaging impact on cricket in this country, particularly our ability to invest in cricket at the grassroots level.' Meanwhile, the FA Premier League added that the 'consultation is fatally flawed' in a number of key areas. 'Most importantly the remedy will be highly detrimental to consumers by significantly devaluing content rights. However, this negative effect for consumers is entirely ignored by Ofcom.' So, here's the really important question - does TV need sport more than sport needs TV, or is it the other way round? Place your bets here, dear blog reader.

Paula Newsome will join the cast of FlashForward for a number of upcoming episodes, according to a report in Entertainment Weekly. The Woman's Murder Club actress will play a doctor in a FlashForward story-arc of indeterminate length which will be broadcast in early 2010. Newsome has previous guest-starred on a number of TV series in recent years, including NCIS, Heroes and Bones.

Larry David has been attacked by a religious critic over dialogue in a recent episode of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. In this, the show's creator and star accidentally splatters urine on a picture of Jesus in his assistant's bathroom and does not wipe it off. His assistant later enters the room and concludes that Jesus is crying. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said that the comedian should 'quit while he's ahead,' FOX News reports. No, I don't know what that means either. 'Was Larry David always this crude? Would he think it's comedic if someone urinated on a picture of his mother?' Donohue asked. 'This might be fun to watch, but since HBO only likes to dump on Catholics - it was just a couple of weeks ago that Sarah Silverman insulted Catholics on Real Time with Bill Maher - and David is Jewish, we'll never know.' He added: 'When David and Jerry Seinfeld are asked if they ever experienced a miracle, David answers, "Every erection is a miracle." That's what passes for creativity these days.' No, I think, actually, it passes for what's funny these days, pal. Slight difference, but an important one non the less.

X Factor producers have reported met with police over complaints from Golder's Green residents about the contestants' house. According to the Sun, the six million pound property may be closed down because of the allegedly lewd behaviour of female fans who are reported to have been visiting the building. Teenagers are said to have been 'flashing their breasts' at the twin brothers John and Edward when they have appeared at the windows. Local Alexander Netsler, who contacted police on Sunday, noted: 'I saw a girl who must have been only about fourteen lifting up her top to flash at the twins. I had to look away. With all these young girls about it is attracting dirty old men to come and stare at them. These girls - some as young as eleven - are writing pornographic messages on the barriers. They are also writing their phone numbers on the walls and no-one is doing anything about it. It is encouraging the sexualisation of young girls and it should be stopped.' I'm not saying your wrong, Alexander, far from it, but have you considered telling them all of this rather than a newspaper which plasters women's tits all over the nation's breakfast table? Police are now said to be patrolling the grounds, looking for any flashers, but neighbours are apparently threatening to stage their own protest. 'We're sick to the back teeth of all the disruption this is causing and if the police don't sort it we will,' threatened an unnamed local, menacingly. 'The people round here are extremely wealthy and have their own personal security. If necessary, we will blockade the street and stop the crowd ourselves.' Now, that sounds brilliant. They should film that and show it instead of X Factor, frankly.

US talk-show host Craig Ferguson was forced to use a torch when a power-cut hit a recording of his latest episode. The presenter was interviewing Hollywood actress Alicia Silverstone on The Late Late Show when the studio lights dimmed. Producers decided to keep the cameras rolling and handed Ferguson a torch to illuminate proceedings. High winds were blamed for the power cut at the CBS studios in downtown Los Angeles. Scottish-born Ferguson has hosted the show, which is screened immediately after The David Letterman Show on CBS, since 2005. His programme, which is a rather good mix of guests and his own improvised monologues, goes head-to-head with Conan O'Brien's similar late night talk show on NBC. Ferguson, who moved to the US in 1994, once had his own short-lived comedy show on ITV (which was, also, pretty good) and was a fixture on the alternative comedy circuit during the 1980s. Used to do a brilliant joke about people saying that if you don't annoy bees they'll leave you alone but, wondering, how exactly one knows if what one is doing is annoying the bee. Like, for instance, changing a TV channel. The bee might be sitting there saying 'I was watching that, you bastard!'

Claudia Winkleman has suggested that show producers were not being ageist when they chose to replace judge Arlene Phillips with Alesha Dixon. Oh God, are people still wittering on about this nonsense? She wasn't sacked because she was too old, she was sacked because she was a rubbish judge and nobody liked her. Give it a rest, for heaven's sake. The Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host told Stylist that critics had misunderstood the decision from the programme's bosses. Winkleman said: 'I think it's been read wrong. I can't talk about it because I'll get into trouble whatever I say, but I think it's a brilliant show and they wanted to update it. I don't worry about it because I think you can stay on TV whatever your age. And if I can't, I'll do radio, or I'll write.' She added: 'Strictly takes over my life from September until Christmas, so I don't do any TV work through the summer. My agent, Joanna, knows it has to be something extraordinary for me to have to work in the summer as I'd rather by with my kids. I've turned down a lot of jobs because of it.'

Richard Gere is being lined-up to make a guest appearance on Strictly, a press report has claimed. Producers have reportedly approached the Pretty Woman actor to take part in a one-off performance with one of the show's professional dancers Katya Virshilas. The pair previously worked together on 2004 movie Shall We Dance? The rumours are said to follow claims that BBC bosses are worried about Strictly losing out to its ITV rival The X Factor in the Saturday night ratings battle. A source is claimed to have told the Sun: 'ITV is hammering the show in the ratings, so bosses think getting some high-profile names on will do the trick. Mariah Carey and Pamela Anderson are also being lined-up.' Yeah, that sounds like just the kind of thing somebody working on Strictly would've told a national newspaper. I don't think.

The BBC has pulled an episode of This Week from the Internet amid worries of a race controversy after the show's host Andrew Neil compared Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo to a chocolate HobNob biscuit and a custard cream. Nah. Portaloo's more a Jammy Dodger, I'd've said. The political show was broadcast on BBC1 last Thursday, on the same night as BNP leader Nick Griffin made his controversial appearance as a guest on Question Time. This Week began with Neil making reference to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's apparently reluctance to name his favourite biscuit. Neil made a light-hearted joke that his two co-hosts were 'the chocolate HobNob and custard cream of late night telly.' Concerns were raised by 'a handful' of viewers that Neil might have been making a veiled allusion to race - and the episode was prmptly removed from the BBC's iPlayer on-demand service the following evening. A planned BBC2 repeat of the show was also cancelled. A BBC spokesman said: 'On Thursday's programme Andrew made reference to the story that Gordon Brown was reluctant to name his favourite biscuit during a live web-chat with parents from the website Mumsnet. It was in this context of Gordon Brown's biscuit preferences that Andrew introduced Diane and Michael as "the chocolate HobNob and custard cream of late night telly." Andrew's introduction chose two well-known types of biscuit at random but a few viewers have expressed concern that this might have been a reference to race. This was certainly not the case and the programme would like to reassure them on this point and apologise if any unintentional offence was caused.' Well yes, and I think it's not unreasonable to assume that most viewers with half-a-ruddy-ounce of common sense in their brains would have been able to work that out for themselves, surely? So, why the hell are the BBC pandering to the insane prejudices and rants of 'a few viewers'? At what point, exactly, do these people's opinions take precedence over the enjoyment of the millions of other viewers of a TV show who don't complain about petty rubbish like this? Again, the crap that some people chose to care about continues to befuddle and concern. You can't do right for doing wrong these days, it seems.

How Clean Is Your House? star Kim Woodburn has reportedly signed up for the new series of I'm A Celebrity... According to the Daily Star, ITV has added the sixty seven-year-old to the cast of Z-list celebrities heading to the jungle next month. 'Kim's used to getting rid of bugs - now she may be eating them!' a 'friend' of Kim's is supposed to have told the newspaper. Nice 'friend' you've got there, Kim. I'd be considering scratching them off your Christmas card list if I were you. That is, of course, if they even exist. Over to you to produce this, alleged, 'friend, Daily Star.

Comedian Vic Reeves and his wife Nancy Sorrell were named the 'Sexiest Glasses Wearers' at the Specsavers Celebrity Spectacle Wearers of the Year Awards earlier this week. No, honestly, there is such an award, I'm not making this up. The Royle Family actress Liz Smith received the 'Services To Specs' title. 'When I first started to wear glasses I felt a foot taller,' said Reeves. 'I don't wear glasses to be funny, I think they make me look like a boffin, they give me the cool scientist look. Look at Elvis Costello, he carries it off. You can be a cool boffin.' Sorrell added: 'Vic loves me in mine, he says I look one hundred per cent sexy.'

Debra Stephenson has promised that her new impressions show has a playful rather than 'cruel' sense of humour. The former Coronation Street actress has teamed up with Jon Culshaw for a new eight-part BBC series which parody personalities like Cheryl Cole and Anne Robinson. Stephenson told This Is Hull: 'I think one of the most difficult acts to learn was Davina McCall. She doesn't have a particularly strong accent and has a fairly regular presenting voice. She has a vocal quality like mine, so it is more about her mannerisms. We're not cruel to anyone, though. I'm looking forward to seeing it on TV.' Stephenson said that she started entertaining audiences with her impressions when she was a teenager, but had not found a mainstream outlet for her talents until now. She explained: 'I got into it through my dad. He would write and coach me, while my mum would make costumes. Although it would be hard travelling all over to perform, it was fun. It got to the stage though where there wasn't much happening for impressionists, so I decided to go to drama school and from there got the roles on Coronation Street and Bad Girls. Going back to impressions, it feels like I've gone the full circle.'

Johnny Briggs has revealed that he would be interested in returning to Coronation Street in the future. According to the Daily Star, the seventy four-year-old actor wants to keep all options open even though his character Mike Baldwin was killed off in a blaze of publicity following a heart attack in 2006. Briggs reportedly said that he could play Mike's evil twin brother, arguing that Dallas character Bobby Ewing set a precedent for surprise comebacks in soap. Not another flaming shower scene? I don't think you've got the body for it these days, Johnny. Maybe in 1974, you know... On the possibility of a return, the actoris quoted as saying: 'Why not? I think it could work. It worked in Dallas where he came out of the shower as someone else.' Errr... actually, he didn't Johnny, he came out of the shower as himself, claiming that the entire previous season had 'all been a dream.' Which was the point where a very good show became a very silly one overnight. 'I would do something like that, definitely.' Briggs went on to say that he left the ITV drama because the hours required were getting 'longer and longer.' He commented: 'It got to the point where I just thought, "I don't want to be carried out of here on a stretcher."'

Cilla Black will host this Friday's edition of Loose Women, it has been announced. The sixty six-year-old former Blind Date presenter will join the regular team - Sherrie Hewson, Carol McGiffin and Jane McDonald - while Christopher Biggins will be a guest. 'I am delighted Cilla will be joining us for the day,' said ITV daytime chief Fiona Keenaghan.

Manchester's greatest living guitarist Johnny Marr will tell next week's Inside Out programme that he doesn't Twitter or Facebook with his former band-mate Morrissey – although the two of them do exchange e-mails. Johnny, whose jangly Rickenbacker chords so epitomised The Smiths glorious and unique sound, also tells presenter Andy Johnson in an exclusive interview that he had 'no ill-feeling' towards anybody in his old band. Marr says: 'We [Morrissey and Marr] send each other e-mails very, very occasionally when we've got something to say. I wake up in the morning with about two hundred e-mails from a lot of people I don't know, so I'm assuming it's going to be the same with Morrissey, that's the way the modern world is. By the time I've got through the e-mails I've got to do, I'm not going to go, oh, "Dear Mozzer, Having a cup of tea, blah blah, blah."' Johnny, who is now a full-time member of indie-band The Cribs, also told the programme that he has no desire to play any of The Smiths' back catalogue of songs but that he doesn't get irritated when people still want to talk to him about the seminal band. 'I never get irritated by it because I figure it's coming from a place of love, really. People love the band.' Asked by Johnson about the band he says: 'I'm super-proud of it. I can hear it the way other people hear it, and I like it which is kind of handy!'

It was with real sadness that Keith Telly Topping heard yesterday of the death of David Shepherd the former test umpire after a battle with cancer, aged sixty eight. Shep, who was born in Devon, officiated in ninety two Tests and one hundred and seventy two one-day internationals, including three World Cup finals before retiring in 2005. He was famous for his aversion to the 'Nelson' - scores with a multiple of one hundred and eleven considered unlucky in cricketing circles - which made him hop at the crease between deliveries on one leg. Shep played for Keith Telly Topping's beloved Gloucestershire from 1965 to 1979 (in that great team with Mike Proctor and Zaheer Abbas) as a solid middle-order bastmen hitting ten thousand six hundred and seventy two first class runs and being part of the side which won the Gillette Cup in 1973 and the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1977. Dickie Bird, who umpired many matches alongside Shepherd, said his former colleague would be missed. 'He was a fine umpire, we spent many happy hours together. He was a great man and a tremendous man to umpire with.'

'Viewers are in for a real treat this winter', the BBC claim, as Richard Hammond returns to present two (allegedly) 'hilarious' celebrity editions of Total Wipeout. The purpose-built course outside Buenos Aires is a magnet for the fearless and the foolhardy, they reckon, so how will the celebrities fare when they take on the world's largest and most extreme obstacle course? There will be no VIP treatment for these stars, the BBC state. Rather, they must have strength, stamina and nerves of steel to make their way through to the final. Expect more mud splashes and comical crushes as ten celebrities go head-to-head in each episode in order to win ten thousand pounds for their chosen charity. Competing against each other in the first special will be fitness expert and choreographer Kevin Adams, Strictly Come Dancing dancers James and Ola Jordan, Casualty and Waterloo Road actor Luke Bailey, ex-EastEnders actor and professional realtiy show regular Joe Swash, comedian Tim Vine, vocal coach Carrie Grant, Emmerdale actress Adele Silva, former world javelin record holder Fatima Whitbread and presenter Kaye Adams. If you said 'who?' to several of those (alleged) celebrities then, trust me, you are not alone, dear blog reader. The second group to take up the Total Wipeout challenge are: actor Chris Parker (EastEnders), desperately unfunny comedian Joe Pasquale, desperately annoying presenter Dominic Littlewood, Kenny Everett's old chum Cleo Rocos, Olympic gold medal hurdler Sally Gunnell, presenter and stand-up comic Kirsten O'Brien, Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, model, presenter and girlfriend of half the Premiership Danielle Lloyd and singers and presenters Sam Dixon and Mark Rhodes. My God, some people are just desperate to get their boat-races on TV, are they not? Don't get me wrong, however, Jeith Telly Topping does like Total Wipeout. After all, who doesn't enjoy watching smug, full-of-themselves people getting covering in mud, punched, half-drowned and still winning nothing at the end of it?

Ke$ha reportedly urinated in the sink of a London pub because the queue was too long for the toilets. The 'Tik Tok' singer, who was at the Shepherds' Tavern in Mayfair with Lily Allen, allegedly pulled down her wet-look leggings and 'shocked other punters' as she relieved herself in front of them. 'When you've got to go, you've got to go, girls,' the Mirror quotes her as saying. I wonder if she realises that's an allusion to the movie Shane? Anway, the twenty two-year-old, who will support Calvin Harris and Mr Hudson on some upcoming live dates, reportedly offended other drinkers at the venue. 'That is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. I can't believe she just peed in the sink. Where am I supposed to wash my hands now?' one punter told the paper.

Minnie Driver has compared single motherhood to an 'insane earthquake.' What, like the earth moves for you? For Keith Telly Topping, that sort of thing normally comes at a rather different stage in the, ahem, baby-making process.

No, really.

Okay then, it doesn't. I was lying. Next ...

Author Martin Amis has launched a strongly-worded attack on glamour model Katie Price. The Rachel Papers writer told an audience at London's Hay Festival that readers should 'bear in mind' Price when considering the character of Thredony in his new novella State of England. According to the Daily Telegraph, Amis said of Price: 'She has no waist, no arse... an interesting face... but all we are really worshipping is two bags of silicone.' Two big bags of silicone, to be fair, Martin. He admitted to having read two volumes of Price's autobiography but added that the phrase 'Number One bestseller' on the cover of one of her books was 'more terrifying than anything inside.'

Joe Calzaghe has said that he would be happy to knock out Katie Price's current partner, Alex Reid, if her ex-husband Peter Andre gave him a fee. The former undefeated world champion boxer and Strictly Come Dancing failure told Red Dragon FM that he would be delighted to spar with 'that fighter who dresses like a woman,' the Sun claimed. Calzaghe joked: 'Of course I could take him on. As long as he stays standing up, no kicking allowed. It would be too quick. I'd do that for Peter if he paid me. I'd take him out, no problem. I'll be waiting for Peter's phonecall.' At least, one assumes he joking.

Price herself, meanwhile, has promised that she will 'disappear from the spotlight' when her fans 'grow bored of her.' Bye then.