Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Crawling From The Wreckage

Did you know, dear blog reader, that in her recent televised interview with Fearne Cotton, celebrity airhead non-entity (and daughter of Saint Bob) Peaches Geldof used the word 'like' (as in 'like, you know, like, it's totally awesome, like') three hundred and four times? That's, like, unbelievable. Totally.

Heads up, dear Sky-owning blog reader, for a particularly fine episode of House which broadcast in the US this week, guest-starring The West Wing's Josh Malina. Wilsoncentric. First one of those in a good season and a half. And, I trust everyone noticed that the episode of Flashforward shown on Five on Monday night was one that hasn't even shown in America yet. (I believe it's scheduled for later this week.)

Right, Top Telly News. Doctor Who is currently filming an episode in Croatia, the BBC has confirmed. The cast and crew of the show are said to be shooting scenes in the small coastal town of Trogir for an episode of the upcoming fifth series, which sees Matt Smith take over from David Tennant as the titular character. Amateur photographs of the location filming depict a scene which sees the TARDIS arrive among market stalls, while Internet speculation suggests that the story may be set several centuries ago and involves vampires. Reports also allege that a character named Rory - believed to be the boyfriend of the Doctor's new companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) - is also involved in the episode.

John Barrowman has said that he does not think Captain Jack during return for Matt Smith's first series of Doctor Who. The actor is widely expected to feature in David Tennant's final two-parter, but Barrowman said that he was not sure if he would reappear in the programme thereafter. He told Radio2: 'I don't know about Captain's Jack future in Doctor Who because nothing has been said or I haven't been asked. I'm kind of prepared that I won't be in any of it, which is fine.' He added: 'But we are discussing the future of Torchwood because most definitely Torchwood will come back to the BBC, which is fantastic. We're not sure when, because we have to work out the logistics of the filming - and it's already said that it'll be thirteen episodes instead of five.' A BBC spokesperson told Digital Spy website: 'Torchwood proved a huge success with our audiences with the one epic story stripped across a single week. We know there is a huge public clamour for the return of the Torchwood team. Although no final decision has been made yet, discussion is under way about their future.' The shows creator, Russell Davies, recently said that he hoped to start work to start on the fourth series in January.

The Royal Mint at Llantrisant have announced the launch of a limited range of gold and silver Doctor Who collectible medals. The Tenth Doctor, K-9 and the TARDIS will be the first ever TV characters to be immortalised in this way, the South Wales Echo has reported. Head of UK licensing at BBC Worldwide, Richard Hollis said: 'David Tennant's performance as The Doctor has been applauded and celebrated across the country and these medals are a fantastic way for fans to collect a lasting memento.' Royal Mint director of commemorative coins David Knight added: 'Just as The Doctor is timeless, so too is the enduring appeal of the television series which continues to entertain audiences across the world. We hope fans everywhere will find these medals a fitting tribute not just to David Tennant, but to the whole Doctor Who story.' The five hundred nine-carat gold medals will be available for one hundred and fifty smackers each, with the five thousand sterling silver medals on sale for thirty five quid. And, remember kids, with sterling and the dollar currently about as useful as lavatory paper, buying gold in particular is a sound financial investment. Ask the Swiss, they'll tell you.

Sendhil Ramamurthy has been cast in NBC's pilot Rex Is Not Your Lawyer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor, who currently plays Mohinder Suresh on Heroes, has been cast as a regular on the comedy drama project. Which suggest he's as uncertain about Heroes' future as every one else in the industry. Ramamurthy will reportedly play an ambitious lawyer who falls in love with Rex's fiancée, played by Abigail Spencer. Additionally, Jane Curtin has been added to the pilot in the role of Rex's mother and mentor, described as a successful law professor who falls for Rex's shrink. It was previously announced that David Tennant will play the title character in the project, marking his US television debut.

Bruno Tonioli has said that Ali Bastian must 'unleash' an animal aspect to her personality to win Strictly Come Dancing. Steady tiger. The judge claimed that he wanted to see 'another side' to the former The Bill actress on the dance floor. Well, we all want to see that, Bruno. 'I've wanted her to come out of this beautiful, ethereal, fairytale princess. I wanted her to show me another side to her personality,' he told It Takes Two. 'We know she can dance, but we are getting near the final so we need to see something else now in the Latin dances. Come on give it to me! I want to see another side to her... Unleash another aspect. The animal and physical.' Gerrr-owel. However, fellow judge - and professional gobshite - Craig Revel Horwood praised Bastian for going 'against the grain' with her Charleston performance last weekend. 'Goofy, goofy, goofy - It was so against the grain of her naturally. It was almost a mess - that's what I loved about it. She was really going for that characterisation,' he said.

Meanwhile, Horwood has said that the dances on Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing made it unfair for the celebrities. Jeez, is that bloke in the papers making his mouth go, again? He gets more ruddy headlines than Gordon Brown, that bloke. Anyway, Ricky Whittle and Natalie Cassidy both danced rock and/or roll routines at the weekend and ended up in the dance-off. The other three celebrities - Laila Rouass, Ali Bastian and Chris Hollins - performed Charlestons. Speaking on It Takes Two, the judge said: 'I sort of thought that it might have been a little bit fairer if everyone had done the Charleston and we'd done it that way - or if everyone had done the rock and roll. One or the other because it's quite hard to compare them.' Speaking about Whittle and Cassidy's problems with the dance, Bruno added: 'I think both of them for different reasons were under-performing. Ricky looked under-rehearsed and in the dance-off he looked about ten times better. But the main show looked under-rehearsed. And Natalie just lacked a certain amount of tricks that are necessary to sell the dance.'

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! producer Richard Cowles has dismissed talk of a possible ratings crisis. Earlier this week, it was claimed that the producers were worried over how the programme would fare following the departure of outspoken ex-boxer Big Hard Joe Bugner. It has also been suggested that the production team regretted Katie Price's decision to quit the jungle as she had helped to keep viewing figures high. However, Cowles has told the Daily Star that the reality contest is continuing to perform strongly, arguing: 'This series has averaged over 8.4m viewers so far, making it the most watched series since 2005.' On Monday night, viewers saw George Hamilton walking out of camp voluntarily.

Syfy has picked up thirteen episodes of Haven, an adaptation of Stephen King's novella The Colorado Kid. Haven will be the first Syfy project to be produced for its outlets around the world (except for Canada and Scandinavia), reports Variety. Dead Zone producers Scott Shepherd, Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller are said to be behind the show. According to Syfy, the series will take place in a town in Maine 'where people with supernatural abilities have migrated for generations because it mutes their powers, allowing them to lead normal lives.' Trouble comes in the form of an FBI agent called in to solve the murder of a local ex-convict. Soon after the agent arrives, he begins to uncover the town's mysteries.

Katie Holmes has revealed that she wants Tom Cruise to become a TV talent show judge. The Dawson's Creek actress, who has daughter Suri with Cruise, said that she believes he would be a great judge on a series such as So You Think You Can Dance. Holmes told E! Online: 'He would be great. He really would.' Yes, dear. He'd also be great buried up to his neck in sand on a beach somewhere with the tide coming in. Can we have him do that instead? When asked if she would appear on the show again after her singing and dancing performance earlier this year, Holmes said: 'I don't know, but it was a great time.'

Fiona Phillips has insisted that she does not worry about ageism in the TV industry. The forty eight-year-old broadcaster stood down as an anchor on GMTV in December last year, but has continued to appear on screens after taking on a variety of new projects. Speaking about ageism in an interview with the Guardian, she commented: 'It's never occurred to me. I think the longer you're in the industry, the more respect you gain.' Phillips added that her weekly column in the Mirror has helped to boost her credibility. She said: 'Working for the Mirror has brought a certain amount of respect and standing. TV is still seen as frivolous.'

William Shatner has revealed in an interview that he has given up on trying to make peace with his 'bitter' former Star Trek co-stars. The seventy eight-year-old, who achieved iconic fame as Captain Kirk on the original 1960s show, admitted that his memories of the series have been somewhat tarnished by his feuds with various ex-castmates. Shatner claimed that he was particularly stung when former co-star George Takei failed to invite him to his wedding to long-time partner Brad Altman last year. Meanwhile, the veteran actor says that he has reached a gentleman's agreement with Leonard Nimoy to never discuss the show in an effort to salvage their friendship. Shatner told the New York Post: 'I've asked them numerous times to see if I can assuage their bitterness. I don't know what their problem is, quite frankly, so I've given up on trying to make it better. I don't like any ill-feeling, and if there was something I could do to correct it I would. But nothing seems to work.'

Lost and True Blood are among the shows to be nominated at this year's Producers Guild of America Awards. The two go head-to-head in the Drama category, alongside AMC's Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Showtime's Dexter. 30 Rock and The Office will compete with HBO's Entourage and Showtime's Californication and Weeds for the Comedy award, whilst the Non-Fiction Television category includes nominations for shows including CBS's 60 Minutes and Showtime's This American Life. The Producer of the Year Award in Live Entertainment and Competition Television will see CBS's The Amazing Race compete with American Idol, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, Lifetime's Project Runway and Bravo TV's Top Chef.

ITV has unveiled its 2009 Christmas line-up, which will include footage from Take That's recent tour and an Ant and Dec Christmas special. The latter special will see the Geordie boys host a show featuring sketches, performances and guests, filmed in front of a live studio audience. So, Saturday Night Takeaway, in other words. In drama, Julia McKenzie returns as Agatha Christie's Marple, Poirot is also back and John Hurt returns to the role of Quentin Crisp in An Englishman In New York, a - long-awaited - sequel to the award-winning The Naked Civil Servant. Piers Morgan's Review Of The Year will see the repulsive shit of a Britain's Got Talent judge reflect on 2009, whilst Harry Hill offers an alternative perspective in TV Burp Review Of The Year. Additionally, ITV will broadcast Take That: The Circus Live, which includes highlights from the boy band's Wembley performance earlier this year. Peter Fincham said of the schedule: 'ITV has had a phenomenal Autumn, with our biggest hits such as The X Factor, I'm A Celebrity ..., Harry Hill's TV Burp and Doc Martin attracting bigger audiences than ever. Our Christmas schedule has the same wide appeal, with big entertainment and factual specials, some much anticipated new drama and comedy one-offs - alongside all that you'd expect from ITV in soaps and films over the festive period.' Other highlights include A Night Of Heroes, Far From Home and Xtra Factor - The Winner's Story, which will transmit on ITV2.'

Sky has extended its long-running broadcast deal with World Wrestling Entertainment for a further five years, taking the partnership into a Twenty Fifth anniversary year. Coming into effect in January 2010, the arrangement guarantees Sky exclusive access to ten-and-a-half hours of first-run WWE programming, along with special events. Sky Sports will carry SmackDown, RAW, ECW, AfterBurn, Bottom Line, This Week In WWE and WWE Vintage Collection, all in high definition. Sky1 and Sky1 HD will host WWE Experience, along with brand new show WWE Superstars. Every year, the digital broadcaster will also offer eight special WWE events - including WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and Survivor Series - live and in HD via Sky Box Office. 'The new agreement sees our broadcast partnership with Sky reach a history-making twenty five years; there is no greater testimony to the mutually beneficial nature of our relationship,' said WWE international president Andrew Whitaker. 'It has been pivotal to WWE reaching the new heights of popularity we now enjoy in the UK. We look forward to continuing to grow our brand presence with Sky.' Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis added: 'Our relationship with WWE goes back many years, since our network began in 1989. WWE fans have grown up watching all the big events and weekly programmes on Sky.'

BBC4 has secured an exclusive interview with the convicted mercenary Simon Mann, who was recently pardoned on charges of plotting a coup in West Africa. In a special edition of the Storyville strand, titled Simon Mann's African Coup - Black Beach, Mann will discuss how his then-friend, Mark Thatcher, helped to finance an attempt to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang in Equatorial Guinea. Despite previous strong denials, Mann will also claim that Thatcher did actually know how his money was being used. He will further allege that the Spanish government - former colonial rulers of Equatorial Guinea - was secretively supportive of the coup. 'The promise, as it was told to me, was the day after Severo Moto takes power, you will get international recognition de facto from Spain and you will have available to you three thousand Guardia Civil,' he alleges during the interview. Obiang pardoned fifty seven-year-old Mann this autumn after he had served eighteen-months of a thirty four-year sentence at the notorious Black Beach prison. Despite his release, Mann will claim that security is still an issue for him, as 'there are probably some people around who would be quite happy to hear that I'd died.'

Juniper TV will start producing the BBC's political show This Week from next autumn, it has been announced. The new three-year production contract will see Andrew Neil continue to present the BBC1 show on Thursdays. Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott will also remain as co-hosts. Coming into effect from September 2010, Juniper's Samir Shah will act as executive editor for This Week. 'We are very much looking forward to working with Samir and his team at Juniper,' said BBC head of political programmes Sue Inglish. 'We are incredibly proud of the success of This Week and confident that we can continue to develop the programme's creativity over the contract period.' First announced in February, the move is part of a BBC strategy to reduce its reliance on London-based in-house production. The corporation wants fifty per cent of its network TV content to come from outside the capital by 2016. After reviewing a variety of tenders from a closed bid list, the corporation opted for Juniper to take on the show as it already produces two regional editions of The Politics Show. This Week regularly attracts around one million viewers for its mix of entertainment and politics. The BBC's in-house team will continue to oversee the show until July 2010.

Sarah Lancashire and Ian Hart have signed up for BBC1's new drama Five Daughters. The three-part serial, written by Stephen Butchard, follows the Ipswich murders and subsequent police investigation in 2006. Jaime Winstone, Eva Birthistle, Natalie Press, Juliet Aubrey, Aisling Loftus, Kate Dickie, David Bradley, Lisa Millet, Ruth Negga, Kristen Wareing and Al Weaver are also in the cast. Butchard said of the drama: 'These five young women, precious to their families, had heart, ambition and potential; until an event or events, one wrong turn, one chance meeting led them into the world of heroin and crack. Their dependency on these drugs facilitated their easy exploitation and led them to the street. Our hope is that this drama provides a glimpse of the real girls their families knew.'

Richard Sambrook, the Director of Global News, announced this week that he will be leaving the BBC in early 2010 after almost thirty years service. He joined as a radio sub-editor in 1980 and he has worked across a wide range of news programmes as well as being Head of Newsgathering, Acting Director BBC Sport and Director of BBC News. Peter Horrocks will succeed Sambrook in February, responsible for all the BBC's international news services - the World Service operations across thirty-two language services, World News television in English, and the international news interactive content. Horrocks will also remain the Accounting Officer for the Grant-in-Aid which supports the World Service operations. As the new Director of Global News, he will become a member of both the BDG and the BBC's Journalism Board. Richard will be joining the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford as a Visiting Fellow for the first part of next year before taking up a full-time role elsewhere later in 2010. He said: 'It has been a privilege to lead three different divisions of the BBC and to have played a part in the huge changes in news broadcasting over recent years. But thirty year years is enough. The BBC is never an easy organisation to leave, but this feels like the right time for me to take a new direction. I will continue to take a close professional interest in global affairs and digital communications – first at the Reuters Institute and then in a new role elsewhere to be announced next year.'

Amanda Holden has claimed that her new sitcom Big Top will be ideal for families struggling due to the credit crunch. You know what would be better, Amanda? Some sodding money. The comedy show sees the Britain's Got Talent judge in the role of ringmistress Lizzie, who takes charge of a circus when her father is sent to jail. Speaking to Hot TV, Holden commented: 'Big Top is very funny but it's touching, too. In this current climate who wants to watch a desperate family in their living room? They want escapism, colour and clowns - even if they're rubbish! It's credit crunch comedy.' Well, thanks for telling us what we want, Amanda. Can't tell you how much that's going to be appreciated up and down the country. 'Don't go out and spend any money,' she continued, like most people in television, seemingly, completely unable to know when to just shut the hell up. 'Settle down in front of the telly and watch us.' Discussing her character, she said: 'Lizzie is the cog who keeps the circus wheels turning. She's a quick-witted character, but she's on a massive learning curve. She's never played a role in a circus before and she doesn't have any circus skills - she hates that.'

The Book Club made famous by presenters Richard and Judy is to return to TV screens, but with celebrity reviewers replacing the couple. The TV Book Club will review 'the most compelling reads for 2010' and be fronted by various presenters - including stylist Gok Wan and comedian Jo Brand. It will broadcast on More4, with repeats on Channel 4 the following lunch-time, from January 2010. The final ten titles for the show will be revealed at the end of December. Strictly Come Dancing contestant Laila Rouass, comedian Dave Spikey and actor Nathaniel Parker will also be joining the presenting panel.

In January 2009 BBC Scotland Learning were in Africa making a short film on the PlayPump water gathering system – a simple but ingenious design that makes collecting water fun and gets young boys involved in what is traditionally a women's task. The film was a success, at one point generating one hundred and seventy thousand Internet views in one day, and the team subsequently moved on to other projects. That was until months later, when a researcher received a mysterious text message saying a 'spaceman' wanted to show their film from space – in three days time. It turned out Guy Laliberte, Canadian billionaire and founder of Cirque du Soleil, had bought a ticket to the international space station and as part of the trip wanted to raise awareness about the issues facing the Earth's water supplies in a live 'poetic social mission,' broadcast from space. 'His team had seen our film and were keen to include it as part of their broadcast as it painted a picture of a great solution that was making a massive difference,' says producer Gerald Strother. 'After a quick chat with our rights executives and a discussion about the editorial issues of freeing up our film for use in this way, it was all go. Laliberte's team were in the US and there was lots of organising to be done.' The two hour broadcast went out at 1am on Saturday 10 October. Strother stayed up to watch, texting Nick Simons, BBC Scotland's head of learning, back and forth in the build up. 'In the end they only used a handful of shots,' says Strother. 'But on the plus side we were stuck between Peter Gabriel and Salma Hayek - how many people can say that? And sound tracked to a live performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. And we were, kind of, broadcast from space.'

Joe Bugner has suggested that I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! is fixed by producers. The former boxer told the Sun that ITV engineered his exit from the show to allow Stuart Manning and Sabrina Washington to continue their alleged romance. He claimed that the task he failed, which included reading codes off jail-cell bars with an ultra-violet torch, was chosen to challenge his poor eyesight. Bugner said: 'I'm convinced it was a fix. In fact I know it. Do I think they wanted to keep Stuart because of his lovey-dovey friendship with Sabrina? Well, of course I do. It's obvious. It was rigged - absolutely!' However, an ITV spokesman said: 'I can categorically tell you that Joe's eviction was not rigged.' Of Manning and Washington's supposed relationship, Bugner added: 'There is definitely something in the air. All they have to do is come out and say they like each other. The reason there has been no romance on the set is because there is no place you can hide. My advice to Stuart is don't be a coward. If you are going to move on a girl, then move.'

Strictly dancer Anton Du Beke has accused Arlene Phillips of being 'harsh' after she criticised his celebrity partner Laila Rouass. Anton, love, she got sacked. Whatever she says now it doesn't, actually, matter any more. Phillips recently claimed that Rouass does not deserve to make the final as she gave her opinions on the programme's remaining contestants. To the Grimsby Gazette. Or, something. Responding to the choreographer's comments, Du Beke told the Press Association: 'I think Laila is as good a ballroom dancer as anybody we've ever had in a series of Strictly Come Dancing, so I think Arlene's being a bit harsh - but she always was a bit harsh.' Discussing the standard of performances on the current series, the professional dancer continued: 'I think this year's as equal to any other year. In last year's, if you think about the boys, apart from Austin [Healey] and Tom [Chambers], I think the boys were terrible actually.' Phillips, who writes a weekly newspaper column about Strictly, has said that only Ricky Whittle and Ali Bastian meet the standard required for the final show. But, as noted, nobody much cares about what she thinks about pretty much anything these days.

Simon Cowell and his business partner Sir Philip Green are reportedly planning to take The X Factor to Las Vegas. The men told GQ that an international format of the reality talent contest could be available to view on pay-per-view Internet TV. Sir Philip said: 'The plan is to take it to Vegas, I'm not going to tell you with who, but the CEO of the venue is coming to see us next week. We'll have a permanent place, likely to be Caesar's Palace. The home of X Factor - live from Las Vegas! We'll have a store. And it'll all be online. You have twenty, thirty, forty million people tuning in twice a week. You bring two or three hundred million viewers to a venue - off we go! It's taking it up a peg. The rest of the world is Part Two.'

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond and Disney's Hannah Montana were among the winners at the children's BAFTA TV awards this week. Hammond won the Best Presenter prize for his Children's BBC show Richard Hammond's Blast Lab, while Hannah Montana, starring Miley Cyrus, won prizes for best TV programme and feature film, two of four BAFTA awards voted for by more than four hundred thousand children. The actor and presenter Bernard Cribbins, whose credits include Jackanory, The Wombles, Doctor Who and Wind in the Willows, won the special award for his outstanding creative contribution to the industry. Cribbins, who holds the record for number of Jackanory appearances - one hundred and eleven - said the BBC should return the storytelling series to its original format. Jackanory was dropped in 1996 after thirty one years, but revived in 2006 with lavishly animated landscapes and CGI characters. 'I do wish that it could be brought back in the form that it used to be, with someone sitting one-to-one with a camera,' said Cribbins. 'It's like you are talking to your children at bedtime. They look at you and they don't see anything else – they don't see flashing lights and CGI and all the rest of it. I'm not knocking CGI. I think it is fantastic and what it does with stunt work, that is absolutely brilliant, but it seems to have been used unnecessarily a lot of the time.'

Excellent piece by the Gruniad's Gaby Wood on FOX News and, specifically, Glenn Beck. Well worth a few moments of your time.

And finally, it's today's Katie Price story. She has admitted that she understood why she was voted to do so many horrible bushtucker trials by the public on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! The glamour girl quit the ITV jungle show last week after being chosen to complete a seventh consecutive challenge. Price has now suggested that she kept topping the trial votes because viewers wanted to punish her for the way she behaved in the aftermath of her split from Peter Andre. Well, you hardly need to be a brain surgeon to work that out. She told Hello: 'I could see why people blew up and were furious. But I can't regret what I've done in the past because it reflected how I felt and I thought it was right at the time.' Ah, again, 'the Michael Richards defence.' Let us know if it works out as well for you as it did for him, Jordan.