Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sand Dancing Along The Ocean Road

Joe McElderry has reportedly said that he is 'straight and single' but is not interested in seeking a girlfriend at the moment. He also added that he does not fancy the glamour model Katie Price. Okay. Hardly earth-shattering news but we'll give Little Joe a moment in the spotlight for helping to make South Tyneside - briefly - more important than London. And, now we're done ... Next, overheard in the office today (part two of a somewhat recurring series), on the very subject of the new McElderry single: 'It's like the Hitler Youth with a tune!' There's, literally, no answer to that.

Meanwhile, Rachel Adedeji has said that she was not trying to ruin Joe McElderry's moment of jubilation and deliriousness when she pointedly took the microphone from him during his performance of 'The Climb' at the X Factor final on Sunday. The ex-constant rushed onto the stage to join McElderry - along with the other singers - before screaming with excitement. Adedeji told Metro: 'I wasn't trying to steal his thunder. I was just so excited for him. I wasn't having a Kanye West moment.'

Channel 4 has confirmed that a new series of You Have Been Watching has been commissioned. The comedy quiz-show's host, Charlie Brooker, who revealed the news at this year's British Comedy Awards, will return to front the second series in 2010. When asked about the prospects of another series at the ceremony on Saturday night, the acid-tongued TV critic said: 'Yes there is. There is going to be another series next year.' At which point a couple of million people across the country shouted 'Huzzah!' at the same time as everybody who has ever made a moment of bad telly shat themselves and ran mile. Channel 4 commissioning editor Darren Smith added: 'Charlie's uniquely comic voice is a perfect fit on Channel 4. I'm looking forward to him becoming a big part of our comedy entertainment output in 2010.'

Jennifer Morrison has signed up to star in Broadway play The Miracle Worker, seemingly ruling out any lingering chance of a return to House. The actress has been cast alongside Abigail Breslin, Alison Pill and Matthew Modine in the stage production, according to Entertainment Weekly. Since Miracle Worker begins previews in February, it is unlikely that Morrison will return to popular FOX medical drama from which she departed in such controversial circumstances earlier this year. The thirty-year-old actress recently claimed that she found her exit from the medical drama 'sort of confusing.' As did most of the audience, to be fair.

Miranda Hart has confirmed that the BBC has recommissioned her eponymous sitcom, Miranda for a second series. Based on the semi-autobiographical writing of the comedy actress, the series follows her public school background, agoraphobic tendencies, ownership of a financially unviable joke-shop and clumsy attempts at dating. Writing on Twitter, the thirty six-year-old comedienne thanked fans for their support and said that she is looking forward to the new run. 'Thanks so much for all the lovely tweets last night and yes, pleased to say, the Beeb has said yes to a second series for next year,' she wrote. As noted some weeks ago, yer Keith Telly Topping recently attended a BBC comedy writers event at which it was very obvious from comments made by several members of the BBC's comedy department staff that Miranda was held in extremely high regard within the corporation. And, furthermore, it really wouldn't surprise me that, if the next series maintains its audience, a switch to BBC1 isn't out of the question.

And, from one really jolly good comedy show to a vastly over-hyped one. Ricky Gervais has claimed that he doesn't understand why he is so highly paid for his work on The Office. No, Keith Telly Topping doesn't either. It's odd that, innit? First thing I've agreed with Ricky Gervais on in about five years, it must be said. The forty eight-year-old comic reportedly said that his high salary 'ruined' how proud he was of the show. Well ... you didn't have to take it, you know, Rick. You could've asked for less. Speaking on 60 Minutes, he said: 'When I did The Office, I was so proud. The cheque ruined it a bit - I didn't want people to think that was mixed in with my pride. Why am I paid a million times a nurse's wages? There are people who work as hard as me and they haven't got that because they don't do show business.'

My favourite one-liner from the British Comedy Awards this year, incidentally, was the expression of regret that Big Top was ineligible for the sitcom of the year as it was broadcast too late to be included. 'Despite the fact the script was written in 1852!' Heh.

A royal protection officer told a shopkeeper who thought he recognised Prince William 'It's Ben Fogle.' The price, and girlfriend Kate Middleton, had called into Trevor Howell's village store near Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk estate. Trevor told the Sun: 'I made a remark like, "Oh, I recognise you." Then his detective said: "It's Ben Fogle." But I wasn't fooled. It was just a bit of a joke but William does look very similar to Ben.' I don't suppose it's occurred to Trevor for a second that it actually might have been Ben Fogle? Just a wild suggestion from left-field to throw into the mix and see if the cat licks it up. Fogle, thirty six, commented: 'Some of Prince William's friends told me they call him Ben as a nickname. But he is much better looking than me.' Yes. And he's got a lot more money and his own helicopter. Plus, apparently he can have a man killed with just a click of his fingers. Probably. Actually, I'm not certain about that last one, somebody told me it in a pub. I might have to ring up the royal press office to find out if it's true.

Strictly Come Dancing host Tess Daly has said that she is pure-dead excited, like, by Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna's romance. The presenter claimed that she felt like former Blind Date host Cilla Black when working with the duo, who were voted off the show on Saturday. 'Ali might be a loser in the semi-final but she's definitely a winner in love,' Daly told the Mirror. She didn't really say that, did she? Come on, somebody's made that up! Normal people don't talk like that. Then again, this is Tess Daly we're talking about - she married Vernon Kay, I'm not sure that can be classed as 'normal' or anything remotely like it. 'She emotionally kissed her American boy on the lips on Saturday's show - not once but three times and yes, I was counting,' continued a gushing Tess. 'I've waited seven series for a love story like this and I'm overjoyed, I feel like Cilla. Now, where's my hat?' On yer head, ducks? Dunno, I give up ...

Louis Walsh has claimed that Whitney Houston's performance on The X Factor was like watching a car crash. We know, Louis, we were all watching it. Houston suffered a wardrobe malfunction as she sang 'Million Dollar Bill' on the ITV show on 18 October. Walsh did not appear on the panel for the episode as he had taken time off following the funeral of his friend Stephen Gately. Reflecting on Houston's guest slot, Walsh told the Mirror: 'I was sat at home watching Whitney's performance and it was pure car crash television, but it was fantastic. When her dress came down and she tripped over it was a terrible moment. But it is live TV and she kept on going. Everyone loves it when that happens.' I'm not sure Whitney did, like.

BBC3 is to air a ninety-minute drama about three brothers who were split up by social services, produced by Kindle Entertainment and directed by The Devil's Whore director Marc Munden. AWOL was ordered by BBC Learning and will launch next year in cinemas before moving to television, when it will be released in tandem with an online game which harnesses new technology to allow viewers to choose their own plot in real time. Lin Coghlan (author of The Miracle, Kingfisher Blue and First Communion Day) wrote the drama, which stars newcomer Aaron Taylor as unemployed eighteen-year-old H and Thomas Sangster as Casey, a warm-hearted fifteen-year old with learning difficulties. The story opens with the death of their mother, when the pair face being separated from their baby brother by social services, and Casey 'takes the only action open to him' - snatching his brother and going on the run. 'Casey thinks that if he finds his dad everything will be alright. The police and social services think that Casey is a criminal. H thinks Casey is off his head but Casey thinks they should be a family,' Kindle said. Munden added: 'AWOL is a Twenty First Century road movie [and] a film that can only have been made now – when adults are children and children are expected to be adults, when adults are no longer able to take on the burden of parenting, so infantilised have they become, so dependent on escaping through drugs and drink. And children have to take on that burden instead.' Sara Feilden is to produce and Kindle founders Anne Brogan and Melanie Stokes are the executive producers. Brogan added: 'AWOL is a film that gives a voice and humanity to those young people in Britain today who are often characterised as thugs or hoodies.'

Gateshead's so-called 'Get Carter car park' will remain standing until Tesco's plans for the town centre are satisfactory, council bosses have said. The Tyneside multi-story landmark, which featured in the 1970 crime thriller starring Michael Caine (you know, it's the one he throws Alf Roberts off), is the centrepiece of the 1960s Trinity Square Shopping Centre. It was also used a location in a memorable sequence in an early episodes of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads (Moving On) in which it is, supposedly, what was built over the site of Bob and Terry's beloved Club A-Go-Go. (Terry: 'The Go-Go? Gone?' Bob: Gone!') Demolition of the surrounding development started about a year ago. Tesco said it was making good progress on the plans, which currently include a new supermarket, bars and restaurants. Negotiations between Gateshead Council and the firm have been on-going since the Trinity Square revamp was first announced in 2007. However, questions have been raised about the length of time it is taking for demolition to begin on the car park itself, which is seen by many as an eyesore.

Nadine Coyle has rejected suggestions that she is 'at war' with her Girls Aloud bandmate Cheryl Cole. Aw, pity. Tell you what, Nadine. Couldn't you just launch a couple of scud missiles in The Heaton Horror's direction just as a pre-emptive strike in case she get a bit uppity. Tony Blair got away with it. The singer told Closer that she was pleased with the success of Cole's solo career to date but admitted to being jealous of her links with Simon Cowell.

Patrick Stewart will reprise his role as Macbeth on the BBC next year, following the TV version of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet starring David Tennant, which airs this Christmas. The corporation will remake the 2007 Chichester Festival Theatre version of Macbeth, which relocated the action to Soviet Russia and cast the three witches as evil, frontline nurses. The production transferred to both the West End and Broadway and was widely hailed as a critical triumph – with Patrick Stewart said to have given one of his finest ever stage performances. Kate Fleetwood (Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders) will star alongside Stewart as Lady Macbeth and Michael Feast (Silent Witness) plays Macduff. Like the RSC Hamlet, in which Stewart also starred (as Claudius), Macbeth was directed for stage by Rupert Goold and is being produced for television by Illuminations. The one-off is expected to air on either BBC1 or BBC2 (more likely the latter) and was jointly commissioned by the corporation and Great Performances and WNET.org in the US. It has just wrapped production and is expected to broadcast in the first quarter of 2010, although no firm date has yet been set.

The government has demanded an overhaul of laws governing children's appearances on TV amid fears that broadcasters are 'emotionally damaging youngsters' to boost their ratings. The children's secretary, the amusingly-named Ed Balls, attacked reality shows such as Wife Swap, for 'pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable' and 'providing shock value ... to push up ratings.' Although, oddly, he didn't criticise them for their biggest fault - that they're shit. Balls said the existing laws, drawn up more than forty years ago, were 'clearly outdated' and still advocated the appointment of a 'matron' to look after children who appear on TV. 'They have far less to say about how different kinds of performance might affect the emotional wellbeing of a child, or about safeguarding children from the risk of abuse,' he said. Children risk over-exhaustion, over-exposure, unreasonable pressure to succeed, and invasion of privacy which they may later regret, he said. 'We need to make sure that children are safe and aren't put into too difficult or too stressful situations,' he said. He said shows, such as Boys and Girls Alone, a Channel 4 programme in which primary school children were filmed fighting and crying as they apparently lived without adults, put children in 'contrived situations ... that are potentially very stressful.' He said: 'Questions have arisen about how far the 1960s approach is still fit for purpose today.' Balls praised the treatment of young people in films such as Fish Tank, about a fifteen-year-old living on an Essex council estate and the ITV talent show Britain's Got Talent.

After an almost unbearable wait, Lost returns for its final season in the US on 2 February. And the photos are out already for as a taster for the series launch. And, as you can see to the left, there's a rather significant return to this season's cast. Yay! Claire's back. Party!

Paul Daniels has announced that he was recently the victim of a burglary at his home in Berkshire. The magician told readers of his blog that a thief climbed into his house through an upstairs door or window while Daniels was watching television in his living room. It is believed that the theft was carried out by a lone individual as the only thing which was stolen was Paul's talent. And, as we all know, that fits rather neatly into a small top pocket.

The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, has shot what has been described as 'a warning across the government's bows' over its decision to list BBC Worldwide in its portfolio of assets for sale, declaring that any sale could lead to Worldwide becoming 'an empty vessel.' In a comment piece for the Media Guardian website, Thompson ruled out a wholesale privatisation of the BBC's commercial arm, saying that the BBC 'cannot envisage a Worldwide in which the BBC does not continue to play a central role.' He also said Worldwide would 'only be worth a fraction of its present value' if it was sold off and stripped of the BBC brand and that 'the right question to ask is neither how to chop it back ... but how to develop and exploit it.'

The BBC has revealed that an average of eleven million people are now using Red Button services every week after the platform enjoyed record growth over 2009. According to figures released this week by the BBC, nearly one million people pressed the Red Button to watch the animated Doctor Who series Dreamland when it aired recently. Over one million viewers also used the Red Button to see Robbie Williams perform three exclusive songs during his appearance on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. Wimbledon remains the most popular Red Button content, with a total audience of seven and a half million for the 2009 tournament, followed by the Glastonbury festival with over six million. Other popular events included the Snooker World Championships with just under four million viewers and the Electric Proms with around two and a half million. Over Christmas, the Red Button will host a series of guides on how to create an authentic Victorian Christmas, which is designed to promote BBC2's Victorian Farm Christmas. The service will also see the return of karaoke challenge on Christmas Top Of The Pops. In a busy year for the Red Button, the BBC recently launched a new interactive service for CBeebies, offering games and features aimed at children under six. A beta trial of BBC iPlayer via the Red Button on Freesat is also currently being run ahead of a full rollout in the first quarter of 2010. However, the Red Button interactive channel was closed on Freeview in October - signalling an end to the popular BBC News Multiscreen - in a move designed to make room for the Freeview HD service. 'This year has proven that audiences love choice and enjoy the extra interactivity that the Red Button service can provide and we're pleased that, as UK television becomes fully digital, we've been able to take this incredible performance to even more viewers,' said BBC Red Button managing editor John Denton. There's a Red Button manager? Blimey, that must be a good job. 'It's not just the amount of people using the service that has made this year so successful for this platform, BBC software engineers have extended Red Button technology to deliver BBC iPlayer to new audiences via Virgin Media and Freesat, allowing people to catch up with their favourite BBC programmes on their televisions in the living room.'

Sir Paul McCartney reportedly asked John and Edward Grimes for their autographs when he visited the X Factor studios at the weekend. The former Beatle (they were a popular Beat Combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them), who performed with all twelve finalists on Sunday's show, is said to have spent time with the Dublin duo backstage after 'pleading' with their manager Louis Walsh. An insider told the Mirror: 'Paul told Simon [Cowell] and Louis he loved the show and watched every week. He said his favourite act were John and Edward as they were so "breathtakingly awfully brilliant" - and that his young daughter, Beatrice, adored them. He revealed he was under strict instructions from the five-year-old to get their autograph and, if possible, get a photo with the boys.' The source added: 'Paul said he thought Jedward had massive careers ahead. They also love Macca and got him to sign things too, joking they could put them on eBay and make a million!' You're sure they were joking, kidda?

Simon Cowell has ruled out the prospect of bidding for ITV with the business tycoon Sir Philip Green and will, instead, focus on developing a politics-meets-entertainment format ahead of the general election. In an interview shown on BBC2's Newsnight, the music mogul said he had 'no intention' of buying ITV. 'We've been approached by various people in the past who wanted to have a look at ITV and asked us if we'd be interested, but it's so much work to do,' he said. Cowell is instead focusing his efforts on developing a mass market politics meets entertainment 'bear pit' format for next year's general election. He is proposing a series of big, prime-time shows, each focusing on controversial political topics, such as immigration, fox hunting, the war in Afghanistan and capital punishment. Cowell would not anchor the programme, but pointed to the huge audiences achieved by BBC1's Question Time when the British National Party leader Nick Griffin appeared. Separately, Cowell defended the treatment of contestants on his programmes, adding that he and the Britain's Got Talent production crew protected Scottish singer Susan Boyle as 'responsibly as we possibly could.' Boyle was taken to rehabilitation facility The Priory shortly after being named runner-up on BGT in May this year, suffering from stress and exhaustion. But Cowell said: 'You've got to take yourself back to what it was like for Susan before she came on the show, because she wasn't having a great time in her life.' Cowell alleged that people in Boyle's village threw stones and taunted the singer, leaving her in tears. 'You have to make a balance and say, well, what is better for her? Living as she did, frustrated because she'd never had a chance, or being given the opportunity she's been given now? Is she going to find it tough at times? Yes. But, if I had to make the decision what is right for Susan Boyle, I absolutely stand by that we did the right thing for her,' he said.

UKTV channel Eden has bought natural disaster series Animal Armageddon from distributor Parthenon Entertainment. The eight part series, made by Digital Ranch Studios for Animal Planet in the US, has also been sold by Parthenon to broadcaster's across the world. The show uses scientific research to explore a range of natural disasters that took place in ancient times, and which could have caused many species of animal and plant-life to become extinct. Filmed entirely in HD, the series reveals the catastrophic causes and consequences of mass extinction.

Shed Media, the independent production firm behind shows such as Waterloo Road and Footballers' Wives, has confirmed that it is in talks over a fresh takeover approach. According to reports, members of the firm's management team have joined forces with London-based groups Bowmark Capital and Darwin Private Equity to make an offer for the public company, which is valued at around seventy three million pounds. The takeover bid marks the second time that members of Shed's management team have tried to take control of the company. In 2008, co-founder Eileen Gallagher led a group of executive directors in a failed bid for the firm. Gallagher subsequently stepped down from the company's board, but retained her position as executive director of subsidiary division Shed Productions. In summer 2009, it emerged that the executive directors involved in the first bid had held 'preliminary talks' with Darwin and Bowmark about a further approach for the company, which also owns Richochet, Wall to Wall and Twenty Twenty.

Former Spice Girl Emma Bunton has been confirmed as a new judge on ITV's Dancing On Ice. The singer will replace Ruthie Henshall on the panel, joining show regulars Jason Gardiner, Nicky Slater, Karen Barber and Robin Cousins. 'I can't wait. I've been a huge fan since the show began,' she told the Sun. The pop star appeared on the 2006 series of Strictly Come Dancing, finishing in third place. Dancing On Ice returns to ITV in January. Ex-soap star Danny Young, Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson, Boyzone's Mikey Graham and Heather Mills are all tipped to be taking part.