Saturday, December 12, 2009

Save The World - It's Dead Easy (Apparently)

Good Saturday to you all, dear blog reader. We begin with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite Top Telly Quote of the Week. From Qi: In which Stephen Fry asked his guests if they knew which popular game traditionally ended with all of the players being thrown into a lake of fiery sulphur. Sean Lock's reply was the deliciously timed: 'I hope it's showjumping!' Only marginally less amusing was Steve Edge's line of dialogue in his - really rather decent, Comedy Showcase, Guantanamo Phil. In this, his character - recently released from six years of detention by the US military - confesses to a startled MI6 officer that the waterboarding torture was a bit rough, but 'not as painful as the one where they spanked your knackers with a flip-flop!' The answer to Stephen's Qi question about the lake of fiery sulphur, of course, is the Ouija Board™. According to the Book of Revelation, such is the horrible fate which awaits all of those who practice the dark arts of spiritism and magics. Which, so long as that includes Paul Daniels, is absolutely fine with Keith Telly Topping.

This week's CSI in the US was one of that fine series' occasional flirtations with comedy. The night starts strange and rapidly goes south from there, as Nick, Greg and Hodges 'kidnap' Henry in order to celebrate his birthday at a desert hole-in-the-wall Bar-B-Q grill. Before they've even reached their destination they get run off the road then, upon arriving, they find a dead man with a raccoon attached to his face in the target restaurant... which was closed six months earlier by the environmental health department due to an outbreak of Hepatitis. Meanwhile, back in Vegas, the rest of the crew experiences the same sort of strange, as they deal with a 911 call leading to a dead woman drowned in a bathtub and an unconscious man with narcolepsy ... and an extra body part. Full of the sort of dry humour you expect from CSI's occasional forays into this sort of area, that was a good one.

Jeremy Hunt - whom all dear blog readers may just remember has spent much of the last few months from his position of the shadow culture minister calling for BBC Bosses to have their salaries cut and for less BBC channels etc - is one of those MPs whose disgracefully excessive expense claims have been widely reported in the press in recent days. According to the Telegraph, The Right Honourable Member (and he's known as a right one or two other things too) was asked to repay nine thousand five hundred and fifty eight pounds and fifty pee after allowing his agent and 'close friend' Margaret Chellingworth to stay, rent free, in his taxpayer-subsidised home.

And, also on the subject of crass and laughable hypocrisy, among the protesters in Copenhagen at the United Nations Climate Conference was the actress Helen Baxendale. Remember her? She used to be in Friends for about five minutes. Anyway, Helen is reported to have said that thousands of people from all over the world were trying to encourage their leaders to take 'firm and fair action' on climate change, telling Sky News that such a display was 'inspiring.' She added: 'It's fantastic to join with so many other people from all over the world.' All of whom have presumably, like your good self Helen, burned lots of nasty carbon-based fuels in getting from 'all over the world' to Copenhagen. I mean, I'm presuming you didn't walk all the way from London. No, you flew. Probably first class. You just didn't think it through, love. That's so often the problem with a naïve - Sting-like - assumption that everything you and your 'right thinking' mates do is right and everything that everybody else does is wrong. Doesn't usually work that way.

Stop! It's Hammer Time. Or, at least, it might be. Producers of the final series of Celebrity Big Brother alleged to be considering hiring the 1990s rapper, MC Hammer (and, presumably, his big balloon-y trousers) it has been claimed. According to the Sun, the number of celebrities who will appear in the 2010 series may be reduced to ten to allow a greater amount of money to be spent on each 'star.' A show source said: 'Previous CBB series have suffered because there have been too many celebs who were just not that famous.' What, and MC Hammer is? 'Producers want the final series to be the best ever - and are determined to push the boat out by signing up the biggest names they can.' They added: 'But to get big names, you have to spend big money - which means there will be less for minor stars.' Pamela Anderson is also said to be in negotiations for the programme and could earn a quarter of a million pounds for her appearance, though the ex-Baywatch star recently rejected suggestions that she would enter the house. The final series of CBB will launch on the evening of Sunday 3 January on Channel 4.

Felicia Day is to guest on an upcoming episode of the FOX series Lie to Me. The Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog actress will play an elementary school teacher who becomes stranded along with her class at the Lightman Group headquarters. In the episode, which is due to air next Monday, Felicia will perform a duet with show's regular, Brendan Hines. Day is also due to reprise the role of Mag for the series finale of FOX's Dollhouse, which will be broadcast in January.

John Simm, best known for TV dramas Life On Mars and State of Play, is to return to his stage roots as Hamlet in a new production of the Shakespeare play. Simm is following in the footsteps of his Doctor Who cast mate David Tennant and Jude Law as the latest high profile actor to play the moody, borderline psychopathic teenage Danish prince. The play will open at the Sheffield Crucible in September 2010, following a fifteen million pound redevelopment of the theatre. Simm is currently appearing in Speaking In Tongues in London's West End. His other credits include the films Human Traffic, 24 Hour Party People and Wonderland. His TV work also includes The Lakes and Sex Traffic. The production will reunite Simms with Sheffield's associate director Paul Miller, with whom he has previously collaborated on stage productions Goldhawk Road and Elling, for which Simm received as best actor Olivier Award nomination. Daniel Evans, the theatre's artistic director, told the BBC it was 'very exciting' to have Simm on board. 'When a major actor like John comes along, who people know for his brilliant TV work, it is a privilege to make it happen,' he said. 'Paul and John have this brilliant long-standing relationship and he knew immediately that who his ideal Hamlet would be. It is potentially a very scary role, but it has become one of those roles that every major actor leaps through. It can be a test of your mettle.' The theatre, which has been closed to the public for two years, will reopen on 17 February with An Enemy of the People, starring Sir Anthony Sher and directed by Evans. He added: 'The reopening is a huge deal for the theatre, and for the whole city. People have really missed the place.' Simm follows another Doctor Who actor, Christopher Eccleston, who played Hamlet in 2002 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and, of course, Tennant, who played the role in a critically acclaimed production for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008.

A camera fault has reportedly ruined two days' worth of footage for The Royle Family Christmas special at an estimated cost of one hundred thousand pounds. Writer Phil Mealey said that a tiny object had dropped into the lens, ruining the film and resulting in the cast being recalled. 'When we looked at the footage, it was like my holiday photographs - everyone's head was cut off. Everything was lost. We were absolutely gutted,' he told the Daily Telegraph. 'The camera had been checked and what was coming through on the monitors in the studio was fine. But a ground glass piece or something had dropped in the lens. It was like going to Boots with your wedding snaps ruined but on a massive scale.' Mealey estimated that the fault may have cost Jellylegs, the independent production company which he co-owns, about a hundred grand. 'All that kind of thing is insured in the event of something happening. It's just one of those things. And we're delighted with the finished product. There are some very funny scenes in it,' he said. This year's festive episode of the popular family sitcom, called The Golden Egg Cup, goes out on BBC1 at 9pm on Christmas Day.

An author who used leafy Croydon as the inspiration for his debut gangster novel almost got a Coronation Street actor shot by police while filming the screenplay, he has revealed. Armed police officers trained their weapons on the cast of Tony Royden's film of The Dealer because they mistook the action for a real-life gangland murder - only stopping when they recognised one of the 'killers' was former Red Dwarf actor Craig Charles. Horrified onlookers strolling along a riverbank raised the alarm after seeing several 'victims' getting their throats slit before being dumped over the side of a boat, in what they thought were a series of brutal daylight killings. Officers realised their mistake after noticing one of the killers with an infra red dot on his chest was Corrie-actor Charles, while another team storming the nearby boatyard stumbled across Fast Show star John Thomson learning his lines. Royden, who wrote much of the book at his girlfriend's home in Forestdale, said he believed his comedy film could easily have become a tragedy if police had not recognised the actors. He said: 'Unlike the manic hustle and bustle of inner London life, I found Forestdale so much quieter and slower paced. It also borders with some stunning countryside and quaint English villages – which was completely in keeping with the setting of my novel, so I found it inspirational just being there.'

The BBC has joined forces with the British Library to explore ways to create a new digital archive for content and assets from both organisations. BBC director general Mark Thompson and Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, signed a 'Memorandum Of Understanding' agreement this week. Under a joint steering committee, the MOU will investigate ways to free up access to almost one million hours of BBC TV and radio content, along with over one hundred and fifty million items from the British Library for use by researchers and the general public. The committee will explore various issues around distribution of archive material, such as rights management, digitisation and storage. The BBC also recently signed separate MOUs with the British Film Institute and The National Archives. 'The BBC and the British Library share many of the same purposes - to guarantee public access to content in an open realm, creating a space where people can debate and exchange ideas and experiences,' said Thompson. 'Unlocking the wealth of content in the British Library and BBC archives is a great opportunity as well as an immense challenge. It is vital we partner, harnessing the power of digital technology to give the public the access they deserve.' Brindley added: 'This partnership not only demonstrates that we are keen to share content for the benefit of today's researchers and the knowledge economy, but also expresses our continued commitment to supporting the government's vision of building a Digital Britain. Through this MOU we aim to create a model of best practice which will allow the Library to develop similar opportunities with other public institutions. Providing unparalleled access to joint information services and world-class digital archival content will truly enable the business, academic, scientific, research and creative communities to flourish.' As one of the largest multimedia caches in the world, the BBC Archive includes over six million photographs, four million items of sheet music and five hundred thousand documents.

Former pop star Shakin' Stevens has accused the photographer who he is charged with assaulting of 'wanting his five minutes of fame.' Didn't it used to be fifteen? Is that ten minutes off for good behaviour?

Lindsay Lohan has reportedly been criticised for portraying complex child rescue operations as somewhat superficial events. The actress, who has been in India filming a BBC documentary about child trafficking, appeared to claim that she, personally, had helped in the rescue of forty Indian children. Lohan wrote on her Twitter page: 'Over forty children saved so far... Within one day's work... This is what life is about... Doing THIS is a life worth living!!!' Social activist and lawyer Bhuwan, of the campaign group Bachpan Bachao Andolan, said that the raids were on fifteen workshops in central New Delhi and took months of detailed planning. The Daily Telegraph reports Bhuwan as accusing Lohan of portraying the operations in a superficial light in suggesting that they could be carried out by any passing celebrity. A BBC spokesman stressed that Lohan did not say she was present at the raids, adding: 'She was merely referring to a raid that happened connected to child trafficking - the subject of the programme.' He added that the final documentary would be 'high-quality, informative and engaging.' Well, that'll certainly be a first for just about anything Lindsay Lohan's ever been involved in. 'It is not uncommon for well known faces to be involved in current affairs programmes,' he continued, '[this] often helps engage younger audiences with subjects they don't traditionally go to such as international affairs,' he said. So next, presumably, we should expect to see Paris Hilton fronting a Panorama on Iran's nuclear capabilities.

An Australian television presenter has been sacked after undergoing open heart surgery. Chris Lohse, a sports host on WIN TV at the Nine Network's Perth studios, returned to work following a heart transplant in October to discover that he had been dismissed. Lohse's lawyer John Hammond told The Australian: 'It's a cruel thing to do to a young man... He is absolutely stunned to be sacked by Channel Nine in this manner.' Although the presenter was initially employed on a casual basis with the television station in 2007, Hammond claims that he was offered a permanent role in July this year. The lawyer said that he will be filing an unfair dismissal claim on Lohse's behalf and will make a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission. Blimey, even for the Aussies, that's a bit harsh. 'You have to be back at work the day after a heart operation or everybody'll think you're a pommy poofter.'

The Flight of the Conchords have landed for the last time. The comedy, starring the New Zealand duo, will not return. 'We are today announcing that we won't be returning for a third season. We're very proud of the two seasons we made and we like the way the show ended,' a statement on their website from the sitcom's stars Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement and executive producer James Booth read. 'We'd like to thank everyone who helped make the show and also everyone who watched it. While the characters Bret and Jemaine will no longer be around, the real Bret and Jemaine will continue to exist.' McKenzie and Clement, under the collective name Flight of the Conchords, gained a widespread reputation for their curiously addictive mix of comedy and acoustic folk music in their native New Zealand. The duo hosted a BBC radio series before Flight of the Conchords premiered on HBO in August 2007. On the half-hour comedy, McKenzie and Clement played fictional versions of themselves who move to New York in search of fame and fortune.

Lawyers for the American golfer and self-confessed adulterer Tiger Woods have, reportedly, obtained a UK injunction preventing 'certain information', purportedly about Woods himself, from being published in the UK. Even here. The order was granted by a judge at the High Court in London on Friday, and concerns alleged 'information' which cannot be disclosed for legal reasons. Even if I wanted to. Which I don't, as it happens. But, even if I did, I couldn't. Last week, you may remember, Woods apologised to his family for what he described as 'personal sins.' Speculation about his private life has been intense, both in the media and elsewhere, ever since Woods was involved in a car crash outside his Florida home at some very odd hour of the morning. Newspaper allegations followed, both in the US and abroad, about a variety of extra-marital affairs which may, or may not, have happened. I couldn't possibly even begin to speculate on that, I merely report what I can. Which isn't much. Anyway, Woods himself has not been seen in public since the accident, in which his car hit a tree and fire hydrant. And a golf club may, or may not, have hit him. The golfer, who was found bleeding and semi-conscious, was later charged by the police with careless driving, which carries a one hundred and sixty four dollar fine and four points on his driving licence. Though, Keith Telly Topping is fairly certain that Tiger can probably afford that. Although, whether he will still be able to do so once his wife has initiated divorce proceedings is another matter entirely. That is, of course, if she does. Which she may not. Oh no, very hot water. Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Gillette has become the first major sponsor of Woods to attempt to distance itself from the golfer after what the BBC rather euphemistically decribes as 'the storm over his private life.' The company said today that it would 'limit' Woods' role in its marketing while he 'took time off to repair his personal life.' Is it too much to hope that it'll do the same with Roger Whatshisface and Thierry Cheater and stop showing those bloody awful adverts altogether? And, I say that as a lifelong user of Mach3 myself.

An energy company has reportedly threatened to cut off the gas to the X Factor house. The owners of the property in Golders Green, which is home to the X Factor finalists, have allegedly failed to pay their energy bills. The Sun claims that an engineer, locksmith and warrant officer from E.ON turned up at the house with a court order. 'A security guard opened the door and told them, "You can't do this - the X Factor finalists live here and it's the final this weekend,"' a source is alleged to have said. 'They took pity but said they'd return in a month if they aren't paid.' Meanwhile, an E.ON source said: 'The unpaid bill is a joke, given the cash pumped into X Factor and the fact it's Britain's top TV show.' That, I have to say, doesn't really sound like the kind of thing that any source who wants to actually keep their job would say about one of their customers to a tabloid. Still, if it means Simon Cowell shelling out for a dozen candles, I'm all for it.

Simon Cowell has reportedly criticsed a Facebook-led campaign to get Rage Against The Machine's 1992 single 'Killing In The Name' to number one in Britain this Christmas. Speaking at the press conference for this weekend's X Factor final, the music mogul claimed that the timing of the show dictated the release date of the winner's single. Cowell said: 'Everyone has this slightly distorted image of Christmas number ones being incredible. There was that ghastly Cliff Richard thing a few years ago [and] Bob The Builder. We haven't exactly taken away anything special. I think the campaign is aimed directly at me - it's stupid.' For once, I have to agree with Mr Cowell - twice - it is, clearly, aimed at him and it is, ultimately, rather stupid. 'Me having a number one record at Christmas time is not going to change my life particularly.' He added: 'I think it's quite a cynical campaign geared at me that is actually going to spoil the party for these three [finalists]. I also think it's incredibly dismissive of the people who watch and enjoy the show when they treat our audience as if they're stupid. I don't like that.' Campaigner Jon Morter previously told NME: 'We've nothing personal against him [Cowell] at all, we just do not want yet another Christmas chart-topper from that show again.' He added that he was 'not fussed' that the Rage Against The Machine single is available through Sony, the umbrella firm for Cowell's Syco label, because 'for me it was the song that's important.' Some people just have too much time on their hands, dear blog reader.

And, in a marginally related story, Robson Green has reportedly claimed that Simon Cowell has become a 'one-trick pony' due to his X Factor success. What do you mean, 'become'? Wasn't he always? According to the Press Association, the Wire In The Blood and Touching Evil actor expressed disappointment over his former producer's chosen career path ahead of tomorrow's X Factor final. Green is quoted as saying: 'I think it's sad he's continued to do what he's doing because he's better than that.' He is? 'I don't mean that in a patronising way.' You don't? 'He can do other things, great things, but with his need to be a judge, he's become a one-trick pony.' Cowell, let us never forget, launched Green's singing career in the nineties by teaming him up with his Soldier Soldier co-star Jerome Flynn. For which, of course, we were all so grateful.

Uri Geller 'performed disastrously' when he took part in an episode of All Star Family Fortunes recently, a report has claimed. According to the Sun, the notorious spoon-bender and 'best friend of Michael Jackson ... even though I only met him six times' turned up for filming with a relative who 'could barely speak English' and went on to struggle with a number of simple questions himself. It has been alleged that Geller even asked for an extra chance to improve his score at one point, but his request was refused by producers. Obviously his powers of mesmerism and presidigitation were a bit lacking that day. Show host Vernon Kay commented: 'Uri was terrible.' Which, coming from Vernon Kay, is a bit like a drowning man being spat on by a mermaid with a life-vest. 'He has spent a lot of time around TV cameras, but his performance was dreadful. He was so nervous.'

And, now dear blog reader, it's time for this week's Kerry Katona story. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. The former reality TV regular has reportedly started making plans to launch her own kebab shop. Okay, I'm sure there's a punchline in there just waiting to be written but, ever onwards. According to the Sun, Katona has told friends that she is keen to run her own business 'once her bankruptcy crisis is over.' The troubled former singer is also said to be considering whether a sandwich deli would be a more suitable option as 'the hours are better.' Yeah. But the minutes are just about the same. A source said: 'She wants to find a "sound small business," which she can run for the rest of her life. Her favourite idea is a fast food joint. She is always pictured chomping on a kebab and wants to cash in on that image.' I think I'm right in saying that this is the first time I've ever seen someone gorging themselves on a big, fat, greasy lump of congealed, artery-clogging death alluded to as being, in any way, a good thing. So, shall we file this story along with the recently reported sun-bed salon, the second hand car dealership and the supposed forthcoming appearances in Coronation Street and Benidorm? Or, do we wonder whether this one has even a remote smidgen of yer actual truth in it? And, do we actually care? Silly question. Dear old clueless Kerry - where would this blog be without the endless humour that she provides with her antics and her ways?