Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Too Much Tennant (Except on BBC Parliament)?

Craig Revel Horwood has claimed that the BBC 'would be mad' to cancel Strictly Come Dancing. Yeah, well they're not going to be doing that anytime soon so this story would appear to be a bit pointless, really. There's more danger of them cancelling The News than Strictly at the moment. The show's judge spoke out to dispel wild and unsubstantiated fears for the programme's future following negative comments in some organs of press (and, if you don't know which ones, you're obviously new to this blog) which surrounded the most recent series. Strictly's latest run of episodes sparked a - wholly manufactured - ageism row after Arlene Phillips was sacked from the panel and replaced by Alesha Dixon. The programme also failed to match The X Factor in the Saturday night ratings battle, though it remained a strong performer for BBC1. Speaking to Click Liverpool about the ballroom show's future, Horwood insisted: 'It's absolutely coming back. It's such a hugely popular show. With over ten million viewers the BBC would be mad to cancel it. What would replace it?' Revealing his desires for the next series, he added: 'I would love to see Arlene back. I really missed her this series. It was great to have Darcey Bussell join us but I do wish Arlene could come back.' So, you want Bruno sacked, then, is that it?!

The second and final episode of BBC1's star-studded adaptation of The Day of the Triffids finished with 5.6 million viewers, losing just five hundred thousand from the previous night's audience. The two-part adaptation of the John Wyndham masterpiece, which starred Dougray Scott, Joely Richardson and a fabulously evil Eddie Izzard (performance of a lifetime, that), had a twenty four per cent share of the audience between 9pm and 10.30pm, according to overnight figures. It was marginally down on the just over six million who saw Monday's opening instalment, but still easily enough to beat the 3.2 million who watched The Bill on ITV1 between 9pm and 10pm. So, everybody was happy. Except the Daily Mail who didn't have an opportunity for another 'BBC In Some Sort Of Disgraceful Shock (The Bastards)' exclusive. Not that a lack of actual facts ever stopped them from pulling one of those out the bag, of course. Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Sky Sports 1's coverage of the fourth day of England's test match against South Africa peaked with just a shade over seven hundred thousand viewers between 2pm and 2.15pm. Coverage of the game, which England won today by an innings and ninety eight runs, averaged three hundred and sixty six thousand viewers, a five per cent share, between 7.30am and 3.30pm. And, yer Keith Telly Topping would like to congratulate Straussy and his boys (and, particularly Swanny and Broady) for keeping this blogger hugely entertained whilst he's been snowbound in his gaff for the last few days.

A Conservative politician has accused BBC executives of 'promoting David Tennant at the expense of other actors.' Unfortunately, Keith Telly Topping can't tell you which other actors these might be, because the chap in question didn't elaborate further. Oh, great. Another politician who, seemingly, doesn't have anything more important to do for the people who elected him than to demonstrate to them his wish that he was employed as a TV reviewer instead. Get into line behind Jeremy Hunt and Harriet Harman, pal. Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans (no, me neither I'm afraid) made his comments after it was revealed that Tennant will have made seventy five appearances in three weeks on various BBC television and radio stations by the end of the current festive period. It is understood that twenty eight of the actor's appearances are in new programmes, whilst forty seven were repeats - mostly of Doctor Who on BBC3, which is hardly something that started just in the last few days but has been a regular feature of BBC3's schedules for most of the last five years. Still, again, why let a little thing like that spoil an excellent opportunity to get your name in the papers by slagging someone else's hard work off? It's the British way of doing things, is it not? Evans, who sits on the Culture Media and Sport select committee, told the Telegraph: 'Relying on such an overkill of one particular person is freezing out a lot of opportunity for a lot of up and coming people. Even the most dedicated fan might have thought that the BBC was turning into the David Tennant Corporation. I know thanks to digital TV we have two hundred channels, but two hundred channels of David Tennant doesn't seem to be much choice.' Interesting comments. Keith Telly Topping would advise Mr Evans, however, to check out the BBC Parliament channel where, I'm sure, he'll find that it is pretty much a David Tennant-free zone. Instead, he can watch endless hours of rent-a-quote gobshites wittering on about all manner of tripe and balderdash. Which he may enjoy. Or not. A BBC spokesperson insisted: 'These appearances were spread over several weeks and several channels. We would not expect any one audience to see more than a handful.' As well as being seen in Doctor Who, Tennant has appeared in Catherine Tate: Nan's Christmas Carol, Qi, Hamlet, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, guested on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and read stories for a children's show in recent days. Tragically, Mr Evans didn't say whom he'd rather see on TV than David Tennant, however. From The North is, frankly, rather surprised that Mr Evans has the time to watch all that much television. He seems to be a keen amateur photographer having, according to the Gruniad in July 2009, claimed for the purchase of four digital cameras over the course of eighteen months on his MPs expenses. Readers of this blog on low wages may also be interested to learn that Mr Evans voted against the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 and against every subsequent increase in it thereafter. In 2009 he was one of eleven MPs to back the Employment Opportunities Bill, which aimed to abolish the minimum wage altogether. Sounds like the sort of chap whom you'd expect to be right behind the endeavours of a successful young self-employed person working in a free-market economy, I'd've thought. If any readers find themselves frothing at the mouth over these reported comments, however, please don't bother writing to me about it, I just report the news. Mr Evans himself can be contacted c/o The House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. You might have heard of it. According to most of the national press for the last year, it's a big building on the banks of the Thames that's full of sleazy, corrupt, lying scum, apparently. And, also, lots of frustrated TV critics and schedulers, it would appear. Leave it to the professionals, guys and you stick to what you're paid for. Whatever that is.

One of Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, James McAvoy, is attached to star as James Bond's creator Ian Fleming in a film about the writer's colourful life, according to Pajiba. The movie, which is based on Andrew Lycett's excellent biography Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, takes place in the years of the author's life which inspired him to create the British secret agent. Fleming (along with his cousin, Christopher Lee) served as a Naval intelligence officer during World War II and then worked as a journalist and foreign correspondent for Reuters before going on to write Casino Royale in his Jamaican retreat, Goldeneye, in 1953. Very much looking forward to that one and, if any readers are looking for a thoroughly entertaining book for the New Year, check out Lycett's tomb. The first fifty pages or so are a bit heavy but, thereafter, it's brilliant.

Jo Brand and Bill Bailey are to front a new publicity campaign aimed at discouraging underage drinking according to reports. The pair will be joined by fellow comedians Josie Long and Russell Kane for an online viral scheme which is aimed at providing young people with information on the dangers of alcohol. The Internet messages, which are to be launched in the New Year, have been billed as an opportunity to educate children in a 'friendly and accessible' way. Now the great Bill Bailey, yes, I can certainly see that working well. But, Jo? I mean, don't get me wrong I'm a huge admirer of the lady and her comedy. But, let's be honest here, she's a bit 'in yer face', isn't she? Doesn't anyone think she might be a bit ... I dunno, terrifying, for this sort of thing? Anyway, a separate advertising campaign will later follow which is to warn parents about how their children can become 'vulnerable' due to drinking. The new initiatives are being introduced following a recent online survey on Mumsnet, which indicated that underage alcohol consumption was not a major concern for parents.

Kimberly Wyatt has claimed that new show Got To Dance could help young people avoid a life of crime. You know what else could, Kimberley? Not doing crime. Bit of a radical suggestion, I know, but that's Keith Telly Topping for you - full of madcap, hair brained ideas like that. The Pussycat Doll, who appears as a judge on the programme, explained that she had focused her teenage anger into her dancing. 'As a teenager I went through a lot,' she told the Sun. 'You try to figure out what life means and what your purpose is. Being able to go from school straight to my dance class, getting lost in the music and using dance as a way to let out my frustration meant the world to me and kept me out of trouble. I think there is a different outlet for aggression for every kid, it is good to see if dance might be the one that helps. I'm aware of the problems in the UK with teenagers and knives and I think after-school clubs and youth groups make a difference.' Right. So you think, maybe, if you were to go onto one of the rougher estates in, say, the urban North and try to preach your Little Orphan Annie-style message of progress-through-dance you wouldn't end up getting assaulted with a deadly weapon, do you Kim? Well ... good luck with that. Seriously, you're likely to need it.

And, speaking of people facing violence on a large scale, Kiefer Sutherland has said that he would like to work on a film version of 24. Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer in the drama, added that he would love the movie to be set in Europe. Well, indeed. By now Jack must've killed most of the terrorists, suspected terrorists and, you know, people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the entire North American continent. According to the Mirror, he said: 'We've been perpetuating the rumour for years!' Sutherland continued: 'We've wanted to film all round Europe. I think one of the great things about Europe, especially if you're going to do something where a two-hour film represents 24 hours, then it's very feasible to get from Eastern Europe to London in seven hours. 'It doesn't eat up all the time. Whereas if you're doing 24 episodes and you're trying to get, even from Miami to Washington, that's four episodes on a plane and people stop watching!' Depends who you kill whilst you're on the plane, I guess! He added: 'Europe has been something that we've all talked about as an opportunity for the film, which unfortunately just has not presented itself for us in the show.'

Adrian Chiles has claimed that a nasty accident in his youth nearly left him without his manhood. The forty two-year-old ONE Show presenter told the Observer about an incident where he was hit in the face with a cricket bat as a child, before going on to mention a much more painful near-miss he had several years later. 'When I was eleven I fell off my bike and chopped half my willy off,' he admitted. 'They had to sew it back on.' Aw, man. Too much information! But the Match of the Day host added that he did not let the unfortunate mishap interfere with his passion for football. 'I was such a man I didn't stay overnight [in hospital],' he added. 'It was the day of the cup final in 1978 and I wanted to get back and watch it.' Ipswich versus Arsenal. Actually, yeah, that was a pretty good one.

Susan Penhaligon has revealed that she regrets using Botox. The actress explained that she had the treatment 'on a whim' but ended up suffering from 'droopy brows,' which reportedly affects around one per cent of Botox users. 'I was a complete wally to have it in the first place,' she told the Daily Telegraph. 'It very nearly had a disastrous effect on my career and on my confidence as a person. I will never go near it again. I'm simply going to let nature do what it will to me.' Penhaligon continued: 'For many years, I never considered that I needed anything like Botox. But it has become increasingly acceptable and as I noticed more and more people having it, I got interested in it and started thinking, "Shall I have it to help me get work, or shan't I?"' She explained that she had a headache the morning after the treatment and added: 'I looked in the mirror and saw, to my horror, that my eyebrows had dropped, pushing my eyelids down. I resembled Roddy McDowall's character in Planet Of The Apes.'

The Church of England has announced that it opposes a proposal to allow product placement on television. In September, the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw suggested relaxing the rules on product placement to help television channels struggling to deal with a drop in advertising revenue. Under the proposal's guidelines, product placement would still be banned on children's television and BBC programmes. However, the Church of England fears that the move could erode the public's trust in broadcasters, BBC News reports. In a statement to the consultation, the Church said: 'Retaining trust in broadcasters' integrity and editorial balance is key to maintaining strong relationships between audience and broadcaster, which in turn has both civic, societal and economic benefits. For this reason, the Church of England is opposed to changes to the current regulatory regime, even outside public service content and news and current affairs.' Again, this blogger just has to ask - haven't you people got anything better to do with your time than interfere in matters that are none of your bloody concern. Still, I suppose it's marginally less offensive than buggering choirboys. Maybe if you did you might get a few more people in church instead of sitting at home watching Corrie. I suppose we should, perhaps, be grateful that the statement didn't pull the usual CoE trick of trying to shoehorn Jesus into a wholly inappropriate subject. 'As a small business proprietor, Jesus would have been outraged if such a proposal had been made regarding the Nazareth Broadcasting Corporation which would have allowed the bigger chain carpentry stores to undercut him through aggressive product placement in the popular documentary series Extreme Fishing with Peter of Galilae.' Et cetera.

Sky Sports Xtra will rebrand itself as Sky Sports 4 from next month, but the launch of a companion high-definition channel has not yet been confirmed. The change will come into effect from 6 January 2010, to bring the channel in line with the overall Sky Sports branding.

Radio DJ Tom Binns has been dismissed from Birmingham commercial station BRMB after he interrupted the Queen's speech whilst on air. After the station accidentally took a feed of the Queen's annual address on Christmas Day, the stand-up comedian and presenter opted to cut it off, telling listeners: 'Two words: Bor-ing.' Actually, Tom, that's just one word with two syllables. But, anyway ... He then introduced the next record, 'Last Christmas' by Wham!, saying, 'from one Queen to another...' BRMB owner, Orion Media Group, subsequently sacked Binns after a 'small number' of listeners complained about the comments, including one who issued a death threat. Well, it's to be hoped that the 'small number' are happy they've managed to lose a chap his job for doing nothing more outrageous than telling a not particularly funny joke. And I hope that the person who issued the death threat is thoroughly ashamed of his or her self. 'On Christmas Day, one of our presenters Tom Binns made some inappropriate comments surrounding the Queen's speech,' said Orion Media programme and marketing director David Lloyd, briefly removing his tongue from right up the Royal Mall. 'We do not condone what he said in any way, whether said in jest or not. We are making contact with the small number of listeners who were offended by Tom's comments and have complained to us to convey our apologies and have also apologised on air. Tom will now not be featuring again on our radio stations.' In response, Binns himself claimed that he cut the speech short because the station was actually supposed to be transmitting a news bulletin at the time. Speaking to the comedy website Chortle, he said: 'I knew it shouldn't be there, but having never heard it before, I didn't know how long it was going to go on for. I'm not trained to make editorial decisions, but I decided to get rid of it and make a joke. I then went into an old riff about how people say the royal family are good for tourism, but the French beheaded theirs and people still visit France. The next record was George Michael's 'Last Christmas', so I made some sort of comment about "going from one Queen to another" as a parody of a cheesy DJ.' You're sure it was a parody, mate, and not just regular cheesy DJ-speak? 'Nobody would have tuned in to hear the Queen's speech and I tried to deal with it in a funny way. After all they employ comedians to make jokes.' Binns described his dismissal as a 'knee-jerk reaction' and said that broadcasters are now 'scared to death' of any complaints following a series of high-profile controversies. 'It's got to the point where comedians aren't allowed to say anything that could possibly offend anyone anymore,' he added. Ah well, y'see Tom, the concept of freedom of speech isn't what it once was. Although, to be fair, if you'd tried that argument a couple of hundred years ago you'd've probably been hanged for treason. So, one reasonably might argue that this is progress. Her Majesty's thoughts on the matter are, tragically, unrecorded.

A talking meerkat's TV catchphrase is about to make it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Aleksandr's expression 'simples' topped a list of new words to be included in future editions of the dictionary if people continue to use them, reports the Sun. Compilers of the respected tome admitted the catchprase of Aleksandr - star of the price comparison insurance adverts - had taken the nation by storm. Susie Dent, of the Oxford University Press - who regularly appears on Channel 4's Countdown and is the author of one of Keith Telly Toping's favourite books on the subject of language Fanboys and Overdogs - hailed it her favourite word of the year. She said: 'Simples has quickly become a catchphrase said by anyone when they mean something is very easy to achieve. We may not like it, and it may well not last, but it proves that English is moving quickly and is as robust as ever.' The word 'defriend,' meaning to remove someone from a list of contacts on Facebook, is among other new words that may go in - along with 'tweetup,' a meet-up arranged via Twitter. And, it's not just new words that are making an impact. The archaic and seldom used 'redact,' meaning to obscure, came back to promanence this year thanks to the good old MPs' expenses scandal.