Thursday, January 14, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For It Might Come True

The BBC have admitted its coverage of the launch of U2 CD No Line On The Horizon last February, went too far - giving 'undue prominence' to the band. The corporation acknowledged that radio coverage of the event, which included a rooftop concert at Broadcasting House, breached BBC editorial guidelines. It said the use of the slogan U2=BBC 'gave an inappropriate impression of endorsement.' RadioCentre, the trade body for commercial radio companies, made a formal complaint over the coverage. Complaints over the free publicity given to the band on BBC TV, radio and online included those of Conservative MP Nigel Evans, who said it was 'the sort of publicity money can't buy.' Mr Evans, of course, knows all about what money can and cannot buy having claimed four times for the purchase of digital cameras during an eighteen month period on his MP expenses. 'Why should licence fee-payers shoulder the cost of U2's publicity?' Dunno, mate. By the same token, why should I - as a tax payer - finance your digital camera collection? Answers on a postcard at your convenience, please. The Editorial Complaints Unit admitted that a reference to the BBC being 'part of launching this new album,' in an interview between Radio 1 presenter Zane Lowe and U2 singer, Mr Bonio, was 'inappropriate.' The ECU also upheld a complaint that it was inappropriate for the Radio 1 website to contain links to the websites of ticket agents for the band's concerts. 'The Radio 1 leadership team have reminded executive producers and presenters about the issues to be considered in relation to judgments about undue prominence, and the distinction between the reporting of new artistic work and commercial promotion,' it said, earlier this week. 'The management of BBC Marketing, Communication and Audiences has reminded all staff of the need to consult the editorial policy team in a timely manner for advice when potentially sensitive issues such as commercial interests are involved.' However, separate complaints about an edition of Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show, and a BBC News online report of the U2 concert on the roof of Broadcasting House, were not upheld. When asked for a comment, Mr Bonio out of U2 said 'every toyme oyi click moyi fingers, another choyild doyies.' To which it was, not unreasonably, suggested to Mr Bonio out of U2 that it might be a good idea for him to stop clicking his bloody fingers.

A 'snow special' helped The ONE Show to its highest ever audience last night, peaking with just under seven and a half million at 7.30pm. The BBC1 magazine show averaged 6.8m viewers between 7pm and 8pm, against snooker on BBC2 and ITV's Emmerdale. Before that, its best performance was 6.7m on 2 February 2009.

Top Gear and Terry Wogan's radio show helped draw a record number of programme requests to the BBC iPlayer in December. The online catchup service received more than one hundred million programme requests in a month for the first time, with a total of more than one hundred and fifteen million requests. Top Gear's South American special was the most-watched single show on iPlayer in December, with more than one million requests from viewers, while the final Wake Up To Wogan on Radio 2 and the race for the Christmas number one fuelled massive demand for BBC radio shows. The BBC said that the week beginning 14 December had proved to be its biggest ever for the radio player with 7.7m programme requests from listeners. Wogan's final show, on 18 December, was the top-rated radio show for the month, attracting about two hundred and fifty thousand requests from listeners. Meanwhile, Radio 1's Christmas chart show, which ranked second, attracted just over two hundred and forty thousand hits. In terms of TV viewing, the week beginning 28 December proved to be the biggest since the iPlayer's full launch in December 2007, with over seventeen million programme requests. The BBC said this was due to specials, such as David Tennant's last two-part outing as Doctor Who, which aired on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, with 1.3m requests to view on the iPlayer. The show outstripped Top Gear because it racked up so many requests in the week after 1 January. The corporation said that evidence is emerging that the iPlayer, which is available over more than twenty devices, is starting to gain traction on games consoles.

And, whilst TV audiences are proving to be as big as ever, the way in which people are watching is changing all the time, with time-shifted viewing making up a growing proportion of total TV viewing.

The Top Ten time-shifted programmes over the Christmas week were all BBC programmes:
Doctor Who – 2.6m
The Royle Family – 2.4m
EastEnders (Christmas Day) – 1.6m
Catherine Tate – 1.6m
Gavin & Stacey – 1.6m
Top Gear Bolivia Special – 1.5m
EastEnders (Christmas Eve) – 1.4m
Outnumbered – 1.3m
The Gruffalo – 1.3m
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special – 1.2m

The first pictures have been released from BBC4's forthcoming Lennon Naked. In this, as you may have heard, one of the greatest British actors of his generation, Christopher Eccleston, plays one of the greatest wife-beating alcoholic Scouse junkies of his generation, John Winston Lennon. Goo goo goo joob.

Denzel Washington has revealed in an interview with Parade magazine that he lives his life 'by the Bible.' What, even the contradictory parts? So, tell me, Denzel, what material are your shirts made from? Because if it's polyester and cotton then, according to the Book of Leviticus, you should be stoned to death for wearing a garment woven from two cloths. Just, you know, for some perspective.

The BBC has made hunting for new female entertainment talent a key priority and could use Jonathan Ross' departure to give women presenters a higher profile. Claudia Winkleman and comedian Shappi Khorsandi are widely believed to be potential stars within the corporation as it casts outside the traditional pool of entertainment presenters to address the gender imbalance. Winkleman's previous presenting credits range from Liquid News to Strictly offshoot It Takes Two, while Iranian stand-up comedian Shappi is best known for her BBC Radio 4 show Shappi Talk. Mark Linsey, controller of entertainment commissioning, told Broadcast magazine he was on an active mission to 'promote women on all channels' and that female faces on BBC2 were 'a particular priority.' But he admitted that there were relatively few obvious names. It is thought unlikely that Winkleman or Khorsandi will move into Ross' Friday-night slot, but BBC insiders expect the pair, and other female talent, to 'move up the ranks.'

Channel 4 is cutting back it's core PSB documentary strand Dispatches - but has vowed to maintain its overall budget for at least this year. Dispatches will be reduced from forty to thirty five programmes in 2010 and there are widespread expectations among producers that it will be cut further next year, despite protestations from Channel 4 that nothing has yet been decided. The broadcaster had repeatedly promised to protect the number of Dispatches programmes, identifying it as one of the jewels in its crown, but now says that putting more budget and energy into fewer programmes will improve the quality and impact of its journalism. Dispatches editor and deputy head of C4's news and current affairs department, Kevin Sutcliffe, told Broadcast: 'When you have big hits you think, "how do we get another?" It's fine if you have a co-producer, but for [UK] investigations you need to get the money from somewhere. Nibbling away five shows allows us the flexibility to do big undercover investigations or give stories more time. Things such as Saving Africa's Witch Children take longer but they are worth it.' He said that with Channel 4 facing major changes, including a new chief executive, no decision had been made about 2011's quota. This year's changes will hit 'middling' and 'domestic' documentaries but suppliers of what Broadcast describes as 'high-end Dispatches' were broadly positive about the change.

Heather Mills reportedly crashed her forty thousand pound Lexus into a bollard after rehearsing for Dancing On Ice. Ah well, just another twenty five million or so to go before she's, actually, in the poor-house. According to the Sun, the accident occurred outside the Alexandra Palace ice rink in North London. On Mills's forty second birthday two days ago. Double bonus.

Yvette Fielding is apparently being guarded by four attack dogs after receiving threats to 'firebomb' her live on television. The Most Haunted host, whose live shows started airing this week, has been offered the protection following various threats made on Internet forums. The dogs - three Alsatians and a rottweiler - will guard Fielding, forty one, as she films live from a deserted RAF base in West Raynham in Norfolk. So ... run this one by me again. Couldn't the police afford any actual officers, then? I know money's a bit tight, and all that ...

Andrew Lloyd Webber is reportedly in some disagreement with the BBC over the title of his forthcoming show. In 2008, it was announced that Webber would be involved in a new reality project with BBC1 to find the protagonist for his stage production of The Wizard Of Oz. However, last year, Lloyd Webber said that he had pulled out of the reality series and confirmed a rift with the BBC. Later, he changed his mind and said that the show would be going ahead despite the previous problems. According to the Mirror, issues have now arisen, this time over the title of the series. 'The BBC want to call the series Over The Rainbow but I want to call it The Oz Factor,' he said. 'I hope to win that battle too.'

BBC3 has ordered an ITV Studios comedy starring Will Mellor as the reluctant heir to a family handyman business. White Van Man is a single-camera comedy with no laugh-track which centres on the challenges and frustrations of Ollie's new calling as a painter/decorator. Executive producer and ITVS creative director of comedy, Saurabh Kakkar, who worked briefly from a white van in his youth, said: 'The show has a kind of My Name Is Earl feel to it, in that it's an everyday world populated with wonderful, larger-than-life characters.' The show is the first narrative created by writer and stand-up comedian Adrian Poynton, and stars Clive Mantle as Ollie's dad Tony, who is forced to retire after having a heart attack. Ollie takes over the family business but is ill-equipped for the job, having dreamed, instead, of opening his own restaurant.

Terry Pratchett will deliver BBC1's annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture next month to discuss how society is dealing with an increasingly older population, it has been confirmed. On 1 February, the renowned fantasy author will take charge of the thirty fourth keynote lecture in honour of veteran broadcaster Dimbleby, who died in 1965. Since his first Discworld novel The Colour Of Magic was published in 1983, Pratchett's series has sold over sixty five million copies around the world and been translated into thirty seven languages. However, the writer has also recently disclosed his battle with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Titled Shaking Hands With Death, Pratchett's lecture will explore the ways in which modern society is coping with its ageing population, particularly in terms of those people suffering with incurable illnesses.

Twilight actress Ashley Greene has admitted that she nearly had a 'mini-breakdown' coping with the pressures of being thrust into the spotlight. Bloody Nora, you put enough qualifiers into that statement didn't you, Ash? Next time you 'nearly' have a 'mini' something (kebab, Cooper, skirt, whatever ...) please be sure to let us all know cos we're fascinated.

The BBC must undergo a radical overhaul and Channel 4 should be privatised, a think tank has said in a report on the future of UK broadcasting which has gained far wider coverage in the UK media than it actually deserves. The centre-right Policy Exchange said the BBC should cut the amount it spends on sports rights, popular entertainment and shows for sixteen to thirty five-year-olds. It also urges the government to drop its controversial 'broadband tax.' The report - by the free-market think tank - said that public service broadcasting was under strain and needed radical reform if it was to survive in the digital age. It said the BBC should put quality before ratings and leave sport and popular entertainment to commercial channels. So, once again, we have the curiously narrow definition of Public Service Broadcasting as 'stuff I, and my middle aged, middle class, Conservative voting scum mates, want to watch.' It highlighted the reported six million pound a year salary of Jonathan Ross, who announced he was quitting the BBC last week. 'The problem was not so much what the BBC paid, but what the BBC was doing in the bidding ring in the first place,' the report said. Yes, cos heaven forbid that the BBC should make some programmes than anyone actually wanted to watch. The very thought of such a thing. The report went on to recommended licence fee money should be spent on Channel 4 or E4, rather than BBC3, in order to reach sixteen to thirty five-year-olds. And, it called for BBC Worldwide, which is the corporation's commercial arm, to be privatised and the BBC Trust to be scrapped. In response, once it had stopped laughing, the BBC Trust said any proposed change must not put the public value of the BBC or its independence against inappropriate political or commercial influence at risk. Mark Oliver, the author of the report - called Changing the Channel - was previously the BBC's head of strategy and has advised the government. He said: 'The current UK broadcasting system was set up in the 1950s and now struggles to keep up with the extraordinary changes of the digital age. It is clear that the Twentieth Century analogue institutions that were created are now worryingly out of date. We need a dramatic rethink if we are to continue to deliver public service broadcasting in an entirely new age.' He added that the BBC was determined to outbid for the FA Cup and Formula 1 coverage because they appeal to working class and lower middle class men under forty - a group which the broadcaster finds difficult to attract. It has not bid for Test Match cricket since 1998, as research shows this appeals to a middle class, forty-plus audience that already tunes in. Because, of course, as we all know, those are the only people that actually matter to right-wing lice like Policy Exchange. Thanks for your valuable contribution to the debate, Mark. We'll let you know.

Following on from the innovative and era-defining hits [Spooks], Hustle, Ashes To Ashes and Life On Mars, Kudos Film & TV is moving into another new world. BBC1 has commissioned a new eight-part drama series, Outcasts. Created by Ben Richards (who has written for [Spooks], The Fixer and Party Animals), Outcasts is set on a recently-discovered planet and tells of the dilemmas, loves and lives of a group of people setting up a new world. This life-sustaining planet is now home to the surviving population from Earth. Here there is a chance to start again, to bring the lessons learned from the dying Earth and to put them into action on a new planet. Set in 2040, Outcasts begins on the day the last known transporter from Earth arrives, prompting great excitement on the new planet: Who is on board? Friends and loved ones? Important supplies and news from Earth? But also many questions: Will the new people bring the problems of Earth with them? Will the mistakes that destroyed the planet be repeated? Will the arrival of a new, would-be leader, rock the fragile and precarious equilibrium of our fresh, unified and courageous new world? And, most importantly of all, how do you create a new and a better world?

Independent drama production companies are facing increasing competition from feature film producers who are turning to the BBC with projects that never made it as cinema releases. Ben Stephenson, BBC controller of drama commissioning, told Broadcast magazine he was getting more pitches from film companies that have ambitious ideas but are unable to secure enough funding to make them as movies. The shift is strongly welcomed by Stephenson, who noted that because the projects were planned for cinema release, they have a filmic scale not always evident in TV pitches and attract 'really world-class' talent. 'I have read some really interesting scripts recently,' he said. 'Ultimately, they weren’t fundable as films because they wouldn't have made enough money but, for us, they bring a really interesting flavour - there is a scale to the emotion and a scale to the world. I want films on BBC2 to make an impact and really attract worldclass talent in the way we did with Five Minutes of Heaven and Into The Storm.' The effect is that traditional TV drama producers face increased competition from high-calibre producers. Stephenson has five or six 'filmic' primetime BBC2 slots to fill each year from 2011 and is already in talks with movie producers about some of them.

Kiefer Sutherland donned a dress for his appearance on last night's episode of The Late Show With David Letterman. The 24 star joined Letterman on stage wearing army boots and a green patterned dress with a long-sleeved white shirt underneath. He then explained why he was wearing the outfit. 'I lost a bet over the weekend, I was so sure New England was going to win that I told a guy who used to be my friend that if they lost I would wear a dress on Letterman,' he said' "The guy I made the bet with, this is the end of our friendship, the end of the debt that I had for the bet. This is it!' Letterman joked that he would give Sutherland one thousand dollars to ride the New York subway in his dress, prompting the actor to say: 'Riding the subway would be easier than what I am going through right now. This is the most humiliating moment of my life!' What, more humiliating than being jilted at the alter by Julia Roberts? Or, indeed, than appearing in The Three Muskateers?!

The executive producer of Lost has revealed that several storylines have had to be changed during the course of the series' history. Speaking to SFX, Damon Lindelof also admitted that he and fellow executive Carlton Cuse are often accused of making up plots as they go along. 'All that matter is the story itself,' he said. 'If you feel satisfied by it, it shouldn't matter whether we had it planned from day one or whether we made it up as we went along. In some places, we did have to make it up, but Adewale [Akinnuoye-Agbaje] wanted to leave the show, or the Nikki and Paolo idea didn't work, or we didn't have an end date and had to do a tap dance, or we went over-budget so we had to put them in cages for four episodes in a row.' He continued: 'There are certain things we had to adapt, but creatively speaking, there was a plan.'

Jennifer Morrison is, apparently, to return to House. According to Entertainment Weekly, the actress - Cameron on the medical drama - will reprise her role before the season six finale in a 'will she won't she' saga that has, frankly, bored the tits off just about everyone for the last few months. A show insider is quoted as saying: 'You will see Cameron again on House before the end of the season.' Morrison departed the series in November when her character left Princeton Plainsboro following the murder of a patient by her husband, Chase. It was later announced that she had been cast in Broadway play The Miracle Worker. It is thought that Morrison will film her comeback scenes before the play begins previews in February.

One Tree Hill actor Antwon Tanner has been given a prison sentence following a fake identity scam. Last April, Tanner - Skills in the CW teen drama - was charged with selling sixteen social security numbers and three fake social security cards. During the summer, he pleaded guilty to selling more than a dozen social security numbers for ten thousand dollars. According to Newsday, a Brooklyn judge has ordered the thirty four-year-old actor to report to prison on 30 April. After he is released, he will also serve five months in home detention. He has described the incident as 'an embarrassment' to his family and fans, while his lawyer blamed the act on 'stupidity.' Yeha. Lot of that about, Keith Telly Topping has noticed. Ask Policy Exchange. For one.

EastEnders has been credited for an increase in the number of young people seeking help for bipolar disorder. Last summer, Walford favourite Stacey Branning, played by twenty one-year-old sluty stunner Lacey Turner, was diagnosed with the condition following a period of erratic behaviour. Her symptoms became apparent as she struggled to cope with the death of her best friend, Danielle Jones. Doctors from MDF The BiPolar Organisation have now reported that the number of young people calling helplines over the condition has doubled in the past six months, increasing to an average of eight hundred per day. A representative for the charity told BBC Newsbeat: 'Calls doubled since EastEnders started the bipolar storyline with Stacey. Having complex bipolar issues put in front of eight million viewers four times a week can only increase public health education.' Meanwhile, the Bipolar Disorder Research Network has announced that it had over eight and a half thousand visitors to its website within forty eight hours after an EastEnders Revealed episode which focused on Stacey's problems. The drama's producers worked closely with a number of mental health charities while developing the storyline to ensure that it was portrayed as realistically as possible.

Meanwhile, EastEnders' executive producer Diederick Santer has revealed that the cast member who plays Archie Mitchell's killer will not be informed of what terrible deed they have done until the night of the show's much anticipated live episode. The special instalment, which is to air on 19 February, will see the resolution to the mystery which has surrounded Archie's death in recent weeks. In an interview with This Morning, Santer confirmed that the killer's identity will remain top secret until then. He also said that he is planning to wait until the live episode is actually being broadcast before revealing all to the individual who plays the murderer. He explained: 'Viewers will discover in that episode who the killer was and the reason to watch this one is because it's going to have this amazing reveal, but also the real reason we are doing it is to absolutely keep it a secret until that time. Until that day, only six people will know who the killer is and that night, probably while we are transmitting the show, I will speak to the actor or actress and tell them that it's them.' On the logistics of the live episode, he added: 'We would have rehearsed a number of endings, and we'll say to the cast and crew that we are "doing ending number three now" or "we are doing ending number nine" or whatever.'

Rob Zombie has reportedly signed to direct an upcoming episode of crap CBS drama CSI: Miami. The Halloween director's episode will be set in Los Angeles, reports the Associated Press. It will involve evidence tampering and secret recordings. And Horatio's sunglasses. Probably.

Coleen Nolan has criticised Hannah Waterman's fitness DVD, accusing the former EastEnders actress of 'sending out an unhealthy and unrealistic' message to women. According to the Daily Mail, the Loose Women panellist said that Waterman should not be encouraging fans to follow in her footsteps by slimming down to a size six. Nolan is quoted as saying: 'The new Hannah Waterman DVD is all about her getting down to a size six. You need such a strict regime to stay at that weight. In a way losing the weight is easy - once you get in the mindset of losing weight, when you see the pounds coming off it's an incentive to carry on. The problem is it's never over, you can't go back to your old bad habits.' Nolan recently released her own - third - fitness DVD, titled Let's Get Physical. Big fight. Little - but formerly big - people.

An unnamed waiter has reportedly tried to sell a sex tape featuring Lindsay Lohan. According to the Mirror, a forty seven-second clip of the actress was rejected by Hustler due to copyright concerns, with the video's owner instead advised to release the footage to an 'offshore porn site.' A source said: 'This video file is dynamite. It is pretty seedy and shows Lindsay engaged in a particular sex act which, obviously, should remain behind closed doors. Lindsay was desperate to start 2010 off on a good footing and this is the very last thing she needs. If and when it is released on the Internet, via a spurious, unofficial website, there is absolutely nothing she or her lawyers can do about it.' They added: 'She is devastated - particularly as she is working hard on cleaning up her act. Lindsay has just made a serious documentary on child poverty in India for the BBC, she is terrified this will be put in jeopardy now. It is fair to say that Lindsay has had a pretty torrid past twenty four hours.' In 2008, it was claimed that a sex tape existed featuring Lohan with Calum Best, though Best always vigorously denied the allegations.