Tuesday, January 26, 2010


STV chief executive Rob Woodward has admitted that opting out of ITV network Sunday night dramas was a mistake. Woodward said that the Scottish franchisee would be carrying more network drama in 2010, after conceding some scheduling decisions 'did not work. For example, replacing Sunday night drama with films or repeats didn't deliver a sufficient audience. We are aware of this and have made some changes for 2010,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'This was always a long-term strategy for us and in the short term, whilst some programmes - particularly homegrown productions - performed very well, some of our scheduling decisions did not work for us or our viewers. This year already, STV viewers have seen a lot of network drama in our 2010 schedule, for example Marple, Law & Order: UK, Above Suspicion and Wild At Heart.' STV caused something of a stir with the network last year when it began opting out of many of the ITV autumn drama slate, including the much acclaimed Collision, The Bill, Marple, Doc Martin and Wuthering Heights. ITV sued STV in August over unpaid programming costs, but STV retaliated by launching two legal cases of its own. Woodward added that STV would continue to expand its own programming slate, to make its schedule relevant and affordable. 'We implemented our programming strategy mid-2009, with a view to making our schedule more distinctive and operating as a sovereign broadcaster - the way Channel Three licensees used to operate prior to consolidation,' he said.

Matthew Fox has admitted that knowing secrets about Lost is 'quite a power trip.' The forty three-year-old actor, who has played boring bastard Jack Shephard since the series started in 2004, is apparently the only cast member who has been told by the producers what the final image of the series is going to be. Or, at least, he's the only one who's said so publicly. 'It's going to be really beautiful and powerful. And I can't wait to see how we end up there,' he said. 'Knowing stuff that the audience want to know ... it's a quite a power trip, to be completely honest with you. But the truth is that nobody really wants to know. If you're reading a really good book - I don't know too many people who want to turn to the final page and find out how it ends.'

The Masterchef format is stirring more interest around the world with several international versions being prepared, ahead of the franchise's US debut. Shine International has sold the cooking competition format to TV One in New Zealand, Pro TV in Romania, Mega in Greece, Fremantle Asia (which covers Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore) and TV3 in Norway. The Norwegian version of Masterchef will be produced by the Shine Group-owned company Rubicon. Shine took on production of the long-running BBC show in 2005 and the format has since proved to be a major success both domestically and internationally. It relaunched the show in the UK and enjoys ongoing success with the format. Last year, Masterchef Australia became that country's highest-rated non-sports broadcast. Shine was recently commissioned by French broadcaster TF1 to produce a prime time version of the series for the French domestic market. The forthcoming US series will star celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, produced by Reveille and Ramsay's One Potato Two Potato. It will debut on the FOX network later this year. Chris Grant, president of Shine International, said: 'When we first obtained rights for Masterchef, it had no international footprint, but we saw its potential as an extremely dynamic and adaptable format in one of the hottest categories on the market. It is now the world's biggest cooking competition format and there are no signs of it slowing down as it heads into France and the US.' In the UK, where Masterchef is produced by Shine TV, the main series moves next month from BBC2 to BBC1. Recently, the second series finale of spin-off show Masterchef: The Professionals moved to a peak time slot on BBC2 attracting almost five million viewers. Celebrity Masterchef returns for a fifth series on BBC1 later in 2010 while Junior Masterchef is currently in production.

Actress Joanna Lumley has been honoured with the 2010 Oldie Of The Year award for her Gurkha campaign. Sir Terry Wogan, no spring chicken himself, presented the sixty four-year-old Absolutely Fabulous and New Avengers star with the coveted award during a ceremony at Simpson's-in-the-Strand in London. 'We would like to award her for her relentless efforts and continuing campaigning for Gurkhas' rights and the Gurkha Justice Campaign,' he said. The annual ceremony is run by the monthly magazine The Oldie.

Sally Lindsay has insisted that she is too busy to consider returning to Coronation Street. The actress bowed out from her role as troubled Shelley Unwin on the Weatherfield soap in 2006 and has since appeared in a number of theatre productions. Lindsay has also returned to her comedy career by appearing at the Edinburgh Festival and working on BBC3 sketch show Scallywagga. But, the less said about that fiasco, probably the better. Discussing the possibility of a return to Manchester, Lindsay told the Daily Record: 'I never say never but there's too much going on in other parts of my career to even contemplate it. Once you are in the Street, you can't do anything else, you can't dip in and out of it, so it would have to be a massive commitment. I have lots of other things to do. I have had a lovely time since I left.' Reflecting on her decision to leave Shelley behind, Lindsay said: 'It feels like a million years ago for me because I've never stopped. My heart was in it right until the end. I left before it wasn't. You can't really fake it with a character like Shelley. Leaving was a joint decision by me and Shelley because we'd been through enough.'

The BBC is reportedly planning to commission six more episodes of Wallander. According to the Guardian, the order will include three original scripts not adapted from Henning Mankell's novels. A senior production source claims that the broadcaster is looking at producing the original screenplays first, then tackling the three adaptations of The Dogs of Riga, The White Lioness and The Pyramid.

Terminally unfunny fat bloke, James Corden, was reportedly reprimanded by staff at a London hotel after drenching fellow guests in a swimming pool stunt. The Gavin & Stacey actor was at the five-star Haymarket Hotel for the engagement party of his friend Ben, the Mirror claims. They suggest that a private pool room had been hired for the occasion and Corden decided to lead party-goers in a synchronised belly-flop routine. What are you, twelve? A source told the newspaper: 'After a couple of beers he started trying to goad the other lads there into stripping off and diving in. Despite warnings from the staff not to, James stripped down to his boxers and dive bombed into the pool, to the shock of the older guests who were splattered with water. Ben thought it was hysterical, but being the future groom he was instructed not to follow the five other male guests who dived in after James.' The insider then added: 'James was given a stern talking to and warned that if there was a repeat performance, he would be thrown out. But he took the reprimand in good grace and apologised for his high-jinks.'

Sinitta has revealed that she is 'nagging' Simon Cowell on a daily basis because she wants a role on the US version of The X Factor. The music mogul's sidekick told Ireland's Evening Herald newspaper that she is struggling to secure a job on the forthcoming series. Sinitta said that she is planning to make the transition to Irish television if her US dreams fail to come to fruition, following advice from her former manager Louis Walsh. She explained: 'I'm hoping that Simon's going to give me a job on the new series of the US X Factor, I'm already nagging him every day so hopefully I'll wear him down - but he hasn't given in so far. If not, then who knows? I could be over here in Ireland, it's always an option.' Always the bridesmaid ... Ireland, that is, not Sinitta.

The Prince of Wales has bemoaned the cancellation of long-running arts programme The South Bank Show. Guests at yesterday's South Bank Show Awards in London included ITV's director of television Peter Fincham, who made the decision to end the thirty one-year-old series, according to the Guardian. Former host Melvyn Bragg has since rejoined BBC2 in order to front a new factual programme on class. Speaking via a video message at the ceremony, Prince Charles said that the show was 'still without rival' and dwelled on 'the very end of one of the most important beacons of the arts in this country.' He continued: 'The programme remains without rival and a long time ago it rightly became an important contribution to the vibrancy of the country's culture. Now oblivion is not the place for the arts and I cannot say I am encouraged as mainstream television abandons such a unique and special commitment. Civilisation needs all the help it can get more so today than ever before but now it loses one of its greatest champions. It is a sad loss.' Bragg, who criticised the decision before, said afterwards: 'I'm baffled as to how and why it was taken off the air. I don't think it was a financial consideration.' No, Mel, it was cos nobody was watching it. Which, if you'd been on the BBC might not have been the end because, thanks to the unique way it is funded the Beeb can afford loss-leaders. But ITV? Come on, you've been around the industry long enough to know what happens when the advertising money gets tight. Scottish comic Billy Connolly told a journalist: 'It really makes me awfully sad. Without arts programmes there's only reality TV and reality TV needs the arts to tell them what reality is.' Rob Brydon added jestfully: 'Well done, ITV. I can't back Billy's leftist thoughts. Good riddance I say, let's get rid of our bastion of culture on ITV and let's just lie around in pig shit.'

And, speaking of shit ... BBC science and natural history commissioning editor Kim Shillinglaw shocked independent producers by branding the majority of ideas that she receives for authored documentaries as 'shit.' Just before Christmas, Shillinglaw surprised the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers in Melbourne, Australia, by saying that too many ideas for auteur-driven science documentaries stretched 'a ten-minute curiosity over an hour. I would love to do a few more pieces that had a very strong authorial voice, but frankly most of the ideas I have had for that kind of programme have been shit,' she told Broadcast magazine after the event. '[Often] the journey is weaker than it claims to be. The curiosity that the film-maker lays claim to actually doesn't take them very far and the moment of revelation never quite arrives. Television relies quite heavily on the "journey of discovery" trope, the individual going in search of the answers. In [genuinely good] films, what can become clichéd is made legitimate again, very honest. But I think those kinds of films are quite rare.' Shillinglaw, who worked in the in-house production sector before moving to science and natural history commissioning six months ago, singled out Parallel Lives - the BBC4 documentary about Eels musician Mark Everett and his physicist father - as an example of a 'legitimate' auteur-driven programme. 'It was a beautiful piece of film-making that covered quite a lot of complicated science - it made my head ache - with a very strong and legitimate personal presence in it,' she said.

Bonanza and Trapper John, M.D. star Pernell Roberts has died at age eighty one. The actor died on Sunday at his Malibu home after battling cancer for some time, reports the Los Angeles Times. Roberts played Adam Cartwright for six seasons on 1960s TV Western Bonanza. He portrayed the title role on Trapper John, M.D. from 1979 to 1986, earning an Emmy nomination for his performance. His final TV appearance was on a 2001 episode of Diagnosis Murder.

More4 is lining up its first original comedy series, with Channel 4 pilot The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret earmarked for a full series. The broadcaster is negotiating with a major US partner to co-fund a six part series from RDF Television. The pilot, written by US comedian David Cross and British writer Shaun Pye, aired as part of C4's Comedy Showcase season in November. Cross and fellow cast members Sharon Horgan, Russell Tovey and US actor Will Arnett are set to reprise their roles and RDF head of comedy Clelia Mountford will executive produce. Channel 4 comedy head Shane Allen said More4 felt like the show's natural home as it shared some of the 'smart and sophisticated' tone of US comedies Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. 'It's a real passion piece for David, who's been feverishly writing away since the pilot,' said Allen. More4 plans to air the show in late summer with a repeat on Channel 4 afterwards. Another Comedy Showcase pilot, Campus, is set to be reconfigured as a six part forty five minute Channel 4 series this autumn after being ordered by entertainment and comedy commissioning editor Darren Smith. Green Wing creator Victoria Pile's university-set black comedy has had its episode length extended to bring more 'light and shade' to its characters, Allen said. 'It felt constrained as a thirty-minute sitcom, with the focus inevitably falling on the brutal dean [played by Andy Nyman],' he said. 'The longer format gives more chance to tell a story and to bring the kind of warmth you saw in Green Wing.' Pile's company, Monicker, will produce the series, which is executive produced by Caroline Leddy. Four of the seven pilots have now gone to series. Objective Productions' Pete v Life was fast-tracked to a series, while E4 picked up Talkback Thames' Phoneshop. C4's 2010 comedy slate is now full and Allen is waiting to see his 2011 budgets before commissioning other shows.

Frank Lampard has convinced his Chelsea teammates to pull out of an appearance on ITV's forthcoming Kitchen Burnout series, a report claims. According to the Sun, the players had been booked for meals with their wives and partners at the reality show's restaurant. However, it is claimed that the arrangement was cancelled when Lampard was told that his ex-fiancée, Elen Rives, had signed up to be a cook on the programme. Rives recently declared in a tabloid interview that she is hoping to win back Lampard's affections, despite his new romance with ONE Show host Christine Bleakley. A source said: 'Frank was furious when he heard ITV were secretly trying to get him, Elen and Christine on the same show. But he didn't want to cancel his table on his own as it would have looked petty. Instead, he decided to get all of the boys together and they staged a proper mutiny. They took it right to the top, and eventually the idea was dropped. Everyone was more than willing to help. Bosses promised Lamps he wouldn't have to see Elen, but it wasn't a risk he was prepared to take.' Kitchen Burnout, which is to be fronted by celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, will launch in the spring. Reports that, having failed to get Moscow Chelski FC the producers are now trying to woo Darlington instead cannot be confirmed at this time.

Jason Gardiner has claimed that Danny Young's 'arrogance' will ruin his Dancing On Ice chances. Former Coronation Street actor Young managed seventeen points from the judges on Sunday, finishing in fifth place on the scoreboard. However, the Australian choreographer claimed that the soap star's attitude is holding him back from improving. 'Danny thinks he played the cheeky chappie on Sunday but it will hinder his progress,' Gardiner told the Sun. 'Great potential but brutish, unfinished and unrefined. His arrogance will be his downfall.'

Davina McCall has revealed that she would love to do another song-and-dance advertising campaign for Got To Dance. Earlier this year, the Big Brother presenter appeared in a skin-tight leotard and performed various dance routines to promote the new talent show. And, very nice it was too. 'I don't know [whose idea it was], but whoever it was, I love them!' she told Digital Spy website. 'I've already started telling them that if we get to another series, I want to do another advert like that again. I just had the best day - it felt like I was in Fame at the age of forty two.' McCall also defended the show against accusations that it relies too heavily on emotional stories from the dancers' backgrounds. 'There are a lot of emotional stories, but I don't think they have eked it out or gone overboard on that angle,' she said.

Hannah Waterman has hit back at former EastEnders co-star Natalie Cassidy after the actress criticised Waterman's recent conduct. Cassidy, best known for her role as Walford's Sonia Fowler, last week claimed that it was 'out of order' for Waterman to 'dump' her husband, another former EastEnders' favourite, Ricky Groves, on New Year's Eve. The ex-Strictly Come Dancing star also accused Waterman of 'going too far' with her slimming, which has seen the thirty four-year-old drop from a size sixteen to a size six. Responding to Cassidy's remarks, Waterman told Closer: 'I wish Natalie would stay out of my relationship and weight issues and concentrate on her own.' Ooo ... nas tea. 'I'd never comment on another woman's size.' Except that you just have, chuck! 'I think people can see for themselves who looks healthy.' And, again. 'I don't think anyone could look at the pictures of me when I was fat in that bikini and think I was at a healthy weight.'

Talking of dramatic weight changes, David Arquette has reportedly voiced his frustration after a newspaper blogger commented on wife Courteney Cox's weight. A fashion writer had suggested that Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson had 'put on a little weight' following their appearance at this month's Golden Globe Awards. Speaking to FOX News's Pop Tarts, he said: 'I don't think that has anything to do with anything. Writing articles about people that put on weight is just wasting space for real news. And who really cares? I love round people, I love skinny people. I love people in general, we've got to get past labels and stop being so critical about everything.' He added: 'On the Internet, people find that place and think they can just speak their mind, but a lot of the time you see how mean people are. In general, we just need to be a kinder society.' Yeah. Not gonna happen is it, though?

Keith Richards reportedly gave up alcohol after seeing band-mate Ronnie Wood relapse last year. Despite previously declaring that he would never stop drinking, the Rolling Stones guitarist is said to have made the resolution after witnessing Wood's boozing steadily worsen. An insider close to the sixty six-year-old musician told the Sun: 'There's no guarantees that he'll stay off it - but he's doing really well so far. He has always quite enjoyed the fact that he seemed to be able to carry on drinking as much as he liked with no real negative impact on his health.' Richards was allegedly disappointed by Wood's relapse, which surfaced around the time of his high-profile split from wife of twenty three years Jo to embark on an affair with twenty one-year-old waitress Katia Ivanova. The source added: 'He has watched Ronnie fall well and truly off the wagon last year and he doesn't like what he sees. Plus he has started to feel for the first time like it might do him some good to give up the booze for a while.' Keef Richards? Sober? We truly are living in the end times.

X Factor winner Joe McElderry has confirmed that he would be willing to visit Haiti in order to help relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken country. Speaking to the Daily Star, McElderry commented: 'Of course I'd like to go over and help. It's been highly documented and affected so many people - it's a worthy cause to get on board with.' Well, indeed. And, there are flights leaving, virtually daily, from Brize Norton, as I understand it. So, off you go, Joe. I'm sure they could really use your help out there. That's if you actually do want to go help - you know, digging people out of the rubble, or handing out much needed food supplies to the starving. If that's the kind of thing you mean then I'm sure the aid agencies would love to see you. If, on the other hand, you're just going to go there to get your picture taken in front of a few shanty towns of refugees whilst, generally, getting in the way with the trail of media you bring with you then, I don't think you'll be quite as welcome as you seem to think you'll be.

Take Me Out contestant Georgee Paluk has been dumped for one of her show rivals. The twenty three-year-old singer won a date with Disney-fanatic David Mannheim on the Paddy McGuiness ITV dating show. However, Paluk claims that her date started speaking to fellow contestant Siobhan O'Doherty on Facebook after she rowed with him about his obsession with children's cartoons. 'There should have been warning bells. He's twenty two and has been to Disneyland nineteen times. He's a boy, not a man,' she told the Sun. 'On the date I gave him a Minnie Mouse and he gave me a Mickey.' Is that some euphemism for something? 'But I left mine in a taxi and he looked annoyed. Things went downhill from there.'