Monday, January 25, 2010

Revolting Without Style

Yer Keith Telly Topping spent this morning at the press review showing of Youth in Revolt dear blog reader. Well ... that's eighty nine minutes of my life I'll never get back (I started counting after quarter of an hour, trust me...) A review? Lemon Popsicle with less heart. Albeit, Portia Doubleday in a state of some undress was, momentarily, distracting. But ... God it was bad. Actually, what made it worse that you kind of sensed the makers knew exactly how wretched teen-sex-comedies can be and were trying in a roundabout way to subvert the genre. But, in doing so, they just made the whole thing worse. Ray Liotta and Steve Buscemi, hang your heads in shame for having anything to do with this turkey. Still, after that was finished, Keith Telly Topping had a very nice lunch with his old mate the marvellous and talented Malcolm Holt at the world famous Trillions. No alcohol passed these lips, however, I can assure you. I'm on pills for me back at the moment. What's that you say, dear blog reader? You'd like some Top Telly News in the area? No sooner said ...

Sky1's 24 Day Eight premiere was beaten in the ratings by BBC3's Being Human last night, according to overnight figures. The first two episodes of season eight were watched by seven hundred and eighteen thousand viewers and six hundred and four thousand viewers respectively at 9pm and 10pm on Sky1, compared to Being Human's impressive 1.02m. Audiences for Being Human, the cult Telefantasy flat-share drama which stars Lenora Crichlow, Aidan Turner and Russell Tovey, have yet to drop below the one million mark since its second series began earlier this month.

Nicholas Lyndhurst has reportedly spoken about the budget difficulties that faced Only Fools and Horses prequel Rock & Chips. The award-winning actor starred as Freddie the Frog (Rodney's father) in Sunday night's spin-off which rated quite well (seven million plus) but was critically mauled for its twee and obvious conceits. He told the Daily Telegraph: 'We shot it in nineteen days on not a great budget, I was very pleased it was made at all. There were people who said, "I don't think we're going to do this," and we had to wait months to get the green light. We thought, "We haven't got the budget we want, we haven't got the schedule we want, so we're going to have to make it as brilliant as we can." It was a costume drama and it needed a costume drama budget, and it didn't get that.' So, that explains why it was crap then, does it? I thought it was because it had one of the laziest scripts I've seen produced on the BBC in years. And given John Sullivan's comments last week about how lazy he finds much modern sitcom, the irony of that statement does not escape me.

Details of the BBC's strategic review are due to be published by the end of next month and it appears that the corporation's digital TV channels will survive in their current form. The review of BBC operations, led by the director general, Mark Thompson, is due to lead to cuts in some content and some kinds of programmes. It is understood that executives had considered merging BBC2 and BBC4. This option has now been ruled out, a senior source said, and the corporation will keep the same main television channel structure. But executives are considering transferring more sport to BBC3, the digital channel with a remit of catering to youth. Thompson has previously said that he was looking at the 'current scope' of the BBC website and cuts are expected in digital radio and among online staff. Thompson has flagged that the future size and shape of the BBC could change and some digital audio and TV channels could be cut. 'Importantly, we'll lay out new boundaries for the BBC. Once our boundaries were obvious. They were set by medium and spectrum scarcity: the BBC offered two TV channels and a fixed number of radio stations,' he told a Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference in central London in November. 'Expect to see reductions in some kinds of programmes and content – a look, for example, at the current scope of our website – and a close examination of the future of our service portfolios once switchover has been achieved.' He added that in a period when 'not just the licence fee, but the wider public finances and the revenues available to commercial media, are constrained, and after years of squeezing efficiencies out of the system,' difficult choices lay ahead. A BBC spokeswoman declined to comment on details of the strategic review, saying: 'This is nothing more than "finger in the wind" speculation. The strategy review is ongoing and no decisions have yet been taken.'

NBC is reportedly delaying David Tennant's new comedy-drama pilot until the Fall. The project, named Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, was originally tipped to fill one of its 10pm slots when The Jay Leno Show goes off air this Spring. However, according to Entertainment Weekly, the sets are being dismantled this week, suggesting that the network may be eyeing a Fall premiere for the show - if it is picked up. 'The sets are on fold-and-hold,' an insider is quoted as saying. 'They will still be available if the show is picked up for the Fall.'

Julie Graham has revealed that 'hateful' messages have been posted about her and her family online. The Daily Record has reported that the Survivors actress discovered the comments after searching for her name on Twitter. Ooo, never a good idea that, Julie love. For anyone. Do not Google yourself, you're only asking for nutters. 'It did upset me,' Graham said. 'They were personal things and not anything about my acting. I read the most horrific, horrible things written about me on the Internet. Some of them were simply downright nasty. It was hateful.' Meanwhile, a source explained: 'They go beyond any criticism a celebrity might expect to find. They were highly personal and very hurtful.' I guess some people really didn't like Bonekickers.

The proposed format for televised political leadership debates ahead of the general election could face a scheduling clash with Champions League football, according to reports. Last month, the BBC, Sky and ITV all revealed plans to stage televised debates featuring Conservative leader David Cameron, Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg on the panel. Each broadcaster's ninety-minute programme would be run at peak time, with Wednesday the most likely scheduling day under current plans. As polling for the election is widely believed to be locked down for 6 May, the debates would therefore run on 14 April on ITV, 21 April for Sky and 28 April for the BBC. However, Sky and the BBC's debate programmes would clash with the two-legged Champions League semi-final potentially featuring involvement from Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Sky and ITV also plan to televise the games. Switching the debates to Tuesday would equally cause problems as both semi-final clashes alternate between Tuesdays and Wednesdays for each week. Scheduling the debates is further complicated because the outcome of English clubs in the quarter-finals will not be known until 6 April, giving limited time for planning or promotion. Holding the debates on a Thursday would equally clash with the Europa League semi-finals, with Liverpool, Everton and Fulham all still in contention. As Friday and Saturday prime time slots are unfeasible and unsuitable, that leaves just Sunday and Monday left for ITV and Sky to work with.

Mary Lynn Rajskub has claimed that she is not worried about being axed from 24. The thirty eight-year-old actress, who plays the cult figure of Chloe O'Brian on the real-time US drama, said that she hopes her alter-ego has a memorable ending if she is written out of the series. Asked if the cast feels as though the show is heading towards a series finale, Rajskub said that she has 'no idea. We've been wondering that all year,' she said. 'Every day I go to work, we wonder if we're going next year. Right now, I've only read episodes nineteen and twenty, so I'll be really curious to see what happens.'

Penny Smith and John Stapleton have today been tipped as likely casualties in GMTV's forthcoming presenter cull. According to the Mirror, bosses are planning to start using ITV's Independent Television News company for the morning programme's news items, which could leave both Smith and Stapleton without jobs. At present, the hosts front an hour of news coverage on GMTV from 6am. However, it is thought that the planned shake-up could reduce costs as ITN's newsreaders and newsroom team would be cheaper. A source commented: 'Discussions about this process are already at an advanced stage. It makes sense for ITN to do all the news on GMTV, including bulletins and broadcasts live from breaking stories. But if they do that, it would mean big changes to the first hour of GMTV, and that wouldn't be good news for John or Penny. They are both big earners and it may make sense to just use ITN newsreaders and journalists to front the show at a much lower cost.' An ITV spokesman said: 'The review at GMTV is still going on, so it is too soon to confirm any details at this stage.' Wasn't the intention of all this - apart from saving money, of course - to make GMTV a more serious and less showbiz type show? So what do they do? Get rid of the two most serious journalists they have and keep Kate Garraway. Strange.

Coleen Nolan has claimed that Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner was too harsh on Tana Ramsay. Ramsay finished in the bottom half of the scoreboard on this week's episode of the talent show with a mark of 12.5 from the panel. However, Nolan, who finished fourth on last year's series, said that Gardiner overstepped the mark with his critique of her routine. 'Jason was a bit harsh when he said Tana looked like a frigid schoolmistress,' Nolan told the Mirror. '[However] I wouldn't have been surprised if Tana was in the bottom two.' Nolan also backed the judges' decision to save Sharron Davies over actor Jeremy Sheffield in the skate-off. 'Sharron was the better dancer and she has legs to die for,' she added. Keith Telly Topping isn't, actually, sure that 'having nice legs' is one of the criteria that judges are supposed to look for in these kind of competitions, to be honest. Isn't that the viewers job.

The cast of Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks are said to be fearing for their jobs following the appointment of a new producer, Paul Marquess, a report has claimed. Marquess joined the drama earlier this month as a successor for Lucy Allan, who recently announced that she had quit her role as producer after a year in office. According to the Daily Star, the show's production team have since been bracing themselves for a massive overhaul as Marquess has a reputation for instigating cast clear-outs following his past work on The Bill and Family Affairs. A source said: 'Paul is known for having the balls to make serious changes to the cast if he thinks things need a good shake-up. Everyone is expecting a mass cull.' I'm guessing that's a metaphorical one rather than, you know, actually taking a machete to the whole bloody lot of them. Which would be newsworthy, certainly. And possibly more entertaining than the average episode. But, not entirely legal, I'd've thought. It is said that there has been an 'air of change' around the soap's set since Marquess began work on 17 January. The dirty snitching Copper's Nark of an insider added: 'Things do need a bit of a shake-up. Like any soap, you need to keep things fresh. If that means out with the old and in with the new, then so be it.'

Channel 4 has defended Gordon Ramsay after his latest programme received over one hundred complaints from viewers. The chef's recent show, Gordon's Great Escape, saw Ramsay visiting India but some viewers were reportedly unhappy about his use of obscene language. The Daily Mail reports that audiences also complained after Ramsay compared an Indian guru to 'Father Christmas.' Channel 4 confirmed that it had received one hundred and sixteen complaints, more than double the average for Ramsay's show The F Word, but defended the programme. 'Gordon is a passionate character and viewers know what to expect when watching his programmes,' a spokesperson said. 'The series was broadcast after the watershed and each episode was preceded by a clear language warning.'

Kate Ford has admitted that she was 'really nervous' about reprising her role as Coronation Street's twisted mad-murderess Tracy Barlow. The actress recently returned to the part following a three-year break from the Weatherfield soap. Discussing her comeback scenes, Ford told Hello: 'I was really nervous at first. I had this noise in my throat like a croak because my mouth was really dry. The sound guy was like, "I can hear that." It was really loud.' Tracy was written out of the show in 2007 after being found guilty of murdering her boyfriend, Charlie Stubbs. The character was sentenced to fifteen years behind bars. Ford continued: 'When I left, I said, "Please don't kill me off!" I hoped I would return even though it was my decision to leave. People do remember the storyline even now. I still get binmen shouting "Hello Tracy!" when they see me. I wanted people to see Tracy as messed-up, not evil.' Producers have confirmed that Tracy will be seen again for the funeral of her grandmother Blanche, who was played by the late Maggie Jones. She will later be part of another character's forthcoming jail storyline before making a full-time comeback towards the end of 2010.

A record ten million TV sets were sold in the UK last year as the digital switchover and growing popularity of video gaming continues to boost demand, new research has revealed. According to a report by GfK, large flat-screen TV sets were among the few consumer electronics products to retain robust demand during the ongoing economic slowdown. Over the past five years, around thirty two million flat-screen models have been sold in the UK, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Claudia Winkleman has joked that she only has a year of work left. The television presenter told Now that she is worried people will start getting fed up with her. 'I think I've only got another year left of presenting,' she said. 'Then they'll say, "Urgh, her face has fallen off" or "She's too bonkers" or "She's got tiny legs" and then I'll need another career.' However, Winkleman added that she has no plans to move to America if she struggles to find work in the UK. 'I'm actually really boring,' she explained. 'My mum lives three doors away, my dad lives ten minutes away, and my brother is eight minutes away. I think it'd be weird if they weren't all around the corner. I'd miss them too much.'

Amanda Holden has defended Ant and Dec's comments about Kelly Brook's brief stint on Britain's Got Talent. Brook was appointed as a fourth judge on the ITV talent show last year, but was ditched after only six days. Afterwards, the show's hosts Ant and Dec claimed that they were 'angry' about her appointment in the first place, revealing that they were not consulted on the decision. The former Big Breakfast presenter later claimed that her experience of working on TV had been ruined by 'egos, jealousy and backstabbing.' Speaking about Brook's appointment, Holden told the Mirror: 'The honest truth is whoever came on, it wouldn't have worked. I have to say in Ant and Dec's defence, they are two of the most professional and likable people in the business and what you see is what you get. I didn't hear any derogatory comments. They are so cool.' Holden is currently promoting her new ITV show Fantasy Lives, in which she takes on different challenges such as performing as a Paris showgirl. 'Putting myself out there is really important as a judge,' she says. 'I always say I'm the only performer on the Britain's Got Talent panel and I only earn that position by continuing to perform.' In Big Top. Could you stop doing that, please, we've got enough to deal with what with the recession and the weather and the prospect of Tory government for the next five years ... We're all bloody depressed out here, darling, we don't need Big Top adding to it.

And finally ... Jeremy Kyle is making a US version of his ITV show for daytime syndication. ITV Studios' Los Angeles-based production office is hoping Kyle's Jerry Springer-style programme will prove popular with American audiences. The Americans are never going to forgive us for this. Although, to be fair, it could be a case of Britain merely getting its own belated payback for The Dukes of Hazzard.