Friday, January 22, 2010

Treasures: Foreign, Domestic And, Indeed, Welsh.

Thank God that Mock the Week is back. We need it now more than ever before. Last night we learned, thanks to an observation by Andy Parsons, that David Cameron on those election posters 'looks like a cross between David Dickinson and Pingu!' And, do you know what, dear blog reader? He really does!Anyway, the ratings for Wednesday night's National Television Awards were up by over two million on the previous ceremony, according to overnight viewing figures. Which will obviously delight ITV. The event, which saw Stephen Fry win the 'Special Recognition' and 'Star Travel Documentary' awards (and Piers Morgan win absolutely bugger all), drew an audience of 7.46m and was the most-watched programme of the evening during prime time. The last NTA ceremony, which took place Wednesday 29 October 2008, managed 5.27m. The 2007 event was watched by 6.86m. BBC1's coverage of Aston Villa's League Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers - a ten-goal thrilla, if you missed it - averaged 4.32m between 7.30pm and 10pm.

Stephen Fry has celebrated his success at the National Television Awards with a - brief - return to Twitter. The Qi host, one of the most popular celebrities to use the micro-blogging site with more than one million followers, said at the beginning of January that he was quitting in order to write the second volume of his autobiography. But he twatted three times from London's O2 Arena, where he picked up an award for best documentary and the special recognition award. 'Oh gracious. I'm in a big emotional puddle. Simultaneously as happy as can be but also oddly disposed to burst into tears. I'm an old silly.' Earlier, Stephen had admitted that he was missing Twitter. 'Sort of,' he told the BBC. 'I used to turn to it almost like the news, it's a weird feeling. I feel quite virtuous, it gives you more hours in the day.' Stephen, of course, published his first autobiography - the astonishing Moab Is My Washpot - in 1997, which covered the first twenty years of his life. He said he there was still 'a long way to go' on the new book and he expected to be back on Twitter properly around the end of April. He would be recording a new - eighth - series of Qi once the book was finished, he added. Asked on the red carpet about programmes like The X Factor and novelty acts like Jedward - who performed at the ceremony, Stephen admitted that he didn't really watch reality television. He also said that he hoped to team up again with his former screen partner Hugh Laurie. 'I've been in Los Angeles writing and I see him rather a lot. I'd hate to think it wouldn't happen again,' said Stephen. 'It's approaching the thirtieth anniversary of our working together - so we'll be doing a programme about that.' He also expressed an interest in writing an episode of the new series of Doctor Who. 'I look forward so much to seeing Matt Smith and I'm sure he's going to be wonderful. If I get time it'd be a thrill, I can't think of anything nicer.' Famous, Stephen had been in talks with Russell Davies about writing a David Tennant story in 2005, but the project never materialised. 'The window passed, and I never really got round to it,' he said. 'But I'm very happy to have had the experience of thinking about it.'

David Bellamy has claimed that the BBC should withdraw its order for Adrian Chiles to shave. That is, of course, if this 'order' - reported in a tabloid newspaper on Tuesday - ever actually happened. Which Keith Telly Topping has his doubts over, personally. The bearded botanist, who regularly used to appear on programmes for the corporation until they realised that he was becoming boring, insisted that bosses were wrong to put pressure on Chiles over his facial hair. It was, widely, reported that executives had instructed Chiles to shave because they felt his new hairy look was 'inconsistent' with his hosting role on The ONE Show. Albeit, 'reported' in that curious way in which an 'insider' gives out tabloid-speak soundbites of two syllables or less in just the way that real people don't. Bellamy told the Sun: 'The BBC should leave him alone. I don't think he should get rid of it. It's getting colder, he'll need that beard.' He added: 'I've worn a beard all my life. It's meant to be there, why else would it grow?' Well, one could say the same about genital fungus, David, but I think it's fair to say we'd all sooner not have that growing about our person. You're a educated man, surely you can see that?

Emma Crosby has revealed that GMTV bosses advised her to stop dressing 'too old' for her age when she started work on the show. The former Sky News business reporter was recruited as Fiona Phillips's replacement on the morning programme in November 2008. She made her hosting debut at the beginning of 2009. Speaking to the Daily Mail, the thirty two-year-old explained: 'I've become more fashion confident since moving to GMTV because I've had to look beyond the standard suited and booted uniform I had at Sky. They told me I was dressing far too old for my age when I started, so I wear more smart dresses now.' On her current fashion choices, she commented: 'I can hide a multitude of sins because of my height - I'm five foot nine and a half - but I have a small waist, so I emphasise that, rather than wearing thigh-skimming short outfits as I don't think I've got the best legs.' Christ almighty, who cares? Your jo's to read an autocue, darling, to be honest so long as you do that without tripping over your own words remarkably few viewers give a monkey's what you actually look like.

EastEnders actor Steve McFadden is reportedly considering leaving the show when his contract ends in the summer. According to the Sun, the actor could follow departing cast member Barbara Windsor, who will exit the BBC1 soap in two months' time. McFadden, who plays Windsor's son, Phil Mitchell, in the programme, said that he is 'absolutely gutted' by Windsor's impending departure. 'Her leaving will be a massive hole for the show and for me personally as well,' he added. 'I'm sure they will leave the door open for her - they'd be mad not to.'

John Simm has been cast in the second series of Jimmy McGovern's Moving On. Last summer, the BBC announced that the daytime drama had been recommissioned for a second run. The former Doctor Who and Life on Mars star will be joined in the new series by talent including Corin Redgrave, Anna Massey, Robert Glenister, Gerard Kearns, Ewen Bremner and Roy Marsden. BBC Controller of daytime Liam Keelan said: 'It's very exciting to be able to announce the high-profile cast that are going to be appearing in the next series of Moving On and will be something for our viewers to look forward to.' Producer Colin McKeown added: 'This new series will continue to explore the thorny contemporary issues of Alzheimer's, drug co-dependency, adoption, religion and special needs within the community, along with additional family issues such as sibling rivalry, loyalty and friendship.' Other cast additions include Nicola Stephenson, Lisa Faulkner, Jo Hartley, Tachia Newall, Kieran O'Brien and Susan Lynch. The ten stand-alone episodes will be broadcast on BBC later this year. Actor Dominic West, best known for starring in cult US crime series The Wire, has been lined up to direct an episode.

Rebecca Front has revealed that she is not allowed to take The Thick Of It scripts home. According to the Mirror, the actress, who plays the MP Nicola Murray on the BBC political satire series, said that the actors have their scripts taken off them after the first read-through. 'As actors, we usually don't see the script until the fourth draft,' she said. 'It's all very clandestine. We're given a script at the first read-through that's then taken away at the end.' She added: 'The scripts are actually numbered so that if there's one missing, they know who's slipped it into their bag.'

The BBC and Channel 4 has reportedly accused ITV of 'fixing' Coronation Street's 'Most Popular Serial Drama' win at the National Television Awards. Following an introduction from Corrie veteran William Roache, awards producers screened a three-minute tribute to mark the soap's fiftieth anniversary while portions of the seven and a half million audience were still voting in the category, the Mirror has claimed. Executives at BBC1's EastEnders, Channel 4's Hollyoaks and ITV's Emmerdale are said to have been enraged that their shows were not given there same exposure - especially as EastEnders' own twenty fifth anniversary is occurring next month. One BBC insider said: 'We're furious. The odds seemed too heavily stacked in the Street's favour this year. Its showreel was a pretty blatant advert right in the middle of voting. We've an anniversary but didn't get a showreel. It wasn't a fair playing field for the other soaps. Even Emmerdale cast members are angry.' It is thought that the other soaps are considering asking Ofcom to publicise the ceremony's voting figures and patterns to see if they were influenced. The source added: 'What would have happened if this was EastEnders and a plug like that was on a BBC awards show? This can't be allowed to happen again. It's as though they fixed it for Corrie. We'd like to see voting figures to see if the showreel changed things.' An ITV spokesperson branded the dispute 'sour grapes,' before adding: 'Fans of all nominated soaps were given ample opportunity to vote ... in the two-week voting window and during the programme.' Ofcom is believed to have already received complaints from viewers and may probe the NTAs to see if it breached any fairness rules.

Homer Simpson has been declared the 'Honorary Australian of the Year'. The animated character from The Simpsons has been made guest editor of Australia's Ralph magazine to commemorate the show's twentieth anniversary. The magazine faux-quoted Homer as saying: 'I am proud to give back to Australia, after the great people of Australia have given so much to me over the years, like the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and the musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and, well, that's pretty much it.' After 1995's Bart vs Australia episode of the series, in which Homer and his family visited the country, many Australians were alleged to be 'outraged and insulted' by the stereotypes featured although yer Keith Telly Topping has yet to meet a single Aussie who didn't find it hilarious. Particularly the 'I'm going to complain to the Prime Minister' bit!

Christine Bleakley has been accused of 'upsetting' X Factor duo John and Edward at the National Television Awards on Wednesday night. Which, if true, means that she's just gone up in Keith Telly Topping's estimation by about a million per cent. According to the ever-reliable Sun, the ONE Show presenter made a 'cutting' remark to the twins just before they went on stage to perform their new single 'Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)'. It is alleged that Bleakley, who is from Belfast, told the pair: 'You paint a bad picture of Ireland.' Well, so did Sir Egerton Bushe Coghill the fifth Baronet, so they're in good company, at least. Dublin-born John and Edward were reportedly left 'devastated' by the remark, although it is thought that they did not know who Bleakley was. All of which might explain their hilariously pantomime-like subsequent performance. The 'devastation' bit, that is, not the 'not knowing who Christine Bleakley is' thing. She's Frank Lampard's girlfriend, lads. And ... that's about the size of it, actually.

Lisa Edelstein has described Jennifer Morrison's departure from House as 'weird.' Last year, it was announced that Morrison had been written out of the medical drama as part of a creative decision made by the producers. A few months later, bosses revealed that Morrison would be reprising her role later in the season in order to finish Cameron's storyline properly. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Edelstein, who plays Lisa Cuddy, said that she is glad to have Morrison back to complete the plot. 'It's a very strange thing when somebody's gone,' she said. 'We're all in the same boat as actors. We have very little control over our lives, so you can't help but relate - whether or not the person it's happened to feels it’s a good or bad thing. It's hard for everybody.' She added: 'But it's really great to see her back.'

Katie Price reportedly endured a heavy chorus boos as she joined guests at the National Television Awards on Wednesday. The former glamour model faced an angry reaction from the crowd when her face was projected on giant screens inside the O2 Arena with shouts of 'what the Hell's she doing here?' reportedly heard. Wearing a striking floral print full-length dress, Price is said to have done her best to block out the jeers, but looked 'obviously shaken.' She was attending the event following her recent appearance on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, which failed to pick up any awards. Price, meanwhile, has revealed that she has consulted alleged star psychic Sally Morgan over her future. The orange plastic one reportedly decided to follow in the footsteps of George Michael, Uma Thurman and Robert De Niro, who are all said to have received readings from Morgan in the past. Writing on Twitter, if that isn't, in itself, an oxymoron, Price commented: 'Just saw Sally Morgan, what a fantastic lady! Be interesting to see if what she predicted comes true!' A more-or-less steady fade into total obscurity, perhaps? Because, that's what most of the smart money is going on. It is unclear whether Price received a private reading or if her session will be broadcast on one of Morgan's forthcoming TV shows. Although, again, if we're talking about 'smart money' then the latter's looking a far more likely bet.

And, finally for today dear blog reader, yer Keith Telly Topping's preview copy of The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter turned up earlier in the week. I'll do a full review of the book once I've actually finished reading it but, first impressions are, as you'd probably expect, favourable. What's struck me most, so far, are the sheer number of occasions when vastly important moments in Doctor Who history - from the scheduling of David Tennant's final episode, to script suggestions on how Journey's End should finish and The Next Doctor begin - actually came not from Russell Davies, but from Ben Cook! Now, the truth is revealed, this chap's actually been the power behind the throne all this time! Anyway, as I say, it's a fascinating, at times emotional trip. And I've still got a hundred and fifty pages to go so, you know, patience, dear blog reader, I'll let you all know what happens at the end.