Saturday, February 27, 2010

Week Ten: Oh Dear, What A Calamity

The new series of Doctor Who will feature a 'pregnancy storyline,' according to tabloid reports. The Sun claims that Karen Gillan's character, Amy Pond, will be seen sporting something of a bump during episode seven of the new series. However, the sequence, written by Men Behaving Badly author Simon Nye, is merely part of a dream that the Doctor's new companion has. 'Amy is pregnant but it's all part of a strange dream she's having,' a Doctor Who 'insider' is quoted by the newspaper as saying. 'She can't work out what is real and what's not.' There are days, dear blog reader, when yer Keith Telly Topping has exactly the self-same problem.

And, it seems that he is not alone in such outrageous discombobulationism. With regard to The Bubble, I just knew it'd only be a matter of time before one of the contestants used the fact that BBC News are being such utter arseholes over the use of any mocked-up clips as a rational for something being, or not being, real. Fortunately, in this particular case, the excellent Ed Byrne's lack of any intimate knowledge of Newsround post-John Craven let him down! I love the way that Beat The Monkey is becoming a running joke on the show. Next week, Sue Perkins and Sarah Milligan will be trapped together for four days in a house. Perhaps the heating will go off and they'll be forced to huddle together in the same bed for warmth and comfort. You see, in my head, that sounds not only entirely plausible but entirely innocent too ... Honest.

Speaking of which, it's time for some Top Telly Tips:

Friday 5 March
We talked about The Bubble - 10:00 BBC2 - at some length a couple of weeks ago. Clever idea for a series; each week three celebrity contestants are locked away in a media-free zone for four days. When they're brought out they're taken straight to a television studio and, in front of a live audience, are shown a series of media stories. All they have to do is identify the true ones from the fakes. And, you know, be funny as well. The two episodes so far, particularly the first, have been very good and Davey Mitchell is a really sharp and witty host. The guests on tonight's third episode are Sue Perkins, Clive Anderson and the North East's own queen of comedy Sarah Millican. Must-see-telly, dear blog readers.

Meanwhile, after a week off because a load of hairy-arsed Frenchmen were throwing a mis-shaped ball around in Cardiff, Qi returns at 8:30 on BBC1. In this episode, Stephen Fry gets to grips with the Greeks - which I'm sure he'll thoroughly enjoy - with the help of guests Clive Anderson (that bugger gets everywhere!), Phill Jupitus, lovely dry witty Rich Hall and regular Alan Davies. Who does a pretty mean Greek accent I seem to remember from a previous episode. Sort of generic Southern Mediterranean via-a Stoke Newington kebab shop, so it is!

Saturday 6 March
Just how good is Harry Hill's TV Burp - 7:30 ITV? Well, to be blunt it's just about the only thing on ITV worth making the time and effort to watch, religiously, week-in week-out. Effortlessly mental and with a really clever layer of self-deprecating humour just beneath the surface. The man is a legend.

Sunday 7 March
24 - 9:00 Sky1 - sees day eight of the real-time drama continue. Big Hard Mental Jack Bauer makes a breakthrough by closing in on a significant person of interest to CTU and ends the episode, effectively, getting his old job back. Meanwhile, a tense meeting between President Taylor and Hassan (you know, him out of Slumdog Millionaire) yields some surprising results. It's not - by a stretch - the best series of the show, but it's far from being the worst. (Season six has that title sewn up for all time.)

In Wonders of the Solar System - 9:00 BBC2 - Professor Brian Cox visits some of the most stunning locations on Earth to describe how the laws of nature have carved natural wonders across the entire solar system. In this first episode, Professor Brian explores the powerhouse of them all, our star, the Sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse, and in Norway he gets to watch the beautiful results of the eternal celestial battle between the sun's wind and Earth's atmosphere, as the night sky glows with the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. Yer Keith Telly Topping loves this sort of thing - bringing the sheer majesty and spectacular of space to life. So, dear blog reader, whether your interest lies in the canals of Mars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's big ugly spot, what sort of aikido they do on Venus or, indeed, the shape of Uranus this is the very place for you. And, by the way, Pluto is a planet, whatever anybody says.

Monday 8 March
A Band for Britain - 9:00 BBC2 - series following presenter Sue Perkins (second Top Telly Tip of the week for everyone's favourite Supersizer) as she attempts to breathe new life into Dinnington Colliery Brass Band in Yorkshire; once, brass band music was a proud symbol of a quintessentially British form of music but, due in no small part of the virtual decimation of the traditional industries which supported the communities in which brass bands flourished, is now on the verge of extinction. As, of course, beautifully detailed in the movie Brassed Off. Sue, the winner of last year's Maestro in which she learned the discipline of conducting an orchestra, leads the Dinningon die-hards on a dramatic crusade, hunting down new players, whipping them into shape, and dragging a new-look band back to the concert stage. Excellent stuff. Scum - usually Daily Mail readers, admittedly - will try to convince you that television is an ephemeral, throwaway medium with no right to be considered in the same breath as art or music. Programmes like this prove them to be the empty-headed numbskulls that they are. You know where to stick the baton if you encounter them, Suzy.

Lambing Live - 8:00 BBC2 - is a damned curious conceit form the Beeb. Kate Humble and Adam Henson bring viewers the very latest - live - from the lambing sheds in Wales. With three hundred expectant ewes, they've got their work cut out. Katie discovers that pregnant sheep get ultrasounds just like pregnant ladygirls do, whilst Adam looks at the history of sheep farming, from our most ancient breeds to the modern cross bred 'mule.' Plus, there's news on all our lambs (I love the way the BBC have got their audience claiming partial ownership of these poor animals ... I think the farmer might have something to say about that, personally), as well as the possibility of an actual live birth. With the blood and bah-ing. Kate will also have to test her shepherding skills first hand. Will she be mauled to death by a savage, rabid sheep? One can but dream, dear blog reader. Dreaming, as Blondie once said, is free.

Meanwhile, over in EastEnders - 8:00 BBC1 - after their Lamb was murdered on Christmas Day (hey, I don't just throw these things together, you know) tonight Carol is forced to take control as a grief-stricken Max begins to fall apart. But, will Becca's scheming throw a spanner in the works? Ian is horrified when Jane and Lucy break their baby news. But, Ian's always horrified about something so, don't let that worry you, dear blog reader. And, Roxy is put out when an iconic figure returns to the Vic. Who will it be? Well, I know, and you can probably guess (if you've read the Radio Times). So, we shall speculate no further.

Tuesday 9 March
Famous Rich and Jobless - 9:00 BBC1 - I'm sad to report, appears to be yet another one of those dreadful 'life-swap' shows so beloved by TV executives who seem to believe that viewers are positively fascinated by seeing a bunch of rich people pretending to be poor for a week. So, in this, we are solemnly informed, for four celebrities unemployment is about to become a chilling reality, as they start on their emotional journey to become Famous, Rich and Jobless. Actor Larry Lamb (remember him? How quickly we forget), television gardener Diarmuid Gavin interior designer Meg Matthews and model-turned-mechanic Emma Parker Bowles put unemployment in the spotlight by agreeing to swap their fame and fortune for a world of joblessness, job-hunting and surviving on the poverty line and benefits. And, yer Keith Telly Topping asks again as I asked with regard to The Duchess on the Estate and Seven Days on the Breadline, what's it for? What are we, the viewers, expected to actually learn from this horrorshow that will either inform us, educate us or, God help us, entertain us? Because, those three things, dear blog reader are what television is supposed to be all about. Some wanker, ladies and gentlemen, got paid to come up with this idea. Ah, whatever, life's too short for this bollocks - watch it if you want.

If you're looking for an alternative to the former - and therefore have a soul - Sidekick Stories - 9:00 BBC4 - is a rather fun-looking celebration of the TV sidekick. Narrated by Catherine Tate (a never less than brilliant sidekick herself on Doctor Who), Sidekick Stories looks at the role of the assistant/companion on television, from drama to sitcom and light entertainment to children's programmes. What are the literary antecedents of the sidekick - and who is the greatest of them all? What's the dramatic function of the game show hostess? Did the That's Life reporters feel emasculated sitting next to Horrible Esther and her nasty frocks? How do you create a memorable robot? And what's it like playing straight man to a puppet? A question for Simon Cowell, that one, I think.

We haven't covered Shameless - 10:00 Channel 4 - the gritty comedy drama series set on a Manchester estate for a while. So, to catch you all up: Frank's love, Libby, returns and is determined to rekindle their romance despite her mother's attempts at sabotage. Meanwhile, Lillian invests in a new HD television set to keep the customers happy but realises she has purchased a conduit to the afterlife. Just another tale of everyday folk!

Wednesday 10 March
Inside John Lewis - 9:00 BBC2 - is a new documentary series. Not unexpectedly, it goes behind the scenes of John Lewis Ltd - one of Britain's biggest and best known department stores (other department stores are available) - as it tackles changing tastes, tougher competition and the worst recession for eighty years. Still, you've got to laugh, haven't you? In this episode, the half-yearly results 'send shockwaves throughout the entire company.' Well, when we say that, actually if truth be told they send shockwaves through the entire senior and middle management who, as usual with senior and middle management in most professions, when something bad happens, shite in their own pants and run around like headless chickens doing jazz-hands and saying 'whadd're we gonna do?' Most of the rest of the staff, frankly, couldn't give a flying monkey's chuff about any of that bollocks. Anyway, the pressure is on for the second half of the year form, you know, sell stuff.

Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience - 10:00 BBC2 - sees the Welsh stand-up comedian Rhod Gilbert (whom you may know from a few appearances on Mock The Week) finally gets a proper job. Tonight, he tries out refuse collecting on the streets of Barry. Can he learn the tricks of the binman's trade, or will he just be rubbish? Heh. Rubbish! Y'see, it's a ... Oh, never mind.

Meanwhile, Keith Telly Topping's favourite show of the moment, MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1 - continues. John Torode and Gregg Wallace continue their search for the country's best amateur cook. The contestants face three high-pressure tests to see who has the passion, skill and creativity to make it to the quarter finals. In the first heat the contestants face the pressure of the professional kitchen at Le Pont De La Tour, and in the second they must master Indian tapas at Imli. Only the best will make it through, taking them one step closer to becoming the next MasterChef. One of the highlights of the series so far was the prat who produced an awful concoction with a raw Bramley apple. It was brilliant. And, what made it funnier was his full-of-himself 'I deserve to be here' patter as his carefully-laid plans for a new career were dissolving around him like a flan in a cupboard. Gregg and John were just trying hard not to laugh. See, it's easy for viewers to take an instant dislike to contestants whose inflated sense of their own abilities isn't matched by anything approaching reality. Mind you, confession time, yer Keith Telly Topping took something of an instant dislike to Sunderland Stacey simply on the grounds of her silly hair and yet, remarkably, they seem to have uncovered a bit of real talent, there. But, I think when all is said an done, it was the woman who burst into tears when telling them how desperate she was to change her life through her cooking and then proceeded to make a soufflé that collapsed - just like her dreams. That beats any crap sob story your get on X Factor any day.

Thursday 11 March
On this week's Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - how far will George go to keep Simon? Can Tina and Gail hold it together for Joe? And, will Kelly help Nick and get her own back on Carla?

Food writer and critic William Sitwell investigates the passions, pressures and obsessions behind that apparently all-important description, 'Michelin-starred chef' in Michelin Stars - The Madness of Perfection - 9:00 BBC2. In the lead-up to the 2010 Guide's publication, Sitwell goes behind the scenes within the restaurant industry to hear contrasting views on the Michelin phenomenon, from Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White to chefs dreaming of stars and restaurateurs dismissive of them. Largely because they've never got one!

Sometimes, a TV previewer hears about a new show and thinks, 'you know, this could be really, really good.' And then, there are other times where they're told about a show and the first words mentioned are 'James Corden' and they just think, 'right, where's my flamethrower?' A League of Their Own - 9:00 Sky1 - is a new (alleged) comedy sports quiz show which, appears to be a straight mix between A Question of Sport and They Think It's All Over. So, it's unoriginal, for one. Corden, his smug-face positively challenging the viewer to switch over and be damned hosts the show. A second point not, wholly, in its favour I'd've said. Then, there's the team captains: Firstly, Jamie Redknapp - a footballer whom, we were solemnly informed on so many occasions by John Motson, could have played one hundred times for England ... if only he'd managed to get himself off the treatment table for long enough to manage, you know, two games in a row for Tottenham. His opposite number is Freddie Flintoff, a genuinely world-class cricketer, to be fair. But again, somebody who, if he was a race horse, he'd've been put out of his misery by now. The panelists in this episode are John Bishop, David Haye, Neil Morrissey and, to provide a bit of husky-voiced glamour, Georgie Thompson. You know, dear blog reader, if it had seen anybody other than Corden presenting it I might have given the show a chance. But Horne & Corden used up any residual tolerance I had for this unfunny clown and his blank-faced pal. So, no mercy.

And, finally, Too Poor for Posh School - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary following the journey of three boys as they undergo a relentless day of tests and interviews for a scholarship to London's Harrow School, which normally charges twenty eight thousand pounds a year in fees.

And, so to the news: It sounds as though the producers of the remake of Hawaii Five-O are packing the cast with former cult TV actors. Ex-Battlestar Galactica cast member Grace Park has reportedly joined the production. The thirty four-year-old will play Kono Kalakaulau, niece to police squad member Chin Ho Kelly (played by the already-announced Daniel Dae Kim), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The pilot will find Kono, a surfing champ, about to graduate from the police academy. Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) recruits her to join an elite branch of the Hawaii State Police. Michael Shanks has reportedly screen-tested for the role of Danno and rumours are currently buzzing around the industry that at least one other, spiky, former cult favourite has also auditioned for a part in the show. More news on that if and when to turns out to be true. Or otherwise. The CBS pilot is being penned and produced by Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Adrian Chiles fears that planned changes to The ONE Show could 'ruin' the early evening programme, a report has claimed. In recent weeks, it has been alleged that Chiles is threatening to quit the magazine show over plans to replace him with Chris Evans on Friday's editions. However, according to the Mirror, the host is also concerned that proposals to save big-name celebrity interviews for Fridays could destroy the 'balance' of the programme. A source told the newspaper: 'The BBC have made it very clear by leaking information that they want Adrian to just do four shows a week. But what they haven't said is how they are risking ruining a massive hit show by changing the whole format. Big entertainment interviews and segments will be scrapped from Monday to Thursday editions and saved up for Fridays.' Chiles is said to be facing pressure to sign a new four-nights-per-week contract, but another insider added: 'He has brought The ONE Show from a small thing to getting up to seven million viewers with Christine [Bleakley].' Well, if we're going to be strictly, you know, accurate here it usually gets about five million. It got seven million a couple of times where there was a lot of snow about and people were stuck in their homes. 'Now they are making changes and originally gave him forty eight hours to sign a contract. It is not the way he should be treated given the amount of work he does at the Beeb. It was like a kick in the teeth and he deserves better.' So, I'm guessing that this 'insider' is, you know, a member of Adrian's family, perhaps? Just a wild stab in the dark. A spokesman for Chiles insisted that he is 'totally committed' to The ONE Show. Meanwhile, a BBC representative said: 'The ONE Show is a tremendous success and we will not be changing the format of the show. Last month the show received its highest ever ratings which demonstrates how well the format is working.'

EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor has admitted that she still cannot believe the soap's cast managed to get through last week's live episode. The BBC drama marked its twenty fifth anniversary last Friday with the special installment, which featured the death of fan favourite Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements) and the twist that his wife Stacey (Lacey Turner) killed Archie Mitchell on Christmas Day. Speaking about the challenging episode, Windsor joked: 'Don't talk to me about that!' Speaking to the Press Association, she added: 'I can't believe it, that we did it - well by the skin of our teeth. But it was good to get it under our belt.'

Meanwhile, over one hundred EastEnders viewers are alleged to have complained to the BBC over an implication that one of the show's characters killed a dog. That's one hundred more than complained over the storyline in which Stacey Branning killed Archie Mitchell, incidentally. Some people just have really odd priorities, it would appear. This week's final two episodes of the Walford soap saw Lucas Johnson - played by the excellent Don Gilet - begin to panic about his murderous ways being uncovered when Sugar the collie continued to dig in the soil around Trina's tree. With Owen Turner's body buried beneath, Sugar could still smell her previous owner's scent and with no-one else knowing Owen's whereabouts - or even that he's dead - Lucas decided to deal with Sugar in his own, deranged, way. Taking the dog for a walk, Lucas stopped on the canal bank and eerily looked at Sugar, before glancing out over the water. When Lucas returned home, he held only Sugar's lead and insisted that she had ran away. A statement on the BBC Complaints website read: 'Regular viewers of EastEnders will know that Lucas has already killed two people in order to protect his reputation. Although it is never explicit that Sugar dies, the story does indeed suggest that Lucas has killed her. This behaviour is completely in keeping with his character.' It went on: 'EastEnders does not condone the killing of dogs, just as it does not condone killing people. No animals were harmed in the making of this story.' And, apparently, Larry Lamb wasn't really clobbered over the head till his brains leaked out his ears either. It was 'fiction.'

Tracy Barlow's return to Coronation Street will cause havoc for Peter and Leanne's romance, press reports have claimed. It has been announced that Kate Ford will reprise her role as the murderous daughter of Deidre and Ken, coming out of prison in time for the Manchester soap's fiftieth anniversary at the end of the year. Chris Gascoyne, who plays Peter, told the TV Times: 'Whenever Kate is around, things go wrong - Tracy comes in with a huge wooden spoon and stirs everything up. You know, Peter's just troubled, he's got demons but she's actually murdered someone.'

The BBC reportedly plans to axe digital stations BBC 6Music and the Asian network, as well as shut half of its website as part of a major service overhaul to be announced next month. According to The Times, BBC director general Mark Thompson will admit that the corporation has become too big and must give more room for commercial players to operate. Following his strategic review of the whole BBC operation, Thompson will signal an end to 6Music and the Asian Network, while also placing a cap on sports rights spending at eight and a half per cent of the licence fee, around three hundred million pounds. The review will further recommend the closure of youth-orientated services BBC Switch and Blast!, but digital channel BBC3 will remain in operation. Thompson's planned changes are currently being reviewed by the BBC Trust, but will be made public in March. BBC director of policy and strategy John Tate, a former head of the Conservative policy unit, has produced the strategic review, which aims to show that the BBC is sensitive to the needs of commercial rivals. Under the plans, around six hundred million in cost savings would be re-directed towards producing high-quality programming as part of a new focus on content. Thompson wants to inject a further twenty five million into the BBC2 budget and also give the channel a new remit to pursue more upmarket programming. However, the one hundred million budget on foreign acquisitions of shows such as Mad Men and The Wire would be cut by twenty five per cent, although the Trust would actually prefer a thirty three per cent cut on import costs. The BBC website will be halved and its staff numbers trimmed by a quarter as part of a twenty five per cent cut in its one hundred and twelve million pounds budget. The site will also have to work harder to drive traffic to rival news providers. BBC Worldwide will be told to focus on its overseas activity, potentially requiring the sale of its British magazines division, which includes tiles such as Top Gear and Radio Times.

ITV chairman Archie Norman will use the company's annual report to underline the broadcaster's shortcomings, say press reports. The former Asda chief will attack his predecessor Michael Grade for failing to move the broadcaster into the digital era and will emphasise the importance of the Internet VOD market, according to the Daily Mail. The new chairman may also recommend that more productions are moved inhouse and that some content is made pay-only when the 2009 results are published on Wednesday. However, no decisions will be acted upon until new chief executive Adam Crozier steps into his position in the spring.

Stephanie Waring has admitted that the Hollyoaks cast are 'unsettled' by the arrival of a new producer. Paul Marquess joined the show last month and has already axed three characters. Waring, who plays Cindy Hutchinson in the soap, signed an eighteen-month contract in September but revealed that the cast are unsure what will happen next. 'Things are changing as we speak,' she told the Press Association. 'We are unsettled - you can't say we're not because we don't know what's going to happen yet. We've not had the meetings yet so we don't know what's going on.'

Kate Garraway has revealed her fear of performing on Lets Dance for Sports Relief. According to the Sun, the full-of-her-own-self-importance GMTV presenter is 'scared' that her breasts will 'pop out of her dress' because of the dance's intensity. Oh, if only wishing made it so. She said: 'The dance I am doing is so bouncy and I am breastfeeding at the moment, so everything is quite inflated. But I am up for making a fool of myself.' Well, yeah. Why break the habit of a lifetime, Katie? 'If you look me up in the dictionary, it says, "Glutton for punishment."' Actually, I think it says 'Copper's Nark who tells lies about guests on her show in her crappy little magazine column' if we're being strictly factual. The forty two-year-old added: 'It's hard to imagine being worse. But I am worried that I'll forget everything and Richard will have to elbow me in the ribs.' Again, one can only hope ...

And, on a related theme. Ant and Dec were hit by a fan's bra-padding whilst filming new TV show, Push The Button. The cheeky-chappie Northern duo, whose new series started tonight, visited the Greenwood family to reveal that they would be taking part in their Saturday night gameshow. When twenty two-year-old Danielle Greenwood found out about the news, she jumped up and down so much that her chicken fillets 'flew into their faces.' A source told the Daily Star: 'Ant and Dec thought it was hilarious. But poor Danielle went bright red.' Ah, well y'see, Danielle, they're both Bigg Market veterans, that sort of thing's an occupational hazard in Newcastle. Ant said: 'We've met our first two families. It was hysterical and we couldn't have planned a funnier reaction - absolutely brilliant. The [families] are both great fun and willing to do whatever it takes to win the cash.'

However, the lads themselves have reportedly confessed that they are too nervous to watch their new gameshow. The duo have revealed that they will be watching their - and, indeed, yer Keith Telly Topping's - favourite football team the (unsellable) Magpies playing at Vicarage Road instead. Dec said: 'We won't sit down to watch it. We'll be watching Newcastle take on Watford instead.' Well, at least a 2-1 win and Andy Carroll's near-post header will have given the lads some entertainment this weekend. Unlike anybody who watched Push The Button.

A fan of Girls Aloud and X-Factor star Cheryl Cole is to be evicted from his Nottinghamshire flat for playing her music loudly through the night. Mansfield County Court heard Martin Bramwell, twenty two, played music in his first floor council flat in Ladybrook Lane until four am and also slammed doors. At Wednesday's hearing, the court was told one neighbour had gone to stay with friends to escape the noise. Bramwell has been ordered to leave the flat before 4 March. Aw, come on guys. The poor chap obviously needs medical help.

At the same time, it's being reported that Cheryl estranged bloke, Ashley, has allegedly claimed that he 'doesn't give a fuck' about the end of his marriage according to the Daily Star. What a nasty little swine that bloke is. A cheat as a footballer, a cheat as a husband - he's the ultimate role-model for young people. How to get ahead in life by being as obnoxious, deceitful and ignorant as possible. You're a goddamn inspiration to us all, Ash.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Torn & Frayed

TV quote of the night: John Torode - really sticking the knife-in - on Masterchef by telling a thoroughly hapless lady contestant who'd just served him up a peach, cheese, tomato and bread abomination: 'You said you'd had something similar when you were a child and you've spent your adult life trying to recreate it? Felicity, it's time to stop!' Top bit of sarky gittery there, JT!

John Barrowman has backed Andrew Lloyd Webber's Over The Rainbow to be a success. The Torchwood actor appeared on the judging panel on Webber's three previous talent shows, I'd Do Anything, How You Solve A Problem Like Maria and Any Dream Will Do. Barrowman - seen left proving that nothing if worn under the kilt, it's all in perfect working order - admitted that he would have liked to have been involved in the search for a new Dorothy, but claimed that he is pleased for new judge John Partridge. Speaking on Richard Bacon's BBC 5Live show, he said: 'I'm a big friend of Dorothy' (yes John, we had, actually, noticed that, matey!) 'so I don't think I'd have a problem finding one! The BBC wanted me to do it, but the independent company who are producing the show for them didn't ask me until Christmas. And I had to make a decision about [appearing in] Desperate Housewives by that point, so I couldn't do it.'

Law & Order: UK actor Bradley Walsh is set to host a Zeppotron game show for ITV in which celebrities and audience members try to spot ordinary members of the public who have an unusual talent. The eight part Odd One In will be produced by the Endemol-owned production company and is set for a Saturday night slot in late summer. The show sees two pairs of celebrities guess who, from a line-up of members of the public, has an odd skill, talent or secret. For example, they have to identify which person is French, or who can balance a car on their head. Surely, spotting French people is easy? The stripy shirts, berets and strings of onions on their bikes are a bit of a giveaway. Host Walsh - seen right during a particularly strong acid trip - will give the contestants clues to help them pick the right person. Audience members will also be given a keypad to play along over the seven or eight rounds. The audience member with the most correct guesses will join one of the teams in the final, competing to win a holiday. A premium-rate phone competition is also under discussion. The show was ordered by commissioning editor of entertainment Claire Zolkwer, who said: 'Odd One In is a simple but clever concept, which I'm sure will prove a laugh-out-loud hit with our viewers.'

BBC business chief Bal Samra has denied that the BBC is experiencing cash flow problems and assured producers they can raise concerns with him without fear of losing business. 'The BBC hasn't got a policy of asking for programmes it can't pay for,' he said. 'I have an open door for [producers] to come to me with issues they want looking into. None of that will have any impact on future commissions.' Samra, BBC director of rights and business affairs and BBC Vision director of operations, made his comments after a succession of producers told Broadcast magazine that they were suffering because the BBC could not release cash for commissioned shows to go into production. None of these snitching grasses would agree to be named or identify the shows they make for fear of repercussions. Which would, hopefully, have been swift and harsh. Since then, several in-house producers have also raised similar concerns. An entertainment source told the magazine: 'There is no money for 2010-11 and they are not able to bankroll anything at the moment that's going out beyond that.' Another in comedy added: 'We are being asked "can you make it this year even though we can't find the money until next year."' The source added that the second series of Psychoville wouldn't air until 2011 for this reason, but Samra said that was a commissioning decision rather than a cash flow issue. He vehemently denied the wider allegations: 'I can imagine a conversation where a commissioner says, "I've got enough good ideas to fill a two-year slate," but the business teams who manage in-house say there isn't a problem. Delivery dates sometimes change and production schedules can shift and we then discuss the cash flow impact with producers.' He added that the BBC is further ahead on commissioning than at the same point last year, but that delivery dates have not changed.

EastEnders' executive producer Diederick Santer has revealed that he was once 'very keen' to bring Simon Wicks back to Albert Square. Simon, who was played by Nick Berry, left the Walford soap in 1990. Santer is about to depart his position at EastEnders after three - mostly successful - years. He will be replaced by former Hollyoaks producer Bryan Kirkwood from Monday. Speaking to Walford Web about characters he wanted to see back on the programme, Santer commented: 'Sharon [Rickman] is a great character, but I always worried about a potential overlap with Roxy and Ronnie, so we never pursued that. I was very keen to get Simon Wicks back at one stage, but it wasn't to be. I'd love to see Cindy and Kathy back, but I vowed never to revive dead characters!' Wicksy left Albert Square in 1990 following a feud with his brother, Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt).

Actors and fans of Coronation Street star Maggie Jones have celebrated her life and work at a memorial service held in Salford Cathedral yesterday. Filming on the soap was suspended to allow cast members including Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre Barlow) to attend the public remembrance. It featured an emotional address from actor William Roache, screen son-in-law to her feisty character Blanche Hunt. Jones, who died in December aged seventy five, appeared in over eight hundred episodes of the soap.

ITV has defended its decision to broadcast nude scenes before the watershed. According to the Sun, a repeat of Midsomer Murders shown at 4pm featured a naked woman - similar to the one that you can see on the right, dear blog reader, only with less shapely buttocks - posing for a painter. However, the channel insisted that the scenes had been edited to make them suitable for the afternoon. 'The scene in question featured an artist's model and was key to the storyline,' a spokesperson said. 'Careful consideration was given to its inclusion for daytime transmission and it was edited accordingly to ensure that the programme did not contain any inappropriate content.' The representative added: 'ITV has received no complaints regarding this episode.' In 2008, Ofcom reprimanded ITV for broadcasting an episode of Midsomer Murders during the afternoon because of the violent scenes it contained.

STV chief executive Rob Woodward has declared that STV 'can't lose' its two legal claims against ITV - and is threatening a third after disputing network profits from shows like ITV2's The Xtra Factor. In its annual results this morning, STV said it was poised to launch a third legal writ and has written to ITV demanding payments for its role in promoting network brand spin-off shows, including ITV2's Britain's Got More Talent and I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here Now! In the letter, STV said that despite promoting those shows, the Scottish network had received no benefit while targeting a 'key premium audience' that was 'prejudicially and aggressively scheduled.' STV is also seeking a behavioural order to prevent ITV from encroaching on STV's territory. Woodward said that the network was confident of being successful in its current claims, which seek a share of ITV's new media revenues and an increased slice of advertising revenues. He also brushed off claims that STV could be faced with hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees or damages if they did not win their claims. 'How can we be out of pocket?' Woodward said. 'From where I am sitting, it is like ITV are saying they have rights over the whole country when we are the licence holder for Scotland. Personally, I don't see how we can lose.' Now, never let it be said that yer Keith Telly Topping is someone who enjoys seeing the financial disaster of others. Unless they, you know, really deserve it. But, it has to be said, after that particular outburst it would be hugely amusing to see Rob and his armchair lawyer pals at STV lose their bloody shirts in court if the judgement goes against them. He added: 'At the heart of what we are doing is protecting value for our shareholders. We can't be exposed to what is essentially prejudicial behaviour by ITV.' Woodward said that despite sealing a new deal with ITV and Alibi to secure the future of long-running drama Taggart, animosities between the two companies still remained. 'Clearly it's a strained relationship that [the networks] have,' he said. 'Today we announced our lawyers have written to the network, which raises large questions over how the Channel Three network is run and whether the network should be run to the equal benefit of all investors,' he added. Woodward is in talks with chairman Archie Norman and with incoming chief executive Adam Crozier about having a more straightforward, commercial relationship going forward. He added that it was only because of the 'huge amount of litigation' going forward that STV could be certain its business rights would be upheld. 'It's a complicated relationship,' he said. 'ITV is our agent, and programme provider, and equally we are their programme provider. With the new ITV chairman and chief executive, we hope we can come to an amicable and sensible relationship structure going forward, but it's early days.' STV reported a fifty five per cent fall in pre-tax profits year on year in 2009, with a thirteen per cent fall in broadcasting revenues. Woodward blamed 'being decimated in the worst recession we've ever seen' for the poor profits, which fell from £12.3m in 2008 to five and a half million pounds last year.

Freelancers who worked on BBC2's Delia Through The Decades are owed a total of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds - and the cooking superstar is herself about fifty thousand pounds out of pocket. Producer Scarlet Television went into administration at the start of this month owing over half a million quid to creditors, including three hundred thousand grand to parent company Motive Television. About twenty members of the crew are affected by the collapse and it is understood that one member of the production team is owed as much as fifteen thousand pounds. Delia Smith's payment is due to her agent's company, Deborah Owen. The agent would not comment on the sum, but said Smith 'is concerned about all the people who have not been paid.' Administrator Janes Insolvency is currently negotiating with the BBC to try to recover as much of the money as possible, but confirmed the freelancers will not be paid in full. According to David Hughes, who is handling the administration, Scarlet went one hundred and thirty eight thousand pounds over budget on the five-part BBC2 series. He is trying to recoup that sum as well as a portion of the core budget, which the BBC withheld after Scarlet collapsed, in case there were copyright claims from some of the freelancers. The discussions are 'very complicated and protracted' but are expected to conclude this week, he added. The outstanding payments came to light last month and Scarlet went into administration before the last episode of the five-part series aired on 8 February. At that point, BECTU - which represents several affected crew members - called on the corporation to pull the last episode for 'moral' reasons. The BBC went ahead with the transmission as planned. The union has since criticised the BBC for handing money to a company on the brink of failure in the first place. National official Lynne Korniak said: 'You would think the corporation would make sure that the companies it is dealing with are viable and it seems that on this occasion they [Scarlet] weren't.' A BBC spokesman declined to comment on the financial details, but said: 'We are working with the administrator to make sure everyone who worked on the programme is treated as fairly as possible.' The BBC is expected to repeat the series and arrange the sale of its secondary rights to BBC Worldwide so any dividends can be used to pay back the affected freelancers.

ITV is making a surprise return to authored documentaries and has commissioned veteran film-maker Leslie Woodhead to make two new films for them. Woodhead's ITV films are part of a wider drive by ITV for signature documentaries under the theme Visions of Britain. Woodhead has forty years' film-making experience and most recently made How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin for BBC4. ITV controller of popular factual Jo Clinton Davies outlined the plan at SEE, the Brighton documentary festival. She said the broadcaster wanted 'films on subjects that will connect with all our lives.' Clinton Davies rejected criticism that serious documentary has all but disappeared from the ITV schedule in favour of celebrity-led journeys. 'There has been a trend towards presenter-led docs, but we want a mixed economy - Paul Hamann's Holloway series last year was an example of that. We've always had fine documentary-making on ITV, but it doesn't always get noticed.' She also pointed to the imminent return to ITV of radical journalist John Pilger, with a documentary on Afghanistan.

Television channels are reportedly in talks for an Australian version of The X Factor. Sydney's Daily Telegraph says that executives from Seven and Nine attended a conference about the show held in London by Simon Cowell. A source claimed that Cowell said the series will be made 'my way or the highway.' I'm sure that went down well with the Aussies! The insider added: 'He said that any other version would have to match his production values and his uncompromising vision, which could cost at least twenty million dollars for twenty one hours of television. Seven made a very aggressive play for it and Channel Nine was very interested but were more conscious of the cheque they would have to write - but one way or another, expect it to be on air around February next year.' The X Factor was previously broadcast in Australia in 2005 but was unsuccessful in the ratings.

Channel 4 has expanded its comedy commissioning team with the appointment of Miranda producer Nerys Evans. As commissioning editor, comedy, Evans will work alongside Darren Smith and report to head of comedy Shane Allen. She will focus on scripted comedy with a brief spanning sketch shows, narrative comedy and character-based series such as Fonejacker. Allen said Evans had 'proper funny bones.' He added: 'She will be a great boost to our output, it's a real coup for us.' Evans has been an in-house BBC producer since 2000, working initially on Little Britain and regularly with Jennifer Saunders on the likes of A Bucket O' French And Saunders, The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle and Jam And Jerusalem. But, we won't hold those against the woman. Her appointment marks a further expansion of the Channel 4 comedy and entertainment team, which will swell to six people when a new entertainment commissioning editor is appointed later this spring. The department has been tasked with building up a portfolio of new shows as part of a refreshed schedule once Big Brother goes off the air in the summer.

BBC America has announced a US premiere date for the new series of Doctor Who. New episodes of the popular time-travel drama will debut Saturday 17 April on the cable network, according to a press statement.

Channel 4 has confirmed further details on the UK version of the cult cookery show Iron Chef. The programme, which originated in Japan, airs on the Food Network in the US. Jamie Oliver famously appeared as a competitor on the American series which Charlie Brooker once describes as 'Ready Steady Cook directed by Michael Bay!' The UK version will be hosted by Saturday Kitchen wine expert Olly Smith, with Ready Steady Cook star and Michelin chef Nick Nairns as his co-commentator. Tom Aikens, Martin Blunos, Sanjay Dwivedi and Judy Joo have been unveiled as the four Iron Chefs. Aikens became the youngest ever chef to earn two Michelin stars at the age of twenty six, while Blunos is the founder of the famous Restaurant Lettonie. Delhi-born Dwivedi has toured with the Rolling Stones and Korean chef Joo worked with Gordon Ramsay for two years. The show features teams of culinary challengers taking on the Iron Chefs in high-energy cook-offs. It is held in Kitchen Stadium and presided over by a mysterious figure called The Chairman. In each episode, the contestants are given a 'Special Ingredient' by the Chairman, which must be central to their dish. The items can vary from aubergine, mince or cauliflowers to octopus. The programme will air across the week, with the best competitor and best Iron Chef battling it out on the Friday show for a one thousand pound prize.

Living has announced plans to screen a new documentary about Jade Goody. The ninety-minute show, titled Jade: A Year Without Her, will coincide with the anniversary of the reality star's death. Sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, there simply aren't enough sick bags in the world. The one-off special takes a look at Goody's life from her rise to fame through to her cancer battle, which she lost in March last year. Hopefully it will also include the bit where she and two of her mates used vile racist language on prime time TV. Exclusive interviews with Goody's mother the delightful Jackiey Budden, her former lover Jeff Brazier and her widow, Jack Tweed will be shown, as well as those who helped her with her wedding to Tweed. Presumably, the interview with Tweed will be coming direct from his cell in Pentonville where he is currently awaiting trial on rape charges. 'There hasn't been a day in this year without her that I haven't thought about Jade and her extraordinary courage,' said Living's Claudia Rosencrantz. And her celebration of her own bone-ignorance? And her racism? And her shameless manipulation of the media for profit, Claudia? Someone whom the Sun described, in 2007, as 'the most hated bully in Britain'? Forgotten all about that, had you? 'I often think about what a unique character she was, and this new film captures every aspect of what made her so special. The most heartbreaking thing is that cervical cancer is both preventable and curable, and we're honouring Jade's memory by making sure that as many young women as possible understand how they can protect themselves.' For a channel with the name Living they don't half seem to show a lot of programmes about dead people.

Sky News is celebrating after the Royal Television Society named it this year's news channel of the year. Sky's Alex Crawford was honoured as TV journalist of the year for her work on Afghanistan and the Mumbai attacks. For the second year in a row, BBC's News at Ten was named news programme of the year, while ITV's Julie Etchingham was given the presenter of the year award. The BBC picked up seven awards in total, including a special accolade for Panorama journalist Paul Kenyon. Kenyon was cited for his 'dogged coverage of African migration. Our winner has given a voice to people who don't usually get heard, and created human, engaging, compelling television in the process,' judges said.

Robbie Williams will be organising the third Soccer Aid event to take place later this year, say reports. The X Factor's Dermot O'Dreary will host the event rather than regular presenters Ant and Dec, who are too busy filming Britain's Got Talent and their new gameshow Push The Button. According to the Sun, Soccer Aid will take place at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground in June. Former footballers Alan Shearer and Zinedine Zidane are rumoured to be taking part. The event, which airs on ITV, previously took place in 2006 and 2008. Celebrities including Angus Deayton, Jamie Theakston, Gordon Ramsay and Danny Jones played in the England vs Rest Of The World matches.

Sex Pistols singer John Lydon says that he wants to produce a documentary about the Royal Family, according to ever-reliable tabloid reports. However, the veteran singer, who famously wrote the lyrics to the punk anthem 'God Save The Queen,' has apparently softened his stance on towards monarchy in the thirty years since. He is quoted by the Sun as saying: 'I'd like to get to the inner truth of the Royal Family. For years I've wanted to do a documentary asking how they got there and what makes them so superior. Now I'd like to put the other side, too. The good that they do. It's too easy to take potshots at them.'

Amanda Holden and Chris Tarrant have been confirmed as the hosts of two-part ITV gameshow The Door. EastEnders stars Dean Gaffney and Louisa Lytton, Coronation Street's Jennie McAlpline, Boyzone's Keith Duffy, GMTV presenter Michael Underwood and Saturdays star Frankie Sandford will compete in the programme, which has been billed as the 'ultimate celebrity endeavour contest.' Each contestant will venture through 'the door' and undertake challenges, which force them to face their fears. The celebrities will 'battle claustrophobic spaces, suffer shocks and have to cope with a relentless barrage of disorientating games' as they compete for charity. 'The Door is a celebrity's worst nightmare! It's going to make great viewing,' said Holden, eagerly. Sorry, Amanda, remind me, weren't you telling us all how utterly brilliant Big Top was just a few months ago? And, it wasn't, was it? So why, in the name of God, should we believe you this time around?

It has long been regarded as one of the greatest LPs of all time. Now, astonishingly, The Rolling Stones have discovered four 'lost' songs from the recording sessions for their 1972 LP Exile On Main Street. The songs – which have never previously been heard, even by many of the Stones' most rabid aficionados – were discovered after Mick Jagger and Keith Richards listened again to the original master tapes of the sessions for the double LP. The newly discovered songs are called 'Plundered My Soul,' 'Dancing In The Light' (which has been heard on bootlegs before, and is rather fine), 'Following The River' and 'Pass The Win.' An insider - who has heard two of the songs - said: ''Plundered My Soul' is a classic authentic blues riff with an unmistakable Keith lick and abstract lyrics from Mick. 'Following The River' is a ballad in the tradition of 'Wild Horses.'' Jagger and Richards found the songs when they were asked by their record company to listen to the tapes again in preparation for a reissue the ground-breaking record. Initially, the pair believed that they had used all the songs on the 1972 double LP. Jagger revealed: 'I went back in the archives and dug out a load of things. I added some percussion and some vocals. Keith put guitar on one or two.' The frontman said that he had written fresh lyrics for 'Following The River.' However, bar that, they had kept any revisions to a minimum. Richards added: 'I really wanted to leave them pretty much as they were. I didn't want to interfere with the Bible, you know? They still had that great basement sound.' In all, the band are to re-release the LP with ten unheard recordings – of which four are the newly discovered songs. These will also, reportedly, include previously unheard alternate takes of 'Soul Suvivor' and 'Loving Cup.' The new CD will come out on 17 May and will coincide with a documentary - Stones In Exile - which has used archive footage to chronicle the making of the LP. The original eighteen-song LP was recorded at a number of different studios over a four-year period. Locations included Olympic Studios in London including some leftover material from another of the band's masterworks, 1969's Let It Bleed, then later, after the release of Sticky Fingers, in 1971 at Richard's tumbledown south of France mansion, Nellcôte (once a 'place of interrogation' for the Gestapo during World War II). Also, Jagger's country house, Stargroves, in Buckinghamshire and a variety of studios in Los Angeles where the literal Main Street influenced the LP's title were used. The length of the recording - from early 1969 to 1972 - and the various locations is believed to be one of the reasons why the newly discovered songs had disappeared into the cracks of history, unlike several other Stones outtakes from this period - like the jams 'Potted Shrimp' and 'Leather Jacket' - which, whilst they have never been officially released, have at least made it into the public arena via bootlegs. The band's notorious drug use at that time is also thought likely to have made their memories somewhat hazy. Tales of the various illicit narcotic substances floating around during the sessions - particularly at Nellcôte where Keef was reportedly the Corsican drug-mafia's main source of income for a while - have filled several books. The Stones had chosen to stockpile songs at that time while they were deciding how to resolve their tax status, which eventually saw them become virtually permanent tax exiles. They also wanted to make sure that copywrite on recordings made before their acrimonious split with notorious manager Allen Klein in early 1970 didn't end up partially belonging to him (as the December 1969 Muscle Shoals recordings of 'Brown Sugar' and 'Wild Horses' do, to this day). Ironically upon its release, in 1972, the LP initially received a rather lukewarm response from the music press - and, indeed, from Jagger himself - although, the record-buying public were more savvy and it went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic. It is now considered to be an authentic masterpiece and easily the best collection of songs that the band ever released. Brilliantly described by Courtney Love as 'a bunch of rich white boys, hanging out in a French Nazi torture chamber pretending to be poor black men singing the blues,' Exile contains such classics as 'Tumbling Dice', 'Rocks Off', Keith Richards' delirious 'Happy' and 'I Just Wanna See His Face', the oddest gospel song ever written.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stop The Clock

Headline of the week - if not, indeed, of the century - from the Sun: Amanda in Big Top flop chop. Almost as good as Becks Wears My Keks, that. But, not quite as impressive as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Korea?

The producers of Lost have explained their decision to screen flash-sideways sequences in the show's final season. Previous storytelling methods on the series have included flashbacks and flash-forwards. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse said that the current season 'is about parallel timelines.' Yeah, I think most of us had managed to work that out for ourselves thanks, guys. The duo explained that when planning for season six, they were unsure over whether to play out a tweaked timeline off the island, or one in which the attempt to re-write history did not work. 'We thought just doing one would not inherently be satisfying,' Cuse revealed. 'We've designed each season to be its own thing. This season is about parallel timelines. The thing that was appealing to us as storytellers is that in hitting that reset button, we get to make the show really feel like season one. We're basically getting to tell origins for that characters all over again.'

Cynthia Watros has revealed that she would love to become a series regular on House. Earlier this month, it was announced that the former Lost star had been cast as Sam Carr, Wilson's ex-wife. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Watros admitted: 'To be able to call this my home would be fantastic.' However, Robert Sean Leonard suggested that their rekindled romance may not last long when House interferes. 'Of all the women he's been with, she hurt Wilson the deepest,' he explained. 'When House hears she's back, he's ready for battle.' Leonard added that he believes Watros is a great addition to the cast and likes 'how she fits in alongside Hugh and Lisa.'

ITV West newsreader Lisa Aziz has left ITV and dropped a series of racist allegations against colleagues. The experienced presenter, who spent ten years at Sky before joining ITV in 2005, announced that she is leaving the broadcaster for 'personal reasons.' Aziz has also withdrawn 'serious and damaging' allegations that she made against fellow newsreaders and management, including Steve Scott, who she accused of 'racist mimicking' of Sir Trevor McDonald. 'The allegations were made while I was very angry and unwell. I now withdraw all the allegations and wish to continue to develop my career,' Aziz said of the claims that followed, to which ITV at the time branded as 'baseless.' Her case was due to be heard next month. Of her departure, she added: 'I leave ITV knowing that my time at ITV has been amongst the most fulfilling of my career in television and I have the highest regard for the quality of journalism produced there.' A spokesman for ITV said: 'Lisa has made a significant contribution to our team. We have now resolved all of the outstanding issues and we wish Lisa success in the future.' In July last year, the West Country Tonight co-anchor was suspended by ITV for reported inconsistancies in her expenses claims. Aziz, Britain's first Asian television newsreader, joined ITV in 2006 as the one hundred and sixty thousand pounds-a-year presenter of West Country Tonight, the nightly news programme for the region. She had previously worked at TV-AM, the BBC and Sky News. At the time, ITV West bosses hailed her appointment as a 'coup' and praised her 'excellent credentials.' However, last year she launched her discrimination claim against the broadcaster. So ... hang on, let me get this straight. Ms Aziz is, essentially, admitting that she lied when she claimed that colleagues were racist, because that's what these two statements appear to say.

Doctor Who fans created a bidding frenzy at a prop auction in London, leading a twenty five-year-old battered Dalek figure with missing parts being bought for over twenty thousand pounds. The black and gold 'Imperial' MK 1 Dalek was made for the 1985 story Revelation Of The Daleks and reached the highest price at the Bonhams prop auction. Despite having a replacement plunger arm and eyeball and missing five shoulder slats and its wheel base, a keen fan paid twenty thousand four hundred pounds. Another Dalek was also bought for a whopping fifteen grand, which is more than double the price estimated – especially considering they are made from simple products such as foam latex and fibreglass. Cybermen costumes fetched up to nine thousand six hundred pounds each and Kylie Minogue's waitress outfit and knee-high boots sold for three thousand one hundred and twenty pounds. Minogue played Astrid Peth in the Voyage Of The Damned Christmas special in 2007, while Billie Piper's pyjamas and dressing gown from her role as Rose Tyler in 2006 sold for six hundred knicker. More than one hundred and sixty items from the hit series, dating back to the 1970s, were part of the sale.

Who says that all footballers are thick? Well ... Joey Barton does, but nobody takes much notice of him. At a time where John Terry and Ashley Cole are seemingly intent on dragging the name of their fellow professionals through the mud, one player is actually improving the sport's reputation. Clarke Carlisle said he was 'delighted and relieved' to beat his opponent during his first appearance on Countdown. The Burnley defender saw off reigning champion Adam Guest by eighty nine points to fifty five, even guessing the conundrum at the end. He told host Jeff Stelling: 'I can't say it's better than winning a big football game - but it's up there.' Carlisle said he has always wanted to appear on the Channel 4 word and numbers show. 'It's a lifelong ambition. I'm just delighted to be here.' Carlisle had previously failed an audition for the show during a long-term injury several years ago. But now the athlete is set to return on Thursday's episode after winning his first game. In 2002, he was crowned Britain's Brainiest Footballer in an ITV show hosted by former Countdown co-host Carol Vorderman.

Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan has revealed that she is 'much more vulnerable and sensitive' than her Weatherfield character Rosie Webster. In an interview with the Mirror, the twenty-year-old admitted that her alter ego's bitchy side can sometimes cause problems because stupid people confuse her with Rosie when they approach her on nights out. Flanagan explained: 'Rosie is so awful and I think people sometimes assume I'm going to be like my character. People expect me to be Rosie and they expect me to overreact like she would. All people see is Rosie, or how I am portrayed in the press, and think that is the real me. But it is not true - the real me is so much more vulnerable and sensitive. People can say really nasty things to me when I'm out and call me really nasty names. If somebody said something mean to Rosie, she would snap back with a really good answer, but I'm not like that. I just think, "Why are they being mean to me?"' Oh, boo-hoo. if you don't like it, go work in a call-centre, see if that's more to the liking of a delicate ego. Jeez, precious-much? Flanagan said that she rarely visits bars and clubs because she prefers going out for meals with friends. She added: 'If I am photographed out on the town, it is often because I have been to an event linked with work. It might look like I go out clubbing all the time, but I don't. I am very different to Rosie - she'd be out clubbing every night.'

The personal assistant to former Ramones manager Linda Stein has been convicted in a New York court of bludgeoning her boss to death. Prosecutors said Natavia Lowery, twenty eight, stole more than thirty thousand dollars from Stein, then clubbed her with a piece of exercise equipment to try and hide it. Jurors spent less than a day reaching a second-degree murder verdict. Stein was found dead at her Manhattan apartment on 30 October 2007 having died from blows to the head and neck. Although Lowery's lawyers acknowledged that she stole from Stein and at least one previous employer, they denied she had killed her. They argued in their closing statements that police plied their client into a false confession after twelve hours of continuous questioning. Lowery had initially denied any knowledge of the killing, blaming it on a masked stranger who told her not to report it. She eventually gave a videotaped account of beating Stein to death after her employer badgered her about the pace of her work and blew cannabis smoke in her face. Authorities later determined there was no cannabis in Stein's body when she died, and she suffered far more than the six blows Lowery described. Surveillance videotape also showed the personal assistant leaving Stein's building soon after the estimated time of the killing. Stein managed The Ramones along with Danny Fields during the band's heyday. The ex-wife of Sire Records head, Seymour Stein, she went into property after parting company with the band in 1980. Dubbed a 'broker to the stars,' Stein's clients included Madonna, Sting, Steven Spielberg and Angelina Jolie.

Kiefer Sutherland has returned to the set of 24 after filming was halted because he needed to undergo surgery on a burst cyst. Doctors gave the star the all clear to return to work and continue filming the eighth series, Twentieth Century Fox Television said.

A popular US sports presenter has been suspended after criticising a female colleague live on-air for 'dressing too young.' Tony Kornheiser sparked outrage when he said that Hannah Storm, forty seven, was 'too old' to wear red go-go boots and a short skirt. He also said her top was so tight that she looked like she was wrapped in 'sausage casing.' While the mother-of-three appeared to laugh off the comments, Kornheiser's bosses at the ESPN sports network failed to see the funny side. They suspended the sixty one-year-old from his radio show for two weeks. Kornhesier has since apologised for his remarks which were made last week during his radio talk show Pardon the Interruption. The veteran presenter had begun his radio show, also hosted by ESPN, stating: 'Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She's got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt... way too short for somebody in her forties or maybe early fifties. She's got on her typically very, very tight shirt. She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body. I know she's very good, and I'm not supposed to be critical of ESPN people, so I won't. But Hannah Storm, come on now! Stop! What are you doing? She's what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point.' Storm is known for her penchant for wearing boots and short skirts. In 2008, she blogged about her personal style, saying 'My preference is fitted and feminine clothes and I am really happy with my style now because it's much more reflective of my personality and a lot more fun, rather than being so anchor-ish! Cowboy boots are my favourite. I like them pretty beat up and distressed and wear them with everything from short dresses to jeans.' Storm added: 'I think you can look age-appropriate but still don't have to sacrifice style.' Kornheiser apologised for his remarks, saying: 'I was wrong. This is sort of what I do, and I'm sorry for it. I'm a sarcastic, subversive guy. I'm a troll, look at me. I have no right to insult what anybody looks like or what anybody wears.' ESPN executive vice president of content John Skipper said such 'hurtful and personal comments' were not acceptable and had 'significant consequences'. 'Hannah is a respected colleague who has been an integral part of the success of our morning SportsCenter,' he said. Ashley Cole has blamed estranged wife Cheryl's busy career for their marriage split, according to a report today in the Mirror. And, not his own serial philandering? Interesting theory.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rhythm Of Life

EastEnders was brilliant last night, yet again. Mouthy Zainab got one of the great sequences in the show's entire twenty five year history as she delivered her latest baby whilst - between the screams of labour - getting to shoot off a stream of quite extraordinary, pain-induced one-liners. 'I'll see if I can talk her down' noted Christian at one point as he got on his mobile to the local hospital when her waters broke. 'Talk me down? I'm not a bloody plane!' she quipped through gritted teeth.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Lost was concentrating this week on Boring Old Jack Sheppard and his seemingly never-ending 'mission.' Not forgetting his alternate-universe relationship with a son whom we'd never ever heard mention of previously. Of course, that sequence with him discovering his appendix scar should have given the audience something of a hint of revelation. That, presumably because of the bomb going off in 1977, a whole hell of a lot of things may be very different indeed about the world in which Flight 815 didn't crash. Not only lives regained but lives actually changes. Desmond on the plane. Ben working as a teacher. The Japanese man crossing Jack's path. Etc. Fortunately, there was some Hurley humour to ease the bum-aching tension of a Jack-centric episode and a great subplot about the only Lost regular who, categorically, had never killed anyone before now becoming a completely cold-blooded psycho-murderess. Good old Lost, if there's a totally mental story path to follow, they'll ruddy well go for it! No sawyer this week, though. Not cool.

24, on the other hand, is getting very bogged down in it's traditional 'mid-series blues' - if you notice, it always seems to happen around episodes seven, eight or nine, usually because that's about as far as the initial block of plotting goes. The writers never plot in advance of that because recurring actors can suddenly need to leave to take another job. So, we've got the pointless her-off-Battlestar Galactica-being-blackmailed plot (now, thankfully, coming towards a climax) and the Renee-getting-set-up plot (dealt with Big Hard Jack in a couple of scenes). And, as ever, sudden changes of character motivation are something of an occupational hazard when it comes to Jack Bauer's world so, suddenly, some of the baddies are growing convenient consciences. Hopefully, things should start to pick up again next week now that Jack's leading a team into potential mayhem with the blood and the snots and horror. Yer Keith Telly Topping is rather looking forward to that.

The Thick of It actor Chris Addison has revealed that he is nothing like his on-screen character. Well, no. That's because he's 'an actor' and, as such, is 'playing a part.' What a frigging revelation. Next ... Addison, who plays the feckless and often arrogant Oli in the BBC political comedy, added that many people are surprised by his real personality. That's, presumably, because they're bone-thick. He told the Nottingham Evening Post: 'A lot of people who come along don't have any idea what my stand-up's going to be like but come because they've seen me on The Thick of It. They come up to me and say, "You're not at all how I imagined." And I say, "Well, what was that, then?" and they say, "You know, like Oli." I think, 'That's because he's a character in a fictional television programme."' See what I mean? Addison, seen right shortly after a hamster ran up his trouser leg, is also a - very highly-regarded - stand-up having appeared regularly on Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, as well as presenting a weekend current affairs debate show on Radio 5Live. The thirty eight-year-old concluded: 'I've always thought of myself as a stand-up but nowadays in interviews I'm always introduced as, "The actor Chris Addison." It's kind of strange because I've acted very little in my life, but have done fifteen years as a stand-up.'

John Barrowman has revealed details of his upcoming stint on Desperate Housewives. The Torchwood star told the Digital Spy website that he will be playing a villain who changes the lives of 'every one of the women' on Wisteria Lane. 'I haven't met any of them - the only person I know is [creator] Marc Cherry. The reason that I am going over to do Desperate Housewives is because Marc is a fan of Torchwood and he said, "I'd love to bring you out here to do something." I'm doing five episodes and I'm gonna be a villain. I will be involved in the mystery storyline that they're doing at the moment with [Drea de Matteo]. I've been told by Marc that I will affect every one of the women in some way.' Barrowman added that he 'can't wait' to read the scripts and hopes that Doctor Who and Torchwood fans will tune in. Meanwhile, on last night's The ONE Show he noted that, in fact, he will be in six episodes rather than five.

And, Barrowman's former cast-mate, David Tennant, (remember him?) along with The West Wing's Jason Isaacs and Thandie Newton will head the cast of psychological thriller Retreat. The Magent Films production finds a holidaying couple (Isaacs and Newton) having their break ruined when Tennant turns up on their doorstep and tells them that a deadly virus is killing people on the mainland. Magnet producer Gary Sinyor told Screen Daily: 'It reminded me of Dead Calm when I first read it. Only better. It's got a similar sexual tension but the battle of wits between the characters and plot twists are constantly surprising. We're delighted to have secured three of the UK's most powerful actors.' Carl Tibbetts will make his feature directing debut on the film from a script he co-wrote with Janice Hallett. Shooting is scheduled to take place in Canada in May.

The season five finale of Bones is called The Beginning in the End, the show's executive producer has revealed. The title alludes to the fourth season's closing episode, which was, of course, The End in the Beginning. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Hart Hanson teased: 'Isn't the meaning just as crystal clear as [last season's finale] The End in the Beginning?' Not if viewers keep watching the show, I'm guessing.

Damon Lindelof has admitted that he was not prepared for fans to scrutinise Lost's final season. You weren't? Well, what the hell did you think they were going to do? And, furthermore, what the hell programme have you been making for the last five years, then?! There has never been a series that's been as 'scrutinised' and theorised over' as Lost! Not even The X-Files, and that really is saying something. The show's executive producer recently responded to some fans' criticism via Twitter, also having a go at NCIS: Los Angeles in the process. 'For those of you complaining of "filler." Seriously. PLEASE WATCH NCIS: LOS ANGELES,' he wrote. 'I promise not to hold it against you.' Oh, what a wonderful idea - piss-off a significant proportion of your fanbase, that's sure to win friends and influence people. Better yet, whilst you're doing so, have a chat to the guys over at Heroes and see how the same policy worked out for them? Lindelof later told Entertainment Weekly: 'I have to be better about not being reactive that way. I certainly was not prepared for the level of scrutiny that the show is being held to this season. It's like if you actually had to have your Christmas televised as the Super Bowl half-time show and America was going to watch what you bought for your family as presents then pass judgement on them.' But, that's always been the way with TV and some shows get more of it than others. You know that by now. And if you don't, seriously, what have you been doing the last five years? Living on an island? If you don't want attention, you're in the wrong game, pal.

The BBC’s contemporary re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes has secured its first international sale with Australia’s Nine Network. The three part series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the eponymous role and Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson, will air on the commercial broadcaster later this year. Michael Healy, of the Nine Network, said Australian audiences traditionally embrace BBC drama, adding that Sherlock will be 'a valuable addition to our schedule later this year.' Set in modern day London, Holmes is portrayed as an analytical deduction fanatic who helps the police with their enquiries for fun. Watson, fresh from serving in Afghanistan, puts aside initial scepticism to form an alliance with Holmes. The new version was co-created and written by the recently appointed showrunner on Doctor Who, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss. It is being produced by Hartswood Films.

Former Emmerdale acrtess Linda Lusardi has revealed that she would consider returning to the soap in the future. The former Page Three model played Carrie Nicholls on the Yorkshire-based drama for a year, but quit the role in late 2007 because she wanted to spend more time with her family. However, in a new interview with the North Wales Chronicle, Lusardi hinted that she would be willing to return to the role when her children Lucy and Jack, are older. Lusardi commented: 'I loved Emmerdale. I did it for over a year, and it was a really good grounding for an actress because you are getting new scripts every day. I had to leave because of the children, we live too far away and it was not fair on them. Emmerdale has left the door open - who knows, I could go back.' The star added that taking on acting and reality show roles over the past few years has helped her to become known as more than just a model. She said: 'There are the under twenties who know me because of Dancing On Ice, Emmerdale and The Bill. People do recognise me, and ask me for autographs. That is part of being in the business.' Yeah. But still, the North Wales Chronicle? It's a bit of a come down from the Sun, isn't it?

The Conservative Party has backed an England and Wales Cricket Board campaign to block The Ashes from joining a list of protected events for free-to-air television. The shadow sports minister, Hugh Robertson, described the government's proposed move as 'brave if not very foolish' at a time when revenue streams in sport are under growing pressure. His comments come after a review panel recommended last year that the list of protected FTA events should be expanded to include The Ashes, the rugby union World Cup, the whole of Wimbledon and all home nation international football qualifiers. Led by the ECB, various sporting bodies have criticised the plan, mostly in regards to the money that would be taken away from UK grassroots sport development. In 1998, the ECB successfully lobbied for Test matches to be removed from the protected list, which enabled it to agree a two hundred and twenty million pounds TV rights deal with Sky. A further three hundred million pound deal with the satcaster will come into force next year, which includes the 2013 Ashes tournament. However, supporters point to the fact that 7.4 million people tuned-in to watch the final Ashes Test at the Oval in 2005 when it was screened on Channel 4, compared to two million who watched the climax of the 2009 tournament on Sky. Of course, they don't mention that two million was, roughly, the figure that Channel 4 were getting for none-Ashes test cricket just a year or two earlier. Speaking at a debate with sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe and Liberal Democrat sports spokesman Don Foster, Robertson said that the Tories would not support the Ashes being included on the FTA-protected list. 'When the review was launched the calculation was made that there were an awful lot of votes in returning cricket to free-to-air,' said Robertson. 'Now people are just waking up to the fact that eighty per cent of the ECB's income comes from broadcast income and if you take that away you are going to decimate quite a lot of investment that has gone in to women's cricket and the grassroots. At a time when the public purse is under greater pressure than ever before that's a brave if not a very foolish call to make.' The review panel's recommendations are currently in a consultation period, before culture secretary Ben Bradshaw makes a final decision on the proposal. As the consultation comes to a close in early March and the general election must take place before 3 June, Bradshaw will have a tight three-month window to reach his decision, meaning the policy could fall under a Tory administration. Robertson said that he would rather see sporting bodies take the initiative in offering a mixture of pay-TV and FTA broadcast rights for key events. 'I do feel listing events is an artificial interference in the freedom of a sport's governing body. I would much rather have a smaller than a longer list,' he said. 'If we are going to allow a sport's governing bodies that freedom I would look for them to guarantee in return that a set proportion of their income is invested in the grassroots.'

And now, some truly glorious news: The BBC has axed Amanda Holden's circus sitcom Big Top, according to tabloid reports. Following a bout of truly disastrous ratings, it has been announced that the series, which also stars John Thomson and Tony Robinson, will not be returning for a second run. The Stage said the jokes were 'limp and lumbered with punchlines Nostradamus probably saw coming,' while the Observer called it 'unashamedly lame.' The Times' Caitlin Moran added: 'Were the awfulness of Big Top rendered into miles, we could use it as a bridge to the Moon.' The Sun also claims that the Britain's Got Talent judge's ITV show Fantasy Lives may also be 'pulled' after it failed to perform even remotely in the ratings. An insider claims that 'Amanda had high hopes that the other two shows could become long-running series.' Hopes which have now, seemingly, been satisfyingly dashed although ITV is yet to make an announcement over the future of Fantasy Lives. Recently, the thirty nine-year-old actress revealed that she would love to team up with Britain's Got More Talent host Stephen Mulhern, joking that they could be the next Richard and Judy. Run Stephen. Run now. Run for your life, if you want your career to survive.

Piers Morgan has criticised Fern Britton after the ex-This Morning presenter scorned his recent interview with Gordon Brown. Writing in his weekly Daily Mail column, the objectionable Britain's Got Talent judge brushed aside Britton's comments on Andrew Neil's This Week. Morgan said: 'On and on she droned, in a weird undertaker-style monotone, professing her outraged shock and horror at my "tabloid" line of questioning. This is, of course, the same Fern Britton who spent a decade on This Morning asking vacuous celebrities questions so "tabloid" in their content that most tabloids would reject them as being too dumb. And the same Fern Britton who was caught lying to her faithful viewers about her dramatic weight loss - claiming it was all down to eating healthier and cycling, when in fact it was down to gastric band surgery.' He added: 'I used to like Fern. She was kind to me once when I co-hosted This Morning with her for a week (in between telling me quite hair-raising stories about Frank Bough during commercial breaks). But there really is nothing that sticks in my gullet more than turncoats like her sticking the boot in, while affecting pseudo-intellectual snobbery. Especially when they are shameless little fibbers.' Keith Telly Topping must add that he, too, loathes 'shameless little fibbers,' Piers. Especially ones who publish faked photographs in the newspapers that they edit.

The BBC Trust has ordered an on-air apology from the BBC after en episode of Panorama 'distorted known facts' and breached its own impartiality rules. Panorama: What's Next for Craig, broadcast on BBC1 in November 2007, and examined scientific research into treatments for children with Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder. The programme examined the findings of a major, three-year American study – known as the 'Multimodel Treatment Study of Children' – but it 'relied solely' on the views of one of the scientists involved whose views differed from the others. 'Panorama did not accurately report the findings of a follow-up scientific study comparing the treatment of children with ADHD [and] the programme makers should not have relied solely on the views of one scientist,' the Trust said. 'The audience should have been informed that there was a wide range of views on the subject,' it added. It also rapped the corporation for failing to recognise there had been a serious editorial breach and has called a meeting with deputy director general Mark Byford to discuss 'the steps to be taken' to ensure the breaches do not happen again. No date has been set for the on-air apology, but it will be broadcast during a future edition of Panorama.

The second series of Survivors bowed out with an overnight audience of 3.67m on BBC1 last night. The series two finale managed to better last week's performance, but it failed to beat the first episode of the year, which was watching by four and a half million on 12 January. Across its six-week run, the series has managed an average of 3.81m. Whether that will be enough to secure a third series, I wouldn't like to speculate although, in terms to the actual show itself, I've quite enjoyed it and it's been getting decent audience appreciation feedback. Ultimately, however, it's a pretty expensive drama to make and it will come down to whether the BBC feel that its expense is justified by a - decidedly average - drama audience of under four million. Once upon a time that would have been a no-brainer and it would have been cancelled without a second thought. But, these days, you simply never know.

UKTV's factual channel Yesterday has commissioned a one-off documentary to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Dunkirk. The World War II documentary Dunkirk: The Forgotten Heroes will be broadcast around the anniversary weekend in May. It will recount the story of the one hundred thousand Allied soldiers - including yer Keith Telly Topping's dear old dad, as it happens - left as a last-stand to guard those troops who were evacuated across the Channel from France in 1940. The hour-long documentary has been produced by Testimony Films following a commission by UKTV's director of commissioning Jane Rogerson. It was ordered by Yesterday channel head Richard Kingsbury and UKTV's director of factual and lifestyle Jane Mote. Kingsbury said the channel, which attracts ten million viewers each month, was tapping into demand from viewers ahead of the anniversary. 'This year we have seen a surge in interest in the events of seventy years ago and we will be feeding that interest with a series of original programmes that mark the biggest anniversaries of 1940,' Kingsbury said.

London's Abbey Road studios, where The Beatles recorded the vast majority of their output, has been made a listed building, protecting it from plans to radically alter it. The venue has been given Grade II status - the third-highest category - for its role in shaping British music. Culture Minister Margaret Hodge listed the studios on the advice of English Heritage saying it had 'produced some of the very best music in the world.' Its owners, EMI, recently denied reports that it was to be sold off to ease debts. Listing for the property, whose official address is No. 3 Abbey Road, was granted due to its historic, rather than any specific architectural, merit. It means that any future owners must be careful to make sure the character of the property is treated with respect, but it does not prohibit some limited internal changes. The Beatles used Abbey Road for ninety per cent of their recordings, naming the last LP they recorded as a group after the studios in 1969. Other notable recordings there included Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon. The Department for Culture Media and Sport said the listing acknowledged the studios' 'outstanding cultural interest' and was to ensure recording artists for generations to come could continue to make and record music in the same rooms as musical icons. Last week industry figures such as Sir Paul McCartney voiced their concern that EMI was reported to be hoping to sell the studios, while Andrew Lloyd Webber expressed an interest in buying the complex. However, EMI later said it did not want to put the property up for sale.

Paul Daniels has claimed that TV bosses should start freeing up slots for professional performers. The terminally unfunny magician, who fronted The Paul Daniels Magic Show on the BBC between 1979 and 1994 before he was sacked, claimed that reality competitions are currently giving too much exposure to untrained acts. Well, if it means keeping your talentless gnomish fizzog off the goggle-box in perpetuity, Daniels me auld pal, more power to Simon Cowell's elbow.