Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Excuses To Use When Getting On A Plane: Number One - "It's A Sonic Screwdriver. Honest"

Something really rather curious has happened to 24. In the two weeks since it was announced that the show was to end once the current series is over, the - frankly rather dreary - eighth season has, suddenly, taken off and gotten really good really quickly. Previously uninspiring storylines are now starting to click, the introduction of a couple of new characters has been productive and the sudden, wholly unexpected, revelation this week about one of the characters seems to have taken pretty much everyone by surprise. Good on 'em, cos frankly I was getting worried. There's been no such problems on Lost, this year though. The - long awaited - Jin and Sun episode this week was packed with clever moments and brilliant dialogue. 'Obviously, you're not John Locke. Everything else I know is a combination of myth, ghost stories and jungle noises in the night.' Almost, almost the best line of the series, that. I mean, how can anybody not love a show that includes a moment like the one where Not-Locke tells Sawyer that he can't simply 'fly' to Hydra island in a column of smoke and that, if he could, he'd already have done so? 'No, because that'd be ridiculous,' says Josh Holloway with the comic timing of Eric Morecambe it his finest. And, as for the identity of the 'package'... Ah, this show just keeps on giving.

Armando Iannucci is to write a new series of The Thick Of It, but only after a chance meeting with a BBC executive. According to the Sun, Iannucci was at an awards show when he saw a BBC commissioning executive and approached him about the BBC2 comedy returning. 'The BBC never got in touch with Armando to confirm a new series after the last one ended, despite it being massively successful,' a source told the tabloid. 'It was only after he met the execs by chance and told them he was still up for it that they sorted it. They were lucky another channel didn't snap him up.' The Thick Of It follows the work of fictional political spin doctor Malcolm Tucker and spawned the Oscar-nominated film In The Loop.

Media regulator Ofcom has proposed a limit on the amount Sky can charge rival broadcasters to show its premium sports channels. The broadcaster would have to sell Sky Sports 1 and 2 for £10.63 each a month - twenty three per cent less than the current price. The proposal - part of the result of a three-year inquiry - aims to offer viewers more choice of pay-TV services. Sky said it would appeal against the 'unwarranted intervention,' arguing it would be to the detriment of consumers. 'This is a marketplace where customers are well served with high levels of choice and innovation,' Sky said. 'Consumers will not benefit if regulators blunt incentives to invest and take risks.' Bodies representing rugby, football and cricket - which rely on lucrative TV rights deals - fear the proposals will mean less money going into sport. A spokesperson for the English Premier League said it was 'very disappointed' and was studying the findings carefully. BT said it hoped to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 cheaper than Sky in time for the start of the next football season. But it added: 'Ofcom should have gone much further than it did. They should have included all Sky Sports channels, not just two. The wholesale price for the two sports channels is higher than the regulator had previously suggested.' It also complained that Ofcom had not set a regulated price for HD channels. As part of what could be a major shake-up of the pay-TV industry, Sky has also been given permission to offer pay-TV services on Freeview, replacing Sky's current free channels. This, however, is conditional on Sky implementing the wholesale part of the deal, Ofcom said. If it decides to offer movie channels on digital terrestrial, it must also offer these to competitors, the regulator added. The move could mean ten million Freeview-only homes having access to premium sport such the Premier League for the first time. Ofcom estimates this could lead to up to two million more people subscribing to premium TV channels in the next five years. 'Consumers will in the future enjoy a greater range of innovative services following fresh investment by competing pay-TV providers,' it said. The broadcast regulator also found that Sky's dominance in the supply of premium movies was restricting viewer choice, particularly when it comes to video-on-demand services. However, it said it did not have the necessary powers to address these concerns and proposed referring the matter to the Competition Commission for them to look into.

In a related story, the Rugby Football Union has said that it intends to 'take legal advice' about a challenge to Ofcom's price reduction. Reacting to the move, RFU chief executive Francis Baron said that he is 'incredibly disappointed' that concerns expressed by the RFU and other sporting bodies have not been taken into account by Ofcom in its 'inadequate and flawed' consultation. 'Ofcom set out to review pay-TV but in doing so have ended up interfering in the sports right market where they have no competence nor experience and their intervention will remove competition from the sports rights market,' he said. Baron said that the watchdog is effectively taking sports rights away from governing bodies and giving them to companies that have previously shown no inclination to invest in rights deals of their own. 'Ofcom's proposed approach effectively confiscates our rights and donates them to organisations who have consistently declined to invest in sports rights despite having balance sheets that dwarf Sky's,' he said, presumably referring to BT and Virgin Media. 'The role of a regulator is to increase competition in the market but in sports rights they are removing competition and disincentivising multi-billion pound businesses from bidding for rights in the future. The result for all sports right holders is uniformly negative with the resulting reduction in rights values likely to force all of us to cut our grassroots' investments and compromising our ability to deliver against the government's participation targets. We will review this very seriously indeed to decide what our actions may be. Clearly we will be taking appropriate legal advice on this matter.' The England and Wales Cricket Board has also said that it is 'greatly concerned' about the implications of Ofcom's decision. ECB director of marketing Steven Elworthy said that the pricing model will negatively impact on the amount Sky is willing to pay for rights and therefore result in less money coming into sport. 'Broadcasting revenues are vital to the health of our sport, allowing us to reinvest in successful England teams and cricket's grassroots,' he said. 'Unfortunately Ofcom undertook very little discussion with ourselves before taking this decision and have failed to consider the damage it could cause to the sport.'

Matt Smith was reportedly stopped by airport customs for carrying the Doctor Who sonic screwdriver. According to the Sun, the actor was pulled to one side at Heathrow airport when the scanner showed the prop in his hand luggage. 'Matt's a huge fan of the screwdriver so didn't think anything of carrying it with him on the plane,' a source told the tabloid. 'It's basically just a fake prop and doesn't exactly do much. But going through the X-ray scanner it probably looks like a weapon, albeit something you'd see in Star Wars.' The source added: 'Matt was very polite and explained what the screwdriver was. But the guards just looked puzzled. Fortunately he had some Doctor Who promo material on him so was able to show them who he was. Once the penny dropped and they had a proper look at the screwdriver, they let him through.'

Meanwhile Matt - wearing a particularly nasty jumper it must be said - and Karen Gillan were at the University of Sunderland last night as it hosted a special sneak preview of the first episode of the new series - The Eleventh Hour - to a young invite-only audience. Children from across the North East and Cumbria were rewarded for their achievements in school. Karen's grandfather is originally from Sunderland. She said: 'I am half-Mackem, so it was lovely to come here. We went to Inverness earlier on today, so we've done Inverness and Sunderland in the same day - the two halves of me.' Matt explained: 'It has been very daunting at stages, but for now it's something that's utterly enjoyable and a challenge we're relishing.' And, you can check out Look North's interview with the pair (and, listen to a snatch of my old BBC Newcastle oppo and writing partner Alfie Joey interviewing them, including a couple of questions prepared by yer very own Keith Telly Topping) here. You've got to love the way Matt describes the role of the Doctor as 'playing in the Champions League'!

A UK remake of Fox's paranormal US series The Oaks is among a trio of dramas being lined up by ITV in the wake of The Bill being cancelled. The Oaks was created by David Schulner and tells the story of a haunted house that is lived in by three different families over three decades. The series was originally piloted as part of FOX's 2008-09 season, when it was hotly tipped as a potential competitor to Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, but FOX passed on the full run. The five part reworking will be produced by ITV Studios and adapted by Stephen Greenhorn, a former writer on The Bill and creator of BBC Scotland soap River City. The show grew out of a 2008 deal between ITV Studios and FOX to identify properties on their respective slates that could be developed for the other's home market. The Oaks was greenlit by director of ITV drama Laura Mackie and will start filming in July, subject to final contracts. Joining this on ITV's slate are DCI Banks: Aftermath and Monroe. The former is a two part crime thriller by Left Bank Pictures, starring Stephen Tompkinson. It is based on the novels of crime writer Peter Robinson. Wild At Heart star Tompkinson will play brooding and melancholic detective Alan Banks, who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. Production begins in Yorkshire this month. The drama will be directed by James Hawes. Finally, Monroe is a dark, medical series from Mammoth Screen, written by Occupation's Peter Bowker. The six part series centres on the intense and often difficult world of a neurosurgeon and the patients with whom he comes into contact. It was commissioned by Mackie and director of television Peter Fincham and will be broadcast in 2011. Unlike other medical series such as audience favourites ER and Casualty, the drama will focus on one character rather than an ensemble cast and will be less A&E-based. It also aims to reflect the dark humour that enables people to cope in life-threatening situations. Bowker began his writing career on medical series including Casualty, Peak Practice and Medics.

David Boreanaz has teased that Bones fans can expect a 'big shift and change' in the show's fifth season finale. The actor, who plays Seeley Booth in the FOX crime drama, revealed that each of the characters would be impacted by the closing episode. 'There will be a big shift and change for everybody. It's a really great season finale. We shot the last scene last week and it was very moving and hard to get through,' he said. 'I think it will elevate these characters even more so for the next season to come.' Boreanaz - who recently directed the show's one hundredth episode - told the Digital Spy website that it was 'tough' trying to name a favourite moment from the programme's past five seasons. 'There are so many moments I really enjoyed or scenes we had,' he explained. 'We had fun doing the Halloween episode, and I loved shooting the pilot because it was new and challenging and everybody was like, "Is this show going to go?" I also loved the one hundredth because it was fun to go back in time.'

Jennifer Morrison will return to House in the episode to be broadcast on Monday 12 April, it has been confirmed. According to Entertainment Weekly, the actress will reprise her role as Chase estranged wife Cameron, and bring 'some interesting paperwork' with her. The instalment - the next to air in the US after a month-long hiatus - is titled Lockdown.

Matt Damon has signed up for a guest stint on 30 Rock. According to Entertainment Weekly, the actor will feature in an episode close to the season finale. Last year, 30 Rock creator Tina Fey confessed that Damon would be her ideal guest star for the show. He later responded: 'I would do [it] in a heartbeat if they asked me to come on. She should call my people - or even better me. Or I could call her. Let's make this happen.'

Channel 4 is to turn its Cutting Edge ratings hit My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding into a six-part series on the back of calls by viewers for more on the subject. A series of the same name from producer Firecraker Films will broadcast in early 2011. It will pick up where the last film left off - featuring some of the same faces - and will include other gypsy celebrations and events such as communions, christenings and funerals. The original Cutting Edge was watched by a consolidated audience of over six million viewers and was the strand's most watched film for almost fifteen years. Commissioning editor Alistair Pegg said viewers had demanded to see more on the gypsies' lives following the success of the documentary. Audience feedback was monitored on social networking site Twitter. 'I hope My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding will go deeper into the community and culture we saw to such jaw-dropping effect in the Cutting Edge [show],' Pegg said. 'We want to use rites of passage, from weddings to communions, as a way to tell the story of Twenty First-century gypsy and traveller life in Britain.' He added that commissioning a full series would 'allow Firecracker Films to explore the remarkable rituals, traditions and beliefs held by this minority group, and answer some of the more probing questions raised by the first film.' Jes Wilkins, executive producer and head of programmes at Firecracker, added that the first documentary just 'scratched the surface.' He said the series aimed to be 'warm, intelligent, engrossing and funny' and would 'lay bare an exotic, unseen Britain that exists right on our doorstep.' Firecracker has also made Cutting Edge hits The Human Spider and Baby Bible Bashers.

Chelsea football club have banned celery from Stamford Bridge after two referees mentioned in their match reports that the vegetable had been thrown onto the pitch. Blues fans traditionally take the offending item to their matches in honour of one of their chants which celebrates the, ahem, 'bum-tickling' qualities of celery. But fans have now been warned that they may be refused entry to matches if they attempt to take a stick of celery into the ground and will face arrest if they are caught throwing it. A helpful news item on the Chelsea website points out: 'The throwing of anything at a football match, including celery, is a criminal offence for which you can be arrested and end up with a criminal record.' Remember, kids, celery can really hurt. Rumours that Darlington were planning to ban onions from their ground until it was pointed out that this might possibly effect the status of several of their players cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.

Simon Cowell is said to be worried that Dannii Minogue may not be able to cope with this year's X Factor. Recent reports suggested that the music mogul was keen to give Minogue a mentor role on the new series but is 'in a quandary' over whether to re-hire her full-time. Cowell is said to have since given the singer a two-week deadline to assure him she is able to participate in the seventh series. 'Simon is genuinely concerned about whether Dannii will be able to cope with the show,' a source told the Sun. 'It's hard enough for someone who doesn't have young kids. As well as the actual show, there is the mentoring and all the backbiting and bitchiness that goes with that.' The source added: 'It's not easy keeping sane when you're surrounded by youngsters desperate for fame who are relying on you to tell them what to do.' According to the tabloid report, before Cowell makes a final decision, he wants Minogue to assure him that she will be in good health and will be able to give the show her full attention.

Kim Woodburn - with her head shaped like a pineapple - has revealed that Loose Women producers have deemed her 'too loud and domineering' for a regular role on the show. The How Clean Is Your House? presenter appeared as a guest on the ITV daytime programme earlier this week and had hoped to land a permanent position on the panel. However, she told the Mirror: 'They are afraid I would take over Loose Women, that I would dominate proceedings too much if I became a regular panellist. And that's a shame because it's a job I'd love to do.' Woodburn is currently busy promoting a 'Laundry Heaven' campaign which encourages people to take better care of their clothes. She commented: 'Under-25s are label illiterate. The amount of clothes they ruin because they don't understand washing instructions is scandalous.'

Lady GaGa will be approached to sing the new James Bond movie theme, according to tabloid reports. The Sun says that producers believe the 'Telephone' singer would be perfect for the job and plan to ask her to submit a song. 'Bond bosses are all huge GaGa fans,' a source told the newspaper. 'Her sound and sense of drama make her the top choice.' The source added: 'GaGa has the look as well as the voice to tackle a thundering ballad. She's a great songwriter too. This is perfect on every level.' Amy Winehouse was reportedly meant to take on the theme for Quantum of Solace, but her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil later claimed that she was 'too high' to record the song. Alicia Keys and Jack White's duet 'Another Way To Die' was later chosen for the film.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

Have you ever had one of them days like yer Keith Telly Topping's just had, dear blog reader?
Anyway. Actress Joanna Lumley claims she has 'never stopped working' in her efforts to help support the rights of Gurkhas after criticism from a government minister that she, you know, had. Her campaign forced ministers to let more Gurkhas settle in the UK but veterans minister Kevan Jones alleged that she had not done enough to help them since. Lumley said claims she had 'lured' Gurkhas to the UK with 'promises of paradise' were completely untrue. No 10 said that Gordon Brown had told Lumley he was sorry that the issue was continuing to provide negative publicity. Shortly before the former Absolutely Fabulous and The New Avengers actress began a press conference in Westminster concerning the allegations, Jones also apologised for claiming Lumley was guilty of a 'deathly silence' over Gurkhas' rights. He said: 'I am sorry if any offence was caused - this was not intended. My sole concern, and that of this government, is to stop unscrupulous middle-men ripping off vulnerable ex-Gurkhas who are entitled to settle in the UK when our free service exists to help them without charge.' Appearing before the Commons home affairs committee earlier this month, Jones had said that Lumley and fellow campaigners had 'not done enough' to explain the new rules - permitting any Gurkhas with more than four years' service to apply for settlement in the UK with their families - to them. Lumley said she had never met Jones and urged Gordon Brown to restate his commitment to the policy agreed last year following a lengthy campaign backed by MPs from all parties. Describing the campaign as 'a just cause,' she said her team had not neglected Gurkhas who had moved to the UK since then, amid reports that many were now living in poverty. 'We have not stopped working solidly for the Gurkhas, as we promised the Prime Minister we would, although we have been doing it in the quiet,' she told a press conference. She said she would look into newspaper reports claiming that Gurkhas looking to move to the UK had been exploited by middle men. However, she rejected claims that Gurkhas had paid for her to visit Nepal or that a law firm processing visa applications had behaved disreputably as 'absolutely untrue' - adding that she believed the 'system was working well.' It is understood that the Prime Minister tried to contact shortly Lumley before the press conference but the actress said she had not spoken to him personally. She said she still believed Mr Brown backed the Gurkha campaign 'to the hilt' and would have been as 'shocked' about the recent reports as she was.

Matt Smith has claimed that he was always aware of Doctor Who, despite being born in a generation that didn't have the show on TV. The Eleventh Doctor told AOL TV that the programme is ingrained in the fabric of the UK. Smith, born in 1982, said: 'I was part of the generation that had the barren spell, where children didn't have Doctor Who. It wasn't on TV when I was growing up, but it is so ingrained in our fibre in this country it's impossible not to know something about it.' When asked who his favourite Doctor was, he added: 'I'm a particular fan of Patrick Troughton, although once you get involved like I have, it all becomes one, I think. I'm constantly in awe of all [of] them. I know it's a cliché, but I can't believe this is work. It never gets dull because each month there are new characters and actors coming in. In terms of emulating any of the past Doctors, I don't think that's something you can try to do or think about.'

The BBC has confirmed plans to show the entire 2010 Grand National in high definition next month. From April 8 to 10, live coverage from all races and events during the three day meeting at Aintree will be broadcast on BBCHD. BBC2 will air five races on the Thursday and Friday, while BBC1 will broadcast Saturday's John Smith's Grand National programme, with coverage starting at 1pm and the big race getting underway at 4.15pm. The first horse is expected to be killed about three minutes later. Clare Balding and Rishi Persad will present the coverage, with former Grand National-winning jockeys Mick Fitzgerald and Richard Dunwoody acting as expert pundits. Jim McGrath will lead the commentary team, joined by Ian Bartlett and Darren Owen. For the 2010 event, the corporation plans to place two new high-speed cameras at The Chair and Becher's Brook to capture the action and provide superior replays. Of any compound fractures which occur. Radio 5Live will also carry coverage from all days at Aintree, with Mark Pougatch presenting the build-up and live action from the main event on Saturday. Live and on-demand video from the Grand National day will be available on the BBC website, along with information on all the runners and riders. Coverage will also remain available on BBC iPlayer for seven days after transmission.

David Jason has admitted that he feels 'sorry' for ITV. I don't. It's their own ruddy fault they employ Piers Morgan. The seventy-year-old actor, who has been exclusively employed by the broadcaster for three years, also said that he would prefer a smaller number of reality shows. He told the Daily Telegraph: 'I feel sorry for ITV, who are finding it difficult because of the recession and lack of advertising and they're in a bit of a spiral. One thing follows the other, of course, and if you don't have advertising revenue, you can't put it into programmes, so you end up with the shows that will generate the most adverts, like The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.' Jason added: 'Personally, I'm not sure if I like those shows, but other people do, so I suppose, from ITV's point of view, it's good programming. But I'm an actor and so of course I want to see TV companies making good dramas. I want that to be a priority.'

Mark Wingett has claimed that The Bill's move into a post-watershed slot last year was an 'unwise decision.' The actor, who played Jim Carver in the police procedural drama for almost twenty years, also said that the lack of promotion during the revamp may have hurt the ITV show. Come on, pal, it's been on for twenty seven years, if people aren't watching it now, they're never going to be. 'I think moving the slot was an unwise decision. It kind of got lost. Also it wasn't promoted in a very good way - the big soaps get loads and loads of promotion. And I think the audience has changed,' he told the BBC. Wingett, who was the main focus of the programme's pilot Woodentop in 1983 and starred in the series for a further twenty one years, branded the show's recent cancellation as 'dreadful.' He added: 'When we did The Bill back in the '80s we had no meddling by ITV, it was completely isolated making a programme with twelve actors in a small studio - an ex-tobacco warehouse in the East End of London. Certainly when I left five years ago it had a huge hangar-sized warehouse down in Merton, employed about five hundred people and thirty two main cast in it plus a dozen guest actors in each episode. It was an extraordinary operation, the largest set I've ever been on. I can see that its expensive to run. Maybe that's the problem - that it became a factory drama.'

Coronation Street actress Sue Cleaver has been charged with drink driving, according to reports. The actress, who plays Eileen Grimshaw on the ITV soap, is said to have failed a breath test after being stopped by police when her Landrover Freelander clipped a kerb. It is thought that the incident took place in Northenden, Manchester in the early hours of yesterday morning. Reports suggest that Cleaver was granted bail and is due to appear before magistrates on 14 April. A Coronation Street spokesperson said: 'This is private and a police matter.' Well, not once the papers got hold of it, it wasn't. At that point it became very, very public. Meanwhile, a Weatherfield source told the Mirror: 'Despite what has happened there is still a lot of sympathy for her because she is so well liked by just about everyone connected with the show. But she realises the seriousness of the situation she finds herself in and just wants to get it over and done with.'

ABC is reportedly selling thirty-second advert spots for the 23 May three-hour series finale of Lost for nine hundred thousand dollars apiece. According to Advertising Age, the figure is nearly four times the average cost that advertisers spent for similar spots on the show last year. While Lost has seen a steady decline in viewers over recent seasons, the publication observed that the premium prices set by ABC reflect advertisers' growing interest in so-called event programming to core fanbases. Kris Magel, director for national broadcast at media agency Initiative, indicated that ratings are not necessarily the principal concern in determining advertising sales. 'There are many advertisers willing to pay a reasonable premium for inventory in programmes that generate such a highly passionate and rabid fanbase,' he said, adding: 'There is definitely value in that.'

Sinitta has hit back at a Twitter user who accused her of using Simon Cowell to further her career. The 'So Macho' singer get herself involved in the online clash after apparently announcing that she may be about to land a judging role on the US version of The X Factor. Following the reports, one Twitter user addressed Sinitta with the message: 'Please tell me your quotes in the Sun about joining the US X Factor are a joke?! Hanging on Simon's coat tails isn't a career love!' Sinitta reportedly responded by saying: 'Have a sense of humour, which you obviously don't. By the way, any job that pays bills in your chosen profession is a career move.'

Monday, March 29, 2010

Showing Some Backbone

In language worthy of his most famous creation, Malcolm Tucker, the genius behind The Thick of It Armando Iannucci yesterday called on the BBC to do more to defend itself from its critics – and 'find someone to, articulately, tell James Murdoch to fuck off.' Iannucci was speaking at the Broadcasting Press Guild awards, where his political satire won a hat-trick of awards. These included a first acting prize for the show for its star, Peter Capaldi, who plays Tucker. The creator, writer, director and producer of The Thick Of It, Iannucci thanked the BBC for 'holding its nerve over the series, especially when they have been under a lot of pressure over taste and decency and all sorts of things. I love the BBC dearly and would fight for it to the death,' he said. 'My only wish is that whenever it is accused of something, even if it's something it hadn't done, I wish it wouldn't go to the first police station and hand itself in. Surely at the end of the day with all its skill and expertise and all the talent behind it and loyal following, it could find someone to articulately tell James Murdoch to fuck off.' Iannucci's comments were greeted with applause by the assembled programme-makers, presenters, actors, media and showbiz journalists and critics at the awards at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. So, it's safe to assume that nobody from the Daily Mail or the Daily Express were there, then. Murdoch, News Corporation's chairman and chief executive in Europe and Asia, launched a stinging attack on the BBC in his MacTaggart lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival last year. Iannucci's remarks echoed the response of The Wire star Dominic West to Murdoch's speech. Picking up an award for the HBO series later at last year's festival, he commented: 'I accept this award in contempt of the Murdoch doctrine!' The Thick Of It, which transferred from BBC4 to BBC2 for last year's series, won best comedy/entertainment prize and the writing award, as well as best actor. Capaldi said: 'My colleagues on the Thick Of It have been showered with awards for this show for absolutely years. This is the very first award that I have ever won for my contribution to the programme. It's a big thrill for me and a huge relief for them – they are suffering such compassion fatigue.' He added: 'It's not all about the winning. It's about being nominated many, many times, losing to Gavin & Stacey, and Miranda last week, and the Chuckle Brothers on one occasion! It's character building. Unfortunately the character I am building is Vincent Price in Theatre of Blood.' Heh!

Matt Smith has revealed that he prepared for his Doctor Who role by writing his own stories about the Time Lord. The twenty seven-year-old actor, who takes over from David Tennant as The Doctor on Saturday, explained that he used the literary experiments as a way of creating a bond with his new character. Smith is quoted by the Mirror as saying: 'I wanted to feel like Doctor Who, understand where he'd come from. So I wrote stories of The Doctor and Einstein in Egypt which focused on their roles in the creation of the Pyramids. I had six months prep before we began filming so it gave me time to write quite a few stories.' You don't have to justify fan-fiction, Matt, some of us have been writing it for years. One or two of us even got paid for it!

Hayley Tamaddon has been crowned the winner of this series of Dancing On Ice. The actress (pictured right, seemingly losing the use of her bowels at her moment of triumph), who skated with Daniel Whiston, triumphed in the public vote over Gary Lucy after they each performed a bolero. Kieron Richardson finished in third place earlier in the show. After hearing the result, Tamaddon burst into tears and fell to the ice before hugging Whiston. Lucy said: 'She was fantastic from the start, it's thoroughly deserved. I'm just happy I had such a great time and got so far, and my little one [his daughter India] just loved every minute of it.' Tamaddon was then presented with the Dancing On Ice trophy and laughed as she held it in the air. Meanwhile, Jason Gardiner has claimed that he could be 'axed' from Dancing On Ice due to the controversy surrounding his judging style. 'Axed' of course, being tabloid-speak for 'moved aside, gently, for being an unpopular gobshite, just like Arlene Phillips.' The choreographer's cutting remarks have angered some viewers of the ITV show (and some contestants for that matter), most notably after he compared contestant former swimmer Sharron Davies to 'faecal matter that won't flush' in one live show. His public utterances concerning his fellow judges are said, also, to have gone down like a lift when the cable's snapped. Speaking to the Sun, Gardiner admitted: 'It hasn't been a very easy year for me. Producers might turn around and say they don't need that kind of heat on a family show.' Adding that he has also upset fellow panellist Karen Barber by fuelling rumours about her love life, Gardiner noted: 'I'm not in her good books. Any of us are replaceable. I've heard they want to try new things next year.'

Perhaps the reason why the producers may wish to 'try new things' was summed up by the audience that the live Dancing On Ice final achieved according to overnight figures. The last skate-off of the series, which saw Tamaddon triumph, pulled in 8.79m between 7.45pm and 10pm. Overall this series of the ice-dance show has seen something of a significant decline it its audience - down a whopping eight per cent on last year's figures. Elsewhere, over on BBC1, what may be the final episode of Lark Rise To Candleford was watched by 5.8m viewers at 8pm. The audience then dropped drastically to 2.85m during Enid, which aired between 9pm and 10.30pm. The Tropic of Cancer grabbed 2.54m for BBC2 at 8pm, then 3.08m watched Brian Cox's excellent Wonders of the Solar System during the 9pm hour. On Saturday night, meanwhile, Piers Morgan's Life Stories hit a new series low. The latest instalment, which revolved around Joan Collins, managed just 3.39m for ITV1 during the 9pm hour. Oh dear. How sad. never mind.

Oxford Scientific Films has secured Richard E Grant to front a ninety-minute special on safaris for BBC4. The films will see Grant traveling through Kenya as he reveals that the first safaris were pioneered by infamous British colonists and how the African countryside became 'the ultimate white man's playground.' The film also shows how safaris have been reinvented, with trophy hunting giving way to mass tourism. OSF chief executive Claire Birks described History of Safari with Richard E Grant as 'a dream project' and executive producer Alice Keens-Soper said the actor was 'a very engaging interviewer. He was born and brought up in Swaziland so he has a unique and fascinating take on this subject,' she added.

Claudia Winkleman has been confirmed as the new host of Film 2010. The long-running movie review programme will also have a new format, which will involve a range of cinema and industry experts and a variety of studio guests. 'Everyone has an opinion on film and I'm looking forward to debating the biggest news and releases with a whole variety of guests each week,' said Winkleman. 'I am completely over the moon about being given this enormous honour and am incredibly proud to be to be presenting the new look Film 2010. It's an honour to follow on from the brilliant Jonathan Ross. I have been lucky enough to cover the BAFTAs and present the UK broadcasts of the Oscars and the Golden Globes for years and now to be able to work with the producers on Film 2010 is just amazing.' Winkleman, who currently hosts her own Arts Show on Radio 2, is most famous for her presenting role on Strictly Come Dancing spin-off It Takes Two. Originally hosted by the difficult-to-please film critic Barry Norman, the BBC1 show has been running since 1972. Ross replaced Norman as the host in 1999. Winkleman's Film 2010 will start in September.

Over The Rainbow has been criticised by some viewers for advertising Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End musicals. The BBC received seventeen complaints over the weekend, concerning the promotion of Oliver! and Webber's new show Love Never Dies, according to the Sun. Webber's Phantom Of The Opera sequel opened last month, which apparently led some viewers to question 'the timing' of his new BBC1 talent show. Other complaints allegedly concerned the appearance of I'd Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger on the show. Prenger performed the show tune 'As Long As He Needs Me' and wished her successor Kerry Ellis good luck in taking over from her in the role of Nancy in Oliver! The Graham Norton hosted talent show was accused of providing 'free advertising' for the musical. Webber has frequently rubbished suggestions that he is interested in presiding over the BBC shows to boost ticket sales for his own shows, arguing that programmes such as Any Dream Will Do and How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? have benefited musical theatre all around the UK. On Saturday, the final ten Dorothys on Over The Rainbow were revealed. The ten contestants cut from the competition will compete via a public phone vote for one final 'Wild Card' slot on next Saturday's first live show. Meanwhile, Graham Norton reckons the competition is a lot tougher than on previous BBC talent shows. 'We've had a lot more men and drag queens apply this year who are phenomenally good,' he noted. Guess it's true what they say about just how many friends Dorothy has in musical theatre.

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond got to live-out yet another one of all of our schoolboy fantasies over the week ed. In addition to marrying a model, being a roadie for The Who and crashing a car at three thousand miles an hour and surviving, Richard watched as the show's twelve thousand pound 'reasonably priced car', a Chevrolet Lacetti, was destroyed as two concrete towers were demolished on top of it as a cement works at Northfleet in Kent over the weekend. Ace.

Hermione Norris has claimed that ITV were right to end Kingdom. The gentle Sunday night drama set in Norfolk, which was fronted by Stephen Fry, was cancelled by the broadcaster last October after a - mostly very positive - three-year run. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, [Spooks] star Norris, who played Beatrice Kingdom in the series, said that she agreed with ITV's decision to bring the show to a conclusion. 'The third series was lovely and my favourite series so I felt it was quite timely. Three is a good amount to do. If you're in, series three's a good time to get out, I think! I did three of Wire in the Blood. You've got to really enjoy what you do and really be giving it as much as you possibly can.' She added: 'I feel that it stopped when it was still very fresh and at its best so it was probably a good thing. There would be nothing more sad than it just becoming [the thing that pays the bills].'

ITV has confirmed that their Men & Motors channel will cease transmission on Sky and Freesat on Thursday of this week to make way for ITV1 HD. On 1 April at 6am, the channel will stop broadcasting on digital satellite as the new high definition simulcast of ITV1 takes its slot on the Freesat and Sky electronic programming guides. The channel ended transmission on Virgin Media a week earlier on 25 March for 'operational reasons.' Men & Motors will now cease to exist, but it is understood that some of its programming will be transferred to ITV4.

Ofcom has said that rules forcing ITV1, Channel 4 and Five to sell all their advertising airtime could be scrapped under new proposals for the TV industry. Introduced in 2003, current regulations governing TV advertising sales were designed to foster fair and effective competition in the market, including restrictions preventing ITV1, Channel 4 and Five from withholding airtime to drive up prices. However, Ofcom believes that the rules are no longer appropriate due to 'significant developments' in the television sector. The watchdog pointed to a 'substantial increase' in the number of available channels, which has led to 'increasingly fragmented TV audiences across many channels and enabled media buyers to purchase airtime across an extensive range of channels.' Among its proposed changes, Ofcom believes that ITV1, Channel 4 and Five should be permitted to withhold airtime as the approach will no longer have a negative impact on competition. Ofcom also wants to allow all three commercial public service broadcasters to offer bundled deals, in which media buyers purchase airtime across multiple television channels rather than just one. Known as conditional selling, the method brings various benefits to PSBs, including the opportunity to reduce negotiation costs. Despite some competition concerns from conditional selling, Ofcom believes that the potential benefits to the TV industry would be significant, and so it is proposing an end to the industry-wide ban. Any anti-competitive effects from such a change would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. 'In the last few years the TV sector has moved on with substantial increases in the take-up of digital services and in the number of available channels,' said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.

Yer Keith Telly Topping caught an episode of Olivia Lee's Dirty Sexy Funny on Comedy Central last week. And, much to his considerable surprise, he actually rather enjoyed it. If you've never seen it before it's a hidden-camera prank show with some sketches and stand-up mixed in and made by Tiger Aspect. It doesn't sound too promising from that description but it's quite well put together and Olivia herself is very engaging and, dammit, funny. If you only know her from Channel 4's dreadful Naughty Bits and you're not doing anything at ten o'clock on a Monday night (and, let's face it, who is?) you could do an awful lot worse than check out an episode.

According to the Sun, Peaches Gelodf could be 'axed' (that's tabloid-speak for ... well, in this particular case, 'axed', I guess) as the face of a lingerie range over her alleged 'sex and drugs and Scientology' scandal. If you haven't heard the news, a chap - seemingly named Ben - posted a series of topless snaps of the Miss Ultimo model and daughter of Saint Bob, online and said that, with her, he'd taken heroin before having sex at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles. Geldof's spokesman rubbished the story and the star was said to be 'spitting [with fury' over the allegations. It is suggested in the article that Ultimo bra 'bosses' will meet Geldof's management today to 'decide on her future.' One alleged 'source' allegedly revealed: 'There is pressure on Ultimo to take a stand as Peaches models a range for teenagers.' This story has been circulating on the Internet since Friday when an individual going by the screen-name 'Big Ben' (according to the tattoo on his knob, one assumes) posted about his experience on in response to the question: 'What's your most WTF one-night-stand story?' His tale, summarised - for those dear blog readers who can't be bothered to read the entire, sordid, account - was, essentially: 'Did heroin, screwed a z-list celebrity, woke up in a Scientology centre, fled the country.' Well, something like that, anyway. Peaches has now released a statement via her management confirming that the images posted of a naked, tattooed, super-wasted Peaches Geldof-lookalike actually is her. And that she was very, very drunk at the time. But definitely not smacked off her tits. So, that's all right then.

And, finally, here's a picture of Girls Aloud's Sarah Harding at the weekend's Empire Film Awards seemingly fondling her own buttocks. Do any dear blog readers have photos of other famous celebrities fondling their own buttocks? If so, then please send them to 'Pictures Of Celebrities Fondling Their Own Buttocks; From The North c/o Stately Telly Topping Manor, His Gaff, Merrie Albion, Near Peterborough' (under a brown-paper wrapper, of course).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shoot The Messenger, He Deserves It

Those Marks & Spencer TV food advert don't get any better, do they? Dervla Kerwin's 'honey-toned gastro-porn' delivery when giving every male in the country The Horn via her use of the word 'drizzled' was bad enough, of course. However the new ones are, if anything, even worse. I don't know about anybody else, but I really don't want to wake up on a Sunday with a bit of a hangover, switch on the TV and have Caroline Quentin telling me that she likes her buns 'soft and fruity.' We've all heard the rumours, Caroline.

The snorting, middle-class, middle-everything diarrhoea-scum at the Daily Express have - believe it or not - managed to write a story which doesn't mention Princess Diana once. Remarkable in and of itself, I'm sure you'll agree ladies and gentlemen. However, beyond that, the article is an absolute twenty four-carat comedy gem. FAMILIES HIT BY BBC 'FILTH' apparently. And, it must be true because it's in capital letters. Well, fair enough I guess - I mean there's plenty of 'sick filth' that yer Keith Telly Topping would like to see banned. The loathsome Daily Express and all who sail in 'er for a kick-off. Yes, it would seem that an enterprising Express journalist has finally - two years after it went live - worked out how to actually use iPlayer. Jolly well done, old chap. Having done so, they apparently insist that, in an Internet full of (if you believe everything you read in newspapers like the Express) 'filth', the first thing that any self-respecting five year old is going to head for is downloading an episode of Live At The Apollo. Words, dear blog reader, fail me. But, not for long. You may have noticed the Express have avoided mentioning that among the 'filth' BBC shows available on iPlayer for impressionable young minds to be sickly warped by are, you know, Songs of Praise, Antiques Roadshow and Countryfile. Disgusting! Won't somebody please think of the children. Two 'quotes' from the article neatly illustrate the absurdity of this piece of garbage. The first notes that 'It also discovered that only twelve per cent of parents with children aged five to fifteen had bothered to set up a PIN or password, and almost forty per cent of parents had "no idea" the safeguards even existed.' The second is rather atypical rent-a-quote comment by some politician that you've never heard of; one Barry Sheerman, a Labour MP and the Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, who gives us the benefit of his, no doubt, sage wisdom: 'Our broadcasters who put this sort of filth online should be forced to ensure children are unable to access it.' So, essentially, the BBC are being blamed - by the Express and by yer man Barry - for the actions of parents who can't be bothered to check what their children are getting up to in their bedrooms. Now, why doesn't this spectacularly sinister, mendacious, spiteful, vomit-flecked agenda-based accusation surprise me? Oh, that's right, because it's been made by a bunch of feckless right-wing thugs with the intellectual capacity of a crab. Knew there'd be a logical explanation lurking somewhere. Perhaps, the Express would be better advised spending a little less time on arrant nonsense like this and a bit more time on some of yer actual proper journalism. Like, just for instance, asking their very quotable 'friend' Mr Sheerman when we, the tax payers of this country, can expect him to pay back the excessive expenses which he claimed. Whenever you're ready, Baz, we're all eagerly waiting.

Manufacturers of Harris Tweed have reportedly been swamped with interest after the first pictures of Doctor Who's Matt Smith showed him wearing the traditional Hebridean material. Costume designer Ray Holman selected the jacket after developing the eleventh Doctor's outfit in consultation with Smith, who believed that the traditional weave had a certain 'authority.' The jacket was found in a London warehouse of Angels costumiers and has since been analysed by weavers on the Scottish islands who have identified it as a Mackenzie two by two dogtooth, 'probably produced in the 1960s.' The Harris Tweed Authority's Lorna Macaulay told The Times: 'We've had a huge amount of interest in this authentic product.' Yeah. Sounds about right.

The Bill cast and crew were left 'in stunned disbelief' this week after being 'told to go home' as the show was 'all over.' At least, that's the sort of language used in a variety of press reports, anyway. ITV bosses had confirmed on Thursday that the thirty-million-pounds-a-year soap would be cancelled due to a steady slump in viewing figures over the last few years. Early morning calls were made to the cast and crew to break the news, with those due on set told to take the day off. A - nameless - senior member of The Bill's cast revealed that he was already at the studio when he heard the news. 'We were setting up for filming when a guy from the props department came down and told us simply, "It's over - we're all out of work."' Show producer Talkback has entered into a thirty-day consultation with staff. Trudie Goodwin, who played Sun Hill's June Ackland for twenty four years, said she was 'saddened, but not surprised' by the announcement. 'I'm sad to see it ending; sad for the people who worked tirelessly for the programme over all those happy years; people without whose close friendship and many talents we would never have lasted so long. I think I can say, for all of us, tears will be shed,' she said. A tribute was also made by the former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, who said its transformation into a soap opera in recent years was 'inevitably doomed. The Bill fell between the pull for audiences of its origins and the desire of its scriptwriters to match the soaps, with the inevitable consequence of falling viewing. I am sorry at its passing. "Good night, all,"' he said. Err... wrong cop show, Sir Ian.

Christine Bleakley is reportedly in talks with ITV. The ONE Show host is alleged to have been 'lined-up' for 'a number of projects on the channel,' the News of the World claims. ITV is said to be hoping that Bleakley will agree to host The Xtra Factor as its former presenter Holly Willoughby is now working on This Morning. 'ITV are desperate to nick Christine from the Beeb,' a source said. A 'source' who, seemingly, talks in that dreadful tabloidesque way of never using words with more than one syllable in case the News of the World's shit-for-brains readership don't understand. Hence 'nick' rather than 'recruit'. Etc. 'They're in talks about a number of very big projects. But she's very reluctant to leave The ONE Show, and that would make it hard for her to present Xtra Factor on Saturdays and Sundays because it would mean working seven days a week.' However, the insider explained that Bleakley has agreed to discussions with ITV executives. 'ITV has been going after Christine for ages and now she is at the table,' the source said. 'The BBC will be very worried as they've been building her up into one of their big icons by getting her to co-host events like Sport Relief and putting her in Strictly Come Dancing. But she doesn't have a golden handcuffs deal which means she can do shows on rival networks. Obviously the Beeb don't want her on the rival station but they might have to let her do some work there just to keep her on The ONE Show.' Meanwhile, a 'source close to Bleakley' (presumably, a different one to the one that only talks in one-syllable words) reportedly confirmed that Bleakley is in talks with the channel. 'She is still committed to The ONE Show but ITV are extremely keen on signing her,' the insider explained. See. 'committed' and 'extremely.' Not really standard News of the Word type words, them. 'She's interested in presenting big prime time shows but The Xtra Factor might be difficult. Working every day of the week simply isn't practical.' Why not? Farmers manage it.

Cherie Lunghi has reportedly revealed that the BBC is axing Casualty 1909. The actress, and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, told the Sunday Telegraph: 'The BBC have suddenly decided that period drama is not their thing. It was doing very well, but they've decided not to do any more.' Lunghi said that reality TV is favoured due to financial restrictions. 'There isn't much money around and drama is expensive and reality TV is cheaper,' she said.

Suzanne Shaw has dismissed comparisons with her former Hear'Say band mate, Kym Marsh. The actress and singer, who recently joined the cast of Emmerdale, said she could understand why people would want to draw parallels between her and Marsh, who has appeared in Coronation Street since 2006. However, Shaw said she was not willing to wage war and praised Marsh's work on the rival soap. 'I know [comparing us] is an obvious thing to do because she's in a rival soap but the soaps themselves compete against each other,' she said. Oh, I think we all know that's so not true. 'I don't think the actors should be doing that. I'm just doing my own job, my own character and I'm doing what I enjoy doing.' According to Metro, Shaw said she was proud of all four of her former Hear'Say band mates, although she admitted their varying schedules made it difficult to keep in touch.

Hallmark Channel has acquired the UK rights to two new dramas. Royal Pains, which airs on the USA Network in the States, stars Mark Feuerstein as 'a young doctor for hire to the rich and famous' in the Hamptons. Meanwhile, Facing Kate - also from USA - is about a lawyer who leaves her job to become a mediator. Both series will air on Hallmark and its new HD service from later in the year. In a separate deal with Five, Hallmark has also acquired the rerun rights to the first four seasons of CSI: NY.

Sheridan Smith reportedly cried after watching an audition performance on BBC talent show Over The Rainbow. That bad, eh? The Gavin & Stacey and Jonathan Creek actress, who is currently starring in a West End stage production of Legally Blonde, appeared on the reality series as a mentor to a selection of the final twenty contestants. Smith, Spice Girl Mel Chisholm, Oliver! actress Jodie Prenger, Tamzin Outhwaite, Kelly Ellis and Ruthie Henshall offered advice to the West End hopefuls, who were aiming to be chosen for the role of Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production. Contestants Katie Honan, Bronte Barbe, Claire Harbourne and Lauren Samuels all impressed Smith, with one of the girls moved her to tears after singing the title song. Speaking afterwards, Smith says: 'This is such an honour for me, I'm the world's biggest Wizard of Oz fan. That was just brilliant girls. That's how it should be done. I should take tips from you!'

Big quiffed Mark Kermode has revealed that he will not be the new presenter of Film 2010. Kermode has been consistently linked to the show since Jonathan Ross announced that he will leave the BBC in July. However, the critic dismissed the speculation during an appearance on Radio 5Live. 'I'm not doing Film 2010,' he said. 'I've never been doing Film 2010. They've never approached me, they've never asked me about it, nor indeed would they - not that I ever expected them to.' Kermode explained that the show 'requires a mainstream sensibility' and added: 'I don't do moderation.' He continued: 'I don't know what plans they have for it. Whatever they are I'm sure they will be, you know, wonderful and successful. I promise you I am nothing to do with it. Please, bookies, stop giving odds on me.'

Phillip Schofield has revealed that he was stalked for two years by 'a grinning Chinese woman' who 'chased him around the country.' The presenter and Dancing On Ice host said that the woman would hide from him then jump out to take his picture - just to catch his startled expression. 'There were times that things got scary from one particular fan. She was Chinese, actually,' he told the Sunday Mirror. 'It sounds funny but her thing was to leap out at me everywhere to take a picture. Literally, wherever I went she would jump out. She's got hundreds of pictures of me with a horrified look on my face. She jumped out grinning from behind trees, from behind signs, from behind cars. I used to say, "Don't do that. Just stand here and we'll take a proper picture. We'll get someone to take it." But all she wanted was pictures of me with a terrified look on my face. That was her thing. I was like, "Arrgh, goddamnit, it's happened again." It went on for a couple of years, at least once or twice a week.' Schofield said that he was once in Blackpool when his stalker leaped out from behind a street sign. 'I nearly had a heart attack,' he said.

Richard Madeley has 'slammed' (that's tabloid-speak for 'criticised' or 'commented upon negatively') press reports suggesting that his wife Judy Finnigan is an alcoholic after recent pictures showed her with bleary eyes and struggling to walk. The presenter said that Finnigan has damaged ligaments in both her knees and is recovering from two eye operations, which will leave her with impaired sight for the rest of the year. Madeley told the Daily Mail that reports surrounding her alleged alcoholism were 'deeply unpleasant' and said that he was helping his wife to walk due to her recent illness. He said: 'As a family, we are all very angry and upset about it, and almost at the end of our tether. It is ridiculous that such private matters should have to be divulged in order to quash lazy, stupid and cruel reports about my wife. She must be allowed to go about her normal family life without this kind of harassment.' Madeley added that although Finnigan is 'exceptionally wise and forgiving,' she has nearly had enough of the claims. 'I certainly have. It has got to stop,' he said.

Police reportedly swooped on the home of Steve McFadden after being tipped off that he was hoarding weapons. However, the News Of The World reports that officers sent to the EastEnders actor's property were 'met by McFadden's porn star friend Omar Williams also known as Big Omar.' Sounds like a hell of a party, that one. Scotland Yard came away empty handed after a quick search of the fifty one-year-old's Highgate home revealed that he had been the victim of a hoax. A source said: 'The police got two tip-offs that Steve had guns hidden in his home - so an armed team was sent round to check it out. No one was more shocked than Steve. The police did a quick search but put it down to a malicious call. They were very apologetic. The only weapon there, so to speak, was Omar's. Steve was very co-operative but wasn't impressed. He is wondering who would want to stitch him up like that.' McFadden declined to comment about the hoax, however, his agent confirmed that the raid had taken place and that no guns were found.

Rockin' Ronnie Wood sustained a black eye and a swollen lip after he was allegedly hit by his new girlfriend, reports the Sun. The newspaper claimed that Brazilian polo teacher Ana Araujo lashed out after discovering that the Rolling Stone was drinking alcohol behind her back. Araujo assaulted Wood after ripping up two of his paintings, an 'insider' alleged, adding that the rocker then called his ex-wife Jo 'in a state.' The source said: 'Ana had been keeping him off the bottle. She rumbled him on Wednesday having a drink and an argument escalated quickly. He was calling her all sorts of names for criticising his drinking and she just snapped. Two of his prized paintings, which he had hoped to sell, are ruined. She ripped them to shreds. He crossed the wrong woman.'

A financial news and opinion website has named Mr Bonio Out of U2 as 'the worst investor in America.' 24/7 Wall Street claimed that the U2 front man and inventor of world peace has made large investments in several financially unsuccessful corporations. Topping the list is Elevation Partners, a private equity firm which invests in entertainment and consumer-related products. The singer co-founded the firm, a move that the website claimed to earn him the title of 'worst investor,' according to the San Francisco Business Times. '[Elevation Partners is] arguably the worst run institutional fund of any size in the United States,' the site said. Mr Bonio Out of U2 has also been linked to failed investments with Palm and Yelp.

Meanwhile, the daughter of Mr Bonio Out of U2's co-inventor of world peace, Peaches Geldof, has reportedly denied claims that she took heroin during what some members of the press have described - very amusingly - as 'a sex romp.' The twenty one-year-old socialite, and waste-of-space, was forced to 'quash' the allegation after an American, known only as Ben, posted naked pictures of Saint Bob's daughter on the Internet. According to the Sun, he alleged that he had a one night stand with the model in Los Angeles last November and claimed that they took a friend's car, bought some needles to inject the drug, then went to her room and 'did it every way possible. Things got hot and heavy and before I know it we're naked. We had a naked dance party on her bed,' he said. Not to one of Saint Bob's tunes, though, I'm sure. The pair then allegedly drove to Hollywood's Scientology Centre for 'purification' in the sauna and exercise room. A 'friend' told the newspaper that Peaches was 'spitting fury' over the claim, while a 'spokesman' said: 'The allegations that our client was carrying and injecting heroin are denied, our client having just consumed alcohol with the other individual leading to the "highs" described and portrayed in the photographs.'

Phil Collins has revealed that he is now forced to tape drumsticks to his hands in order to play. One wonders if it would be possible for him to do the same with his mouth?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week Fourteen: He's Back! And, It's About Time.

Last night saw a particularly fine episodes of Qi with Bill Bailey, Jezza Clarkson and Danny Baker all on great form. (Of course, it goes without saying that Stephen and Alan were on fine form, as well. Thta's, kind of, a given.) Tragically, it appears, that we're going to be deprived of the extended Qi: XL edition - at least for a while. The elongated forty five minute Saturday night BBC2 repeats for both this episode and next week's G series finale are both conspicuous by their absence from the schedules. Viewers are, however, getting two thirty minute 'compilation' episodes - the first of which will be shown at 8:30 on Easter Monday, 5 April - by way of compensation.

The Bill, one of British TV's longest-running dramas, is to be dropped by ITV in the autumn after twenty seven years. ITV has taken the decision to cancel the police procedural drama after last year's revamp - and the show' switch to a new time slot - failed to halt a long-term ratings decline. The Bill was moved last year from being aired twice a week at 8pm to a single slot on Thursdays at 9pm. The show's storylines were tweaked to take account of the new post-watershed slot. However, ratings for the show have failed to pick up. In 2002 the show averaged more that seven million viewers, while more recently audiences been around three and a half million. The broadcaster said that the decision to drop the series was made as part of a 'creative rethink' of its drama schedule, which has seen the development of popular short run shows such as Collision and Above Suspicion, and not on cost-cutting grounds. Notice they didn't mention all of their nine o'clock dramas that have failed to find an audience. Married, Single, Other, for instance. ITV says that it intends to use the multimillion-pound saving from axing The Bill to create shorter run drama series for the 9pm slot with projects in the works including a new medical series with writer Peter Bowker and a new series from Collision and Foyle's War author Anthony Horowitz. 'The Bill has been a fixture on our screens for more than twenty five years and has been the home of some of the UK's best serial drama storylines, and a great showcase for terrific scriptwriting and fine acting talent,' said Peter Fincham, the ITV director of television, channels and online. 'But times change, and so do the tastes of our audience. Whilst The Bill will come to an end in 2010, we will continue to invest more in drama programming than any other commercial broadcaster in the UK and viewers can look forward to a wide range of high quality drama on ITV.'

And on that ... not-quite-a-bombshell, let's have a look at the next batch of Top Telly Tips, kicking off with Good Friday.

Friday 2 April
'My name is Alex Drake. And, quite frankly, your guess is as good as mine,' is how Keeley Hawes ends her minxy little introduction as the third and final series of the cult time-travel cop show Ashes to Ashes begins at 9:00 BBC1. It's doubtless a quirky nod to the exhausting Internet speculation about the show and where it's heading as the show comes towards what's promised to be a conclusion that will explain not only it's own many hidden secrets, but also those of its - marginally superior - predecessor, Life on Mars. All the fans, searching for meaning and significance in every place imaginable will, hopefully, have the time of their lives tonight, as this, one of the most self-referential drama on television since Twin Peaks ended returns with a bunch of knowing nods towards its audience. Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes' oft-used Wizard of Oz motif, in particular, is dangled before viewers as a little girl called Dorothy goes missing. Don't worry, dear blog reader, Andrew Lloyd Webber's probably got her, asking if she wanted to see some puppies. Bad Andrew Lloyd Webber. So, no change there then. Meanwhile, Alex (wearing a pair of red shoes) tries to follow the yellowbrick road to find the missing girl. But, frankly, never mind any of that, what we really want to see the magnificent Gene Hunt (the brilliant Philip Glenister) back with a few outrageous sexist comments, roaring across the screen in his Audi Quattro as Ride of the Valkyries shrieks on the soundtrack. At the end of the last series Gene accidentally shot Alex. As we return it appears that she's back home again but he's on the run. As ever, in Ashes To Ashes, however not everything is as it seems.

If you fancy something a wee bit more cerebral (although, possibly not as much fun), Walk on By - 8:00 BBC4 - invites viewers to put their glad rags on, mix a classy cocktail of their choice and prepare to wallow in an evening of gentle nostalgia for an age of elegance, lush orchestration and honeyed vocals, with a set of programmes celebrating The Great American Songbook. Nice. The centrepiece of the evening is ... Sings the Great American Songbook at 9pm, a compilation of performances from the BBC archives, featuring vocalists ranging from Tony Bennett to Florence Welch by way of Captain Sensible's cover of 'Happy Talk.' The night begins with an episode from the riveting series Walk On By: The Story of Popular Song which gives us a lesson on how Russian emigrés helped to create jazz standards, which is followed by Fred and Ginger singing Gershwin. At 10pm Arena hails Frank Sinatra as The Voice of the Century, whilst at 11.35pm Frankie is joined by Judy and Dean to belt out all the hits. Style.

Meanwhile, on Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - as mentioned above, we've got the last episode of the current series (two compilation shows and, hopefully, future repeats of those three or four missing Qi: XL episodes, notwithstanding). In this, Stephen goes off on a tangent as he tackles Geometry, with the angular help of the rhombus-shaped Johnny Vegas, David Mitchell, the parallelogram that is Rob Brydon and Alan Davies.

Saturday 3 April
And so we come, inevitably, to the TV event of the year, so far. The return of Doctor Who - 6:20 BBC1 for a one hour season opener. The Doctor has regenerated into a brand-new Time Lord. You might have noticed from the trailers. He's younger and has weird boney finger and a lush head of hair. Which is still not ginger. But, somewhat inevitably, danger strikes before he can even recover his wits to find out who (or should that be whom), exactly, he is. With the TARDIS looking like Richard Hammond's just pranged into it, and his sonic screwdriver destroyed in that kerfuffle with The Master, the new Doctor (Matt Smith) has just twenty minutes to save the whole world. And with only a young Scottish lass named Amy (the luscious Karen Gillan - she's ginger!) to help him. Tre-bloody-mendous! Look out, over the next thirteen weeks, for the return of various Daleks, Silurians, Cybermen and Weeping Angels, some very scary looking Italian vampires, a sequel to one of the last series' most popular stories and a return of its most intriguing character and episodes written by Men Behaving Badly's Simon Nye and Blackadder's Richard Curtis. And James Corden. Ah well, you can't have everything, I suppose. All presided over by new show runner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He). Are we excited yet, dear blog reader? Yer Keith Telly Topping is pretty damned excited, he can assure you.

Sunday 4 April
It's a weekend in which several old favourites return. After Gene Hunt and The Doctor, on Sunday, Jonathan Creek returns to BBC1 at 8:00. When a young woman becomes seemingly possessed by the spirit of a Victorian sorceress, illusionist and amateur sleuth Jonathan Creek and his friend the intrepid investigator Joey Ross must fight to prove that she is innocent of murder, as the popular detective drama returns for a one-off special. Stars, of course, Alan Davies - in the role the defined his career - and the terrific Sheridan Smith along with guest star Paul McGann. And it looks great. It's been fifteen months since the last episode. Let's hope the next one comes along a bit sooner.

In Great Movie Mistakes - 8:05 BBC3 - Robert Webb (who was so good on The Bubble with his old oppo David Mitchell and Miranda Hart on Friday) exposes the numerous cinematic blunders and gaffes that the film studios were kind of hoping nobody had noticed and that they'd gotten away with. From things like sweaty cameramen getting caught in shot to wobbling scenery that would've disgraced 1960s Doctor Who and Crossroads, and from props that look like they have been knocked up in the Blue Peter studio to childlike spelling mistakes, this show sees Hollywood nabbed, bang to rights, and sent to the headmaster's office for a good hard trousers down caning. Which, is always fun, of course.

Monday 5 April
Tonight on The Gadget Show - 8:00 Five - Jason and Ortis compete to produce a toy gadget. Ortis takes to the road on a unique transportation device called a Yike Bike, which resembles a small penny-farthing. Meanwhile, Suzi teams up with indie rock band The Twang (no, me neither) to review some iPod docks and Jon heads to a health spa with a pair of Hollyoaks stars. Hey, it's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it!

It's finals week on MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. Restaurateur John Torode and food writer and ingredients expert Gregg Wallace continue their search for the country's best amateur cook and their current position as the best sarky double act on TV. There are three cooks remaining in the competition (now, bearing in mind that he's writing this on the night when the final eight have just been whittled down to the final six, yer Keith Telly Topping is going to take a wild stab in the dark here and suggest that one of the final three is likely to be ... Dhruv). They will have to battle extreme temperatures as they travel to the Northern Indian city of Jodhpur to cook a traditional Indian breakfast for forty VIP guests, cater for one hundred and twenty children cooking their favourite dishes at the local school and then, just as an encore, cook for royalty. No pressure, then?!

It's the final episode of A Touch of Frost tonight - 9:00 ITV. This is the second in a two-part story which, quite literally, closes the book on this long-running crime drama series. The past is catching up with Frost (David Jason) in more ways than one as a number of copycat crimes convinces Superintendent Mullett that his veteran DI's life may be in danger. There are now, it would seem, two killers to bring to justice. But that will not happen until tragedy strikes.

In Channel 4's Comedy Gala - 9:00 Channel 4 - some of the nation's best-known comedians perform a record-breaking show in front of a live audience at London's O2 Arena, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. These include - in no particular order other than the purely alphabetical - Alan Carr, Bill Bailey, Catherine Tate, David Mitchell, Jonathan Ross, Lee Evans, Michael McIntyre, Noel Fielding, Rob Brydon and Sean Lock who will be among the twenty four comics appearing in what is alleged to be 'the biggest live stand-up show in UK history.' And, we also got James Corden and Ruth Jones. Oh no, it was looking so good up to that point. Dance troupe Stomp will also be performing two routines.

Tuesday 6 April
Egypt's Lost Tomb: Revealed - 8:00 Five - is a documentary telling the story of the spectacular discovery of an ancient Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 2005. Tomb KV63 was the first ancient tomb to be discovered in the valley since Howard Carter unearthed Tutankhamen's burial vault in 1922. The site, which is literally next door to Tutankhamen's, revealed a golden casket which archaeologists believe could be that of the legendary pharaoh's child bride. Five usually do these kind of Revealed documentaries rather well and this, hopefully, will follow in that trend.

Cameras follow Great Ormond Street Hospital's doctors as they come face-to-face with the most difficult ethical dilemmas on a daily basis in Great Ormond Street - 9:00 BBC2. This episode focuses on the work of the largest children's cardiac unit in the UK. Two of its surgeons - Martin Elliott and Victor Tsang - perform extremely advanced surgery that isn't carried out anywhere else in the country and the team's success rate for heart transplant is well above the international average.

And, if you fancy a night off from MasterChef, but still want to watch something food-related then there's Heston's Chocolate Factory Feast - 9:00 Channel 4. A series in which self-styled 'culinary scientist' Heston Blumenthal reinvents famous period and mythical feasts. It's a trip back to the 1960s, tonight, as Heston serves a meal inspired by Charlie and The Chocolate Factory including lickable wallpaper, a magic mushroom dish and a waterfall complete with edible rocks. He is joined for the feast by the actress Tamsin Egerton, entertainer Patti Boulaye, singer Mica Paris, TV presenters Tim Lovejoy and Ben Shephard and the I-thought-you-were-dead broadcaster Mike Read. Nice work if you can get it.

Wednesday 7 April
It's Manchester United versus Bayern Munich in the Champions League on ITV for most of the night. So, as usual when there's a big match on, here's three things for viewers to watch if they don't fancy an evening in the company of twenty two grown men kicking a pigs bladder around. Which is what I'll be watching, to be fair.

And so we come to the big final of MasterChef, which has kept yer Keith Telly Topping so madly entertained for the last six weeks. First, the three finalists are back where they started with a mystery box of ingredients. Then they must travel to three of Europe's finest Michelin starred restaurants in France, Italy and Holland to cook a busy lunch service at the highest level, before cooking a final platter for John and Gregg. And, at the end, one of them will be crowned MasterChef Champion 2010. It's been a wild and crazy ride and I, for one, wouldn't have missed it for the world.

The Secret Life of the Airport - 7:00 BBC2 - is a series charting the development of Britain's airports and how they have transformed the country, in the process creating both freedom and fear. This episode navigates from the imperial glamour of Britain's first airport terminal at Croydon to the internationally-agreed hieroglyphics on today's taxiways and runways. Using archive footage and unprecedented access to airports' hidden corners, the series reveals the local rivalry, skulduggery and sheer passion for flight behind our airports. Contributors include Lord Foster.

In The Edible Garden - 8:00 BBC2 - Alys Fowler attempts to avoid shop-bought fruit and vegetables and live off her own, home-grown produce. This is, as it turns out, no easy task because Alys doesn't want to turn her garden into an allotment, so she's growing her fruit and veg next to her flower beds. And, viewers can actually watch her as she sits among her beans and peas. Nah, lissun. They're prolific vegetables but they also look beautiful in the borders. Alys makes delicious broad bean falafels, pea-shoot cocktails and forages for willow to make plant supports.

Thursday 8 April
It's very much the week for returning favourites. The award-winning Outnumbered - 9:30 BBC1 - is, quite honestly, the single best sitcom that British television has produced at least in the last five year, possible far longer. Well, it's back tonight, as Gran takes the Brockman family for a day's sightseeing in London. Karen is unimpressed with modern art, Jake suffers serious trauma when he is unable to text, and one of the family uses a visit to HMS Belfast for a brief re-enactment of World War II. As ever Hugh Dennis and Clarie Skinner are great but the real stars here are the three kids who are just breathtakingly funny.

And, now it's time for a soap round-up. In EastEnders - 7:30 BBC1 - Billie will not be budged on his plans to fight for Britain. Meanwhile, by enlisting Christian's help, Amira unwittingly torments Zainab. Danny plays Ronnie and Roxy off against each other, and Janine and Ryan try in vain to lead a normal life. Meanwhile, over in Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV - Peter is being secretive and Leanne wants to know why. Ryan tries to get back with Sian but will Sophie interfere? And swarthy Lewis is forced to choose between Audrey and Rita.

Finally, Have I Got News for You - 9:00 BBC1 - tonight has guest host Alexander Armstrong, who is always very watchable on this, and guest panellists the divine Victoria Coren and the very funny Richard Herring.

And, so to some Top TV news: FOX has confirmed speculation that it has decided to cancel the high-octane real-time espionage drama 24 in its eighth season. A statement issued by the network announced that the show's cancellation was a joint decision by star and executive producer Kiefer Sutherland, executive producer and show runner Howard Gordon, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Imagine Entertainment and FOX Broadcasting Company.

Paddy Kielty has reportedly poked fun at Sharon Osbourne's parenting skills on new Channel 4 show The Comedy Roast. Kielty, along with Jimmy Carr, The X Factor's Louis Walsh, Gok Wak and Alan Carr, lead the tribute event to Osbourne, which will air next month. Osbourne ended up chasing the Irish comic off the stage, shouting'"I'll fucking kill you!' after he joked about her daughter Aimee choosing not to appear on MTV fly-on-the-wall series The Osbournes. '[Aimee is a] credit to the Filipino nannies who raised her... unlike the rest of the family,' the Irish comic told the audience. 'Aimee's been on TV once. Who could forget her appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show when she desperately took a DNA test to try to prove you weren't her real mother.' He added: 'She's the only child in Hollywood who's tried to adopt African parents.'

Channel 4 has handed a new two-year contract to its long-running gameshow Countdown. The news was announced today to tie in with celebrations for the programme's five thousandth episode, which aired this week, having been part of Channel 4's line up since the station began in 1982. Countdown's new deal will see hosts Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley continuing to front the programme, whilst Susie Dent is expected to remain in the Dictionary Corner. Channel 4's head of daytime Helen Warner told the Mirror: 'It is an amazing achievement for Countdown to be celebrating five thousand shows. Jeff, Rachel and Susie have breathed new life into the show and it is the perfect time to announce Channel 4 is committing to another two years. We look forward to celebrating the next five thousand.' Responding to the announcement, Stelling commented: 'The recommission is fantastic news. I love being on the show, it's my dream job.' Meanwhile, Riley added: 'I am thrilled.'

Meanwhile, Rachel Riley has revealed that she does not get recognised when she is out in public. The Oxford graduate, who took over from Carol Vorderman as the show's numbers and letters girl in 2008, admitted that she is able to live a normal life away from work. Speaking on This Morning, Riley explained: 'My Countdown me is very different to the normal me. I don't get recognised on the street or anywhere really. Some of our contestants do, they say they get stopped in the supermarket, but nobody recognises me!'

Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner has blamed the 'precious' attitudes of his fellow judges for the series of arguments which occurred on this year's series. In an interview with the Daily Mail, the outspoken choreographer explained why he has frequently disagreed with the programme's three skating judges Nicky Slater, Robin Cousins and Karen Barber. Gardiner commented: 'Sometimes we gel. At other times, the professionals on the panel have been far too precious. That's when we've clashed. Not that it worried me. Yes, it could get heated during the show but it very rarely continued when we got back to the one dressing room we all share.' The controversial panellist confirmed that he respects co-star Emma Bunton because she 'knows what it is to perform' and he is 'getting to understand' Slater following previous tension. He also hailed Cousins as 'one of the greatest male figure skaters of all time.' Speaking about Barber's approach to her role, he noted: 'She judges from the heart, which is why you get the tears from her. I'm never going to agree that because someone's been working hard all week, it means they should be marked up. You'd hope everyone's been working hard. Better, in my opinion, to judge each contestant on that evening's performance.'

Freeview viewers in Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire had to readjust their equipment after the first stage of the digital switchover was activated there this week. The rejig was necessary as BBC2's analogue signal has been turned off in the region. But as a consequence thousands of homes have found themselves receiving Welsh stations alongside English ones, thanks to bordering transmitters. In some homes the equipment will pick up both the signals from the Wenvoe transmitter in Wales and the Mendip transmitter. In several cases the Welsh channels are being placed above English ones on the programme list, which can give the false appearance they are replacing them. Digital UK said that it had received around six thousand calls from the west region yesterday, of which around one in ten were about the overlap issue. The problem was not that Welsh channels shunted out English ones, simply that they had been placed ahead of them on the list, it explained. A spokesman said: 'The box makes the decision about where to put channels, but sometimes the box makes the wrong decision for the viewer concerned. It is generally straightforward once people are told what to do.' A number of viewers have contacted BBC Bristol to complain after apparently losing Points West and getting BBC Wales, the station reported. The spokesman explained: 'People don't always realise that Points West is down in the 800s. It is not that it isn't there, just that it is right down the channel list.'

Simon Cowell and ITV have still not reached an agreement over the budget for this year's X Factor series, according to a report. The music mogul is continuing to hold out for an extra three million pounds which would be spent on improving the contest's live shows, the Sun claims. A source told the newspaper: 'Simon is committed to the show but only if ITV will pay up. He wants it to get over twenty million viewers this year, but has told them to do this they need to put more cash in. They are trying to work out if that's necessary as it is already the biggest TV show.' It is thought that Cowell has already agreed a personal fee of twelve million pounds which would keep him at ITV for two years and has also finalised the budget for Britain's Got Talent. The insider added: 'Got Talent is all systems go. X Factor is the sticking point.'

A group of Coronation Street's male characters are to hatch a secret plot to visit South Africa to watch England play at the World Cup, according to a report. The new storyline begins when Trevor Dean (Steve Jackson) comes up with the idea and invites Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson), Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold), Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) and Tyrone Dobbs (Alan Halsall) to join him on the trip, the Daily Star claims. It is thought that the group decide not to tell their wives and girlfriends about the plan but resolve to each hand over fifteen hundred pounds to fund the holiday. However, Trevor's landlady Janice Battersby (Vicky Entwistle) is expected to later find a stash of cash hidden under his bed, forcing him to come clean about the plot and beg her to keep quiet. Dismissing the suggestion, Janice apparently replies: 'You expect me to keep this a secret from our Leanne when her recovering alcoholic fiancé is about to wazz a grand-and-a-half up the wall just so he can go and watch the World Cup with a load of other drunken morons?' The schemers' partners are then expected to get wind of the plan and force them to scrap the idea.

Sporting bodies in the UK are reportedly considering a legal challenge against Ofcom's plan to force Sky to cut the wholesale price of its premium sport channels. The media regulator will next week reach a final decision on its pay-TV review, with the expectation that it will order Sky to reduce the price of its premium channels by up to twenty per cent for rival operators. Sky is widely expected to mount a legal challenge against the verdict and the satellite broadcaster could be joined by some of UK sport's largest governing bodies. A group of six organisations - the Football Association, the Premier League, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Rugby Football Union, the Professional Golfers' Association and the Rugby Football League - claim that the approach will cause 'irreparable damage' to grassroots sporting investment, and are now reviewing options for a legal challenge. According to the Guardian, the sport bodies believe that Ofcom's new model will severely impact competition and drastically reduce the amount broadcasters are prepared to pay for sport rights. The organisations, which signalled their dislike for the plan last October, have now written directly to Ofcom chairman Colette Bowe claiming that the watchdog has failed to properly take into account the impact of its plan. Should the proposal go ahead as expected next week, the organisations could lodge a legal challenge with the Competition Appeals Tribunal, or apply to the European Court of Justice. However, Ofcom is understood to be confident that its course of action is backed up by firm evidence after an exhaustive three-year investigation. In their letter to Bowe, the sporting bodies warned of 'serious consequences for the sports sector' as UK grassroots development will be 'irreparably damaged through loss of funding.' The correspondence further takes umbrage with Virgin Media, Top Up TV and BT for triggering the investigation in 2007, claiming that 'any market failure is a result of their unwillingness to invest and take risks.'

Martin Freeman has claimed that he carries a lot of rage inside him. The actor, who played Tim in The Office, stars as Dutch painter Rembrandt in the upcoming Paul Greenway-directed Nightwatching, which features graphic sex scenes and violence. Freeman told The Times: 'I carry a lot of rage around inside me. People are always like, "Oh, he's like my best mate." Well, no. I am not your fucking best mate. I don't really know how people can be alive for more than six days without rage. If you live in this world, how can you not have it? It's the conversation I have with people I love. They say, "You are allowed to be happy, Martin! So shut the fuck up. And be happy." But how am I supposed to do that?' Of being offered the part of Rembrandt, he added: 'I think part of it was because he thought I looked a bit like Rembrandt. And also because he didn't want this Rembrandt to be too grand. He sees Rembrandt as an outsider, someone who's a bit parochial, a bit rude. I remember reading the script for the first time. Within a few pages I was already naked, having violence done to me and having sex with people, and I thought, "This is interesting."'

Kieron Richardson has admitted that he is scared he will be dropped from Hollyoaks. The soap's producer Paul Marquess, who joined the show in January, began his role by axing three cast members. Earlier this month, he decided to cull eleven more characters. Richardson, whose contract ends in November, told the Sun that he has no idea whether he will be allowed to continue at the show. 'I think everybody's worried about their jobs because it's an amazing place to work,' he said. 'Nobody wants to leave. But if they do leave I'm sure people will work again. My contract isn't due for renewal yet so I don't know what's going on. But word on the street is that I've got a good storyline coming up.' Richardson, who is currently competing in Dancing On Ice, added that he has not met Marquess yet. However, he continued: 'It sounds like his ideas are all for the good of the show and only to make it bigger and better - and hopefully that will be with me in it.'

EastEnders star Patsy Palmer has admitted that she did not want her character Bianca Jackson to reunite with Ricky Butcher. The Walford favourites, who were seen returning to Albert Square in 2008, remarried last month in a storyline which marked the soap's twenty fifth anniversary. In an interview with Bang Showbiz, Palmer confessed that she initially had reservations about whether the pair should become an item again, but is happy viewers are backing the relationship. She commented: 'It's really nice to be back actually and everybody seems to be really pleased. I didn't really want them to get back together, but there you go. They write it. I have no idea why people are so obsessed with Ricky and Bianca, but I am really pleased.' Palmer also revealed that she is eager to share scenes with Jessie Wallace when the actress returns to her role as Kat Moon later this year. She said: 'When I used to watch it I really loved her character. I know Jessie but not that well, I just think it will be really nice to work with her. I hope Kat and Bianca become friends and don't just start fighting straight away.'

Wayne Bridge's ex, Vanessa Perroncel is set to receive just half of the pay-off she wanted after taking 'a kicking' in court, the Sun has claimed. Sources close to 'Team Bridge' (huh?) told the newspaper that Vanessa, had demanded around fifteen thousand pounds per month to raise the couple's three-month-old son Jaydon at a hearing this week - plus a £2.7million mansion. Or 'MANSION' as the Sun had it. But her High Court pleas to District Judge Peter Greene were said to have fallen on deaf ears. A source close to the defender said: 'Vanessa took a right kicking in court - she was exposed for what she was. Her demands were so unreasonable that her lawyers were cut dead by the judge and she'll be getting half the fifteen thousand pounds-a-month she was after. She was also demanding a £2.7million house, but will have to settle for a much lesser property. Wayne's lawyers pointed out the sums were supposed to be related to their son's upbringing, not her desires for a lavish lifestyle. She has been brought back down to earth with a bump.'