Friday, March 12, 2010

Get A Grip On Yourself

Roz, Dhruv and Stuart became the latest trio of contestants to reach the MasterChef quarter-finals stage on Wednesday evening. Dhruv served up pan-fried halibut with sautéed potatoes, spinach and a saffron and clam velouté, which looked very nice, followed by an amaretto and dark chocolate torte with almond cream and passionfruit jus. 'The flavours are absolutely superb,' said Wallace about the halibut. Torode described Dhruv's torte as 'seriously beautiful.' Roz, a clothes shop owner, was also successful in the first heat with scallops on samphire and spinach purée accompanied by a passionfruit vinaigrette. Her pud was a chocolate and hazelnut mousse with an orange and poppy seed tuile. In the second heat, media sales worker Stuart was the only victor. For the final test, he served a pan-fried sea bass with a prawn, fennel, fine bean and orange salad which might just have been Keith Telly Topping's favourite dish of the night. If only I could've tasted the thing. His main dish was lamb cutlets with pea and mint risotto. 'A good looking plate, beautifully cooked,' said Wallace about the first dish. Speaking about the main meal, Torode added: 'Every single part is cooked brilliantly.' They were subsequently joined in the quarters by two more contestants from Thursday night's first episode. By contrast, the second produced the hilarious sight of all three contestants failing to progress because - as Torode noted with some obvious relish - none of them were good enough. This was especially satisfying for the viewers in the case of Mouthy Jo with her dream of opening a garden restaurant who had already told the cameras that she considered John and Gregg to be, frankly, daft for failing to spot her huge and towering abilities. Ah, genius is seldom appreciated in its own back yard, Jo my love.

Did anybody else notice Fiona Bruce's small faux-pas on last night's BBC Six O'Clock News when referring to a 'high speed rear link'? I think you meant 'rail' there, Fee. Freudian slip from one of the best looking bottoms on TV? One can only speculate. At great length.

Almost two hundred shows broadcast on the Welsh TV channel S4C last month attracted zero viewers, according to a report. The Western Mail claimed that leaked figures showed one hundred and ninety six out of eight hundred and ninety programmes in a three week period had less than one thousand viewers - an official statistical zero. S4C chairman, John Walter Jones, said it was important to consider the wider contribution of the channel to Wales. The Welsh-language broadcaster is funded by a grant of more than one hundred million pounds a year from the UK government. Most of the programmes with a zero viewer rating were children's shows, the newspaper added. The channel broadcasts children's shows such as cartoons Sali Mali and Igam Ogam, voiced by actor Ioan Gruffudd. But Walter Jones said that children aged under four were not counted in the official figures compiled the Broadcasters Audience Research Board. He added: 'The majority of programmes referred to are pre-school children's programmes. BARB, the body that measures viewing figures cannot take account of children under the age of four - the target audience for these programmes. So the viewing of these programmes cannot be measured accurately.' He added: 'The contribution S4C makes to the Welsh language, Welsh culture and the Welsh economy has to be considered on a much broader basis than individual statistical information which can be misleading and misconstrued.' Walter Jones also said more people were tuning in to Welsh language programmes on S4C this year than during the same period of 2009. S4C, launched in 1982, and is based in Cardiff. It broadcasts more than eighty hours of Welsh language programmes on a variety of platforms, including television and broadband.

Melinda Messenger has claimed that working with Ian Wright on Live From Studio Five became 'intolerable.' Became? What was it before that, fun? The TV presenter and former Page Three Stunna, who left the much-criticised magazine programme at the start of the year, was replying to Wright's accusations earlier in the week that she was 'annoying' and 'a turn off for viewers.' In a statement, Messenger's spokesperson told the Daily Star: 'Melinda was disappointed by the comments made by Ian. She did not renew her contract because the working relationship with Ian Wright became so intolerable. His allegations that she would not let him or Kate get a word in edgeways are ridiculous. Melinda loved working on the show but felt she had no other option but to bow out. This is not something we wished to talk about in the public arena but after comments made by Ian Wright about Melinda's professional performance, we felt we had no choice but to respond.'

BBC2 proved there was life in the docusoap format yet with nearly three million viewers for Inside John Lewis, its look behind-the-scenes of one of the UK's best-known department stores on Wednesday night. The first instalment of the three-part series began with 2.7 million viewers, an eleven per cent share of the audience, between 9pm and 10pm, according to unofficial overnight figures.

The BBC reportedly plans to 'grow' its five main radio brands with show extensions and digital spin-off stations following the proposed axe of 6 Music and the Asian Network. According to the Gruniad, the corporation will use some of the money saved from closing the two digital stations to increase the programming already being aired on Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 5Live. In the twelve months to the end of March 2009, it is understood that the BBC spent sixteen million pounds on content for broadcast on 6 Music and the Asian Network. The BBC has previously adopted a similar approach with its television brands, including spin-off shows such as BBC3's Doctor Who Confidential and The Apprentice: You're Fired on BBC Two. Radio 5Live already operates digital sister station 5Live Sports Extra, which adds value without costing huge sums as it does not run a full broadcast schedule. The corporation will also take confidence from the success of ITV's spin-off properties such as The Xtra Factor and Britain's Got More Talent. 'Just like The Xtra Factor goes backstage and tells you what happened at The X Factor, so Radio 2 could have spin-off digital shows with extra coverage from Glastonbury or the Electric Proms,' said an industry executive. The BBC could adopt an alternative approach of 6 Music being rebranded as Radio 2 Extra and allocated just an evening schedule. However, 6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq wrote recently on his Going Deaf For A Living blog that the approach would be 'a bit like having your four-bedroom house compulsorily purchased and replaced with a bedsit on the edge of Heathrow.' Try pulling in a few more listeners before you start whinging about getting the tin-tack, Steve. You've not an untalented broadcaster but if no bugger's listening to your show then you've really got no cause for complaint. Thompson's strategy review indicated that BBC Radio 7 will be rebranded as Radio 4 Extra and given additional investment to grow its schedule. Industry sources believe that the BBC will also revamp BBC Radio 1Xtra to bring the station closer to its parent network. However, a BBC spokesman said: 'We would like to clarify that there are currently no proposals for BBC Radio beyond those outlined in the strategy review. We have said that we will reinvest any funds from the proposed closure of 6 Music in digital radio content, but anything beyond this is speculation at this stage.'

The BBC Trust has announced it is to review how well some BBC radio services perform in terms of their quality, distinctiveness and value for money. One review will assess Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7, while a second will look at all the BBC's local radio services. The stations are among the last to be looked at as part of the Trust's ongoing round of service reviews. Each review will include a twelve-week consultation period where the public can give their views. The review of Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7 will begin in the spring and will be published next winter, while the timetable for the review of nations and local radio is currently being considered. David Liddiment, BBC Trustee and Chair of the Trust's Audience and Performance Committee, said: 'As well as the current performance of these services we'll also be looking at the BBC's future plans for the stations to ensure they are robust and deliverable.'

Land Girls, BBC1 Daytime's highly popular and award-winning drama, is to return for a second series. Liam Keelan, Controller of BBC Daytime, has commissioned five new episodes of the drama created by Roland Moore. The second series of Land Girls returns to the rural Forties, and continues to examine how a generation of women helped the war effort, and adapted to their new lives working as part of the Women's Land Army. Speaking about the new series, Liam Keelan said: 'The first series was something completely new for BBC1 Daytime, as it was the first time a period drama had been commissioned and made for the daytime audience. It proved to be such a success with our viewers that I'm delighted to be able to announce the commission of a second series.'

Harry Hill has signed a multimillion-pound two-year deal with ITV to make more series of TV Burp and You've Been Framed. The new agreement will see independent production company Avalon produce two series, each of eight episodes, of TV Burp for 2010 and 2011. ITV also has an option to extend the deal and order two more series of TV Burp, another one next year and one in 2012. The two new series of You've Been Framed will be produced by ITV Studios. The deal includes an agreement to develop new programme formats for Hill. He has already won several BAFTA awards for the long-running ITV show TV Burp, which has developed into both a critical and a ratings hit for the network. 'If you're a light entertainer there's really only one place to be on a Saturday night, and that's ITV,' said Hill.

Emmerdale veteran Richard Thorp has returned to filming at the soap after taking a leave of absence for health reasons. The seventy eight-year-old, who plays Alan Turner on the Yorkshire-based drama, has been recuperating for the past eight months after having his right knee replaced. However, Thorp is now on the road to recovery and finally went back to work last week. He is due to return to screens in approximately six weeks' time.

The BBC has confirmed that Blur's documentary film No Distance Left To Run will get its UK television premiere this weekend. The documentary feature will air on 14 March on BBC2 at 10.50pm. It will be followed by footage of the band's Glastonbury headlining show last year. Created by Pulse Films, No Distance Left To Run features archive material from the group's history and new interviews with the four members. The music's great although it's utterly impossible to watch the film without wanting to hit Alex James, hard, in the face. With a wet haddock. Mind you, it's pretty much impossible to watch anything featuring Alex James without wanting to hit Alex James, hard, in the face. With a wet haddock. So, ultimately, it's a case of 'no change there, then.' EMI vice president of visual content strategy Stefan Demetriou, who co-produced the movie, said: 'The reaction to the film from existing fans and new audiences has been amazing. We're very excited by the UK television premiere of the film on the BBC following the worldwide box office success.' Directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, the documentary was initially released at selected cinemas worldwide in January.

FOX is expected to announce the cancellation of 24 within a matter of days, according to a variety of Internet rumours. Various sources suggest that the real-time drama has been axed by the network, with a formal announcement expected shortly.

BBC Radio 2 announced a new spring schedule to complement the network's ongoing commitment to comedy, documentaries and live music programming yesterday. Radio 2's Comedy Hour finds a new home on Saturday nights between 10.00 and 11.00pm from 3 April. Featuring both new and established names, highlights include specially-commissioned shows featuring Richard Wilson and Ricky Tomlinson; a new series from Irish stand-up Jason Byrne; and a five-part comedy panel show, Never Write Off The Germans, as part of the network's celebration of this summer's World Cup. And, in the autumn, Radio 2 will scour the country in a bid to crown the New Stand-Up Of The Year. Radio 2's documentary programming will run over consecutive nights on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10.00 to 11.00pm, from Monday 5 April. Highlights include a new four-part series with Tony Bennett, in conversation with Michael Parkinson, as he chooses his favourite songs from the Great American Songbook; another season of Comedy Great profiles including Bob Monkhouse, Tommy Cooper and Dave Allen; and, in May, Radio 2 celebrates the Sixties with a series of documentaries and features including profiles of John Kennedy, David Frost and The Hollies.

Jason Manford has claimed that he failed to get a job on radio because he is 'too northern.' According to the Sun, the comedian applied to cover for Johnny Vaughn on Capital FM but was turned down because of his accent. He reportedly wrote on Twitter: 'Did test for Capital Radio to fill in for Johnny Vaughn in few weeks. Just had call to say Richard Park thinks I'm "too Northern" for it! To be fair, I have hidden my Northernness for years now so they probably didn't realise when they asked me to test. Shouldn't have worn the cap.' He added: 'Right off out to race pigeons, stroke whippets, eat pies, smoke roll-ups, drink bitter, watch Corrie and have a fight. Hope that's not too Northern.' However, a spokesman for Capital FM dismissed the claims and insisted that Manford wasn't the best candidate. 'Richard Park has never met, spoken to or was even aware that Jason Manford auditioned at 95.8 Capital FM,' the representative said. 'Jason didn't get the position because there were better candidates, not because of where he is from. 95.8 Capital FM employs people from all over the UK including presenters such as Dave Kelly from Northampton, Kevin Hughes from Cardiff, Johnny Vaughn from London and Rich Clarke from Worcester.' And that's 'all over the UK' is it? Have you ever looked a map, son? Jeez, typical bloody London reaction, that - the North starts at Watford and ends at Iceland.

Martin Scorsese has revealed his stylistic approach to his planned Frank Sinatra biopic. Speaking to Shortlist, the acclaimed director admitted that the untitled Rat Pack movie will be similar to his previous efforts GoodFellas and The Aviatar. He said: 'I was hoping it would be a combination of the two. Yeah, because in structure I'd like it to be more like GoodFellas. But like The Aviator, it only deals with certain times in his life. We can't go through the greatest hits of Sinatra's life. So the other way to go is to have three or four different Sinatras. Younger. Older. Middle-aged. Very old. You cut back and forth in time - and you do it through the music. So that's what we're trying for.' Scorsese noted that he hasn't yet thought about casting the Sinatra role - though he cited Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire as actors he would eventually like to work with - and is still at work on the screenplay. 'We're still working on the script,' he commented. 'It's very hard because here is a man who changed the entire image of the Italian-American. And that's just one thing. Along with his political work, civil rights, the Mob...'

Robert Pattinson has revealed that he misses his dead dog. That's not really telly news, per se, but it's just that any posting on this blog which includes Pattinson's name seems to get twenty per cent more hits than those that don't.