Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Armed Violence

Two Coronation Street characters are to be killed off in an armed siege storyline, it has been revealed. The dramatic plot begins when old big-eyed Tony Gordon - played by Gray O'Brien - takes Hayley Cropper and Carla Connor hostage at Underworld after his henchman, Robbie Sloan, helps him to escape from prison. According to press reports, Tony arrives at the underwear factory with a gun, a knife and a petrol can as part of a sick and deranged plan to kill Carla (Alison King) and Hayley (Julie Hesmondhalgh). The villain has never forgiven ex-wife Carla for being unfaithful during their relationship, while he regards killing Hayley as payback for her husband Roy, who sparked his downfall. In later scenes, Tony's former lover Maria Connor (Samia Smith) will become a third hostage after walking in on the Underworld drama, while Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) and Roy (David Neilson) also find themselves in danger during a rescue attempt. The Sun claims that the plot will reach a climax as Tony dramatically sets the factory alight, leaving fans to wonder whether their favourite characters will make it out alive. A Weatherfield source said: 'By the end of it there are armed police and the street is evacuated and sealed off. When it is all over, two body bags are carried out.' Aw, blimey ... it's Ernie Bishop all over again!

The BBC's director general Mark Thompson has promised that the corporation will 'show neither fear nor favour' in its reporting of the forthcoming general election campaign. Writing in a BBC blog, Thompson outlined some of the corporation's plans for covering the month-long election period, with Prime Minister today expected to confirm 6 May as the election date. Thompson said that it is vital for the BBC to 'provide a strong and independent place where the big debates can take place - free from political or commercial influence.' The BBC's coverage plan includes The Daily Politics show on BBC2 being extended from thirty to sixty minutes for the entire length of the election campaign. Alongside its planned debate between the three prime ministerial candidates, the BBC will also host nine 'cabinet contender' debates, which Thompson said would 'provide a unique opportunity for the public to compare and contrast what each party has to offer on the issues that matter.' The BBC will also air two election debate programmes in Scotland, three in Wales and twelve forty-minute regional debates around England towards the latter stages of the campaign. 'This could be one of the closest and therefore most ferociously fought elections in living memory. With the stakes so high for the political parties, it would not be surprising if they were in contact about how we are covering what they do and say,' said Thompson. 'Whilst we will always take seriously any accusations or questions about our even-handedness and accept any mistakes if we get things wrong, we will show neither fear nor favour in how we report the election. It is vital that the BBC is able to provide a strong and independent place where the big debates can take place - free from political or commercial influence. In this public space, everyone can have access to the lifeblood of healthy democratic debate - impartial news and information. The strength of our impartial public service broadcasting, combined with a strong newspaper tradition, is what makes us distinctive from most democracies around the world.' Alongside chairing the BBC's Prime Ministerial Debate, David Dimbleby will also continue hosting Question Time, including a live show immediately after the leader's discussion concludes. Jeremy Paxman will quiz politicians from all sides on Newsnight, in his trademark aggressive and confrontational (and very funny) style, with additional shows planned for Saturdays, and the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson will track the leader's progress on the campaign trail around the UK. On election night, the BBC will have a presence at 'every single count' to provide comprehensive results coverage on TV, radio and online platforms. Dimbleby will host the Election Night programme on BBC1, joined by Paxman, Robinson and Jeremy Vine with the new look Swingometer. The pussy cat's friend, Emily Maitlis and Peter Kellner will provide seat-by-seat analysis, while Fiona Bruce will deliver regular news updates and Andrew Neil will conduct on-the-spot interviews. Speaking about the coverage, BBC News director Helen Boaden said: 'With the polls indicating this could be the closest election in decades, the BBC's coverage will be vital in helping the public compare and analyse the policies and choices provided by the parities and candidates standing for election. Our coverage will be clear, authoritative, and most importantly impartial.' The BBC's chief political advisor Ric Bailey recently revealed that the British National Party could appear on Radio 4's long-running Today programme in an effort to maintain political balance around the election.

Piers Morgan has claimed that this year's Britain's Got Talent auditions were the 'strangest' yet. The reality TV judge said that he was a fan of the more unusual acts on the show, admitting that they amused him. Meanwhile a report in Metro has claimed that Morgan is struggling to attract 'big names' to his ITV chat show, Life Stories. A source at ITV reportedly told the paper 'let's just say his cruelness while a tabloid editor is coming back to haunt him.'

Meanwhile Piers' fellow waste-of-space BGT presenter Amanda Holden has revealed that she enjoys 'sex text sessions' with her husband, Chris Hughes. And this, dear blog reader, is what constitutes 'news' in the Twenty First Century. Sometimes, there simply are no words. The Britain's Got Talent judge explained that she relies on the 'sexts' because her busy work schedule makes it difficult for her to spend time with her partner. Well that might be about to change, Amanda, after the disastrously dreadful ratings that pretty much everything you've touched recently - Big Top, Fantasy Lives and The Door - have achieved. Speaking to New magazine, Holden explained: 'I've not been a brilliant wife. Chris would ask me, "How was your day?" and I would be checking my e-mails or sending a text. My best friend, Jane, is pregnant and I think, "Maybe I might." But you have to have sex to have a baby and see your husband. We sext.'

Alan Carr has reportedly gotten a bit sick of viewers pointing out the similarity between himself and Hilary Devey. 'Who the hell is The Business Inspector on Five?' he asked on his Twitter readers last week. 'They say I look like her - she better be stunning...' Al ... she's not.

Former Desperate Housewives actress Nicollette Sheridan has accused the show's creator and producer of assault and 'wrongfully terminating her contract.' In a legal action filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Sheridan alleges that Marc Cherry hit her in the face in September 2008 after she queried the script. The actress claims when she reported the incident to the ABC network, Cherry killed off her character Edie Britt. Sheridan, forty six, is seeking twenty million dollars in damages, according to reports. The British-born actress, who left the show last year, was part of its original cast when it began in 2004. According to Sheridan's action, filed on Monday, Cherry 'took her aside and forcefully hit her with his hand across her face and head.' After she retired to her trailer, the producer is alleged to have come to 'beg forgiveness.' The action, which also names ABC, accuses Cherry of creating a hostile work environment and behaving aggressively and abusively toward the show's cast and writers. It claims it is 'exceptionally unusual' for a 'popular character' like Sheridan's 'to be killed off or written out of a television series unless the actor has requested [it].' Before becoming a resident on Wisteria Lane, Sheridan was best known for her appearances in the soap opera Knots Landing. The actress, who was once married to LA Law actor Harry Hamlin, spent five years with Michael Bolton before splitting up with the singer in 2008.

Actors usually like dispensing tips about their creative challenges. But dear old Nick Frost, the male lead in BBC2's forthcoming adaptation of Money has more down to earth concerns. 'The sex scenes with a beautiful woman are difficult aren't they?' he asked. 'I had to wear three pairs of pants one day.' Blimey, that's tough.

Alan Davies has criticised the scheduling of Jonathan Creek over the Easter weekend. The comedian returned to the detective series for one-off special The Judas Tree, which aired at 8pm on Sunday. The first part of the final A Touch of Frost screened at the same time on ITV. Writing on Twitter beforehand, Davies said: 'Apologies to fans of both Frost and Creek for the arse-numbingly moronic scheduling fiasco about to unfold. Creek is on BBCHD at ten by the way.' Later, he joked: 'But then Oliver! is on Fiver so that craps on all of it.' I don't know about anybody else but I'm starting to get really rather pissed off with Alan Davies constant whinging about pretty much everything. I like the guy and I like the shows that he's in but he never seems to have a straight face. So, your show got scheduled against something popular - tough, deal with it. Would you have preferred to have waited a few weeks and gone out against Britain's Got Talent? Like I say, Alan's a funny, inventive comedian and a more than decent actor but he seems to have a huge chip on his shoulder.

Jeremy Paxman has paid tribute to the unlikely hero of University Challenge, Alexander Guttenplan, who led his team to victory in Monday night's final. Guttenplan, captain of the University of Cambridge's Emmanuel College team, has earned himself a legion of devoted fans with his knowledge and fearless attitude towards the presenter. Paxman, who was put in his place during an earlier round, said Guttenplan was 'like a machine' with his encyclopaedic retention of facts. Alongside his team-mates - Andy Hastings, Jenny Harris and Josh Scott - Cambridge beat their Oxford rivals from St John's College by three hundred and fifteen points to one hundred. The final, shown on Monday night on BBC2, saw Guttenplan collect the trophy. The nineteen-year-old, who is reading Natural Sciences, sparked the creation of Facebook groups devoted to both his intellect and looks. One page, called 'Alex Guttenplan: very clever; very nice,' has attracted over sixteen hundred Guttenfans. Followers call him 'a wonder kid' and 'a legend' for sticking up for himself against the show's host. In an earlier round against Christ's College, Cambridge, Guttenplan correctly answered a question about the poet Auden, leading Paxman to state: 'Spectacularly good guess, well done,' before adding: 'maybe it wasn't a guess, I'm sorry I insult you.' Guttenplan simply replied: 'It wasn't a guess.'

Matt Smith has celebrated his on-screen debut on Doctor Who by purchasing a house, according to reports. Smith apparently spent three quarters of a million pound on the two-storey nineteenth century converted church in Highgate, North London after searching for six months. 'It was a gamble to cast a relative unknown, but it's paid off spectacularly,' a source told the Mirror. The twenty seven-year-old actor is alleged to have signed a three-year deal worth six hundred thousand pounds when he landed the prestigious role. 'Matt is a quirky guy and didn't want a run-of-the-mill home, but something a bit different,' the insider added.

The BBC has cleared current affairs programme Panorama of faking an investigation into child labour being used by clothing retailer Primark. Broadcast in June 2008, the Primark - Behind the Label documentary featured a scene depicting boys in Bangalore allegedly making clothing for the firm. Following a twenty two-month investigation, the BBC's editorial complaints unit criticised the programme makers for 'inaccuracies in the scene.' It said that the sequence was 'not subject to sufficient scrutiny by the Panorama team' and should 'not have been relied on in the programme.' Following transmission of the documentary, Primark immediately complained that it broke the BBC's own editorial guidelines. The retailer claimed that Panorama established a fake refugee camp to capture footage of children making its clothes, but that was quickly rejected by the BBC. According to the Observer, the ECU ruled that the central claims made in the programme were accurate. However, the Bangalore sequence 'did not materially add to the adverse impression of Primark created by the programme, because this rested on other evidence which had been fully authenticated by the Panorama team.' The ECU's findings, which are due to be published later in the week, state that 'the programme's script was inaccurate in relation to who was speaking during the sequence in question.' It also accused the journalists of misleading Primark about the programme's allegations when the firm was approached for reaction comment. Primark responded to the Panorama investigation by ditching three suppliers found to be using child labour in Indian refugee camps. Reacting to the verdict, a BBC News spokesman said: 'It showed clearly that Primark was not in compliance with its own ethical guidelines; that children were undeniably being used in the making of some Primark goods; and that Primark sacked a number of suppliers when the findings were brought to their attention. The ECU has not found that anything in the programme was fabricated. The judgement suggests more could have been done to authenticate one short sequence in the film showing children working on a garment. If the sequence had been edited out it would not have changed or weakened the programme's findings.' Primark has not yet officially responded to the ruling, but the retailer can now escalate the complaint to the BBC Trust if it so wishes.

Over The Rainbow contestant Amy Diamond has 'blasted' (that's tabloid-speak for 'criticised' ... only with less syllables) Andrew Lloyd Webber after he 'axed' her for 'not looking like Dorothy.' She further alleged that 'bosses' banned her from dyeing her blonde hair. The ex-Page Three stunna was left at Lord Lloyd Webber's mercy after viewers' votes put her in the bottom two with Steph Fearon. Saving Steph, Lloyd Webber told Amy: 'I think you're fantastically talented, but you're just not quite right for this role.' He said that Amy would be perfect for the West End version of Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blonde. Amy, twenty two, said: 'I would have dyed my hair to look more like Dorothy but wasn't given the option. We were all given makeovers at the start of the show and they told me to stay blonde. All they did was touch up my roots.' Amy, who has a 32E bust, also insists that Lord Lloyd Webber was wrong previously to say she was 'too sexy' to be Dorothy. She said Judy Garland was 'notoriously busty' and even had dresses specially made to conceal her ample cleavage. Now Amy is considering entering X Factor - after show vocal coaches praised her pop image.

While they are all familiar faces on BBC television, you might struggle to recognise them with their clothes off. Former EastEnders actress Lucy Benjamin, Apprentice contestant Kate Walsh, ex-Strictly Come Dancing contestant Camilla Dallerup and Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury agreed to pose nude as part of the Give Up Clothes For Good campaign. Its aim is to persuade the public to strip their wardrobes and raise funds for Cancer Research UK. Dance judge Bruno Tonioli is also stripping off for the campaign and rather putting the streak into Strictly Come Dancing. Among others taking their clothes off are footballer Sol Campbell and Christopher Biggins. But yer Keith Telly Topping figured that dear blog readers would probably prefer to see the divine Julia rather than Mr Biggins. So, here she is ...Yes indeedy. I'm with you all the way - where do I sign up?