Monday, April 05, 2010

Going Up!

Yer Keith Telly Topping is a somewhat satisfied man tonight, dear blog reader, as his beloved - though still seemingly unsellable - Magpies have marginally made up for playing like total planks all last season and bounced straight back to the Premiership at their first attempt. They haven't always been pretty this year, they've ground out results, but four defeats in forty games speaks of a team that remembered how to defend. Mind you, the fact that United and West Brom are, clearly, head and shoulders above every other team in the Championship when, last year, neither looked remotely good enough for the Premiere League does, I'd suggest, speak volumes about the yawning chasm between the two divisions. But, never mind all that on a night like tonight. I'd like to pass along my sincere congratulations along to Chris Hughton (who seems like a very nice man and has done a difficult job under trying circumstances far better than anyone dared to expect) and Colin Calderwood and all of the boys in the squad (even the ones who fight among themselves) on their achievement in proving that they're a better footballing side than Peterborough. And Doncaster. And Scunthorpe. And Blackpool. And Crystal Palace. And Plymouth Argyle. You've just about managed to restore my faith in football, lads. Now, don't sodding do that to us ever again!

A student who became an Internet star after a verbal exchange with University Challenge host Jeremy Paxman is celebrating winning the programme. Alexander Guttenplan captained Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to victory over St John's College, Oxford, in the 2010 final of BBC2's academic quiz show. Mr Guttenplan, nineteen, from London, came back at the presenter in an earlier round to deny he had guessed an answer. His bravado earned him status as 'a legend' on various social networking sites. After winning the final, Mr Guttenplan said: 'Thanks to everyone who supported us - and to Mr Paxman for his good humour, on and off the set.'

Amy Diamond became the first contestant to be voted off Over The Rainbow at the weekend. The former Page Three stunna found herself in the bottom two alongside Steph Fearon after the public vote. Both hopefuls then had to perform their own renditions of 'Whistle Down The Wind' to convince judge Andrew Lloyd Webber to keep them in the competition. Making his decision, Webber said: 'This is an extraordinary competition. You two girls are the slight misfits in it, because we are seeking to fill the particular role of Dorothy. In one sense you're both not right for Dorothy, but tonight I have to save Steph."

Simon Cowell has reportedly demanded an extra five million pounds for the next series of The X Factor. The People alleges that the money would be invested in the show to improve the bootcamp stage and the judges' houses. ITV and Cowell are now said to be 'locked in negotiations' in an attempt to secure a deal for the programme. 'This is a nightmare scenario for us,' an ITV source reportedly said. 'X Factor is by far the channel's most successful show but there have been a lot of cuts in the last eighteen months so it is difficult to justify the demands. Simon says the money is needed to make the show better but the problem for ITV is that it has to go before the board and funds like this aren't readily available. At the moment there's no solution in sight. The deal was meant to have been settled in January, but it looks like it will be dragging on for a while yet.' The insider continued: 'Cowell and his team are calling for dramatic increases in the production budget. He is talking about revamping the bootcamp stages and improving the quality of the houses used by the judges. He wants to increase the number of people employed to work in the production team as well. And he's not backing down with any of his demands.'

Women at the top of the BBC are to blame for age discrimination against female presenters, claims the embittered old hasbeen and former newsreader Selina Scott. The broadcaster said that senior women at the BBC 'don't get it' and increasing numbers of women have undergone cosmetic surgery in order to 'compete.' Scott, a former BBC Breakfast Time and ITV News at Ten newsreader, won a landmark two hundred and fifty thousand pounds out-of-court settlement from Five in 2008 for age discrimination after she was dropped as a maternity-leave replacement for thirty seven year-old Natasha Kaplinsky. Scott has now written a new report looking at why there are so few female presenters over fifty at the BBC, despite the large number of women who form a majority both on the BBC's governing body and among the corporation's executive directors. The report says the board of the BBC Trust includes seven women, and five men and women score a 'similarly striking majority female ratio' among executive directors. Scott identifies Jay Hunt, the forty three-year-old female controller of BBC1, as one executive who has significant power over who appears onscreen, but 'doesn't seem to get it.' The former newsreader also accused Anne Robinson of 'adopting a character which she plays much as an actress might. She is Cruella de Vil.' A BBC spokesman said it welcomed a debate on the issue. And that the chances of Selina Scott ever getting a job with them again had just taken something of a nose-dive. Ironically all of this comes on the same day when a survey carried out by the Radio Times suggests that the age gap between male and female television presenters may be narrowing. It looked at peak-time ITV and BBC1 shows every ten years from 1950 to 2010. In both 1950 and 2010, the average age of male hosts was forty six years nine months, while women's average ages rose almost eight years to forty years and two months.

Celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has criticised Sophie Dahl's wretched new food show. Dahl currently hosts the horrifically smug and self-satisfied BBC2 show The Delicious Miss Dahl but Novelli claimed that she cannot cook. That might well be true, mate, but to be honest that's the least of the programme's problems. According to the Daily Mail, he said: 'Cooking is not about beauty, it's about a passion for food. Sophie is trying to copy Nigella [Lawson] but has a long way to go. Nigella can cook.' He continued: 'Sophie's show is a bit dull. I don't think it is interesting or anything that we haven't seen before.'

Heroes actress Ali Larter has revealed that she is confident the drama will be renewed for a fifth season. The thirty four-year-old actress, who plays single mother Niki Sanders, believes that there is more narrative left in the show. 'I think that we'll be back, there are still stories that need to be told,' HitFix quotes her as saying at a press event for her new movie Resident Evil. NBC, which in January said that a renewal was very likely, later announced that it was still unsure over the programme's future.

Alex Reid has claimed that he has signed up to appear in a BBC costume drama. The Celebrity Big Brother winner, who most recently starred in low-budget movie Killer Bitch, also alleged that he had been offered more acting roles. He told the Sun: 'I've got so much going on. I've been offered great projects, a lot of acting work.' The cagefighter added: 'The BBC has asked me to be in a costume drama about the year 2000 BC." Ah. The Stone Age. Yeah, that's more a sort of 'lack of costume' drama, Alex. No one from the BBC would confirm the veracity of these comments.

Alexa Chung has reportedly refused to return to the UK. The television presenter, who is currently living in America, was allegedly asked to move back so she could work on T4 again. According to the Daily Mail, Chung has agreed to work for the franchise but only if she can film in the States. 'The cast and crew have been begging Alexa to come back but she sees it as a step down the ladder,' a source said. 'Alexa agreed to host another series of Frock Me for T4 but she's insisted on filming it in New York. Everyone thinks she's got too big for her boots. She shouldn't turn her nose up at an opportunity to return.'