Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Magic Roundabout!

Richard Hammond has been hotly tipped as the next male host of The ONE Show. Oh, if that's true, I cannot wait for the first episode of the new season of Top Gear to see the sheer depth and variety of 'ways of taking the piss' that Clarkson will have concocted by then! The vacancy, of course, arose earlier this week when the current presenter, that Adrian Chiles, announced he has decided to leave the BBC to move to ITV. You might, just, have noticed. The only bloody story that's got more column inches this past week's been a volcano. But, enough about what Steve Rider thought when he heard the news. The Sun - and we all know how reliable they can be with the simple question 'so when is Zoe Lucker turning up as The Rani on Doctor Who, then?' - claims that The Hamster is now the BBC's 'favourite candidate' for the role. 'We think Richard is perfect for the job as he's an all-rounder,' a nameless - and unattributed - 'source' explained to the paper, being careful not to use any word with more than two syllables. Curious, that. 'He's known for Top Gear but he fronts science shows and has done a talk show.' Yes. A very bad one. 'He's also very ambitious.' The insider said that the BBC will either choose a 'big name' or a 'homegrown' ONE Show semi-regular such as Matt Allwright or Rav Wilding. The organisation has reportedly ruled out putting Chris Hollins into the role - probably because of how astounding bad he was at it last week - although he will, apparently, continue to present the show as a guest host covering for holidays and such like. Dermot O'Leary will also helm the show on a one-off basis but is allegedly 'highly unlikely' to sign a full-time deal. Terry Wogan, Brian Cox and Matthew Wright have also been linked to the job. I think that might be somewhat wishful thinking, on the part of Cox certainly (and, probably Wogan as well). Meanwhile, Radio 5Live DJ Colin Murray - you know, the really annoying one - has been tipped as Chiles's replacement on Match Of The Day 2 and financial correspondent Robert Peston could become the new host of The Apprentice: You're Fired. Or, not.

So, that's the BBC's part the current presenter not-so-merry-go-round dealt with. GMTV newsreader Helen Fospero, meanwhile, is 'likely to become one of the breakfast show's main anchors,' another press report has claimed. According to the equally unreliable Daily Mail, the forty three-year-old is being 'secretly tested' for her new role and is expected to join Chiles when he makes his debut on the sofa later this year. The rumour fuels suggestions that Kate Garraway and Emma Crosby could both be dropped from the morning programme as part of its ongoing revamp. A source is said to have told the newspaper: 'Helen is the one to watch. ITV boss Peter Fincham and daytime chief Alison Sharman are very keen on her. She could be the perfect foil for Adrian and has the journalistic background that would readily help her deal with politicians and celebrities alike.' Fospero made her debut on GMTV in 1997 after joining them from Sky (when she used to look like she'd just had a bowl of cold custard dumped on her head - see left). She worked as GMTV's showbiz reporter before later becoming the show's US correspondent. She left to join the BBC in 2002 but made a GMTV comeback last September, taking on her current newsreader role.

All of this had to happen, of course, on the very day when that pouting drama queen the horrible Kate Garraway was 'rushed to hospital' with suspected appendicitis. One sincerely hopes that it doesn't hurt too much. The Mail claims that the presenter was admitted to hospital earlier today after complaining - as usual - about something and will now be forced to miss a trip to Bristol to cover the second Election Debate. Oh, the tragedy. Although, given her usual levels of journalism, I expect all she'd've had to say about the damn thing would be something tongue-rimming concerning Samantha Cameron's wardrobe and, probably, a crass and insensitive comment about somebody else's toiletry requirements. The future of GMTV's entire current presenting team has been uncertain since January after bosses confirmed that 'all areas' of the breakfast programme were under review. The Mail are also reporting that Ben Shephard has quit GMTV. The thirty five-year-old, they claim, 'informed bosses of his decision just days before he was due to discover whether he would be axed.'

Meanwhile, it must be a hell of a week at GMTV - and, it's only Wednesday - as bosses have allegedly told Big Fat Cuddly Lorraine Kelly that she must start working five days per week rather than two. The Scottish host's current schedule only requires her to spend Mondays and Tuesdays presenting in London because her Wednesday and Thursday shows are pre-recorded. However, the Mirror - and, again, with the reliability issue! - claim that producers are keen to revamp her GMTV With Lorraine segment by introducing a studio audience and airing it live five days a week instead of the current four. The rumoured change has been 'tipped to cause a dispute' as it would give Kelly less time to spend with her family at home in Dundee. An insider said: 'At present Lorraine is in the studio two days a week and after filming returns to her family in Scotland or her holiday villa in Spain. Under the new format she won't be able to do that. It has been made clear to her that she'll be needed for the whole week.' Meanwhile, a source close to Kelly commented: 'Lorraine has always put her family first and it's hard to see how that will change. If bosses make the position too difficult for her to balance she's not afraid to look for something else.' Really? Well, there you go ITV, that's one problem solved.

Back to the BBC and fans of the presenter James Richardson have launched a petition for him to take over Match Of The Day 2. Well, that'll get about ten signatures then. Charmless nerk Richardson built up a minor cult following - mainly among pretentious middle-class tossers who know as much about football as I know about marine biology - in the 1990s when he covered Italian football on Channel 4, hosting and producing Gazzetta Football Italia. He also currently presents the Gruniad Morning Star football podcast. His recent TV work includes co-presenting The Friday Football Show and Football Matters on Setanta Sports, until the broadcaster ceased transmission in 2009. I, personally, find him rather annoying, albeit quite watchable in small doses. The Gruniad Morning Star, meanwhile, has - as noted above - claimed that 5Live presenters Colin Murray (who is, to be fair, far more annoying than James Richardson could ever aspire to be) and Mark Chapman were the front-runners to replace Adrian Chiles on the Sunday night highlights show. Mark Pougatch, former Soccer AM host Tim Lovejoy (currently one of TV's forgotten men, stuck in a rotten format that doesn't suit him on Something For The Weekend) and Gabby Logan have also been linked to the vacant role for the 2010-11 season.

And, sport presenter Clare Balding is among the names rumoured to be in the running to take over The Apprentice: You're Fired. Balding, who has appeared as a panellist on the show in previous series, has been talked of as a potential new host, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, who seem remarkably well-informed. Or, like everyone else, they're just making it up as they go along. As mentioned, the BBC business editor Robert Peston has been linked to the post by the Sun, while Evan Davis, Chiles's former Working Lunch co-presenter Adam Shaw, newsreader Sophie Raworth and economics editor Stephanie Flanders have also been tipped as possible replacements. This is just a 'throw some random names into a hat and see who bites,' for the press, isn't it? Good fun, though!

Coronation Street producers left the soap's cast reportedly 'baffled' after ordering them to attend a group bonding session in a pub. A group of the show's actors were summoned to Manchester's Barca bar just days after Weatherfield regular Sue Cleaver pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge, according to the Daily Star. The paper suggests that Cleaver was not present for the meeting, but those who did turn up included Bill Roache, Kym Marsh, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Jennie McAlpine and Helen Worth, among others. Sources say that most of the cast left quickly and all of those who were driving stuck to soft drinks during their stay. Reflecting on the meeting, one insider commented: 'It seems strange after everything that has gone on. Everyone was on their best behaviour. Most of us reckon it was a bit of a test. If it was we all passed.'

Brendan Cole has admitted that he is feeling 'nervous' following reports of a planned - and brutal - cull of Strictly Come Dancing's professional hoofers. Earlier this month, it was rumoured that producers had decided to recruit a number of new US professional dancers for the next series, sparking fears that some of the BBC show's existing faces could be dropped. Speaking on Five's The Wright Stuff yesterday, Cole confessed that his 'bad boy' reputation and outspoken nature could make him an easy target as bosses consider who to axe. He commented: 'If the rumours are true, not all of us can stay. With the trouble I create I do not like my chances.'

Top Gear is to be remade in the US this autumn, with a new trio of male presenters. Comedian Adam Ferrara, racing analyst Rutledge Wood and stunt driver Tanner Foust will host the show, which will air on the History Channel. The channel, part of the A&E network, has commissioned ten episodes from BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm. Worldwide's Jane Tranter said the show would have 'a completely different landscape' from its UK counterpart. 'There's a different relationship with cars in the US and a fascination with customisation that's much greater than in the UK,' she continued. 'There's the potential for the US Top Gear to have even greater traction with an audience.' It is not known whether there will be any crossover with the UK programme, which is shown on BBC America in the US and has a genuine cult following. Nor is it known whether tame racing driver The Stig will have any part to play in the US version. Or, indeed, if his larger US cousin will be featured instead. Top Gear is BBC2's most popular programme and was the most watched programme last year on BBC iPlayer. A US version had been planned once before, in 2008-9, to be shown on major network NBC. Chat show host Jay Leno had been approached to host, but said he was worried the show's would be 'impossible to recreate' in America. 'I don't think you could be quite as freewheeling with your opinions as you can on the BBC, because sponsors pay for the programmes,' he wrote in The Times. 'If Kia was our sponsor this week, we'd have to say the car was fantastic.' Although some segments were filmed with hosts Adam Carolla, Tanner Foust and Eric Stromer, the series never made it to air.

A 'strategy dossier' containing notes for Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg on the televised election debates has reportedly been found in a taxi. According to the Sun, one of Clegg's senior aides left a book of notes on the leader's performance in ITV's first prime ministerial debate last week in the cab. Despite Clegg being widely believed to have fared best in the debate, the document said: '[David Cameron] talks a lot in the language of values. We need to do this.' The report also criticised Clegg for speaking too fast, using too much jargon and failing to provide a 'convincing answer' on the prospect of a hung Parliament. It advised him to show 'more passion/conviction' while ensuring that he does not become 'too repetitive' in his answers. Clegg was further told to be cautious about falling into traps over his pledge to scrap Britain's nuclear deterrent. In block capitals, the report told him to 'avoid unilateral disarmament implication' when talking about Trident. However, the dossier praised him for looking directly into the camera while delivering his answers, which 'worked very well.' It is thought that Lib Dem advisor John Sharkey wrote the notes but left them in a taxi after the debate programme concluded on 15 April at 10.30pm. Responding to the document, Clegg insisted that he has simply been advised to be himself when going up against Cameron and Prime Minister Gordon Brown again on Thursday for the Sky News debate. In a press briefing, Clegg said: 'I'm glad to see my top team preparing for government by developing a habit of leaving secret dossiers in the back of cabs.'

Leonard Nimoy has revealed that he is permanently retiring from acting. Speaking to the Toronto Star, the Star Trek legend said that he will give up working in TV and movies following his final appearance on FOX's Fringe. 'I've been doing this professionally for sixty years. I love the idea of going out on a positive note. I've had a great, great time,' the seventy nine-year-old explained. Nimoy also stated that he will not be making an appearance in the planned Star Trek movie sequel. The actor said that he is leaving the role of Spock to Zachary Quinto. 'He's a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it's time to give him some space,' Nimoy added.

Channel 4 is planning to launch a new sex education show. The Sun gleefully reports that Sex Talk For Teens will centre on sixteen to nineteen-year-olds discussing their love lives. A source claimed that the programme will deal 'sensitively and frankly with sexual matters' and explained that the producers plan to examine a wide range of topics. 'We will cover virginity and the fear of losing it, addictions to Internet pornography, difficulties with orgasms and so on,' the insider said. 'There will also be opportunities for teens to talk about the pleasure they get from making love too.'

Kal Penn, who appeared in the US drama House, has been robbed at gunpoint in Washington, his former publicist has confirmed. A police report said an unnamed mugging victim was forced to lie on the ground and give up his cell phone and other items. Penn, thirty two, was unavailable for comment and the Metropolitan Police Department would not release any further information. Last year, the actor - who also starred in the Harold and Kumar films - decided to leave his role on the popular FOX medical drama to work in politics full time. He subsequently took a job in the administration of President Obama, working in the White House's office of public liaison, focusing on connecting the president with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. However, he is expected to make a return to acting in A Very Harold And Kumar, scheduled for release next year.

Lost star Josh Holloway has claimed that his character Sawyer is both good and evil. Well, yeah. He's a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman. Speaking to E! Online, the actor explained that Sawyer has changed over the seasons. 'Sawyer is both - he is good and evil,' Holloway said. 'He can walk comfortably - more comfortably, I think, most of his life towards evil - but now more comfortably in good. But he can always cross the line.' Holloway added that he has enjoyed exploring Sawyer's changing behaviour. He said: 'It's a very interesting place to play from this season because of the loss of Juliet and so forth, and the anger and frustration and sadness there brought him back to his sort of original personality of being angry at the world and keeping everyone at a distance. So it's been an interesting line to walk. That, yet still let the other things that he's been forced to learn on this island permeate through that sadness. So it's been fun.'

The media group STV is to sell its cinema advertising business Pearl & Dean for one pound. The sale to Image Ltd, a newly formed company backed by Empire Cinemas director Thomas Anderson, is subject to shareholder approval. STV said the deal would allow it to refocus on its core television business. In a trading update, the company said it had seen a strong improvement in advertising. It said this would allow it to increase its investment in high definition TV services which it hopes to have in place for the 2010 World Cup. Pearl & Dean was put up for sale by the group nearly four years ago. Founded in 1953, Pearl & Dean is the second largest cinema advertising contractor in the UK, with a market share of thirty six per cent.

Karen Gillan has admitted that working on Doctor Who is not very glamorous. Gillan, who plays the Doctor's new companion Amy Pond, found herself 'lying in a pool of sick with cabbage in it' for one scene, the Press Association reports. 'That was quite bizarre,' she said, adding that she has now learned how to 'act terrified of tennis balls.' She explained: 'I've mastered that art for the CGI afterwards.' Gillan also claimed that her life has been 'turned upside down' since she joined the show and revealed that she loves starring alongside Matt Smith. 'He's great to work with,' she said. 'You never know what's going to happen from one take to the next so I don't know what's coming.'

Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has promised that Doctor Who will become much scarier. The showrunner explained that he is excited about the next installment Time of the Angels. 'Episode four has the Weeping Angels and Alex Kingston returning,' Moffat said. 'I think it's one of the scariest ones we've ever done - my little boy says it's the scariest thing he's ever seen in Doctor Who. The first three [episodes] have been moderately scary. We're now going for proper scares in four and five, and in six actually, so some good spine-chilling stuff on its way.' Moffat added that he knows children watch the show to be scared, saying: 'If you took a vote amongst the playgrounds of Britain they'd all be saying, "Make it scary, you're meant to be behind that sofa!"' Moffat also revealed that he is thrilled about the response to the new Doctor Matt Smith. He said: 'I thought it'd take about four or five weeks to get to where we got after the first broadcast, but people just seem to have fallen in love with him instantly.'

Top Gear's James May will showcase the music he loves this month as a guest host on BBC 6 Music. On 23 April, James will take over from Bruce Dickinson on the Friday Night Rock Show. The presenter intends to play a selection of 'classic rock songs,' including the likes of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson and Jethro Tull. 'I've never had a whole radio show to myself and I'm very much looking forward to inflicting the soundtrack of my youth on the nation,' said May. Despite Dickinson being due to leave the show at the end of April, the BBC have said that May's appearance will be strictly 'for one night only.' I would never have taken James for a metal-head. Clarkson, yeah. I'd've had James down more as a finger-in-the-ear, real-ale swigging folkie.

Simon Cowell has criticised Chloe Hickinbottom's song choice for her Britain's Got Talent audition. The ten-year-old singer convinced the judges with a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn's war time hit 'White Cliffs Of Dover' in the show's opening episode. However, Cowell told Bang Showbiz: 'I would have asked her to sing something more contemporary.' Louis Walsh replaced the sick music mogul for the Birmingham auditions. Cowell added: 'That is what happens when I am not on the show. The song was too old-fashioned.'

Amanda Holden has signed an eighteen-month contract with American network CBS. According to the Mirror, the Britain's Got Talent judge has landed a job as the main female anchor on The Early Show. She will cover for the current host Maggie Rodriguez, who is due to take maternity leave in the summer. 'It is a massive deal for her and she was absolutely thrilled,' a source said. 'Her profile is on the rise Stateside and viewers love her cut-glass accent and easy manner.' The insider continued: 'She is a natural presenter and has taken to it like a duck to water. Executives at CBS are predicting big things for her. It is an exciting time.' Which, let us remember, is pretty much exactly what the BBC were predicting when they signed Amanda up for Big Top.