Friday, April 16, 2010

Offshore Banking Business

Stephen Fry has claimed that British television can learn at lot from US network drama. The actor explained that American writers are better at pacing shows, the Press Association reports. 'They allow the characters to develop very slowly over time and the smallest nuances of characters become huge,' he said. 'We tend to throw it away in the first two episodes in England - everyone explains themselves too much. The [Americans] are brilliant at just letting it be.' Fry, who was celebrating the one hundredth episode of Bones, also praised the length of US series. 'There are not many British TV shows that run to one hundred that aren't soap operas really,' he said. 'A true proper drama series that has this much longevity is something to celebrate. [Bones has] stayed true to itself. The one thing Americans are so good at doing is not overdoing it!' Fry admitted that he would like to return to the show on which he appeared five times. Speaking to Zap2It, he said: 'I love being Gordon Gordon Wyatt. It's very tricky because, well, my life takes me all over the place and it's hard to get the time together. Unfortunately I have been in LA recently, but that's specifically to write and I'm denying myself any juicy little roles because I just needed to get this book done.' The book in question is the second volume of Stephen's autobiography, the much-awaited sequel to Moab Is My Washpot. However, Fry explained that he is still in touch with the team behind Bones and would like to appear on the show again as soon as his schedule allows. 'They're always very sweet here,' he said. 'They always keep lines of communication open, they're always friendly. So I'm always happy to do another appearance.'

Emily Deschanel has joked that fans of Bones want her character to cry all the time. In the recent one hundredth episode of the show, The Parts In The Sum of The Whole, Deschanel's character Temperance Brennan told Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) that she does not want a relationship with him. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Deschanel admitted that filming the scene had been difficult. 'But it was an important scene so we had to nail it,' she explained. 'It is pretty rare that we see [Brennan] cry. The season finale of the first season was a pretty upsetting moment. I don't have to get that emotional very often. She holds everything in but sometimes the emotions overwhelm her and the dam breaks.' She continued: 'I think if some people had their way I'd be crying in every episode, but that's not who the character is at all. It is not that she doesn't have feelings. She just holds them in most of the time.' And, Emily's performance in this week's episode, The Death Of The Queen Bee, she got to display that side of her character beautifully.

Tributes have been paid to pioneering executive producer Sam Organ, who has died, aged fifty two. He had been ill for some time. In a career that spanned some of the most popular programmes in the BBC factual catalogue, Organ was part of the founding team on Crimewatch, produced oral history series like Secret World of Sex and worked with Bruce Parry on multi-award winning projects like Tribe and Amazon. Most recently, he executive produced BBC Wales's acclaimed Last Chance to See series with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine. Having first joined the BBC is the early 1980s, Organ left the organisation in 1999 to work in the independent sector - at Flashback TV and later RDF - before coming back to BBC Wales. Director of BBC North Peter Salmon, former chief creative officer for BBC Vision and himself a former Crimewatch producer, paid personal tribute to a colleague whose 'extraordinary talents' allowed him to innovate across a range of factual output.

Coronation Street actress Sue Cleaver's seventeen-month road ban for drink driving has been condemned as 'too soft' by a campaign group. The actress, who plays Eileen Grimshaw in the soap, was issued with the penalty earlier this week after confessing that she had used her vehicle while almost twice above the legal alcohol limit. Appearing at Manchester Magistrates' Court, Cleaver was also told that she must pay a one thousand pound fine and one hundred pounds costs. Responding to the punishment, the Campaign Against Drinking and Driving representative Carol Whittingham told the Daily Express: 'What this lady got is not sending out a strong message. She should have been looking at a minimum of two years' disqualification and a five thousand pound fine.' Cleaver received her drink driving charge on 29 March after being stopped by police when her Landrover Freelander clipped a kerb. Her defence lawyer Richard Silver yesterday said that the star felt 'highly ashamed and deeply embarrassed' over the matter.

Katy Brand has suggested that she will retire the characters from her Big Ass sketch show at the end of her upcoming live tour. The comedienne also told Metro that she finds the idea of people yelling her catchphrases back at her 'quite exciting.' Brand said: 'I knew I didn't want to do another series on telly, but I also knew there was still some fun to be had with the characters. I just really wanted to write some monologues for them, play around with them a bit and to do some live singing. It just seemed like a nice way to bring it all to a close.' Talking about her return to the stage, she added: 'When I did my first Fringe as a solo performer, I sold my car and put up all the money myself. I also made my own set, costumes and props but now I've got a really great group of people helping me on this tour. So it's been a while but hopefully it'll all come back to me. Fortunately, character comedy audiences are pretty chilled, it isn't a bear pit.'

My Family's Michael Harper is to come out as gay in the sitcom's next series, a report has claimed. Michael - played by twenty three-year-old Gabriel Thomson - will reveal the truth about his sexuality to parents Ben (Robert Lindsay) and Susan (Zoe Wanamaker) when the show's tenth series begins later this year, according to the Daily Mail. Sources say that the twist was thought up by a team of new writers who have been brought in to make the BBC programme 'more edgy and relevant.' One insider said: 'We were given a brief to turn the show into something a younger audience would relate to and watch. This is just one of the storylines we have come up with. It's handled very sensitively.' A spokesman for gay rights organisation Stonewall backed the rumoured plot, saying: 'It's refreshing that My Family will be reflecting modern Britain in their next series.'

Duncan Bannatyne has continued his public feud with his Dragons' Den colleague James Caan over the latter's 'non-dom' tax status in the UK. Bannatyne previously complained that he is at a disadvantage to Caan in the health club market because he has to pay UK tax on all his earnings and corporation tax on his business ventures. Caan sent a legal letter to the newspaper which reported the comments and told the Evening Standard: 'I do not apologise for my country of origin, Pakistan.' Bannatyne responded: 'James has exploded this, not me. He's making it personal about him. I don't blame non-doms, I want the law changed. By implication, he's now playing the race card - James Caan is personalising the whole thing.' Regarding the possibility of the pair investing in the same business on upcoming series of Dragons' Den, Caan made a possible reference to Bannatyne's alleged business difficulties and six months in a military prison as a teenager. 'I'm happy to invest with anyone in the Den,' Caan said. 'I've got no beef with any Dragon, so long as they have the means to invest on the show with me, and as long as they don't have a criminal record.' Bannatyne said: 'I will walk in and invest. If someone invests with me, I will ask if the money for the investment is to come from offshore? If the person says, "The money is completely British," I've no problem. But if they say, "No, it's from offshore," I don't want to invest.'

The Liberal Democrats have promised to make the BBC's finances more transparent and accountable should they secure power at the general election. In their party manifesto, the Lib Dems pledged to grant the National Audit Office full access to the BBC's accounts, while also ditching the BBC Trust as a regulator for the corporation. The party, echoing a similar pledge made by the Conservatives, claimed that it is entirely possible to keep some of the BBC's expenditure out of the public eye while also thoroughly analysing how it spends the £3.4 billion annual licence fee. The Commons public accounts committee has long called for the NAO to be granted unfettered access to the corporation's accounts, particularly on areas such as spending on top talent. Speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, Lib Dem culture spokesman, Don Foster (no, me neither) said: 'It is very clear that the NAO should look at the entirety of the BBC's accounts. We would also reform the rules that govern sending the NAO's report to the public accounts committee. At the moment everything is made public, [however] some of the BBC's accounts are commercially sensitive.' Foster said that the Osmotherly Rules governing how government departments provide evidence to parliamentary select committees could be 'changed to allow for a full audit without everything then being [publicly] disclosed.' Despite the auditing pledge, the Lib Dems said that they would retain licence fee funding for the BBC to ensure it remains 'free from interference.' However, the party would scrap the Trust in favour of a body more suited for protecting the interests of commercial rivals. The proposed public service broadcasting regulator would oversee ITV, Channel 4 and Five, as well as the BBC.

Incidentally if you missed it, dear blog reader, the first live election mass debate was held last night on ITV. You didn't miss much, frankly. Nothing too radical was learned. David Cameron came over as an oily charmer with a decent grasp of populist soundbiting but with little obvious substance. Gordon Brown came over as a bumbling buffoon who, despite that, does at least appear to have the intellectual reach needed to be Prime Minister. Even if you are worried he's going to trip over his own feet at any moment. And, Nick Clegg surprised everybody - who were, at last, able to put a face to the name - by being able to string a sentence together and be slightly less 'my dad's bigger than your dad' than the other two. They all seen desperately nice chaps in their own way. Whether anyone should actually vote for them, that's a different matter. It told us nothing we don't already know. Ratings for the first live debate peaked with 10.26m. The ninety-minute programme - the first of three such debates - averaged a more-than-impressive 9.47m overall between 8.30pm and 10pm. Not however, please note, the twenty one million which those cretins at the Gruniad Morning Star were suggesting would be tuning-in yesterday morning. The peak audience came at 9pm.

CityTV has ordered a fourth season of Murdoch Mysteries. The crime drama, which is co-produced by Shaftesbury Films and ITV Global Entertainment, has already been picked up by UKTV's Alibi channel. Murdoch Mysteries is set in 1890s Toronto and follows radical detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) as he uses new forensic techniques to solve crimes. The series, which is based on the novels by Maureen Jennings, also features Coronation Street actor Thomas Craig as Inspector Brackenreid. Alibi's channel head Steve Hornsey said: 'As Alibi continues to assert itself as TV's home of crime drama, we are delighted to confirm that we are co-producing a fourth series of Murdoch Mysteries. The latest season has created real appointment to view opportunities for us, more than doubling Alibi's average slot rating and bringing a highly desirable ABC1 audience. I am looking forward to building on this success with the fourth season.' Production on the series is expected to begin in Toronto later this year.

FlashForward star Christine Woods has promised that the show's finale is 'satisfying.' Woods, who plays lesbian FBI agent Janis Hawk in the ABC drama, told TV Guide that fans will be left wanting to watch more episodes. 'There is a wonderful resolution at the end of the season,' she said. 'A very satisfying resolution. But it makes it so you're desperate for more. You want to watch more.' However, Woods added that she believes the show will be renewed for a second season following yesterday's media speculation that, despite poor ratings, it could yet receive the nod. 'I have a great feeling that it will come back,' she said. 'I think fans love it, and I think we would piss off a lot of really loyal people if we didn't come back.' Not that such a consideration has ever stopped a network from cancelling and under-performing show in the past, of course. Fan considerations are, usually, about the last thing they take under advisement.

Taylor Momsen has hinted that she is about to leave Gossip Girl. Earlier this month, rumours suggested that Momsen's character, Jenny Humphrey, would be missing from the start of the next season. The decision was said to have been made for 'creative reasons' and it was unclear when Momsen would return to the show. However, the actress has now fuelled speculation that she is planning to quit the drama permanently. In a video posted on X17 Online, a paparazzo asked Momsen about the rumours and she replied: 'It's done, dude.' Tragically, she didn't translate this into, you know, English. She refused to reveal anything further but when the photographer said he would miss her, she replied: 'Thank you.'

Dec Donnelly was reported left 'petrified' by a parrot at this year's Britain's Got Talent auditions. The host was forced to leave the post-performance interview to co-presenter Ant because of his phobia of birds, according to the Sun. 'Dec is absolutely petrified of birds. So when he saw the parrot coming towards him he knew he couldn't go near it,' said a source. 'He backed away, with Ant having to do the chat with the owner. The parrot didn't speak, but it didn't need to - Dec hated it!' Earlier this week, it was claimed that Ant had been bitten by a dog and chased by a pig at the Cardiff auditions. The creatures were part of a farmyard variety act, which also included ducks and goats. Clearly, the pair's cheeky-chappie-doon-the-Bigg-Market routine doesn't go down that well on the Old MacDonald circuit.

Vernon Kay has reportedly signed a new deal with ITV. The one-year contract will earn the television presenter nine hundred thousand pounds after he agreed to take a ten per cent pay cut, the Sun claims. Yer Keith Telly Topping is not sure which he finds the most astonishing. The fact that Vernon Kay gets paid nine hundred grand a year, or the fact that Vernon Kay used to get paid a million quid a year. Either/or, really. The deal is thought to cover another series of Family Fortunes, scheduled to air in the autumn, and Kay's new show The Whole Nineteen Yards. Although the contract is exclusive, ITV executives have also agreed to let Kay host Channel 4's replacement for The Paul O'Grady Show for two weeks. Kay is said to be 'thrilled' to have landed another deal with ITV following the news earlier this year that he sent 'racy' text messages to a model. 'This is great for Vern,' a source said. 'He will sign the new deal within the next few days and is looking forward to continuing his relationship with ITV.'

Balding, tone-deaf Tory-scum Phil Collins has announced a new Motown covers record. The LP will feature Collins massacring hits by Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, The Four Tops and other Motown acts. Anybody else think that are some crimes so vile, so heinous, that society should just proceed straight to execution without any thought of a trial?

According to the Daily Star Katie Price has been warned that her surgically-enhanced breasts could explode or drown her if she goes ahead with a diving course, according to a report. Oh, please let that be true!