Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

The BBC has issued a second apology about what has rapidly become known as 'Nortongate' - the row surrounding the Over The Rainbow trail which it aired during the climax of Saturday's Doctor Who episode. The Daily Telegraph reports that the organisation had received over five thousand complaints by Monday afternoon about the animated Graham Norton which popped up on-screen, advertising the following show, during the final - cliffhanging - scene of The Time of Angels. Charlie Brooker, Simon Pegg and Ashes To Ashes writer Matthew Graham are among a number of high-profile twatterers (or whatever they're called) to also have criticised the use of the trail - particularly during the dramatic climax to the episode. The BBC had previously apologised for the 'timing' of the advert on Sunday although some media analysts had speculated that this was an example of a 'non-apology apology' and one which didn't, actually, address the question of whether such a trail would be shown in future during a drama production - Doctor Who, or otherwise. But, credit to them, the corporation has now said: 'The Over The Rainbow trail in Doctor Who should not have been played out on Saturday and we apologise to all Doctor Who fans whose enjoyment of the show was disrupted. We recognise the strength of feeling that has been expressed and are taking steps to ensure that this mistake will not happen again.' One wonders, rather, what would have happened if they'd tried that sort of thing in 1963 - say at the end of episode two of The Daleks? And now, thanks to the wonders of photoshop and some mad genius on Gallifrey Base, you can wonder no longer! See left. Anyway, a minor variant on this apologetic statement has, seemingly, been sent to everyone who e-mailed the BBC complaining about the issue - including yer Keith Telly Topping, as it happens. They were well-contrite and begged my humble forgiveness, so they did. Which, frankly, I'm even more pissed off about than I was about the OTR trail in the first place. I wanted them to come out fighting with a 'well if you don't like it don't watch it'-style calling of my bluff! If they haven't got the bottle to take little-old-me on, what chance do you reckon they've got of surviving the first wave of Tory assault bombers on 6 May? I think I'll complain to the BBC. Oh, hang on ...

Incidentally, for those playing 'musical switchboards', as of this morning - according to a very nice lady at the BBC's press office - the Beeb has now received six thousand three hundred and sixty nine comments ('of which six thousand two hundred and thirty one are complaints') concerning this issue. This does rather make one speculate, idly, about what the other one hundred and thirty eight people who contacted the BBC had to say on the matter? 'How nice to see that lovely Mr Norton cheering up the end of rotten old Doctor Who' perhaps? The second biggest batch of complaints to the BBC this week, incidentally, was the forty it received concerning the scheduling of a BNP party political broadcast immediately before The Graham North Show on Monday evening. There's an definite irony in that, somewhere, I think.

Denise Welch has received a flood of supportive messages from members of the public after speaking candidly about her 'cocaine shame,' according to her spokesman. The Loose Women presenter yesterday admitted that she developed a serious drug problem while she was suffering from depression in the nineties. Welch's confessions appear in her new autobiography Pulling Myself Together, which is being serialised by the Mirror this week. The book sees her explain that her 'lowest moment' came when she snorted cocaine in between filming scenes as barmaid Natalie Barnes on Coronation Street. A representative for the fifty one-year-old told the Manchester Evening News: 'Denise has been inundated with messages of support after her decision to be honest about her past. By opening up about how her depression forced her to experiment with drugs, people have been really moved to support her. She hopes her book will highlight how important it is to get the correct diagnosis with depression, which it took her nearly two decades to do.'

Kevin Whately has admitted that he had doubts about joining Inspector Morse spin-off Lewis. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Whately explained that he has been surprised by the show's success. 'I was a bit of a naysayer,' he noted. 'But it took off like a train so here we are back again.' Wor Kev, who plays the title role, added that people enjoy the show's 'familiarity,' explaining: 'People have always liked it, so they carry on watching it.' However, he also insisted that the episodes focus on the murder cases instead of on Lewis and his sidekick, Hathaway (Laurence Fox). 'There is always a danger with a long-running series for it to disappear up its own arse, to become all about the regulars,' he said. 'Like hospital dramas where it's the main characters getting ill. Here I'm very aware that Lewis is the pivotal character, but the guests do all the acting.'

David Cameron has insisted he is 'pro-BBC.' Over fifty TV personalities - including Harry Enfield, Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard and David Tennant - publicly opposed Conservative plans for the corporation at the weekend. But the Tory leader has told the Radio Times: 'I'm probably the most pro-BBC Conservative leader there's ever been.' That's hardly a ringing endorsement, your Daveship, is it? 'I worked at ITV (in public relations) for seven years and you learn to respect the incredibly important role the BBC plays. Competitors like the BBC because you're competing up here on quality rather than down here on price.' He added: 'I would never do anything to put the BBC at risk.' Well, the media and culture spokesperson for the party that you lead, Jeremy Hunt, has already come close to breaking existing employment law by suggesting that the BBC should be making journalistic appointments based on party politics rather than ability to do the job. So, I reckon, that takes a bit of believing, frankly. 'Conservatives should be as proud of establishing the BBC as Labour are of establishing the NHS,' he concluded. A letter containing almost fifty signatures and sent to the Observer accused the Tories of 'attacking the BBC to serve the interests of its commercial rivals.' They claimed the Conservative position 'threatens to devalue not just the BBC itself, but our culture as a whole.' Cameron told the Radio Times that the BBC has to 'retrench a bit.' Asked about the BBC's proposals to close digital music station 6 Music, he said: 'I think it's up to the BBC. They were trying to do too many things and they're right to focus on doing good things well. There was a moment the BBC had overreached on magazines, websites, (buying) Lonely Planet. I think they do need to retrench a bit and focus on what matters most. So while I might like listening to Radio 6 because it's my sort of music, you can't do everything.' Cameron told the magazine that he was a fan of The Magic Roundabout, Newsround and Jackanory as a child whilst his wife, Samantha, liked Clangers. Cameron said he watched Neighbours and the game shows Going For Gold and Bullseye at university and was into Starsky & Hutch, The Sweeney, The Professionals and Dallas as a teenager at Eton. These days, he told the magazine, Sunday night is his big TV night, and he enjoys detective drama like Silent Witness and Waking The Dead. He prefers Band of Brothers to The West Wing (which proves he's not to be trusted with the country, frankly), was a fan of The Fast Show and, when asked to pick a favourite Doctor from a list of Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith. Went, perhaps surprisingly, for Big Tom. I'd've had Dave down as more a Pertwee man myself. Paternalistic. Establishment. A friend of the military and the Old Boy network. Cameron's continued, sick, arse-licking of The Jam still cuts no ice with me, however. Or, with Paul Weller it would seem. When told that The Jam were Cameron's favourite band as a teenager and that he particularly liked Weller's 'socially aware' lyrics, Paul is reported to have replied 'what a pity he didn't understand them!'

In the same issue of the magazine, SNP leader Alex Salmond and Plaid Cymru's Ieuan Wyn Jones were also asked about their TV viewing habits. Unsurprisingly, Scot Alex expressed his admiration for David Tennant, revealed some Trekkie tendencies - although he blew his cool somewhat by claiming Voyager was the best example of the show - and went for Blur over Oasis. Nah. Too 'art school,' Alex. Good singles band, but that's about it. Ieuan spoke of his pride at the success of BBC Wales shows like Torchwood and Doctor Who, thinks David Tennant is 'the best ever' Doctor and - like Cameron - expressed a particular fondness for Waking The Dead. Both nationalist leaders join a long list of politicians to heap praise on The West Wing.

Call sheets for the series finale of Lost have reportedly been leaked. Gawker reports that the documents were left in a Honolulu restaurant, although it is unclear whether or not they are genuine. The sheets reveal several possible spoilers, mentioning that Jack (Matthew Fox) is 'in Hell' and that he gets a nosebleed (usually a sign on impending death on the island). The documents appear to suggest that a number of male characters of the drama - including Jack, Not-Locke, Ben, Hurley and Desmond - are rope-climbing in caverns and waterfalls. No female characters are said to be mentioned on the sheets. Gawker called a telephone number listed on the sheet and was told that producers often make fake call sheets to avoid spoilers being released onto the Internet. Meanwhile, a representative for ABC has reportedly confirmed that the document is genuine and 'the property of ABC.' She refused to reveal whether or not the call sheet was real or a decoy, but said that it 'contains elements of truth.'

Kiefer Sutherland has admitted that the end of 24 took him by surprise. Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer, explained that he did not realise he had filmed his final scene in the show until someone told him. 'We had months to prepare for that last day and I'd thought of what I wanted to say,' he told the Zap2It.com website. 'We're usually running-and-gunning so fast it's like, "We've gotta move on!" Since we knew it was almost the last scene, though, we were doing extra coverage of my feet, my elbows, my hands. We were making up shots, just to have the next one not be "the one."' He continued: 'I thought there was still one shot left. Just as I walked out on the stairs for it, they said, "Ladies and gentlemen, that is a show wrap." It kind of caught me off-guard, but I figured, "Well, I'd better say something." It was going to be short, because there was nothing you could say to explain how much all of this meant.' Sutherland added that he struggled with his goodbye speech, explaining: '[I] caught the eye of our key gaffer and our key camera operator, and my voice started to go. Then my lips started to go, and I had to look down at my own feet.' The actor also revealed that he wants to work on roles which are different from Bauer in the near future. 'My immediate instinct is, "You can't pick up a gun and chase anybody for a while,"' he said. 'Not unless you're playing Jack Bauer in 24, anyway. That would just be too odd. Almost icky.'

National Geographic Channel has commissioned a documentary on the Icelandic volcano including close-up footage of the dramatic eruption. Volcanic Ash Chaos: Inside the Eruption has been produced by Scandinature Films and will air on Friday at 9pm, followed by several repeats throughout May. NGC has gained footage of the two eruptions of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano from one of its film crews on location in Iceland at the time. The crew secured footage of the eruptions from a helicopter as well as the aftermath which includes flooding, Coast Guard rescue flights and eyewitness accounts. Broadcasters are scrambling to take advantage of the volcano. FIVE secured almost two million viewers with an documentary last Wednesday, first aired on NGC, about flying through volcanic ash. Channel 4 has also ordered a fast turnaround documentary from Pioneer Productions. The Volcano that Stopped Britain will broadcast this Sunday at 10pm.

Former Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones has been handed a suspended jail sentence for dangerous driving. The actor, who is best known for playing Weatherfield layabout Les Battersby, last month pleaded guilty to the charge at Mold Crown Court. Jones drunkenly tried to crash a Mercedes last August as it was being driven along the A55 in Flintshire by his wife Sandra. He grabbed the car's steering wheel and jerked it up and down, causing the vehicle to swerve violently. Appearing in court this morning, the fifty seven-year-old was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for eighteen months. He has also been banned from driving for eighteen months and must pay one thousand smackers costs. Additionally, Jones was ordered to do one hundred hours hours unpaid work and complete a twelve-month supervision order.

Kirstie Allsopp has criticised Katie Price for putting her three children in the public eye. The horsey Location, Location, Location host admitted that she disapproves of the way Harvey, Junior and Princess, are regularly featured in magazine photoshoots with their mother. Speaking to Star magazine, Allsopp - a mother of two herself - explained: 'As far as Katie Price is concerned, she might as well just put her children up a chimney to earn some money. Everyone knows who they are. They have no chance in later life of leading private lives. You really shouldn't criticise people in the public eye, but I think someone does have to say, "Think twice before you have your children photographed." It's one thing to turn up to a premiere or a party, it's another to put them through a photoshoot.' Does anybody else think Kirstie Allsopp is starting to sound more and more like your mum with every public utterance she makes these days. Not that she's necessarily wrong, particularly in this instance, but it's all a bit 'sensible shoes' isn't it? I half expected this interview to end with her threatening to give Jordan a jolly good smacked bottom. Which, to be fair, I'd actually pay good money to see, dear blog reader. I'm a man of very simple tastes.