Monday, April 19, 2010

Switching Sides

Saturday was, apparently, Record Store Day. Somewhat passed me by, I must admit, but I like the idea behind it - a celebration of the unique culture surrounding independently owned record stores. So, as my own small tribute to the wonderful JG Windows in Newcastle, where I spent far too much of my time and money in the 1970s and where I bought my first single, sometime in 1971, here it is. I was seven and rather partial to a bit of the old Bolan Boogie at the time. And it had two songs on the B-side: even then, I was interested in getting something for nothing. Nearly forty years and more records than I can comfortably store in my gaff later, I've still got a soft spot for 'Get It On.' And, you can see Marc and the boys (along with future Sir Elt) performing it on Top of the Pops here. Silently. Meanwhile, I'm stillllll thinkin'...

Further to the extraordinary time-shift figures which were reported for Doctor Who last week, From The North can confirm that Matt Smith's second episode - The Beast Below - had final ratings figures of 7.93m viewers on BBC1. An increase, again, of over a million on the initial overnights. And, again, a further near five hundred thousand viewers watched the simult-cast on BBC HD meaning the episode's full rating was just a shade under eight-and-a-half million.

According to BARB, the top ten watched programmes for week ending 11 April 2010 were:-
1 - 10.93m Coronation Street (Mon 20:31, ITV)
2 - 9.94m A Touch of Frost (Mon, ITV)
3 - 9.63m ITV News Headlines (Mon, ITV)*
4 - 9.29m EastEnders (Mon, BBC1)
5 - 8.42m Doctor Who (Sat, BBC1/HD)
6 - 7.89m Emmerdale (Mon, ITV)
7 - 7.08m Foyle's War (Sun, ITV)
8 - 7.04m UEFA Champions League (Wed, ITV)
9 - 6.70m Outnumbered (Thu, BBC1)
10 - 6.33m Casualty (Sat, BBC1)

However, dear blog readers should note that number three on this list is currently being hotly queried (mainly by agitated Doctor Who fans, it has to be said!) as this was actually a fifty second ITN news-update broadcast during the episode of final episode of Frost. According to BARB's own guidelines 'Programmes of less than five minutes duration are excluded from these reports.' Incidentally, aren't those truly outstanding figures for Outnumbered? And, well deserved too. Ashes To Ashes' figures were just a fraction under six million.

As widely reported over the weekend, Adrian Chiles has, indeed, quit the BBC to join ITV in a four-year deal. Chiles is expected to take up roles with GMTV and ITV's World Cup football coverage. He admitted that his move came following an 'awkward period' at the BBC. He said: 'The chance to front ITV's football coverage and GMTV would have proved an irresistible opportunity at the best of times,' adding 'It's no secret how disappointed I was by the controller's decision to change an apparently successful and well-loved show at this stage, but fully respect her right to do so and sincerely wish her and the brilliant ONE Show team well with it. I've spent all my working life at the BBC, working with and learning from some of the best people in the business. I will miss all my friends and colleagues very much but can’t wait to get started with new people on two major new challenges for me at ITV.' Chiles will lead ITV's World Cup coverage in June, including England's two peak-time opening games, and from next season he will be in the chair for ITV's coverage of the Champions League, England's home internationals and away friendlies as well as the FA Cup. He will also be on the GMTV sofa five days a week and front a new factual series for ITV in 2011 on a topic yet to be disclosed. It is understood that Chris Hollins – who stood in so desperately poorly for Chiles last week and formed, with Louise Minchin, a double act with all of the personality of an ashtray – is the favourite to become Chiles' permanent replacement on The ONE Show. Chiles was on holiday in Wales last week when it emerged that Chris Evans had signed to present Friday night editions of The ONE Show. One insider said: 'It seems that Adrian is leaving the BBC in a fit of pique.' Some industry experts are said to have been left puzzled by Chiles' decision to turn down the BBC's deal. The corporation was apparently developing a chat show format for him and a panel game and he had been offered a package which including four nights on The ONE Show, The Apprentice: You've Been Fired, Match of the Day 2 and various other sporting events. However the Gruniad Morning Star claims that Chiles has been in talks with ITV 'intermittently for a couple of years' and that ITV bosses moved quickly over the past few days to swoop him up when, it appeared, the BBC weren't exactly breaking a neck to keep him. Chiles also worked with ITV director of television, Peter Fincham, when Fincham launched The ONE Show when he was BBC1 controller. Chiles' move to GMTV means that Eamonn Holmes – whom the Daily Mail suggested last week ITV has been trialling with Kate Thornton on This Morning to see if the pair could provide the perfect double act for GMTV's forthcoming revamp – will not be transferring back to his old stamping ground. ITV is overhauling the breakfast show after taking total ownership of the franchise last year under the guidance of the ITV director of daytime and factual, Alison Sharman, who oversaw the resurgence of BBC daytime during her time at the corporation. Chiles' move also leaves open a prime spot fronting The Apprentice: You've Been Fired, which the BBC is likely to have candidates queueing up to fill.

'Meanwhile, Mr Chiles, please allow me to introduce you to your new colleagues; this is Jim Rosenthal, Andy Townsend and David Pleat ... What do you mean you've changed your mind?'

The iconic wildlife strand Survival returned to ITV after fourteen years on Sunday night with a relatively disappointing 2.3m viewers – with BBC1 picking up almost three times as many viewers during the same slot. Ray Mears' ITV debut – the first in a three-part run – was no match for BBC1's rural affairs magazine show Countryfile, which achieved a staggeringly impressive average of 6.7m to BBC1 between 7pm and 8pm, according to overnight figures from Attentional. Yes, dear blog reader, you heard that correctly. Countryfile, this week got more viewers than Thursday's EastEnders and Doctor Who! Well, at least until the time-shifts arrive in a week's time. This was an exceptional performance for the BBC1 show, doubling the 3.37m audience it attracted just two weeks ago and almost two million ahead of last week's 4.8m. The tables were turned from 8pm, however, with Foyle's War again delivering for ITV. The wartime drama averaged 6.2m over two hours, beating Antiques Roadshow's 5.2m and the second and concluding part of Kay Mellor drama A Passionate Woman taking 5.1m viewers back to the 1980s from 9pm.

Flights in and out of the UK have now been cancelled for a fifth day, with knock-on effects for the entertainment industry. Filming on the new series of Dragon's Den has reportedly been postponed as judge Peter Jones is currently stuck in Barbados. Mind you, be fair, if you're gonna be stuck anywhere, that's rather a nice place to become stuck. And, apparently, Status Quo are said to be stuck in Moscow. Tragically, it appears as though the Russians are prepared to release then on condition that they never come back.

There's a really good piece by Steve Hewlett for the Media Gruniad Morning Star about the way in which, come manifesto time, suddenly all of the political parties lurv the BBC. 'It is almost as if the past two years of, at times, feverish debate about broadcasting in general and the BBC in particular hadn't happened. After all those arguments over top-slicing and/or freezing the licence fee and even abolishing the BBC Trust altogether, none of the manifestos mention such plans. Instead what we find are mostly warm words. Labour is committed to "maintain the independence of the BBC … the most admired and trusted broadcaster in the world". The Lib Dems say they want it "to remain strong, free from interference and securely funded". And to cap it all, the Conservatives – not perhaps its most consistent admirers – commit themselves to "promote and protect a strong and independent BBC".' Check out the full piece here.

Sir Ian McKellen has claimed that there are too many television channels. The Prisoner actor told The Press Association that television was better when 'everyone watched the same thing.' Yes, of course it was, grandad. And the football was better in them days too. And then the war came along, and the Kaiser was defeated ... Would you like a cup of milky cocoa and your slippers? 'Telly's a wonderful medium but if the script's no good it's not worth making it or watching it,' he explained. 'It was just sort of getting going and then everything expanded and we got all these channels.' This wouldn't by any chance have anything to do with the thoroughly shite ratings that The Prionser got on Saturday night, would it, your Sirship? McKellen continued: 'There was something thrilling about the nation all watching the same thing, those one-off plays that changed society in front of your eyes, like Cathy Come Home. They made people aware of problems beyond their own experience and everybody talked about it. But it was a brief moment in our history. It can't be recaptured.' So, definitely about the shite ratings The Prisoner got on Saturday night, then.

The Mirror has reported that Matt Smith - you know him, nice lad, lovely hair - was spotted 'walking hand-in-hand' with British model Daisy Lowe at the Coachella Festival in California at the weekend. I don't, actually, think that's illegal. Though the Daily Mail would probably like to make it such. The coy couple had been partying with Beyonce and Jay-Z, Katy Perry. Although, presumably, not all at the same time. Because that really would've been headline news. But despite all the eye candy, they note, our Matt 'only had eyes for twenty one-year-old Daisy.' An 'onlooker' told the newspaper: 'Matt looked smitten. He was so attentive to her and she couldn't stop smiling. She was hanging on his every word. It was like the pair of them were in their own little bubble together. They were inseparable.'

Meanwhile, Matt has revealed that he was surprised to learn how successful Doctor Who is in the US. He told the website that he had never expected the show to have such a big American fanbase. 'I was just in New York,' he said. 'Me and Karen [Gillan] and Steve [Moffat], we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm. I thought there was not a Doctor Who community in the US but it's got legs here. It's truly been an exceptional response that not any of us can fathom.' Smith also confessed that he was touched by the fans' response to his first full episode The Eleventh Hour. 'It inspires humility to see how they've embraced that first episode,' he said. 'I think that there are better episodes coming, actually, which is exciting.'

And, lastly in the Doctor Who news subsection, the BBC had announced that Matt is to guest star in the new series of Sarah Jane Interferes. In a special two-part story, The Doctor will be reunited with both Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and another of his former companions, Jo Grant (Katy Manning). The script has been written, of course, by Russell Davies. The episodes will mark the first time that Davies has written for the Eleventh Doctor. 'It's a fantastic script and I can't wait to work with another Doctor and hope Matt has fun with us,' said Sladen. 'I've known Katy for ages and I am delighted to be working with her. I last met her in LA but this time we will be in Cardiff. LA was good but Cardiff is better.' Manning, who appeared alongside Jon Pertwee from 1971 to 1973 (and was, probably, the first woman that yer Keith Telly Topping ever had a massive crush on), said: 'Playing Jo Grant again is something I never really considered. I was gobsmacked when they told me and I am over the moon.' Calm down, love, you're not a League One footballer being interviewed by Garth Crooks. 'What an incredible little treat. I come home [to the UK] and this is one of the first things that happens.' Sarah Jane Interferes was recently recommissioned for a fourth and fifth series, to air in autumn 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Joan Rivers has reportedly said that Mel Gibson should 'fucking die.' Well, if it's an consolation, Joan, he almost certainly will, one day. But, I reckon, you're likely to go first.

Penny Smith has confessed that she is 'devastated' to be leaving GMTV. The presenter confirmed last month that she is leaving the programme after seventeen years. To make way for Adrian Chiles. Ooo, did I just say that out loud? Speaking to Closer, Smith explained that she will miss her colleagues on the show. 'I've started going round GMTV hugging everyone,' she said. 'The team have been like a second family to me for so many years, and it's sad because I probably won't be able to keep in touch with everyone. I shall miss them so much, but at least I'll get some sleep finally!'

The latest Dorothy to leave BBC1's Over The Rainbow has told how the girls were asked to stop crying at the end of the show. Dani Rayner was the third West End wannabe to leave after Andrew Lloyd Webber failed to save her. Each unsuccessful finalist sings one last song - accompanied by the remaining hopefuls. However, according to the Sun, previous performances 'have been ruined by the other Dorothys blubbing through the routine.' Dani, who was the youngest finalist, said: 'The acting coach Donna told us we need to remember that for whoever goes that final song is the biggest audition of their lives, so we all need to stay really strong for them.'

The BBC is to screen a new computer animated version of The Jungle Book - the first animated version of Rudyard Kipling's classic novel to come to Britain since the much-loved 1967 Disney feature film. CBBC, the children's channel, is to screen the fifty two-part series featuring the man-cub Mowgli, Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther and Shere Khan, the Royal Bengal tiger. The BBC bought the programmes in a one million pound deal with DQ Entertainment, an independent production company. The series, which claims to be an 'action adventures comedy suitable for Twenty First-century kids,' cost eight million pounds to produce and has already been sold to countries including Germany, France, Australia and the Middle East. The BBC has pledged to reduce the amount it spends on programmes from overseas by about twenty per cent, but Steven Andrew, head of drama and acquisitions for CBBC, said the international co-production would update Kipling's tale for a new generation.

Hugh Laurie has revealed that working on House has affected his marriage. Laurie, who plays the lead role in the US medical drama, splits his time between Los Angeles and his home in North London, where his wife, Jo, lives. According to the Sun, the actor explained: 'I wouldn't say doing the series has made marriage easier. Doing weekly TV is like joining the Navy and going to the other side of the world for ten months of the year.'

For the first time in two and a half years more UK companies have raised their marketing budgets than made cutbacks, according to the latest Bellwether survey. The survey, which is considered a key measure of the health of the advertising industry, found that twenty one per cent of companies reported that they had raised their budgets in the first quarter of 2010. This compared with sixteen per cent that said they cut back spending. This is the first time since the Bellwether report from the third quarter in 2007 that a higher percentage of companies have reported an increase in marketing budgets than a decrease. 'It is good to see that businesses are now increasing their investment in marketing as a route to growth, a welcome change in sentiment compared to this time last year,' said Rory Sutherland, the president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, who publish the report. 'The findings [also] show that conventional advertising has now also turned the corner.' There was good news for marketing spend across traditional media such as TV, press and radio, which has taken a battering in the downturn as companies have tightened spending.

The BBC has commended Gary Lineker for making it back from Europe to host Match Of The Day on Saturday night. Despite flights from Tenerife to the UK being grounded because of the volcanic ash cloud, the presenter managed to make it back from his holiday two hours before the football show started. The former England striker flew to Madrid. He then drove to Paris, before catching a Eurostar train to London's Kings Cross. And then, completed the journey to Television Centre by taxi. 'It's the first time I have done a show having missed watching all the games in the afternoon,' he told the Mail On Sunday. 'But the important thing is I made it. It was like one of those impossible challenges they have on Top Gear.' Quick, Jezza, Gary Lineker's after yer job! Speaking at the start of the show at the weekend, Lineker joked: 'Every now and then Match Of The Day throws up a bunch of fixtures so enticing that you would go the extra mile to ensure you didn't miss it, and trust me that is certainly the case this week. We have games of volcanic proportions.' Sunderland versus Burnley, Gary? Pull the other one. A BBC spokesperson said: 'He did dash back and he got there. It was a very commendable effort to get himself on air. He got back about two hours ago.'

A woman whose son was featured on a recent edition of Panorama has criticised the documentary's producers. Sharon Ball and her six-year-old son Leon, who weighs ten stone eight pounds, agreed to be filmed for the recent Spoilt Rotten? programme, which was broadcast last Tuesday. Speaking to the People, Ball claimed that she signed up for the show because she believed it would be a serious investigation into obesity. However, she claimed that the filmmakers misrepresented her son by showing him using a wheelchair and giving him a large plate of food when he had already eaten. 'The BBC took advantage of me and my child,' she said. 'If I'd known what the end product would be like, I'd never have let Leon take part.' Ah, I'm sure they all say that. Politicians, cowboy builders, you know, basically everybody who ever appears on Panorama. That's what the show does, love. It points the finger at people whom it considers to be low life scum. Because it's produced by nicely-spoken middle-class people and, therefore, better than the likes of us. Didn't you know that? 'It's made our lives a nightmare. I don't even want to leave this house. I'm a good mother, but people have been making threats about me on the Internet. One wrote, "Why doesn't someone take this child away from this monster?"' Err... just to point out, that isn't, actually, a 'threat', Sharon. It's a suggestion. You may consider it not to be a very good one - and you might well be correct - but, at least get the terminology correct. 'How can they say that?' she wailed. 'They don't even know me.' That's showbusiness, chuck. She continued: 'On one occasion during filming he had already had a small bit of cake and then Weetabix and strawberries. But I was asked to cook him another meal. I knew he wouldn't be hungry but they said they needed to show that Leon does eat healthily. He had two spoonfuls then said he didn't want it. I threw it into the bin. But all they showed was Leon eating those first spoonfuls.' Ball also claimed that she had been asked to take a wheelchair to pick Leon up from school, saying: 'Now it looks like I wheel him about all day and that isn't the case. Where was the film of him playing in the garden with the dog or exercising on the trampoline? They cut those bits out.' Ball added that she only gives her son healthy food and said: 'I've done everything I can for my child.' However, a spokesperson for Panorama dismissed the claims, saying: 'Leon's mum was fully aware of the subject matter of the documentary.' Meanwhile, a statement from the BBC said: 'We simply reported and filmed what we saw of Leon's day-to-day life. We do not accept that we misrepresented or constructed his story in any way.'

Pinewood Studios has stepped up the battle to win planning permission for its live/work development, Project Pinewood, claiming it will help create jobs in an area where unemployment is increasingly rapidly. South Bucks District Council rejected the plans for Project Pinewood in October 2009, but the studios has now submitted its appeal to the planning inspectorate. Pinewood has been in talks with key stakeholders since its proposals were rejected and said it would continue the push with an 'ongoing programme of consultation which will continue over the coming months.' Pinewood's group director of corporate affairs, Andrew Smith, pointed out that unemployment in South Bucks rose by approximately fifty seven per cent in 2009.

British fans of Neighbours are being given the chance to win a part in the show to celebrate its Twenty Fifth anniversary. Five, which broadcasts the Australian soap in the UK, is searching for an aspiring female actress to play Poppy Rogers, a friend of character Mal Kennedy. Auditions, using a script on the Five website, must be uploaded to YouTube. Producers will pick their favourite five before a public vote to choose the final two, who will be put through their paces in Australia. The show's bosses will have a week to decide who will win the month-long role. The episodes will be shown in November shortly after the six thousandth edition of Neighbours.

The News of the World claims that Anton Du Beke, Erin Boag, Darren Bennett and Lilya Kopylova are all facing the chop from the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. The newspaper alleges that producers are 'keen to freshen up the series' with 'talented young dancers' from the American version of the show - like Cheryl Cole's 'close friend' Derek Hough. 'All the old guard of professional dancers need to be aware this show is changing for the better,' a 'source' told the newspaper.

People are consuming more television, online news and video on-demand content, but are increasingly expecting free access to the services, new research has revealed. According to a report by KPMG Media, average spending per UK consumer on traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines, declined from £9.19 in September 2009 to £7.46 last month. Spending on digital media fell from £1.99 to 98p over the same period. A KPMG-commissioned YouGov study of media consumption among one thousand and thirty seven people revealed that time spent accessing media actually increased during the six months. Average monthly consumption of traditional media grew from eleven hours forty minutes in September last year to twelve hours thirteen minutes in March 2010. Hours spent consuming digital media increased even further, from six hours fourteen minutes to seven hours twenty eight minutes over the same period. However, the survey revealed that twenty one per cent of respondents paid nothing last month to read newspapers, compared to fifteen per cent six months ago. The figure jumped to forty one per cent for people living in London, up from twenty three per cent. For print magazines, nineteen per cent of those surveyed said that they had paid nothing to access the content they wanted last month, up from twelve per cent six months ago. Despite many publishers confirming plans to introduce pay-walls for their content, eighty eight per cent of consumers accessed online news for free in March, up from eighty four per cent in September 2009. KPMG Media head of media UK David Elms said that the report's findings demonstrate the 'structural decline in revenues' facing the media sector. 'Online users are increasing. [But] online subscription models remain in their infancy and once more developed should provide a platform for significantly higher online revenues,' he said.

Honeysuckle Weeks interviewed on This Morning late last week suggested that ITV were currently 'in talks' to produce a one-off Foyle's War special, one in which she would not appear. The story would involve Inspector Foyle travelling to post-war America to try to bring to justice 'a man who got away.' This would appear to be a direct sequel to the earlier episode Fifty Ships. Honeysuckle also said that she hoped there would be further series of the popular period crime drama but that no discussions had yet taken place. Considering that, to all intents and purposes the show seemed dead a year ago, that's moderately encouraging.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has claimed politics 'will never be the same again' after the first TV prime ministerial debate. Johnson told BBC Radio 5Live's Breakfast Show that the debate would undoubtedly be a factor in how people decided to vote, and that it had invigorated the election campaign. 'This is like politics unplugged, like an acoustic session, without all the paraphernalia that you sometimes get in Parliament,' he said. 'It was well-handled, well-compered by Alastair Stewart.' He criticised Tory leader David Cameron's performance but praised the Lib Dem's Nick Clegg for 'picking out the names of the people who asked the questions and remembering them and relating back to them.'

Vinnie Jones says TV fans should be excited to see his new US show, The Cape. 'I think it's the second-highest budget for a pilot of all time, it's like ten million or something,' the actor revealed in Los Angeles. Ten million what, Vin? Dollars? Pounds? Zloty? The ex-Wimbledon midfielder was having a break from filming to take part in a charity football match for Save The Children to help launch Britweek in LA. 'I've just finished the pilot actually, [it's] an action hero TV show for NBC and I think I wore myself out there all week,' Vinnie revealed. The superhero-themed pilot stars ER's David Lyons as a cop who is framed for a crime he did not commit and takes on a masked-hero alter ego in an effort to clear his name. Just like Dack Rambo in The Sword of Justice. Only, different. 'I play Scales, I have all this stuff on my face and it is really good!' Vinnie said.

Denis O'Brien, the telecoms billionaire and largest shareholder in Independent News & Media, is suing the Daily Mail for libel. He argues that he was defamed by a Mail article, Moriarty's about to report. No wonder Denis O'Brien's acting the saint in stricken Haiti, which questioned the motives behind his charitable work following the earthquake in Haiti last January. O'Brien's claim against the Mail's publishers, Associated Newspapers, also names Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre, the Irish edition editor Paul Field and the article's author, Paul Drury. Lawyers acting for O'Brien have demanded an apology from the Mail plus a contribution towards the Haiti Relief Fund. The Mail has insisted that Drury's piece was 'fair comment' and have refused to apologise. O'Brien's company, Digicel, is one of the largest private investors in Haiti, having spent two hundred and forty million pounds developing its mobile-phone network since 2006.

Ricky Gervais has said that he doesn't mind if his new programme flops. Me neither. Curious, that.