Monday, April 19, 2010

When Soaps Get Lathered

For all dear blog readers who may have missed it when it was shown on Sky's Soccer Saturday a couple of weeks ago, here's a link to You Tube and Kammy's greatest two and a half minutes. Chris Karama manages to totally miss a sending-off at Fratton Park. Jeff Stelling and the boys have their fun with him. Unbelievable.

As has been widely reported in the media this week, James May was spotted in Iceland just days before the volcano eruption that paralysed British air space. Top Gear Blog spills the beans: 'Experts worldwide have rushed to blame Top Gear for the holiday-ruining cloud of ash and doom sweeping over the UK. According to local media, the shaggy-haired television presenter was witnessed driving a modified Hilux to the rim of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano last week. Though initially assumed that he was simply filming a feature for the the popular motoring television show, it has since been speculated that May's purpose was far more devious. "It has been scientifically proven that Top Gear is responsible for almost every evil in the modern world, so the eruption of a furious tectonic force barely a week after Richard Clarkson's 'visit' can hardly be viewed as mere coincidence," says media commentator Annalisa Kneejerk. "We have it on good authority that Jeremy Hammond drove one of his favourite Ferrari gas-guzzlers at 100mph, straight into the main magma chamber, which could quite easily have caused this geological catastrophe. Thankfully I've never watched the show."' Personally, I think the explanation comes down to Jezza asking 'what could possibly go wrong?' whilst standing at the foot of an active volcano. You know, there's asking for trouble and then there's asking for trouble!

Adrian Chiles has defected to ITV for one million pounds a year, according to reports. The presenter, who came close to signing for the broadcaster last year, has accepted a three-year-deal to be the face of ITV's football coverage, according to People. So, that means he's going to be working alongside David Pleat. And Andy Townsend. Don't do it, Chilesy, no amount of money is worth that. You've got some dignity, surely? Chiles had looked poised to quit the BBC following the corporation's decision to hire Chris Evans to front The ONE Show on Friday evenings, alongside Christine Bleakley. 'This is a massive signing for us. Adrian is a top talent and the public love his style,' an ITV source revealed. 'We were quite frankly staggered by the way the BBC treated him and made an immediate offer, which we're delighted he's accepted. This is a real coup for ITV.' Another insider explained the forty three-year-old's decision: 'Adrian doesn't want to fall out with the BBC but he has been hurt by the way the BBC seems to have gone out of its way to try and relaunch the TV career of Chris Evans while putting The ONE Show's reputation at risk. He has built up an audience from nothing to more than six million, five nights a week and really knows his audience. Chris Evans is taking over, as he did with Wogan on Radio 2, a ready-made following.' The source, quickly, added: 'Adrian has absolutely nothing against Chris Evans' - doesn't sound like it, does it, dear blog reader? - 'but feels he should be launching his own show rather than gatecrashing someone else's which is already successful. Adrian feels it is better to leave now while The ONE Show is at the top rather than hang around to see what happens. He's excited by the opportunities at ITV. They desperately want him as their big new star and that says something about their foresight.' But, bright side, West Brom went up this week.

The return of Britain's Got Talent for its fourth series was the big ratings story on a generally lacklustre Saturday night. The ninety-minute opener averaged 10.63m for ITV and peaked with just over twelve million viewers at 8.55pm. The ratings are up slightly on those for the first episode last year, which was broadcast on Easter Saturday. Afterwards, the first episode of ITV's remake of The Prisoner, starring Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel, averaged a hugely disappointing three million from 9.30pm, falling from 4.72m viewers to 2.6m over the course of an hour. BBC1's highlight of the night was the third episode in the new series of Doctor Who - Victory of the Daleks - which was watched by 6.2m between 6.30pm and 7.15pm, with a further two hundred and thirty thousand viewers watching on BBC HD. This was slightly down on last week's figures. It was, however, still almost a million viewers higher than anything else on the BBC for the entire night - Casualty picked up 5.3 million - and also beat its direct ITV opposition, the Vernon Kay-fronted game show The Whole 19 Yards (4.23m) and You've Been Framed Extreme! (2.94m).

Doctor Who fans are reportedly 'angry' about the show's new theme tune, according to some rather hysterical press reports. And, trust me, you definitely don't want to see Doctor Who fans angry, it's a sight to behold, it really is. The drama, which underwent a major revamp this year, introduced new titles and music to coincide with the changes. The Daily Mail reports that seventy viewers so far have complained to the BBC over the new sequence, which was composed by Ron Grainer, and 'differs drastically from the 1963 arrangement.' I must admit, it's still growing on yer Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader. I don't hate it, but I did rather prefer the previous, orchestral version. Although, that differed from the 1963 arrangement a hell of a lot more than the current version does. Do some research, Daily Mail, even if it kills you. A spokesman for the show said: 'It is important for the regeneration of the show to keep revisiting the score while always retaining the haunting and ground-breaking essence of the original. The arranger has made alterations to the music four times since 2005, so change is nothing new,' the statement added.

Some of EastEnders' best-loved characters are being dropped as part of a major 'shake-up' of the long-running soap opera. Six characters, including mechanic Minty Peterson, taxi driver Charlie Slater and student Libby Fox are all set to leave Albert Square. The BBC said that details of how they will depart are top secret but 'they'll all have exciting exits - and hopefully a few happy endings.' Zoe Lucker and Martin Jarvis are set to join the BBC soap later this year. Jarvis will play journalist Harvey Freeman, while Lucker will arrive as a businesswoman who catches the eye of Max Branning. They will be joined by Jessie Wallace and Shane Ritchie who are reprising their popular roles as Kat and Alfie Moon. The changes have been made by new executive producer Bryan Kirkwood who joined EastEnders last month after the soap celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary with a live episode in February. Kirkwood had previously worked on Coronation Street and the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks. 'It's sad to see characters leave the Square but obviously when a new executive producer comes on board they're always keen to refresh the show and make some changes,' a BBC spokeswoman said. 'It's the way soaps work, characters run their course and new characters come along.' Charlie has been a Square resident for almost ten years and has helped his family though crisis after crisis, while Minty arrived in Walford eight years ago. Earlier this month, Tiana Benjamin, who plays beautician Chelsea Fox - Libby's sister - announced she had decided to leave the show after four years.

Coronation Street producers have kept fans in the dark by reportedly filming two endings for the murder trial of Gail MacIntyre. Shoppers in Bradford watched as alternative storylines were played out in the city's Centenary Square, according to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus. In one scene Gail, played by Helen Worth, emerged from the building with her mother Audrey (Sue Nicholls) and sons David (Jack P Shepherd) and Nick (Ben Price). They ran to a waiting cab hotly pursued by reporters and photographers to give the impression that the character had been acquitted. A second version saw David, Nick and Audrey emerge from the City Hall looking upset - suggesting that a guilty verdict was returned. Place your bets on which version gets used now.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Coronation Street's actors have been ordered to behave themselves in future or face the sack. According to the Daily Star, show bosses have set out their intention to warn the cast after Sue Cleaver and Ryan Thomas were both punished for driving offences last week. 'They have been told to keep their heads down and stay out of trouble. It's a case of sober up and take your job and your position seriously or get going,' a source said. '[New Executive Producer Phil Collinson] won't let people compromise the show by doing stupid things. He wants to keep Coronation Street the best soap around and if that means coming down hard, then so be it,' the insider added.

Billie Piper has admitted that she has given up her quest for the perfect figure. The actress, who suffered from anorexia in the past, has claimed that with time she has learned to appreciate her body. The twenty seven-year-old told Glamour magazine: 'No matter how much I starve myself I will always have big hips, big knees, bunions. You come to terms with it.' Piper also said that the birth of her son Winston in 2008 has helped her adopt a healthier attitude to food. She added: 'I eat more now because when you have a kid you have to sit down and set an example of healthy and social living. I'm definitely more comfortable in my own skin than I was ten years ago.'

ESPN has confirmed that it plans to broadcast a nightly magazine programme from South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Titled South Africa Nightly, the show will track the progress of Fabio Capello's England team as they progress through the tournament's group and knock-out stages. Launching on 10 June, the thirty-minute programme will air at 11pm every night during the month-long World Cup. Ray Stubbs will present South Africa Nightly from a specially-designed studio in Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg. Joined by a series of expert guests, Stubbs will discuss each day's developments, with ESPN's Darrell Currie providing on-the-spot reports throughout South Africa.

Sir David Attenborough has reportedly realised a lifetime ambition of reaching the North Pole. The veteran broadcaster was filming the BBC natural history series Frozen Planet in the Arctic Circle when he fulfilled his dream. Sir David, eighty three, narrates the seven-part series, which takes audiences on a polar expedition to the 'last great wilderness on the planet.' Speaking from the Svalbard archipelago, seven hundred miles from the North Pole, he said: 'A century ago, the poles were just about the most inaccessible place on earth. Today that has changed. Nonetheless, to have visited them both within a few weeks of one another is a huge privilege. Having seen what I've just seen - from penguins to polar bears, from the frozen ocean to snow-covered volcanoes - I can't imagine why I've left visiting these marvellous, astonishing and beautiful places until so late in my life.' Frozen Planet is due to broadcast on BBC1 in late 2011 and culminates in an episode entitled Meltdown, an environmental special in which Sir David looks at what the future might hold for the animals and people who live at the Poles and what the effects of climate change there might mean for everyone else.

However, once he'd completed filming, Sir David then became trapped in the freezing Arctic circle after his flight home was grounded due to the cloud of Icelandic volcanic ash engulfing the aerospace above the icy wasteland. Sir David (see right, looking uncannily like Nanook of the North) had taken a private plane to an isolated area of the Arctic to film scenes of melting ice caps. But following Wednesday's eruption, the pilot had been refused permission to fly until the cloud of ash has cleared. BBC bosses were said to be 'concerned' that Attenborough and his crew could run out of supplies of food and water if the crisis continued. An insider told the Daily Mail: 'David is an extremely seasoned adventurer and has come up against plenty of adversity in his time. But he and the crew are concerned about the current situation because they are stranded in such a cold and inhospitable place. They had been making good progress with the new series of Frozen Planet and could never have foreseen something as strange as a cloud of volcano ash stopping them from flying.' If all else fails, David, eat the cameraman. They're usually more tender than the sound recordist.

Todd Carty has reportedly landed a role in the stage show Spamalot. The award-winning production, which is based on the comedy Monty Python And The Holy Grail, also features I'll Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger with Eric Idle providing the voice of God. The Press Association reports that the former EastEnders and Grange Hill star will get to bang two coconuts together for his role as Patsy in the musical.

Graham Norton has revealed that he is unhappy with Over The Rainbow's scheduling clash with Britain's Got Talent. The show's host conceded that the ITV reality show, which attracted 10.6m for its launch, is more popular than the Andrew Lloyd-Webber talent search. It's more popular than everything, mate. It's more popular than choclate. The only way they could make it any more popular is if they replaced Piers Morgan with that little meerkat fellah on the judging panel. Graham told the People: 'Britain's Got Talent is gargantuan. I know we'll be beaten by it. Britons love it and we're aware they'll switch over. It's a pity the shows were put head-to-head.' Norton also stated that the girls performing in the second half of the programme, which is scheduled against Talent, has made the competition potentially unfair. 'I feel sorry for our girls as they've worked so hard because the ones on before BGT starts will be seen by more people. Those on after 8pm are hard done by. It's not really fair,' he said. 'We know only our diehard fans will stick with us. Talent's so big they don't have to worry about anyone else,' he added. Yeah, well, something's got to go up against it, pal, and it would seem that you're it. There has been more than a complaint or two reportedly coming from the region of Doctor Who fandom that you're scheduled after it when it gets nearly twice the ratings you do. Allegedly, the reason for that is because that's the way His Knobship Lloyd Webber wanted it. So, you've got your wish, get on with it and shut up whinging. Mind you, I notice nobody from ITV is complaing about the BBC's perceived 'aggressive scheduling' this time around.

Ah, but here comes some news which may give Graham some pause for thought. Simon Cowell is reportedly 'considering his future' on Britain's Got Talent. The music mogul told the Sun that he may miss next year's audition stages and come in at the last minute for the final live shows. A hectic schedule coupled with 'some horrific acts' are apparently behind Cowell's doubts about his future involvement in the format. The fifty year-year-old (seen right, looking well-smug. So, no change there, then) said: 'There are times when you watch these horrific acts and you genuinely think you can't go on. I like doing the show but it takes a hell of a lot of time. Eventually something has to give. Can I see it working without me? Yes.' That, potentially, would be interesting. The recent, high-profile, flops involving just about everyone else on the Britain's Got Talent roster (Ant and Dec, Morgan, Amanda Holden) all suggest that, apart from the obvious interest in the acts themselves, the main reason people watch BGT is Simon Cowell himself. Take him out of the equation and the question of whether the talent show would continue to be nearly as all-conquering as it currently, undeniably, is has an intriguingly 'dunno, mate' quality to it. Time will tell.

And finally, still on the subject of Talent's (ahem) talent, Big Top's Amanda Holden has claimed that Piers Morgan 'fears he will be sacked' from Britain's Got Talent. As indeed, do we all. No, sorry, not 'fear.' What's the right words? Yes, 'dream about', that's it.