Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Heat Is On

A necessary difference between the BBC and ITV coverage of the World Cup was highlighted last night. After the BBC had shown the - in patches very good - Spain vs Portugal match they broadcast one of a series of little vignettes that their panel of ex-footballers have been making out in South Africa. It was a Mark Lawrenson think-piece on the horrifying battle of Spion Kop (1900) and how it provided the inspiration for why Liverpool's famous terracing at Anfield was thus called. It was historically fascinating and, as far as my own limited knowledge of the second Boer War goes, factually accurate. More importantly, it was beautiful - the latest in a series of gorgeously shot, well thought-out, humane and impressive bits of TV reportage which had previously included Garth Crooks on the 1976 Soweto massacre, a series of short pieces on a variety of different subjects by the very impressive Clarence Seedorf and a rather moving moment when the normally glacial Alan Shearer reported from a poverty-stricken township on the development of South African youth football. When the BBC do this sort of thing, they usually do it right. It has some gravitas, some depth. Some dignity. Some heart. Compare and contrast this with ITV's often pathetic attempts to do human interest stories between their - largely dreadful - coverage of matches so far in the tournament. 'We need something quick to fill the five minutes between Chiles cracking a few blokey one-liners and the next showing of that Telly Vegetables-murders-Elvis advert for the Sun. Let's send Kelly Dalglish to a township where they've only just got electricity so she can be patronising to some Africans.' It really is astonishing that a major broadcaster can get it wrong so often and on so many levels as ITV have conspired to do over the last half-a-dozen major football championships, culminating in this one. Every attempt they make to produce something a bit more serious or thoughtful has been undermined by their own reporters' unflappable ability to trivialise and tabloidise the subjects which they're covering and the often crass links they use to get into and out of these items. Wretched. Absolutely horrible. I know we traditionally expect the BBC's coverage of the actual football itself - in terms of commentary, analysis and presentation - to be better than their commercial rivals. Always has been, probably always will be. They were - marginally - better when it was a choice of David Coleman versus Brian Moore back in the 1970s and it's been getting wider and wider ever since. But this World Cup has highlighted, for me anyway, just why the BBC is a respected broadcaster worldwide whose only lack of appreciation seems, ironically, to be in its own back yard. Whereas, ITV is the producer of banal, characterless programmes of mass consumption like The X-Factor and that everything they do is trivialised, patronised and followed by some crass comment by that bellowing non-entity, Andy Townsend. One sells advertising space, the other sells ideas to the world. And nation shall speak peace unto nation. A significant and necessary difference. Forty years ago when they still knew how to create proper, socially-relevant TV shows ITV was the network that made The World At War, quite possibly the greatest single documentary strand that any television producer has ever produced. What's happened to ITV over the last couple of decades is a national disgrace. This is the network that once gave us World in Action, This Week, Coronation Street, The Sweeney, Rising Damp and The Avengers. Now, it can't even get the tone of a simple World Cup reportage piece right. It's shameful.

Bravo has acquired the UK rights to the upcoming remake of Hawaii Five-O. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the channel bought the exclusive pay-TV, Freeview and digital rights. The show, which was picked up by CBS in the US, focuses on police officers working in Hawaii. The cast includes Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. Virgin Media TV's head of acquisitions Amy Barham said: 'Hawaii Five-O was the standout show at this year's LA screenings and securing it exclusively for UK audiences demonstrates yet again Bravo's commitment to owning the very best in prime time US dramas.' The series is expected to premiere in the US and the UK in the autumn.

Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson will reunite for a BBC2 drama later this year. The pair, who starred together in Sense And Sensibility, will both appear in The Song Of Lunch. The one-off drama is based on the poem by Christopher Reid and is being made to celebrate National Poetry Day on 7 October. The show follows a book editor, played by Rickman, who meets his former girlfriend for lunch at the restaurant they used to go to together. However, the woman has a successful life while the man's career has failed. BBC2's controller Janice Hadlow said: 'To mark National Poetry Day, BBC2 will be bringing this art form to life with a truly ambitious project and a stellar cast. We hope that audiences will enjoy this dramatisation of Christopher Reid's touching and witty poem and maybe feel inspired to indulge in a little more poetry themselves.'

Tess Daly has been interviewed for the role of The ONE Show presenter, according to 'sources.' The Strictly Come Dancing host is allegedly competing for the position against current ONE Show reporter Angellica Bell and BBC newsreader Kate Silverton, says the Sun. The new presenter will replace Christine Bleakley on the daily consumer programme. Daly previously insisted that she would not be leaving as the host of Strictly when Bleakley herself became linked with the job.

Larry King has announced that he is ending his CNN show Larry King Live. The seventy six-year-old began the programme in 1985 but said that he is leaving in order to spend more time with his family. 'I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids' little league games,' he wrote on his website. 'I'll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects.' He continued: 'I'm incredibly proud that we recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest-running show with the same host in the same time slot. With this chapter closing I'm looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it's time to hang up my nightly suspenders.'

Steven Moffat has said he believes that overnight television ratings are no longer important. The Doctor Who executive producer made the comments in a YouTube video posted by his son after they watched series finale, The Big Bang on Saturday evening. Overnight ratings for the current series have been marginally down on previous years - particularly David Tennant's third season in 2008. But 'timeshift' data for the show - viewers recording episodes to watch later on videos, DVD recorders and Sky + boxes - has been far higher than ever before whilst the show's BBC iPlayer figures have been astonishing. Of course, that hasn't stopped the Daily Scum Mail from pulling out a shitehawk 'exclusive' about the ratings 'drop'. Nice to see a few of their readers setting them right in the comments section, though! And, just to put even those 'poor' ratings figures into some context, on the same night that The Big Bang was watched by over five million viewers, James Corden's World Cup Live - described yesterday as 'a success' and 'a smash hit' by ITV 'sources', let's remember - was being watched by 2.7 million. Context. Something your average national tabloid newspaper believes is an article about benefit fraud. So, to sum up Doctor Who's ratings are 'poor' according to the Daily Scum Mail and James Corden's are 'a smash hit' according to the Mirror. Did I fall asleep and wake up in a parallel universe, or something? Next we'll have somebody trying to convince us The Ludicrous Ms Dahl was a ratings success, mark my words. Oh, hang on... Anyway, The Lord Thy Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) stated that he believes the way people consume TV is changing. 'That is something that's becoming very, very important to television,' something which has become increasingly evident to incredibly sad ratings watchers like this blogger over the last year or so. 'Everything in television used to be about the overnights and the ratings the following morning, the rating that we'll hear tomorrow morning used to be so important and now it isn't because so many people are watching on iPlayer, so many are catching it up later. They no long think they have to watch when we tell them so if it's hot outside like it is now - damn you! - then people stand there with their barbecue forks and say, "Ah, let's toss some more hamburgers and we'll watch it later," and quite right too,' he said. 'Obviously being a long-term Doctor Who fan I go inside and watch it and get very grumpy if people interrupt me!' Same with me, pal! Steven also revealed that he could not choose a favourite episode as he changes his mind after each one. 'That's not my judgement, other people make that judgement. Other people decide if it was good or not and that's quite a nerve-wrecking feeling, so suddenly it's out of your hands. An hour ago that felt like all mine, my secret, now everybody else has seen it and I don't know what they're going to think. I hope they are going to like it.'

ITV Studios has announced plans to launch a new range of lifestyle products branded around ITV's This Morning programme. The long-running daytime show, which is currently fronted by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, will give its name to a line of cookery and homeware products designed to 'make life a little easier.' ITV bosses have signed up a range of brands to the initiative, including pans and ovenware from Prestige (under the Meyer brand) and soft furnishings from textiles firm Turner Bianca. There will also be a This Morning-branded patio gardening kit for people to grow vegetables or flowers at home. 'ITV Studios Global Entertainment is dedicated to strategically exploiting our vast portfolio of content across a range of platforms,' said ITV Studios managing director Lee Bartlett. 'This Morning connects with over one million viewers every morning with lifestyle features which have a strong emphasis on "making life a little easier." Extending this much-loved brand into products that consumers can take into their own homes will help do just that. By partnering with well established market leaders such as Meyer, Turner Bianca, and Thompson & Morgan, we are introducing consumers to a range of beautifully designed and easy to use products which offer everything they would expect from the This Morning brand.' What next, Britain's Got Talent lavatory seats?

Former ITV chairman Michael Grade is under pressure to quit the board of the company that owns the Pinewood and Shepperton film studios. Crystal Amber, an activist investment fund with eighteen per cent of the shares in Pinewood Shepperton, targeted Mr Grade's 'poor stewardship' as chairman of the company and said the board needed fresh leadership. The call was made ahead of the company's annual meeting in London today, when the majority of shareholders are expected to back Grade. The former ITV boss said: 'Our latest discussions with our other major shareholders, representing a clear majority, give us confidence that they support the board, its stewardship and strategy.' Grade has been on the board since his involvement in a management buy-out from Rank in 2000. Profits have fallen by half since flotation in 2004 but Crystal Amber invested in Pinewood eighteen months ago because it said there was underlying value in the business not appreciated by the market. Crystal approached the board with proposals of its own to enhance perceptions of the value in the business, which is best known for the James Bond films. Crystal's investment adviser Richard Bernstein said: 'Although these proposals were initially received well by management, we have seen no action and subsequent meetings with Mr Grade have been unproductive. We have experienced his poor stewardship of shareholder interests at first hand and have regrettably come to the conclusion that he has neither the desire nor the wherewithal to deliver. We do not believe it is in the interests of shareholders that he continue to lead the board.'

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fables Of The Reconstruction

It's been fifty years this week, dear blog reader, since the BBC's Television Centre first opened for business. The studio and office complex in West London has played host to some of the most famous moments in broadcasting history in the five decades since, although its future is now said to be in doubt as the BBC look to save costs and decentralise away from London. The BBC's Media Correspondent Nick Higham takes a look around the Centre with former staff members in this entertaining video clip.

ITV had its lowest ever all-day audience share on Sunday. The full figures were: BBC1 - 32.6 per cent. BBC2 - 11.5 per cent. ITV - 8.8 per cent. C4 - 5.4 per cent. Five - 3.5 per cent. Multichannels - 38.2 per cent. An ITV 'insider' allegedly told the Sun that Sunday was a'"disaster waiting to happen.' They claim he or she added: 'No one was expecting us to do particularly well on Sunday and when the mercury started rising earlier in the week, we expected the worst. You could say it was the perfect storm - great weather and great football on the BBC. People were faced with two choices - stay in and watch the Beeb or go out and get a tan.' ITV's previous worst ever ratings were on 9 July 2006, the day of the last World Cup final. The newspaper described the day as 'ITV's darkest for fifty five years.'

Actress Jessie Wallace, who played Kat Moon in EastEnders, is to star in a drama about the birth of Coronation Street, the BBC has announced. Wallace will play Pat Phoenix, who starred as feisty Elsie Tanner from the early days of the soap, which marks its fiftieth anniversary this year. Lynda Baron will portray Violet Carson (Ena Sharples) and Celia Imrie is Doris Speed, who played Annie Walker.
The drama, being filmed in Manchester, will air on BBC4 later this year. It will tell the story of how Coronation Street creator Tony Warren (played by David Dawson) brought his characters to the small screen in 1960. Warren has acted as a consultant on the drama, which is written by Daran Little, a writer on the ITV soap opera for the past twenty years. Jane Horrocks will play Granada's casting director at the time, Margaret Morris, while former Cold Feet star John Thomson - who recently appeared in Coronation Street - is also among the cast. The Street's longest-serving cast member, William Roache, will be played by his son James Roache. Roache began his portrayal of Ken Barlow as a student, and fifty years later is a retired grandfather in the soap. The drama, which is being made by ITV studios, will form one strand of the Great Northern season on BBC4 this autumn. Christian McKay will play Tony Warren's Canadian boss, Harry Elton. Other cast members include Steven Berkoff, Sophia Di Martino, Shaun Dooley, Henry Goodman, Michelle Holmes, Phoebe Nicholls and Tara Moran.

Doctor Who actor Matt Smith will do battle with his show's spin-off Torchwood and its star, John Barrowman, in the best actor category at this year's TV Choice awards. Smith's assistant, Karen Gillan, has also received a best actress nomination, while the show itself has been shortlisted for best family drama. EastEnders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street are up for best soap. Alexander Armstrong will host the ceremony on 6 September. Smith and Barrowman share their nominations with last year's winner Phillip Glenister, who played Ashes to Ashes' Gene Hunt, and Jack O'Connell from teen drama Skins. The E4 series drama also picks up nods for Kaya Scodelario in the best actress category and best drama series, where it's up against Ashes To Ashes, Torchwood and Shameless. Glee follows its BAFTA nomination earlier this year with a nod in the the best new drama category. The US musical comedy is in competition with Married Single Other, The Vampire Diaries and superhero show Misfits for the prize. Harry Hill's TV Burp and Alan Carr: Chatty Man are named in the best entertainment show shortlist, against Celebrity Juice and Qi.

Really nice to see the great Richard Chamberlain turning up as Parker's thief mentor in this week's Leverage. Terrific episode, as well. It's really good to have both that fine show and Lie To Me back just at a point in the year when virtually anything - non-sport related - worth watching is at a premium.

Larry David has claimed that he would be happier if he was more like the fictionalised version of himself that he plays in Curb Your Enthusiasm. The writer and actor told the Gruniad Morning Star that he appreciates the honesty of the character and also did not originally think that the show would make people uncomfortable. David said:'"I don't find the character to be cranky or rude. I find the character to be honest. And honesty comes off as cranky or rude, I suppose. But that character is way happier than I am. I'm cranky. He's not cranky. I'd be much happier if I were more like him.' He added: 'I never thought for a second that anything I ever did was going to make someone cringe. That never occurred to me. When people started to tell me that sometimes they had to leave the room, I didn't even know what they were talking about. I thought people would want to stay and watch it. Because it's funny. Not that it's so painful to them that they have to leave. But, you know, I don't mind that. I kinda like it.'

Steve Carell has revealed that he is 'excited' to be leaving The Office. The actor, who has won a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of boss Michael Scott in the American comedy, said that he will miss all the cast members when he leaves at the end of the season. Carell, who has two children with his wife Nancy, told Us magazine: 'It's the last [season] on my contract and I want to honour my contract. I am excited - just so I can spend more time with my family. I'm sure I'm going to be very nostalgic [when filming finishes]. I mean, these are some of my best friends in the world! But it will be good - it will be good for everybody.' The NBC show is believed to be continuing in Carell's absence.

Kate Garraway has predicted that the new-look GMTV will be 'a corker' with Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles at the helm. Yeah. Possibly it will - jury remains out of that one. But the fact remains that you can lick your bosses' arses all you like, Katie, but I still think you're history.

Construction work has begun on the BBC's new drama production village in Wales, which will eventually be home to Doctor Who and Casualty. The new site at Roath Basin, near Cardiff, will also house productions of Welsh drama Pobol y Cwm and The Sarah Jane Adventures, along with providing a base for a range of creative media firms. Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures are due to move to the new studios in 2012, with the first episode of Casualty produced in Wales to air in the same year, reports BBC News. The Roath Basin centre is part of the BBC's commitment to double the amount of its television network production in Wales by 2016. The production base will also consolidate current sites at Llandaff in Cardiff and Upper Boat, near Pontypridd, along with various other locations around Wales. Speaking yesterday, BBC Cymru Wales director Menna Richards said that the start of construction at the Roath Basin site is an 'important milestone' towards creating a dynamic new community to benefit Wales. 'As a centre of excellence for drama it will bring a brand new buzz to this historic part of Cardiff and will offer fantastic facilities and filming space to some of the BBC's best-loved productions,' she said. Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said that the BBC's new drama village will position the Welsh capital at the 'forefront of the creative industries. Cardiff is already home to Doctor Who and Torchwood, with Casualty to follow and I know the drama village is seen by the BBC as part of its ongoing plans for increasing its production and development presence in Cardiff which can only be a massive boost for the city,' he said. 'Cardiff is developing a very strong reputation as a creative industries hub. The development of this sector is becoming an increasingly important part of our local economy, benefiting not just the city but the whole of the region.' In January, it emerged that Casualty would move from its long-running home of Bristol to the new BBC Wales drama village. The third series of Being Human is also being filmed in the Welsh capital.

A network of commercially viable television news companies could completely revitalise the local media, culture minister Ed Vaizey has claimed. He said their creation, coupled with a new regulatory regime and 'significantly relaxed' local cross-media ownership rules, could lead to 'thriving' multi-platform providers. Far from being a threat to local newspapers, there was a 'huge opportunity' for them to embrace new technology and potentially become profitable media companies, he added. Vaizey, speaking in a Westminster Hall debate, said when TV news was too often regional rather than genuinely local. The content could be 'not entirely relevant' to where viewers lived, as providers covered large geographical areas, he said. He added that in much of western Europe, and particularly America, local TV news companies thrived and were able to respond to their communities while being profitable. The minister stressed that regional news would remain both on ITV and STV as an obligation on the channel three licence holders. The government's vision for local TV news was in addition to existing regional news services, he said. On cross-media ownership he said: 'We are going to significantly relax local cross-media ownership regulations and I hope that relaxation will be in place by the end of this year. We would like to go further, that is why we have asked Ofcom to look at the scope for removing the remaining rules and what the implications of this would be.' Vaizey said culture secretary Jeremy Hunt - if he survives the Hillsborough fiasco with his job in tact, that is - had asked Nicholas Shott, head of UK investment banking at Lazard, to look at the potential for commercially viable local television stations and report back in the autumn.

Susan Sarandon is reportedly planning to produce a reality show about her table tennis club SPiN. The Oscar winner is said to want to put the spotlight on the club's growing business and the community that is forming there, including the players who hope to compete in the Olympics. 'It won't be Jersey Shore. It's more of an episodic documentary. We're trying to invent something you haven't seen before that follows a bunch of people in this crazy little subculture,' Sarandon told People. The actress also said that the project is still in its early pre-production stage. She added: 'I'm not sure where we're going to land in terms of our home because we want the tone of it to be funny and quite different than anything else that anybody's seen before.'

Proposals for introducing product placement to British TV programmes have been announced by media watchdog Ofcom. It follows the previous government's decision in February to let independent broadcasters be paid for displaying commercial products during shows. Broadcasters will have to tell viewers if a show produced in the UK contains product placement through the use of an on-air symbol at its start and end. Placement of alcohol, tobacco and junk food products will not be allowed. There will also be restrictions on what shows can have product placement, with all children's and news programmes ruled out. Following consultation, revised rules for TV and radio will be issued at the end of 2010. There are currently strict rules against product placement and this ban would remain in place on BBC shows. Ofcom said its proposals were designed 'to enable commercial broadcasters to access new revenue streams where possible, whilst protecting audiences.' Product placement will be allowed in films, TV series, entertainment shows and sports programmes. Under Ofcom rules, though, it must not impair broadcasters' editorial independence or play a part in storylines on TV dramas. The proposed on-screen logo - a P or PP in a red, white or yellow circle - would only appear on shows produced in the UK. Product placement is already rife on television thanks to programmes imported from other countries where the practice is allowed. Ofcom's proposals also suggested loosening regulations on paid-for references to products and services in shows on commercial radio.

Sky has confirmed plans to offer Sky Sports customers nearly six months' free access to its mobile and online TV services as competition for digital TV subscribers intensifies. From 12 July, all Sky Sports Pack subscribers will be able to access the Sky Mobile TV and Sky Player services without charge until 31 December. The deal will mean that subscribers can watch a range of content, including Premier League football and Sky Sports News, live on devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, along with PC, Mac and FetchTV Smartbox. Subscribers will only be permitted one offer per service per household and after 31 December they will be automatically charged the standard Sky Mobile TV subscription price if they have not cancelled the package first. The same situation will occur for anyone who cancels their Sky Sports Pack subscription at any time throughout the year.

Young black comedian Jason Lewis has won a pilot from BBC3 that will mix sketches and musical parodies. Ordered by BBC3 controller Danny Cohen and BBC comedy commissioning controller Cheryl Taylor, The Jason Lewis Experience - rubbish title notwithstanding - is a thirty-minute show that will poke fun at the nuances of race and culture in everyday modern life, as well as looking in on the world of celebrity. Sketches include Jay-Z trying to deal with one of his with his ninety nine Problems, and Tinchy Strider lamenting the challenge of getting with the ladies when you're a tiny pop star. Sounds hilarious. if I actually knew who Tinchy Strider is. The website has been showcasing Lewis’s work over the last few months, after discovering him on YouTube. The pilot will see the return of characters such as kick ass granny Nanny Discipline, and new additions including David Cameron, Prince Harry and Dizzee Rascal. Taylor said: 'Jason is an incredibly talented young comedian, who has so far starred alongside some comedy veterans as well as building up a loyal online fan base for his own work. We are delighted to have commissioned a pilot featuring some of his best characters and look forward to a host of new ones.' The show will be filmed in September and air later this year.

Channel 4 is reportedly planning to revamp its news and current affairs operation as part of a wider creative overhaul following the decision to axe Big Brother. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the broadcaster has allocated half-a-million pounds to develop an integrated news website bringing together the Channel 4 News output. The new site will feature special reports and commentary on the day's news, along with a fact-checking facility. Under the revamp plans, stories about culture and the arts will be given greater prominence under a new culture editor, who will be named later this week. Greater profile will also be allocated to economic and political stories, including regular debates on policy issues connected to the two areas. Channel 4's head of news Dorothy Byrne said that the planned revamp will not impact the on-screen graphics, the set or main presenter Jon Snow. Channel 4 News editor Jim Gray will also remain in his post. The audience for Channel 4 News fell by five per cent last year to eight hundred and fifty thousand, but the programme also crucially saw a decline in younger viewers and those from ethnic minorities. Channel 4 is currently undergoing a major overhaul of its programming to utilise the seventy million pounds annual saving gained from the decision to cancel Big Brother. The surplus cash will be redirected into funding around two hundred and fifty hours of new programming, including one hundred hours of peak time shows and selected spin-off programmes on E4. There will be funding for pilots and new series, such as reality soap format Notting Hill, as the broadcaster attempts to strengthen its grip on the sixteen to thirty four-year-old audience.

Nikki Blonksy has revealed that she doesn't mind being filmed in her swimsuit for her new series Huge. The show will focus on a group of overweight teenagers at a weight loss camp. The actress told People that she doesn't care what anyone thinks about her body and feels proud of who she is. 'I'm just comfortable and confident in my body,' she explained. 'I could care less that the world is seeing me in a bathing suit right now. I think they finally know what I look like in a bathing suit, if they were wondering.' She added that she admires her character Willhelmina for standing up against those who bully her about her size. 'She's awesome, she's totally against the grain. She doesn't want to lose weight. She thinks fitness camp is stupid and that's why I love her, because she doesn't want to do anything that the camp wants her to do,' she said. 'I feel awesome. I think there's nothing better than just showing by confidence and showing that I love my body. Why not share it with LA, New York, everywhere?'

David Tennant - remember him? - has begun shooting his upcoming film The Decoy Bride. The story centres on a famous couple's wedding on a remote Scottish island that is sabotaged by the paparazzi, reports the Press Association. Tennant plays James, a British writer engaged to movie star Lara (played by Kelly MacDonald). The pair hire a stand-in bride in hopes of distracting photographers from interrupting the event.

X Factor judge Simon Cowell made a 'no Jedwards' plea when the show's auditions reached Dublin yesterday. The music mogul was joined by Cheryl Cole, Louis Walsh and guest panellist Katy Perry to judge hopefuls at the city's National Convention Centre as filming for series seven continued. However, speaking to the Irish Independent, Cowell claimed that he was not interested in any act that was similar to Dublin duo John and Edward, who were mentored by Walsh in the last series. Asked what he was hoping to find, the fifty-year-old replied: 'The opposite of Jedward. Someone I can sell records with.' It is thought that the search for Irish talent got off to a slow start, with only three acts having been put through when the day was already half over. However, during a filming break, Walsh insisted: 'I think we're going to get a winner. The standard is incredibly high, because everyone watches The X Factor. It's our seventh season and at this stage people know what we're looking for."

Channel 4 managing editor of commissioning Janey Walker is leaving the broadcaster after fourteen years, following David Abraham's overhaul of the broadcaster. Walker, who is also C4's head of education, will reveal her future plans 'in due course.' Abraham has restructured C4 after a review initiated when he joined the business in May. As part of the changes a single content division is being created from C4's TV and online commissioning teams, which will now encompass the education department. Walker led a strategic shift in the broadcaster's education output away from television and into online over the last eighteen months.

I just want to quote Metro's TV reviewer Keith Watson and his review of the Doctor Who season finale in full. It's a bit shorter than my rambling effort, but it gets to the point with a terrific lack of verbosity: 'Doctor Who went out with a bang not a whimper, yet for all the Daleks and Sontarans, talk of cracks in time and hurtling about, the real reason this latest series of TARDIS adventures has been such a success is down to the quiet moments head writer Steven Moffat and crew have stitched into the fabric of a franchise that goes from strength to strength. Matt Smith has been a marvel and if the Van Gogh episode – still lingering in my memory weeks after the event – doesn’t bag a fistful of awards, then I'll eat my Cyberman.' Yes! Yes, I say to thee, Keith Watson. Well said that man.

Kylie Minogue has 'hit out' at Louis Walsh for his past treatment of her and sister Dannii. During an interview on This Morning, Kylie was asked who she would 'call, text or reject' from Walsh, Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan. Kylie confirmed that she would 'call' Cowell and Morgan, but added of Walsh: 'Now there lies a conundrum, because that little snit has been rather offensive to my sister and I over the years but then he comes back and decides that he's on board, so I think that I would just have to reject.' In 2008, Walsh and Dannii publicly fell out while working on The X Factor and last October, Walsh said that Kylie was not a great singer. Kylie has dismissed Walsh's comments about Dannii as 'pathetic.' Dannii and Walsh later reconciled. Quizzed about her own experience on The X Factor, Kylie confirmed that she would relish a return.

James Corden is likely to become one of ITV's main faces after being lined up for a lucrative 'golden handcuffs' deal, a report has claimed. Couldn't they given him a Golden Shower deal instead? That would have been much more fitting for his quite unique talents. Such as they are. According to the ever-reliable Mirror, 'bosses at the commercial broadcaster' are keen to sign up the Gavin & Stacey actor and writer for a chat show and a comedy series - well, as close as James Corden will be able to get to comedy, anyway - following the 'success' of his nightly World Cup programme. Fantastic. That may well mean I'll never have the misfortune of having to watch him ever again. Bargain. And, whilst I'm about it, what 'success'? The World Cup show's been regularly getting audiences of between two and three million per night and its AI scores have been in the mid seventies. There's no way on earth either of those can be spun as 'success' or anything even remotely like it. Anyway, it is suggested by the paper that an agreement has not yet been made because Corden allegedly wants to ensure that his deal is worth more than Adrian Chiles's six million pound four-year contract. 'Sources' - nameless and, therefore, almost certainly made-up - suggest that the comedian could also land a multi-million pound contract, but one which will tie him to ITV for three years. One 'insider' said: 'James's football show was a roaring success.' Which, as noted, it wasn't. Not even a little bit. 'ITV are desperate to get him on an exclusive deal. But he's a canny businessman and will only accept if it's worth more than Chiles's six million over four years.' So, greedy and competitive as well as unfunny and full-of-his-own importance? That's, if you believe this story as far as you can spit, of course. I'll leave that one up to you, dear blog reader.

Two girls aged sixteen left a thirty thousand pound trail of devastation after taking a souble decker bus on a joyride — and filmed it for YouTube. The hoodie-wearing girls and a twenty one-year-old man broke into a bus depot in the middle of the night and smashed into four other buses as they steered the vehicle on to the road, according to the Sun. They crashed into a tree, shattering the windscreen and nearside as they went on a terrifying twelve-mile country rampage. Blimey. Are you sure this wasn't a Top Gear filming session? Police caught the three scallywags near the scene in Amesbury, Wiltshire, and later released them on bail pending further inquiries. The mobile phone footage of the joyride - called stolen bus solstice 2010 hoodies Amesbury if you want to go looking for it - was posted online and has already been viewed more than twelve thousand times. The video begins minutes after the theft last Friday night and shows a teenage girl at the wheel of the bus on the A345 whilst the other girl and the man brag about having stolen the vehicle. A spokesman for Wiltshire and Dorset bus company described the incident as 'a foolish crime.' A Wiltshire police spokesman said that three suspects were arrested on suspicion of aggravated vehicle taking and released on bail pending further inquiries. He said: 'Considerable damage has been done to the bus, some other vehicles and a wall. The three arrested have been helping with our inquiries but have now been released on bail.'

Danielle Lloyd has spoken about her epidural and birthing pool plans. Urgh. I've just had me tea, darlin', cut it out! The twenty six-year-old model and reality TV regular who is expecting her first baby next month, claimed that she wants to 'feel the pain' when the time comes. 'Whatever happens, I don't want an epidural - I want to be able to feel the pain when I give birth,' she told Closer. be careful what you wish for, baby, it might just come true. Speaking about her birthing pool, she added: 'I'm going to get into the water when the contractions start, then I might get out for the actual birth. 'It's a great source of comfort to know that Jamie [O'Hara] is going to be by my side, holding my hand. He's getting really excited.' Lloyd, of course, garnered significant negative publicity when thousands of complaints were filed with Ofcom after she, Jade Goody, and Jo O'Meara, bullied and made racist remarks towards their fellow Celebrity Big Brother housemate Shilpa Shetty three years ago. Specific comments Lloyd made about Shetty include 'she's a dog' and 'they eat with their hands in India, don't they? Or is that China? You don't know where her hands have been.' On 17 January 2007, Lloyd declared that she thought Shetty should 'fuck off home,' adding that 'she can't even speak English properly.' Which, coming from Danielle Lloyd is a bit of pot-calling-the-kettle-black type situation. Think we'd all forgotten about that little malarkey, did you Danielle? I'll tell you what, when she does, eventually, drop her sprog, I really hope it bastard-well hurts like tearing flesh. Natural justice, and all that.

And, speaking of waste-of-space non-entities with the mental capacity of a mollusc, Katie Price is to quit ITV after signing a new exclusive deal with the Living TV channels according to reports. Price's narcissistic 'me, me, me, me, me, me, me' fly-on-the-wall documentaries have been a mainstay of the ITV2 channel for several years. But her production firm, Pricey Media, has now struck a deal with Virgin Media Television, making it the broadcaster's biggest independent supplier, when her ITV contract runs out in November. Centrepiece of her programmes will be an observational series for Living which will pick up from ITV2's What Katie Did Next, due to boradcast next year. Bet that'll be worth waiting for. There will also be a new six-part 'factual entertainment' series fronted by Price, as well as pilot shows for Living and Bravo to be created by the production company. The move will be a blow to ITV2, which pulled in up to 1.8 million viewers with her shows. Pricey Media was set up by Price with former ITV Studios executive Mark Wagman. Pricey Media's joint managing directors, Wagman and Jane Robinson, said: 'Viewers continue to be fascinated by Katie Price, and we are delighted that this new deal offers the perfect springboard to evolve her television career as well as grow and develop our media business in partnership with VMTV who have given Pricey Media the creative freedom and scope to develop some really exciting new projects for their channels.' I hope mothers are both very proud of you, Mark and Jane. The new two-year deal is thought to be worth in the region of ten million pounds, including production costs. You know, some stories need no editorialising, dear blog reader. They just stand on their own for what they are.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rave On

Motown legend Stevie Wonder helped the Glastonbury Festival celebrate its fortieth anniversary with a crowd-pleasing set to close this year's event. He brought festival founder Michael Eavis to the main Pyramid Stage to help sing a version of 'Happy Birthday.' Thankfully, he did play some good stuff as well. Yer man Stevie's performance brought the curtain down on the first totally dry festival since 2002. A pair of vastly over-rated bands, Muse and Gorillaz, topped the bill on the other nights whilst Orbital - ah, much better - were joined by Doctor Who actor Matt Smith to play their epic version of the show's theme tune. Which you can see here in all its green-laser-glory! The actor introduced the techno duo's version of 'Doctor?' and proceeded to don a pair of the Hartnoll brothers' patented light-glasses and joined Phil and Paul for yet another shimmering Glastonbury performance of the Ron Grainer-written, Delia Derbyshire-arranged tune. 'Yes, Glastonbury,' Smith told the crowd. 'So, 2010. Orbital, you do the theme tune. Cool! Can I have some glasses please? Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey!' This year's festival will be remembered for the unusually clement weather and the number of surprise guests. U2 guitarist The Edge joined Muse, Kylie Minogue sang with Scissor Sisters, Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood played an unannounced set and Lou Reed was among those on-stage with Gorillaz on Friday. Prince Charles also surprised fans when he went on a walkabout and trod the Pyramid Stage boards during the festival's first royal visit on Thursday. The show on Eavis's dairy farm in Pilton, Somerset, was hailed as a success by fans. 'The vibe has been brilliant,' said Soraya Schofield, a photographer from nearby Axbridge. Malcolm Ruddock, fifty nine, from Street was among the fifteen hundred people at the very first festival in 1970. He was also one of the over one hundred and seventy seven thousand attendees at this year's event. 'For me the anniversary was a special year,' he said, describing Eavis as 'a pioneer.' The event is unrecognisable from its low-key origins, he said, but added: 'To me, the essence of Glastonbury is still here. I go into [dance arena] The Glade or the Healing Fields and it reminds me of how it was then.' Other artists on stage on Sunday included Paloma Faith, ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash and reggae legends Toots and the Maytals. Former Kinks singer Ray Davies performed and paid tribute to the group's former bassist Pete Quaife, who died recently. Earlier, Eavis said he hoped U2 would make it to the event in the future after the band were forced to pull out this year. They withdrew after Bono injured his back but The Edge joined Muse on Saturday to perform 'Where The Streets Have No Name.' Asked whether he would like U2 to appear in the future, Eavis replied: 'This is an ongoing conversation for next year.' He added The Edge 'enjoyed the experience and he's had a taste of playing now so I'm sure the band are really keen to do it when it suits them.' Dehydration and sunburn accounted for most of the three thousand cases seen by medical teams by 11:00 on Sunday. Two people died after suffering heart attacks on site on Friday night. They were a forty six-year-old man from London, who was in the dance tent, and a man in his seventies from East Sussex. Crime was down on last year, with three hundred and forty five reported offences, compared with three hundred and sixty three in 2009. Many festival-goers watched England's calamitous World Cup defeat by Germany on Sunday. Organisers were forced to find a second field to show the game on big screens after discussions with police. An empty field outside the site was earmarked. The two designated football arenas accommodated eighty thousand fans. Opening the new field and providing toilets, screens and water cost fifty thousand pounds, Eavis said.

Ashes To Ashes co-creator Matthew Graham has denied rumours that there are plans for a Gene Hunt spin-off. Last week, a report claimed that Gene, played by Philip Glenister, would appear in a new show set in the modern day. A national newspaper claimed that a nameless (and,  almost certainly entirely fictitious) 'source' had suggested the move would be 'rather interesting' and compared the plans to New Tricks. However, Den Of Geek website claims that Graham has now dismissed the speculation. Thank God for that.

The script for the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special has reportedly gone missing. According to the Daily Star, filming for the special 'has been thrown into jeopardy' by the loss. Because, of course, they only had one copy. Jesus, who writes this shite? And, who believes it as well? Executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat is said to be 'facing a race against time to create a new draft before filming commences next month' according to this load of old tripe. Sorry, 'story.' Moffat also allegedly revealed that the episode would be 'a flashback Christmas special.' That's, if it gets made, of course. Because it might not. According to this. Bet it is, though. A new series will follow the Christmas special in the spring of 2011. Earlier today, Digital Spy website claimed that writers Paul Cornell and Tom MacRae would be returning for the show's sixth series along with the previously announced Neil Gaiman. However, Paul dismissed the news as 'rubbish' on his Twitter feed. Yep, that sound like the Paul Cornell I know! Good on ya, mate!

The final episode of Doctor Who scored the highest figure on the Appreciation Index of the entire series. The Appreciation Index - or AI - measures how much the audience enjoyed the programme, with a score of over eighty five considered excellent. The Big Bang scored eighty nine - the best score yet for the show's fifth series. The score was also the highest on any of the four main channels on Saturday.

An average of thirteen and a half million people saw England's football team crash out of the World Cup on Sunday, according to overnight figures. The audience reached a peak of over seventeen million at 16:15, around the time Germany scored their third and fourth goals. Yet the number of people who viewed the match is likely to have been far higher as many fans watched the game - broadcast on BBC1 - on big screens in pubs and public spaces. I mean, eighty thousand watched it at Glasto for a kick-off. England manager Fabio Capello says that he will fight to hang on to his job after his team were humiliated 4-1 by a very good young German side, England's worst ever defeat at a World Cup. Fans reacted with fury and disappointment after watching their team comprehensively beaten in the second round of the competition in Bloemfontein. Some pointed to a blunder by the match officials, who failed to spot that a first-half Frank Lampard drive had crashed down off the crossbar and over the line before bouncing back out. Capello insisted the game 'would have been different' had the goal stood, and even Germany coach Joachim Loew and man of the match Thomas Mueller agreed that the South American officials had made a huge error. But many England fans, including this one, said that Germany had simply been too good, and outclassed an England side which looked static, lacking in heart or belief and devoid of any inspiration.

And, so to Huntwatch: The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been forced to issue a grovelling apology after he appeared to suggest that hooliganism played a part in the Hillsborough disaster. Ninety-six Liverpool fans were crushed to death on 15 April 1989 at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium in an incident which was, a subsequent enquiry established, entirely the fault of the South Yorkshire police. Hunt had praised the England fans at the 2010 World Cup saying the 'terrible problems' of 'Heysel and Hillsborough in the 1980s seem now to be behind us.' Hunt was giving an interview following England's exit from the World Cup, where he applauded the behaviour of fans. Apologising afterwards, he said: 'I know that fan unrest played no part in the terrible events of April 1989 and I apologise to Liverpool fans and the families of those killed and injured in the Hillsborough disaster if my comments caused any offence.' The Prime Minister's official spokesman has said that David Cameron has full confidence in Hunt. Yeah, why not? What's disgracefully slurring the memory of ninety six Scousers compared to an unsuppassed ability to give the arse of Rupert Murdoch a good hard lick? As we all know from past experience, dear blog reader, some people are just scum. The ninety six fans died and hundreds more were injured when a crush developed in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium during an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Lord Justice Taylor's official inquiry into the disaster, which reported in 1990, criticised senior police officers on duty at the match for a 'failure of control' and recommended the introduction of all-seater stadiums. Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, called for a face-to-face meeting with Hunt. She said: 'After all these years of fighting for justice I am very angry that he has shown such ignorance of the facts. He is an absolute disgrace.' Mrs Aspinall, who lost her eighteen-year-old son James in the disaster, said she would not accept Mr Hunt's apology unless she was allowed to meet him and 'explain the facts. I want him to understand that he has reopened old wounds which should have healed many years ago. The problem we have is that Hunt has influence and people listen to him. We have fought to move forward but now - thanks to him - it feels like we have taken a step backwards.' Speaking in the House of Commons, Derek Twigg - MP for Halton in Cheshire - said Hunt's remarks were 'a disgrace.' He added that he had spoken to relatives of those who had died and they were 'deeply distressed. How can they have trust in the Government that they will see through the proper release of the Hillsborough files given that that's the view held in high parts of the Government?' He asked the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to 'urgently' meet Hunt and the families of those killed to discuss the matter. May said the judicial inquiry into the disaster had been 'absolutely clear' that no Liverpool supporters were to blame and she agreed to meet representatives of the families. The comment has also been criticised by former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham on his Twitter account. He said it was sad to hear a cabinet minister 'echo old slurs' about the disaster referring to long-running campaign by the Sun newspaper who, for reasons best known to themselves, sought to disgracefully lay the blame for the tragedy at the door of Liverpool supporters. Something which remains, even twenty one years later, a very hot topic on Merseyside and one that is unlikely to ever be forgotten or forgiven. Burnham called for 'more than an apology' and for Hunt to give his 'full support' to the new Hillsborough Independent Panel. 'Full truth and nothing less,' he added. Fans heckled the Leigh MP, when he spoke at a memorial service at Anfield on the Twentieth anniversary of the tragedy. The Hillsborough Independent Panel is currently overseeing the release of documents not previously made public. After a two-decade fight, the authorities finally agreed to release more than thirty thousand documents of evidence relating to the tragedy.

GMTV host Emma Crosby will reportedly be 'axed' from the programme within 'a matter of days.' Not literally, of course, because, you know, the blood ... The News of the World claims that Crosby is set to be the latest casualty of the long-running breakfast show's ongoing one and a half million pound revamp, which will see the programme relaunched under a different name and fronted by former ONE Show pairing Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. The decision also leaves Kate Garraway's future on the programme in doubt, as she and Crosby held joint discussions on their GMTV roles with ITV bosses last week. The paper also claims that both Crosby and Garraway were furious that their positions on the programme were being put in jeopardy by the sudden - and controversial - arrival of Bleakley. Crosby will be the fourth presenter to leave the programme since August, following the departures of Fiona Phillips, Penny Smith and Ben Shephard. Andrew Castle also confirmed recently that he will be leaving the show in the autumn.

Meanwhile, Gaby Roslin is being lined up to front The ONE Show alongside Chris Evans on Friday evenings, a report has claimed. According to the Mirror, BBC bosses are interested in reuniting the pair following their previous screen partnership on The Big Breakfast in the nineties. A source told the newspaper: 'Gaby and Chris together would be amazing. Everyone's trying to make it happen. They used to have really great chemistry.' Evans signed up to host The ONE Show's Friday editions in April. He recently confirmed that he would be happy to team up with Roslin for the BBC magazine programme. Meanwhile, it is thought that Roslin is also hoping to join Jason Manford on the sofa for the show's Monday to Thursday episodes. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'Nothing has been confirmed.'

Fiona Phillips has called for Brendan Cole to be paired up with Ann Widdecombe on Strictly Come Dancing. Oh, that's just ... sick. I mean, don't even joke about it! The TV presenter, who danced with Cole in the 2005 series, spoke following reports that Widdecombe was allegedly being lined up for Strictly's return in the autumn. Writing in her Mirror column, Phillips commented: 'There are rumours that former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe is to take part in this year's Strictly Come Dancing. I'm an X Factor fan, but I can promise you I could be persuaded to foxtrot to the other side if producers created TV magic by pairing Ann with Brendan Cole. He once said to me, after I'd performed a particularly sexless rumba, "Christ, you'd be a crap shag." I wonder how that sort of talk would go down with the virginal Ms Widdecombe?' Patsy Kensit, Matthew Wright, Kimberley Walsh and Richard Madeley are among other celebrities who have been tipped for the new series.

Meanwhile, Phillips - who always has plenty to say for herself on many subject - has warned Christine Bleakley that her entire lifestyle will change when she starts work on the breakfast show. Bleakley signed up for the morning programme earlier this month and will join her former ONE Show colleague Adrian Chiles on the sofa later in the year. Writing in her Mirror column, big-nosed Phillips tipped Bleakley to do well in her new role, but added that she will have to get used to waking up at 3am and going to bed early each night. She explained: 'Managing tiredness is the key to it all - it's all very well having a job that most girls would sell their Louboutins for, but the hours are debilitating. I was getting an average of about four to five hours' kip a night for most of my time on the GMTV sofa and sleep deprivation is not a kind bedfellow. It can make you depressed, lethargic, ill and unable to cope with everyday situations. In the end, if you're not careful, that constantly jet-lagged feeling can dominate your life. Crikey! I'm making it sound hellish, aren't I? It's not. I did fifteen years there. But if Christine is planning on tucking into her early-morning Cheerios for several years to come, she's going to have to get used to saying cheerio to the lifestyle she currently leads.'

The BBC has announced that it will mark Remembrance Day with a week of special programming. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding will host a series of shows on BBC One daytime in the week before 14 November. The five programmes will include interviews with past and present members of the armed forces along with civilians and families of those who were involved or are currently engaged in conflict. 'Remembrance Week will not only reveal the incredible and emotive stories from individuals who have fought and are still fighting, but also be an uplifting and inspiring series about bravery, camaraderie and companionship,' Wilding said. 'As an ex-soldier myself, supporting our troops is important to me so I'm thrilled to be presenting such an important series.'

[Spooks] actor Richard Armitage has confirmed that Hermione Norris will not return as Ros Myers for the show's upcoming ninth series. Speaking to the Mirror, Armitage revealed that the programme's cast miss the actress while filming on set. 'We really miss Hermione,' he admitted. 'She was a very calming influence and I loved her humour.' The actor, who plays Lucas North, also confessed that he is unsure of his own future with the show. He explained: 'I’ve said to the producers, "Over to you. You decide." If that means sending Lucas to Manchester or severing his head, I don’t know. Or I could end up in the deep fat fryer. They'd owe me a brilliant exit.' Armitage also promised that the true nature of his character will finally be revealed. 'Basically, Lucas isn't who you think he is. It's always been hovering there, whether or not he's a double agent,' he said. The ninth series of [Spooks] is due to be broadcast in the autumn.

The new series of Top Gear debuted to over five million viewers on Sunday evening, according to overnight audience figures. The programme, which featured James May driving a car up an active volcano, took 4.59m for BBC2 in the 8pm hour. A further five hundred and twenty thousand viewers watched the show on BBC HD.

TV has agreed an exclusive licensing deal with NBC Universal Television Distribution for access to a range of new and library TV shows and films. Under the deal, a raft of NBC Universal's new movies will make their TV premiere in the UK on ITV's family of channels - ITV, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4. Forthcoming movie highlights include Mamma Mia, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Boat That Rocked, Hot Fuzz and The Bourne Ultimatum. The deal will also see detective drama Monk joining ITV daytime, and a further run of classic cop series Ironside airing on ITV3. 'This is a landmark deal encompassing hundreds of feature films for the entire ITV family of channels,' said ITV's director digital channels and acquisitions Zai Bennett. 'With titles ranging from the free TV premiere of Mamma Mia to Public Enemies and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, NBC Universal's feature films are a perfect fit with ITV and we're delighted to be continuing our long relationship with the studio.' NBC Universal International Television Distribution president Belinda Menendez added: 'We couldn't be happier to build upon our longstanding and successful relationship with ITV. They have been terrific collaborators in the UK and are masters at promoting NBC Universal titles to a very broad audience.'

A digital television channel aimed at viewers aged fifty and over will launch later this year, it has been announced. Vintage TV will focus on music and popular culture from the 1950s to 1980s and feature some original programming. The station, due to begin broadcasting on Sky and Freesat on 1 September, will also show new music videos for five hundred songs recorded before the video age. Music pundit and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini will be the principal presenter for the new service. 'Quality music lives long after its composition. It does on radio, and it should on television,' he said. The station will also broadcast rare concert and performance footage and revisit news and entertainment shows from numerous TV archives. Among the new programmes will be a show based on The Antiques Roadshow and aimed at music collectors. David Pick, founder and head of Vintage TV, said the station would 'deliver a stream of vintage musical content which isn't available anywhere else on TV. We will also draw on the wisdom and expertise of a wide range of experienced presenters and pundits to infuse yet more life into that music, allowing it to be appreciated by an even wider audience and thus treasured, as it should be, forever,' he added.

Denis Leary has promised that Rescue Me will end with a twist. Leary, who writes, produces and stars in the show, told Popeater that the seventh and final season has already been completed. 'About a year from now is going to be the last season,' he said. 'We worked our asses off.' He continued: 'I'll tell you this - a second before the credits roll on the final episode, there's a sudden dark and funny twist which is the end of the whole series. It's not going to be like The Sopranos. We enjoyed what we came up with.' However, Leary acknowledged that some fans might not like the ending. 'You can never make everybody happy,' he said. 'I'm sure part of the audience will love it and part will hate it, but with that in mind, that's good because if they all love it, we watered it down.'

House executive producer Katie Jacobs has promised that the relationship between House and Cuddy won't be rushed. The couple, played by Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein, kissed at the end of the sixth season and will begin the seventh run on a day trip together. 'Anywhere other than Princeton-Plainsboro is an easier place for them to be together in a relationship,' Jacobs explained. 'That's where we start - "What if we only have each other?"' However, Jacobs added that the couple will struggle to maintain their relationship when they return to work. She added: 'It would be impossible for Cuddy to spend every day as if her child and her professional life don't exist - a little easier for House, since he is somewhat of a child himself. But what's cool about season seven is that House is going to try to stay off drugs and have a meaningful relationship. We don't rush through this. It's taken six years to get there, so this is not a story that's going to be done in three episodes.'

Big Brother bosses have been struggling to sign up 'memorable' housemates (ie. people you might actually have heard of) for the show's forthcoming Ultimate Champion series, according to a - rather sneering - tabloid report. Former winners Brian Dowling, Kate Lawler and Cameron Stout have all rejected approaches from producers. As had Jade Goody. Apparently. Celebrity champions Jack Dee, Mark Owen and Alex Reid have also refused to take part, the Daily Star claims. Show chiefs revealed that they hoped to recruit 'the best of the best' from Big Brother's history when details of the Ultimate Champion run were first announced last month. However, it is thought that bosses now fear the contest could be filled with 'lesser-known' contestants as most of those they wanted to take part realise it's a case of flogging a dead horse and, no matter who much they need the cash, they're not touching this corpse with a bargepole. Big Brother series seven winner Nikki Grahame, series eight's Brian Belo and series nine runner-up Mikey Hughes are among the contestants who have reportedly expressed an interest (for which read absolute desperation) in appearing on the show, which will launch following the conclusion of the the final - eleventh - series of Big Brother on 24 August.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week Twenty Seven: ... Or, There's Football!

We start with some sad news. The acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Alan Plater has died of cancer at the age of seventy five, his agent has confirmed. Plater produced numerous works for the stage and screen, including many episodes of the seminal police drama Z Cars and an adaptation of The Barchester Chronicles. His work was also featured on Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play, while he adapted World War II trilogy The Fortunes of War for TV. Plater, who also wrote six novels, was honoured with a CBE in 2005. In the same year, he was presented with the Dennis Potter Award for writing at the BAFTAs. His other accolades included a lifetime achievement award from the Writers Guild of Great Britain in 2007. Plater's agent Alexandra Cann told the BBC that he had been 'very robust' until the final week of his life when he was admitted to a London hospice. His final screenplay, a historial drama called Joe Maddison's War, starring Kevin Whately and Robson Green and set in his beloved North East, is due to be broadcast on ITV later this year. Ms Cann said it would be a 'fitting tribute' to the writer, who was able to see the drama in production. Among the two hundred plus full-length dramas he produced for the stage, screen and radio was the Beiderbecke trilogy and A Very British Coup, which won a BAFTA in 1989. His later work included Last of The Blonde Bombshells, which boasted Dame Judi Dench in the cast. Alan's early years were shaped by a simple class joke. His family moved to Hull when he was three, though his grandparents still lived in the North East. 'People would ask me where I was going for my holidays,' Plater once noted. 'I would say Jarrow and I couldn't understand why they laughed.' He trained as an architect but left the profession after a short time to pursue a career in writing. In 1968 Plater produced his first trilogy for Theatre 625, To See How Far It Is. Having spent much of his time at Newcastle University involved in 'iconoclastic student journalism,' Plater used his radio background to develop into a brilliant dialogue writer, something that often saw him in a league of his own among contemporary TV auteurs. Plater was dissatisfied with television 'identikit drama', once stating 'If I see another play about a middle-aged menopausal businessman having an affair with his secretary, I shall kick the screen in!' Popular successes followed in plays such as Close the Coalhouse Door (1969, co-written with Sid Chaplin), The First Lady (starring Thora Hird), Seventeen Per Cent Said "Push Off!" (1972: 'The northern yobbo taking the micky out of the college pudding is a time-honoured source of humour,' noted The Times, snobbishly) and The Land of Green Ginger (1974). The latter, especially, with its wistful evocation of northern aspirations and loss of innocence ('People from Hull have this mysterious northern mist behind their eyes,' says heroine Sally Brown), played alongside the broad comedy of another of Plater's recurring themes, the dream of advancement through sporting achievement. This climaxed in the 1975 ITV series, Trinity Tales, a witty parody of Chaucer which covered the lives of a group of Wakefield Trinity fans travelling to Wembley to watch the Rugby League Challenge Cup final. Trinity Tales also indirectly spawned Plater's Yorkshire sitcom, Oh No! It's Selwyn Froggitt (Bill Maynard, who played Selwyn, had been Stan the Fryer in Trinity Tales). Plater's other major TV work has included Granada's The Stars Look Down, the BBC series Middlemen, Orwell on Jura (1983), and Get Lost! (1980). Plater, whose career spanned six decades, was celebrated for writing about ordinary people in ordinary settings. He is said to have been pleased when a critic hailed his first TV play as combining the voices of Coronation Street and the spirit of Chekov. The dramatist later said that being invited to write for Z Cars was 'like a Papal blessing. It was the biggest thing that had ever hit British television.' Plater went on to write thirty episodes for Softly, Softly - a later spin-off series of the gritty police drama. His most recently-seen work was four episodes of detective serial Lewis, the last of which screened earlier this year.

Alexander Armstrong was reportedly forced to leave This Morning earlier in the week when he found out his wife had gone into labour. The comedian was due to appear on the show with his partner Ben Miller. However, the Sun reports that he found out he was about to become a dad for the third time while he was in his dressing room. Miller went ahead with his appearance and told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby:'"It's really exciting - Hannah called Xander and he just sort of said, "I should go now." I think it's three weeks early, but so was their last one, he said.'

ITV has confirmed that it has decided to cancel Heartbeat. The Gruniad Morning Star reports that a final series of the show will be broadcast from next month. Heartbeat, which follows a group of police officers in 1960s Yorkshire, has been on air for eighteen years and, as has been noted by various wages, is just about the only historical TV series in history that has lasted longer than the decade in which it is set. ITV insisted that the decision had not been made for financial reasons and explained that it wants to focus more on shorter dramas broadcast over a week. A spokesperson said: 'Heartbeat has been an important part of the television landscape over the last eighteen years and we are incredibly proud of what it achieved in its heyday as one of ITV's top rated dramas. But we are overhauling our schedule to reflect the changing demands of our audience, refreshing the mix of programming we commission and broadcast. We will continue to maintain our significant investment in the genre, the biggest of any commercial broadcaster, but ITV's future focus will be on new and varied drama commissions.' The final series of Heartbeat will begin on 18 July.

Yvette Fielding has announced that she is leaving Most Haunted. The presenter made the announcement in a statement posted on the website for the show's production company Antix Productions, which she set up with her husband Karl Beattie. 'It has been a great ten years. However, after a lot of thought and soul-searching over the past year, I have come to a decision. It is now time for me to hang up my long black coat, move on and leave Most Haunted as its presenter in order to pursue other projects.' Fielding said that she is proud of what her 'baby' had achieved including being 'watched by royalty' and parodied by shows like Saturday Night Live. 'At the start I wanted to bring paranormal investigations to a wider audience, making them more acceptable and with the ever growing amount of investigation groups that have started since Most Haunted began, I feel that this has been achieved.' The forty one-year-old confirmed that she intends to continue working in the field. 'As well as continuing with ITV2's Ghosthunting With ... - which grows from strength to strength and with some great celebrity guests coming up, it is must-watch TV - I will be carrying on my quest to find paranormal activity on other channels taking investigations further than ever before and extending on what I have already done.' Living has yet to confirm if the show will continue with a new presenter but Fielding expressed her hope that it would. 'I hope that the brand will continue for years to come as it will always be dear to me.'

And, now for some Top Telly Tips:

Friday 2 July
In Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - Steve and Becky get positive news from the adoption co-ordinator, which is a bit of a surprise seeing as they've failed to notice that someone swapped Amy for another child about a month ago. It's also looking a bit rosy for Graeme and Tina, who take a scenic rickshaw ride along Weatherfield's number-one murder hot spot, the canal. It is, genuinely, heartening to know that the scene of Samir Rachid's beating, Roy's near-drowning by Tony and Richard Hillman's drive of his death is now a venue for romance. Unfortunately, in this unusually happy part of Manchester, it's not all smiles for Lloyd who is spending time in a Band of Gold-inspired netherworld thanks to his concern for lap dancer Cheryl. She's sporting a black eye, but her seedy boss Mal might not be the one responsible for the injury. The snot thickens. Of course, it's the third of four World Cup quarter finals tonight so, as ever, be prepared for extra time, penalties, and long rambling post-match analysis. as they say in the telly guides, 'subsequent programmes may run late ... Or, indeed, not at all.'

So, how about Forever Young: How Rock 'n' Roll Grew Up - 9:30 BBC4 - in which a seemingly random selection of not-so-grumpy old rockers, have a big reason to be cheerful - they now qualify for a bus pass to get to the gig. It feels like a never-ending parade of great British blokes from the baby boom generation. Bruce Welch, Eric Burdon and, to prove it's not all Geordies, Gary Brooker and Rick Wakeman, among them, alternating with some great archive clips. Music is strictly from the vaults - it's a blessed relief not to hear either 'Whiter Shade of Pale' or 'House of the Rising Sun' for the forty seven billionth time. Cherie Lunghi provides the husky, if somewhat arch, commentary, but the old footage seems more revealing than the talking heads stuff. Delightful exceptions are good old mad-as-toast Iggy Pop, who didn't achieve any real success until he was in his thirties and Alison Moyet, as the token woman of pop. Incidentally, those lyrics of 'My Generation' (you know the one I mean) is not quoted until the sixth interview. Neil Young, it would seem, had it wrong. It's better to fade away than the burn out!

Saturday 3 July
Finding himself opposite the last of the World Cup quarter finals, in Stephen Fry on Wagner - 8:40 BBC2 - Stephen explores his passion for controversial composer Richard Wagner. Can Stephen, a Jew and liberal, salvage the music which he loves from its dark association it has with Hitler's Nazi regime? Stephen's journey takes him to Germany, Switzerland and Russia as he pieces together the story of the composer's life and career. Along the way he plays Wagner's piano, meets the some of his descendants and eavesdrops on rehearsals for the Bayreuth Festival, the annual extravaganza of Wagner's music held in a theatre designed by the composer himself. Sounds rather good, if a bit highbrow. Not that there's anything wrong with a bit of that, of course. And, let's face it, if you don't fancy the football, it's either this, or The Magnificent Seven on Channel 4!

Sunday 4 July
In Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2 - Jeremy, Richard and James attempt to find a trio of cars which are equally at home on the race track as they are transporting the average family to the shops. And all for a budget of five thousand pounds. Ah, so it's a one of those challenge episode. Good, I like them. Plus James makes a rare visit to the Top Gear track to test a pair of Porsches, the 911 Sport Classic and Boxster Spyder and Alastair Campbell is the star in the all-new reasonably priced car.

Rain - 8:15 BBC4 - is, not unreasonably, one of series of documentaries all about the weather. This programme uncovers the true shape of a raindrop, shows how and why rain falls and tells stories of how we have adapted or succumbed to this elemental force of nature, such as James Glaisher's hot-air balloon ascent in 1862. The Victorians believed that they could master the rain, but today climate change threatens us with rain that is wilder and more unpredictable than ever.

The celebrity genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:15 BBC1 - has gone all stateside of late. In tonight's episode Brooke Shields embarks on a journey to discover which side of her divided and very different family she most identifies with. On the one hand, there is her mother's thrifty 'coupon clipping' New Jersey family and on the other, her father's more illustrious European aristocratic family with rumoured royal connections. I have to say the American episodes aren't, by and large, as involving as the British ones, of which I'm a big fan. But, they're all right and usually contain a Katie Humble-sized dose of weeping. Mind you, even Brooke can't compete with Natasha Kaplinsky who nearly drowned in her own tears a few years back.

Monday 5 July
Antiques Master - 8:30 BBC2 - sees the country's leading amateur antiques enthusiasts battle it out to become Britain's first ever Antiques Master in this opening episode of a brand new series presented by Sandi Toksvig and featuring antiques expert Eric Knowles. A sort of cross between Qi and Antiques Roadshow. The series starts with four contenders putting their skill and knowledge to the test over a series of tough challenges at Towneley Hall in Lancashire. Who will get through to the semi-finals?

ITV have been a bit on the ball with their crime drama over the last couple of years - one of the few things they have got right. We think of things like Unforgiven, Collision, Whitechapel etc. Well, Identity - 9:00 - is a six-part drama about an elite group of police officers who track down criminals who use the identities of others to help them lie, steal and even kill. Very topical, of course. Identity theft is said to be the biggest growing crime of the Twenty First Century. Led by the dedicated and tough DSI Martha Lawson (Keeley Hawes), the unit's secret weapon is maverick DI John Bloom (Aiden Gillen), whose background in undercover work means he knows what it is like to pretend to be someone else. A man is brought in for shooting a police officer but claims that he has been set up by an identity thief called 'Smith'. When the team uncover similar recent cases, Bloom becomes convinced that the thief is punishing his victims for cheating on their partners. Can the team use his insight to track down Smith? In addition to Keeley and Aiden, it's also got the brilliant Holly Aird in it. Okay, sold! Sounds really good. Might be rubbish, it is possible. But, I'm certainly going to give this one a go.

In tonight's episode of Mary, Queen of Shops - 9:00 BBC2 - retail guru Mary Portas is back to help the nation's independent retailers. Whether they want it or not. In this programme, Mary takes on an eighties hairdressing legend whose business is facing ruin. She is in Rochdale, one of the worst hit cities during the current recession, and on the dark side of of town is the once great John Peers hair salon now teetering on the edge of oblivion. With debts of forty grand, it is going to take a lot of blow-drys to return John's business to its former glory.

Tuesday 6 July
The World Cup semi-finals start tonight. So, take everything that might be on with a pinch of salt!

BBC2 have come up with the great idea of repeating the award-winning sitcom Miranda - 9:00 BBC2 - and tonight it's the best episode, and the one that made yer Keith Telly Topping a fan of the show. The titular heroine (the wonderful Miranda Hart) is rather British when it comes to sex, or 'shenanigans' as she likes to call it. Trying to overcome her hang-ups she decides the way forward with her unrequited love for Gary would be to create a romantic moment so that he'll see her in a more sexual light. Stevie persuades her to join an evening class to learn French, the language of lurv. She goes, only to discover that it's run by her old school teacher Mr Clayton (a terrific performance by Peter Davison), whom Stevie then starts dating, much to Miranda's disgust. If you haven't caught it before, this is a really good, really funny little show. Somewhat old fashioned in some ways, at least aesthetically, it's the kind of sitcom that wouldn't have been out of place on BBC1 in the 1980s. Only, it's good!

Build a New Life: Was It Worth It? - 8:00 Five - is a property and lifestyle series in which Charlie Luxton catches up with people whose earlier moving home was captued by the cameras to find out if it all went according to plan. Tonight, he returns to the Scottish island of Harris to catch up with Harvey and John, who had an ambitious plan to turn a run-down croft into a campsite, only to see legal wrangles threaten the entire venture. How have the couple fared?

Lastly for tonight there's To Kill A Mockingbird At Fifty - 9:00 BBC4. This documentary marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's groundbreaking and influential novel To Kill A Mockingbird, later turned into an equally groundbreaking and influential film. Writer Andrew Smith visits Monroeville in Alabama, the setting of the book, to see how life there has changed in half a century. And how the prejudices that it so chillingly and insightfully chronicled are still an issue for many.

Wednesday 7 July
In The Private Life of Cows - 8:00 BBC2 - Jimmy Doherty embarks on a quest to reveal the hidden lives of farmyard animals. It's all 'journies' and 'quests' on telly this week. Isn't anybody doing what I'm doing and just sitting in my gaff watching the World Cup and the cricket? No? Just me then? Okay. Jimmy visits a farm in Devon to find out about cows: they are taken for granted but what really goes on inside their brains? Jimmy tries to find answers to questions such as how does a cow work out who is the boss? Why have one thousand people been injured by cows in the last ten years? And why are cows so sensitive to sudden movement? Now, there's a scary thought and a potential Sky One series, When Cows Attack.

Road users bypass them every day - sudden flashes of flowers tied to lamp posts or lying at the side of the road. Across the UK roadside memorials have become the expected response when someone dies suddenly in a traffic collision. For friends and family the spot where these tributes are left often becomes sacred; for others these shrines are an eyesore and a display that, they believe, should be kept private. Yet behind each roadside memorial there is a story of personal grief. In Loving Memory - 9:00 BBC2 - tells some of the stories.

Big Meets Bigger - 8:00 BBC3 - appears to be just what you'd expect from a BBC3 show with that title. Blonde and bubbly Bex Upton is too heavy to be weighed on normal scales and twenty three-year-old Essex girl Anne Odeke is twice the size she should be, despite a family history of diabetes. These girls aren't making any attempts to slim down, so will living with thirty eight-stone Deloris and her twenty three-stone sister Diane in Mississippi finally make them want to fight their flab? Yeah, brilliant. More fat facism brought to you people who 'know better.' Apparently.

Thursday 8 July
Dive - 9:00 BBC2 - is a contemporary teenage love story told in two parts. Lindsey Macallum isn't like those teenagers you read about in the papers. She doesn't go out to all-night parties, she doesn't drink, and she hasn't even got close to having a boyfriend. Lindsey is a sixteen-year-old 2012 Olympic diving hopeful and her life is dedicated to her sport. That is until she meets the local bad boy Robert Wisley and they fall in love.

Cheetah Man - 8:00 Five - had a title that just screams 1940s Hollywood B-movie. But, no, it's a documentary - and a rather good looking one - exploring the work of conservationist Olivier Houalet. For four years, the twenty eight-year-old Frenchman has spent every day with five orphaned cheetah cubs and has adopted the animals' body language to such an extent that he is now accepted as one of them. The film follows Olivier as he sees through to fruition a groundbreaking experiment to return his charges to the wild.

As regular readers will know, yer Keith Telly Topping has been very much enjoying the current series of Lie to Me - 10:00 Sky1. If you've never seen it before, it a drama series about a scientist (played by the excellent Tim Roth) who uses his ability to read facial expressions and body language to solve crimes. In this episode, Cal's daughter becomes involved in a murder investigation. And, a solution is found for the Lightman Group's money problems. Two plots for the pricve of one.

And finally, in Mock the Week - 10:00 BBC2 - Dara O Briain and regulars Hugh Dennis, Russell Howard and Andy Parsons dissect another week with guests Chris Addison, Ed Byrne and Micky Flanagan.

So to the news: Sports minister Hugh Robertson has warned that funding cuts to sport will further reduce chances of the Ashes returning to free-to-view television. In January 2009 the previous government commissioned a review of what sporting events should be made free-to- air. The England and Wales Cricket Board expressed concerns over losing revenue. But Robertson said: 'Public expenditure cuts will impact in sport so the way to equalise it is to give governing bodies freedom to market their own rights.' The review was chaired by former Football Association chief executive David Davies, whose team concluded that England's home Ashes matches should be on the list of 'crown jewels' along with the Olympics, World Cup, Grand National and other leading events. But it now looks certain that the England and Wales Cricket Board will be able to maintain their exclusive deal with satellite broadcasters BSkyB, which currently runs until 2013, although in return the Government will seek assurances on grassroots funding and some changes to how the sport is run. In February, Robertson said it would be 'foolish' to deprive the ECB of their television money from Sky, which is thought to represent around eighty per cent of their income. Robertson is keen for sports to not be so heavily reliant on broadcast money however, and said he would 'encourage' the ECB to introduce more independent directors.

BBC3's new comedy Mongrels has been accused of copying a 2001 Channel 4 series. Mongrels aired for the first time on Tuesday - and very funny it was too - but the creators of Pets have now complained that it borrowed from their programme. Writing on the BBC's TV blog, Pets creator Brian West said that puppeteers Iestyn Evans and Andy Heath had worked on both shows and claimed that the producers of Pets had pitched a spin-off to the executive producer of Mongrels in 2005. He continued: 'You might also recognise Vince in Mongrels. He's Trevor from Pets. At the last count, Pets had over ten million downloads on iTunes, so I don't think it'll be long before other people notice these little coincidences.' Meanwhile, the comedy website Chortle reports that the makers of Pets have received thirty e-mails from viewers pointing out the similarities. However, West later wrote that Mongrels executive producer Stephen McCrum had assured him that Pets was not discussed during the making of the BBC3 show. Heath also defended the programme, posting: 'It is regretful that this comparison is made, as having been involved with both projects myself from conception, I feel like our hard work is being taken advantage of. Pets was Pets. Mongrels is Mongrels. If, as a viewer, you can sit down and say they are the same, then there is little point in making any new shows if the slightest similarity (puppets and animals) can be suggested as idea stealing. I am surprised Basil Brush hasn't been on the blower, as he is a fox, and that must be a copy, right?' He added: 'I worked on both, and know for a fact where they both come from. Two very different ideas.' A BBC spokesperson told the Digital Spy website: 'We Are Mongrels is entirely created and devised by Adam Miller and writers Jon Brown and Daniel Peak with the BBC, drawing inspiration from animation and puppetry of many kinds. It is a new and original production.'

The BBC is reportedly planning to revive the Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes character Gene Hunt. Or, at least, in the wishful thinking of an enterprising tabloid stringer. At the end of the last episode, it emerged that Gene, played by Philip Glenister, had died and was trapped in limbo. However, the Mirror claims that the BBC is now thinking about developing a new spin-off placing Gene in the present day. A - nameless, of course - senior BBC drama producer allegedly claimed to the newspaper that the move would be 'rather interesting' and added: 'The popularity of New Tricks, which features three yesteryear policemen doing a good job in the modern era, shows that old 'uns can still be good 'uns.' Ashes To Ashes co-creator Matthew Graham has previously suggested that Gene Hunt would only reappear if 'Hollywood came calling,' whilst Phil Glensiter himself said that he believed the character was being retired at the right time. So, where the hell his Mirror stories comes from, I have absolutely no idea. Much like the vast majority of shite that appears between the covers of that particular organ of the press.

Jeremy Clarkson has revealed that the BBC - or, at least, someone within it, because the BBC is, as Jezza knows, a very big organisations - ordered him not to cook for guests due to health and safety regulations. While filming for series fifteen of Top Gear, Clarkson put on a barbeque for a number of 'star in a reasonably priced car' guests, including Louie Spence and Al Murray. However, the presenter was telephoned and informed that he was breaching rules. Clarkson told the Sun: 'I was in the middle of offering everyone a sausage when we got a call saying as we hadn't been trained properly, we weren't allowed to give the food we had cooked to any guests. It meant we had to eat it ourselves while our guests went hungry. We don't normally listen to rules - and of course we couldn't stop anyone stealing bits of food.' Peter Jones, who was also present at the event, added: 'We couldn't eat any of the food. Clarkson thought it was hysterical - but they were really serious about it.'

Heroes actor Adrian Pasdar has avoided a jail term by pleading no contest to a misdemeanour charge of driving under the influence. The forty four-year-old actor, who plays Nathan Petrelli in the hit show, was arrested in January after Los Angeles Police caught him swerving at high speeds across a freeway. According to TMZ, Pasdar has been sentenced to thirty six months probation and ordered to pay a three hundred and ninety five dollar fine. He will also need to attend an alcohol education programme and ten Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. A second charge against Pasdar, for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test, was dropped by prosecutors.

Lawyers representing a former Survivor producer charged with murdering his wife in Mexico have filed a legal challenge to prevent his extradition back to the country. The Mexican foreign ministry requested on Wednesday that Bruce Beresford-Redman, who is accused of killing his wife, Monica, in April, be extradited from the US, according to The Hollywood Reporter. On Friday the Associated Press confirmed that the state prosecutor of California, where Beresford-Redman is currently staying with his children, had received the appeal against the proposed extradition. Beresford-Redman's lawyers stated on Thursday that he would surrender to US authorities if necessary, but intends to fight extradition to Mexico. Beresford-Redman's wife was beaten and strangled during a holiday to a luxury resort in Cancun. Her body was later discovered in a sewer. He denies all charges, saying at the time that he was 'devastated' by her death.

The cast of Primeval have finished filming the upcoming fourth series. The show was originally cancelled by ITV last year but was later revived when the channel teamed up in a co-production with UKTV, BBC America and the German broadcaster ProSieben. Hannah Spearritt, Andrew Lee-Potts, Ben Miller, Jason Flemyng, Lucy Brown and Ben Mansfield have all returned to the show, while new cast members include Alexander Siddig, Ciarán McMenamin, Ruth Bradley, Jonathan Byrne, Anton Lesser and Ruth Kearney. The programme's executive producer Tim Haines said: 'The cast and crew have been brilliant and they have put in a huge effort over the past four months to deliver some amazing work. We have also been very lucky in that Dublin has afforded us some fantastic new locations and the fact that we've filmed in HD for the first time means that the production values are higher than ever. The rough cuts I've seen are very exciting and I think we are going to deliver a show that will really please and delight the fans.' Well, this particular fan certainly hopes so. Always had a soft spot for Primeval. The fourth series will premiere on ITV next year before being broadcast on Watch. The cast are currently about to start work on a fifth series.

The executive producer of House has claimed that the relationship between House and Cuddy is 'serious.' The pair - finally - got together in the last season finale and David Shore has now told Entertainment Weekly that the show had to examine their relationship. 'We're serious about this,' he said. 'It's something that all network shows are leery about, but we had to do it. [Cheers] had to do it with Sam and Diane and we had to do this.' He continued: 'It's not a soap opera. But there are relationships on the show. And if House and Cuddy have a fight, it's going to be about House's unique perspective on that. It'll also be about how it affects their ability to diagnose patients.' Shore also claimed that the photo showing Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein on the beach does not mean that the relationship will be easy. 'Obviously things aren't going to be simple,' he said. 'Even in [the season opener] there are all sorts of hiccups. What that [scene depicts] is rather different from what you're going to experience when you watch the episode. It's not Beach Blanket Bingo.' Well, thank heavens for that!

Jonny Lee Miller has reportedly signed up to appear in Dexter. According to Variety, the Eli Stone and Trainspotting actor will star in several episodes of the upcoming fifth season. He is expected to play a mysterious man who gets involved with Julia Stiles' character. Shawn Hatosy, Maria Doyle Kennedy and April Lee Hernandez are also lined up to star in future episodes of the show.

Jo Brand has admitted that she finds it difficult to write candidly about her personal life when she works on her autobiographies. The comedienne last year released the first instalment of her life story, titled Look Back In Hunger, and is currently busy writing its follow-up. However, speaking on The Five O'Clock Show, Brand confessed that she often feels uncomfortable with the idea of opening up in print. She explained: 'I'm doing the sequel at the moment. The title of the second one is Can't Stand Up For Sitting Down. I think it's difficult, if you're a quite private person like I am, to write about your life very intimately. But I've put some bits and pieces in.' The fifty two-year-old added that her new book will recall the moment when one of her daughters discovered that she was famous after starting primary school at the age of five. Brand said: 'She came home one day and asked, "Mum - are you Jo Brand?" I said, "I am, yes - why do you ask?" She said, "Because everyone at school says you are."'

And, more sad news. The former Kinks bassist Pete Quaife has died aged sixty six, it has been confirmed. He been undergoing kidney dialysis for over a decade. The musician played on the band's earlier hits including 'You Really Got Me', 'All Day and All of the Night', 'Sunny Afternoon' and 'Waterloo Sunset'. A co-founder of the group, Quaife played with them for five years before leaving in 1969. He had been quoted as saying how unhappy he was during his time in the Kinks, not least because of the fractious relationship between Ray and Dave Davies. But he also proudly recalled his work on the band's landmark 1968 The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society LP. 'Making that album was the high point of my career,' he told Jukebox magazine in 2006. 'For me it represents the only real album made by the Kinks in which we all contributed something.' After leaving the band in 1969, Quaife was replaced by John Dalton, who had previously filled in for him when he broke his leg in a car accident. Several months after quitting, he formed another band, Mapleoak, but it failed to match the success of the Kinks. He teamed up with his former bandmates for a one-off concert in Canada in 1981, but a much-vaunted renunion never came to fruition. Alan Plater and Pete Quaife leaving us in one day. Two men who, for very different reasons. were examples of why the sixties, broadly speaking, were all they were cracked up to be.

From a legend, to Amanda Holden who has, reportedly, auditioned for a role in the London musical production of Shrek, according to sources. Holden has tried for the part of Princess Fiona, the character voiced by Cameron Diaz in the 2001 DreamWorks movie, reports the Daily Mail. Don't touch her, guys, she's box-office poison. Just ask the BBC.

Chris Tarrant's ex-wife has told a court that she was 'taken down' by a police officer following a confrontation over a parking ticket. Ingrid Tarrant, fifty five, of Cobham in Surrey, said that PC Peter Groves had become 'angry' after she parked illegally in a bus stop in Cobham High Street. The television presenter's ex-wife told Kingston Crown Court she had driven off because she was 'frightened.' Mrs Tarrant was appealing against her sentence and conviction in July 2009. But Judge Nicholas Price QC said Tarrant 'persuaded herself' her recollection of events was accurate. He said: 'I do not want it to be thought that I am calling her a liar. She has been able to persuade herself that she was in the right and the officer was in the wrong and that self-deception enabled her to believe what she had said.' As Tarrant left the court, she said: 'I am terribly disappointed.'

Joe McElderry - remember him? - has 'lauded' Simon Cowell for his honesty on The X Factor last year. Speaking to STV, McElderry described how he initially feared the music mogul, but insisted that as he got to know him he realised he is 'really nice.'

A cat which had its back feet severed by a combine harvester has been given two prosthetic limbs in a pioneering operation by a UK vet. Aw, poor little chap. The new feet are custom-made implants that 'peg' the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin. The operation - a world first - was carried out by Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon based in Surrey. His work is explored in a BBC documentary called The Bionic Vet. The prosthetic pegs, called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) were developed by a team from University College London led by Professor Gordon Blunn, who is head of UCL's Centre for Biomedical Engineering. Professor Blunn and his team have worked in partnership with Mr Fitzpatrick to develop these weight-bearing implants, combining engineering mechanics with biology. Mr Fitzpatrick explained: 'The real revolution with Oscar is [that] we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone. We have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an "exoprosthesis" that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal's limbs to give him effectively normal gait.' Professor Blunn told BBC News the idea was initially developed for patients with amputations who have a 'stump socket. This means they fix their artifical limb with a sock, which fits over the stump. In a lot of cases this is sucessful, but you [often] get rubbing and pressure sores.' The Itap technology is being tested in humans and has already been used to create a prosthetic for a lady who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings. 'The intriguing thing with Oscar was that he had two implants - one in each back leg, and in quite an unusual site,' Professor Blunn told the BBC. He said that the success of this operation showed the potential of the technology. 'Noel has some brilliant ideas,' he added. 'And we're continuing to work closely with him to develop new technologies.' So, at least Oscar can get about and live a full and active life, anyway. Bless him.