Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week Thirty Two: In Love With The Common People

Presenter Clare Balding has made an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over an article which, she believes, mocked her sexuality in The Sunday Times. Last week the newspaper's columnist and well-known battery AA Gill, someone never short of opinion on pretty much anything, reviewed Balding's new BBC4 show Britain By Bike. However, Balding took exception to comments Gill made about her sexuality and appearance in the article. A PCC spokesperson confirmed the organisation had received a complaint and was now 'considering' it. So, that will presumably mean nothing whatsoever will be done about it. Just as nothing whatsoever was done when that dreadful Jan Moir woman used insidious borderline homophobic innuendo in an article thick with wretched bigotry to insult the memory of Steven Gately? As noted at the time of the latter incident, tragically, some people are just scum. The spokesperson said: 'We've received a complaint, which has been made under Clause Twelve of the Editors' Code of Practice. This will now be considered.' Gill had written: 'Some time ago, I made a cheap and frankly unnecessary joke about Clare Balding looking like a big lesbian. And afterwards somebody tugged my sleeve to point out that she is a big lesbian.' After a mock - and very hollow - apology, Gill continued: 'Now back to the dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation.' Oh, fun-nee. Bet you had yerself a right good chuckle at your own cleverness when you wrote that, Double A. A Sunday Times spokeswoman confirmed that the PCC had been in touch, but declined to comment further. Speaking to the BBC News website, Balding revealed that she had written to the newspaper's editor John Witherow, receiving what she deemed to be an 'unsatisfactory' reply. Witherow apparently wrote: 'Some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society.' He added: 'Not having a privileged status means, of course, one must accept occasionally being the butt of jokes. Jeremy Clarkson, perhaps the epitome of the heterosexual male, is constantly jeered at for his dress sense (lack of), adolescent mindset and hairstyle. He puts up with it as a presenter's lot and in this context I hardly think that AA Gill's remarks were particularly cruel, especially as he ended by so warmly endorsing you as a presenter.' I don't think 'cruelty' was, necessarily, the issue John. Nobody makes jokes about Jezza Clarkson's straightness - or anyone else's for that matter. Balding responded: 'When the day comes that people stop resigning from high office, being disowned by their families, getting beaten up and in some instances committing suicide because of their sexuality, you may have a point. This is not about me putting up with having the piss taken out of me, something I have been quite able to withstand, it is about you legitimising name calling. "Dyke" is not shouted out in school playgrounds (or as I've had it at an airport) as a compliment, believe me.' She added: 'I am happy to be described as a lesbian, as and when relevant, but "dyke" is too often used as a pejorative and insulting term.' I have to say, mind, that I've got friends in the gay and lesbian community who use dyke as a term of endearment (ala queen). But, ultimately, it depends on how it's used and in this instance, in an article - again - full of nasty, self-important, mean-spirited schoolboy snickering, it's hard to see the use of the word 'dyke' as anything other than an insult.

The BBC has confirmed that Match Of The Day 2 will make its debut on BBC iPlayer for the new Premier League season. From next month, each edition of MOTD2 will be available on the BBC's catch-up service from the Wednesday after it was initially aired on Sunday evening. For the 2010-11 Premier League season, the programme will be presented by the hugely annoying Colin Murray after the previous host, Adrian Chiles, left for ITV. Murray will be joined by regular pundit Lee Dixon and a host of personalities from the football world to recap the weekend's action from the Premier League. The first broadcast will be on 15 August. The main Match Of The Day programme will return on 14 August for the first day of the new season, with Gary Lineker hosting the programme alongside regular studio pundits Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer. The BBC has also confirmed plans to provide additional content on the BBC Sport website for the new football season, including match highlights from every game in the Scottish Premier League and the Football League. In addition, the corporation has said that it will broadcast live coverage of a batch of Football League games, starting with Dirty Leeds United's match against Derby County on 7 August. BBC Sport will also air Burnley versus Preston North End on 11 September, Doncaster Rovers against Sheffield United on 23 October, Cardiff City versus Swansea on 7 November and Norwich City against Ipswich Town on 28 November.

And so to this week's Top Telly Tips:

Friday 6 August
In The Great British Home Movie Roadshow - 9:00 BBC2 - various members of the public share their favourite home movie footage, talking about the clips in a specially constructed 'cinebus.' Presenters Dan Cruickshank and Kirsty Wark, along with experts Robin and Binny Baker, also showcase recordings found by historians in the nation's archives. In what is, essentially, an alternative view of the last two or three generations of British social history. Home movies capture a history that is often neglected – whether taking a view of historic events, documenting the reality of British life or creating home-made dramas, this archive is - in miniature - the nation's story. The series attempts to uncover amateur-filmed footage that reflects the events of the last seventy years, documenting real life and the magic moments which people think deserve to be captured for posterity. From street parties to strikes, celebrities backstage to intimate scenes of domestic life, some of these events will be familiar, but raw and unfiltered – this is the unscripted, unedited version of Britain's past. In the first episode, the team unveils unseen footage of a young Princess Diana, a record of the past fifty years in Chingford, a 1905 wedding on the Isle of Bute and the a glimpse at some of the personal films of the great Spike Milligan. Sounds excellent.

The Bed - 7:30 Channel 4 - is film-maker Toby Paton's documentary telling the story of life on a busy hospital Accident and Emergency department, told from the perspective of an important piece of equipment - the ward's trolley. Yeah. That promises to be suitably off-beat and intriguing. The programme makers claim this will offers an insight into the lives of people who are admitted to the hospital, from ill children to drunken teenagers, and features contributions by the staff who treat them. Written and narrated by performance-poet Luke Wright. Part of the usually fascinating First Cut strand.

Saturday 7 August
In tonight's episode of Casualty - 9:20 BBC1 - as Megan's condition worsens, the revelation of her healthcare assistant's personal problems allows the former nurse to offer her support and feel needed again. Charlie steals drugs from the hospital as he prepares to honour his old friend's wishes and end her suffering, but when Tess discovers what he has done, they consider other options. The episode guest stars Desperate Romantics' Jennie Jacques.

Sunday 8 August
It's the final episode - for this series, anyway - of Sherlock - 9:00 BBC1. Holmes is far from impressed when he is asked to investigate a seemingly straightforward murder. How desperately banal! However, the master of deduction soon suspects that he may have met his match, as he and Watson are drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse which leaves a trail of destruction across London. Has Sherlock finally met his Moriarty? Quite literally? The really fabulously good Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star along with John Sessions and Haydn Gwynne. Last in the current series. But, cheer up, as previously announced. the BBC want to make more. Which is great news.

Or, you may prefer The Unforgettable Bob Monkhouse - 9:00 ITV. The - occasional - Unforgettable documentary series celebrates the lives and work of renowned entertainers. it returns with an affectionate profile of the comedian, actor, writer, film archivist and quiz show host, Bob Monkhouse. Yer Keith Telly Topping had a great fortune to see Bob live once - at Butlin's of all place. Great show. Quite risque in places! I had a very interesting conversation recently with a friend, another stand-up who believes that Bob not really a naturally gifted technical comedian but, rather, was someone who, through sheer hard work and personality, made the most of his wit and charm and honed his craft to the point where he, actually, surpassed many of those who, in theory at least, were more talented than he. Kevin Keegan to, say, Dave Allen's George Best. I thought that was a very interesting observation albeit not one I entirely agree with. Anyway, Bob's extensive showbiz career is showcased in this documentary, featuring footage from his multi-faceted output and his huge personal archive. There are also interviews with his daughter Abigail, manager Peter Prichard and colleagues and fans including June Whitfield, Joe Pasquale, his Golden Shot co-host Anne Aston and Jimmy Tarbuck.

Monday 9 August
Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - has been very good so far this series. In the latest episode of the popular genealogy show, TV presenter Monty Don's research on his mother's side of the family includes an investigation of his great-great-grandfather, the Reverend Charles Hodge, a vicar who had a parish in Retford, Nottinghamshire, in the 1840s, as well as a family tragedy during a national disaster. Monty also learns of his connection to Dundee's famous Keiller marmalade dynasty on his father's side, travelling to Scotland to explore his great-grandfather William's involvement in the business.

Roger and Val Have Just Got In - 7:30 BBC2 - is, according to pre-publicity, 'a bittersweet real-time comedy drama.' Which sounds quite interesting. 'Starring Dawn French and Alfred Molina.' Oh, dear. I mean, not Alfred, he's great but, does the world really need another Dawn French sitcom vehicle? This is, they say, is about the ups and downs of a middle-aged married couple. Because, of course, that's a sitcom staple that's never been examined before, isn't it? Botanist Roger is principled with a hatred for injustice, while food technology teacher Val works at the local comprehensive and is a bit of a worrier. In tonight's episode, can the couple face rooting through 'the big drawer' in the garage in their quest for the elusive guarantee for their vacuum cleaner? Perhaps we'll never care.

And, speaking of sitcoms which have a bastard-awful premise, Grandma's House - 10:00 BBC2 - is written by Simon Amstell and Dan Swimer about a television presenter (played by smug-but-occasionally funny Amstell himself) searching for something more meaningful in his life. Yeah, again, that's original. In this opening episode, Simon's mum Tanya is less than happy to hear he's leaving the entertainment show which he presents. Autobiographical? While Simon tries to convince his mum that her new boyfriend might not be the right man for her, Auntie Liz struggles with her son Adam and his apparent teenage rebellion. I must admit, I'm more inclined to watch this one than the previous one but only because there's something about the description that promises if this one does go down the wrong bridal path it could be spectacular to see. And, I mean Big Top spectacular.

It's the final episode of Identity - 9:00 ITV - which started really well but, after about three weeks settled down to generic formula tosh. Not bad, indeed quite watchable, but Keeley Hawes' pre-series suggestion that its plots were better than those of Ashes To Ashes was, simply, a load of old cack. Still, it could be going out with a bang. Bloom's secret life as Brendan finally catches up with him when the team is asked to identify five bodies discovered in a mass grave at a cement factory - a place he knows all too well. The detective later returns to the Unit to find Lawson interviewing Adile, which forces him to make a drastic decision. Guest starring Ken Bones and Tamer Hassan also with Aidan Gillen, Keeley Hawes and Holly Aird. With a cast that good, you know, this should've been an awful lot better than it actually turned out. Whether we'll be treated to another series next year time will tell. The rating weren't disastrous but they were far from good either. If it had been a BBC show I'd've thought a second series was a possibility. With ITV, you're never so sure.

Tuesday 10 August
Help! My House Is Falling Down - 8:00 Channel 4 - sees property expert Sarah Beeny comes to the aid of existing homeowners whose fond domestic dreams have morphed into a real-life house of horrors. Why she bothers to do this, I don't know because, as Dara Ó Briain pointed out on Live At The Apollo Sarah seems to be the only TV 'expert' whose advice absolutely nobody takes! Her first task is to help parents-of-three Nick and Becky who, three years ago, bought a two hundred and fifty-year-old cottage in the Northamptonshire of Earls Barton for a lot of coin. Could've got a new one for that, surely? Since then the discovery of woodworm has rendered the top floor unusable and now threatens the rest of the house, the walls have fallen prey to brick-eating bees, and an indoor well is regularly flooding the cellar. Can Sarah save the day? Hang on, though. Brick-eating bees?! Sod Sarah Beeny, send for Eddie Izzard.

In Great Railway Adventures with Dan Cruickshank - 8:00 Five - the historian (whom, as noted a couple of weeks ago, yer Keith Telly Topping really likes) explores how railways have helped shape to British life since their introduction in the 1820s. Beginning with their vital role in the First and Second World Wars, when trains were used to transport troops, evacuees and supplies to and from key locations. I do really admire Dan Cruickshank's style of presentation, relaxed and chatty but, also, authoritative. This three-part series resurrects an exhilarating age and kicks-off by focusing on the railways' role in defeating Hitler, before unearthing the incredible engineering achievements of Isambard Brunel and embarking on a trip on the earliest steam engines of George and Robert Stephenson. Good stuff.

It's episode two of The Deep - 9:00 BBC1. The researchers on the Orpheus submarine run into severe danger in their quest to find rare micro-organisms. One of them has already died, the ship has been intercepted and two of the crew are trapped and running out of air - and must decide whether to risk boarding the mysterious vessel that looms above them. A superior, claustrophobic thriller, starring Jimmy Nesbitt, Minnie Driver and Goran Visnjic stuck in a submarine. What's not to love?

Commissioned in 1086 by William the Conqueror, the Domesday Book was a precise record of who owned every single piece of land, property and livestock in England. While many historians have considered its raison d'être to be a device for raising tax revenue, Dr Stephen Baxter of King's College argues that its real purpose was far more radical, and that the parchment reveals the traumatic impact of what was the greatest social and political upheaval in the country's history in Domesday - 8:00 BBC2. The making of the Domesday Book was a huge logistical exercise. Commissioners set out across the country to attend intimidating local inquests. These established who owned what, both in 1066, before the Norman Conquest, and in 1086, after twenty years of Norman rule. The results were then collected, edited and written up by one scribe. It was given the name Domesday Book by Anglo-Saxons who felt that its authority was as final as the Day of Judgement. Domesday records the trauma of the Norman Conquest. It confirmed that land once owned by the English was now - legally or otherwise - in the hands of the Normans. This was a revolution in land ownership. Baxter tells the human and political story of this drama of dispossession. He also finds out the true purpose of the Domesday survey. Proving that it couldn't have been used to collect taxes, he argues that the Domesday Book is about something far more important than money – its real purpose was to confer revolutionary new powers on the monarchy in Norman England. Part of the BBC's excellent Norman Season.

Wednesday 11 August
It doesn't seem but five minutes since the World Cup finished and, already, the new football season is upon us. Live International Football - 7:30 ITV - sees England take on Hungary in a friendly. This is Fabio Capello's England team's first match since their very disappointing World Cup campaign, which saw them draw against the USA and Algeria in the group stage before they were comprehensively outclassed and given a harsh lesson in the new realities of world football by Germany. The under-fire manager will quickly want to win the home fans back as he prepares for the Euro 2012 qualifiers which start in just three weeks time. He may take this opportunity to look at several youngsters, such as Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Adam Johnson, as well as a new formation before forthcoming fixtures against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Hungary have a new coach as they prepare for Euro 2012, with Sandor Egervari replacing Erwin Koeman. The Dutchman, appointed in 2008, presided over a promising World Cup campaign for Hungary, which saw them finish fourth in their group, two points behind second-placed Portugal. Presented by Adrian Chiles, with commentary from Clive Tyldesley and the wretched Andy Townsend and alleged expert analysis from Gareth Southgate.

As ever, when there's a major football match on, Top Telly Tips highlights not only it, but also provides a public service with some alternatives. Coast - 8:00 BBC2 - goes all irish tonight travelling from Galway to Arranmore Island. As the team explores the Atlantic shore of Ireland's north-west coast, Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) meets a photographer who covered John F Kennedy's visit to Galway in 1961, and learns about the pirate queen Grace O'Malley. MasterChef superstar Dick Strawbridge tries to recreate Marconi's radio technology, the deadly killer Miranda Krestovnikoff examines why mountain hares are eating seaweed, the godess of punk archaeology Dr Alice Roberts discovers the oldest farm in the British Isles, dating back to the Stone Age, and Nick Crane investigates Clew Bay's landscape.

And, speaking of Celebrity MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1 - with only five celebrity cooks still in the race for this year's title, three more difficult culinary challenges await them. Catering for the soldiers of the Sealed Knot, who re-enact the battles of the English Civil War, is first up on today's menu. The loser will spend some time being one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit, I trust. Then the surviving quartet try to feed eight hundred hungry schoolboys at Harrow School - give 'em chips, trust me, you'll be their friend for life - before preparing an impressive dinner hosted by the headmaster.

Four Sons Versus Four Daughters - 9:00 Channel 4 - is a Cutting Edge documentary follows two families, the Tibbetts, who have four daughters and the Cafearos, who have four boys, as they swap children for a weekend. The aim of this experiment is to find out how youngsters shape their parents, and what it means for a father or mother to live in a household where they are the only male or female member.

Thursday 12 August
The Culture Show at the Edinburgh Festival - 7:00 BBC2 - is the first of three special episodes of the popular arts show from the annual cultural extravaganza, the divine and fabulous Sue Perkins rounds up some of the highlights of the festival. The Fruitmarket Gallery showcases works by the artist Martin Creed, who won the Turner Prize in 2001, while the National Theatre of Scotland unveils its latest production, Caledonia, which looks at a doomed attempt to create a Scottish colony in Central America at the end of the Seventeenth Century. Plus veteran comedy stars recall the highs and lows of their Edinburgh debuts. The Review Show at the Edinburgh Festival is also on this week, tomorrow at 11pm.

Beckii: Schoolgirl Superstar at Fourteen - 9:00 BBC3 - tells the story of teenage Rebecca Flint from the Isle of Man, who found fame in Japan after uploading films of herself dancing on YouTube in her bedroom. Since being approached by a Japanese music manager, Rebecca has recorded five singles under then name Beckii Cruel, released her own DVD and appeared on the country's biggest TV shows, but balancing two different lives on opposite sides of the world means life is not always easy for the Manx teenager.

Where Does All Our Water Go?: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - asks a question a lot of us have been wondering for the past few months. With torrential rain and floods in the winter, droughts and hosepipe bans in the summer and a fifth of all the nation's water being lost through leaks, Morland Sanders investigates whether the resource could be managed more effectively.

And finally for this week there's Natural World - 8:00 BBC2. The Californian sea otter is one of the rarest animals in the world, so one mother's decision to have her pup among the yachts of a millionaire's marina near Los Angeles offered a unique chance to observe them up close. The youngster must be taught how to avoid the boats on the search for food in the busy harbour, but after an attack on his mother by a male sea otter leaves her injured, he is left on his own as he faces a desperate struggle to survive in a dangerous environment. Narrated by Bonnie Greer.

So to the news: Ben Shephard has revealed that he has e-mailed Adrian Chiles to say that he will hate getting up early to host the new ITV breakfast show Daybreak. The presenter, who recently signed a deal with Sky Sports, also admitted that he is a huge fan of Chiles. Shephard told the Sun: 'I e-mailed him and said, "You're going to hate the sound of your alarm clock more than anything in the world - but you'll really enjoy breaking news to people when they wake up in the morning. There's something special about that."' Speaking of Chiles' alleged one and a half million pounds salary, Shephard added: 'I'm a huge fan of Adrian. I've no issue with that. I've had ten years in a job I've loved, with this horrific pain of getting up every morning - and now I've got the chance to do something new.' Of Chiles' Daybreak co-host Christine Bleakley, he added: 'It's not as simple as saying it's about the money - she was weighing up the options and thinking about what was the right decision for her career.' Shephard also revealed his delight at his Sky Sports deal, saying; 'It's like being Charlie in the Chocolate Factory and getting the golden ticket. I've always wanted to get involved in sports presenting. Plus my wife Annie can't moan at me about watching football!'

An advertising campaign featuring three topless women representing different types of beer has reportedly been criticised for sexism. According to Orange, CEN reports that some unnamed groups have called for the campaign to be suspended. One protester is quoted as saying: 'There is no genuine connection between beer and naked women.' See, in my head, that's not, actually, true. But, anyway ... 'The women have just been put there to sexualise beer. The advert is sexist against women.' One could argue that it's equally sexist against men since they didn't feature any naked chaps in it, of course. Though, you'd probably have to be pretty pissed to try and formulate such an argument. In which case, the beer would certainly come in handy. In the adverts, seen right, a brunette, redhead and blonde each hold a different type of beer available from Austria's Hirter brewery. A brewery spokeswoman, Caroline Kroepfl, responded: 'The poster shows three self-confident beer drinkers.' Who just happen to be female. And very good looking. And naked. Take out the middle one and a stick an ugly, similarly unclothed bloke in there and you'd've been easily able to counter any charges of sexism from pretty much anyone. As it is, I'm with Millie Tant on this one.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly been 'concerned' about being replaced as judge on the upcoming series of The X Factor. According to the Daily Star, the twenty seven-year-old was in a 'panic' after hearing that former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger had done well while standing in for her during her recovery from malaria. Cole is said to have requested a recent trip to her local Starbucks in order to prove that she is almost fully recovered and ready to return to work. 'Cheryl felt the need to prove she's back and feeling fine after battling the illness that put her into intensive care,' a 'source' allegedly told the publication. 'I mean popping out for coffee – when was the last time she popped out for a coffee? She has aides and family members to carry out her every whim. In reality Cheryl was just desperate to be seen out and get her picture in the paper to show fans she's on the way back. Eventually it was agreed to let her go out in a bid to get her to calm down. More importantly, she wanted to send a message to Simon [Cowell] to make sure he doesn't forget her, and also to remind Nicole that she's just a stand-in and not to make herself too at home.' The insider added: 'However the sad truth is that malaria takes a long time to get over and Cheryl - though looking well - is still a long way from being fully fit.'

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Sea of Possibility

Rhod Gilbert is being lined-up to replace Graham Norton on his BBC Monday night show, it has been alleged. The Welsh stand-up comedian has apparently impressed producers who are keen to see him take over once Norton fills the Friday night chat show void left by Jonathan Ross. A BBC 'source' told the Sun: 'We think very highly of Rhod. He is one of the comedians we want to grow and that's why he has been given his own show. He has a bright future at the BBC.' The forty one-year-old presented his own show, Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience, on BBC2 earlier this year and has appeared on Mock The Week and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

Jennifer Grey has signed up to guest star in an episode of House. According to Entertainment Weekly, the actress will appear on the show later this year. She is expected to play the mother of a young girl who is displaying the symptoms of a potentially fatal illness. When doctors at Princeton‑Plainsboro investigate the daughter's condition, Grey's character has to make a difficult decision about her treatment. Grey has already started filming her role and the episode of House is expected to be broadcast in October.

Highlight of last night's TV: The appearance of a particular favourite of yer Keith Telly Topping, the former [Spooks] actress Lisa Faulkner on Celebrity MasterChef. 'I hope she manages to avoid ending up in the deep fat fryer this time,' yer Keith Telly Topping thought as Lisa was introduced. Thankfully, she did do that and qualified for the quarter final along with Chris Walker - who looks to be a real talent. Unfortunately, the lowlight of last night's TV occurred in the self-same episode. When John Tordoe and Gregg Wallace passing up the deliciously naughty opportunity to make a curry for waste-of-space Danielle Lloyd's taste-test. Or, indeed, something that would have required her to eat it with her hands because, 'that's what they do in India, innit? Or, is it China?' This particular licence fee payer was, he's forced to confess, pure-mad-disappointed.

Steven Moffat has revealed details of the upcoming sixth series of Doctor Who. The showrunner told Den of Geek that he would be writing five episodes for Matt Smith's second run. He said: 'I'm doing the [2010] Christmas special plus five, so it's the same. Six again.' Moffat explained that since taking over as showrunner on Who, he had continued to follow the writing schedule of former boss Russell Davies. 'I'm basically following what Russell did,' he confirmed. 'Having worked out the sums and worked out how he does it, I thought that's a perfect way of doing it.' He also admitted that he was struggling to maintain a balance between working on Who and producing new BBC drama Sherlock. 'The last year has been extraordinary,' he claimed. 'I've had about four days off and that includes Christmas Day. I work every weekend, I get up early in the morning, I go to bed late at night. There is no way of balancing it.' He added: 'But, it's great fun too! Great fun, so long as it doesn't kill me!'

Matt LeBlanc has suggested that he used to dye his hair. The grey-haired actor, who played Joey Tribbiani in Friends and Joey, said that he got 'sick' of having to colour his hair to help him achieve his character's youthful look. LeBlanc told Us Magazine: 'I dyed my hair the whole time on Friends. I just was sick of doing it.' The forty three-year-old star is due to return to TV screens soon in new show Episodes, playing a man with the same name as himself. He said: 'It's a character. It's not me. It's the public's perception of me more than really me.' When asked if he would be making a cameo appearance in former co-star Courteney Cox's show Cougar Town, LeBlanc said: 'I haven't been asked!'

John Prescott's wife Pauline has joined The ONE Show. Lady Prescott, who has been married to the former Deputy Prime Minister for forty eight years, will front short reports and features for the BBC show when it returns with new presenters Jason Manford, Chris Evans and Alex Jones. The ONE Show's editor Sandy Smith told Broadcast magazine: 'We hope Pauline will bring her interesting perspective on life to The ONE Show. Coming from the North, and having been in the position she was, makes her a good person for us. We think she is, in a number of ways, typical of our audience.' The seventy four-year-old apparently impressed producers during her husband's recent documentaries The North/South Divide and The Class System and Me.

Rosie O'Donnell has criticised Barack Obama's decision to appear on The View. The former talk show host revealed her disapproval on her Sirius XM radio show on Wednesday, saying that the president should not take part in 'such fluffy programmes. I have mixed feelings about that. I don't really think sitting presidents should go do fluffy daytime TV shows. Maybe an hour on Oprah or something,' she explained. 'I don't really want to see him on The View, although I'm happy for them. That's a good booking, and Barbara [Walters] is going to come back that day after her heart surgery.'

William Shatner has criticised CBS executives for renaming his new sitcom $#*! My Dad Says. The series, which is based on the Twitter feed 'Shit My Dad Says', was given a censored title in order to be 'suitable for television' according to the network but Shatner admitted that he is unhappy with the decision, according to the New York Post. 'I wish they would just call it "Shit,"' he said. What the show? Blimey, that's a ringing endorsement. 'What's wrong with it? I brought up three girls. They've all got kids. Okay? And you say, "Boopy doo-doo, you've got to make poo-poo. Come on. Make poo-poo in the toilet." Eventually, "poo-poo" becomes "shit." "Go take a shit, and you'll feel better." You say that to your kids.' He continued: 'The word "shit" is around us. It isn't a terrible term. It's a natural function. Why are we pussyfooting?' Shatner recently revealed that the show will expand upon the original Twitter feed.

Lost actor Terry O'Quinn is to return to television for the first time since the ABC drama ended in May. E! Online reports that O'Quinn - who played John Locke on the show - will star alongside Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P Henson in the Lifetime television movie Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story. The project will tell the story of Tiffany Rubin, a desperate mother forced to rescue her young son when he is kidnapped and taken to Korea by his father. In the film, O'Quinn will play Mark Miller, the head of charitable organisation The American Association for Lost Children, who helps Rubin travel to Korea to save her son. Production on the film will begin next month in Vancouver.

BBC news coverage of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales has 'significantly improved,' the BBC Trust says. It follows a review published in 2008, in which the BBC was criticised for 'falling short of its own high standards' and failing to meet its core purpose of helping inform democracy. Since then, the number of national news stories about the devolved nations almost doubled, research suggests. But there are still areas that require work, the Trust said. In particular, reporters do not always make it clear that changes to government policy may only affect England, or England and Wales. The trust said it was looking for 'speedy improvement' in this area. However, it praised the increased level of stories from Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, especially at a time when other broadcasters had recorded a fall in such reports.

FX has confirmed that it still owns the UK rights to True Blood. Earlier, it emerged that Sky has signed a deal to buy all of American cable channel HBO's new programming. Sky also secured the rights to 'a number' of HBO's archived shows. However, FX has now announced that it still owns the exclusive pay TV and first-run rights for True Blood. The news means that the show cannot be aired on other pay TV channels until FX's licence expires. Albeit, given that NewsCorp owns FX and has a majority shareholding in Sky, I'm sure Rupert Murdoch could find a way around that if needed. FX also revealed that it still holds the life of series and first-run rights to Eastbound And Down and all of the HBO programmes it currently has in licence, including The Wire. The question of a number of HBO shows co-produced with the BBC - Rome, Band of Brothers, Extras, Little Britain US for example - remains the subject of much media speculation.

James Cracknell has reportedly suffered brain damage after a bike accident last week. The Olympian experienced a head fracture after being knocked off his bike while filming scenes for a Discovery Channel programme in Arizona and was previously thought to be in stable condition. However, his wife Beverly Turner told the Daily Telegraph that Cracknell, who is receiving treatment in a neuro-trauma ward, is only semi-conscious and will need up to six months to recover from his injuries. 'I'd spent years worrying that James would plunge down a crevasse in some remote wilderness, but it was a road traffic accident in the US that has left him with a fractured skull and damage to his brain,' she said. She added that while the accident caused bleeding and swelling of his brain, doctors still expect him to make almost a full recovery. 'Only those closest to him may be able to tell a subtle difference.'

Ofcom has fined Bang Channels and Bang Media over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds for 'extremely serious and repeated breaches' of the Broadcasting Code. Bang Channels and Bang Media, which are under common ownership, were found to have breached broadcasting guidelines in their 'adult sex chat' and 'daytime chat' promotions aired between June and November 2009. Bang Channels operates the Tease Me bouquet of channels on the Sky platform, while Bang Media owns and operates the Tease Me TV service on Freeview. The channels broadcast content promoting adult sex chat services, in which viewers are invited to contact on-screen female presenters via premium rate telephony services. Ofcom ruled that the 'unsuitable' adult material used to promote the services was 'shown for the sole purpose of sexual stimulation.' Some footage contained simulated masturbation and oral sex, including close-ups of genital and anal detail. And I missed it. Knickers. Anyway ... The media regulator said that in some cases the material transmitted should have had mandatory restrictions, such as PIN controls, while other broadcasts contained material deemed equivalent to a BBFC eighteen-rating, which is prohibited from broadcast. Ofcom also found that fourteen breaches had occurred due to Bang Channels and Bang Media operating 'a wholly inadequate compliance system' which amounted 'to manifest recklessness.' A further two breaches were found after both licensees failed to provide recordings to Ofcom after a request had been issued. Bang Channels also continued to broadcast the offending material even after it had been found in breach of the broadcasting code and given full warning by Ofcom. 'Broadcasters who operate in this area should be aware that Ofcom treats the transmission of this sort of sexual content, without suitable protections, with the utmost seriousness and such repeated compliance failures will not be tolerated,' said Ofcom.

Paul McCartney is reportedly a fan of Glee. Speaking to E! Online, the show's creator Ryan Murphy suggested that the musician has asked for a guest role on the series. 'The other day a package arrived at my office and I opened it up and it said "Mixtape from Paul McCartney,"' Murphy explained. 'It was very sweet. It was a CD, I apologise. It was these amazing songs that I grew up with. And I said, "Is this a joke?" It literally said, "Greeting, from Paul." This is a strange, strange world we live in, and it's awesome.'

Silvio Berlusconi has been criticised after posing for photographs in front of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper in Milan's Santa Maria della Grazie museum. Italy's prime minister stood with his wife in front of the Fifteenth Century mural for several minutes yesterday while members of the press used flash photography, the Daily Telegraph reports. Professor Ulberico Santa Maria, who works at the scientific department of the Vatican Museums, said: 'There is no way I would have allowed flash photography in front of The Last Supper. Flash photography is not recommended at all for works of art because of the intense damage that can be caused - certainly photography is allowed but the conditions have to be strict controlled using filters. The fact that The Last Supper is a mural painting and not a fresco makes it all the more fragile to something like flash photography, because of the organic material in the paint. This pigment is sensitive to flash photography and that's why we do not allow it.' However, superintendent of works in Milan Alberto Artioli said: 'I gave permission for three photographers to enter and take pictures. It was my responsibility, my decision and I authorised them because I did not see a problem. Flash photography can cause damage and ruin works of art, but in this it was just for a few moments. The photographers were quite far back and I really don't see the problem.'

A feature film based on Paul the Psychic Octopus has been completed, according to Sky News. The mollusc successfully predicted the winners of eight games at this year's World Cup in South Africa and is now the subject of a movie titled The Murder Of Paul The Octopus. The film's title may refer to the death threats Paul received from German fans after accurately foretelling a Spain victory over Germany in the final earlier this month. The China Film Group Corporation and Beijing Filmblog Media Company co-production recently wrapped shooting in South Africa using a double for Paul and the film could be released as early as next month. The project is said to be about 'how the octopus acquires the ability' and 'his possible fates.' Paul recently 'retired' from predicting the outcome of football matches.

A couple have launched a luxury hotel for cats in Hertfordshire. Matt and Abi Purser charge between fifteen and nineteen per day for a place at the Longcroft cattery, which is situated in Welwyn Garden City, the Daily Mail reports. Abi said: 'There are some pretty good catteries out there if you look, but no-one has gone quite to the lengths we have in terms of comfort and style. We believe cats deserve this kind of treatment while their owners are hopefully getting the same standards on their trip away. The hotel offers six chalets much larger than the norm, each with their own bedroom and exercise area creating the perfect stress free retreat for much treasured pets whilst they are in our care.' She added: 'Cats can enjoy our Everyday menu, which is included in the cost, or you can opt for something a bit special from the A La Cat menu. Each chalet, like the Bluebell or Poppy suites, are decorated with individual themes and all come with deep, comfortable beds. The music is constantly changed to stop our guests from getting bored. We will shortly be installing a machine which blows out catnip-flavoured bubbles. We want the cats to stay active, happy and entertained while they're here.'

Lindsay Lohan's mother Dina has revealed that she does not get preferential treatment in jail. The twenty-four-year-old Mean Girls actress, who has been in a California lock-up since 20 July after being convicted of violating her probation conditions, apparently does not even have a pillow in her cell. Only rocks. And, but gruel for sustainance. Dina told Radar: 'She doesn't have cell phone privileges, that's absurd.' Err... she's in jail, not in a hotel. 'She doesn't even have a pillow to sleep on. I talk to her through glass. There's a phone and we put her on speaker but I can't even hug my daughter. She's treated like a common criminal. That's because she is a common criminal, love. Get used to it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's Never Too Late To Breakout

ITV has successfully retained the UK TV rights for the next two Rugby World Cups, it has been announced. The channel, which has shown every rugby World Cup tournament since 1991, will broadcast live TV and online coverage of every match from the event. Rugby World Cup Limited said several companies had submitted bids. Next year's World Cup kicks off in New Zealand on 9 September and the final will be played on 23 October. In 2007, an audience of sixteen million tuned in to watch England finish runners-up to South Africa in France. Niall Sloane, ITV Controller of Sport, said: 'ITV has a long association with the Rugby World Cup and we are delighted to have secured the next two Rugby World Cups free-to-air for ITV's viewers, particularly as the 2015 tournament takes place in England.'

Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted that he was afraid of becoming typecast before joining Sherlock. Cumberbatch, thirty four, played bank clerk Bernard Bligh in 2009 drama Small Island and starred as Stephen Hawking in 2004's Hawking, both of which aired on the BBC. 'I always seem to be cast as slightly wan, ethereal, troubled intellectuals or physically ambivalent bad lovers,' he told the Mirror. 'But I'm here to tell you I'm quite the opposite in real life. In fact I'm a fucking fantastic lover!'

Model Lara Stone, who married comedian David Walliams in May, has announced that she is taking legal action against the French edition of Playboy magazine. The Dutch model says the publication printed 'unauthorised photographs' of her in its June edition. She has instructed lawyers to commence proceedings against the magazine and photographer Greg Lotus in Paris. Stone said: 'It's not the kind of publication I would ever choose to appear in.' She added: 'Playboy had no right to publish these unauthorised photographs. I feel I have no option but to take steps to protect my reputation.' Walliams, best known for starring in the BBC comedy series Little Britain, married Stone at Claridge's hotel in London in May.

And so we come to today's bit of BBC scolding. Former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson has criticised the BBC for doing business 'a disservice,' resulting in 'grotesque' programmes such as Dragons' Den. Yes, that's right, dear blog reader - the man who was, ultimately, in charge of Big Brother for a year, is criticising another broadcaster for being 'grotesque.' Irony, dear blog reader. It's what Luke Johnson's mam does with his shirts after she's washed them, seemingly. Writing in his regular column in the Financial Times, Johnson said that the corporation has 'always regarded business with suspicion,' which it assumes is 'a ruthless, domineering and egotistical world.' Which, to be fair, it is, by and large. Johnson, who left Channel 4 in January and now runs private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, said that when the BBC does try to tackle business it produces 'grotesque shows' like Dragons' Den, which has 'more in common with broadcast wrestling than the real world of investing. The very idea that genuine venture capital takes place in such a ludicrous way is a farce. It is obvious that many misguided projects are encouraged to present because they provide a few cheap laughs,' he said. 'Does it serve the cause of enterprise to have multi-millionaires humiliate inventors, and cackle like schoolboys while treading on people's dreams? But the BBC - despite being a public service broadcaster - doesn't care. It all feeds the ratings monster, even if it does a disservice to innovation and the private sector.' Ah, and again, we have a definition of 'public service broadcasting' as 'stuff I want to see.' Johnson said that the bullying and superficiality portrayed in BBC programmes such as The Apprentice fails to reflect entrepreneurs as 'positive role models, who inspire others, and who help create jobs and accelerate our recovery from the recession.' According to Johnson, the millionaire investors on Dragons' Den are more interested in increasing their media exposure than backing budding entrepreneurs. All of which may well be true but I'll tell you what, dear blog reader, but coming from the source that it does, the argument is cheap to the point of being almost sinister.

Meanwhile, ITV is a load of crap. How do we know this? Because yesterday's Daily Express and Daily Star told us so, of course - devoting pages eleven and nine respectively to stories about the commercial channel's deficiencies. 'Absence of big stars makes ITV a turn-off for millions,' says the Express, while the Star adds: 'Star-free ITV is a massive turn-off.' Both refer to ratings figures which show ITV had a share of 13.6 per cent last week – allegedly the worst in its fifty five-year history, but actually merely the worst this year. A minor point but, we'll forgive them; after years of licking ITV's collective arse they've both, clearly, seen the light. Both reports quote 'industry insiders' who say this drop in audience share is because the broadcaster's biggest stars - including Ant and Dec and Simon Cowell - are currently off screen. Which is perfectly true. 'In contrast,' reporter Mark Reynolds wrote in the Express, 'Channel Five's share rose to five per cent last week and is continuing to increase,' echoing similar sentiments expressed by Peter Dyke in the Star. I wonder why these two are such big fans of Five all of a sudden? Anyone would think their owner had just bought the company. Brown-tonguing the boss is all very well, Mark and Peter I cast no aspersions. But, don't insult people's intelligence by trying to convince them that Live from Studio Five is worth ... well, anything, basically.

'Fat Slighty Scary Staring Bloke,' often seen standing behind Laura Kuenssberg on BBC News items from Parliament Square has been identified by the Gruniad Morning Star. And then, interviewed by the Daily Telegraph Uber Alles. Paul Yarrow, the man nicknamed The News Raider - at least, according to the papers, that's the first time I'd seen the phrase, personally - after a string of appearances on live television reports, has 'dedicated his appearances to the overweight.' Thanks, mate. Appreciate that. Although, Eamonn Holmes has been doing that with his TV appearances for several years. The thirty eight-year-old care worker from South London (Yarrow, this is, not Eamonn Holmes), whose identity had become the subject of some feverish online speculation, said that he wanted to 'make a statement' about 'the image conscious media. I am overweight and people like me are treated as unsightly because of the way they look,' he told the Evening Standard. 'Here I am. I am sorry I don't have a suit and that I am not lovely and slim. Being overweight I get ignored.' Yer Keith Telly Topping has exactly the same problem, Paul. Hence this blog. Well, it keeps me off the street I suppose. As the Gruniad notes, Yarrow has been spotted – usually wearing the same beige pullover – at Gaza protests, trade union rallies and even a ceremony commemorating the 7/7 bombings. He has made it onto live news reports on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky – and, just this week, he apparently made his debut on al-Jazeera as well. Sometimes he can be seen reading a newspaper. Sometimes he's on the phone. But, most often he just wanders aimlessly around in the background or stands still whilst a reporter is doing a piece of camera. 'The Twitterati' - a classic bollocks Gruniad word that - 'are fascinated by Yarrow's exploits' and spotting him has, the newspaper continue, 'become the Twenty First Century equivalent of Where's Wally?' Comedian Russell Howard regularly features Yarrow on his BBC show Good News, while a blog now chronicles Yarrow's appearances on television and he has his own thread on Gallifrey Base. The Daily Scum Mail also have their eye on him. But they claim he's forty two.

On a related note, I must record my gratitude that the Gruniad piece for providing a YouTube link to the hilarious sight of Newsnight political editor Michael Crick spending most of a pre-election OB report unaware that a man was goosestepping and doing silly things behind his back whilst Paxman comes over all schoolamsterly. Comedy gold, dear blog reader.

Smallville producers Kelly Soulders and Brian Wayne Peterson have confirmed that James Marsters will reprise his role as Brainiac for the show's final season. Marsters first appeared as the villain, Professor Milton Fine, in the fifth season and has made several guest appearances since. Soulders confirmed to Blastr that the character will return in the show's upcoming two hundredth episode, saying: 'There were things that we really wanted to encapsulate in the two hundredth, and we literally sat around for days trying to bring it together, and suddenly Brainiac popped in and it all fell into place.' Peterson added: 'It's the touchstone for the bigger theme this year, which is where we explore the past, the present and a little bit of the future. We get to touch on some memories and nostalgia, but as soon as we do that we explode into something nobody has ever seen on the show.' He promised that long-time fans will not be disappointed by the final episodes of the series. Marsters is also due to reprise another villainous role, on new CBS drama Hawaii Five-0.

Decathlete Dean Macey and Scrapheap Challenge's Dick Strawbridge won their Celebrity MasterChef heat last night. The duo impressed judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode and edged out fellow contestants Marcus Patrick, Kym Mazelle and Jennie Bond. In the final challenge Strawbridge cooked kidneys on a celeriac rosti with cream vermouth sauce, followed by pheasant stuffed with spiced meat and pear, red cabbage and swede. 'I love the sticky sauce,' said Torode. Wallace added: 'You have a fantastically cooked bird there with a nice hint of pear. It's big, honest and gutsy. I think it tastes great.' Speaking afterwards, Macey said: 'I am through and I am buzzing. I can't wait to tell my wife, she was like X Factor down the phone yesterday. She is going to blow my ears off now!' Strawbridge commented: 'I'm a mixture between relieved elated. It's a really good feeling. It's a cracking feeling.'

Sir Tom Stoppard is adapting a Ford Madox Ford novel for the BBC. Parade's End is set between the end of the Edwardian era and the end of the First World War and focuses on a love triangle between an aristocrat, his wife, and a young suffragette. Stoppard, who is returning to television for the first time in twenty years, explained that he was drawn to the project once he read the novel. 'The BBC came to me with the idea of adapting Ford's novel for TV two years ago,' he said. 'I had never read it and I fell in love with it. Parade's End has been my main pre-occupation since then. I confess I feel a bit proud of it, and now that Susanna White has come on board to direct Parade's End I'm thoroughly excited about it.' Meanwhile, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said: 'Tom Stoppard is without a doubt one of the world's finest writers and we are thrilled to welcome him back to the BBC with his extraordinary and witty take on a complex novel.' Parade's End, which will be a five-part series, is expected to broadcast on BBC2 next year.

New ONE Show presenters Alex Jones and Jason Manford posed together on Wednesday evening for the first time at one of Jason's comedy gigs. Alex has just been announced as the new female replacement for Christine Bleakley and will join Jason when the revamped show kicks off in a fortnight. Alex showed her support for her new colleague as she joined him backstage at The Pub Landlord's Southbank Jukebox in London where he was performing a stand-up set. This was the first time the pair have been pictured together since the former Welsh children's TV presenter was announced as Bleakley's replacement.

Being Human star Russell Tovey has admitted he is pleased that the show is being remade for the US by SyFy. The actor - who plays werewolf George - explained to io9 that a new version of the supernatural drama would benefit the original series. 'We're very proud Syfy is doing it,' he explained. 'It builds up the brand of Being Human.' He added: 'People do know we exist, but hopefully more people will know [now], because they're making comparisons in everything I've read about it. They've [always] said the English version is there and the Americans are doing a version of [it].' Tovey also had some advice for the cast of the US version, which includes former Smallville star Sam Witwer. 'Don't try and copy what we're doing,' he said. 'Find your own path.'

Sky has announced a major commitment to 'backing original British comedy,' with a raft of new shows coming to entertainment channel Sky1. The satellite broadcaster has set aside a multi-million pound investment fund for UK-produced commissions to complement its US imports, such as Modern Family and The Simpsons. Sky has already commissioned a slate of new British comedies for broadcast in standard and high definition. Former Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay will star in Mount Pleasant, which is about the 'not-so-perfect life' of Mancunian thirtysomething Lisa, while eccentric comedy This Is Jinsy will focus on the 'bizarre residents' of the fictional Island of Jinsy. Airing at Christmas, Little Crackers will feature a season of autobiographical comic shorts from Britain's best-loved stars, including Catherine Tate and Stephen Fry. The new comedy strategy is being led by Sky's head of comedy Lucy Lumsden, who joined the broadcaster in June 2009 from the BBC, where she helped develop hit shows such as Little Britain, Gavin & Stacey and The Mighty Boosh. But, we'll try to forgive her for the latter, at least. 'It's been an exciting time spreading the good news about Sky's investment in comedy and I'm delighted that we've been able to attract a wealth of comedy talent,' said Lumsden. 'Sky's investment in original comedy is testament to our long-term commitment to original and innovative programming.' Stuart Murphy, director of programmes for Sky1, Sky2 and Sky3, said that it is 'great to be working with Lucy again,' after the duo previously commissioned comedy together at the BBC. He added: 'She is the leader in her field and has made sure that customers benefit from her considerable experience and brilliant sense of humour. This really will be content worth paying for.' Sky's comedy announcement follows its commitment to drama in 2008, which resulted in commissions of Martina Cole's The Take, Skellig, Terry Pratchett's Going Postal and Chris Ryan's Strike Back.

EastEnders bosses have announced the four main cast members who are to star in the second series of the soap's online spin-off E20. Actors Tosin Cole and Heshima Thompson have signed up to play troubled Solomon and Asher Levi, a pair of brothers who arrive in Albert Square in need of a place to crash. Meanwhile, Emaa Hussen has taken on the role of Naz - who has problems of her own and is looking for somewhere where she can escape them. Amanda Fairbank-Hynes completes the main cast in the part of Stephanie Dickinson, who finds herself in Albert Square after being abandoned in the middle of Walford. As the Internet drama returns for its second run, the quartet of new characters all end up under the same roof - and it soon becomes clear that each one has something to hide. EastEnders' executive producer Bryan Kirkwood commented: 'EastEnders: E20 made a real impact the first time round, and this second series is set to do the same. The show is a fantastic platform for young, aspiring writers and actors to set the agenda. The audience are in for a real treat as these four exciting new characters will arrive in Albert Square with a bang.'

Ofcom is investigating a claim that Peter Andre publicised an airline and hotel on his ITV2 show. The media regulator received the complaint after an episode of Peter Andre: The Next Chapter in which the singer took his children to Dubai, according to the Sun. The show apparently featured shots of the Atlantis Palm resort brochure while Andre said to five-year-old Junior and three-year-old Princess, 'Look at this hotel!' Princess also dressed as an Emirates air hostess as part of the family's first-class flight with the airline. ITV has insisted that the content was 'not promotional.'

Ruth Jones will star in a new Sky1 comedy set in Wales. The Gavin & Stacey co-creator, who is writing the series, is expected to play the lead role. According to the Mirror, Stella focuses on a mother facing problems with life, love and her neighbours. The ten one-hour episodes are reportedly set in 'an authentic slice of the working-class Welsh valleys.' There's a surprise. One trick pony. Said it for a couple of years now.

This Works For Me

The previously announced sixth series of Graham Duff's mega-dark comedy drama Ideal will premier on BBC3 on Tuesday 17 August at 10.30pm. The new eight episode series sees Johnny Vegas return in his role as Moz, and features acclaimed American comedy actress Janeane Garofalo (The West Wing) as new neighbour Tilly. There are also guest apperances from comedians Sean Lock and Graham Fellows, cult musician and composer Barry Adamson, author John Robb, DJ Mark Radcliffe and Elena Poulou of The Fall. Plus, Cartoon Head, Psycho Paul et al. Great to have it back. One episode, apparently, features a Hallow'een fancy dress party in which you'll have the bizarre sights of Ben Crompton dressed as Frankenstein's Monster and Alfie Joey as The Wicked Witch of the West! Only on Ideal, ladies and gentlemen.

TV quote of the week: From Celebrity MasterChef, former Olympic decathlete Dean Macey telling John and Gregg, 'I'm disappointed with me egg. Glad you liked me chips!' Yeah, that's an excuse yer Keith Telly Topping's been using to dinner guests for many, many years!

Russell Davies has revealed that BBC1 controller Jay Hunt phoned to congratulate him on Torchwood's audience figures last year. However, the award-winning writer admitted that he felt the Doctor Who spin-off was given 'a graveyard time slot' on the channel. He told SFX: 'To be honest, Children Of Earth took the whole of BBC by surprise - they didn't expect it to be quite that successful. It went out in the summer, five nights a week, and you think, "Well, that's a bit of a graveyard slot, isn't it?" Then I was getting the controller of BBC1 phoning me on the Thursday going, "Oh my God, everyone's watching it!" Frankly, in this job you've got to make hay while the sun shines.' BBC1 saw audience figures averaging close to six million across the five episodes of the SF drama when it aired in a stripped weekday format last July.

Sherlock is on the verge of being renewed for a second series by the BBC, the corporation confirmed yesterday. Not particularly surprising given the reaction to the opening episode, but welcome none-the-less. Written by Doctor Who's Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the first episode of the modern-day adaptation premiered with a huge audience of seven-and-a-half million, and was very well-received by critics. 'We'd like to do more. But if we do, they won't air for at least a year. Drama takes at least a year to get made and Steven is also really busy with Doctor Who,' head of drama Ben Stephenson said in a statement.

Kelly Brook will appear in the upcoming series of Skins, it has been announced. The thirty-year-old will reportedly guest star in one episode of the show's fifth series, which starts in January, as a fitness instructor called Jemima. A 'source' told the Sun: 'Kelly is very funny in it. She is great as a really sexy fitness instructor who drives the boys wild.' Hopefully, this job will last a bit longer than the previous entry on her TV CV.

Wallace and Gromit will reportedly appear in an upcoming episode of The Simpsons. According to the Los Angeles Times, showrunner Al Jean announced the news at Comic-Con. Jean, who claimed that there is 'no end in sight' for the cartoon, also said that Hugh Laurie and some of the cast of Glee will be making an appearance. He added that this year's Christmas special will see the Simpson family as puppets.

Dawn French has revealed why she wanted to star in her new BBC2 sitcom. Because she's unemployed and desperate for work since Jam and Jerusalem got binned, perhaps? Just a wild stab in the dark. The actress will play food technology teacher Val in Roger and Val Have Just Got In alongside Alfred Molina as her on-screen husband. 'It's so bold,' French told What's On TV. Oh, bold. Right. That would've been my second choice after desperate. 'I wanted to do another sitcom, but one quite unlike anything I'd done before. I thought it would be very interesting to do a two-hander and something set in real time. This seemed so different. It's challenging, but we think it works.' On the subject of her character, French described Val as 'a minx.' What, a semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammal? Blimey, that is a departure for Big Dawn. 'She gets her pupils to do ironing practice on her curtains. Roger and Val don't like authority,' she said. 'They live above the law. They have no other distractions. Inside the house, they can simply play and amuse each other with stories.' She added: 'Their home is very busy and full of stuff – all their enthusiasms are fully realised in there. They never venture outside it. They've created a magical universe where all the diversion is centred on them.' Sounds crap. So, maybe not such a radical departure for the actress, then.

The BBC has announced the cast for its new adaptation of Just William. The channel confirmed reports that Outnumbered star Daniel Roche has landed the lead role in the series, which is based on Richmal Crompton's novels. The Thick Of It's Rebecca Front and Linda Green star Daniel Ryan will appear as William's parents, while Warren Clarke and Caroline Quentin will feature as new neighbours the Botts. Denis Lawson, John Sessions and Bruce Mackinnon have signed up to play William's teachers, while Martin Jarvis, who worked on the classic Just William recordings, will narrate the series. Isabella Blake-Thomas will play William's nemesis Violet. Other cast members include Judy Parfitt, Roy Hudd, Harry Melling and Bertie Carvel. CBBC controller Damien Kavanagh said: 'We are thrilled to have attracted such a wonderful blend of established stars and exciting new talent to breathe new life into these much-loved stories. I can't think of anyone better than Daniel Roche to bring loveable rogue William to the attention of a new generation.' Steven Andrew, CBBC's head of productions, added: 'If you think Ben in Outnumbered is bad, you wait until you get a glimpse of William! We are incredibly excited to be making this production and have brought together a wonderful cast to do justice to Richmal Crompton's timeless characters and stories.'

Filming has wrapped on the second series of Psychoville with co-creator Reece Shearsmith saying: 'I believe we've captured something rather special.' He also apologised to any fans who felt cheated by the ambiguous ending of the first series, adding that the next run promised some 'real treats.' He and co-writer Steve Pemberton have spent the last eight weeks recording the new episodes: A one-off Halloween special and a second series due to air early next year. Writing on the BBC's website Shearsmith said: 'It's hard to talk about the series and what's in store without ruining our surprises (already ruined by suggesting there are surprises. Damn.) So I won't say anything to jeopardise any of those moments or all that careful work. Suffice to say, there are some great people joining us for the ride, and I don't think in writing a second series we have at all tarnished our first instalment. In fact, it only gets better.' The first series ended with an explosion at the mental asylum where the key characters had all previously been patients. They had all returned to the institution following a series of menacing notes, leaving uncertainty as to who was still alive. Shearsmith added: 'The last series ended with a cliffhanger (of sorts), that left some people hating us for daring to end our first series with some unanswered questions. "Short changed" and "ripped off" were some of the comments I seem to recall.'

And, just when you thought ITV's idea of entertainment couldn't, possibly, get any worse. Celebrity Grimefighters has been commissioned by ITV as a spin-off to the factual programme. John Sergeant will host the special, which will feature celebrities including former GMTV host Andrew Castle, Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, I'm A Celebrity ... winner Gino D'Acampo and Trinny Woodall. Some proper brilliant 'celebrities' you've got there, ITV. But, I just have to say John Sergeant, hang your head in shame. Shame, I say. 'There's nothing better than watching celebrities outside their comfort zones. That's why we love I'm A Celebrity...,' an 'insider' told the Daily Star. Speak for yourself, mate. Some of us find the idea of people crawling around in the muck eating worms to be a sad, rather tawdry example of the depraved, degrading levels to which our society had descended since morality and honesty and self-respect became things to be sneered at, rather than cherished. Welcome to the Twenty First Century, ladies and gentlemen. Wallow in a sceptic tank to win a thousand quid. It's all good. And people will laugh. 'This is just brilliant,' the enthusiastic 'source' continued. 'We look at celebs and we think they have the perfect lives. So imagine what it would be like to see them do the jobs that thousands of Brits do every day. They are really going to have to get their hands dirty this time.' Yeah, just imagine. Trinny Woodall has to wipe her own bottom when she's taken a dump. How thrilling.

Martin Freeman has claimed that The Doctor and Sherlock Holmes would make 'the perfect fictional team.' What, better than Melchester Rovers? It's possible. Speaking to What's On TV, Freeman said: 'I don't feel as passionate about Doctor Who as Steven does, but I've enjoyed watching it more since being a father. We met Matt Smith while filming Sherlock in Cardiff because the Baker Street set is next to the [Who] set. It was strange seeing Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor together. They are the perfect fictional team.'

Channel Three licensees UTV, Channel TV and STV could be facing increased costs of as much as fifteen million pounds per year after media regulator Ofcom said that ITV pays a disproportionate amount of the overall costs of running the national TV network. Analysts at Liberum this week noted that if the way costs are calculated are overhauled in ITV's favour it could prompt mergers and consolidation among the holders of the Channel Three licences. Ofcom kicked-off a review of the ITV networking arrangements after the licensees submitted reports developed by consultants claiming that the existing system for sharing costs of running the Channel Three network was 'providing a significant net financial benefit to the other group of licensees.' Former ITV chairman Michael Grade has argued that the broadcaster's share of the costs, which stand at ninety three per cent of the total, is too much and that it is 'subsidising' the other licensees. The media regulator said that while there is no 'uniquely correct way of allocating common costs between the different licensees' its preliminary analysis suggests that 'ITV plc's contribution to relevant common costs in 2009 could be up to [redacted] more than would be the case using an appropriate alternative cost-sharing mechanism.' It is thought that Ofcom's analysis identified a disproportionate payment of about fifteen million pounds per year. However analysts at Liberum are reported to believe that ITV could benefit by as much as twenty five million in overall savings if there was a restructure. 'We think that, medium-term, this could also drive forward the consolidation of the ITV network, as the minority licence holders may feel the regulatory environment becomes less favourable,' said Liberum in an analyst note. Ofcom cites basing costs on the basis of each licensee's share of qualifying revenue as 'an appropriate benchmark from which to analyse the net impact of the existing arrangements on the licensees.'

Lee Nelson's Well Good Show - funny as a kick in the stones though it might well be - has been given a second series by BBC3. The broadcaster has confirmed that it has commissioned another series from character comic Simon Brodkin, expected to air early next year. A spokesman said: 'BBC3 continues to give new writers and comedians their first break in TV. On the back of a hugely successful first series, Simon Brodkin returns with Lee Nelson's Well Good Show.' The first seven-part series, made by the TV arm of Brodkin's agents Avalon, has only just finished. It performed well for the channel, attracting up to seven hundred thousand viewers per broadcast, as well as being a hit on iPlayer. It's said to be very popular with students. Which, given the shocking state of education in this country at the moment, probably says much. The second series will feature more of the character's trademark 'excitable banter,' overseen by Nelson's best mate, and 'fat legend,' Omelette. Cannot wait. The commission was announced at the launch of BBC3's autumn schedule, which also includes a second series of Dan Clark's How Not To Live Your Life, the new twentysomething relationship sitcom Him And Her, a third series of Russell Howard’s Good News and Simon Bird's new entertainment show The King Is Dead.

The Rolling Stones have reportedly confirmed that they are not retiring, despite a report about the band booking a 'farewell tour.' The Sun claimed earlier in the week that the legendary rock band was ready to 'call it a day' after an upcoming worldwide farewell tour booked by promoters Live Nation for next year. 'The band realise that age is creeping up on them. They want to bow out on top of their game, and not short-change their fans,' read a 'quote' in this 'report.' However, a 'source' told Gossip Cop that the Stones have yet to book a tour, and Live Nation is only one of the promoters that have approached the band about new concert dates. Further, a representative for the band said: 'No, they are not retiring.'

Musician and songwriter Plastic Bertrand did not sing on his classic power-pop hit single 'Ҫa Plane Pour Moi,' an expert linguist has told a court in Belgium. He spent three months comparing the 1977 recording to a 2006 cover version by producer Lou Deprijck - and decided it was the same voice on both. Deprijck has been taken to court by the record label AMC for claiming that it was his voice on the original. An earlier case, in 2006, had ruled that Bertrand was the main performer. Deprijck told Le Parisien newspaper that he was 'relieved. I hope I will finally get my rights,' he added. During his evidence, the expert said he could determine that it was Deprijck singing on the record because of his accent. 'The way the phrases end on each record show that the song could only have been sung by a Ch'ti - otherwise known as someone from the Picard region of France,' he said. 'It could therefore not have been Plastic Bertrand - who was born in Brussells - and was surely Monsieur Deprijck, who hails from Hainaut, the region in the south east of Belgium where the Picard dialect is spoken in the same way as in the north of France.' In 2006, Deprijck released his own recording of the same song - marketed as being the 'original voice' on the song - which prompted record label AMC to take legal action. Deprijck said the case is about a question of honour not money. The original song - a particular favourite of yer Keith Telly Topping's incidentally - went to number eight in the UK charts in 1978. Allez Oop.