Sunday, August 01, 2010

Crime Of The Century

The second episode of Sherlock - Stephen Thompson's The Blind Banker - whilst not being quite as mindblowingly brilliant as the first, was still very impressive. A loose adaptation of the classic Conan Doyle short-story The Dancing Men replacing the original protagonists and an American crime of passion, with Chinese Triads and antique smuggling, it was clever, densely plotted and had some very sharp and pithy conceits in its arsenal of delights. At once mature and reflective and also, in places, very funny indeed. As Tom Sutcliffe noted in the the Indepedent last week, Sherlock is 'a triumph, witty and knowing, without ever undercutting the flair and dazzle of the original. It understands that Holmes isn't really about plot but about charisma. Flagrantly unfaithful to the original in some respects, Sherlock is wonderfully loyal to it in every way that matters.' The BBC have also announced in the last couple of days that the series will be released on DVD at the end of August and that the untransmitted sixty minute version of A Study In Pink will be included as an extra.

There's been an interesting row brewing online over the last few days concerning the announcement of a new Syfy series called Human Relations, part of the US cable network's development slate announced at the recent Television Critics Association summer press tour. The former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Amber Benson is suggesting that the idea closely resembles the plot of an independently produced movie which she co-directed and which has recently completed production. And she's looking for an explanation, it would appear. Amber, who played Willow's girlfriend Tara in the cult series, said that she and her co-director, fellow Buffy actor Adam Busch, had been working on the film concept, which they first unveiled in January, called Drones for over two years. On her blog, Benson - seen left with a rather starstruck, not to mention drunk, Keith Telly Topping in Los Angeles a couple of years ago and looking, frankly, scared! - claimed there are quite a few similarities between the pre-publicity blurb of Human Relations and the concept of Drones. 'The Office meets The Day the Earth Stood Still is about a guy who works in an office with a kooky, off-kilter boss/co-workers, who then discovers that he's really working with aliens who are plotting to blow up the Earth,' Benson said about Drones. 'The whole thing kinda sucks for Adam and I because we poured two-and-a-half years of our life ... into Drones,' Benson added. 'But I feel exceedingly bad for our writers, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, because this was their baby, ripped from their own brains and transplanted onto celluloid - and now they get to see someone else take their idea.' Benson, however, stopped just short of actually outright accusing Syfy of plagiarism. 'I don't know the guys writing/producing Human Relations, and I have not read the script, so I can't say there is any wrongdoing,' Benson said. 'I just think it's a bit coincidental.' Drones has already been shown at several film festivals - to some considerable accliam - and is due to be released early in 2011.

Bruce Forsyth has responded to criticism from talent show judge Louis Walsh. Speaking to the Radio Times, the eighty two-year-old entertainer - who was criticised by Walsh for his comments about The X Factor - insisted that he has nothing against the music manager. He explained: 'He took the hump because I said The X Factor was a fantastic production, but it reminds me of a firework display with a few singers, which is not my cup of tea. I have nothing to say about him - good or bad. I enjoy Britain's Got Talent. It's the way of bringing back variety.' However, the Strictly Come Dancing host admitted that he disagreed with the show allowing child contestants to audition. Forsyth, who toured Britain as Boy Bruce - The Mighty Atom (no, really!) at the age of fourteen, added: 'It's a way of bringing back variety, but they shouldn't put children through it. If you'd seen my act, I'd have been voted off immediately, never had a career.'

Paul Potts has reportedly been dropped from Simon Cowell's record label SyCo. The opera singer, who won the first series of Britain's Got Talent, will part ways with the company despite his debut CD selling a reported three and a half million copies according to the News of the World. A source said: 'Simon thinks the game's up for Paul. They no longer saw eye to eye on everything and parted ways.' An industry insider added: 'As soon as Susan Boyle came along it was bound to be curtains for Paul. SuBo captured the world's imagination and it was hard to compete.'

This week's Daily Scum Mail featured another in its regular series of 'let's scold the BBC' stories - this one concerning former home secretary Jacqui Smith allegedly applying for a position with the BBC Trust. Bit of a nothing story, to be honest, but it does include another delightfully scum example of the general contempt with which the BBC is held by the collective political right in this country. To wit, the quotes attributed to the Conservative MP Philip Davies: 'I have no idea what she thinks she has to offer the BBC Trust. Maybe she wants to go down with another sinking ship, like she did with her Government.' My italics. Is this, one has to wonder, official Conservative Party policy towards an organisation that its leader was describing just a few months ago as 'a national treasure' and stating that he, personally, would never do anything to put the BBC at risk? Then again, Philip Davies does have previous over exactly this sort of foot-in-gob rank scum idiocy. As noted on the last occasion when Davies stuck his grubby Tory snout into affairs of artistic concern which have absolutely nothing to do with him, Mr Davies as a tax payer can I ask you, is there any chance you could pay back the two hundred odd quid in excessive expenses you claimed during 2009? Yes, I know you weaseled out of it on appeal but, personally, I'd rather like my money back, please. And since I'm a tax payer - you know, one of those annoying Little People who pay your sodding wages - I believe I have that right. Remember, all you Lib Dem voters, this is what you voted for. Or, if it isn't, then it's what you got anyway - in which case perhaps you should really be asking some pretty serious questions of your MP about things that are being said, and done, in your name.

The new host of The ONE Show Alex Jones has revealed that she is scared she may forget to speak English live on air. That's all right, love, your predecessor often talked something that wasn't recognisably English either and no one seemed to mind too much. The presenter admitted that nearly all of her previous experience of live television was in the Welsh language. She told the Sunday Mirror: 'I've done live TV before, but most of it's been in Welsh. I'm terrified I'll forget the English words.' Just giggle and say 'wellll, moooovin orrrn.' That usually worked for Christine. Speaking of her new co-host, the comedian Jason Manford, Jones said: 'Jason and I already have great chemistry. We're from similar backgrounds and we've the same sense of humour and have a shared love of musicals. And what's more he's promised to help me out if I get stuck with the English words!'

Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim was greeted with a standing ovation at the BBC Proms on Saturday at the end of a concert marking his eightieth birthday. Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench and opera star Bryn Terfel were among the performers at the event, held at London's Royal Albert Hall. The concert featured numbers from Sondheim musicals such as Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Company and Follies. Earlier the veteran composer said it was 'exhilarating' to be honoured. 'There's very little as thrilling as a full orchestra in a reverberant hall,' he told the BBC's Petroc Trelawny at a pre-concert question and answer session. Broadcast live on Radio3 and shown later on BBC2, the concert saw Dame Judi sing the iconic 'Send In The Clowns' from A Little Night Music. The seventy five-year-old later returned for the closing number, a rousing rendition of 'Side By Side By Side' from Company performed by the ensemble. Terfel performed a medley of numbers from Sweeney Todd, recently filmed by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp. The Welsh bass-baritone delighted onlookers later by taking part in a comic song from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. West End stars Maria Friedman, Jenna Russell, Julian Ovenden and Simon Russell Beale also participated in the event, the first Prom to be signed for deaf concert-goers. Queues for returns and day seats snaked along the surrounding streets prior to the concert, though not every seat was filled inside the Hall. Sondheim, who took a tiny stumble as he made his way to the stage, was visibly moved as he embraced Dame Judi, Friedman and conductor David Charles Abell. Among the other performers were beneficiaries of the BBC Performing Arts Fund, a charity funded by proceeds from public phone voting on such BBC1 shows as Over the Rainbow and I'll Do Anything. Since making his Broadway debut in 1957 as the lyricist of West Side Story, Sondheim has become one of the most popular and revered figures in musical theatre. A London revival of Into the Woods opens shortly at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, while London's Donmar Warehouse is to stage his 1994 show Passion in September.

Richard Desmond is reportedly considering relocating Five's London base to the headquarters of his Northern & Shell business to cut costs. The billionaire, who completed his acquisition of Five last Friday, has tasked his senior N&S executives with reviewing every aspect of the broadcaster's business. A major priority for the team will be cost-cutting after Five posted a loss of thirty four million pounds last year, with an operating loss of around ten million. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, Desmond is considering moving Five's three hundred-strong operation at Long Acre in Covent Garden to the N&S base on Lower Thames Street in the City, which is home to publications such as OK! and the Daily Express. Relocating Five to Desmond's existing media base could help deliver major savings as the broadcaster looks to return to profit. Earlier in the week, Five chief executive Dawn Airey reassured staff that it is 'business as usual' while Desmond conducts his operational review. A spokesman for Desmond also said that 'no decisions have been made' so far about Five's future strategy. The billionaire has promised not to take the broadcaster 'downmarket' amid fears that he could attempt to drive up ratings with a twenty four-hour celebrity-led schedule.

A man has been banned from holding 'sex parties' and pole-dancing classes at his Eighteenth Century mansion in Central London. Westminster Council claimed that Edward Davenport breached planning rules by hosting events such as 'porn discos' when no commercial activity was allowed at the property, according to BBC News. The High Court banned the events from taking place after they were said to have caused 'an unacceptable degree' of disturbance to neighbours. Davenport allegedly charged ninety pounds for a ticket to a sex party and ten pounds to attend a porn disco. He defended the claims, saying: 'It is not feasible to suggest that these activities are profitable or of a commercial nature. These activities cause no noise disturbance or have any impact on the neighbourhood.'