Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Geometry Of Innocence

The X Factor has previously used Auto-Tune on contestant vocals in the live finals, it has been claimed. Reports yesterday suggested that the show's producers had admitted to using the controversial equipment to improve how some contestants' auditions came across on television but they'd furiously denied ever using the technique in a live situation. Now, a former member of the X Factor production team has alleged that this is a bre-faced lie and that the programme employed Auto-Tune during the live shows. At least, according to the Mirror. The anonymous 'insider' also claimed that vocal effects have been widely used in the past to make contestants sound worse as well as better - an allegation which has been strongly denied by The X Factor's executive producer. The former show employee told the paper: 'It was an open secret on the show that Auto-Tune was used to both make contestants slightly more on - or off - key. It has been used for a long time on the show both for the auditions and the live shows. On some occasions it was used to such extremes that while the contestant may have sounded like they were hitting the right note, the backing band had gone right out of tune.' The 'insider', who claimed that other voice-altering devices such as Melodyne had also been used, continued: 'The problem is that you have got a lot of contestants who sound equally good, so how do viewers at home make a judgement on who to pick? So Auto-Tune has been used to make good singers sound even better and not so good singers sound much worse. Obviously that would result in a much more entertaining show where some singers sounded hilariously bad, constantly missing notes, and others were amazingly polished.' The source admitted that the programme makers were fully aware of the issues surrounding the apparent enhancements, adding: 'We all thought it wasn't right to use that kind of equipment on a talent contest as it gave viewers a misleading view of the singers' ability. It was a bit of a con.' However, X Factor's executive producer Richard Holloway, said: 'I can assure you we have never made bad singers worse or that Auto-Tune has ever been used on our live shows. Anything that would affect the public vote, we wouldn't do.' ITV has so far received more than three hundred complaints about the vocal editing on Saturday's show.

Suranne Jones has described David Tennant as 'humble and charismatic.' Jones stars alongside Tennant in new drama Single Father and explained that she loved working with him. 'Obviously Doctor Who was massive so I was really excited about meeting David,' she told the Radio Times. 'He's the funniest, most charismatic, intelligent, humble actor.' Jones also revealed details of the show, saying: '[Tennant] plays Dave, recently widowed and struggling to bring up his children, while I play his widow's best friend. We're brought together by grief, and emotions get complicated. What I love about the drama is that it asks: how would you react in that situation? It's wonderfully grown-up and it feels authentic.' Single Father is expected to air on BBC1 in October.

Gail Porter has admitted that she doesn't know whether she will be a part of ITV's new morning show Daybreak. Porter currently works as a reporter on GMTV but told the Daily Telegraph that she has not heard anything about appearing on its replacement. 'Nobody knows anything,' she said. 'They haven't said if we will have jobs, no-one is talking contracts, nothing.' ITV has previously claimed that former ONE Show duo Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley will be at 'the heart' of the show, while Lorraine Kelly's slot will be rebranded as Daybreak Lorraine.

Susan Penhaligon has criticised the lack of television roles for older women. The actress, who appeared in the original 1970s version of Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, told the Radio Times that she has decided to focus on starring in plays instead of fighting for jobs on the small screen. What a pity she never had anything to say on this subject back in the 1970s when she wasn't short of work. 'Thankfully I love theatre, as TV really doesn't want older actresses,' she said. 'Twenty well-known actresses are chasing about four good parts a year, not counting Holby City and the soaps. Equity ran a campaign about just this.' Penhaligon added that she has struggled to break away from her role as Prue on Bouquet Of Barbed Wire. 'The problem with Bouquet is that the old photos of me in the series, usually in hot pants, are always printed,' she explained. 'I understand why, but it doesn't help me as an actress now, in 2010, just as I am growing into the older, character parts, to be trapped in Seventies aspic. In fact, it's a hindrance.' Tragically, yer Keith Telly Topping couldn't find a single picture of Susan wearing hot pants to illustrate this story, despite looking really hard and despite her claims that there were plenty of examples out there. So, this'll have to do instead. A remake of Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, starring Imogen Poots as Prue, will air on ITV later this year.

Natalie Cassidy has criticised Denise Van Outen for returning to work so soon after the birth of her child. Cassidy, who is currently pregnant for the first time with fiancé Adam Cottrell, said in New magazine that she does not understand the logic of Van Outen's decision. She said: 'Denise van Outen went back to work after two weeks because she said she needed to feel normal again. I just think, "What have you had a child for? Having a child should be your job." I'm very old-fashioned. It's my mum coming out in me.'

Television advertising is still considered the most memorable form of marketing, even though the majority of viewers skip through commercials when watching recorded content, a study has found. The survey of four thousand one hundred and ninety nine UK adults by YouGov for consultancy Deloitte, found that fifty two per cent rank TV advertising campaigns as the most effective, followed by ten per cent who said adverts in newspapers and just two per cent for online commercials. TV adverts were found to have the greatest impact on people aged eighteen to thirty four, while those aged fifty five or over stated that 'no form of advertising had a great impact on them. What television does best – display and brand building - is what online struggles with. However, despite the positive perception of television advertising, its bed of roses is not free of mildew,' said Deloitte media partner James Bates. The research showed that eighty six per cent of those questioned skip through the adverts when watching content on their digital video recorder. Furthermore, only thirteen per cent 'always or almost always' watch the entire advertising break during live TV and eleven per cent never sit through these commercials. Bates said: 'Among television advertising’s greatest preoccupations is measurability. While television generates billions of commercial impacts every day, it is hard to measure precisely how many of these are viewed.' The full results of the Deloitte study will be released to delegates at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh international television festival on Friday.

Something remarkable is happening to the ratings of Live From Studio Five - they've almost trebled since Ian Wright got the tin-tack. From a pathetic low of one hundred and thirty nine thousand on 5 August, they scaled the heights of three hundred thousand on Monday of this week. Still dreadful, of course, let's not get carried away with any misapprehension that they're anything even approaching average, let alone good. But they're a vast improvement on the risible Wright-era.

Cereal manufacturers Nestlé and Kellogg's have lost their challenge against an edition of Dispatches that they claim unfairly portrayed them as targeting children with unhealthy foods. The companies both lodged complaints with Ofcom over Blakeway Productions' programme, What's In Your Breakfast?, which mentioned them and their products by name. They argued that Channel 4 had alleged that they were misleading the public over the healthiness of their cereals. Jane Moore's investigation, which Channel 4 aired last October, demonstrated that it was possible to make a chocolate cake with less salt and sugar than some of the leading breakfast cereals and questioned the way they marketed products to children. In its defence, C4 said it chose not to dwell on one company's products and used publicly available information on each company mentioned. Neither company directly contributed to the programme and Channel 4 argued that it had no requirement to do so as it made no specific allegation about any of them that would require a right to reply. Yet neither of them was happy with this response. Kellogg's in particular got a right chimney on and alleged that a member of the production team had called them about their rights as a contributor and claimed there were no preconceptions about the editorial line – four days ahead of Channel 4 posting programme information that referred to breakfast in the UK being 'far from healthy' and the ability of manufacturers to 'stay ahead of the regulators.' The company also claimed that a statement it provided for broadcast was rejected on the grounds that it was 'verbose and self-serving.' In its fifty seven page report on its rulings, Ofcom posts extensive arguments between Channel 4 and the manufacturers, with the broadcaster rejecting claims that the comparisons of different food products were spurious and accusing them of spin in their complaint that focusing on sugar and salt ignored other factors such as fat and energy. Ofcom also rejected a complaint of unfair treatment from Professor Tom Saunders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics and a member of the approval panel at cholesterol charity HEART UK, who was interviewed for the documentary.

The BBC has confirmed plans to show Rugby League's Carnegie Challenge Cup Final next weekend in high definition for the first time. On 28 August at 2.30pm, coverage of Challenge Cup holders Warrington Wolves taking on Super League champions Leeds Rhinos at Wembley will be aired on BBC HD, as well as BBC1. Claire Balding will present the coverage, alongside studio guests Brian Noble and Justin Morgan. Match commentary will come from Dave Woods and Jonathan Davies, while Tanya Arnold, Damien Johnson and Robbie Paul will provide pitch-side reports. 'The Challenge Cup Final between Leeds and Warrington will be an epic contest featuring two giants of the game and with the final being shown live in HD for the first time on the BBC, viewers around the country will be able to see Rugby League in its finest glory,' said BBC Sport editor Carl Hicks. 'The Challenge Cup Final is one of the crown jewels in the BBC Sport schedule and we will be covering the match comprehensively across all of our platforms with over a million fans tuning in to one of sport's must see events in the calendar.' Pre-match coverage of the final will begin at 1.30pm on the Red Button, which will also offer post match discussion from the Rugby League forum for thirty minutes after the game ends.

Ofcom has censured Virgin 1's The Naked Office for featuring inappropriate content before the watershed - but over bad language rather than nudity. The Shine North-produced show, which explores how staff could benefit from going to work naked, breached Ofcom's rule 1.14 by not bleeping out an offensive word in an 8pm slot, before the watershed. The offensive language was used following one staff member's decision to have their buttocks cast in plaster before telling a colleague, 'if you fucking rip it off, it kills you.' Living TV apologised for the mistake which it blamed on human error and said the person in question had been disciplined. Which, hopefully, they'll film and show every Christmas. Ofcom accepted the broadcaster's apology, along with its move to make sure the word is removed during any future airing of the show and noted its 'usual compliancy robustness.'

Researchers are poring over thousands of back copies of the Radio Times to put together a list of every BBC programme ever broadcast. It is part of a bid to create a complete online broadcast history of the corporation dating back to its foundation in 1922. In many cases the Radio Times information is all that remains of the programmes, with many being either broadcast live or recorded but wiped after they were broadcast. It was not until the 1970s that moves were made to preserve recordings for posterity. Project manager Helen Papadopoulos said the Radio Times was 'an ideal place to begin.' Writing on a BBC blog, she said: 'It contains a record of everything we intended to broadcast - even if what actually went on air wasn't what we planned to show - and it is in a structure and format that people readily recognise, with basic but consistent details for all programmes, along with regional variations.' Next month work will start on putting information from around four hundred thousand pages of the magazine online. Papadopoulos said: 'In less than a year we expect the Radio Times digitisation project to be completed and for the first time there will be, in one place, a comprehensive record of every programme.'

Self-styled 'fashion gurus' Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine are to remake their most recent makeover format for Australian audiences. Because, nobody in Britain can stand the snooty pair.

Celebrity MasterChef got its just desserts on Friday, with the final serving up its second highest audience of the series. And, various other food-based puns into the bargain. Lisa Faulkner's victory over Dick Strawbridge was savoured by an average audience of 5.79m on BBC1 over the 9pm hour, according to overnight figures. It was a ratings victory for the cookery competition series, which only scored higher with Thursday night's penultimate instalment, which had an audience of 6.19m. MasterChef flambéed its rivals and served them a plate of rice, covered with a sticky jeux. A repeat of Doc Martin on ITV was watched by 3.37m in the 9pm slot, while Big Brother highlights had an audience of 2.95m at the same time and a further one hundred and twenty thousand an hour later on C4+1. Also at 9pm, the BBC2 archive series Home Movie Roadshow had 1.44m viewers while Channel 5's The Mentalist thrilled 1.23m.

Meanwhile, on Monday The ONE Show continued to perform well in the ratings, a week after its relaunch. The magazine programme was watched by 4.29m on BBC1 from 7pm, down only two hundred and fifty thousand week-on-week. Later on BBC1, the edition of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring comedian and actor Alexander Armstrong averaged 5.8m from 9pm. The programme comfortably beat Real Crime With Mark Austin, after the factual show pulled in just 2.52m on ITV in the 9pm hour.

Johnny Vegas has revealed that he is pleased with the success of Ideal. Speaking to the Radio Times, Vegas explained that the comedy doesn't receive a lot of attention. 'We feel like we have to fight a lot to get noticed,' he said. 'And yet we do, and we have this really loyal following. It's lovely coming away, after six series, and genuinely thinking this is the best one yet.' Vegas also admitted that he can relate to his character Moz, saying: 'If I weren't doing the job that I do - that I enjoy so much - I could definitely fall into his pattern of behaviour: be a layabout, wait for life to happen. I immediately understood him.'

BBC3's recent Adult Season has proved a huge hit with sixteen to thirty four year olds with more watching the season and the channel than ever before. BBC3 continues to be the most watched digital channel for sixteen to thirty four year olds for the hours it broadcasts - and has grown its share of young audiences by fifty eight per cent since Danny Cohen began as Controller just over three years ago. The Adult Season has just ended and ran over four weeks with a range of documentaries and entertainment shows looking at what it is like to be a young adult in Britain today. Online, BBC3 hosted a debate where young people shared their personal experiences of what it means to become an 'adult.' I'm sorry but I can never take the phrase 'young adult' seriously after The Young Ones so brilliantly parodied it in their 'youf TV' spoof, Nozzin' Around. Danny Cohen said: 'The record-breaking audience response to the Adult Season is testament to the quality of the programmes being made for BBC3 by a wonderful range of producers and directors. Their programmes have really connected with young audiences – as we've also been able to see from the fantastic online response to the Season.' Small Teen, Big World was the most watched documentary ever on BBC3 with an audience of 1.2million for its first transmission. The show followed the lives of Jazz, a teenager with an undiagnosed form of dwarfism and her mum, Bev, who has the same condition. The debate and impact of the film was immediate: on the night of transmission there were over sixty pages of comments about the documentary on Twitter.

John Lennon's toilet and one of his rarest LPs will be among the highlights of an auction of Beatles memorabilia next weekend. A mono copy of Two Virgins, which he recorded with Yoko Ono, is expected to fetch at least two thousand five hundred. When the avant garde LP was released in November 1968 it was notable for being sold in brown paper bags because the sleeve controversially featured a full-frontal naked picture of the couple on the cover. Although a limited release of five thousand stereo versions of the LP were available in shops, fans had to write to the record label, Apple, to purchase a mono copy. The exact number of mono copies sold is not known, but auction organisers say it is likely to be 'a couple of hundred.' The sale, part of the thirty third annual Beatles convention in Liverpool, is attracting record levels of interest. Bids are also being invited for Lennon's toilet from Tittenhurst Park, his Berkshire home between 1969 and 1972 in which the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie used to occasionally shat his bowels. Lennon told a builder, John Hancock, to keep the porcelain lavatory and 'use it as a plant pot' after he had installed a new one in 1971. It was stored in a shed at Hancock's home for forty years until he died recently. The toilet is estimated to fetch between seven hundred and a thousand pounds. The auction organiser, Stephen Bailey, said: 'The toilet might be worth something, and it might not, but it is certainly one of the more unusual items we've sold.'

Ten years worth of Charlie Brooker's critique on Big Brother have been collated by the Gruniad Morning Star. I particularly enjoyed King Charlie's take on the 2007 Celebrity Big Brother racism row. 'At the time of writing, Jade, Jo and Danielle - collectively, the world's thickest coven - are relentlessly haranguing blameless Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty over an endless series of imaginary crimes, thereby prompting over two hundred viewers to complain to Ofcom about alleged racism in the show. I don't think they're racist, just unbelievably dumb. They're motivated by an intense, aching jealousy they're simply too stupid to process. After all, Shilpa is twenty times more successful than any of them, not to mention four hundred times more beautiful. When you're a go-nowhere tit-flasher, a washed-up singer or a famous dunce, that's bound to rankle, especially since Shetty's also more intelligent, dignified, patient and likable than you could ever, ever be.' What he said!

Comedians have been causing chaos on the BBC News Channel in the wake of the 'best joke of the Fringe' award. First of all recipient Tim Vine exposed the sham of the Edinburgh backdrop used in the studio, by peeling it back to show an alternative night time scene used for evening broadcasts. Later, Brendon Burns stormed out of an interview after expressing mock outrage at the result. He told presenter Huw Edwards: 'I'm outraged! It's an absolute disgrace. The city's burning to the ground in disgust – to take out artform and whittle it down to a trite soundbite of ambiguous wordplay. This just disgusts me.' He then blatantly plugged his own show and his book, before being asked what he thought of Vine's winning joke. 'Pun-slinging tosspot, that's what he is,' he raged. 'You should be embarrassed to even speak to me.' Then, after playing with a phone on the desk in front of him, he said: 'Enough said. I’m off.' Edwards replied with: 'Oh Brendon, I was going to say "come back," but you know what, I'm not going to bother.' Textbook professional response to somebody being an arsehole live on the national news, I'd've said! Earlier, Vine exposed the backdrop of the BBC's Edinburgh studio, which shows the city's skyline, whilst live on-air. He said: 'Edinburgh doesn't look enough like Edinburgh, so we have a picture.' He was being interviewed by the charmless Emily Maitlis about winning the accolade for his one-liner: 'I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I'll tell you what, never again.' Burns later clarified that he was only joking about Vine, saying: 'I actually think Tim is brilliant.'

The number of adults visiting libraries in England has fallen steadily over the last five years, a government report has revealed. In 2005, 16.4 per cent of adults people attended their local library once a month. New research indicates that the figure had dropped to 12.8 per cent last year. However, children's visits remained steady during the five-year period. The figures were published in a report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports. Overall, 39.4 per cent of adults surveyed said they had visited a public library at least once in the last year, compared with 48.2 per cent in 2005. The number of weekly library goers in England has gone down by thirty two per cent in five years. More than sixty per cent have not stepped foot inside a library in the last year. Visits by children aged eleven to fifteen remained static over the five-year period. Records for children aged five to eleven only began in 2008, and showed an insignificant decline, from 75.3 per cent to 74.9 per cent. This year's survey questioned fewer people than in previous years, but the results are still representative of the general population. Meanwhile, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced plans to help the library service take a more central role within local communities. Ten submissions have been chosen from proposals put forward by local authorities. 'A strong library service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services,' Mr Vaizey said. He said he wants people to think 'imaginatively about where libraries could be' as there are a number of closures being threatened across the UK. A pub in the Yorkshire Dales is currently being used as a library after the villagers of Hudswell bought it to save it from closing. The books are from North Yorkshire County Council but the lending is run by the volunteers. Other suggestions that are about to be trialled in parts of the country are to have library services in supermarkets, shops or run by volunteers. In Doncaster three libraries have been earmarked for closure and five are under threat in Lewisham. Tim Coates, who is a library campaigner and consultant, said: 'I believe we will lose between six hundred to a one thousand libraries in the next twelve to eighteen months and that may be only the beginning, we are seeing the destruction of the public library service.'

Josie Gibson has been announced as the winner of the final Big Brother. As if anybody's actually bothered by now. She will now spend another fortnight in the house with Preston, Chantelle, John McCririck and Nasty Nick Bateman. Which, I reckon is punishment enough for anyone no matter what crimes against humanity, or entertainment, that they've committed.

Andy Kershaw is to return to BBC Radio3 in the autumn for a new world music series linked to the BBC1 programme Human Planet. The DJ - who returns to the airwaves after a three-year gap due to some well-publicised personal problems - will present Music Planet, which Radio3 describes as its 'most significant and ambitious world music project ever.' Joined by co-host Lucy Duran, Kershaw will travel to the same locations as in the Human Planet anthropological series, which focuses on man's ingenuity as a species. Music Planet will showcase the distinct music from destinations such as Switzerland, Peru, Madagascar, Kenya, Greenland, Mali and the Solomon Islands. Highlights of the series will include voices of the shamans of Mongolia and Greenland's 'katajja', a contest between two women that involves throat singing and animal cry imitating. In a statement, Kershaw said: 'I am thrilled to be back on Radio3 working again with a team of bright, imaginative, enthusiastic people who also happen to be dear friends. Nowhere on Earth is safe again from my attentions. So far, we have, literally, hacked through mountain jungles to bring Music Planet listeners extraordinary music from some of the world's most isolated locations. And I cheerily risked incineration at a rocket festival in Thailand to take our Radio3 audience into the fiery thick of the action.' He added: 'I have been even to Switzerland, the last country in which I expected to find myself. And, if listeners thought that yodelling was valuable only as a device to evict stragglers at the end of a party, or as a sure-fire way to secure an international novelty hit in 1956, the music we recorded in the Alps will - like so much to be heard in Music Planet - shatter such preconceptions and, simultaneously, delight and exhilarate.' Music Planet producer James Parkin said: 'What makes Music Planet so exciting for me is that one minute you're listening to Cambodian hip-hop, and the next Swiss yodelling recorded in the Alps. And this is the music that people are making right now, all over the world, recorded especially for Radio3.' Human Planet and Music Planet will be broadcast in the autumn on BBC1 and BBC Radio3 respectively. Kershaw has not worked for the BBC since 2007 due to major upheavals in his private life, which led to him being jailed in 2008 for breaking a restraining order that prevented him from seeing Juliette Banner, the mother of his two children.