Sunday, August 08, 2010

Lights! Camels! Action!

In a brand new series for ITV, lardy, full-of-his-own-importance, nowhere-near-as-good-as-Bear-Grylls Ray Mears takes viewers on an 'incredible, eye-opening journey across Britain.' Wow. How staggeringly, mind-blowingly original a concept. I don't think. Wild Britain With Ray Mears sees the wildlife expert uncover some of our finest habitats and rejoice in our fascinating wildlife, showing viewers how we can all find our own relationship with the wild, in places close to our homes. Sadly, as the great Bill Bailey (see right) has noted, we have so very few natural predators in this country. Although 'a badger can give you a nasty nip!' Having said that, thinking outside of the box for a second, it's always possible that a couple of foxes and a gang of delinquent voles might get together with a rabid dog and, maybe, a really angry tortoise. In which case, I reckon they could, collectively, take Mears - and his towering ego - down. Which would be funny. The series is a co-production between ITV Studios and leading multi-channel broadcaster UKTV. A six part half-hour version of the series will be shown first on ITV in autumn, to be followed in 2011 by extended sixty minute minute episodes with exclusive additional content to be broadcast on UKTV's natural history channel Eden. Each episode of the series is themed around a different habitat: Deciduous Woodland, Heathland, Meadows and Farmland, Wetlands, Shingle Shore and Moorland. Immersing himself in nature, Big Ray reveals the vital links between the plant, animal and insect worlds, as well as the role of man in the evolution of our ever changing landscape. He looks at how the wild animals and plants of our countryside reflect five millennia of human history. Ray's passion and knowledge invite viewers to discover a hidden world which lies just beyond their doorstep as he explores each location and delves into the heart of each natural habitat. And, using his expert field craft and tracking skills, Ray seeks out the species which best define each location as the cameras capture incredible wildlife behaviour.

Yer Keith Telly Topping was tickled by the following item, dear blog reader. The great Sean Hughes told Chortle that the weirdest date on his - latest - last tour was at the Roses Theatre in Tewksbury. Because, as he learned shortly before going on-stage, that it was the theatre that Eric Morecambe suffered his fatal heart attack in 1984. 'It freaked me out a bit,' Hughes said. 'It was eerie. The idea that one of the greats died in a shithole. At least Tommy Cooper died in the Palladium!'

The producers of I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! are reportedly hoping to sign up more 'controversial' contestants for this year's series. According to the Daily Star Sunday, in which it's probably lies, show bosses want 'nasty' celebrities to 'cause drama' in the jungle and 'wind up viewers.' A 'source' allegedly said: 'This year there won't just be one bad egg, there will be a basketful.' You don't get eggs in baskets any more, pal, you get them in cartons. Mixed-metaphor. 'In the past we've always put one person in the mix who's going to be the troublemaker. Well this year, it's going to be a rogues' gallery of baddies. We have all come to realise that we won't get another Jordan and Peter love story or any sex. We have more chance of "war" than "phwoarr." So viewers can just sit back and watch the insults fly.' Terrific. One has to wonder, of course, if this 'source' is, perhaps, in any way connected to the one who, for instance, gave the Star their 'exclusive' about Lady GaGa appearing in Doctor Who? Just for one example of the crap that the Star so regularly prints. If the Star told me tomorrow was Monday I'd still want a second opinion.

Jason Manford has revealed that he found it annoying that Christine Bleakley left The ONE Show before they had even hosted the programme together. The comedian, who was chosen to replace former host Adrian Chiles earlier this year, compared Bleakley's move to ITV to footballers transferring to other teams. Like, you know, when Frank Lampard deserted recently relegated West Ham and buggered off to Moscow Chelski FC. Just for one example. Speaking to the Sun, Jason said: 'I'd never thought about this job until I met Christine at the Channel 4 comedy gala in March. We clicked. We had such a laugh. We were messing around and there were BBC people there and we were going, "Wouldn't we be great on The ONE Show?" Next thing I know Christine asked if I fancied doing it. It was a bit annoying [that she left]. It was a shame because they got me in because of our chemistry, then the other part went. But I look at it like footballers. You get offered more money and off you go. The editor was really panicking but I made a joke of it, saying, "Where are you going to find someone who is pretty and who can read and is friendly?" There are more people who can do the job than there are jobs!' Speaking of the audition process for potential new co-hosts, he said: 'It was like speed-dating. They'd come in, rehearse, do the show and the next one would come in. You'd have a laugh with them and think, "Right, I might never see that girl again." We did five shows back-to-back at one point and I started to be the one getting nervous. Girls would ask me if they were alright but I'd be thinking, "Was I alright?" I kept thinking someone would say, "Now we've seen you proper, we might leave it." There were people I'd never heard of and others who I was like, "Bloody hell, they're famous."' Jason, and his new co-host, Alex Jones, make their ONE Show debut tomorrow night on BBC1.

Coronation Street actor Ian Puleston Davies has been confirmed for series six of Waterloo Road. Puleston Davies, who only recently started appearing as Owen Armstrong on Corrie, will play cheating husband Charlie to Silent Witness star Amanda Burton's new character Karen Fisher, who replaces Eva Pope's Rachel Mason when the show returns in the autumn. Elsewhere, the BBC also revealed the casting of a 'sexy, opinionated' Spanish teacher played by Karen David, and the principled Marcus (Wil Johnson). Chelsee Healey will return to the school drama as Janeece, while actors Philip Martin-Brown (Grantly), Jason Dome (Tom), Elizabeth Berrington (Ruby) and Will Ash (Chris) will all reprise their roles. Meanwhile, Robson Green and Mark Benton will star in the seventh series, which kicks off next year.

Twelve Yard Productions has been forced to ditch more than three-quarters of its footage for new BBC2 daytime game show Perfection after it discovered some contestants may have had an advantage during production. At its own cost, the ITV Studios-owned indie will re-shoot twenty six episodes of the thirty-part series, hosted by DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles (see left). It follows the discovery that some of the participants may have been able to view information on a monitor that should have been shielded from their sight. The format sees one of four players randomly chosen to play three rounds of true or false questions, as well as an end game. If they make a single mistake, the other three players have a chance to steal their prize. All of the contestants will be recalled to re-record the quiz and the mid-August transmission date will be pushed back to the winter. Twelve Yard managing director David Young said in a statement:'A production error was identified which may have inadvertently impacted on the Perfection quiz. To be fair to all contestants, and with the agreement of the BBC, Twelve Yard Productions has decided to rerecord the series and all those who had taken part will be invited to take part in the new series. All costs incurred will be covered by Twelve Yard Productions.' ITVS declined to reveal how much the production costs would be. A BBC spokeswoman welcomed Twelve Yard's honesty in reporting the incident, and made it clear that its relations with the company were unharmed by this. 'Twelve Yard Productions alerted the BBC to a production error during the filming of Perfection and before the series had been delivered or broadcast on the BBC. Twelve Yard Productions has assured us that the problem has now been rectified and is reshooting the series, at no additional cost to the BBC,' she said.

Simon Cowell has reportedly drawn up a list of over-used songs that X Factor contestants are banned from singing. The judge is said to be worried that viewers will grow bored of hearing the same songs, according to the News of the World. It is also reported that Cowell is becoming irritated by his favourite songs being 'murdered' by less-than-talented hopefuls. Banned songs include Kings of Leon's 'Sex on Fire' and two songs by Paolo Nutini. The move is part of a series of on-going changes for the show, after previous clampdowns on contestants sob stories and the recommendation that hopefuls should get dancing lessons prior to coming on the show. A source said: 'This is about people's real honesty and personality. It's about them and their stage presence.'

Control over television and radio in Wales should be devolved, Plaid Cymru's leader says. Ieuan Wyn Jones argues that the assembly government should have power over the BBC, S4C and commercial stations to ensure the future of broadcasting in Wales. He said a fall in English-language output in Wales and proposed cuts was threatening the three hundred million pounds a year industry. Welsh Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has said the issue should be discussed. Ahead of a speech at the National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, the Plaid leader told BBC Radio Wales there were 'compelling economic, cultural and democratic reasons' for transferring control over TV and radio to Wales in the next assembly government term. You are not getting your hand on Doctor Who, pal! End of.

ITV has finalised a large order for a new series of teatime game show The Chase as it aims to challenge rival The Weakest Link. The ITV Studios made show, hosted by Bradley Walsh, will return for a second forty episode run after performing well in the ratings this year. The Chase consistently ran BBC1's The Weakest Link close over the past two months, pulling in average audiences of 1.66m, while its more established rival managed 1.7m. The format, which was tweaked following a ten-part pilot run in 2009, sees contestants attempting to outwit ruthless quiz master, The Chaser, in a bid to walk away with a cash prize. ITV commissioning editor Diana Howie and Alison Sharman, director of factual and daytime, ordered the second series. It will be executive produced by Michael Kelpie.

Industry insiders have predicted that Five is likely to scale back big budget entertainment to focus on celebrity and factual-entertainment shows following its acquisition by Richard Desmond. Several sources told Broadcast magazine that a formal programming road map had yet to be laid out, with Five commissioning editors expecting to know more about Desmond’s plans by September. Staff are said to have mixed emotions about the new owner, with some positive about the changes but others fearing for their jobs. Several suppliers suggested Five channel controller Richard Woolfe may not wish to stay if the broadcaster shifts away from the shiny-floor shows for which he is known towards less expensive genres. One senior independent production company 'source' is alleged to have suggested that Desmond may also want to introduce a new programming director to make his mark following his arrival. 'Woolfe could be the sacrificial lamb to that end,' he said. Given that he's the man who commissioned the appalling Live From Studio Five, is it too harsh to suggest he's a lamb that should long since have been slaughtered and served with mint sauce and chips. But a Five insider revealed Woolfe has been meeting regularly with Northern & Shell bosses and entertained several executives at this week's filming of Don't Stop Believing. Woolfe is understood to see opportunities to develop a string of celebrity-based shows. With Don't Stop Believing shedding almost one million viewers in less than three weeks, another 'insider' said that Five should be focusing on its core strengths to build an audience and become profitable. 'Clearly, big entertainment doesn't work on Five, the audience doesn't go to the channel for it. It will go for sharp factual, fact-ent and for celeb-driven programming.' Desmond is thought to have meetings lined-up with several major independents. 'We want to know where a potentially significant client is taking its business,' said another anonymous 'source.' They added: 'We're keen to discover where we can work together and what we should be concentrating on.' The - nameless - individuals quotes in the Broadcast piece were all said to be hopeful that the new owner would invest in shows, but there was concern that the possible speculated commissioning a new version of Big Brother could leave little room in the schedule or programming budget.

Actor Sean Bean has separated from his fourth wife, his lawyers have said. The fifty one-year-old Sheffield-born actor married Georgina Sutcliffe at London's Marylebone Register Office in February 2008. The couple had originally intended to marry a month earlier but cancelled twenty four hours before the big day, citing 'personal reasons.' In a statement, Graham Atkins, of Atkins, Thomson Solicitors, said: 'Sean Bean and Georgina Sutcliffe have separated after two years of marriage. Neither intends to comment further. They hope that their privacy will be respected at this difficult time.' Bean, who starred in the Sharpe TV series, wed his teenage sweetheart, Debra, at twenty one. That was followed by marriages to Bread actress Melanie Hill and his Sharpe co-star Abigail Cruttenden.

Alex Reid has reportedly been rejected by the producers of Strictly Come Dancing. According to the Daily Star, the cage fighter wanted to appear on the show to raise his profile, but 'bosses' deemed him 'unsuitable' and refused him a place. His agents allegedly wanted to show viewers Reid's softer side and believed that he had a good chance of winning the competition. A source said: 'Alex is very co-ordinated, thanks to his fight skills, and fancies himself as a bit of a mover. But BBC bosses were less than impressed and they made it clear he wasn't their type of market.' However, a spokeswoman for Reid said: 'With Alex's TV and fight commitments, Strictly Come Dancing would not have fitted into his schedule.'

Myleene Klass has reportedly had invisible braces fitted on her teeth. According to Now, the omnipresent and vastly annoying musician, TV presenter and drag accidentally showed off the braces on her lower jaw when she was presenting This Morning last week. A spokesperson for the twenty three-year-old confirmed that she is having dental work to align her teeth. A full set of braces can cost up to six thousand pounds. Or, if you're poor and get them on the national health, free but really, really noticable. Still, at least fluffy-duffy Myleene and her little world of lah-di-dah can still read and autocue. So that's all right.

Police in Sussex have released a list of unusual 999 calls that they have received, including one from a woman who was distressed after losing her slippers. Other issues that the force received calls about included smelly drains, an unsatisfactory hotel room and a gerbil that had gone into labour, according to Sky News. A statement from the force said: 'Every day, our communications staff can answer up to one thousand emergency calls from the public: if you dial 999, we'll do everything we can to speak to you within ten seconds but sometimes our operators are faced with calls which don't quite come under the category of "emergency." Just bear in mind that if your gerbil has gone into labour, you're not sure where your slippers have gone, your drains smell or you don't like your hotel room, you might want to try another route before calling the emergency services.'