Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No Shit, Sherlock?

The details of the challenges in the Celebrity MasterChef final have been revealed. Judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace have set finalists - Dick Strawbridge, Lisa Faulkner and Christine Hamilton - three days worth of insanely difficult food-related tasks ahead of crowning the winner on Friday night's show. During the first show on Wednesday, the trio will be given a masterclass in sauces from the saucy Smiths of Smithfield owner Torode himself before travelling to France where they will be asked to cook for dancers at the Moulin Rouge and cater a Chateau dinner for the Champagne masters of France. In the second episode of challenges, the finalists will be asked to create a fine-dining menu for travellers on the Orient Express. Rumours that the loser will be murdered, however, appear to be wide of the mark. Later, the must serve a three-course Michelin standard meal for five top chefs at the L'autre Pied. On Friday's finale, the trio will return to the MasterChef kitchen, where they will have one final chance to impress Wallace and Torode with a three-course meal. Former Celebrity MasterChef winners have included Nadia Sawalha, Matt Dawson, Liz McClarnon and Jayne Middlemiss.

Christine Hamilton, has claimed that she does not deserve to win Celebrity MasterChef. I agree. I like Dick. No, hang on, I'll rephrase that ... Anyway Hamilton, whom the newspapers continue to refer to as 'TV personality' but, who I think of more as 'wife the disgraced 'cash for questions' former MP Neil Hamilton, said that she did not believe she is a not a good enough cook to earn the 2010 series crown. 'I'm just an averagely competent little housewife,' she told the Mirror. 'Dick was born to cook, and Lisa has learned so much and just gone from strength to strength through the programme.' Hamilton claimed that she had found the show 'more stressful' than she expected, but gushed praise on the programme's hosts John Torode and Gregg Wallace. 'John's palate is quite extraordinary. He can walk past a steaming pan and he doesn't have to taste it, he can just waft steam in his direction and know if you've left the salt out,' she said. 'And Gregg is an absolute connoisseur of puddings.' We've noticed. Bless 'im, that lad loves his puds. Faulkner, meanwhile, has admitted that she found cooking for Torode and Wallace 'intimidating.' The actress claimed that the duo were 'nice,' but 'tough to impress. They are both so nice, but equally scary,' she told the Mirror. 'You just want to say to them, "can you help me a minute?" and they just walk away. Gregg's so cheeky.' Speaking about her experiences on the show, she claimed that her old problems of suffering from stage fright occurred when she competed in the kitchen. 'I've suffered with stage fright and Paul McKenna actually hypnotised me a couple of years ago to help me with it, but MasterChef was brilliant but terrifying,' she said.

Katie Jacobs has dismissed speculation that Jesse Spencer is to quit House. The popular former Neighbours actor - who plays Chase in the medical drama - was recently cast in the independent film The Girl Is In Trouble, a situation which led to fan speculation that a scheduling clash could force Spencer to depart the FOX show. However, executive producer Jacobs told Entertainment Weekly: 'We have not written him out at all. We have done everything we can do to [adjust] our schedule to allow him to do this [film]. He's by no means out of the season or even out of any episodes.' It was previously reported that Spencer's co-star Olivia Wilde would be temporarily leaving the show to appear in new film Cowboys & Aliens. However, Jacobs refused to reveal how Wilde's character, Thirteen, would depart the series. 'I can't [tell you],' she said. 'It's linked to a [story] that's not even on the table just yet.'

Benedict Cumberbatch has denied that he was ever offered the lead role in Doctor Who ahead of current star Matt Smith. It was previously 'reported', by various tabloid scum, that the actor had 'turned down' the chance to replace David Tennant. However, the Sherlock star told The Sunday Times that he had never been in the frame to take over the part. 'I'd turn it down anyway,' he insisted. 'Jumping onto school stages and saying, "I am the Doctor," it's not where I want to go.' Which, rather makes a complete and utter nonsense of this story which the Sun ran some weeks ago as an 'exclusive.' And exclusive lie, it would appear.

Former BBC director general Greg Dyke has reportedly rejected an offer from new Channel Five owner Richard Desmond to return to the broadcaster that he helped set up in 1997. Last week, Express Newspapers owner Desmond announced a clear out of Channel Five's senior management team as part of a major overhaul of the broadcaster that he acquired in a one hundred million pound deal. The changes have resulted in seven of Channel Five's nine executive directors preparing to leave their posts, along with up to eighty jobs being cut at the commercial broadcaster. The most high profile departure is that of Dawn Airey, Channel Five's chairman and chief executive, who is joining previous Five owner RTL. Early indications are that Stan Myerson, managing director at Desmond's Northern & Shell business, is the frontrunner to lead the broadcaster. However, Channel Five's new billionaire owner could instead look to appoint a more high profile name from the broadcasting world, with several media outlets reporting that he has already sounded Dyke out about taking on the challenge. Dyke was instrumental in establishing Channel Five in 1997 after putting together the consortium that successfully bid for the licence to run Britain's fifth terrestrial channel. In 2000, he left to become director general of the BBC, but was forced to resign in 2004 in the wake of the Hutton inquiry into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly, which was highly critical of the corporation. Despite his strong connections to Channel Five, Dyke is understood to have snubbed Desmond's offer to make a dramatic return to the broadcaster. Last week, Dyke told the Independent: 'Desmond is a brave man. Channel Five hasn't made any money since it started, and it was clearly in difficulties when he bought it. I wish him luck. It would be great to make it work.'

Smug Michael Ball has admitted that his new television show could struggle. The singer signed up for the daytime series in June after the cancellation of David Dickinson's chat show. Ball has now told the Daily Record that he does not know whether the format will work. 'It's six weeks of five shows and yes, I'm under no illusions it may fall flat on its face,' he said. 'These things often do. But we might find something there. If I enjoy it, if ITV like it and there's an audience, we might even come back for more.' He added: 'I'm old enough and wise enough to know the first show isn't going to be the best one we ever do. It will get there, however. The trouble with this is there's no training. You are kind of winging it. But you surround yourself with good people, hold your nerve and hope it will be fine.' Ball also confessed that he is unsure how he will cope with the pressure of having a daily show. 'I don't really know what it's going to be like because I've never done it before,' he said. 'I might find it easy, I might find it absolutely knackering. That's part of the process of finding out. I'm going into this open-eyed. It's a bit of an experiment.'

Jason Manford has revealed that Peter Kay has given him advice ahead of hosting The ONE Show. Manford said that he had also received a well-wishing text from Fern Britton ahead of his first show. He told the Mirror: 'I chatted to Peter Kay. I have always chatted to Peter for advice throughout my career. He was great and said, "Good luck with it." And Fern Britton sent me a nice text, which was great. I have had some nice messages.' Manford also confirmed that Christine Bleakley, who initially made no contact with him after he got the role, had been in touch. 'Christine has even sent me a few texts, but they are more about who is nice on the show and whose birthday you shouldn't forget,' he added.

There's a very good interview with Phil Collinson in today's Gruniad Morning Star in which the Coronation Street producer reveals: 'No one has sat me down and had the conversation that starts "Our demographic is older and we need younger viewers." The show is in really good health and it does good viewing figures. People haven't got used to Thursdays yet so we need to look at how to make them feel more important, but all the conversations have been about what we do between now and December and how we make sure people don't turn on for the anniversary week and then turn off again the week after.'

Lie To Me showrunner Shawn Ryan has revealed details of the show's upcoming reunion of the cast of The Shield. Ryan previously created the hard-hitting drama about corrupt police officers in LA's South Central on FX, which ran for seven seasons until 2008. He told TV Guide 'It's just a fun alternate universe with all these people you're accustomed to seeing in a certain environment. It was different, but I think everyone was just really happy to see one another again. I think it meant more on a personal level even than a professional level. We had a very tight-knit group on that show, so to be able to reunite was very nice.' The episode Pied Piper will star Benito Martinez and Catherine Dent (The Shield's David Acevada and Danny Sofer) as Charlie and Faye Sheridan, a married couple whose son was murdered seventeen years earlier. Their former co-stars David Marciano, Cathy Cahlin-Ryan and David Rees Snell will also appear - as the chief murder suspect, his ex-girlfriend and his younger brother respectively. Another Shield actor, Kenny Johnson, will also feature as a photographer. 'It was fun to find a new chemistry,' said Martinez. 'We found a whole new, completely different vocabulary and relationship that was organic to these characters. What was instant was our trust for each other. With Catherine, we knew each other in and out, and that trust was there.' Ryan also insisted that Lie To Me fans who have never seen his previous drama could still enjoy the episode. 'We take the show pretty seriously, and we wanted the show to stand on its own for those people who aren't Shield fans,' he explained. As a huge admirer of both show, yer Keith Telly Topping is really looking forward to the episode, which broadcasts in the US this week.

Frank Skinner pulled out of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe at the last minute over the weekend, reports Chortle. He had been due to host a talk show featuring 'some of the biggest stars to have appeared at the Assembly Rooms in the venue's thirty-year history' at the festival. In a statement, Skinner blamed a lack of guests as a problem. He said: 'It's a great shame about The Talk Show. My bags were packed, my train ticket was in my pocket, and I was very excited about the whole thing. It became apparent there were some brilliant people lined-up but way too many gaps. It seems it was harder to put together than anyone thought. I'm genuinely gutted about it.' Meanwhile in one of the festival highlights, a team of comedians - no, not England - beat a critics XI 3-2 in their annual football match in Edinburgh on Sunday, thanks to goals from Simon Brodkin, Danny McLoughlin and Doc Brown.

Will Young has signed up to star in Living TV's new supernatural drama, Bedlam. The series is set in a disused asylum that is being converted into loft-style apartments, where 'things start going bump in the night.' Young, who has previously had roles in the movie Mrs Henderson Presents, episodes of ITV murder mystery Miss Marple and E4 teen drama Skins, plays a character desperate to find out why his brother has died. Young said: 'I'm so excited to be a part of Bedlam. The scripts are original and fantastic, as are the other actors involved. I can't wait to get my teeth into the role.' The six-part series also stars Theo James, Charlotte Salt and Ashley Madekwe. Sounds promising. Bedlam starts filming next month and is Living's first original UK drama. The six-part series is being made by Red, the Manchester-based independent production company responsible for Queer As Folk, Clocking Off and Casanova. Claudia Rosencrantz, the amusingly named director of television for the Living TV Group, said that she planned to move Living away from its narrow focus on female targeted factual entertainment shows about ghosts. 'We thought it was time, that the channel was mature and ambitious enough, to commission its first scripted piece,' she said. 'We've been searching for ages for the right idea to launch Living into original drama, and Bedlam is the perfect fit. It's sexy, stylish and truly scary. It is about very frightening things happening to very beautiful people.' So, Most Haunted in other words?!

Stephen Mulhern's Magic Numbers will be axed after one series, press reports suggest. According to the Sun, the variety show's audience figures have hugely disappointed bosses at ITV after has been repeatedly thumped by John Barrowman's BBC show Tonight's The Night on Saturday nights. 'It doesn't bode well for a future series. Stephen has a lot of energy and was the right person to host Britain's Got More Talent,' a source claimed. 'But Magic Numbers just hasn't worked for him. The ratings have been going down.'

And, speaking of ratings, John Bishop's Britain ended with a series high of just a sliver under four million for BBC2 on Saturday night, according to overnight figures. Scouse comic Bishop has beaten his direct opposition for all four of his stand-up shows, increasing the likelihood that a second series will be commissioned. After the BBC News, which had an audience of 3.97m, the vast majority huge around for the return of Match of the Day from 10.30pm which was watched by 3.95m. Earlier in the evening, there were also solid performances for 101 Ways To Leave A Gameshow and Tonight's The Night, which attracted 3.39m at 6.50pm and 4.55m at 7.50pm respectively. Casualty topped the night with 5.18m viewers at 9pm. BBC1 averaged a strong 22.9 per cent audience share during prime time, with ITV miles behind in second place with a measly thirteen per cent. You've Been Framed was watched by three million viewers whilst almost exactly the same number stuck around for Odd One In at 7pm. Magic Numbers, as previously noted, failed to find the magic formula, with a audience of just 2.35m at 7.50pm. Later, Thirty Years of An Audience With... followed with 3.08m.

Moving onto Sunday night, the BBC's new Secret Britain factual series debuted to almost six million viewers on Sunday evening in the slot vacated by Sherlock. The programme, which features Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury exploring hidden corners of the country, outperformed The Unforgettable Jeremy Beadle in the 9pm hour on ITV, after the latter programme pulled in just 2.35m. BBC2's new comedy drama Vexed was only just in third place with a quietly impressive 2.26m, whilst a further one hundred and thirty thousand watched the Toby Stevens and Lucy Punch vehicle on BBC HD.

Alesha Dixon has claimed that Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth still has 'more energy' than his critics. The pop singer defended Forsyth, who is expected to return to front the upcoming eighth series of the dance show next month. Dixon claimed that the eighty two-year-old presenter had supported her as a contestant and judge on the programme and described criticism of his performances as unfair. 'I was inspired by Bruce Forsyth. He was always so supportive. If I wanted to call him I could. Even when I was on the show competing he was great to me,' she told the People. 'He is an amazing man and constantly told me that I could do my job as a judge and just get on with it. He is very sweet to everybody and everyone respects him. It's unfair and annoying when people criticise him, because he is eighty two and has more energy than the people who are criticising.'

Edie Falco has revealed that she loves exploring her character in Nurse Jackie. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Falco explained that playing Jackie is completely different from working on The Sopranos. 'They couldn't be more different, and I love it,' she said. 'It's thrilling to run the gamut as far as characters are concerned. Jackie is someone I hadn't explored before. Luckily, there's still plenty more to discover, and it's a luxury many actors don't get. With a TV series, you get to be this person over a long period of time. I've grown very fond of series acting for that reason.' Falco also joked that she likes playing a less glamorous character, saying: 'I do love that I'm spending less time in hair and make-up. It's a bit more comfortable.'

Ex-Coronation Street actor Kevin Kennedy has landed a role in West End musical We Will Rock You. Kennedy, who played Curly Watts in the ITV soap, will take on the role of Pop as the Queen-themed show enters its tenth year. The former soap star will appear in the musical from September, following his success in the same part on last year's touring production around the UK. Joining Kennedy in the cast are X Factor's Brenda Edwards, who will play The Killer Queen, Ricardo Afonso as Galileo, Rachel John as Meat and Sarah French as Scaramouche. Who does the fandango, apparently. Kevin, of course, has a long and interesting musical background beginning with his teenage band, Paris Valantinos, which also featured future members of The Smiths Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke. And, now he's signing Queen songs for a living. Quite a comedown, Kev.

ITV has been urged by a leading campaign group to stop using footage of Chinese lanterns being released over the countryside, it has emerged. The broadcaster used pictures of the lanterns, which rise into the air after being lit, for a promotional ident on its flagship channel before programmes start. According to the Daily Telegraph, the National Farmers Union is said to be 'concerned' that the footage could encourage excessive use of such lanterns. Excessive being ... one? Jesus, the utter shit that some people chose to care about. Bewildering, is it not, dear blog reader? Despite being popular with party-goers and venues, the NFU believes that the lanterns pose a dangerous fire risk and so it has launched a campaign against their use. 'The lanterns are dangerous because they can set fields of corn alight when they land,' said an NFU spokesperson. 'Also a metal part inside the lantern is dangerous to animals if it lands in a field and gets mixed with animal feed. We are contacting ITV with a plea for the station to stop using the ident, especially at this time of year at harvest time when many parts of the country are tinder dry.' Fire service authorities in West Sussex and Devon & Somerset have recently issued warnings against the lanterns, which have already been banned in Australia, Malta and parts of Germany. NFU President Peter Kendall said: 'We don't want to be killjoys at all, but - with the very dry summer and the reports were getting of injuries to cattle - we would urge party-goers and venues to resist the temptation to release lanterns into the countryside.' Have you ever noticed, dear blog reader, that whenever anyone starts a sentence with the words 'We don't want to be killjoys' that they inevitably do, in fact, want to do exactly that?

An actor from the Channel 4 drama Shameless has been arrested after an apparent hit-and-run incident. Elliott Tittensor, who plays Carl Gallagher, allegedly hit an eighteen-year-old man with his BMW Z4 in Kentish Town, at two o'clock on Sunday. The victim was taken to hospital with head injuries where his condition is serious but stable. Tittensor, who voluntarily went to a police station, was given bail later on Sunday. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'Police were called to reports of a collision involving a BMW Z4 and a pedestrian. An eighteen-year-old man was taken by London Ambulance Service to hospital suffering from head injuries.' He continued: 'The male driver did not stop at the scene. He later handed himself into officers at a central London police station and was arrested in connection with the collision.' A Channel 4 spokeswoman declined to comment.

Cat Deeley has revealed that she doesn't only hang out with British people when she is in Los Angeles but talks to Americans as well. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what some people consider to be 'news.' The TV presenter, who has lived in the US for four years due to her hosting job on reality series So You Think You Can Dance, said that it's good to have a blend of different friends to spend time with, rather than always sticking to your own. Deeley told Bang Showbiz: 'I don't just hang out with English people, it's nice to mix it up. I'm lucky because there are a lot of English people in the production team so if I want to talk to them about Grange Hill, baked beans or Ant and Dec, I can!' She also said of red carpet events in LA: 'You think it'll be super elegant but the reality is that people are treading on your dress, it's ninety five degrees and you'd rather be sitting by a pool in a bikini instead of negotiating getting from one end of the red carpet to the other without tripping. That's tricky when you're the clumsiest person ever!'

Emmerdale star Suzanne Shaw has revealed that her character Eve Jenson may become unpopular with fans because of an upcoming storyline. Eve will soon begin an affair with Carl King, as previously reported, and Shaw has admitted that viewers may not like seeing someone come between Carl and his girlfriend Chas. Speaking to the Daily Star Sunday, she said: 'I was really excited when I found out Eve would be having an affair with Carl. But I quickly realised it would make me very unpopular with the majority of Emmerdale fans because everyone loves Carl and Chas together. So I'm preparing myself for all the trouble it's going to cause. It's a great storyline and I have no idea how it will all turn out. There's also the small matter of Chas. It's going to take some doing for Carl to keep it from her.'

The alleged comedian, Holly Walsh, has thanked medical staff who treated her after she was injured leaping from a pier in West Sussex. Walsh, as reported yesterday, was rescued from the water at the Worthing Birdman festival by a lifeboat crew and placed on a spinal board before being taken to hospital. She later said on Twitter that she had a dislocated shoulder and broken arm. The former CBBC presenter said that she could not have been looked after better by competition organisers and medics. Walsh, who is from Guildford, also thanked her followers on the social networking site for their kind wishes. 'Am amazed it made the news,' she said. I'm not. It was, after all, bloody hilarious.

ITV has renewed its deal with MGM for terrestrial broadcast rights to the James Bond franchise, including high definition rights for the first time. The multi-year agreement will see ITV remain the home of James Bond films on terrestrial television in a deal that includes the free-to-air TV premiere of latest movie, Quantum of Solace. The broadcaster will also be able to air all of the Bond films, on ITV HD across its 2010 and 2011 schedules.

Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson is to write a new Peter Rabbit story to mark the one hundred and tenth anniversary of Beatrix Potter's original story. Thompson told the US chat show host Craig Ferguson that she 'had a lovely little job offer' from the publishers of the children's book series. 'They asked me to write a new story, so I'm going to take him to Scotland,' she said. Thompson's story is expected to be published in 2012. The actress, who has previously written screenplays for Sense and Sensibility and Nanny McPhee, recently revealed she was planning to take a break from acting. Her new role was confirmed by Jennifer Cooper from publishers Frederick Warne: 'We are currently in talks with Emma Thompson regarding her writing a Peter Rabbit story to commemorate one hundred and ten years of Peter Rabbit in 2012,' she told the BBC News website. Beatrix Potter first introduced the character of Peter Rabbit - based on her own pet - to her stories in 1902 after its beginnings as an illustrated letter in 1893.