Wednesday, August 04, 2010

She's Electric

Geoffrey Hughes has suffered a cancer relapse, it has been revealed. The former Coronation Street and Keeping Up Appearances actor is thought to be gravely ill in hospital as his wife Sue keeps a bedside vigil. The sixty six-year-old who was treated for prostate cancer last year, was taken to hospital on Friday after he collapsed with back pains in his Isle of Wight home. Hughes has undergone intense radiotherapy at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, according to the Sun. A source said: 'Geoffrey is not in a very good way. He is undergoing heavy radiotherapy and is in terrible discomfort. He thought he was over the worst after his treatment last year so it was a massive shock to find out it had returned. He's a fighter and he is doing his damnedest to try to beat it again. Sue is showering him with love but it is an awful situation.' A cult figures in the 1970s, Hughes played Corrie binman Eddie Yeats for almost a decade, as well as guest-starring in The Royle Family, Skins and Doctor Who.

The BBC's new five-part psychological deep-sea drama The Deep opened to an audience of just over five million viewers last night on BBC1 and BBC HD, according to overnight ratings figures. The first episode of the series, which stars James Nesbitt and Minnie Driver, averaged 4.98m for BBC1 in the 9pm hour whilst two hundred and eighty seven thousand additional viewers watched the drama on BBC HD. New Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? got a highly disappointing audience of 3.89m on ITV in the 8pm hour, with the revamped game show being easily outperformed by Holby City, which took 5.14m on BBC1. Meanwhile, BBC4's highlight of the night was Wild Swimming with Alice Roberts in which the Coast presenter embarked on a quest to discover what lies behind the passion for wild swimming and following in the, ahem, breast strokes (if you will) of Waterlog, the classic swimming text by the late journalist and author, Roger Deakin. This picked up an audience of over four hundred and twenty thousand. Yer Keith Telly Topping watched The Deep, and quite enjoyed it as opening episodes go. Jimmy Nesbitt was dark and broody in best moody Murphy's Law/Jekyll mode, Minnie Driver was somewhat ludicrously miscast as the captain of a submarine but has, as always, a beautifully evocative way of delivering even the crappest of lines of dialogue and the whole thing moved rapidly through the water like a dreadnought resembling some sort of cheap version of The Abyss, full of occasional scary moments amidst the by-numbers characterisation. Tobias Menzies put in a rather nicely enigmatic performance whilst the script by Simon Donald struggled by taking itself a bit too seriously but, in odd flashes, showed signs of great promise. Certainly worth another go next week, I reckon. Afterwards, I caught up with Wild Swimming on iPlayer because, let's face it, who doesn't fancy the idea of the Goddess of punk archaeology doing a bit of skinny-dipping? Even if, for the most part, she was wearing a rubber one-piece costume that made her look like Emma Peel's little sister. What's not to love?! It was, actually, very enjoyable on the whole. She's madly enthusiastic about pretty much everything is lovely Dr Alice. And even the moment when she briefly forgot which decade she was living in - when suggesting that river swimming is 'where it's at' - was rather charming. Robson Green never gave you a free trip to 1973 when he was splashing about in the water, did he?

Philip Glenister has insisted that viewers will be distanced from Life On Mars comparisons when he appears alongside John Simm in Sky1's Mad Dogs. Speaking after Sky1's autumn and winter press launch yesterday, the actor said that the forthcoming dark comedy drama will focus on all of the cast. He told the Digital Spy website: 'It's not about John and I. It's very much an ensemble piece and it's great for me coming off the back of Ashes To Ashes and Gene Hunt. This was not about finding a vehicle.' Meanwhile, another of Phil's co-stars, Max Beesley, revealed: 'I didn't know Phil that well before he shot this, but I know his work, and it's very powerful as an actor. Certainly over the last four years, I thought that I liked him. But when I met him, I thought, "He's got to have those traits." He's completely juxtaposed from his Gene Hunt character.' Glenister also said that the BBC should protect its talent amid pressure from the media. The actor defended the corporation, but insisted that it needs to be 'more bold' in the face of adversity. He explained: 'The problem with the BBC and ITV is that there are so many levels of people coming in and telling you how to do things. There's too many generals who don't leave you to get on with it. Sometimes there's a nanny thing going on - it's something they need to have a look at. It's about self-censorship as well. We're big enough to know when we've pushed the boundaries too far. You want a strong BBC and ITV, and you need the support of papers who seem hell-bent on bringing it down. Personally, I'm a big fan of the BBC and I always have been. And I'm a big believer in public service broadcasting, and the alternative is quite unthinkable and unbearable. I'd like to see them be more bold, and keeping their talent more, and if it upsets the Daily Mail then so be it.' Glenister added that it would be 'a huge mistake' to scrap the licence fee as the move 'damages the content of programmes.'

Industry sources are rumoured to be suggesting that ITV are more than a little 'concerned' by the 'unexpectedly low' audience figures that Magic Numbers has been pulling in on Saturday nights. The Stephen Mulhern-fronted quiz show has been getting ratings of around two and half million in its Saturday night 8pm slot. By contrast, its direct BBC opposition - John Barrowman's Tonight's The Night - whilst hardly setting the world alight itself, has nevertheless been getting an average of between a million and a million and a half more per week. Mulhern just a few weeks ago was being seriously talked up by ITV insiders as a potential replacement for Ant and Dec on Britain's Got Talent. Now, it would appear, his star may be somewhat on the wane over at ITVland where they tend to take big expensive ratings flops rather seriously.

Bones star Emily Deschanel has admitted that it feels 'weird' filming scenes for the sixth season of the show in which Booth (David Boreanaz) has a new love interest. It was previously reported that actress Kathryn Winnick would join the show as Booth's girlfriend, war correspondent Hannah Burley. Deschanel told Entertainment Weekly: 'There's a little jealousy on and off camera. I think that Brennan wouldn't admit that she is jealous, but there's definitely jealousy there.' She joked that it had been difficult shooting scenes alongside her co-stars Boreanaz and Winnick. 'I had to stand right next to them making out today,' she said. 'He's my guy. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable.' Meanwhile, David Boreanaz has hinted that there will be 'a big death' in the new season. Speaking to E!, Boreanaz joked that he was wearing black because he was mourning the character. 'It's exciting, because someone's going to get killed at the end of the season,' he said. Boreanaz refused to say who the victim is but promised that it is 'big,' adding: 'I think you have to kind of mix it up a little bit. I think you have to kill a series regular off as you get into the higher [seasons].' The actor also revealed that he doesn't know how long the show will continue. 'You kind of run with the character, and see where you can take the character, how you can challenge the character,' he said. 'And we've always continuously done that.'

Gregg Wallace has suggested that the success of MasterChef Australia could prompt changes in the format of the UK version of programme. The Australian series of the cookery reality show has been compared to The X Factor and Big Brother because of twists to the format, which include the contestants being filmed living together during the competition. This year's final broke Australian viewing figure records, which made it the most watched non-sporting event since ratings began. Speaking about the show's hit ratings overseas, UK host Wallace said: 'It's led to great viewing figures. A quarter of the population watches in Oz and the Big Brother element has a lot to do with it. The Australian version is being monitored very carefully.' When asked if he would approve of the British show copying the changes, he added: 'Well, it's not up to me. I'm just a spoon for hire, trying to keep the show stirring along sweetly.'

One of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, the great Colm Meaney has joined the cast of upcoming AMC period drama Hell on Wheels. Deadline reports that the Commitments and Damned United actor will play Thomas Durant, 'a businessman determined to make his fortune building the transcontinental railroad.' The character is also described as 'a man of vision and a self-serving opportunist.' Meaney joins the previously cast Anson Mount, Dominique McElligott and rapper-turned-actor Common. The Western drama will follow former Confederate soldier Cullen (played by Mount) as he hunts the Union soldiers who killed his wife and finds himself working on the railroad.

House creator David Shore has revealed details of the character played by Amber Tamblyn in the show's upcoming seventh season. It was previously announced that the actress would be joining the cast as a young medical student recruited by House. Shore told Entertainment Weekly: '[The character is] a fresh face up against House. Frankly we've all got a little jaded by House's activities. She's not jaded and she has difficulty handling what he's up to, as a normal human being should have.' The producer also praised Tamblyn's 'fantastic acting,' but admitted that there are no plans for her to join the show on a permanent basis. 'We haven't made a long-term contract with her, she wasn't interested in that,' he explained. However, Shore did not rule out a return appearance for the character at some point in the future. He said: 'If it works out well and her schedule allows it, why not [bring her back]?'

The BBC has confirmed plans to mark the first papal visit to the UK in twenty eight years with a documentary exploring the clerical abuse scandals surrounding Pope Benedict XVI. To coincide with the Pope's historic trip to Britain between September 16 and 19, BBC2 will broadcast the sixty-minute documentary Benedict: Trials Of A Pope. In the programme, award-winning filmmaker Mark Dowd will travel from Pope Benedict's homeland of Bavaria to the Vatican in an attempt to understand the clerical abuse scandals that have dogged his papacy. The documentary will also include a rare interview with the Pope's brother Georg Ratzinger, who will discuss how the scandals have affected his sibling. Dowd will further dissect how the UK Church has attempted 'to fashion a positive message about Pope Benedict by training up an army of young religious spin doctors called Catholic Voices.' On 19 September, the BBC will air the Beatification Ceremony of the Nineteenth Century Cardinal John Henry Newman, which marks his penultimate step before attaining Sainthood. Newman needs just one more miracle to be attributed to him before becoming England's first non-martyred Saint since the Reformation. To mark the occasion, former politician big, fat, nasty Anne Widdecombe will explore Newman's road to sainthood in another hour long documentary Newman: The Reluctant Saint, which will be broadcast on BBC2. 'Benedict: Trails Of A Pope and Newman: The Reluctant Saint are both fascinating and thought-provoking documentaries which will provide a unique insight and background to the papal visit,' said BBC head of religion and ethics Aaqil Ahmed. BBC4 will broadcast Vatican - The Hidden World, which will take a 'behind-the-scenes look' at the workings of the Vatican itself. The BBC will also run 'full coverage' of the papal visit across its television and radio platforms, with further details to follow shortly. Incidentally, dear blog reader, did you know that the Vatican City are one of only eight fully-recognised sovereign states whose national football team is not a FIFA member. The others are Monaco, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Nevertheless the Vatican City does have a team and has played two games against international opposition, both ending in goalless draws. Their first game was against San Marino in 1994 and the second against Monaco in 2002. They also play some friendlies against club sides; just recently they took part in a match against a Swiss club, SV Vollmond, on a small field just outside of the Vatican and, with the help of The Lord, won by five goals to one. The Vatican City squad consists largely of members of the Swiss Guards - the voluntary military force who traditionally act as the Pope's personal bodyguards and are, frankly, rock hard - plus some members of the Papal council and museum guards. Although, it should be noted that the Pontiff himself is said to be a more than decent right-winger. Or, is that just a dodgy rumour?

The Advertising Standards Authority has today dismissed over four thousand complaints about the UK's first television advert for advice on abortion services. Sexual health charity Marie Stopes International sparked controversy when it launched the Are You Late? campaign on Channel 4 in May. The advert, which was not aired in Northern Ireland due to the country's ban on abortion, featured three women who had missed their period, as a voice over pointed them to Marie Stopes for pregnancy advice. After it aired, the advert attracted thousands of complaints, including objections from viewers, anti-abortion groups, GPs and MPs forwarding their constituents concerns. Some complainants claimed that the advert promoted abortion or promiscuity among young people, while others objected on political or religious grounds. The ASA accepted that the campaign's focus was 'controversial and distasteful for some,' but it judged that the advert did not breach any rules in the advertising code. The watchdog said that the advert was purely aimed at pointing women facing an unplanned pregnancy to the advice services provided by Marie Stopes, including - but not limited to - abortion. After concluding that the advert would not encourage promiscuity among young people or trivialise unplanned pregnancy, the ASA said that no further action was required. 'We understood that post-conception decisions could be very difficult, but considered the ad dealt with the issue of possible pregnancy in an understated way and was not sensationalist,' said the watchdog. 'The women featured in the ad looked deep in thought, and we did not therefore consider that the ad trivialised the dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy. Whilst the ad featured three women, we did not consider that it suggested that only the woman would be affected, or that she should take any decisions alone. We did not consider that the ad focused on or advocated any particular choice or course of action over another, or put forward any assumptions about what the women would or should do. Whilst we recognised that any reminder of a difficult time, such as an unplanned pregnancy, could evoke a response in someone directly affected, we considered that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence on that basis.' Media regulator Ofcom has also received complaints about the advert and is running its own investigation - although how the hell a bunch of unelected nobodies believe they have any right to interfere in such matters is, frankly, a question in and of itself. The ASA has specifically asked Ofcom to address complaints that the advert carried a political message.

The former editor of the Independent and the New Statesman, Ian Hargreaves, has emerged as one of the leading candidates to become the new BBC trustee for Wales. Hargreaves, who is also a former director of BBC news and current affairs, is understood to have applied for the post, which becomes vacant this autumn when Janet Lewis-Jones steps down. He is currently based at Cardiff University and his previous roles include deputy editor of the Financial Times and director of Cardiff Univerity's Centre for Journalism Studies. He left the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, where he was on a two-year secondment from Ofcom as communications director, this year.

Bill Cosby has criticised the person behind the latest hoax which claimed that the comedian had died. Talking to Larry King Live, the seventy three-year-old admitted that he is upset by the repeated announcements which have now happened four times, the latest of which began after users on Twitter began typing 'Bill Cosby Died' into their posts on the website. 'I don't want this person, or whatever, I don't want them to do this anymore,' he said. 'I found out when my daughter called the house. [She said], "Dad, people are calling me, are you alright?" Maybe psychiatrists will say I'm feeding this person's ego, but I just want to say to friends of that person, just tell them to stop. Because it isn't funny.' Cosby also responded to the rumours via his own Twitter page. 'Emotional friends have called about this misinformation. To the people behind the foolishness, I'm not sure you see how upsetting this is,' he wrote.

Morrissey has urged the Queen to stop British Army Guards wearing real bearskin hats. In a letter to The Times, the singer insisted that the responsibility of ensuring the guards do not wear real bearskin falls to the monarch. He wrote: 'It is difficult not to look to the Queen herself - after all, they are her guards, and she must surely be aware of the horrific process utilised to supply real bearskins for her guards. The mere sight of each bearskin hat must surely jab at the Queen's heart.' Hang on Mozza, didn't you suggest in 'The Queen Is Dead' that 'her very lowness' doesn't have a heart? Morrissey added: 'Yes, animal rights move different people differently, and there are even those who think that animals simply have no right to be, but there is no sanity in making life difficult on purpose for the Canadian brown bear, especially for guards' hats that look absurd in the first place, and which can easily be replaced by faux versions (thanks to the visionary Stella McCartney) with no death involved.'

A fishmonger has described how he nearly died after he slipped into a tank of eels — and one them shot straight up his bottom. Li Chang, forty three — who suffered severe internal injuries — had been sitting on the edge of the tank at his warehouse in Guangzhou, southern China, where the eels were waiting to be cooked. But he slipped into the giant tank. Chang is quoted in the Sun as saying: 'I guess they were scared when I suddenly landed in the tank so they started wriggling everywhere. Several shot up my trouser leg. And then to my horror I felt one go up my bottom.' Incredibly Chang was so embarrassed about the incident that he carried on working. He said: 'I didn't say anything at first when I climbed out - I was too embarrassed. I dried myself off and tried to carry on working, but it was just too painful.' Colleagues dialled the emergency services when Chang eventually collapsed in agony. Astonished medics carried out a five hour operation to remove the eel and repair the severe internal trauma caused by it thrashing about. A hospital spokesman said: 'The eel had badly injured the patient. If he had not arrived when he did he would have died. We expect he will make a full recovery though. The eel was as wide as two fingers and as long as a man's arm.' Ooo, that's enough to make anyone's eyes water.

And finally for today, dear blog reader, especially for you here's a rather tasty picture of Karen Gillan. And, whyever not?