Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shout To The Top

Steven Moffat has praised Michael Gambon's performance in the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special. The writer told Premium Hollywood that it was exciting to have the Singing Detective actor on-set. 'He's brilliant,' said Moffat. 'Absolutely brilliant. What a voice.' The showrunner added that Gambon was not a huge fan of the series prior to accepting the part. 'I didn't get the impression that he was a fan of Doctor Who, except insofar as everyone in Britain is at the moment,' he explained. '[But] if it's a good script [and] they're being offered prime-time on Christmas Day, there's a real chance you can get anyone for that.'

Amidst all the - righteous -praise for Benedict and Martin in Sunday night's Sherlock, just a brief mention for what was, for this blogger anyway, the best single performance in the episode - the excellent Rita Davies playing the old blind woman who was Moriarty's third suicide bomber (and, first victim). You might not recognise the name, but Rita's been a regular face on British TV and film with a career stretching back the best part of fifty years - one of those great character actors who's been in pretty much everything. Some of her recent appearance have included Ashes To Ashes, The Day of the Triffids, The Omad Djalili Show, Casualty and 55 Degrees North but she's also cropped up in projects as diverse as The Da Vinci Code, the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited, and, going back a few years, Monty Python's Holy Grail. Somebody useful to have in mind if you're playing 'six degrees of separation.'

Luther's Idris Elba has revealed that the crime drama could return to BBC1. The six-part first series of the show concluded on 8 June, with the final episode attracting just over four million viewers. It was generally considered within the industry to have been critically well-received but its audiences were average. Not bad, but not great either. Yer Keith Telly Topping himself rather enjoyed it. Elba told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour that any potential future series of Luther would be based around 'the way people watch dramas now, three or four episodes at a time.' The actor also admitted that the maverick tactics of his character DCI John Luther should have ended his detective career long ago. 'In reality, Luther would have been fired several times already,' he said. '[But] Luther uses his intellect and thinks like the perp and wins.'

Coronation Street will go ahead with a live episode to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, a report has claimed. Producer Phil Collinson - who previously confirmed that discussions over a live transmission were taking place - allegedly shared the news with the soap's cast last week during an on-set meeting. According to the People, live scenes will show bodies lying on the cobbles following the devastating tram crash which will be the main storyline for the show in December. Sources say that Collinson wants the special instalment to be 'the biggest TV achievement ever' due to the challenging nature of the planned scenes. A source said: 'There's a real buzz around the live episode. Everyone wants things to go off without a single cock-up - no messed-up line or moving dead body.' Coronation Street previously went live for its fortieth birthday ten years ago. Meanwhile, its BBC rival, EastEnders, broadcast a very well-received live episode to celebrate its own twenty fifth anniversary in February of this year.

Simon Amstell has revealed that he believes The Royle Family is the last great family sitcom. Speaking to What's On TV, the comedian and former Never Mind The Buzzcocks host also responded to suggestions that his new project Grandma's House is a Jewish version of the same idea. He said: 'For me The Royle Family was the last really good family sitcom. If people want to describe it in this way it's fine, but it's odd. Jewish seems less relevant to me than a conflicting family with an anxious person visiting every couple of weeks and trying to fix them. It feels very strange for it to be classified in this way. For me it's about acceptance, not about being Jewish.' Amstell also joked that he may flee the country if there is a negative reaction to his new sitcom. At least, we assume it was a joke. Although if last night's debut episode was anything to go by, I reckon he might be in a taxi and on his way to the airport as we speak, dear blog reader.

Russell Davies has revealed that the new season of Torchwood will feel more 'global.' Davies explained that Torchwood: The New World, which is being made with the US cable network Starz, will be set in a number of locations. According to zap2it.com, he said: 'It has this global sweep to it which is justified by the story. I hate to say "international in scope" because it usually means a scene set in Berlin for no reason.' However, the show's executive producer Julie Gardner promised that Wales will still be a big part of the series. 'The Welsh setting still features in a really significant way as we move forwards so when we start filming in January, we will start filming in Wales,' she said. 'There will be beautiful landscapes. Gwen Cooper [Eve Myles] is still that character. She's still Welsh! Her story will take place in the US but also very much in the UK, so that flavour of Wales will be very apparent.' Davies has promised that the new series will also retain the show's humour. The showrunner previously suggested that the fourth series would be 'very dark.' However, he told USA Today: 'I sit there in the editing room saying, "Don't cut that joke! Cut the plot, cut the murder, cut the story, but don't cut the joke."' He added: 'It will always be a cheeky show.' Davies admitted that the plot for the ten-part series was not originally envisioned as a Torchwood storyline. '[The plot] had been ticking away in my mind for a long while,' he explained. 'And suddenly I thought, there's a popular show, there's a great story, let's put them together. It felt like it definitely could move forward and become new again.'

Hawaii Five-0 star Alex O'Loughlin has promised that the upcoming CBS reboot will not disappoint fans of the original series. The actor admitted that he had felt intimidated taking over the role of Steve McGarrett from Jack Lord, who played the character from 1968 to 1980. He explained: 'Jack Lord left a big set of shoes to fill and I want to do the original show, and all the fans around the world, justice.' O'Loughlin explained that the modern update will be 'the hard-rock version to the ballad of the original [show].' He also revealed that the new series will showcase 'a side of Hawaii that's not just beaches and palm trees. There's all walks of life here and it's a very interesting place,' he said. 'We want [this] to be a really good, real-life cop show.'

Martin Scorsese has praised cable network HBO, the home of his new gangster series Boardwalk Empire. The director told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour that he is a fan of the network's programming. 'A number of the episodes, in so many of their series, they're thoughtful, intelligent [and] brilliantly put together,' he said. 'It's a new opportunity for storytelling. It's very different from television of the past.' Boardwalk Empire will star Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, a 'rum-runner' in prohibition-era Atlantic City. Oscar winner Scorsese admitted that he had long been interested in directing for television. 'I've been tempted over the years to be involved with one of them, because of the nature of the long form,' he explained. Scorsese will executive produce the series and has also directed the pilot episode.

Quantum Leap lead Scott Bakula has announced that a film version of the sci-fi television series is in development. Bakula, who played Sam Beckett in the NBC drama, told fans at this year's Comic-Con that the show's creator Donald Bellisario is working on a script for the movie. 'The good news is that Don is working on the film script and has a big-time Hollywood producer who wants to do it,' said Bakula. 'It's about time.' However, Bakula claimed that he and co-star Dean Stockwell are now too old to reprise their original roles. He suggested that the characters will be recast for the film. 'But Dean and I will have a part in it somehow,' he added.

And now, dear blog reader, some TV ratings news for you, because I know how much you always enjoy that.
Top Twenty programmes, 26 July 2010 to 1 August 2010:
1. Eastenders - 9.65 million
2. Coronation Street - 9.44 million*
3. Sherlock - 8.07 million*
4. Emmerdale - 7.01 million
5. Top Gear - 6.19 million*
6. Who Do You Think You Are? - 5.97 million
7. Casualty - 5.72 million
8. Holby City - 5.48 million
9. BBC News - 4.95 million
10. Heartbeat - 4.71 million
11. My Family - 4.66 million
12. Ten O'Clock News - 4.60 million
13. Celebrity Masterchef - 4.59 million
14. Midsomer Murders (repeat) - 4.58 million
15. National Lottery - 4.57 million
16. Formula 1: Hungarian Grand Prix - 4.55 million
17. Countryfile - 4.37 million
18. Taggart - 4.32 million
19. John Bishop's Britain - 4.23 million
20. Identity - 4.18 million*
* = includes HD. Thirteen of the Top Twenty were from BBC1, six from ITV and one from BBC2.

The stars of HBO vampire drama True Blood have dismissed suggestions that Snoop Dogg will appear on the show. The rapper previously admitted that he would like a cameo role and also released a song dedicated to lead character Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin). However, speaking at a UK convention, Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte) denied that The Dogg was being lined-up for a part. 'Apparently Snoop has wanted to be on the show from the beginning, but I don't think [creator] Alan Ball is going to let that happen,' he explained. 'Having such a high-profile person appear in the show, I think it would take us all out of Bon Temps. [Alan] doesn't need to cast Snoop Dogg to get people to watch.' He added: 'We're glad he watches and likes the show though.' Tramell's co-star Kristin Bauer (Pam Ravenscroft) agreed that casting the rapper could be damaging for the series. 'A lot of times on TV when ratings dip they go for stunt casting,' she said. 'It's not a good thing, and we definitely don't need that yet.'

When viewers of Spartacus: Blood and Sand saw Lucy Lawless' Lucretia, the scheming character appeared to have been mortally wounded by Crixus, her gladiator lover, in the season's climactic ludus rebellion. Many observers assumed that the frequently-naked former Xena star was on her way out of the popular Starz drama, a reasonable assumption since both Lawless and John Hannah were only on one-season contracts. But, Spartacus series creator Steve S DeKnight told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour. 'I was thinking she was still twitching at the end of Season One, if you look.' He continued, 'The original plan with Lucy and that character was to kill her at the end of the season. Basically we had John Hannah and Lucy Lawless for only one season. That's what we could get them for. Towards the end of Season One Lucy was having such a great time, and we all loved her so much, there was interest in bringing her back. And I got a call from Rob Tapert saying, "Starz called, and they'd really like Lucy to come back, and you know, Lucy really wants to come back" and I said, "Absolutely not. She's got to die. That's the way the story goes." And then the next day I called him up and said, "Rob, I got an idea." Lucy will be back in Season Two. And where the story goes with her is really something special. I'm very excited about that.'

News Corp's proposed takeover of Sky undervalues the satellite broadcaster and could lead to an exodus of its senior staff, according to industry experts. Last week, News Corp deputy chairman Chase Carey claimed that the firm's seven hundred pence-per-share offer for Sky is 'full and fair,' despite the bid being swiftly rejected by Sky's board. Sky's directors, led by deputy chairman Nicholas Ferguson, indicated that eight hundred pence-per-share was the minimum offer level to start serious negotiations. The board's stance is also backed by the majority of Sky investors holding the 60.9 per cent of the firm not already owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Despite Carey's comments, the majority of analysts and experts believe that the firm will increase its offer for Sky to complete the deal, reports the Financial Times. The current bid of would involve News Corp paying £7.37 billion for the remaining Sky shares, valuing the company at £12.27bn. However, an increased offer would raise the firm's outlay to £8.43bn. Stephen Adams, head of UK equities at Aegon Asset Management, said: 'Our view is that an offer in excess of eight billion pounds is needed. All the key metrics you would look at in an independent business look better now than prior to the bid.' However, a 'source' close to Sky has allegedly said that the firm's non-executive directors could drive up the price so high that News Corp may seek other solutions. 'The non-execs have not even agreed on eight hundred pence as the price they would accept'. It could be eight hundred and thirty pence before they would recommend a bid to shareholders and perhaps News couldn't afford that. They could go hostile.' You mean, they're not already? There is also concern within Sky that some of the senior management team could look to leave rather than face a potential reduction in their independence under sole News Corp ownership. A senior insider said: 'Under Jeremy [Darroch, Sky's chief executive], there is a really good, collegiate feel to the place with everyone working to drive shareholder value, and that is simply not going to happen in the same way with News Corp making all the decisions. There will be people who leave.' A major Sky investor added: 'I think executives leaving is not just a possibility, it is an inevitability. Perhaps this won't happen immediately but it is clearly a very different ownership model.' While haggling over price, Sky and News Corp have agreed to co-operate on tackling the regulatory issues around the deal at Brussels and London, which could take a year to complete. Last month, Sky reported an eleven per cent increase in revenue to £5.9 billion in the three months to 30 June, with operating profit up ten per cent year-on-year.

Oily Jeremy Hunt, the lack-of-culture secretary, has been urged to intervene in the 'crisis' surrounding S4C after chief executive, Iona Jones, abruptly left the publicly funded Welsh-language broadcaster last month. The Welsh Assembly member for Mid and West Wales, Alun Davies, has written to Hunt claiming that S4C had been taken over by a small, unaccountable group of 'the Welsh establishment.' Crikey, it's a coup. For the purposes of what, though, he did not elaborate. More rugby on TV, probably. 'For the first time in thirty years, a channel established as the result of direct action by the people of Wales, is facing a crisis of trust and confidence,' said Davies, who chaired a recent inquiry into broadcasting in Wales. In his letter he describes the 'considerable concern' throughout Wales and anger that S4C steadfastly refuses to give any further explanation for its action. 'Since these curious and somewhat chaotic events I (and others) have been trying without success to understand what has happened at S4C and the reasons for these events. I have been told by the management of the channel that it is nothing to do with me and that I am living in the past,' Davies said. So, they're accusing you of having gone to Cardiff and nicked The Doctor's TARDIS, are they? Blimey, I'd sue 'em for such an accusation if I were you, Alun. 'I have also been told that the [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] has been kept informed of all decisions and all actions over the past week. I have been told that the new management has the complete confidence of the DCMS.' Sounds like you've been told rather a lot. In which case, it's a bit surprising to hear you suggest that your lack of comprehension at what's going on is down to an information blockage. Sounds more like information overload to me. 'I would therefore be grateful if you could let me know what exactly has happened at S4C; the reasons for the collapse of the whole regulatory and management structures at the channel and when you become aware of these issues.' Davies also asked to see all correspondence between S4C and DCMS on Jones's departure. The drama at S4C was played out last week against the backdrop of the National Eisteddfod, a weeklong celebration of the Welsh language and culture, where a special meeting was held to discuss S4C 's programming. S4C's new regime has also opened talks with some of the smaller Welsh independent producers who faced being sidelined by proposals from Jones, aimed at absorbing potential staggered budget cutbacks of twenty four per cent. The Plaid Cymru leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, and deputy first minister of the Welsh Assembly also gave a keynote speech there, calling for broadcasting to be devolved, with the assembly assuming powers to set S4C's budget and establish its aims. However, the annual grant of one hundred million pounds is paid for by the Treasury, through the DCMS. In a statement S4C said: 'We have consistently made it clear we can't make any comment. S4C is respecting contractual and legal obligations which apply in this matter.' So, there you have it Alun Davies. It's not that they can't tell you, it's that they won't tell you. Because, it's a secret. Glad we got that one sorted out. Next, world peace. Now some of you, dear blog readers, may slightly suspect that yer Keith Telly Topping appears to be taking this media story a bit less seriously than, perhaps, he would if the TV station in question was an English one. And that, therefore, this would appear to be yet another, almost textbook, example of the sickening casual, institutionalised - almost colonialist - racism against the Welsh. My only defence to that charge would be ... What. Ever. As the Reverend Llewellyn-Llewellyn-Llewellyn-Llewellyn once said - in that episode of The Goodies - 'there is no enjoyment at Eisteddfod. [It] is an old Welsh word, from the old Welsh. Eistedd meaning "bored" and fod meaning "stiff'!"' Evans above.

Joanna Lumley has blamed the rise of cancer on the ingestion of processed meats. The actress, who has been a vegetarian for over forty years, slammed farming processes which introduce growth hormones into animal products and urged fans to adopt a meat-free lifestyle, reports the Daily Star. 'When I was young, I heard of one person who had cancer in all my growing up, a friend of my mother. So why have we got so much cancer?' she said. 'Could it be the growth hormones in the food we eat, that try to make all the chickens, sheep and cows, more productive? I just find living as a vegetarian keeps me completely fit.' Lumley recently joined the Sharwood's food brand to create new products which will raise funds for Gurkha soldiers.

Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner David A Cowan has granted Jennifer Aniston's request for a long-term restraining order against Jason Peyton. The actress previously sought a temporary junction against Peyton on 20 July shortly after the man was arrested outside of her home in the Hollywood Hills. He was found 'laying-in-wait' near the property 'with a sharp object, a bag, a roll of duct tape and written messages about [Aniston]' and was placed under psychiatric care, where he is expected to remain for thirty days. The new order will remain in effect for three years and will prohibit Peyton from contacting or coming near Aniston during that time, reports The Associated Press.

Brian Blessed has confirmed plans to voice a satellite navigation system for TomTom. The actor made the announcement in a YouTube video clip in response to a Facebook group titled Campaign to get Brian Blessed to do a voice over for my sat-nav, which has amassed over twenty five thousand fans. Blessed said: 'This is me, Brian Blessed, I'm the real thing, the real McCoy! Real beard, it's not stuck on, and it's my nose. I just want to say thank you, thank you ever so much. I'm really thrilled to bits, I'm going to make a great job of it.' He added: 'I can't remember all your names, twenty five thousand people, but I do remember Mary, and Fred of course - all you wonderful people. Thank you ever so much. Gordon's Alive! I'm thrilled to bits, we're going to make a great success of this - it's absolutely marvellous and thrilling, thank you ever so much, I'm very grateful.' Mad as toast!