Friday, August 13, 2010

Stone Cold Dead In Studio Five

Two previously unseen Doctor Who mini-episodes will be released on the upcoming season five DVD collection. According to the Los Angeles Times, two newly filmed sequences called Meanwhile, In The TARDIS will show fans what The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) were up to in between episodes. As if that euphemistic description isn't enough to get a bit of wax exploding in the ears of some lice at the Daily Scum Mail. Both mini-episodes were written by Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat. The series five box set will be released in the UK and US in November.

TV quote of the night: And, again it's from yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved Celebrity MasterChef, which has given this blogger more laughs in the last week than then entire current series of That Mitchell & Webb Look. When Gregg Wallace asked misery-guts Neil Stuke if he was happy with his two - very good - meals in the classic recipe section, Neil replied that he was. Gregg merely added 'well, can you tell your face that!' Sarky bastard! Actually, come to think of it, that wasn't quite his most cutting moment of the episode. That came when he described Lisa Faulkner's lemon meringue pie thus: 'Taste like meringue, looks like polyfiller!'

Ian Wright was last night sensationally sacked from Channel Five after refusing to promote the broadcaster's shows claims the Daily Scum Mail. The former Arsenal player was 'axed' - tragically, not literally - from the nightly show, the wretched Live From Studio Five, allegedly after a row with executives when he refused to promote the channel's ailing talent show Don't Stop Believing. And, amazingly, not because he was a completely rubbish presenter of a show that has become, over the last fifteen months, a virtual by-word for everything that is wrong with British television. A 'friend' of the veteran sportsman is alleged to have said: 'Ian is not a puppet.' A muppet, possibly. But, certainly not a puppet. 'Don't Stop Believing has lost nearly a million viewers and he was told to come on air and say how great the show was, but he refused.' As opposed to a programme which the Scum Mail insist on calling 'Live At Studio Five' [sic] throughout their 'exclusive' and which, on Wednesday evening - Wright's last appearance - had an audience of just over one hundred thousand viewers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Don't Stop Believing is anything other than a cheap and tawdry X Factor knock-off which is amateurishly presented and the sooner that it disappears into the dustbin of history, the better. But to hear somebody involved with Live From Studio Five of all shows criticising another programme for losing its audience really is a case of the pot calling the kettle something or other. Wright had hosted the appalling chat show from its launch last year. Badly. And, I mean, really badly. Live From Studio Five has always attracted strong criticism from just about every quarter. In Yahoo's poll: The Worst TV Shows of 2009, it came third receiving eleven per cent of all the votes, whilst From The North's own best and low list of 2009 also featured the show, at number twelve. Veteran broadcaster Michael Parkinson was quoted as saying 'If there was a category for worst ever show, it would win hands down.' Drew Peacock of the Mirror described it as 'excruciatingly awful, amateurish and virtually pointless.' The comedian Dom Joly nicknamed the initial presenters 'Tits, Teeth and Mouth.' And, the doyen of TV critics, Charlie Brooker wrote in his Screenburn column that the show plumbed new depths for television news. 'Here is a TV show that makes any and all previous accusations of "dumbing down" seem like misplaced phoney-war hysteria. A show with a running order Heat magazine would consider frighteningly lightweight. A show which, incredibly, boasts Melinda Messenger as its intellectual touchstone.' According to the Scum Mail story, Wright was taken off air last night following his dispute with new executive producer Chris Shaw, who has made a series of format changes to the programme. Wright was only told the news hours before he was due to arrive at the studios. The 'source' said: 'Ian knew he didn't want to go on the show and act like he loved Don't Stop Believing.' The former footballer was also said to be upset with the drastic changes, which included cutting the show from an hour to half an hour – and telling Wright's co-hosts, Jayne Middlemiss and Kate Walsh, to stop their ceaseless blather. The 'source' allegedly added: 'In half an hour you can't have an opinion, the presenters can't talk amongst themselves. Ian believed that Channel Five put no money into promoting his show and all the money into Don't Stop Believing.' Ian Wright could have an opinion in half-a-second, pal, and it would probably be worthless just as the vast majority of his opinions are. He could also hold an argument in a phone box with nobody else present. And, as for the presenters 'talking among themselves,' isn't that what the staff canteen is for? Wright had been continuing to host the show, despite having an operation to fuse his ankle bones last month. Wright's 'friend' - note, please, how he's gone from being a 'source' to a 'friend' in just one paragraph - added: 'Ian wouldn't have walked out because it would have been unprofessional. He had even been coming in in a wheelchair and then crutches after the operation. But to be honest he doesn't need to do it, so it's probably best to be off what is now a steadily sinking ship.' So, he couldn't have 'walked out' anyway, then. Hobbled out, possibly. The last bit of Wrighty's 'friends' rant, the bit about the 'sinking ship', at least, does appear to be true - industry speculation is that with Richard Woolfe, Live From Studio Five's major standard-bearer at Five, having gone the way of all flesh in Richard Desmond's recent Night of the Long Knives, the show's days may well be numbered. No matter which giggling non-entity they get to present it. A spokesman for Wright told the Scum Mail: 'Ian will no longer be appearing on Live At Five.' It's really impressive, is it not, that both his 'friend' and his 'spokesman' don't even know the name of the show that he's just had his ass fired from! Earlier this year Wright had described his former co-presenter, Melinda Messenger, as 'annoying.' She later hit back claiming that the 'intolerable' ex-footballer was the sole reason that she had quit the show.

And, speaking of Richard Woolfe, independent production suppliers to Five have, allegedly, been 'split' over the axing of the Channel Five controller and speculation has already begun over his possible next step. This is all according to a piece in Broadcast magazine which - as usual - uses half-a-dozen unattributed sources. So, even more than the Scum Mail piece, dear blog readers are advised to take all of the following which the sort of salt levels that normally cause heart attacks. Woolfe has had a mixed reaction from the independent sector during his sixteen-month tenure at the channel with one - anonymous - source allegedly labelling his career 'clearly a disastrous and expensive appointment.' Anonymous this chap may be, but it's hard to argue with that. Woolfe has presided over some successful formats such as The Business Inspector, The Gadget Show and Fifth Gear - all of which pre-date his appointment - but other entertainment shows including the Justin Lee Collins-vehicles Heads Or Tails and Good Times have failed to get much viewers' interest and have been scrapped. And, then, there's Live From Studio Five. 'Woolfe likes the sort of shows that only certain people like. He failed at Sky now he's failed at C5,' said one person whom Broadcast describe as an 'indie managing director.' One who is, it would appear, too chickenshit to put his name to his criticisms in case he and Woolfe should meet again five years down the line. I loathe unattributed sources, it is the single lowest form of journalism. It's bad enough when the Daily Star are doing it with made-up quotes to support today's "Doctor Who exclusive" but Broadcast is doing it more and more and, for a media organ which I used to really respect, I find it repulsive. 'Is it a case of the emperor's new clothes?' their 'source' continues rhetorically. 'But good luck to him as he is very passionate about TV.' What a lovely way to end what was little short of a character assassination, I'm sure you'll all agree, dear blog reader. Most recently, the channel's new flagship entertainment show Don't Stop Believing slipped from an initial audience of one and a half million viewers to under six hundred thousand by its fourth week on Sunday. Because, as Ian Wright so wisely noted, it's crap. Albeit, bad as it is, it's still got an audience four times that of the show Wright himself has just got the tin-tack from. Another 'indie managing director' whom, Broadcast claims, is 'close to the outgoing C5 boss' said he thought Woolfe would have been taken by surprise with the news of his departure, having led the channel through a rocky financial climate. 'I think Woolfe was led to believe he would stay,' the 'source' said. 'It would take anyone time to turn C5 around and Richard has been there during one of the toughest times in TV's history.' Yes, mate. But he also gave us Live From Studio Five so, you know, no mercy. The source went on to question the logic of Woolfe's axing if new owner Richard Desmond wants to focus the channel on celebrity content, an area that Woolfe is considered to be strong in. 'Woolfe's departure is the one I'm most surprised about because if the ambition of the channel is in line with what seems obvious - i.e. celebrity crossover with magazines - then he would seem like as good a fit as any,' the source is alleged to have said. 'But if they go back to showing films and football then they don't need him. It's too early to say if it's the right or wrong thing to do because they haven't delivered their strategy.' The magazine goes on to claim that 'several other leading independent bosses' have said that they expected Woolfe to head to the US following his departure from Channel Five at the end of this month as it represents 'a good fit for him culturally.' Richard Hughes, managing director of Transparent Television was quoted as saying 'Richard Woolfe is such a big character and I could see him going to States because he loves the bright lights and showbiz.' Tremendous. Take Ian Wright with you, Richard. Another added, the magazine claim, that Woolfe's list of options in the UK had all but run dry. 'There is nowhere for Richard Woolfe to go in the UK really, so he might resurface in the States, where he must have very good contacts,' the 'source' said. In a separate article, the magazine also claims that the 'merciless' senior job cuts imposed by Channel Five's new regime had 'shocked' its programming suppliers, who now expect 'more changes to follow.' No shit? Well, of course they will you morons. The blokes hasn't paid over one hundred million quid for a failing broadcaster with less than five per cent of the audience share to leave things the same and hope they improve, has he? Jesus, has everybody in television taken the 'stupid pill' this week or what? The departure of Woolfe, chief executive Dawn Airey and five other directors, along with up to eighty staff, 'shocked' Five's suppliers, with one boss labelling the decision, 'a bit baby and bathwater.' Earlier this week, Desmond sacked almost all of Five's management team, at the same time as pledging a three hundred million pounds annual investment for the next five years. While many independent production company executives were expecting changes, the extent of the overhaul caught them off guard. Now the independent community is questioning how the commissioning team will shape up. One - again anonymous and, therefore possibly fictitious - source said: 'Andrew O'Connell and Donna Taberer are Woolfe loyalists and will probably go. Steve Gowans is a survivor and they need someone for news, so Chris Shaw is probably safe.' Another 'source' - again anonymous - added: 'There are a lot of good people there, and the hope is the new owners will work out who they are,' while a source whom the magazine describe as 'very close to Five,' but fail to name, said: 'Maybe the head's been cut off with the departure of Woolfe, but the heart's still pumping underneath.' Whatever the hell that means. Many programme makers expect Desmond to draft in staff from his print titles to help reshape Channel Five. 'Jeff Ford's a talented man but I'm surprised that he's been promoted to the programme director position,' said someone whom the magazine describe as 'a supplier.' Blimey, I knew things were bad at Broadcast but I didn't think they'd stooped to talking to dealers. 'I wouldn't have been surprised if the editor of the Daily Star had become head of programmes. There is a consensus that a celeb-focused strategy is on the cards, in terms of news and documentaries. Smaller indies will win less business and some of the bigger ones who have access to celebrities could sign deals with Desmond for a set number of hours a week. There could be a series of big output deals,' said another - again anonymous - source. Yet another predicted that Channel Five will 'go downmarket' and cut back on commissioning. 'It will replicate the Express, which started virtually printing press releases and cutting journalists, so won't need so large an exec team,' he said. A third source thought the braodcaster could 'get around' its PSB requirements by continuing to broadcast the likes of Live From Studio Five before eventually asking Ofcom to reduce the number of PSB hours that it is required to broadcast. Several of Five's chief suppliers are already lining up talks with the new management, and are said to be confident that there is still the potential for further business. North One, who makes Fifth Gear and The Gadget Show - probably Five's two most popular shows with audiences - and chief executive Neil Duncanson said, 'Once the dust has settled I am looking forward to sitting down with the new owners and working out how we move forward. There are so many more things we can do. Jeff Ford is real pro and a smart appointment. I'm confident he'll get Five going in the right direction.' Richard Hughes, the managing director of Transparent Television said, 'It's a sad occasion – these things can be so swift and unmerciful. But we're talking to C5 about the Extraordinary People strand, which did really well for them in the ratings.' Well, really well in Five terms, anyway. 'I think they have got to listen to that.' Another - anonymous - managing director said: 'I'm already in dialogue with Northern & Shell about their papers promoting our shows. It's a good sign that hopefully there's some synergy across Desmond's media outlets, which is something he's very good at.' Nice bit of crack-licking there, anonymous source.

Moving, at last, away from the rank numskullery at Five, John Slattery has claimed that Mad Men creator Matt Weiner refuses to let the show's network, AMC, have any input. Speaking to New York Magazine, Slattery explained that decisions about television programmes are often made for the wrong reasons. 'What you don't experience most of the time is someone treating the experience in a grown-up way,' he said. 'So many people on network TV make creative decisions they have no business making - that whole bureaucracy of executives making bullshit decisions based on likeability and all that other horseshit which has nothing to do with why they bought the show in the first place. The system is so screwed.' However, he added: 'Matt runs interference on all that stuff - he doesn't tolerate any interference from AMC. The trickle down is that we don't have to either.'

V producer Scott Rosenbaum has criticised the SF drama's first season. He told the Futon Critic that the show had originally lacked direction. 'In a complicated show that needs a mythology, you have to have answers,' he explained. 'I think the reason the show had some problems in the beginning was because there weren't answers to the questions [being posed].' Rosenbaum replaced V's original showrunner, Scott Peters ,after the first four episodes had aired. 'It was tough in the beginning,' he admitted. 'I had to create the mythology but then also back-track it so that it made sense with what the first four episodes [had set up].' Rosenbaum insisted that the forthcoming second season would be more consistent. 'Going into season two, I spent a lot of time completely solving the mythology [and working out] where the aliens came from, where they'd been before Earth and why they're at Earth now,' he revealed. 'They're a little different than a typical alien,' he continued. 'You're going to understand what they are, how they were created and what they consist of. They're not necessarily just lizards.' Rosenbaum added that the new version of V still held some surprises for viewers who had seen the 1984 original. 'A lot of people think they know the end of the show because they've seen the original,' he said. 'What they don't know is how it started in the beginning. [That's why] I created this backstory and mythology that we can unveil this season.'

Being Human actress Lenora Crichlow has revealed that the third season of the show will be lighter in tone. She told Collider that the central characters will begin to come to terms with their supernatural nature in the new episodes. 'I think they're all more comfortable,' she explained. 'There's a level of acceptance [in the third series]. We all cannot only laugh at our conditions, but we're accepting them and moving on, so there's a little bit more comfort. in our own state.' The new run of the show is set in Wales, following events in the second series finale that saw Annie, George and Mitchell forced to flee their Bristol home. 'It's a new start with a level of acceptance,' said the actress. 'We're not fighting the impossible anymore, and things that we can't change.'

ITV2 has confirmed that The Saturdays' new fly-on-the-wall documentary series will begin later this month. Wow, that's gonna be must-see telly if ever yer Keith Telly Topping heard of such a thing. The four-part documentary will follow the group as they prepare for the launch of their current single 'Missing You.' Each one-hour episode of the series will include an 'exclusive' performance from the band, with 'Ego' featured in episode one. Frankie Sanford recently admitted that she was 'paranoid' about how she would come across in the programme, adding: 'It is really scary, putting ourselves out there like this.' Well, don't do it, then. The viewers will forgive you.

Jennifer Aniston has defended herself against recent criticism from ignorant right-wing numskull Bill O'Reilly. The FOX news broadcaster - and opinionated gobshite - previously 'blasted' Aniston for comments that she made in support of single parents and branded her 'destructive' to young women. 'Blasted' of course, being tabloid-speak for 'criticised', only with less syllables. However, the actress clarified her stance this week, insisting that she supports traditional families. 'Of course, the ideal scenario for parenting is obviously two parents of a mature age. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on earth,' she told People. 'And, of course, many women dream of finding Prince Charming (with fatherly instincts), but for those who've not yet found their Bill O'Reilly, I'm just glad science has provided a few other options.'

Rockin' Ronnie Wood has said that he is happy for his old mate Rod Stewart and his wife Penny Lancaster on hearing the news that they are expecting their second child together. The couple revealed the pregnancy earlier this week in a statement to Hello magazine. Wood and Stewart were bandmates for five years in The Faces, who recently hosted a reunion concert at London's O2 arena. However, Stewart declined an invitation to appear and was instead replaced by Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall. According to the Daily Star, so this may well be a load of made-up old toss, Rockin's Ronnie told the crowd during the gig 'Good luck to him, he's a great dad. We do miss Rod but having Mick here is just unbelievable because it's one of those situations that you probably at first think wouldn't work but it's magic.' Yer Keith Telly Topping did have the opportunity to go to the gig but, to be honest, the idea of The Faces without Rod The Mod and Ronnie Lane is a bit like the idea of The Doors without Jim Morrison. Oh, hang on, that one's been done as well, hasn't it?

Sky News, Al-Jazeera English and an edition of Channel 4's Dispatches have all been nominated for the International Emmy news and current affairs awards. In the 'News' category, Sky News was nominated for its Pakistan: Terror's Frontline series of programmes. Broadcast in March of last year, the series documented the emerging threat from terrorist groups and the Taliban in Pakistan. The Al-Jazeera English channel was also recognised in the 'News' category for its coverage of Israel's ground operations against Hamas in Gaza. An episode of Channel 4's Dispatches, titled Pakistan's Taliban Generation, was nominated in the 'Current Affairs' category. Produced by the independent firm October Films, the programme examined how Pakistan's radical Islamists were bringing violence to the country and beyond. Other nominations in the 'News' category included Russian broadcaster RT Channel's coverage of Barack Obama's visit to Russia in July last year, and TV Globo's reports on a major blackout in Brazil in November 2009.

Big fat Vanessa Feltz has been fined after a weekend-long house party disrupted neighbours. The forty eight-year-old lard bucket pleaded guilty to breaching council noise levels during her daughter's engagement party in March, and was subsequently ordered to pay more than three thousand smackers. Feltz delivered her guilty plea by letter, as she was presenting her regular BBC London radio show at the time of the court hearing. She was fined fifteen hundred quid and told to pay costs of around seventeen hundred pounds, reports the Press Association. Westminster City Council noise patrol officers were first called to the TV presenter's house in St John's Wood, shortly before 5pm on 27 March, where Feltz and her daughter explained that they were carrying out sound tests. Despite serving the family with a statutory noise notice, neighbours complained again five hours later and Feltz was forced to turn down the volume. However, both the party and the complaints continued throughout the night. Council workers visited the property again at 10.45am to ask that the music be turned down further. The City Council's licensing manager, Andy Ralph, said: 'All our residents have a right to a reasonable level of peace and quiet. We investigate all complaints and treat each one as seriously as the next, no matter who makes them or who they are made about.'