Tuesday, August 03, 2010

These Foolish Things

House star Lisa Edelstein has revealed that the dynamic between her character Cuddy and House (Hugh Laurie) will change now that the pair have entered a romantic relationship. The two characters kissed in the show's sixth season finale and creator David Shore has since insisted that the romance will continue to be explored in season seven. Edelstein told Entertainment Weekly: 'Their dynamic always worked for them. Even though he frustrated her and vice versa, there was a reason they had to be that way with each other in order for him to get the right thing done and for her to give him some boundaries.' She added: 'Suddenly that gets very confusing when you're sleeping with somebody.' The actress explained that the two characters 'have to find their footing [again].' She also revealed that she had no problem filming romantic scenes with Laurie for the new season. 'I'm great friends with Hugh,' she said. 'I'm so happy for that because when you have to be intimate with somebody on screen, it's nice if you know them well and feel comfortable.'

The creator of Bones has revealed details of an upcoming storyline on the show. Speaking to TV Guide, Hart Hanson explained that Brennan (Emily Deschanel) will have a troubling moment in the fourth episode of the new season. 'It will appear to Brennan that she is solving her own murder,' he said. 'She is looking at a body and slowly realises it's her, which leads her to rethink her entire life.' Hanson insisted that Brennan is not dreaming in the episode, adding: 'She'll try to keep it hidden from Booth for as long as she can, and will ultimately change how she approaches him.' Meanwhile, Deschanel explained that she is looking forward to the episode. 'I'm intrigued by this,' she said. 'It sounds very creative. I'm sure there'll be some fear for Bones, which she'll try to overcome with scientific analysis.'

In the first heat of Mastermind: Champion of Champions, the 2009 champion, Jesse Honey, seemed unstoppable as he set a new Mastermind record answering questions on his Specialist Subject National Flags of the World. Jesse got twenty three points. The previous record was held by Joe West who scored twenty two points on The Life of Lord Nelson in 1979. Jesse's eventual combined score, thirty eight, was one higher than his total when he won the title last year. The highest overall Mastermind score is forty one points, set by Kevin Ashman (who went on to become one of the Eggheads) in 1995. His specialist subject was The Life of Martin Luther King.

ITV has confirmed its rumoured move into pay television with the launch of High Definition versions of ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 exclusively on Sky. Over the last three months, ITV chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Adam Crozier have been conducting a strategic review of the broadcaster to create a transformation plan. Chief among their aims was unlocking more revenue streams away from traditional advertising, after the broadcaster recently endured one of the worst advertising market slumps in living memory. ITV has now reached an agreement with Sky to launch ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD exclusively on the subscription television platform. The channels will be made available to Sky+ HD subscribers in the autumn, starting with ITV2 HD in October. However, it is unclear at present whether the channels will also be coming to Virgin Media's digital cable service in the future. 'Our priority for the next eighteen months is to make ITV a creatively dynamic and fit for purpose organisation while maintaining strict financial controls,' said Crozier. 'We have made swift progress in putting together a very strong management team fully focused on delivering a lean ITV that can create world class content, executed across multiple platforms and sold around the world. Over time we expect to move to a position whereby half of ITV's revenue base will be derived from non-television advertising sources and today we are announcing our move into pay television with the agreement to make HD versions of ITV 2, 3 and 4 pay channels on Sky.'

ITV has also announced that it has posted an adjusted pre-tax profit of one hundred and eighteen million pounds in the first half of 2010, buoyed by major growth in the TV advertising market around the World Cup. In its results statement for the six months to June 30, the commercial broadcaster reported a significantly improved financial performance and unveiled ambitious plans for the future. It recorded adjusted pre-tax profits of one hundred and eighteen million smackers in the first half of the year, up from a twenty five million pounds profit in the whole of 2009. ITV's earnings before interest, tax and amortisation rose hugely in the first half of 2010 from forty six million to one hundred and sixty five million pounds year-on-year. The strong performance was made possible by an eighteen per cent year-on-year increase in ITV's television advertising revenue, beating a market average of fifteen per cent.

Scott Prendergast has denied claims that he plagiarised a soon-to-be-released movie for his new show, Human Relations. Earlier, Buffy The Vampire Slayer actress Amber Benson suggested on her blog that the concept of the new Syfy series was suspiciously close to her film Drones. It's important to stress at this point that Amber didn't, actually, used the 'p' word. But, she did note 'I don't know the guys writing/producing Human Relations, and I have not read the script, so I can't say there is any wrongdoing. I just think it's a bit coincidental.' However, Prendergast told Airlock Alpha that he has been working on Human Relationships for some time. 'My show has been in-development since August of 2008,' he said. 'It was not developed at Syfy - we brought it to them independently in January of 2010. In fact, my show is based on a script I wrote in 1995, based on a job I had in Chicago in 1995-96.' Prendergast also dismissed the similarities between the synopses of Human Relations and Drones, which Benson posted on her blog. 'We know where my synopsis came from,' he said. 'It came from Syfy as part of their press release. What I want to know is, where did Amber's synopsis come from?' Prendergast explained that he could not find any reference to Benson's synopsis before her blog post, saying: 'I wonder if Amber wrote that synopsis of her movie - based on the synopsis of my show - just so that she could cry foul. Maybe she saw a similarity - she drew a connection because apparently her trailer was on Syfy.com - and perhaps she just made everything a little bit clearer with her word choice.' Prendergast added that he is worried about the future of Human Relations now that it has been linked to plagiarism. 'I've been making indie films for ten years and this whole thing is completely crazy,' he said. 'You always hear people talking about how the Internet is the wild west, and we are living in the "misinformation age." I didn't believe that until now.'

Sean Hughes has told Chortle that he's going to give up stand-up for 'a long time' once his Edinburgh Fringe show has ended. The comic, whose last sabbatical from the comedy circuit lasted seven years, told the website that he finds life on the road takes too much of a toll. 'Honestly, it's awful - except for the gigs,' he said. 'I can't stand hotels. It's the same with venues. This will be the last stand-up I do in a long time. I just need to regenerate.' The forty four-year-old, who returned to stand-up three years ago, also claimed that like he doesn't carefully write his act. He told the News Of The World: 'I think you'll find this with all good comics, I haven't usually written a word when I go on stage. I'll have bullet points with me but things will occur to me and develop. I don't sit down and go, "Let's write a joke." I'll never be slick. If I am walking down Princes Street and I have an idea, I'll go on stage that night and talk about it. The older you get, you don't really care what people think, so you can say what you want. Which is what comedy should be about. But my key responsibility, always, is to make people laugh.' He also revealed that he left Never Mind The Buzzcocks because of the 'bullying' he found himself involved in. 'Mark Lamarr was a bit of a bully and I'd join in,' he said. 'That's an even worse person - the one who's not brave enough to be the bully. I used to pick on Phill Jupitus all the time. That got unbearable.' One of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite comics, Seany. 'If Christians knock on my door and say "would you like to let Jesus into your home?" I always reply "Yeah, He can come in. But you'll have to wait outside!"'

Philip Glenister has admitted that he regrets starring in the flop supernatural drama Demons. And, he's not the only one, either! The forty seven-year-old actor claimed that he may have been miscast as the demon hunter Rupert Galvin but he also had a right go at critics for various comments made about his accent in the show, which was cancelled by ITV after one, disastrous, series. Oh Phil, sorry mate, but it was bad! I'd love to pretend it wasn't, but it was! He told the Digital Spy website: 'I did have problems with Demons personally, and they were partly self-inflicted. I don't think it was a bad series, maybe I was miscast. But then you suddenly get loads of journalists being dialect coaches, when they know fuck-all about accents.' Glenister cited his heavy involvement as Gene Hunt in the Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes franchise as the key reason for his difficulty adjusting to the part.'"I think the problem was from my point of view playing that American character. It was very hard for me to disassociate myself from Ashes To Ashes, because we were filming it [at the time],' he said. 'I just think that it was right in the middle of playing Gene Hunt, and people would be thinking, "What the fuck's going on with him, what was he doing?!" It was too soon to make the transition away from that character.' Glenister was speaking following the launch of his new Sky1 series Mad Dogs, which will be broadcast early next year.

Maura Tierney has revealed details of her new series The Whole Truth. Speaking to E! Online, the actress explained that the legal drama is not like a normal procedural. 'Every week you get to decide whose case you're liking, and if my case is a stronger case or [co-star] Rob [Morrow]'s case is stronger,' she said. 'Unfortunately in life, justice is not always achieved. The bad guys don't always get convicted and the good guys don't always succeed, so the audience is privy to that.' Tierney also revealed that she is pleased to be back at work following her recovery from breast cancer. 'It's a really wonderful feeling to know that people care about something that you do,' she said. '[And] it's a priority for me now to work with people I really like and watch.'

Ofcom has ruled that a current affairs programme on the recent attack on an aid flotilla bound for Palestine breached the broadcasting code by failing to maintain due impartiality. The programme, entitled Remember Palestine, was presented by Cherie Blair's sister Lauren Booth on Press TV, which is a news network controlled by the Iranian government. Aired on 5 June, the programme featured Booth discussing the events of 31 May when an Israeli military force boarded a pro-Palestinian aid convoy, resulting in nine people being killed. According to Ofcom, the programme began with a pro-Palestinian song and featured anti-Israeli imagery and comment throughout, including interviewees referring to 'a massacre' and 'a barbarous attack' on the flotilla. Nine people died, I think both of those statements have an element of 'justifiable comment' about them if one is pro-Israeli or, indeed, a neutral bystander. Another contributor referred to Israel as being 'a state above the law.' Given Mossad's record of covert assassination abroad - as, for instance, detailed in the Steven Spielberg movie Munich - something which they've never hidden or denied, again, that's something which one could argue has an element of truth to it, even if one regards such actions as morally justifiable. If nine people had been shot-to-death by armed police whilst on a barge going up the Thames, I don't imagine for a single second that too many British news programmes or other media outlets would be doing anything even approaching 'balanced', and probably quite rightly so. After being asked for comments by Ofcom, Press TV said that 'the intensity of the descriptions in the programme merely reflected the general atmosphere around the world.' The broadcaster also said that the comment about Israel being 'above the law' was, in fact, 'a viewpoint shared by a large number of people and by many officials around the world.' In its ruling, Ofcom warned broadcasters that their right to freedom of expression is 'not absolute,' as they must also maintain due impartiality to the subjects being covered. Which is, quite frankly, a piece of staggering hypocrisy. Given that FOX News, just for one example, is broadcast in this country, can I just say 'you are talking effing bollocks' to Ofcom. The watchdog - again, it's always worth pointing out, a bunch of politically-appointed, unelected nobodies - judged that all the contributors on Remember Palestine 'could reasonably be characterised as being from a pro-Palestinian viewpoint,' meaning that the programme failed to maintain due impartiality. 'We considered that the programme did not contain any alternative views, which could be reasonably and adequately classed as supportive of, or which sought to explain, the actions of the Israeli military forces in relation to the aid convoy, or of the Israeli state more generally,' said Ofcom. 'Overall the programme gave a one-sided view on this matter of political controversy.'

Robert Carlyle has revealed that he plans to remain part of the Stargate Universe cast for the foreseeable future. The actor told Collider that he was still enjoying playing the part of Nicholas Rush in the second season of the show. 'It didn't worry me that I was going to get involved in something that was long-running,' he explained. 'It's easy enough to say that in season two. I don't know how I'm going to feel next year or [the year after]. But at the moment I'm enjoying it a great deal.' He added: 'The premise of the show still stimulates and excites me. I'm enjoying going to work in the morning [and] that can't always be said. So as long as that continues, I'll keep doing it.' Carlyle also explained that he had struggled with the morally ambiguous nature of his character. He said: '[Rush] is a tricky character to play because he is so unlikeable at times that you have to walk a very thin line not to alienate the audience entirely from him. You have to throw the audience a bone!'

ITV has confirmed plans to launch the delayed one-hour time shift of its main ITV channel in the first quarter of 2011. The channel launch was announced as part of ITV chairman Archie Norman and chief executive Adam Crozier's new quasi-Stalinist glorious five-year transformation plan for the broadcaster. As part of the new digital strategy, ITV will make ITV1+1 available in the first quarter of next year, although the broadcaster has not announced any further details on specific platforms. Last year, ITV first unveiled plans to launch ITV1+1 on digital satellite and Virgin Media's digital cable service on 1 October 2009. However, the broadcaster opted to delay the channel 'until further notice,' despite securing a transponder place on Sky's programming guide. It is understood that concerns over the Contract Rights Renewal mechanism - which seeks to protect media buyers from ITV's dominance in the UK's commercial television market - were behind the decision. In May, the Competition Commission retained the CRR, but proposed factoring in ITV1+1 and ITV HD into future calculations so that ITV was not unfairly disadvantaged. Last week, the House Of Lords communications committee also confirmed plans to run an inquiry into the television advertising market, including the CRR system.

Sarah Parish has confessed that she was 'incredibly nervous' about acting with Joanna Lumley on Mistresses. It was confirmed in May that Lumley would join the show as Parish's characters mother, Vivienne. Parish told What's On TV: 'I couldn't wait. I'm a massive Joanna Lumley fan so I was incredibly nervous when I heard. I thought, "What am I going to do when I see her? Do you curtsy? Do you applaud?" But she's incredibly down to earth and one of the nicest people I've ever meet.' She added: 'She's a lovely person to be around and I think she works very well playing my mother, and the two of us are quite deep-voiced!' Parish also admitted that it 'felt right' that the new series is the final one. 'This series has a definite finality to it and it rounds off quite nicely. But we always love to come back and would love to do the show again and again,' she said. 'If we get good ratings this time, who knows, we might do it again. Never say never! That's the magic of television.'

Shine International has confirmed the launch of MasterChef in six new countries around the world. The cookery show, which debuted to high viewing figures in the US last week, will now be locally produced in Belgium, India, Iceland, Israel, Ukraine and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, a French version of the programme will be given a high-profile launch later this month. Last month, the Australian series finale broke TV ratings records and was viewed by one in four Australians. The show's popularity also prompted the country's prime ministerial debate to be rescheduled. The new deals have been made with India's Star TV, Israel's Keshet TV, Ukraine's STB, the Netherlands' SBS and VTM of Belgium, while Iceland's Sagafilms has also optioned the format. The Indian version will feature Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, who starred in Blue alongside Kylie Minogue, as the main anchor and host. 'The outstanding showing of MasterChef in the US and Australia, and new sales of the format in one of the most populous countries in the world, demonstrates that there is no bigger food show on the planet,' said Shine International president Chris Grant. 'This is a true Shine success story that highlights our ability to bring together the best production and broadcast partners to create truly global franchises that are loved by audiences everywhere.' Err, the UK version's pretty good too, Chris. You know, the original!

Sky has commissioned a second series of James Corden's sports quiz A League Of Their Own. Why?! Why, for the love of God, why?! Another ten episodes, plus two hour-long specials, have been ordered for Sky1 in HD this autumn. Stand-up John Bishop will return as a regular panelist, despite landing his own BBC1 prime-time series, while former England footballer Jamie Redknapp and Sky Sports presenter Georgie Thompson are also returning. Freddie Flintoff's continued involvement in the series isn't confirmed although given that this announcement came on the very day when it was confirmed he wouldn't be playing any cricket this season, him being busy isn't tohught to be a factor. The show will also air in a later, post-watershed timeslot, which Sky says will allow that oafish buffoon Corden and the teams 'the freedom for even more mischief and mayhem.' Oh, great. Corden said: 'I'm really excited to be back in the saddle for another series of A League of Their Own. I've got plenty more random sports facts up my sleeves, and am looking forward to putting the teams through their paces again.' Duncan Gray, Sky's head of entertainment, added: 'From the moment it aired, A League of Their Own was an instant hit with our viewers.' Not with this one, it wasn't, matey.

On a somewhat related note, dear blog reader, you may have noticed that yer Keith Telly Topping hasn't bothered to highlight or comment upon a recent, very widely reported - and completely bloody pointless - Internet poll carried out by some website or other in which Corden and his pal Horne were seemingly voted 'the best comedy duo in, like, the world, ever. Bar none.' By some glakes. As previously noted, Horne and Corden's popularity - such as it is - seems to be almost entirely down to a strong student following. Which, given the appalling state of education in this country, frankly, says much. The main reason that I haven't bothered with covering the story is, well, firstly because it's bastard stupid. Another ludicrous little poll carried out by 'some website or other' that seemingly serious media organisations report as news. You get one of these cropping up about once every couple of weeks. 'Del Boy's coat voted as funniest item of clothing on TV, says poll,' which, usually, turns out to have been voted on by a few hundred cretins with more time on their hands than they know what to do with. The other reason is because one of the bloggers at Chortle has done the job so much better than I ever could! 'Although their sketch show was critically panned, James Corden and Mat Horne topped a poll run by the online TV service seesaw.com, which attracted three thousand responses. They got sixteen per cent of the vote, narrowly beating Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise into second place. Horne and Corden made a single series of a BBC3 sketch show which attracted at best eight hundred thousand viewers. Morecambe and Wise had a career that spanned forty three years, peaking with the twenty eight million viewers who tuned in to their 1977 Christmas special.' What he said. Although, personally, I'd've more gone down the 'anyone who even considers voting in these type of nonsense polls should be hit, hard, in the face with a metal-framed photograph of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore by someone screaming at them "these two are funny. Horne and Corden aren't" until they cry and beg for mercy' route myself. It's the only language such morons understand, trust me. Anyway, if any tabloid stringer is searching around the Internet for the next one of these crass exercises in nothing, From The North can report that in a recent survey carried out by this site, and voted on by me, chips came top of a poll of Britain's favourite potato-based fried foods. Followed by crisps, waffles and roast potatoes. Fritters came fifth.

Ice-T has revealed that he has no plans to quit his role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The rapper-turned-actor - who plays Detective Fin Tutuola - told WENN that he has no real desire to return to movies. 'I really don't know [about returning to movies],' he explained. '[I will] probably [do it] when Law & Order ends, which I hope is never!' He added: 'I've got a good job, I'm not trying to quit. I'm dealing with the TV business right now, and I don't have a problem with that.'

Seth Green has promised that a new television comedy based on the Star Wars franchise will not disappoint fans. It was previously reported that Green and his Robot Chicken co-creator Matthew Senreich would work with Lucasfilm Animation on the upcoming series. The actor told io9 that the animation is still in the early stages of development, saying: 'It's probably like two years, legitimately, before anybody will have anything real to say about that. It's so early, but it is going to be awesome. I promise, we're not going to fuck it up. We take it really seriously. We won't abuse [your] trust.' He also revealed details of the latest Robot Chicken special to poke fun at the sci-fi franchise. 'It'll be sketches all over the canon, but there will be a more linear canon. Actually from before the first prequel to Return Of The Jedi,' he said. Green - who also provides the voice of Chris Griffin in Family Guy - admitted that one joke in the Robot Chicken special also appears in Family Guy's forthcoming Return of the Jedi spoof. '[The joke is] funny in both directions,' he claimed. 'It's like it's a different joke. Or it's the same joke told in a different way.'

The great Janeane Garofalo - soon to be seen in the new series of Ideal - has signed to make a guest appearance in upcoming sitcom The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. A pilot for the show, which stars comedian David Cross, debuted on Channel 4 last November. A full series has now been commissioned and will premiere on the IFC network on 1 October. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Garofalo - who recently joined the cast of the upcoming Criminal Minds spin-off - will star in at least one episode of the series. Actor Russ Tamblyn will also appear in the programme, while ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr will provide original music.

Sky1 has commissioned a remake of Sinbad the Sailor, which is being produced by Impossible Pictures, the company behind Primeval. The broadcaster said the thirteen-part series, called Sinbad, would be a 'Twenty First Century take' on the story, with scripts from Jack Lothian and Neil Biswas. Sky1 head of drama Elaine Pyke said: 'Our Sinbad is twenty one, reckless, utterly charming and cursed. Mysticism, magic, monsters and high octane action adventure, this Sinbad is always exciting and sometimes challenging.' She said the series, announced today as part of Sky1's autumn launch, would have the 'ambition of Lost' and 'the pace of 24.' She forgot to add, the uniqueness of A League Of Their Own and the butchness of Pineapple Dance Studios. 'Sky's Sinbad will be a multi-layered series for today’s prime time audience,' she added. The drama is expected to be broadcast this winter. Sky1 has also commissioned a second series of Got to Dance, with Adam Garcia, Kimberley Wyatt and Ashley Banjo all returning as judges. The prize money on this show is a quarter of a million pounds. Other programmes in Sky's autumn line-up include the previously-mentioned Mad Dogs, a fine-looking drama starring Marc Warren and Max Beesley as well as reuniting Phil Glenister and John Simm, and Thorne, starring David Morrissey and based on Mark Billingham's detective books. Last week, Sky announced it was to launch a raft of new British comedies, including Little Crackers, a season of autobiographical shorts from comedians including Dawn French, Victoria Wood and Catherine Tate.

The BBC Trust has dismissed complaints against a BBC News online discussion headline which asked, Should homosexuals face execution? Last December, the BBC posted the headline on a moderated talkboard to provoke discussion ahead of an edition of BBC World Service's Africa Have Your Say programme on the anti-homosexuality bill being proposed in Uganda. However, the BBC received various complaints about the posting, with one complainant arguing that it was 'unacceptable, offensive and potentially criminal.' The story was also heavily reported on the microblogging site Twitter, along with news websites and social networks. The situation was made worse after a Twitter poster misquoted the headline - possibly deliberately - as, Should homosexuals be executed? After reviewing the case, the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee ruled that the language used in the headline was 'too stark' and there was insufficient signposting to explain the editorial purpose of the discussion. However, the ESC noted that BBC global news director Peter Horrocks and World Service Africa editor David Stead immediately published apology blogs after the headline was posted, which was deemed an 'appropriate and valid' response. 'The committee therefore concluded, with regard to the phrasing of the headline that, while it was agreed that the initial headline was an error - not only for its starkness but also because it did not make clear that the headline referred specifically to Uganda - it recognised that BBC management had apologised promptly and this had resolved the issue. The committee agreed no further action was required,' the ESC said. 'The committee noted that, given the global availability of the BBC website, online content producers would now have to be more aware that all material they produce is universally available via the Internet. Hence, headlines that might cause offence to certain audiences needed greater contextualisation than previously.'

The BBC is working on a home-grown version of American family sitcom Grounded For Life. The series revolves around a couple who became parents when they were still young, so even though their children are now teenagers, they are still in their 'wild' years themselves. Writers George Jeffrie and Bert Tyler-Moore, the duo behind Channel 4's Star Stories, are working on new scripts for the British version. Speaking at the launch of their new C4 show, Pete Versus Life, Jeffrie said: 'You might think they're trapped, but they absolutely love the situation. It's about how can they be parents when they're still kids themselves. It's very "I read about a pilot that Dylan Moran - see left - was in called Too Much Too Young, it sounds very similar to that. Maybe I shouldn't mention that.' Tyler-Moore added: 'It ran in the States for five series. It's one of those shows that didn't make it to like the Frasier level over here, but I think it was pretty successful over there. A lot of it's done in flashback, it's a bit of a gimmick They have this thing, for example, where a character will come in covered in coal dust or something and you've to go into flashback.' The show ran on FOX for two series from 2001, but was axed just two episodes into its third season. However, the WB Network picked up the rest of that run, then commissioned two further series. The original series was previously broadcast in Britain on teen network Trouble.

Robert Robinson, chairman of Radio4 quiz show Brain of Britain, is standing down after more than thirty years at the helm. 'It feels a bit like running away from home [but] on the other hand, one mustn't outstay one's welcome,' the eighty two-year-old said. Robinson took over from the original host, Franklin Englemann, in 1972. Controller of Radio4, Mark Damazer, said: 'It has been a joy listening to him and he will be greatly missed. He has presided over Brain of Britain with sympathy for the contestants, wit and panache,' he added. Russell Davies - no, the other one - who has regularly stood in for Robinson, will replace Robinson as Brain Of Britain's host. 'To take over from such a well-known figure is a formidable challenge, but I'm hoping that his example will carry me through,' he said. Brain of Britain began as part of the show What Do You Know? in 1953 before becoming a programme in its own right. The nationwide general knowledge contest sees forty eight listeners from across the UK fight their way to the final. The prize is a silver salver and the title, Brain of Britain. Robinson has enjoyed a long and successful career on Radio4 - he has presented both the Today programme and Stop the Week. He also hosted the popular BBC TV shows, Call My Bluff and Ask The Family.

Argentina footballer Lionel Messi has reportedly formed an Oasis tribute band. According to the Sun, the Barcelona playmaker takes on the Noel Gallagher role in the group and has recruited a team mate to sing as Liam. 'Our disguise is based on how Oasis looked in the mid-nineties. We have our wigs, clothes and glasses sorted,' Messi is quoted as saying. 'I also spent a lot of time getting the mannerisms right. 'We'll visit the UK. If you're at a pub or club where we are performing and see past our disguises there'll be a decent prize in it for you.' Messi reportedly added that he has already invited Noel to come and see the group play when they next tour. The footballer's national team mate Carlos Tevez last year promised to teach the Gallagher brothers how to Latin dance. In return, Liam and Noel, hopefully, won't mention to Tevez that Oasis have played Wembley a hell of a lot more than Manchester City have over the last few decades.

Liverpool's Everyman Theatre has lost out on £2.4 million of capital funding for its redevelopment project after North West Development Agency announced that it is cutting all non-contracted financial support. The money would have contributed to the twenty eight million pounds cost of the new Everyman. The venue is also working with Arts Council England, Liverpool Vision, the Mersey Partnership and Liverpool City Council on the project. Executive director of the Everyman and Playhouse Deborah Aydon said: 'We had been notified of this prior to [the] press announcement, and we are working in a very positive spirit with our other partners and stakeholders to make sure that this does not affect the momentum or the quality of the Everyman redevelopment. All our partners remain fully committed to the strategic importance of this project, which is now at an advanced stage and is scheduled to go on site in 2011.' The NWDA must save fift two million pounds from its budget for this year, following cuts from government.

Metal band GU Medicine have confirmed plans to record a duet with a penguin this week. The Yorkshire-based four-piece will work with Ricky the penguin from ZSL London Zoo in a session at Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch as part of a campaign for Jägermeister. Bassist and singer Ryan Senior said: 'When I was younger I visited London Zoo and saw the penguins but I never imagined that one day I would actually get the opportunity to record a song with one of them! I thought feeding them would be the closest I ever got! Bring it on!' One of Ricky's keepers, Adrian Walls added: 'Ricky has a big personality as visitors to our zoo and staff will testify, and although he has never worked with a music group before I'm sure he will be in fine voice.'

A pub landlord in Southampton has reportedly found the biggest ever wasp nest in the UK. The construction was five feet three inches wide and over four feet in height and is believed to have housed around half a million wasps, Sky News reports. Pest controller Sean Whelan said: 'It really was a monster. Nests usually operate from March to September so they're very unlikely to get to be this size. The wasps disperse and bury themselves under about six inches of soil until March when they come out and then build the nest for the queen.' He continued: 'What we think may have happened this time is that, because of the cold winter, the pub kept its heating on so the wasps didn't realise it was time to move on. The size of it for the time of year was unprecedented. They just couldn't have made something this big, this quickly.' Whelan had to squirt the wasp colony with an insecticide after using a pole to crack open the top of the oversize nest. 'It was scary as hell but it is what I am trained for,' he added.

Villagers in the Dorset hamlet of Shitterton have got so fed-up with their village sign being stolen they have put up a stone version. They hope the six hundred and eighty pound sign, which is set in concrete will, hopefully, deter thieves. Previous signs have frequently been stolen but had not been replaced since the last theft three years ago. Villager Ian Ventham said: 'Every two or three years somebody comes along and nicks our sign because, clearly, Shitterton is amusing.' Well, you've got to admit, it is. He added: 'Purbeck District Council, not being over-endowed with money at the moment, would merely have replaced it with yet another sign. That would have been stolen so we have got together as residents for a whip-round and bought this wonderful piece of Purbeck stone which, at a tonne-and-a-half, is going to be slightly more difficult to take away.' Oh, I definitely wouldn't have said that, pal. There's some tea-leaves out there who take that sort of thing as a challenge. The sixty two-year-old, who has lived in the hamlet near Bere Regis for twenty years, said it was his wife's idea and said: 'I think we have made our contribution to David Cameron's "Big Society" now.' Shitterton is recorded in Norman French in the Domesday Book as Scatera or Scetra which, translated, means a little town that is on the stream of a midden or sewer.