Wednesday, August 18, 2010

They Do It Over There, But They Don't Do It Here

The relaunch of The ONE Show under a new presenting team attracted an audience of more than four and a half million viewers on Monday night, according to overnight viewings figures as Alex Jones brushed off pre-show nerves to make her debut on the BBC's magazine show. The presenter, teamed up with the more experienced Jason Manford to front the flagship programme. The pair interviewed actress Whoopi Goldberg and introduced features on car clamping and Blackpool's role as a World War II airbase. Jones and Manford have, of course, taken over from wretched greedy traitors Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles, who switched to ITV earlier this year. Wearing a black and yellow 1960s-style mini-dress, Jones wore a name badge given to her by Manford to introduce themselves to their audience. As the show began, Manford declared: 'It could go either way, I suppose. Otherwise, in half an hour's time we will be escorted off the premises. But I have made name badges for everyone, because I presume people may not know who we are.' Formerly a presenter on S4C, Jones worked mainly on Welsh children's TV before The ONE Show's deputy editor spotted her show-reel on YouTube. She originally planned to wear a different outfit for her debut but told Chris Evans' Radio 2 show that she had forgotten to pack the right underwear to go with it. 'It's the underwear that pulls you in a bit,' she said. 'In my rush to get to London yesterday I didn't pack it so that dress, I cannot wear.' Interviewed before the show, Jones admitted to a few nerves and that when the titles 'kick in probably our hearts are going to be in our throats.' Reaction from the critics was, largely, positive. Lucy Mangan noted in the Gruniad Morning Star: 'Jones's nerves seemed momentarily to get the better of her – quite a few silences or "Mmms" when a guest had finished speaking instead of a "natural" response – that suggested she had been distracted by thoughts of the upcoming link, but this is nothing that a bit more experience and confidence won't cure. Manford – whose stand up experience perhaps equip him better for off-piste work – fared better, but together they are as warm, unintimidating and friendly as the programme requires. Best of all, they seem capable of maintaining the show's lack of cynicism. The ONE Show is not high art, nor is it something that panders to the lowest common denominator. It is comfort viewing, and Manford and Jones are – or certainly will be very soon – comfortable presenters. It ain't broke. It doesn't need fixing.'

Meanwhile, Chiles and Bleakley - remember them? - apparently sent a note to the new ONE Show team wishing them luck. The duo, individually, left the BBC earlier this year in a blaze of publicity to become anchors on ITV's new programme Daybreak. According to the Sun, Chiles and Bleakley sent the new presenters and the staff on the show boxes of cupcakes and three bottles of champagne. The gifts were accompanied by a note which read: 'To Jason, Alex and all the team, good luck with the new show. Lots of love, Adrian & Christine.' A 'source' allegedly explained: 'They wanted to make a gesture to Jason and Alex to wish them well.' Pfft ... yesterday's people.

And, on a related theme, as Christine Bleakley looks forward to teaming up next month with Chiles on the sofa of ITV's new breakfast show, there will be one aspect of the job that she is dreading. 'I'm not really a morning person,' the thirty one-year-old presenter told Mandrake last year. 'I'm more of a night owl.' Yeah, well, whose fault is that, you greedy mare? You took the job, and the cash, now you're stuck with the hours. And, I don't imagine for one second that Frankie the Lamp is particularly going to appreciate getting kicked awake at half-part-three in the morning five days a week either.

Yer Keith Telly Topping was, he is forced to admit, utterly blown away by the opening episode of Ideal's new - sixth - season. 'I spent me last Euro in Mexico,' notes terminally bewildered Jenny as she and Moz arrive back at the flat to find Nikki and PC co-habbing. 'Oh,' says Nikki, 'what's it like?' 'It's like a pound coin!' Genius, Graham Duff! Absolutely, sodding, maniac genius. Other highlights of The Business - a tale of confused identities on several levels - included Sean Lock sporting a pair of massive fake knockers, Psycho Paul at his sarky best and Johnny Vegas getting his head chopped off. A perfect night of fun for all the family, ladies and gentlemen!

BBC Scotland has picked up the rights to air Scotland’s away qualifiers for the Euro 2012 football tournament. The four games begin on 3 September with the game in Lithuania, which is new manager Craig Levein's debut as coach in a competitive fixture. it will air live on BBC1 Scotland, kicking off at 7.15 pm. BBC Scotland's other games are against the Czech Republic on 8 October, and then in 2011 against Liechtenstein and world champions Spain both in October. Sky has the rights to show the home qualifier fixtures. The broadcaster also announced renewed contracts with the Scottish Football Association to provide live radio commentary of Scottish Cup matches and Scotland's home internationals for the next four years. BBC Scotland has also renewed for a further three years its agreement to screen live four Co-operative Insurance cup matches, including the final. BBC Scotland head of sport Ewan Angus said the deals 'underline our commitment to being a broadcaster of live football.'

Greenlit, the independent producer behind Foyle's War and current BBC2 comedy drama Vexed, has gone into administration, after being excluded from parent company Target Entertainment Group's sale to Metrodome this week. The company's four staff were reportedly informed by BDO Stoy Hayward, the company appointed by Target in June to oversee the sale of the TV distributor, that the company was going into administration and they were being made redundant. Vexed, the three-parter starring Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch that began on BBC2 on Sunday night, has already been delivered to the BBC and is not at risk. Greenlit's other productions have included Foyle's War and last year's highly-regarded ITV drama Collision, but an ITV spokesman said it had no projects in production that would be affected. The rest of Target's business, excluding Greenlit, was sold to film and DVD distributor Metrodome for eight hundred thousand pounds. It has also emerged that the Greenlit founder, Jill Green – who is married to Anthony Horowitz, the creator of Foyle's War and Collision – left the company last month. Green said she felt she had 'no choice,' claiming Target had 'failed to comply with the original terms of our agreement relating to the sale of the business.' Green, who sold Greenlit to Target in February 2008 but remained with the company as managing director, revealed that she was trying to buy back the rights to shows including Foyle's War. She added: 'I have always operated on strong principles of transparency and trust. Therefore, when I recently became concerned as to how Greenlit Rights was being operated as part of the wider Target Entertainment Group business, together with the failure to comply with the original terms of our agreement relating to the sale of the business, I felt I had no choice but to resign, and I did so last month.' She went on: 'I sold Greenlit Rights to Target Entertainment in February 2008. One of the reasons I chose Target as a buyer was because I was keen to grow the business further within a larger framework and one that offered opportunity for business within the US. I have since remained one hundred per cent passionate about Greenlit Rights, an established and profitable producer of some of the most successful dramas recently shown on UK television.' She added: 'Whilst I do not wish to work with Target Entertainment Group as it currently operates, I am in the process of bidding for the rights to the programmes of Greenlit Rights, the company I built from scratch twelve years ago, and have a strong desire to protect all those involved with its productions.' The Metrodome chairman, Mark Webster, said: 'Metrodome Group very much wanted to include Jill Green and Greenlit as part of the acquisition, but could not reach an agreement that suited all parties. Jill Green is highly regarded as one of the leading independent producers in the UK, and we wish her all the best with her future endeavours.' It is not known what the terms of Green's agreement with Target were, should the company be sold, or what the financial arrangements were between the two. Although Target made losses before tax last year of seven hundred and twenty seven thousand pounds, Metrodome told the Gruniad Morning Star that under the terms of the deal, it acquired Target debt-free but did not say how this had been achieved.

Simon Cowell has claimed that The X Factor is not just about singing. Yes, pal, we figured that out already.

Prince Harry has reportedly agreed to appear in a new talent show on BBC2. Goldie's Band: By Royal Appointment will see the DJ Goldie search for musicians across the country, the Gruniad Morning Star reports. During the show, twelve hopefuls will be taken on a three-day course where they will be taught by musicians including Guy Chambers and Cerys Matthews. The group formed during the series will then perform at Buckingham Palace in front of a number of guests, including Prince Harry. 'This is one of the most inspiring projects I've ever been involved with,' Goldie said. 'It's all about unearthing musical talent that's under the radar in Britain - finding young people who've faced huge challenges and have never had the opportunities that they deserve.'

The Law & Order: UK press pack is now up on ITV's website. The new series - the show's third - begins on Thursday 9 September. Also, the press pack suggests that another batch of thirteen episodes have already been commissioned, with filming due to start in October.

Stars of Coronation Street have given their blessing to a new stage play that condenses the soap's fifty-year history into two hours. Cast members past and present attended the opening night of Corrie!, which is being staged at the Lowry in Salford for the soap's fiftieth anniversary. Johnny Briggs, who played Mike Baldwin, said he had been 'a bit worried about what it was going to be like.' But he concluded that it was 'absolutely fantastic.' Other recognisable faces in the audience on Monday included Barbara Knox, David Neilson, who plays Roy Cropper, Sally Dynevor and Brian Capron, who played serial killer Richard Hillman. Briggs saw the fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek stage show cover his character's affair with Dierdre Barlow and his death in 2006. 'I have absolute admiration for the actors who have played the parts here because they were superb,' he said. 'They got it off to a tee and I'm very much in awe of them. It was full of fun. You couldn't take offence at the way they played any of the characters. At the curtain call I was expecting ten or twelve people to come on.' In fact, just five actors play about fifty five characters between them, with Charles Lawson as narrator. Antony Cotton, another Coronation Street actor in the crowd, said the audience 'loved it. It was full of affection and the right side of rib-tickling, and it took the mickey out of people but in an affectionate way,' said Cotton, who plays Sean Tully. 'The actors' characterisations were so spot on it was very spooky. It's great that they got actors to do it rather than impressionists because it was acted beautifully, very touching in parts, but ultimately very, very funny.'

The BBC devoted much news coverage on Monday to the possibility of strike action at six British airports. Unfortunately, however, they chose to illustrate television reports of the situation with footage of Gatwick, which is unaffected by the dispute.

The UK Film Council has been summoned by government ministers to answer claims it misused resources to promote itself rather than the movie industry. Culture minister Ed Vaizey has written to boss John Woodward expressing his concerns. In July it was announced that the organisation was being axed. A Film Council spokesman said: 'The future of the UK film industry is the only thing the UK Film Council is interested in.' Mr Vaizey wrote in his letter that he is 'very concerned about what has come to light.' He added: 'It looks as though sources at the Film Council have been overzealously briefing in order to protect their interests. As a result they may be damaging the film industry that they purport to represent. This is completely wrong and I will be seeking urgent reassurances that the Film Council will promote the interests of the film industry rather than its own from now on.' In response, a UK Film Council spokesman said the body would do everything it could to 'reassure people that any change to us will not affect the UK's film offer to the world. Understandably, however, there has been enormous concern about the future of the British film industry since the government decided to abolish its film agency,' he said. 'In the past three weeks, the UKFC has been contacted by hundreds of organisations and individuals seeking assurances and expressing their concerns about future funding and other related matters. We will continue to be as positive as possible under the circumstances.' The organisation, which was founded in 2000, had an annual budget of fifteen million pounds to invest in British films. It was set up to fund training and education for people who want to break into the film industry and promote Britain as a film-making location and British films abroad. Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said funding for films will continue, but would be distributed through other bodies.

Davina McCall has announced on Twitter that the housemates have returned to the Big Brother compound after they were earlier removed yesterday as a precautionary measure due to severe weather. The group slept in the large task room last night, where the production set up a temporary bedroom. However, the presenter was quick to quash any concerns of permanent flood damage or interference with the show. 'You will be amazed at what they can do. Don't worry, they will sort it out,' she reassured fans. 'This is Big Brother.' Shortly afterwards, she revealed: 'Housemates back in house... all going to be ok,' before tweeting: 'Love that Dunkirk spirit.' The host also said that the live feed would resume once the group were settled in the house. 'That is happening now. So will be on soon. It's crazy there!' she added.

Meanwhile, the latest US series of Big Brother has caused some controversy. Live stream viewers were given something of a treat as a contestant named Lane was shown masturbating in the shower. Women's gossip blog Jezebel was the first to report the incident, which occurred after a few of the male houseguests had discussed some of their sexual experiences. Jezebel's 'Tracie' said: 'It must've worked Lane up into a lather of horniness to which he needed to attend. I like how he's pretending that he's cleaning his ear, so as not to arouse the suspicions of the cameras. I also like how he rinses off his right hand when he's done.' Ew.

Abbey Clancy has reportedly pulled out of a live television appearance today, amid recent allegations about her fiancé Peter Crouch. The twenty four-year-old cancelled her fashion slot on ITV's This Morning after worrying about the 'scrutiny' she would be under, reports the Sun. Fresh claims emerged over the weekend that lanky England and Tottenham centre forward Crouch was seen kissing and flirting with several women in a night club while in the French Riviera. Clancy has since been spotted without her engagement ring on, as she filmed for E4 show Great British Hairdresser. 'She asked him how many more revelations there will be,' a source told the paper. 'She couldn't face This Morning - the scrutiny would be too much.'

A private zoo keeper in Taiwan has claimed that he did not intentionally cross-breed a lion and tiger to create two liger cubs. Huang Kuo-nan will be investigated by the authorities and faces a fine of around one thousand pounds if he is found guilty of breeding rare protected animals, Sky News reports. The two cubs were the surviving offspring of the first pregnancy of African lion Simba and Bengal tigress Beauty, who have reportedly been mating for three years. Huang said: 'Usually when a lion and a tiger are kept together, they will for sure attack each other to death, but these two have been spending time together since they were small.' The cubs, which lack the ability to reproduce, are being hand-reared as Beauty made no attempt to care for them.

Katie Price has confessed that she 'might be a slapper,' says a tabloid report. And, in other news, the Pope might be a catholic. Apparently.