Monday, August 30, 2010

Time And A Half

The next series of Doctor Who will be broadcast in two batches rather than one as presently, it has been announced. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Sunday morning, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) confirmed that the sixth series of the BBC's flagship family drama will start, as usual, in the Spring of 2011 for seven episodes and then return in the Autumn for a further six. Moffat said that the mid-season finale would be 'a game-changing cliffhanger,' and added that this would allow him to double the number of 'event episodes' in the new run. This would also mean that fans of the show would never be more than a few months away from the next instalment. 'Looking at the next series I thought what this show needs is a big event in the middle,' Moffat told the Festival audience. 'We are going to make it two series – seven episodes at Easter building to an earth-shattering climax, a cliffhanger we could never normally do because it would be too long before it came back. An enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything. The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two. We are making it two separate series. What I love about this idea is that when kids see Doctor Who go off the air, they will be noticeably taller when it comes back. It's an age for children. With an Easter series, an autumn series and a Christmas special, you are never going to be more than few months from the new series of Doctor Who. 'Tart that I am, we will now have two first nights and two finales, twice as many "event" episodes as we had before.' Moffat, who was also responsible for BBC1's acclaimed updating of Sherlock Holmes, took over stewardship of Doctor Who from Russell Davies last year. His first series in charge was widely acclaimed by viewers and critics alike. Apart from the Daily Scum Mail, of course. Moffat gave festival delegates a first glimpse of this year's Christmas special, guest-starring Michael Gambon and Katherine Jenkins. He revealed that he had chose Matt Smith as his Doctor on the very first day of casting. 'He has that air about him, he's like a young man built by old men from memory,' Moffat added. He first saw Karen Gillan on video and said that he was worried that she was 'wee and dumpy.' When he met her, Moffat said that he was 'expecting a beachball' and met, instead, 'this giant flame-haired goddess who is slightly too tall for my comfort. Standing next to her when she has heels on, you feel like the sidecar of a motorbike.' Moffat amusingly dismissed crass press criticism, early in this year's series, that Amy was too sexy. 'That's like being too funny, too nice, too enjoyable,' he said. 'I was roaring with laughter at the article in the Daily Mail, which said [since] when did Doctor Who assistants have to be sexy? Since the beginning! There was one in a leather bikini — we're in the nursery compared to that.' And, you weren't the only one either, Mr Moffat, sir. Some of us can also spot nasty, spiteful, thin-lipped anti-BBC agenda a mile away by the very stink of it. Moffat continued that the show's budget had remained broadly similar despite BBC cuts. But he admitted: 'I don't understand numbers. It's a decent budget. I beg for money and more rubber green people and eventually they say "okay, you can have a third rubber green person."' He added that he had not considered a female Doctor, which he believed would not have been appropriate at this point in the show's history. 'I think about it sometimes and maybe it will happen someday. It wouldn't have been right this time,' he said. 'A woman can play the part. You have to remember the single most important thing about regeneration is you must convince the audience and the children that's it's not a new man, it's not a different man, it's the same one. It's a bigger ask if you turn him into a woman.' Discussing his future, Moffat said he would not be leaving the show 'for a while yet.' Gillan, in the same TV festival sessions, said she that was committed to the drama for the next series and added that filming on the show, which lasts eleven days a fortnight for nine months, meant she was unable to work on other projects. 'You just have to take it series by series, you can't really look beyond that so who knows? I'm having fun right now,' she added.

The Very Moffster himself also revealed that Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes will eventually learn how to be a hero. BBC1's wildly successful modern-day adaptation portrays the detective as a somewhat thoughtless, occasionally spiteful and obsessive man with a lack of emotion. Moffat said: 'As the episodes of Sherlock go on he becomes a better man. He learns to be a hero.' He later joked: 'Sherlock's not very nice, whereas The Doctor's nice, kind, passionate. They'd probably deck each other.'

Ben Collins has been replaced by the BBC after being 'unmasked' (shouldn't that be 'unhelmeted'?) as Top Gear's The Stig according to a report in the Mirror. One of the very newspapers that did the 'unmasking' in the first place. So, no obvious staggering hypocrisy there, then. The show's tame racing driver, wearing his trademark white jumpsuit and crash helmet was seen at a Top Gear Live event at the Nürburgring racing circuit in Germany on Friday. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away miles away, Collins was busy being photographed by another newspaper pushing his two young daughters in toy cars near their home in the West Country. The replacement Stig - whose identity is being kept a closely-guarded secret ... until some scum newspaper comes along and 'reveals' it, of course - has been brought in a week after the former Formula 3 driver Collins' identity was revealed amid a High Court battle over his proposed autobiography. The BBC claim that the book - due to be published on 16 September - is in breach of a confidentiality agreement which Collins signed when taking on the role, to keep his identity a secret. The BBC insists that keeping The Stig's real identity a mystery from viewers is crucial to his role as test driver for Top Gear. HarperCollins, the NewsCorp owned publisher who intend to release the book have, laughably, accused the BBC of 'squandering licence-fee payers' money' on the legal action. But, the show's executive producer Andy Wilman in a strongly-worded reply on Top Gear's own website in turn accused HarperCollins of chasing profits and noted that 'If we lose at this stage, it won’t be over but the book will be published and the papers will have a field day with a barrage of headlines about "Humiliating Climbdowns," etc. But so be it. Do you want a BBC that runs away from a snidey headline, or one that fights to protect its belongings?' Actually, since you ask Andy I'd rather like a BBC that stands up to the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star and tells the pair of them to go screw themselves and the horse they rode in on. Just, you know, for my two-pennoth. 'What's the saying?' he continued. '"It's better to die on your feet than live on your knees."' Yes. I say to thee, yes Andy Wilman. At last, somebody at the BBC with a bit of bloody backbone. As a licence fee payer, allow me to congratulate you in this endeavour. Encore.

Modern Family and Mad Men picked up the major prizes at last night's Primetime Emmy Awards, which took place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. The ABC sitcom beat the likes of Glee and 30 Rock to win 'Outstanding Comedy Series', after already taking home 'Outstanding Writing' for its pilot. Eric Stonestreet also took the 'Outstanding Supporting Actor' for his role as Cameron Tucker. AMC's Mad Men won 'Outstanding Drama Series' and 'Outstanding Writing'. Accepting the former, creator Matthew Weiner told the audience: 'We're now in our fourth season, I didn't even think we'd get through half of one.' Though Glee lost out on 'Outstanding Comedy', actress Jane Lynch picked up 'Outstanding Supporting Actress' for her portrayal of Sue Sylvester. Neil Patrick Harris's cameo slot also secured 'Outstanding Guest Actor' and showrunner Ryan Murphy collected 'Outstanding Director'. 'Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series' went to The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons, and Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco received 'Outstanding Lead Actress'. Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston was handed 'Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series'. Kyra Sedgwick won 'Outstanding Lead Actress' for her part in The Closer. Meanwhile, Betty White was presented with 'Outstanding Guest Actress' for her hosting stint on Saturday Night Live. Al Pacino was awarded with 'Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie' for HBO's You Don't Know Jack.

Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh has revealed that she would be happy to stay on the show 'forever.' That's a bit unlikely, though. Sorry to be the one to break it to you, love, but there's entropy and the Third Law of Thermodynamics and all that to consider. Nothing ever lasts forever. As Echo & The Bunnymen once said. And, they were right. The actress, who has played Hayley Cropper for twelve years, admitted that she has no plans to move on. According to the Press Association, she said: 'The way I feel at the moment I am happy to stay forever. It's not a very good negotiating tool to have it in print that I want to be here till I'm one hundred but I do. I'm incredibly happy here. I'm not ambitious. I am where I want to be in my life and not many people can say that.' Hesmondhalgh added that she was 'circumspect' about the upcoming tram crash, saying: 'If it's my time it's my time. But I would very much like to keep on going a bit longer.'

BBC2 has announced two new dramas have been commissioned. Controller Janice Hadlow confirmed a six-part series written by Paula Milne called White Heat. The drama will focus on the lives of seven characters whose relationships are forged in the Sixties through to the present day. The show will explore the personal and political journeys that shaped each character's destiny. Ooo ... that sounds a bit good - albeit, a bit Our Friends In The North, but, that's not a bad thing. Speaking about the new show, Hadlow said: 'White Heat is a picture of Britain through the experiences of a group of young people, as they look back at the way the world made them. When you put this alongside The Hour and The Shadow Line, you can really start to see the green shoots of the new drama strategy for BBC2.' A one-off drama has also been announced. Whistle And I'll Come To You, written by Luther creator Neil Cross is a modern reworking of the classic Edwardian ghost story by MR James. The story - which was previously, heart-stoppingly, adapted for TV by Jonathan Miller in 1968 - focuses on one man's encounter with an apparition on a desolate British beach and how it affects him, dealing with themes of ageing, hubris and the supernatural. The new adaptation will be directed by Andy de Emmony and will feature in the channel's Christmas schedule. Don't watch it alone, or at night! Trust me! The channel has also announced two new factual shows. Filthy Cities will be presented by Dan Snow and will bring to life the histories of London, New York and Paris. Snow will discover how these went from being filthy disease-ridden overcrowded towns to modern metropolises. Using CGI, he will travel back in time to uncover the battle against filth during each city's defining era - medieval London, revolutionary Paris and Nineteenth-Century New York. Snow will investigate professions such as the medieval muck-raker, responsible for clearing tons of excrement from London streets, the pig handler helping to clear the New York streets of waste and the Parisian undertaker, trying to cope with the human cost of a bloody revolution. Another new series called Oz And Hugh Raise The Bar will follow wine expert Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis as they set up two competing bars exclusively serving local produce. The pair will travel the UK and Ireland to discover the best British drinks and snacks and purchase them as stock for their respective bars. They will also look for unusual offerings such as pub games and British spirits.

Cold Feet is being considered for a revival by ITV, according to reports. The Gruniad Morning Star reports that the romantic drama, which was a big ratings hit for the network, may return for another series next year without original cast member Helen Baxendale, whose character Rachel died at the end of the fifth series in 2003. Left Bank Pictures executive Andy Harries, who produced the show while at Granada, said: '[Cold Feet] might return. There are conversations ongoing. It would be wonderful to bring it back with the same people in a completely different political and social environment. It would depend on the scripts and the timing. It's not about to come back. I wouldn't bring it back just to get some ratings. I think you could make a really interesting show if Mike Bullen decides to sit down and write it.' The drama, which also starred James Nesbitt, John Thomson and Fay Ripley, originally ran from 1998 to 2003. It was all right. A bit arch in places, but fundamentally decent enough.

Married, Single, Other should have been recommissioned for a second series, according to a member of the show's production team. However, Left Bank Pictures' Adam Harries admitted that the storylines in the romantic drama's early episodes were 'weak' which, he believes, is why it was axed by ITV. He told the Edinburgh TV Festival: 'It averaged 4.7 million across the series, the best for an ITV drama to be decommissioned in the last four years. The audience didn't stay. I suppose the stories weren't strong enough. There were some weaker episodes. It found its strength towards the end, I think a second series would have found its feet and grown its audience. ITV disagreed.'

Presenter Konnie Huq has reportedly married Charlie Brooker in Las Vegas. According to the Scum Mail On Sunday, the pair flew to the American city ten days ago in between Huq's filming of The Xtra Factor. It is claimed that they wanted to keep the ceremony private. A 'source' said: 'Charlie didn't want a big, tacky celebrity wedding because he doesn't see him and Konnie as a celebrity couple. They are very much in love but when it came down to it, he wanted the wedding to be low-key. He is finding it hard to accept the level of interest in their relationship. If it was up to him, they would lead a totally private life, enjoying playing PlayStation games at home together and eating in. But it is different for Konnie. She is used to all the attention her job brings her and doesn't mind being in the public eye. Charlie gets frustrated when people are surprised that they are together. He doesn't understand why it is an issue. He knows that she is beautiful but he sees a different side of her that the public doesn't.'