Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who Lives In A House Like This?

One of yer Keith Telly Topping's regular correspondents is usually alerted by e-mail whenever there's been a new blog update by me sending her this. We call it The Blog Signal. Actually, it's a flag of the Azerbaijani People's Front, formed in 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev expelled Guedar Aliev from the Politburo and the Soviet government. Since Aliev was the only Azerbaijani member, this caused outbreaks of violence and discombobulation in Baku and the formation of the independentist Azerbaijani People's Front. So, anyway, dear blog reader if ever you happen to be trawling around the Internet searching for, you know, James Marsters porn, or naked pictures of David Tennant or whatever takes your fancy and you stumble across this symbol, remember, From The North is a good place to find both. And with a smidgen of Azerbaijani politics thrown in for good measure.

As previously announced, Janeane Garofalo and Sean Lock are to appear in the next series of the Johnny Vegas sitcom Ideal. The American comedian and actor will be a new regular character, appearing in six of the eight BBC3 episodes in the role of Tilly, Moz's new next door neighbour. It is not the only British sitcom role the former West Wing and 24 star is taking this year, having signed up to make a guest appearance in Channel 4's Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, alongside fellow comedian David Cross. Both shows are broadcast on the IFC network in the States, which is were Garofalo became aware Ideal. She said: 'I was a fan of the show. I thought it was so creative and different.' Meanwhile Lock will play a post-operative female-male transsexual who, nonetheless, has decided to keep her ample breasts following the procedure. The sixth series of Ideal, which also features guest appearances from John Shuttleworth creator Graham Fellows and DJ Mark Radcliffe, and the much anticipated Hallow'een/fancy dress party episode, begins at 10.30pm on Tuesday 17 August. And you can see a video of Janeane being interviewed about her role over at the Chortle website here.

Marvel's superhero blockbuster The Avengers will begin production next February, Superherohype reports. The Joss Whedon-directed movie will unite some of the biggest names on the Marvel Comics roster, with Iron Man's Robert Downey Jr, Thor's Chris Hemsworth and Captain America's Chris Evans all sharing the screen. Iron Man trio Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Clark Gregg will also appear, joining newcomers Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Mark Ruffalo (as The Hulk) in the adaptation. Whedon recently unveiled his Avengers cast at Comic-Con, saying: 'I've had a dream all my life, and it was not this good. This cast is more than I could ever dream of working with, and I am going to blow it.'

The details of the Celebrity MasterChef semi-final challenges have been revealed. Dick Strawbridge, Neil Stuke, Lisa Faulkner and Christine Hamilton are the four remaining contestants hoping to win the fifth celebrity version of the cookery show. On tonight's show the final four will cater for the Sealed Knot, an English Civil War re-enactment society, and then eight hundred schoolboys at Harrow. Meanwhile, Thursday's task will feature the cooks preparing a 'Best of British' dinner at London's Olympic Stadium for guests including Sebastian Coe and Tanni-Grey Thompson. One contestant will exit the show on Friday after cooking their best two-course meal for judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace and three world-class caterers.

Martine McCutcheon is considering whether or not to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, it has been alleged. The former EastEnders actress, who has previously been linked with the Saturday night light entertainment show, revealed that she 'may be too busy to appear' in an upcoming Strictly special, according to the Sun. However, the thirty four-year-old insisted that she 'would be open' to the idea of taking part next year if she did not accept the current invitation. She said: 'I have been asked if I would consider a Strictly Come Dancing special but I may be working so we will see. Maybe next year if not. I love it.' A BBC source, however, told the paper that McCutcheon is not one of the celebrities being lined-up to take part in the upcoming full series of Strictly, which begins next month. So, somebody's clearly telling fibs.

Lilia Kopylova, meanwhile, has admitted that she was 'inconsolable' after having her role reduced on Strictly Come Dancing. The thirty two-year-old Russian, who won the show in 2005 with Darren Gough, was one of the professional dancers offered a part in a new dance troupe rather than a celebrity partner. Kopylova turned down the dance troupe offer, announcing that she was leaving the BBC1 reality series last month. Her husband, Darren Bennett, will remain on the programme. Speaking about her departure, she told the Mirror: 'I was inconsolable. When I rang the BBC and told them I didn't want to take the new role on Strictly, I felt incredibly emotional. As soon as I put the phone down, I burst into tears and then carried on for around forty minutes. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, causing me lots of sleepless nights.' She said that the producers' decision to offer her a smaller role in the show had been like 'a total bolt out of the blue. I didn't cry there and then in the meeting, because I am very professional, but I was very upset inside,' she said. 'Afterwards, Darren and I were in shock. You do think, "Why us?' We've been the most successful couple."'

Phill Jupitus has revealed that he fell out with former BBC 6Music controller Lesley Douglas before he left the station in 2007. The comedian told the Gruniad Morning Star that he received a phone call from Douglas while he was complaining on air about an Internet campaign skewing a listener poll of the greatest duets. Jupitus said: 'I started whining about this on-air and getting crosser and crosser and then my mobile went and it was Lesley Douglas. She said, "If you want to destroy 6Music keep doing what you are doing on air now." And I went, "This is not a fucking 6Music show, this is not what the station is supposed to be about." I kind of lost it with her and hung up.' Jupitus left 6Music in March 2007. Talking about his five-year stint as breakfast DJ on the station, Jupitus added: 'There were people at 6 who hated the fact I wouldn't play Coldplay records or Razorlight. But you can hear them on Radio 2, they are the biggest band in the world. Because a niche music station doesn't play Coldplay, is that a bad thing? They had a slogan at the beginning of 6Music, "We play what we like and nothing else." I was playing a lot of shit in the early days, that kind of faux-indie stuff I can't bear. I remember thinking that poster's lying. Now, after ten years of experience, it has struck a balance. You just have to listen to Lauren Laverne's show. There's a lot of great stuff in there, new and old.'

Russell Tovey has admitted that he thought Being Human sounded like a children's programme when he first heard its premise. However, the actor told Collider that he quickly changed his mind when he read the script for the pilot episode. 'I thought it sounded like a kids' show. It didn't seem like it would ever work,' he explained. 'Then I read it and realised it was just so much more than that. That's why it's great. The levels in this show are so much more human than they are supernatural. That's what its selling point is, and that's why so many people connect with it.' Tovey revealed that he enjoys improvising when playing the role of the werewolf, George, but confessed that very few of his contributions are included in the final episodes. 'I can riff for hours and do a whole episode of just improvising, but it never stays in,' he said. 'You can put the odd line or word in, but you want to respect what's written there, a lot of the time, because it's good enough anyway, and who are we to elaborate.' Tovey also revealed that the first episode of the third series will see his character and Mitchell (Aidan Turner) in a depressed state. 'Annie (Lenora Crichlow) passed over in the second season, so we start off the third season in a place of complete angst because we've lost one of our best friends,' he said.

Bret Harrison will appear in the second season of ABC series V in a recurring role. Entertainment Weekly reports that the actor will play evolutionary biologist Sidney Miller. The first season finale saw Earth thrown into panic when the sky turned red. The new episodes will see Miller provide answers as to what caused the change. The charter will first appear in the second season premiere when he is tracked down by FBI agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell). Harrison previously starred in supernatural comedy-drama Reaper on The CW.

The second part of new BBC undersea drama The Deep was watched by an overnight audience of just over four and half million viewers on Tuesday night. The mini-series, which stars James Nesbitt and Minnie Driver, averaged 4.51m for BBC1 in the 9pm hour, down over four hundred thousand week-on-week. However, a quietly impressive three hundred and twenty thousand also watched the episode on BBC HD. Elsewhere, New Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? appealed - though Christ only knows why - to 3.51m glakes on ITV in the 8pm hour, but the revamped game show was easily, and rather satisfyingly, outperformed by the BBC's reliable Holby City, which achieved 5.39m on BBC1. The Bill, seemingly on its last legs both metaphorically and literally, was watched by 2.91m for ITV opposite The Deep. The repeat of Sunday's episode of Coast achieved and audience of to 1.8m on BBC2 in the 7pm hour, before the excellent Normans season documentary Domesday got 2.06m. That Mitchell And Webb Look and Shooting Stars had respective audiences of 1.51m and 1.45m in the 9pm hour. Russell Howard's Good News had figures of 1.33m between 10pm and 10.30pm.

Charlie Sheen and Hugh Laurie have come top of a list of the highest-paid actors on US television. TV Guide revealed that Sheen is the top earner overall, receiving $1.25m per episode for his role as Charlie Harper on CBS sitcom Two And A Half Men. His co-star Jon Cryer is the second highest-paid comic actor, earning five hundred and fifty thousand dollars per episode. Other top comedy earners include 30 Rock's Tina Fey (three hundred and fifty thousand per episode) and The Office star Steve Carell (two hundred and ninety seven thousand). Hugh Laurie is reportedly the highest-paid actor in a drama series, earning over four hundred thousand pounds per episode on FOX's medical drama House. Law & Order: SVU stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay are tied second with three hundred and ninety five thousand dollars each. David Caruso is third, with his role as Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami allegedly earning him three hundred and seventy five thousand dollars per episode. Kind of puts the Daily Scum Mail's whinging about how much the BBC pays some of their talent into sharp perspective, does in not.

The BBC has answered complaints that EastEnders scenes showing Phil Mitchell and Rainie Cross under the influence of drugs were inappropriate. Phil (Steve McFadden) and Rainie (Tanya Franks) were seen using crack cocaine in Monday night's episode, which the Sun reports prompted over two hundred complaints. Out of an audience of over eight million. In a statement the BBC said: 'EastEnders has a history of tackling social issues and this drugs storyline follows that tradition. We acknowledge that some viewers may consider this storyline challenging, however EastEnders in no way - and at no point - glamorises or condones the use of drugs, and furthermore we took great care to avoid any demonstration on how to prepare or take drugs.' It continued: 'We feel that Phil's decline will highlight the destructive nature of drugs, and rather than encourage drug use, will act as a deterrent.' The statement goes on to say that care was taken to warn viewer's about the episode's content through 'programme publicity and billings.' The corporation's Action Line was also highlighted for anyone affected by the issues. 'We worked closely with drug and alcohol charities, including Addaction and DrugScope, throughout the editorial process to ensure that we handled the storyline accurately and sensitively,' the statement added.

Five is to lose seven of its nine executive board directors in a Night of the Long Knives-style 'brutal management cull' as new owner Richard Desmond looks to cut twenty million pounds from the business. According to a variety of media reports, Five staff were informed about the sweeping changes in a meeting early this morning, with up to eighty jobs under threat in the broadcaster's three hundred strong-strong team as Desmond looks to slash costs. Despite the savage cuts, Desmond's Northern & Shell business plans to invest around three hundred million pounds annually in programming over the next five years to help the broadcaster 'go toe-to-toe with the biggest players in the TV world' and improve the network's reputation. So, presumably, that means Live From Studio Five's days are numbered. Hurrah for that! Five's chairman and chief executive Dawn Airey will be leaving her post to take up a role at former Five parent company RTL. However, she will not depart the broadcaster for several months yet. Among Five's senior executives, only the managing director of digital channels and acquisitions Jeff Ford and the company's sales director, Kelly Williams, will remain at Five. Ford will take over the role of Five director of programmes from Richard Woolfe, who is leaving the firm, along with managing director Mark White. Five's director of legal affairs Paul Chinnery is also leaving, along with corporate affairs director Sue Robertson, director of strategy Charles Constable and finance director David Hockley. In a statement issued this afternoon, Airey said: 'I love Five, its staff, its spirit and all we have achieved. I wish the channel, its team, Richard Desmond and Northern & Shell all the success they deserve.' Oooo, that's harsh! Desmond, who completed his takeover of Five last month, wants to make cost savings of around twenty million pounds, with nine million coming from staff cuts and eleven million from overheads. Five employees were also told that they will be relocating from their offices on Covent Garden to Desmond's Northern & Shell premises on Lower Thames Street in the City. The move will be used to merge back office functions such as IT, finance and human resources between the businesses to further reduce costs.

Mad Frankie Boyle has dismissed the suggestion that his work is truly controversial. Talking to the Edinburgh Fringe podcast for The Stand Comedy Club, the former Mock The Week regular claimed that very few people actually complain about his material. Boyle said: 'There's not been any controversy in terms of gigs. I've done this to one hundred thousand people on the tour so far and almost no complaints, maybe two or three. If people want to pretend that's controversial so they can write a shit story about it without fucking leaving their desk then fine. But no-one finds it controversial, I don't think.' He confirmed that his upcoming Channel 4 show Tramadol Nights will air from the end of November after Peep Show and be a 'mental as possible mix' of stand-up material and sketches. When it was suggested that material in the show pushed boundaries, Boyle responded: 'I don't really fucking buy all that stuff, because whose boundaries? It's like the boundaries of what you're allowed to say in polite society or something, which is like an operetta almost. There's nobody in that room would be fucking offended by anything and we would struggle to find someone in the street who'd be offended by any of it - admittedly we're in Glasgow. There's this thing of some mythical fucking society or average viewer somewhere that's going to be pissed off. I think people will find it funny, if they find it. Fuck knows if they will or not.'

An author is threatening to sue Ricky Gervais for plagiarism over his best-selling children's book Flanimals. John Savage claims the comedian copied his work, Captain Pottie's Wildlife Encyclopedia, which also features cartoon illustrations of fictional creatures. Savage, of Norwich, claims Flanimals is 'broadly the same in content and character' to his book, published four years before Gervais' bestseller was released in 2004. He says he is suing the Office star for an unspecified sum relating to profits generated from Flanimals, plus interest – as well as requesting that all existing copies of the Gervais book be destroyed. He has reportedly filed a High Court writ, although Gervais' representatives say they have not been made aware of any legal proceedings. The writ is believed to claim: 'The infringing work is not only substantially the same in artistic and in literary content - a number of the characters are similarly named and drawn - but share a common general format. As a result of the defendant's wholesale copying of the work in his infringing work, the claimant has suffered significant financial hardship and loss, not to mention damage to his reputation as an illustrator.' The book has spawned several sequels and is being made into a Hollywood movie. Gervias' spokesmerson said: 'This story goes back several years, when John Savage first made contact with Ricky Gervais' representatives. At the time it was made clear that the concept and illustrations of Flanimals pre-existed John Savage's work. To date Ricky Gervais has not received any formal court papers from Mr Savage.'

A radio advert which urged listeners to Copper's Nark their neighbours as suspected terrorists has been banned by an advertising watchdog for potentially offending law-abiding people. The anti-terrorist hotline advert suggested that 'suspicious behaviour' may include people paying with cash and keeping their curtains drawn. The Association of Chief Police Officers, which was behind the campaign, said that seemingly insignificant behaviour could be linked to terrorism. But the Advertising Standards Authority ruled it could cause 'serious offence.' Eighteen listeners who heard the advert, broadcast on Talksport, complained to the watchdog. Of those, ten said that it could be offensive to law-abiding citizens, while the rest said it could encourage people to harass or victimise their neighbours for no good reason and was playing on people's fear in a quite sickeningly provocative way. In the advert, a voice says: 'The man at the end of the street doesn't talk to his neighbours much, because he likes to keep himself to himself. He pays with cash because he doesn't have a bank card. And he keeps his curtains closed because his house is on a bus route.' It then says: 'If you suspect it, report it.' The campaign by the Association of Chief Police Officers was aimed at promoting the confidential anti-terrorist hotline. The Metropolitan Police, speaking on the ACPO's behalf, said the advert addressed the issue of terrorists living within communities 'and sometimes what appeared to be an insignificant behaviour could potentially be linked to terrorist activities.' Yes. And sometimes, it isn't, it's just insignificant behaviour. It said that the behaviour mentioned was based on trends identified by the police and evidence given in court. Talksport said the script avoided stereotyping and made no appeals to prejudice. But the ASA concluded that the advert could describe the behaviour of any number of perfectly law-abiding people within a community. 'We considered that some listeners, who might identify with the behaviours referred to in the ad, could find the implication that their behaviour was suspicious, offensive. We also considered that some listeners might be offended by the suggestion that they report members of their community for acting in the way described. We therefore concluded that the ad could cause serious offence.' However the ASA also found the advert was not sensationalist, nor did it encourage victimisation or make an undue appeal to fear. The ASA banned the advert in its current form.

Katie Price was reportedly prevented from entering the VIP area at the Expendables premiere after-party. The former glamour model attended the action thriller's London premier alongside actors including Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, reports the Daily Star. 'It was hilarious. Kate waltzed down the carpet and suddenly starting striking a series of really over-the-top poses,' a 'photographer' allegedly told the paper. 'It was as if she thought it was a calendar shoot. She loved the attention and couldn’t stop showing off.' However, it is also alleged that security refused Price entry into the VIP area at the after-party at Planet Hollywood. Price, however, appeared unfazed by the snub and praised the film as 'brilliant. Arnie and Stallone are my favourite action heroes, although I have my real action man at home. Alex will love the film,' she said.