Monday, September 06, 2010

Is There Anyone Out There?

The BBC has defended its impartiality after the director general, Mark Thompson, was seen going to a meeting in Downing Street to discuss the BBC's coverage of the government's spending cuts. Thompson was photographed on his way to a briefing carrying a print-out of an internal e-mail from BBC News director Helen Boaden. The e-mail appeared to reveal that Boaden had attended a lunch with Andy Coulson, the coalition government's director of communications, at which he called on the BBC to 'give context to our Spending Review Season.' Boaden's e-mail also gave Thompson information on the spending cuts coverage, which starts next week on the BBC's TV, radio and online services. The subject line of the e-mail indicated that it was for a briefing with Steve Hilton, who is David Cameron's director of strategy. The revelation has led to criticism of the BBC's due impartiality for its coverage of the spending cuts season, which will be a pivotal period for the coalition. Ed Miliband, one of the Labour leadership candidates, told the, always supportive, Daily Scum Mail that the meeting was 'deeply worrying.' This is, of course, the self-same Daily Scum Mail who, in an article on the subject just two days ago, suggested that Thompson had been 'summoned' to Downing Street something which no government, of any political stripe, would ever dare to publicly claim as it would be a clear indication of a lack of respect for the BBC's independence. But then, this is the Daily Scum Mail we're talking about. And, they know nothing. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Labour MP Michael Dugher added: 'The BBC should be standing up for its independence and should not be bullied by Cameron's aides with the threat of cutbacks.' What, you mean, like they never did when your pal Ben Bradshaw was kicking seven grades of shat out of them for the last decade, you mean, Michael? 'The BBC gave Labour a hard time when we were in Government and it is well within its rights to continue with the Tories.' However, a spokesman for the corporation said: 'The director general has made it repeatedly clear that the impartiality of the BBC is paramount. The director general in his role as editor-in-chief discussed the possible participation of a number of members of the government in the BBC's coverage of the spending review this autumn. The BBC has regular meetings with both government and opposition parties. Both he and colleagues will also be talking to all the main political parties on this issue.' The spokesman forgot to add 'as if it's any of your business.' Probably out of politeness.

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly will host the Strictly Come Dancing results shows this year, it has been confirmed. Bruce Forsyth and Daly will remain as the presenters of the main Saturday night shows, while Winkleman will replace the veteran host for the elimination episode. The new results shows will not feature a dance-off, but instead include pro-dance performances and the elimination itself. Winkleman, who presented the main show with Daly and Ronnie Corbett when Forsyth was sick for one episode last year, will also return to host It Takes Two. BBC controller of entertainment commissioning Mark Linsey said: 'Strictly pioneered the Sunday night results format and this year we're back with the perfect finish to the weekend. Tess and Claudia were the obvious choices to present and we're really proud that a fresh Strictly will return with must-see, family event television.' The Strictly Come Dancing red carpet launch show airs at 6.25pm on 11 September, when all the celebrities will be introduced to their professional partners for the first time. Three weeks later, all the competitors will perform on shows split over the weekend from 1 October. No couple will be eliminated in the first week, as all the points will be carried forward to the following Saturday's show, allowing the audience two weeks to decide their favourite couples. Winkleman said: 'I'm properly excited about working alongside Tess on the Sunday results show. I'll be fully immersed in all things tango and sequin as I'm still hosting It Takes Two weeknights on BBC2. They've just told me the line-up. One word. Excited.'

Kate Garraway has revealed that she is embracing her new job on ITV's revamped breakfast show Daybreak. Well, you haven't really got much choice, have you, chuck? It's either that or, you know, get yourself a real job. The presenter, who will assume the humiliatingly reduced role of 'entertainment editor' on the GMTV replacement, admitted that she is simply thankful to still have a job at all. Millions haven't. Talking to the Daily Scum Mail, she said: 'Anybody who thinks they have a job for life in TV is bonkers. Television is about change. If you were launching a new show and wanted a new couple to front it, you'd pick them [Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles]. They're a great team. If GMTV was continuing with Ben Shephard on the sofa in the same studio and they'd brought Christine in, I would have wondered what I'd done wrong. But I'd been there ten years. I've had great fun, great money and great times. When the redundancies started, I thought, "Let's think of different things I can do."' Bet that was a pretty short thought process. 'Then they offered me this job, and I thought, "This is good."' Speaking of her new boss - her ex-husband Ian Rumsey - she added: 'We've seen each other since, so it wasn't a case of, "Weren't you wearing white when I last saw you?" But before he started, I did think, "What is this going to be like? This could be weird or really awkward." You would, wouldn't you? Seeing as we're both working together at the moment, we obviously get on and have a lot in common. I think it's good we've managed to keep a friendly relationship afterwards.'

Channel 4 has reportedly ordered more episodes of Alan Carr's Chatty Man. According to the Sun, the channel wants eighteen new editions of the chat show after the comedian impressed network executives. A 'source' allegedly said: 'It's great news for Alan as he's proved that he can do a decent chat show, which is not easy.' The format will return later in the year, while a Christmas special is also apparently being planned.

Kimberley Walsh has denied reports that she is due to appear on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. Despite admitting that she was open to participating in a future edition of the BBC competition, the Girls Aloud singer dismissed speculation that she had signed up for the eighth series of the show. 'I won't be on [Strictly] this year," she told MSN. 'I don't think it's the right thing for me to do right now - maybe it would be at some point, but at the moment I'm not ready to put myself back into the glare of reality television.' Instead, Walsh revealed that she hoped to keep busy during Girls Aloud's temporary hiatus by making a move into acting. 'I have trained in that [acting] and done a bit over the years and it'd be nice to revisit it if it was the right thing to do and see if I could still do it,' she said. 'I think if the right thing came along I would enjoy that. I guess it would be nice to play someone completely different to myself.'

Meanwhile, Kim's sweet soul sister Cheryl Cole is reportedly planning to quit The X Factor after the current series. And a nation mourns. Apparently. According to the News of the World, when they weren't too bust stitching up Pakistani cricketers, Cole is moving to the US permanently to star in the American version of the singing competition and to be with her 'rumoured' boyfriend Derek Hough. A 'source', they claim, told them: 'This is Cheryl Cole phase two. She's not changing her name but she's changing every other aspect of her life. She wouldn't have the time to do both of the X Factors plus release new songs - and she's got her heart set on America where Derek lives. '[Simon Cowell] believes she will be a huge star in the States. The US show is a huge opportunity but she'd have to give up the show here because she wouldn't be able to do her music too. In Britain, her priority is music and it always will be. She's primarily a music star and she feels three years on The X Factor will be enough. Plus, everything's going to be shaken up in the next series so this is the perfect time for her to bow out. ITV will do everything they can to keep her but she doesn't need the money. She only really did this series because of her close friendship with Simon.' It is also claimed that there won't be a series of The X Factor in the UK next year, but that the show will return in 2012 with 'radical changes.' The 'source' allegedly said: 'Nothing has been decided. But how the show is run in the US will be a clear indication as to what will happen to the UK version.'

Nadia Almada has revealed that she is feeling 'completely distraught' following her eviction from The Ultimate Big Brother Friday and claimed that returning to the show has 'ruined her life.' The Big Brother 5 winner told the Daily Star Sunday that she has suffered abuse from the public since leaving the house and accused show bosses of misleading viewers in their handling of Coolio's exit. 'I want to end it all. I just feel my life isn't worth living any more,' she said. 'I can't carry on living the way I feel,' she continued. 'I'm in the gutter and I'm completely distraught. Going back on Big Brother has ruined my life. I was the victim in that house but I was shown to be the villain. I'm just gutted. I hate my life so much right now and sometimes ending it all is the only solution. I'm at the lowest point I've ever been so I'm surrounding myself with friends and family and hoping God will be there for me. I was already in a vulnerable place and this has thrown me overboard.' Well, then maybe you shouldn't have taken Channel 4's, no doubt decent sized, wad when they waved it in your face, should you? No sympathy, I'm afraid. 'When this mess is over I just don't know what I'll do. I'm losing it. I'm emotional. This is the last thing I need in my life. My car has had eggs thrown all over it and I've had horrible notes sent to me, calling me a bitch. I've had to start avoiding people and stop answering calls. I don't know how much more I can take. I feel betrayed by Channel 4. There was no loyalty from them, no duty of care. They failed to protect me. Coolio targeted me on the first night and he wouldn't leave me alone. He kept asking about my gender status and he humiliated me over it. If it had been a racial slur they would have shown it but because it was against a transsexual they edited it out. They made it look like I wanted to leave over a pair of shoes but the truth is I was being bullied. I had a panic attack but that was left out as well. I'm going to speak to Ofcom and I want a public apology from Big Brother over this. I will be contacting lawyers and solicitors because I want to take things further. I was lured onto the show with them saying it would be a celebration. But after this I don't want to represent Big Brother any more. I don't feel safe to go out. I feel frightened. Big Brother discarded me. This has destroyed me. I was the nation's sweetheart and people embraced me. But now I'm the villain.' Defending comments she made to Josie about her relationship with John James, she added: 'I stand by what I said. John James did treat her unfairly and he isn't genuine. She is such a lovely girl and she deserves someone better.' Almada competed in the fifth series of Big Brother in 2004; she kept her gender reassignment operation a secret from fellow contestants although viewers were informed. After seventy one days in the Big Brother House, she emerged as the winner, securing seventy four per cent of the overall vote and winning over sixty thousand pounds. Almada went on to record a single entitled 'A Little Bit Of Action,' which reached a whopping Number Twenty Seven in the UK Singles Chart in December 2004. She also made a guest appearance in the soap opera Hollyoaks turning on the Christmas Lights. In 2008, she co-presented The Big Brother Launch Night Project on the launch night of Big Brother 9. She also took part in Celebrity Fitness Videos Not Fit For TV, which was hosted by Lorraine Kelly and Eamon Holmes. In 2005, she was a contestant on the Channel Five reality show, Trust Me ... I'm A Holiday Rep. The following year she was a celebrity guest on a four-day stay on Channel 4's reality TV show, Fool Around With... Her goal was to decipher who out of several male contestants was single, enabling them to win ten thousand pounds.

Bonfire Night will turn into a night of screaming bloody horror on Hollyoaks this November when a huge fire starts at Il Gnosh, before raging through the village like a big raging thing. The shock blaze at Tony Hutchinson's restaurant begins in mysterious circumstances and soon spreads to the upstairs flat and neighbouring buildings. As the flames continue in their destructive path of carnage, they threaten the lives of several characters - leaving viewers to wonder who will survive and who will perish. Or, you know, not care much one way or the other. Show bosses have confirmed that the storyline will see a number of characters leave the programme. However, details of who will live and who will die are currently being kept closely under wraps. The drama begins on 5 November before continuing in a block of episodes airing nightly through the following week. Throughout the first four episodes airing from 8 November, viewers will see various characters finding themselves in dire peril because of the fire. The last episode of the week will follow the final stages of the blaze, whilst the surviving residents suffer an agonising wait to see who makes it out of the inferno alive. In a further twist, as the survivors mourn the dead in the aftermath of the fire, the police arrive with some disturbing news - the blaze was no accident and an arsonist is on the loose. The revelation marks the beginning of a whodunit investigation to be played out over the following weeks. Speaking about the storyline, Hollyoaks' producer, Paul Marquess, commented: 'We're remaining very tight-lipped on which characters will survive the fire, but all I will say is that it will be shocking. The sets have been prepped to go up in flames and the cast and crew are excited to film these explosive scenes.'

Simon Pegg has sent a live message into space on behalf of the planet. The actor narrated the signal during Lauren Laverne's show on BBC 6Music as part of an ongoing series from the station, which has received support from astronomer Patrick Moore. Introducing the Beatles' 1966 song 'Tomorrow Never Knows', Pegg said: 'Hello friends. My name is Simon, and on behalf of the residents of Planet Earth in all their splendour and variation, it is my great privilege to extend the hand of friendship to you across the galaxy. We live on a small blue planet, third in line away from a large yellow star in what we refer to as the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Please feel free to stop by any time if your technology permits.' He added: 'If you've already received any of our visual cultural output, I would suggest watching films such as Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Contact as an indication of our hopes and dreams of interstellar communication. Please ignore films such as War Of The Worlds, The Thing and Mamma Mia!' Pegg later contacted Laverne on Twitter, saying 'That was one of the most nerve shredding things I have ever done but I loved it. Fingers crossed no death rays.' 6Music has sent a number of messages into space via a radio telescope in southern England in recent weeks, with the first being Wayne Coyne presenting The Flaming Lips' 'Do You Realise?'