Thursday, September 23, 2010

Radio Earache

We start with some proper excellent news, the great Suranne Jones is to make a guest appearance in the next series of Doctor Who. The official BBC site has confirmed that the former Coronation Street actress will play a character called Idris in the third episode of the new series, written by Neil Gaiman. 'As an actor, it's hugely exciting to be cast in Doctor Who,' she said. 'I'm a massive fan of the show and I was blown away when I read Neil's script and uncovered what's in store for my character.' She added: 'I'm sworn to secrecy so viewers will just have to wait until next year to find out any other juicy details!' Gaiman himself praised the actress, calling her 'beautiful, funny and strange. Suranne is marvellous,' he said. 'It's the kind of role that people will remember forever, so we needed someone who was able to pull that off, and to keep up with Matt Smith. And bite him. Suranne does all three.' Jones previously played an evil incarnation of the Mona Lisa in the third series of Who spin-off Sarah Jane Interferes as well as a critically-acclaimed performance in ITV's thriller Unforgiven. She will also soon appear alongside former star David Tennant in the BBC1 drama Single Father. Filming for the episode begins later this week.

The BBC has been accused of failing to support one of its foreign correspondents after a video depicting a shoe-throwing incident against the Greek prime minister was temporarily axed from the BBC News website. Earlier in the month, the BBC's Greek correspondent, Malcolm Brabant, and his crew filmed a man throwing a shoe at the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou. The incident occurred during a visit to the city of Thessaloniki, where Papandreou was confronted by protesters angry at the government's major spending cuts. The video was posted on the BBC News website, but later taken down after the corporation received complaints from what it described as 'supporters of the [Greek] government' about the video's authenticity, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Brabant immediately objected to the film's removal and the BBC has now restored it on the BBC News site after receiving inquiries from the media. Commenting on the incident, a BBC News 'insider' allegedly said: 'It looks as though the footage should have never been taken off the website. It sounds like people within the Greek government thought they'd try to divert attention.' The situation is understood to have caused considerable damage to Brabant's reputation in Greece. Some commentators in the local media are even calling into question his ability to continue reporting in the country. John Williams, the BBC World News editor, appeared on Greek television to defend Brabant, who previously won a Sony 'Reporter Of The Year' award for his coverage of the siege of Sarajevo. However, a friend of the reporter said: 'The BBC's spinelessness has done immense damage to his reputation in Greece, so much so that he may not be able to operate there anymore. He is furious.' Explaining the incident, a BBC spokesman said: 'The shoe incident was covered as part of the BBC News Online article throughout the weekend. There were questions about the video showing the incident so the page featuring the clip was taken down, but it is now back up on the website given it is clear to us that the allegations were unfounded.' I must say, yer Keith Telly Topping is not a great fan of this idea of throwing shoes about. I mean, remember people, shoes have soles too.

ITV has announced that James Nesbitt will star in new six-part medical drama Monroe. The actor will play Gabriel Monroe, a neurosurgeon who must contend with two new trainees, as well as a series of medical emergencies. Mistresses star Sarah Parish will also appear in the series as cardiac surgeon Jenny Bremner, while Bouquet of Barbed Wire actor Tom Riley will portray anaesthetist Laurence Shepherd. Wallander's Sarah Smart and former Teachers star Shaun Evans will also play guest roles in the first episode. The series has been written by Peter Bowker and will be helmed by Sherlock director Paul McGuigan.

Meanwhile, speaking of dysfunctional fictional doctors, House creator David Shore has confirmed that the maverick medical genius will clash with Cuddy's mother in an upcoming episode. It was previously reported that actress Candice Bergen had been cast in the role. 'House is going to meet [Cuddy's] mum and she is a handful,' said Shore. The producer suggested that the two characters will be surprisingly similar in personality. 'It's always nice to have House come up against people with whom, whether he likes to admit it or not, he has something in common,' he claimed. 'They're not the same person, but there are parallels and they're not attractive parallels.'

BBC Vision director Jana Bennett has predicted that there will be an 'extremely strong field' of candidates for the vacant BBC1 controller job, but suggested that BBC3's Danny Cohen is not in the running. Last week, Channel 4 poached the current controller, Jay Hunt, to become its first chief creative officer from January next year. In a speech to staff yesterday, Bennett paid tribute to Hunt and thanked her for 'devoted leadership of a highly creative team' at the BBC's flagship channel, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. The BBC started advertising for Hunt's replacement this week and Bennett is confident that there will be plenty of interest in the role. 'I've no doubt that we'll have an extremely strong field of candidates for what is arguably the most important channel commissioning job in the UK,' she said. Hot favourite for the role had been BBC3 controller Cohen, after he masterminded a resurgence at the digital channel since taking over in May 2007, including viewer numbers being up by fifty six per cent among the target sixteen to thirty four-year-old audience. However, Bennett - who will handle the BBC1 controller job until Hunt's replacement can be found - seemed to suggest that Cohen is staying where he is for the moment. She said: 'During the coming year I want to work with Danny to strengthen and deepen the BBC3 news brand and ensure it gets full credit for its serious documentary and current affairs output.' Earlier in the month, Cohen also claimed that he is 'definitely staying' at BBC3 to further build on the channel's success.

Daybreak presenter and chief mutton-dressed-as-lamb Kate Garraway utterly terrified the show's few, bleary-eyed viewers with a shockingly low cut pink dress at 7.52am on Wednesday morning. But, on her next appearance just over half an hour later, it had been replaced by a more sombre and demure black and grey patterned outfit. And Kate's expression had also changed from sunny to one that looked, uncannily, like a smacked arse. This has led to speculation within the media that the only over-forty allowed to flash any cleavage at breakfast time on ITV is big fat cuddly Lorraine Kelly. But the official line, seemingly, is that full-of-her-own-importance Katie, forty three - and looking every second of it, by the way - thought that she was finished for the day and had changed out of her shocking pink thing before being called back at the last minute to host a feature. She was then seen with Anysha Panesar - the Welsh girl who won America's Perfect Teen Pageant. A Daybreak spokeswoman said: 'It's a better story that she had to change because she was showing off too much but it's not the case. She thought she'd finished for the day and was about to leave. Kate had changed out of her studio outfit and then she had to come back on. There wasn't time to put her pink dress back on so she went on with her own clothes.' Whatever the reason, there is no doubt Kate caused a stir in the seventy nine quid so-called Ultimate Wiggle Dress from Diva clothing. The former GMTV anchor has seemingly been dressing younger and has got herself a sexy bob hairstyle for her humiliatingly downgraded new role as the entertainment editor since Christine Bleakley came along and pushed her nose out of joint.

Roger Bolton, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Feedback programme, has criticised the corporation's director general Mark Thompson for his comments about a left-wing bias at the BBC thirty years ago. Earlier in the month, Thompson claimed that the BBC's newsrooms had a 'massive bias to the left' when he joined the corporation in 1979. Veteran broadcaster Bolton, who was Thompson's manager when he edited Nationwide, said that he was left 'baffled and rather irritated' by the director general's comments reports, of course with some glee, the Gruniad Morning Star. Writing in a letter published in the BBC's in-house magazine Ariel, Bolton said: 'Perhaps he believes my fellow programme editors of that time like Chris Capron, George Carey, Ron Neil, Peter Ibbotson and Hugh Williams were lefties? In which case he must be possessed of remarkable insight since even today I don't know what their political leanings were or are. How about the main presenters then, Robin Day, David Dimbleby, John Tusa, Peter Snow, Frank Bough, Sue Lawley? Card-carrying Commies? I don't think so. What about the rows with the Thatcher government? Ah the rows! Well I was involved in quite a few of them and they weren't about whether we were pro- or anti-Mrs Thatcher; they were about whether we should report as honestly and openly as we could about the situation in Northern Ireland or the Falklands War.' Bolton added: 'Of course everyone has views. It is undeniable that most editorial staff were, and probably are, of a liberal inclination when it comes to social issues, and that they cluster around the middle ground of the political spectrum. I would also suggest they are predominantly secular as well. We all have biases, the crucial thing is to be aware of them. However it is something else entirely to suggest that we flawed creatures made predominantly left-wing programmes. When he worked for me, Mark used to do his research. In this case he clearly has not.' You tell 'im, fellah!

Ann Widdecombe has suggested that the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI has hurt her Strictly Come Dancing chances. You've got to admit, dear blog reader, on a list of excuses that's right up there with 'the dog ate my homework, Miss.'

Jon Hamm has said that he believes it is easy to get on television. Not that easy, mate. Yer Keith Telly Topping's been trying it for years and, two appearances in BBC4 documentaries, an episode of Fifteen to One, four minutes on Newsnight and a tiny bit of I ♥ The 70s doesn't really cut it, I'm afraid. Not that I've been counting, nor nothing. And, before you ask, that thing on Crimewatch was a case of mistaken identity. Anyway, in an interview with Details, the Mad Men actor lamented that Hollywood's obsession with reality programmes has made it possible for anyone to be a star. 'LA represents opportunity. And, as has been proven over and over in the current media landscape, it doesn't take much for them to put you on TV. If that's all you want you can just be on The Bachelor or The Real Housewives or whatever show just wants oversized personalities, ridiculous behaviour and zero dignity,' he explained. 'When you try to learn how to act, you approach it with respect. But if you just want to be famous, that's not much different than porn. "I'm a movie star!" Well, no, you're not. You're a porn star, and that's completely different.' Hamm went on to reveal his own success in the business: 'I never minded standing up and looking like an idiot, which is tremendously helpful in this industry.'

And, as if to prove a point: Channel 4's much-hyped new reality series Seven Days debuted to just a million viewers on Wednesday evening, according to overnight audience data. The programme, which the channel claims 'charts the everyday lives of people living in Notting Hill,' averaged a meagre 1.02m for Channel 4 from 10pm and one hundred and forty seven thousand additional viewers on Channel 4 +1.

NBC has reportedly picked up a pilot featuring the popular Lost actors Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn. Earlier this week, it emerged that Lost co-creator JJ Abrams had started pitching the project to networks. New York Magazine reports that NBC has now landed the rights to the show despite competition from ABC and FOX. So, it's clearly something of a hot property. The drama, which is said to have humorous moments, is thought to focus on two former black-ops agents. It was previously named Odd Jobs but is now technically untitled.

John Cleese has revealed that he is a big fan of the German way of life. The comedian, who famously wrote an episode of Fawlty Towers in which hotel owner Basil Fawlty endlessly offends a group of German holidaymakers, admitted that he admired the pace and lifestyle of the country, reports the Daily Star. Cleese told an Austrian newspaper: 'I always felt attracted by Austrian and German culture in a certain way. I never saw so much theatre and music and so many museums anywhere else. I considered renting a small flat in Switzerland. I love being in Munich and Milan in four hours from there. I like the velocity and the food. It doesn't have the tackiness of other big cities.'

Chris Moyles spent half-an-hour in an angry rant at the BBC in on his Radio 1 show yesterday morning. The DJ told listeners that he had not been paid since July and accused the corporation of having 'a huge lack of respect. Do you know what, I wasn't going to come in today,' he said. Well, in that case, why didn't you if you feel that strongly about it? 'I hate the fact I've been put into a position by Radio1 and the BBC that I don't want to be in. I'm very, very angry. I can't tell you how furious I am.' But, nevertheless, he tried. 'I haven't been paid since the end of July and no-one cares about it. No one's bothered.' I wonder why that is? Could it be that nobody likes a whinging shit, perhaps? He continued: 'They can't be bothered to pay me. Why should I come in? It's a two-way street. What annoys me is the fact I mentioned it to people this week. Fix it, just get it fixed. It's a huge lack of respect and a massive FU to me. "It doesn't matter?" Really? It's for free? I love my job, don't get me wrong.' He said that he believed the problem had occurred due to administrative issues after he signed a new one-year deal with the corporation. 'It's to do with our new contracts. Some dope, I pretty much know who's responsible in this building. I even know the name of the moronic div. I bet you any money their ass is getting paid,' he said. Moyles revealed that his agent Vivienne Clore had convinced him to carry on doing the show 'for the listeners.' The same listeners that he was subjecting his self-aggrandising rant towards, that'd be. He also appeared to confirm recent reports that he had split from his girlfriend of eight years Sophie Waite. 'I don't need it at the moment. I don't need any more stress in my life at the moment and they know that and yet they can't be arsed,' he said. '"It doesn't matter, it's only Chris." I've had enough. I don't need it. Every morning I'm in, like the rest of us are. Every day flogging it, working it every single day, we care about this show more than anyone else on this network. We work so hard - "Oh, you've not been paid, don't worry about it." I know a lot of people think "whinge, whinge, whinge" - it's respect, I'm sick of it.' The presenter made an apology for his rant, which he then withdrew, saying: 'Sorry. Actually I'm not sorry for the outburst because I need to get it out of my system. Fine, you can dock me five minutes' pay for this morning, I'll give you that.' He added: 'Can you imagine if Terry Wogan had not got paid for two months, would you even think that would ever happen? It just wouldn't, would it? Do you ever think anyone would forget to pay Chris Evans for two months and nobody would panic about it?' Moyles was further angered when a listener texted in telling him to 'stop moaning' because he is paid 'a fortune compared with most people.' 'You know nothing about my life,' Moyles bleated. 'And, by the way, what, because I get paid more than you that means if I don't get paid for two months I should just do oh well, harumph? I slept on someone's sofa last night so don't [talk] to me about my life, you have no idea, my friend. If you have a problem with that I'll pay your licence fee and you can switch off and listen to someone else. Go and read the Daily Mail, you miserable fart.' Lovely. Bet that listener sticks around to find out how the story ends. The BBC has, reportedly, received more than sixty complaints from other listeners about the rant. They later issued a terse statement in which they confirmed that Moyles had not been piad 'due to a computer glitch' but that his payment was, 'currently being processed.' One excellent Daily Scum Mail comment notwithstanding, I think Mr Moyles has, clearly, been treated appallingly. And, that frankly his only option for him, the only honourable thing to do would be to resign in high dudgeon and take his talents, which are obviously in such great demand, elsewhere. Off you go then, Chris. And don't let the door hit your enormous arse on the way out. Maybe you'd prefer to be working in call centre, for instance? I'm sure they'd have yer wages in your bank on time.

Perhaps noted ungrateful gobshite Moyles should take a few lessons from one of radio's great survivors, the First Lady of Radio 1. When Annie Nightingale spun her first platter at the stations in early 1970, The Beatles were still together and Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were still alive. Forty years later and the station's first female DJ is still there - and now she's won a Guinness World Record as the world's longest-serving female radio presenter. Annie, like another of yer Keith Telly Topping's heroes, the late John Peel, remains a class act and proves that you can work, quite happily, in the belly of the beast, on your own terms, ploughing your own furrow and being yourself without resorting to the sort of rank loud glakery that people like Moyles specialise in. And, by and large, outlast them all.

Channel 4's deputy chairman Lord Puttnam has accepted that the broadcaster's failed campaign to secure public funding assistance was 'a tactical error.' Speaking yesterday on Radio 4's The Media Show, Puttnam said that the strategy pursued by Channel 4's former chief executive Andy Duncan and ex-chairman Luke Johnson left the broadcaster open to accusations of 'having cried wolf. There was a moment where it looked as though there was going to be a gap [in Channel 4's finances]. A sizeable gap,' he said. 'It was never the size that I'm afraid was at one point being claimed and there were those of us on the board that knew that and felt that we made a quite serious tactical error in hopping up and down too early for too much.' Duncan started lobbying for some form of government subsidy almost straight away after joining Channel 4 in 2004. He wanted help in covering the broadcaster's budget shortfall, which at one stage was projected to be one hundred million pounds a year by 2012. However, new Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham has since dropped any calls for funding assistance and instead pledged to keep the broadcaster financially independent. When asked why Duncan was able to exaggerate Channel 4's financial problems, Puttnam said: 'A board is a board and you do your best as a board to keep the show on the road. You're not the chief executive [you] try to convince the chief executive he's made a mistake.' Puttnam also said that Channel 4 previously endured 'a moment of madness' on executive salaries, with Duncan and former director of television Kevin Lygo both earning over one million pounds a year at one stage. The deputy chairman said that the situation occurred during the tenure of former chief executive Mark Thompson, who is now in charge at the BBC. He claimed that Thompson has made some 'extraordinary misjudgments' at the corporation, particularly on executive pay. 'I think he completely lost the plot in understanding that actually. The moment a person crosses a bridge - which is the salary earned by the prime minister - you've got to start asking a lot of questions,' said Puttnam. 'It was a great pity that Mark Thompson, who is a very, very moral man allowed himself to get trapped into something that became very, very embarrassing for him. If someone came along and said, "Would you like to be controller of BBC1, but I'm afraid we can only pay you £110,423," not a lot of people would say, "No thank you."' Puttnam also joined calls for the government to block News Corporation's proposed takeover of Sky in order to ensure a plurality in the British media.

Channel 4 show The Inbetweeners has been named best sitcom at the prestigious Rose d'Or television festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. Another British show, BBC3 documentary Blood, Sweat and Takeaways, was named best reality and factual entertainment. Special awards were also given to X Factor mogul Simon Cowell and long-running ITV soap Coronation Street. The Golden Rose award for Best of 2010 went to Benidorm Bastards, a Belgian comedy show involving hidden cameras. The awards came at the end of the festival which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year. The event was originally held in the Swiss city of Montreux but has been held in Lucerne since 2004. Former GMTV presenter Ben Shephard hosted Wednesday's awards ceremony alongside German TV star Nazan Eckes. Celebrities present included former Countdown regular Carol Vorderman, former Big Breakfast presenter Gaby Roslin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. All fomers, you'll notice, including Ben Shephard. Nobody who has an actual job goes to it. Events at this year's festival included a live edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, hosted by Chris Tarrant. Cowell did not travel to Switzerland to receive his award for outstanding contribution to entertainment television. As his was too busy polishing his own knob to bother.