Monday, September 27, 2010

The Stale Council

Dannii Minogue, the least famous of the Minogue sisters, has shrugged off speculation suggesting that she could be fired from the next series of The X Factor, saying that no-one on the show has a contract beyond the current year. Minogue, who recently returned to film the judges' houses stage of the current series following the birth of her son Ethan, told the Sun that she loves the show and hopes to continue to be a part of it. '[The judges' houses filming] was the first time I'd got frocked-up and put heels on again,' she said. 'Everyone could see how excited I was.' Reacting to rumours about the show's future, Minogue said: 'Nobody gets employed for next year until the show ends. How can I be fired from a job I am not in? I love the show. It's something I really, really want to be involved in.'

Long-running courtroom television show Judge Judy defeated Oprah in the ratings last season to become America's most watched daytime television series. Yahoo News reports that the show has become the first to replace Oprah Winfrey's talk show at the top of the ratings in ten years. The Nielsen figures place Judge Judy with an average of 6.3 million viewers, ahead of the approximate 5.7 million who watch Oprah on a daily basis. The news comes after Winfrey announced in December 2009 that the current season of her show will be her last.

It's the news that millions of parents of toddlers have feared — the BBC is to put In the Night Garden to bed for good. With its soothing music and storylines and dreamlike setting, In the Night Garden has become something of a children's classic. It is narrated by Derek Jacobi, who sings such memorable lines as 'Yes, my name is Igglepiggle, Igglepiggle-niggle-wiggle-diggle!' and has proved an enormously popular — and lucrative — hit with pre-school audiences. However, the BBC has confirmed that it will not be commissioning another series, though it is likely the existing episodes will continue to be repeated on the BBC and its pre-school digital channel CBeebies. At fourteen and a half million pounds for one hundred half-hour episodes, In the Night Garden is the most expensive children's programme commissioned and co-funded by the BBC. It is produced by Ragdoll Productions, the company behind Teletubbies. Launched in 2007, the show is now watched in thirty five countries and its theatre show In the Night Garden Live! has been a sell-out success across the UK. It has also been a merchandising hit for the BBC, selling about a million DVDs and four million cuddly toys. Such has been the popularity of the show's characters — Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, and the Tombliboos, whose trousers always fall down — that they have also attracted tabloid attention. Igglepiggle was revealed to be a thirty one-year-old tattooed rocker called Nick Kellington, while Isaac Blake, a dancer who played one of the Tombliboos, claimed unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal and complained about his electronic suit. There was also a story about one of the characters allegedly swearing when his words were translated into Mandarin. The CBeebies show ends with the characters in bed and lights being turned off. When it was moved from the pre-bedtime schedule in 2008, parents complained in droves and the BBC made an official statement assuring them the show would return to the bedtime slot. In the Night Garden creator Andrew Davenport, who also created Teletubbies, told the Gruniad Morning Star that 'as far as it goes in that format, that's it for Night Garden,' but said there may be 'some other types of broadcast,' such as 'TV one-offs.' Davenport said that there may also be some kind of musical project based on the programme, but not a Christmas song. Richard Hollis, the BBC Worldwide head of UK licensing, said that In the Night Garden was 'our biggest brand.' He added that the BBC had always intended to order one hundred episodes. 'It was a huge commission [and] a massive project to make. But that quantity is probably enough as the market is continually being renewed by new children.' The BBC also has new pre-school shows such as the yoga-influenced Waybuloo and musical series Zingzillas following in the footsteps of Igglepiggle and his chums.

EastEnders's Rita Simons will run a genuine London pub as part of an upcoming BBC3 documentary. The actress, who plays former Queen Vic landlady Roxy Mitchell, will run the East End bar for one week as part of Beyond Walford. According to the Sun, Simons said of the role: 'It's been an insight seeing what it's like to run a real pub. I just hope I don't get carried away and start barring people - as Roxy does.'

Harry Enfield has admitted that he feared the rise of Ricky Gervais had finished off his own career. The comic said that he worried Gervais's style of comedy in The Office was the death knell for his brand of sketches. He said: 'I thought we were past it, because everything was so cool. With Ricky coming up with his amazing, just so well-observed, comedy. I think what we did was well-observed too, but he got the ultimate thing to observe - an office - that I just thought it was much cleverer. It didn't have any jokes, it was just painfully truthful and embarrassing and really, really funny so I thought, "That's it, I'm over."' According to the Press Association, Enfield credits Matt Lucas and David Walliams's Little Britain with encouraging him to continue in comedy. He continued: 'Then Little Britain came along, and that was fantastically uncool and everyone loved it, so I thought, "Oh good," so we got back into it. I love Little Britain, I wouldn't have started doing all this again if it wasn't for Little Britain.'

Dame Helen Mirren says that she is still upset about a thirty-year-old TV interview, during which she was quizzed about her body and the nude scenes she showed it off in. The Queen star's 1975 meeting with Michael Parkinson was one of her first chat show appearances - and his line of questioning left her 'shaken.' But instead of showing the host how she felt, she turned the interview on him and made it a very awkward encounter. And when Parky quizzed her about her 'physical attributes' - referring to her breasts - the actress help up her hands and asked, 'My fingers?' Recalling the interview in the new issue of feminism publication Bust, Mirren says, 'It was enraging but it was par for the course to a certain extent. It was fairly common, that kind of attitude. Looking back, I think I handled it really well. It was the first time I had ever done a talk show, ever. I'd only done Shakespeare before, and I was terribly nervous, and I was mortified by the end of it. But I wasn't taking it.' And, the Oscar winner is delighted that modern young stars don't have to accept bad behaviour from chat show hosts: 'At least now young actresses can say, "Fuck off," and still work again.' To be fair, love, Parky was probably gutted that he was interviewing you instead of, you know, 'Sammy Davis junior or, the late, great, Gene Kelly.'

Shappi Khorsandi says that the worst job she ever had was dressing up as a box of diabetic urine sticks for a corporate video. 'I had to go around the factory saying, "I'm the urine testing girl, I'm here to see how I was made,"' she recalls with abject horror. 'The looks people gave me were terrible. The shame is seared into my soul to this day.' Expect that one to end up on YouTube!

Pixie Lott has admitted that she wanted to say 'yes' to everyone when she appeared on The X Factor as a guest judge. However, she added that when she did have to reject a contestant, she 'tried to be nice.' Lott appeared on The X Factor at the Cardiff auditions, replacing the then-pregnant Dannii Minogue on the judges' panel. Speaking to the Mirror, the singer said that she enjoyed the experience. 'It was so good to be asked,' Lott said. 'It was a weird experience to be honest, but I really enjoyed it. I just wanted to let everyone through, but I tried to be nice and constructive rather than mean. There were some properly terrible ones though.' Reflecting on some of the more eccentric auditions, Lott said: 'I just don't understand some of them or what they're thinking. They're convinced they're brilliant when they are so, so bad. It was hilarious.' The nineteen-year-old added that, although she thinks The X Factor is a great show, she 'never felt the need to go down that route' in her career.

Steve Coogan has been shooting new episodes of Alan Partridge last week – for a new Internet campaign for Foster's lager. Writer and director Armando Iannucci confirmed that a dozen ten-minute episodes have been created to 'pop up somewhere soon.' The brewer last month indicated that it wanted to revive the show as part of its increasing sponsorship of comedy, which includes Channel 4 programming and the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Gayle Harrison, Foster's marketing manager, said at the time that the idea would 'give the brand credibility among its target audience of young men.' Now Iannucci has confirmed that production is under way in a Tweet, writing: 'So, we've been shooting Alan Partridge's radio show all week. It'll pop up as twelve ten-minute episodes somewhere quite soon.' The web episodes have been made by Coogan's production company Baby Cow, which also makes Gavin and Stacey, Ideal and The Mighty Boosh. At least one of which is actually funny.

William Roache has revealed that he was almost axed from Coronation Street after three years on the soap. Speaking to the News of the World about his forthcoming autobiography, Roache said that producer Tim Aspinall, known as the 'Mad Axeman' among cast members, had drawn up a list of names to cut from the drama when he started working on the show in 1964. Roache said: 'He had a kind of hit list of characters. He decided who he wanted out, while others including myself were put on warning that we were likely to be given the chop at a later date. It was appalling.' However, Roache was given a reprieve when Aspinall was replaced after five months. The seventy eight-year-old, who recently entered the Guinness World Record book as the world's longest-serving soap actor, also said that he initially did not want to audition for the role of Ken Barlow. 'I wasn't interested,' he said. 'I had my flat in London, I was getting acting parts and it all looked very rosy.' When Roache initially started on the show, he was told it would last for thirteen episodes over six weeks. He said: 'Those six weeks have now stretched into fifty years, and the programme is still going strong. Nobody could have known way back then what an impact it would have.'

Radiohead are reported to be meeting today to discuss whether they should 'throw out' their new album. So, there is a God after all, it would seem.

Bones actress Emily Deschanel has married her writer-actor partner David Hornsby during a quiet Los Angeles ceremony. A representative for the thirty three-year-old actress, who plays the titular character in the FOX crime drama, confirmed to People magazine that the couple were married on Saturday in front of friends and family in the Pacific Palisades area of Santa Monica. The publication states that Deschanel wore diamond hair clips and earrings by jewelry designer Neil Lane. Nice.

Patrick Duffy has confirmed his involvement in the upcoming remake of the 1980s TV series Dallas and referred to the pilot script as 'brilliant.' Duffy told the Press Association that the revived show will feature several established characters, including his own role Bobby Ewing and the corrupt oil baron JR played by Larry Hagman. 'They're going to do a pilot,' he announced. 'It will be centred on the younger generation but they have been in conversation with Larry [Hagman], Linda [Gray] and myself to sort of anchor and add a pedigree to it.' He continued: 'I've read scripts when they've tried to do films of it and they were absolutely horrendous and this is actually a brilliant script.' Duffy added that he looks forward to playing Bobby again more than a decade after the last Dallas TV movie. 'It'll be surreal if we actually end up playing those parts and going back to Texas and South Fork. I'm sixty years old now and I started Bobby when I was twenty eight. It'll be surreal but it'll also be enjoyable, Larry and Linda are my dearest friends ever in the world.' The actor also referenced his character's controversial return to the series in that 1986 episode after seemingly dying during the show's eighth season. He jested: 'I'm the only one that can come back from the dead though, it's in my contract.'

US satirist Stephen Colbert has appeared before a Congress committee discussing immigrant farm workers. Colbert appeared in character as the conservative commentator he plays on his show on Comedy Central. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers asked Colbert to leave before his testimony even started. But the comedian went on to speak about his recent experience working as a farm labourer in New York state, and made a series of jokes throughout. Colbert's appearance meant the committee meeting was unusually full, with numerous photographers present. Democratic subcommittee chairwoman Zoe Lofgren said she had not seen it so full since the impeachment hearings of former President Bill Clinton. Colbert suggested one of the few ways to avoid the need for immigrant labour would be the invention of 'vegetables that pick themselves.' Colbert described his ordeal of stooping to pick beans as 'really, really hard. It turns out, and I did not know this, most soil is at ground level.' The comedian was appearing as an expert witness before the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee. There had been criticism of his appearance. 'Maybe we should be spending less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there,' said Republican Representative Steve King. But some have noted that previous celebrity committee attendants have included the Sesame Street puppet, Elmo giving evidence on educational matters. During his testimony, some committee members smiled while others remained stony-faced. Colbert has focused on the United Farm Workers union's Take Our Jobs campaign on his nightly show. The campaign - which says the US is in denial about its food supply - invites US citizens to go to farms and replace the undocumented workers they employ. Asked at one point whether he was in favour of comprehensive immigration reform, he shot back, in character, that he thought there were 'way too many' undocumented Mexicans in the country. Throughout his frequently hilarious and irreverent testimony, there were occasional glimpses of a deadly serious intent. But this didn't diminish the impact of his final comments when, finally leaving his flag-waving alter-ego behind, Colbert said he liked 'talking about people who don't have any power.' Migrant workers, he concluded, 'suffer, and have no rights.'

And, speaking of humourless twats, a London council has allegedly banned its staff from making mother-in-law jokes because they are 'offensively sexist' and disrespectful to 'family elders.' Barnet Council has issued guidelines to is workers, as part of a twelve-page guide used in equality and diversity sessions. The booklet, Cultural Awareness: General Problems, warns: 'Humour can be incredibly culture-specific, and is very open to misinterpretation or even offense [sic] by other cultures. British mother-in-law jokes, as well as offensively sexist in their own right, can also be seen as offensive on the grounds that they disrespect elders or parents.' It's political correctness gone mad, so it is. Or, slightly more accurately - as political correctness doesn't exist being, merely, in invention of the Daily Scum Mail - it's some stupid bastard, being a glake. Which is, actually, far worse. Dom Joly told the Scum Mail on Sunday the advice as 'completely insane,' adding: 'All comedy is basically about taking the piss out of someone. You either ban it all and end up living in a place like North Korea or you leave well enough alone.' Mother-in-law jokes have, according to the British comedy website, Chortle, been around since Roman times. Satire VI, written by Juvenal in the first century AD, states: 'It is impossible to be happy while one's mother-in-law is still alive.' Only, he said it in Latin, obviously. Loses a lot in translation. Earlier this year the American stand-up comedian Sunda Croonquist won a legal battle against her mother-in-law, who wanted to stop jokes being made at her expense. District Judge Mary Coop threw the case out of court, saying that such routines were protected under the First Amendment right to free speech. Unfortunately, we haven't got one of them.

The American comedian and presenter Greg Giraldo is being treated in hospital after taking a drug overdose, according to reports. However it is understood he took an excess of prescription painkillers accidentally rather than this being a suicide attempt, according to sources speaking to the New York Post and to this gossip website TMZ. The forty four-year-old is said to have collapsed on Saturday night in his hotel room in New Jersey, where he was performing at a club. He was a judge on NBC's Last Comic Standing and last year he was one of the team captains in a pilot edition of an American remake of Have I Got News For You. He has recorded two half-hour specials for Comedy Central and is a regular on Howard Stern radio show and Lewis Black's topical debate show Root of All Evil.

Balding Phil Collins insists that he has no plans to ever get married again. Which is, presumably, good news for women pretty much everywhere.