Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Stricter, The Better

So, dear blog reader, yer Keith Telly Topping can report that he had a really good night's sleep last night. Except for this rather disturbing dream that Derren Brown had planted camera in my bedroom. Anyway ...

The alleged celebrity line-up for series eight of Strictly Come Dancing has been announced. And, it's dreadful. Heading it are Destiny's Child singer Michelle Williams, former Conservative MP big fat Ann Widdecombe and faded, balding ex-TV magician Paul Daniels. What a horrorshow. I thought the whole idea after last year's relative ratings failure was to have on people whom the audience liked but, also, knew. Not faded old has-beens desperate to do anything to get their boat-races back on television. There's enough of that sort of nonsense over on I'm A Celebrity ... This year's soap actors hitting the dance floor will include ex-Coronation Street actress Tina O'Brien and EastEnders duo Scott Maslen and Kara Tointon along with movie actor Jimi Mistry. Rugby player - and reality TV regular, it would seem - Gavin Henson, The Good Life actress Felicity Kendall, ex-Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker and Holby City's Patsy Kensit, who had all been strongly rumoured to be taking part, have also been confirmed. Completing the list are DJ Goldie, ex-England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and comedian and psychologist Pamela Connolly. The eighth series of the talent show will also include a new set, which features three glitterballs, six new spherical chandeliers and three hundred metres of red velvet drapes. Strictly returns with what is described as 'a special red carpet launch show,' hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly, on Saturday at 6.25pm on BBC1. During the show, the fourteen celebrities will be introduced to their professional partners for the first time.

Brucie himself, meanwhile, has admitted that he is pleased with the presenting changes on Strictly. The veteran entertainer has been replaced on the Sunday results show by It Takes Two host Claudia Winkleman, but Forsyth said that he is looking forward to having a less stressful year on the show. 'It's a twelve-hour show and I don't know any other TV presenters who do a show like Strictly, where it stops and you have another two-hour show for the results programme,' he said. 'We were trying to think of a different way of making it easier. It was the BBC who came forward with this idea and asked if it would make a difference if I didn't have the results programme. I thought immediately, "My goodness, yes it will make a difference." It means I will finish about 9pm, get home in time for Match Of The Day and it turns my twelve-hour day into a ten-hour day, which is much more manageable.' He added: 'I am going to feel very different on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I am sure this is going to make a massive difference.' Forsyth refused to be drawn on whether he is planning to bow out from the show at the end of the year, commenting: 'Everyone has been asking if this will be my last series since the first one.'

Karen Gillan is reportedly being 'eyed up' as a potential underwear model. The Sun reports that the Doctor Who actress is 'wanted' by Michelle Mone, boss of the bra firm Ultimo. 'Michelle thinks she's gorgeous and would be brilliant,' a nameless 'source' allegedly told the paper. They added: 'She likes to have girls with different shapes.' Don't we all, love? Don't we all.

Katherine Jenkins has admitted that she didn't think she could act prior to being cast in the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special. And, indeed, she still might not be able to. We'll have to wait until 25 December to find out. She told the Radio Times that she had been supported by her co-stars Matt Smith and Michael Gambon. 'I've not done any acting before, so I wasn't sure if I even could,' she revealed. 'But I read for the part and on my thirtieth birthday, they called to say I'd got it. Matt Smith and Michael Gambon have been really encouraging. I can't wait to see the results.' Jenkins added that she had observed Gambon's acting technique throughout filming. She said: 'I learned so much from simply watching Michael Gambon, and he was always telling great stories about all the actors he's worked with. Matt and I would sit and listen to him for hours.'

Some scheduling updates: Joe Maddison's War will now be broadcast from 9pm to 11pm rather than 8pm to 10pm on Sunday 19 September on ITV. Phil Collins: One Night Only - oh, if only he were - is on Saturday 18 September post-X Factor. Use your remote control wisely, dear blog reader. There is also a new Midsomer Murders episode (The Slient Land) on Wednesday 22 September at 8pm. On the BBC the Total Wipeout Celebrity Special is due to broadcast on Saturday 18 September. [Spooks] appears to have been given the subsequent Monday 9pm slot with a documentary series, Lost Land Of The Tiger, strip-scheduled for Tuesday to Thursday. Finally the four-part David Tennant-Suranne Jones drama Single Father has a BAFTA screening on 13 September so that would suggest a potential broadcast date of Sunday 19 September.

Daybreak's second episode on Tuesday didn't do any better than its first with an average audience of nine hundred thousand viewers (slighty down on the day before) and a peak of 1.3m at around 9:00am. By contrast the BBC's Breakfast had an average of 1.5m and peak of a fraction over two million at about the same time. It's pretty much the same story with the news, it would seem. Tuesdays edition of the BBC's Ten O'Clock News was watched by 4.45m whilst, at the same time on ITV, News At Ten could only bring in 1.73m.

John Barrowman has revealed that he insisted his character on Desperate Housewives be killed off in order to allow him to return to Torchwood. The actor, who played the sinister Patrick Logan in five episodes of the ABC drama, told FilmShaft that Housewives creator Marc Cherry's original plans would have prevented him reprising his role as Jack Harkness. 'I was in discussions with [Marc] and he invited me to play Patrick,' explained Barrowman. 'It was such a good role and I really wanted to do it. But I also didn't want to spoil the Torchwood deal, so I told him that if I played Patrick, he'd have to find a way to kill me off, and he went along with that.' Barrowman also claimed that his guest role had helped boost the profile of Torchwood in the US. 'Desperate Housewives is so huge that it actually helped to seal the Torchwood deal,' he said.

ITV has announced that Brenda Blethyn will play Vera Stanhope in an adaptation of crime novel The Crow Trap. The book, written by Ann Cleeves, will form the basis for the third episode of new series Vera. The drama will see Vera and her team investigate the murder of a young woman, uncovering memories of an unsolved case from the detective's past. Jane Holman will appear as murder victim Bella Furness, while David Leon, Wunmi Mosaku, Jon Morrison and Paul Ritter will play Stanhope's squad of detectives. The Damned United actress Elizabeth Carling and former This Life star Daniela Nardini will also star. The novel has been adapted for television by Silent Witness writer Stephen Brady. Vera is currently filming in Northumberland.

Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Bo Burnham has landed a deal for his own MTV sitcom. The twenty-year-old – who won the Foster’s panel prize last month – has signed up to make a pilot of the as-yet untitled show about a fame-hungry teenager. Burnham, who shot to prominence through YouTube clips filmed in his bedroom, said it would be 'about a kid fresh out of high school who's pursing the new American dream of being a celebrity without having any talent.' He will write the script, as well as being one of the executive producers. The US network has ordered a 'put pilot' of the show, which means it will have to pay substantial penalties if it is not aired, almost guaranteeing a broadcast slot. MTV executive David Janollari told Hollywood trade magazine Variety: '[Burhnam] had a such a great take on who he is and what the post-high school millennial generation experience is all about. Everything he said and talked about felt so authentic, and that authenticity was the most important thing. This is all about taking his voice and vision and putting it into a half-hour comedy.'

A distinctive white helmet worn by Top Gear driver The Stig - or, one of them, anyway - during the BBC show is expected to fetch up to twelve hundred smackers at auction in Sussex. It is being sold by Sophia Vaizey of Hove, who worked on the show for eighteen months as a production co-ordinator and received it as a leaving present. The helmet was signed by The Stig, presenter Richard Hammond and the crew. It will be auctioned at Gorringes in Lewes on 20 October. Vaizey said: 'Selling the helmet has been something that has been on my mind for a while. I'm looking to buy a house and this has been stored in a cupboard at my mum's house while I have been travelling around and living in different places. I'm quite a sentimental person and I don't want to let go of it, but as my family have said to me it might not be worth anything in ten years' time.' She added: 'The Stig wore that one on the show for quite a while. He then got a new one for safety reasons, so it got stored away in the Top Gear office. I was quite surprised when they gave it to me but also I felt honoured.' Mrs Vaizey said working on the show was 'probably the most fun job' she had ever had.

Former Lost star Henry Ian Cusick has admitted that he is keen to move on from his character Desmond. The actor will play a recurring role in the new season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. 'I was looking to get back into TV as quickly as possible,' he explained. 'I wanted to get away from Desmond. It just seemed like I was no longer Ian Cusick, I was Desmond. So I wanted to just sort of shed that skin.' Cusick described his new role as 'a really cool thing to get involved with. Erik Weber is a graphic designer,' he said. 'He's very quickly taken with Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and tries to help them on a case.'

BBC World Service could face major budget cuts that would force its withdrawal from Myanmar and several other countries, it has emerged. The Foreign Office, which funds the World Service via an annual two hundred and seventy two million pound grant, has informed executives to prepare for budget cuts of twenty five per cent by April 2011, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. According to a diplomatic source, the BBC's broadcast service in Myanmar is among several services under threat from the cutbacks. 'The Burma office is up for grabs. It is a question of costs. It is very expensive and has relatively few listeners,' said the 'source'. 'The "human rights" argument doesn't hold much sway with the new Foreign Office.' What a surprise. The World Service presence in Russia, which reaches about seven hundred thousand listeners and a further one million online, could also be vulnerable to the cuts. The BBC has confirmed that it is in talks with the Foreign Office about the budget plans, which are part of wider cuts across public sector spending. However, the corporation stressed that no final decisions have yet been made. A Foreign Office spokesman also confirmed that discussions were being held, but declined to offer any details on the proposed cutbacks. The outcome of the consultation will be known on 20 October, when the chancellor George Osborne outlines the scale of the government's spending cuts. The BBC service in Myanmar, which started broadcasting seventy years ago, has covered a variety of major changes in Burma, including war, independence and military rule. Around twenty three per cent of the country's adult population listens to the service, which is broadcast for an hour a day from bases in London and Bangkok. David Miliband, Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, said that ending the BBC broadcasts in Myanmar could play into the hands of the country's military rulers. 'The World Service is a steady, credible voice in parts of the world where the only other messages blend threats and propaganda,' he said. Yes, you're absolutely right, it is. What a pity, therefore, that your party when it was in power treated the BBC like shit and then acted all surprised when someone else is continuing to do the same thing. 'Scrapping the World Service in Burma would be a gift to the military junta,' he continued. 'And, an insult to political prisoners locked in Burma's jail for no crime.' In a statement, a World Service spokesman said: 'Like all publicly funded bodies, we have been asked to consider the likely impact of significant funding cuts and applying them to a wide range of scenarios. It is important to note that no decisions have been made; and we will discuss any confirmed impact on our services with staff first. "We will continue to argue confidently that the BBC World Service is one of Britain's most effective and vital assets in the global arena; particularly at a time when other governments are increasing, not reducing, their own investments in international broadcasting.'

The parents of prostitute Jennifer Thompson have apologised to Coleen Rooney for the claims regarding their daughter and Wayne Rooney. It has been alleged that Wayne cheated on Coleen with Thompson while she was pregnant with their first child. He reportedly paid twelve hundred pounds on each occasions that he had sex with Thompson. Hamish and Dana Thompson released a statement claiming that they had 'no idea' about the allegations made against their daughter, the Mirror reports. 'The last few days have been extremely trying for us and our family,' they said. 'Following the various newspaper articles concerning our daughter Jennifer, we would like to offer our most sincere apologies to Coleen Rooney and her family. This may sound somewhat hollow, but my wife and I would never condone what has or may have happened.' They continued: 'We had absolutely no idea about any of the allegations and claims that have been made. Jennifer is our daughter and we love her and we will deal with this matter as a family, not via the media. We would appreciate greatly if we could be afforded a degree of privacy and time in which we can gain a better understanding of the situation.'

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron joked about the allegations surrounding Rooney's private life. Cameron told the audience at Tuesday night's GQ Men Of The Year Awards that Rooney had just scored, adding: 'This time it's on the pitch.' Oh, brilliant. Listen, don't you have anything better to do with your time than do try outs for open mic night at the Improv, Mr Prime Minister, sir? The comment follows reports over the weekend that the Manchester United striker cheated on wife Coleen with a twenty one-year-old prostitute seven times over a four-month period. Cameron apologised for missing the awards dinner before revealing the result of England's 3-1 victory over Switzerland in a Euro 2012 qualifier. He joked: 'Wayne Rooney has scored. And, this time it's on the pitch, in the opponent's goal, actually playing for his country, so I'm pleased to announce that.' Cameron, who was presented with the award for 'Best Politician' by Sir David Frost at the ceremony, also joked that both he and the veteran broadcaster had inspired films about their lives. He quipped: 'Yours was, of course, the very successful Frost/Nixon and mine was, of course, Brokeback Mountain.'

Ginger citizens flocked to the Dutch city of Breda last weekend to celebrate the fifth annual 'Red Hair Day.' Visitors were encouraged to wear white when they attended the event in the Southern Netherlands, the Daily Scum Mail reports. Activities included a fashion show, photoshoots, lectures and workshops. The festival was founded in 2005 when artist Bart Rouwenhorst advertised for ginger models for a new work. Seeking fifteen people, one hundred and fifty replied. Last year, over four thousand ginners reportedly attended the event. Yer Keith Telly Topping would've joined them, dear blog reader. But he was rather busy that day.