Friday, September 03, 2010

Week Thirty Seven: It's Grim Oop North (Part Seventeen)

Jonathan Ross has claimed that his decision to leave the BBC earlier this year was partly caused by the 'sheer volume of negative press' which both he and the corporation had received. The fifty-year-old presenter left the Beeb in July after eleven years, ending the long-running Friday Night with Jonathan Ross chat show and his Radio 2 programme. Reflecting on his decision not to renew his contract in January, he said: 'To be honest it was the sheer volume of negative press I was receiving and that was being aimed at them via me. So, I thought it was best if I left.' Since leaving the BBC, Ross has signed a deal to present a chat show for rival ITV, and has contributed to a comic project for new magazine CLiNT.

Magic Jane Espenson has revealed details about the new series of Torchwood, subtitled The New World. She told Blastr that she would be writing three episodes of the ten-part drama. 'I love blending tones [and] mixing the broadly comedic moment in with the darkly dramatic one,' she explained. 'Torchwood is a show that welcomes that kind of moment. I'm especially eager to write material that pushes the boundaries of what can ordinarily be done on television.' The former Buffy writer confirmed that she had been a fan of the show prior to joining the writing team. 'I enjoyed earlier seasons a lot,' she claimed. '[But I] was impressed on a whole other level by Children of Earth. The combination of wildly imaginative science fiction with totally grounded reality really blew me away.' The writer also warned fans that aspects of the new series could change as production continues. 'We've already changed the name of at least one character that was announced in the press,' she announced. 'And there's nothing to stop us from changing more, so if you hear anything, even if it was true at some point, it probably isn't anymore.' She added that the writing process had been 'intense and collaborative' and promised that the final product would be 'tightly plotted and lovingly crafted.'

The director of the forthcoming Doctor Who live tour has revealed that the stage show is inspired by a classic story from the programme's past. Will Brenton told SFX that much of the tour's storyline is based on Carnival of Monsters, a 1973 four-part story starring Jon Pertwee. 'When I first came aboard this project, it was very akin to the Prom offering,' he explained. 'I thought what we needed to do was bring this space alive a lot more, by making it a narrative that takes place in real time.' He added that showrunner Steven Moffat had suggested using the old story as a basis for the tour's plot. 'All of its genealogy grows out of that episode,' he said. 'And the fans who spotted that reference will enjoy how it happens. It's taken what happened in that episode and moved it on, and updated it and had some fun with it as well.' In the original episode, the Doctor encounters Vorg, a travelling showman who traps various aliens races in his high-tech viewing device. Nigel Planer will play the similarly-named Vorgenson throughout the nationwide tour. The Doctor Who tour kicks off at Wembley Arena on 8 October and will feature specially filmed inserts starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

And that brings us to the next batch of yer Top Telly Tips, dear blog reader:

Friday 10 September
One of the BBC's biggest-rating drama, New Tricks, returns to BBC1 at 9:00. In this episode, the team reinvestigates the death of wealthy financier Douglas Anderson when psychic Sebastian Carter informs the deceased's daughter that she needs to resolve her father's unfinished business. The retired officers set out to prove the clairvoyant is a fraud after growing suspicious of his 'gift,' but Pullman struggles to dismiss the supposed conman when a conflict involving her own late father emerges. The detective drama, guest stars the great David Bradley from the Harry Potter films, Hot Fuzz and Ideal. Plus of course, you get what you always get from New Tricks, three of this blogger's favourite actors. And Dennis Waterman.

The end is, finally in sight for The Ultimate Big Brother - 7:30 Channel 4 - as the fly-on-the-wall reality show which changed the landscape of television, probably forever, and not necessarily for the better, comes to a climax. Davina McCall kicks off an evening of programmes leading up to the crowning of the Ultimate Big Brother champion. As usual, she presents highlights from the past twenty four hours in the house and also reveals the first batch of runners-up from this last series, interviewing the famous former evictees following their two-and-a-half-week repeat stint in the compound. And, remarkably, tomorrow the sun will rise and the world will keep turning. Just in case you'd been reading the Daily Lies this week and thought that it, you know, wouldn't.

Paul O'Grady Live - 9:00 ITV - is an entertainment show hosted by the cheeky-chappy Scouse comedian, who is joined by guests Tom Jones and Britain's Got Talent winners Spelbound - with whom, we're promised, Paul will make his acrobatic debut. Across the series, the host will provide his views on the week's news and talk to viewers across the nation, as well as hosting audience games and studio surprises.

Saturday 11 September
Merlin - 7:25 BBC1 - returns with an episode called The Tears of Uther Pendragon. Uther doesn't shed any tears, surely? He's played by Tony Head, he's too hard for any of that crying nonsense. Anyway, a year after her disappearance, Morgana returns to Camelot, where a delighted Uther immediately announces a banquet in her honour. Prodigal daughter, and all that. However, when evil magic begins to take hold of the king's mind, Merlin suspects that the lady is hiding a sinister secret, only for the wizard's search for the truth to leave him at the mercy of the scorpion-like enchanted serkets. Colin Morgan and Katie McGrath star. I know Merlin has a big following but, I've got to be honest, yer Keith Telly Topping has never really been a fan. I think it takes itself just that smidgen too seriously. Nice to have it back, though, if only because it gives the BBC a show that actually gets a decent audience in early doors against the X Factor juggernaut.

In 71 Degrees North - 9:00 ITV - ten celebrities face a series of daunting challenges in Arctic conditions, with the added threat of one of their number being eliminated each week after a contestants' vote. The famous faces who start out are: former GMTV presenter Andrew Castle, EastEnders actor Shane Richie, Footballers' Wives' Susie Amy, Welsh rugby international Gavin Henson, gardener Diarmuid Gavin, Misfits' Lauren Socha, Xtra Factor presenter Konnie Huq, former Hollyoaks actor Marcus Patrick, Doc Martin's Joe Absolom and lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone. So, with the possible exception on Shane Richie nobody that's an actual 'celebrity' in other words. Jesus, they must be desperate to get their faces on telly to go through this. They begin what is, essentially, I'm A Celebrity Get ... Me Out Of Here! with huskies having to take part in a thirty kilometre sled race. Kate Thornton and Gethin Jones present. Continues on Tuesday at 9pm. At first I wasn't sure why anybody in their right mind would possibly want to watch such a programme. But, thinking about it rationally, the chance of seeing some Z-Lister getting really painful frostbite does, undeniably, have a certain kitsch value to it.

Sunday 12 September
The drama Albert's Memorial - 9:00 ITV - is about a second World War veteran, the titular hero, who is dying. He has one final request for old comrades Harry and Frank - to be buried in Germany where, as a young soldier, he watched the Russians take position in the closing stages of the Battle for Berlin. Stealing Albert's body from the mortuary, the duo set off on a road trip across Europe with their friend's coffin tied to the roof rack of Harry's black cab. However, little goes according to plan and, hopelessly lost in Calais, they pick up a German hitch-hiker - a move that will change their lives for ever. Black comedy drama, starring David Jason, David Warner, Michael Jayston and Judith Hoersch.

Him and Her - 9:30 BBC3 - is a rather sweet-looking comedy centred on the lives of an unemployed twentysomething couple who find happiness in eating, sleeping, drinking and having sex. As you do. Well, as yer Keith Telly Topping does, anyway. In this opening episode, Becky's plans to spend the evening with Steve are scuppered when her sister turns up, panicking because her fiance has stayed out all night. Starring the great Russell Tovey from Being Human, Sarah Solemani and Kerry Howard.

A Journey Back to Newcastle: Michael Smith's Deep North - 9:30 BBC4 - sees the novelist return to the first city he fell in love with, Newcastle upon Tyne (though he, himself, is from 'artlepool) to consider why the north-east of England differs from the rest of the country, both in terms of its geography and culture. Cos we're better than aal them soft southern shites like, Mickey, man. Every good Geordie kidda knaas that, bonny lad! And, as for the Mackems ... Anyway, to return to seriousness for a moment - though I could've kept the Little Bobby Thompson routine going for at least another ten pages if anybody had actually wanted me to - Michael argues in the programme that, whilst the South can often feel like a single entity centred almost entirely on London, the North is far harder to define - and that the North-East has become an area that exists outside of the North-South axis altogether. Good point and probably with a fair degree of truth in it. Albeit, I do sometimes wonder if we don't overdo the tribalisation a bit too much. It's that Bob and Terry routine in Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? about stereotyping taken to the nth degree. 'So it's just down to the British is it?' 'Well, I've never had much time for the Irish or the Welsh. And the Scots are worse than the Koreans!' 'And you never could stand Southerners.' 'To tell you the truth I don't like anybody much outside this town. There's a lot of families in our street I can't stand either. Come to think of it I don't even like the people next door.' 'So, to sum up, from the distant blue Pacific through the barren wastes of Manchuria, to one two seven Inkerman Terrace, you can't abide anyone!' What he said, ladies and gentlemen. Wey aye man. Howay the lads. Mine's a pint of broon ale.

Monday 13 September
The last episode of the current series of Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - concerns the Broadway star Alan Cumming. Alan's childhood was spent far from the glamour of Manhattan where he now lives. Having grown up in the small town of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, Alan knows very little about his family history, but one big question lingers about his family's past. Alan's maternal grandfather, Thomas Darling, a career soldier, died in mysterious circumstances aged just thirty five in Malaysia. Alan travels to France where he finds out about his grandfather's extraordinary bravery during the evacuation of Dunkirk, before he discovers the shocking story of how he actually died.

In Bouquet of Barbed Wire - 9:00 ITV - Peter's already volatile obsession with Gavin takes a dangerous turn when Prue returns from her honeymoon battered and bruised. Cassie tries to hold the family together, but begins to fall under her son-in-law's spell, intrigued by his knowledge of Peter's past and the mysterious Paula. Remake of the classic, and highly controversial, 1970s drama, starring Trevor Eve, Tom Riley, Imogen Poots, Jemima Rooper and Hermione Norris.

Surgery School - 10:35 ITV - is a new series with unique access to ten high-flying trainee surgeons as they take the first steps in their attempt to break into the ranks of the surgical elite. The series follows their personal stories and real life medical dramas over their first year in training as they try to beat the odds and prove they have what it takes to be a top surgeon. In this episode, a trainee hoping to become a plastic surgeon makes a serious error during a delicate operation, and another hopeful is frustrated with having to wait to be involved in theatre. A student who has been living away from her fiance for the duration of the course decides to quit, despite showing herself as one of the most promising trainees so far. Richard Armitage narrates.

Tuesday 14 September
In The Young Ones - 9:00 BBC1 - six celebrities in their 70s and 80s (Liz Smith, Lionel Blair, Dickie Bird, Sylvia Syms, Derek Jameson and Kenneth Kendall) have agreed to spend a week in a customised country retreat, wearing the clothes, cooking the food and playing the games and music from 1975. The aim is to re-create an experiment, first conducted thirty years ago, which found that people can, effectively, 'think themselves young' again if the conditions and atmosphere is right. Monitoring the degree of the subjects' rejuvenation are Harvard professor Ellen Langer, who conducted the original experiment, and the BBC's Dr Michael Mosley. Mariella Frostrup presents. The series continues tomorrow at 9pm. The only thing I have to say about this is to suggest that the makers of 71 Degrees North watch it. These, are proper celebrities - yes, even Dickie Bird! The people that you've got on your show, are not. A necessary difference in a celebrity-run vehicle, I'd've said.

Oddly timed, since you'd imagine most potential viewers would sooner have seen this before they'd gone off on their summer holidays, How to Take Stunning Pictures - 7:30 Channel Five - sees some professional photographers holding a masterclass in the art of taking beautiful pictures. Each episode focusing on a particular aspect of capturing images. Harry Borden offers advice on portraiture to two novices before they are tested with assignments including taking a photograph for the Help for Heroes charity. Presented by The Gadget Show's Goddess-like Suzi Perry.

First Light - 9:00 BBC2 - is a docudrama based on the personal memoirs of Geoffrey Wellum, an RAF pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain with the legendary Ninety Tow Squadron. His experiences in combat serve as intense rites of passage, but as time goes by it becomes clear that the price of victory can often be an unbearable loss. Starring Sam Heughan.

In Timeshift: 1960 - The Year of the North - 9:00 BBC4 - Andrew Martin explores how the North of England asserted itself as a force for culture during the 1960s, abandoning working-class stereotypes to help liberate the arts in Britain as a whole. The programme reveals how writers like Alan Sillitoe, Shelagh Delaney, Stan Barstow and Tony Warren gave voice to a new generation, and proved that humour and style could be found outside swinging London. Part of BBC4's fascinating Planet North strand.

Wednesday 15 September
There's a lot of TV programmes about food, these days. You've probably noticed. So, we can't really argue, I suppose, if the latest one is simply called Food - 8:00 Channel 4. In this, aided by consumer champion Anna Richardson and food author Ravinder Bhogal, the food critic and ONE Show and MasterChef contributor Jay Rayner presents a new show to examine the truth behind British food production. Ravinder shows how a cherry tomato starts its life in Morocco and Jay examines ways in which Britain could become more food self-sufficient, while Anna and Jay take another look at the 'butter or margarine?' debate. Plus, advice on how to store various foods, and a look at the cheapest and best cuts of meat.

It's a huge night for Channel 4 as one of their biggest hitters in rating terms, Grand Designs, returns at 9:00. Once again, the doomy-voiced Kevin McCloud - the Damien Day for the Twenty First Century - meets people whose 'ingenuity and determination' amaze him as they set out to build their own homes. And then we, the viewers, get that life-affirming moment - normally about half way through the episode - when, suddenly, and without warning, all of their carefully built dreams start to come to pieces in their hands like a soggy lump of wet cardboard. As reality takes a lump of two-by-four in its hand and smacks them, hard, right in the mush. It often occurs just at the point where Kevin says, in glum, overly dramatic voice-over, 'And then ... the builders arrived!' Anyway, tonight architectural designer Lincoln Miles and 'artist' Lisa Traxler - you notice, it's never 'sheet metal worker Brian and his shoplifter wife, Tracey, from Gateshead' - couldn't find a plot of land to build their own gaff on the Isle of Wight. How sad. So, instead, they bought a pre-standing stone-clad bungalow which they hope to turn into 'a structure that will respond sensitively to its woodland setting.' Or, you know, 'a house' as normal people call them. But, as the planned extensions are huge and built using unconventional materials and methods, no-one is sure what the finished building will look like. Pretentious, probably. God, I really hope it falls down and the cameras were running when it happens! That would be genuine entertainment and,. to be honest, it's the only reason I watch this show. And, actually, with Kevin on hand, like as not, it just might.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles: The Untold Story - 10:00 Channel 4 - is a documentary examining the complex relationship between Michael Jackson and his pet chimp, with contributions from Michael's sister La Toya, biographer J Randy Taraborrelli, writer Rick Sky, ape expert Patti Ragan, and various animal behaviour and psychology experts. The programme also visits the animal at a retirement home for former showbiz chimps, and considers how it has adjusted to life without its owner. Listen, it's a chimp, just give it a banana it'll be fine.

Thursday 16 September
All of Channel 4's cult property shows are back this week as, following Grand Designs yesterday, Location, Location, Location also returns - 8:00 Channel 4. Kirsty, Kirsty, Kirsty and Phil, Phil, Phil are in London, London, London this week trying to help a Welsh underwear entrepreneur find her dream apartment. Will the houses they show her be total pants? And will she call the police and they'll both end up under a vest? Hey, cut it out, I work with the material I'm given, all right! Tired of living out of a suitcase, Shazia wants a new home in the West End, but with a relatively modest four hundred thousand budget, it's no easy task for the home buying experts. Four hundred grand for a gaff in the West End of London? That might just be enough to buy her a half-share on a cardboard box! Things fare little better in Leytonstone, where vicar Ian and his wife, Peta, are on the hunt for a post-retirement property. But with budget once again proving to be a problem, can Kirsty, Kirsty, Kirsty find them their ideal East End home?

In The Road to Coronation Street - 9:00 BBC4 - Jane Horrocks and Jessie Wallace star in a one-off drama telling the story of how the long-running soap opera was born. Tony Warren joins producer Harry Elton and director Derek Bennett as they struggle to create the programme, faced with opposition from Granada's formidable bosses Sidney and Cecil Bernstein, while Margaret Morris begins the hunt for the show's cast. With David Dawson and Stephen Berkoff. Part of the Great Northern season. Among the cast is James Roache playing his father, William, Celia Imrie as Doris Speed and Lynda Baron as Violet Carson. Please let somebody at the BBC have had the bright idea of using The Skids' 'TV Stars' as the theme tune!

The popular vampire saga True Blood returns tonight - 10:00 Channel 4. A murder outside Merlotte's sends shockwaves through the town and Sookie's relationship with Bill is tested when she learns the truth about his involvement in her uncle's death. Jason receives a windfall, which allows him to pay for a leadership retreat with the anti-vampire sect Fellowship of the Sun, and Sam remembers a shape-shifting encounter he had as a teenager. Starring Anna Paquin.

And, so to the news: Labour has called for 'clarity and reassurance' from the BBC after the director general of the corporation was photographed going into a meeting in Downing Street to apparently discuss coverage of government spending cuts. Shadow culture secretary Ben Bradshaw wrote to Mark Thompson urging him to 'avoid any impression that the BBC's editorial independence may have been compromised.' Bradshaw raised his concerns after Thompson reportedly met one of Prime Minister David Cameron's senior aides to talk about offering prominent exposure to senior government figures on BBC channels in the coming weeks. The meeting, said to be with Cameron's strategy chief Steve Hilton, appeared to be an attempt by Thompson to assure senior Tory figures that the BBC was not biased against the Government, the Daily Telegraph reported. It came on the same day the director general admitted in an interview that the Corporation was guilty of a 'massive bias to the left' in the past. According to the Daily Scum Mail, Thursday's photographs showed Thompson arriving at Downing Street holding with a memo stating the BBC was ready to put its coverage of spending cuts into 'context.' The memo revealed Thompson's head of news Helen Boaden had met Downing Street director of communications Andy Coulson for lunch at which he expressed 'concern' about coverage of the forthcoming comprehensive spending review, the paper reported. The letter from Bradshaw said: 'Given the systematic assaults on the BBC by the Conservative Party in opposition and their continued attacks on the Corporation in Government, including their threats to the licence fee, I am sure you will agree that it is paramount that you avoid any impression that the BBC's editorial independence may have been compromised.' He said Thompson should consider releasing the briefing papers he was seen holding as he walked into No 10. In his letter, Bradshaw asked who requested the meeting, the BBC or Downing Street. Hang on, this the same Ben Bradshaw isn't it? The one who, when he was minister of culture never had a single decent word to say for the BBC and spent most of his time making snide remarks about top-slicing the licence fee? And now he's, what, surprised that they're cosying up to his successor? Tosser. Nevertheless, a line from Mark Thompson's MacTaggart lecture a week ago is worth repeating today. 'There's a third pillar on which British exceptionalism in broadcasting rests – which is a long and staunch history of editorial independence from political and commercial influence. At the moment – and despite the anxieties expressed over the past year – this independence seems secure.' Less than a week later, that editorial independence looks less secure than it has at any time since this election cycle began. Personally, I get really annoyed whenever I see anybody complaining about BBC bias. What they actually mean is BBC bias against them. I wonder if, for instance, members of the Conservative party would be quite for vocal in their annoyance about a lack of BBC impartiality if it was they that were the perceived recipiants. But then, as we know so well from bitter experience, dear blog reader, all politicians are scum.

Jerry Lewis has criticised Lindsay Lohan for her wild behaviour. The eighty four-year-old showbiz legend told Inside Edition that he would 'spank' the actress in order to change her partying ways. 'I would smack her in the mouth if I saw her,' he said. 'I would say, "You deserve this and nothing else – whack!" And then if she's not satisfied, I'd put her over my knee and spank her.' You normally have to pay good money for that sort of thing down West Hollywood, Jerry pal. Apparently. Lewis went on to criticise Paris Hilton for similar reasons. 'The same thing with Paris Hilton – those children are begging for help. What they're doing is saying, "Can you please help me?" When people who have celebrity give nothing in return, they need a spanking and a reprimand.'

ESPN has confirmed plans to offer a free weekend of sport later this month, including Scottish Premier League games and Aviva Premiership Rugby action. From 6am on 10 September to 6am on 13 September, ESPN and ESPN HD will be available without charge to all customers on Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk TV and UPC. The weekend will include matches from the Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga but, possibly significnatly, no action from the English Premier League.

Amanda Redman has admitted that she may quit New Tricks after the next series. Last year, the BBC ordered a seventh and eighth series of the drama. Redman has now hinted that she may not return for any more. 'I have committed do doing one more series and beyond that there are things that I want to do,' she told What's On TV. 'Nothing I can talk about though!' She confessed that she had 'so much fun' playing Sandra Pullman. 'It's strange because I never wanted to be involved with a long-running series' she said. 'It never interested me. But we have a ball, it's not work.'

Hermione Norris has admitted that she felt 'awful' when she filmed some love scenes for Bouquet Of Barbed Wire. You're probably doing it wrong in that case, chuck. Hermione, who plays Cassie in the drama, told What's On TV that she didn't particularly enjoy shooting romantic moments with Tom Riley (who plays Gavin). 'I felt awful, more like his mother!' she said. 'I said to him, "I'm sorry about this darling!" In my job you just have to close your eyes, hold your nose and jump in.' Yeah, I think you're definitely doing it wrong from that description. Norris added that she hasn't seen the original version of Bouquet Of Barbed Wire but admitted that she was slightly concerned about comparisons. 'We had to be careful,' she said. 'I knew Bouquet Of Barbed Wire would draw a lot of media attention because a certain generation remember the earlier version as an extraordinary drama.' Norris also suggested that the audience will sympathise with the characters despite their behaviour on the show. 'Gavin is a broken and hurt man,' she explained. 'Peter [Trevor Eve] is single-minded, but really loves his daughter. So it's Prue [Imogen Poots] I have compassion for. It's like a Greek tragedy.'

Sky Movies has ordered its first original feature-length commission for Neverland, a reimagining of the classic mythology around JM Barrie's Peter Pan. Starring Anna Friel, Bob Hoskins and Rhys Ifans, the prequel story will feature The Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Croc and Neverland itself. Neverland is being produced by Dublin-based Parallel Films on behalf of MNG Films and in association with Syfy and Sky Movies. It will be distributed by RHI Entertainment. Filming starts on the movie - which will be split into two ninety-minute parts when it is broadcast on Sky Movies in 2011 - in Genoa, Italy, before moving on to Dublin. Ifans will play James Hook, while Friel will be Captain Elizabeth Bonny and Hoskins will reprise the role of Mr Smee he played in Steven Spielberg's 1991 feature Hook. Nick Willing, who will write and direct Neverland, said: 'I have always dreamt of making my own version of this classic story and am deeply honoured to be involved. I have found Sky Movies and Syfy [to be] bold, innovative, and imaginative - the perfect partners for this ambitious mini-series.' Sky Movies director Ian Lewis said: 'The legend of Peter Pan spans generations, and never fails to delight and entertain. Despite many different interpretations, there's never been a movie of how it all could have come to be - this is that story. Neverland is a fantastic coup for us and a landmark event for Sky Movies.'

ITV is reportedly developing a new reality show focusing on homeless people. According to the Daily Lies, Home Is Where The Heart Is will see a number of celebrities inviting homeless people to stay with them at their palacial gaffs for three weeks. Cameras will also be present. Kate Garraway, Anthea Turner, Danielle Lloyd, Liza Tarbuck and Fiona Phillips have allegedly all signed up to take part in the series according to the tabloid. These people will reportedly be offered a twenty thousand pound bribe ... sorry fee but will be encouraged to donate five thousand pounds of it to their guests. Encouraged, note. They're under no actual obligation to do so. 'This is something brand new,' a 'source' allegedly said. Yes, exploitation masquerading as charity-based-entertainment, I'd've certainly said that was, indeed, a new low for TV. 'It really shines a spotlight on the problems we have in our society. All these celebrities live a good life packed full of fine food, comfy homes and top gadgets. Being so up-close-and-personal with someone who has nothing to their name may also be a huge learning curve for our pampered personalities.' Hang on, do real people actually talk like this? No, of course not, it's a Daily Lies 'source' I'd give it about as much credability 'some guy down the pub told me, right...' Anyway, some advice to whichever poor smelly auld tramp ends up in Kate Garraway's gaff. Make damned sure you get a non-disclosure agreement signed in advance otherwise you're likely to find intimate details of your toiletary habits plastered all over her magazine column just like Mariah Carey did. Oh, and whomsoever gets foisted on Danielle Lloyd - don't ask for a curry for yer tea.

The government is planning to review the UK's child performance laws to protect young people from being exploited on reality television programmes, it has emerged. Tim Loughton, the children's minister, official announced the move on Wednesday at the International Association for the Study of Attachment conference in Cambridge. Speaking to an audience of psychologists, he said: 'There is a growing need to look again at our child performance laws, which date back to the 1960s. That is something that I will be undertaking in the autumn, together with the rather antiquated legislation on child employment.' Loughton also made a direct reference to Channel's 4's Boys And Girls Alone series, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Ofcom received around one hundred and eighty complaints about the programme, including objections from the NSPCC and Cornwall County Council, with the majority questioning the measures taken by Channel 4 to safeguard the welfare of the children involved. The media regulator cleared Channel 4 of causing any harm to the children, but criticised the broadcaster for failing to inform viewers about the safeguards put in place to ensure their protection. In his speech, Loughton said that there was a necessity to heed 'basic child psychology principles' when involving young people in TV programmes, especially as some reality TV shows are viewed as a continuation of the Victorian freak show. He further said that there is concern about young people being conditioned to want reality television shows and 'that sort of thing. That has raised profound questions over how young people involve themselves in the media and their experiences within it,' Loughton added. 'Shows like Boys And Girls Alone, sparked fierce debate about a kind of engineered Lord Of The Flies type of scenario, with the removal and separation of children from their families serving as a useful reminder... of [the importance of] heeding basic child psychology when involving young people in a television programme.'

Gemma Arterton claims that she struggles to be cast in serious dramas after playing a Bond girl. The twenty four-year-old actress, who appeared in blockbusters like Quantum Of Solace, Clash Of The Titans, Prince Of Persia and St Trinian's, said that she fought to appear in gritty British independently producer movie The Disappearance Of Alice Creed because she needed an intense role. Gemma said: 'I needed to do it for my own sanity as I was getting lost playing the girlfriend or the wishy washy role. I needed to do something that was raw.' She revealed: 'There aren't that many "down and dirty" roles out there and they certainly don't want to see me for them. I remember the director didn't want to see me because he thought, "She's a Bond girl, she's not going to be able to do the stuff she needs to do" and that's exactly why I wanted to see him, because it was like, "Well, you need to change your judgement."' Gemma stars as the title role in Stephen Frears' new film Tamara Drewe, which opens in cinemas on 10 September. Based on Posy Simmonds' much-loved graphic novel, which was inspired by Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd, the film is a dark comedy about a young journalist, who returns to the Dorset village of her childhood as a twenty-something. She said: 'I was really flattered that he [Frears] wanted me to play Tamara and he was quite adamant about it actually. He hadn't seen me in anything before he cast me, which I found kind of weird. I begged him to let me audition but he said "no." Then I realised he works through instinct.'

The England football team have turned to former Joy Division and New Order record sleeve designer Peter Saville to create their new strip. Saville, who made his name working for Factory Records in Manchester, has added small red, blue, green and purple crosses to the shoulders of the white home shirt. They reflect the fact England is 'one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world,' he said. The kit was worn for the first time last night when England hammered the hapless Bulgarians 4-0. 'Both the nation and the fans themselves are more diverse than ever before - whether that's differences in politics, religion, ethnicity, fashions, music and art,' Saville said. 'The landscape of England has shifted dramatically over the past couple of decades and we are now one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world.' The new kit provided 'the perfect canvas' to reflect England in 2010, he explained. 'The reality of modern England is expressed in this pattern as it reclaims the St George's cross to positively represent our contemporary society.'

Shane Warne has denied having a face lift. The former Australian cricketer, who has been the subject of cosmetic surgery rumours since being photographed looking more youthful two months ago, said that his appearance is down to exercise and healthy living. Warne wrote on his Twitter page: 'No have not had face lift or any work done to face, training hard and lost five kilograms. Yes have had teeth whitened. No have not had hair transplant, have re-grown my own hair with laser therapy! It works and [I'm] happy with [the] results!'

A newspaper has used Subbuteo figures and pitches to illustrate a football match report to get around a ban imposed on photographers. The Swindon Advertiser used pieces from the tabletop football game to accompany its report of Swindon Town's 3-0 victory over Southampton in the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. 'As Swindon thumped the Johnstone's Paint Trophy holders 3-0 on their own patch to progress to the second round of the competition, we were left unable to print images of the match unless we paid Southampton for their own copies,' explained reporter Anthony Marshall. 'But, along with almost every paper - regional and national - across the country, we boycotted that idea and decided to come up with something original and innovative instead.' He added: 'That was where Subbuteo came in. Several members of the sports desk raided their parents' attics and came up with quite a collection of items from the childhood game. 'And after a quick paint-job we were able to go back to our youths and recreate the key moments from Town's drubbing of the Saints.'