Thursday, September 09, 2010

Whadda We Gonna Do Now?

A tiny historical telly note to begin with, dear blog reader, regarding this week's opening episode of Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution. Which yer Keith Telly Topping really rather enjoyed, incidentally. Anyway, it concerns the quite astonishing footage of The Jam performing a truly incendiary version of 'The Eton Rifles' live which you probably don't know - unless you're an insufferable nerd on the intimate doings of The Weller Fellah and co, like what this blogger is - came from a gig at Newcastle Upon Tyne City Hall on 28 October 1980. One that was filmed by Tyne Tees for a now long-forgotten Sunday night arts programme called Check It Out. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping mentions all of this because, wouldn't you just know it, he was actually at that concert. Up in the balcony, in the front row. All parka'd up. Just a little fraction of this blogger's youth captured, for eternity, on celluloid. And Paul Weller in a bright yellow shirt looking like the coolest thing in the whole damned world that had ever existed or ever would. Bar none. Yer Keith Telly Topping is having a bit of an emotional moment here, ladies and gentlemen.

And, now we're done.

ITV has reportedly begun searching for a replacement for The X Factor, in case the talent show does not return for another series next year. This week, it was claimed that Simon Cowell may not return to the UK version of the singing competition once the US X Factor is launched in early 2011. The music mogul is apparently also considering axing the show altogether. The Mirror reports that ITV has been considering a range of shows which could fill the Saturday evening prime time slot, including a project featuring Jonathan Ross and an Andrew Lloyd Webber-based talent contest. An ITV 'insider' told the newspaper: 'Despite their public assurances that X Factor will be back next year, bosses are increasingly uneasy that they could be mistaken and their most successful and profitable show will vanish until 2012 and may not even come back at all. They can't take anything for granted and that's why they have decided to draw up these contingency plans. The fact that Simon hasn't signed the deal yet has made everyone very jittery indeed - especially in these lean financial times.' Another 'source' at the broadcaster told Deadline that the uncertainty is creating a 'ticking time bomb' for the channel. Deadline reported that last year's X Factor brought in an estimated one hundred million pounds from adverts with a thirty-second spot during the final costing a quarter of a million smackers.

Meanwhile, Amanda Holden has admitted that she may not return to Britain's Got Talent. If I was her, I wouldn't be so quick to jump from a sinking ship. Especially as everything else she's touched in recent years had been such box-office poison. Her fellow panellist the vile Piers Morgan was recently confirmed as a replacement for Larry King on CNN, while Simon Cowell will not appear until the semi-finals, if the show goes ahead at all - which still seems to be the subject of some debate. 'I don't know if I'll be back,' Holden told Metro. 'I would like to but I'm happy either way. For me it comes down to the scheduling of the stuff I have planned and if that fits in with the show then great. But if not, I won't be able to do it.'

Ann Widdecombe believes that she will be 'this year's John Sergeant' on Strictly Come Dancing. Slight difference being that people actually liked John Sergeant.

Christine Bleakley has said that she still hopes to be able to enjoy nights out despite hosting early morning show Daybreak. The thirty one-year-old presenter, who hosts ITV's new breakfast programme with former The ONE Show colleague Adrian Chiles, and who can look pretty and read an autocue at the same time, explained that she plans to sleep during the day so she can enjoy her evenings. You know, like vampires do. Speaking to that bastion of cutting edge reportage Now magazine, she said: 'When we finish in the morning, I'd like to think I'll go home and sleep for a few hours and then go to bed again about 10pm or 11pm.' Bleakley, who is currently dating footballer Frank Lampard, added: 'I do like my evenings and you still have to enjoy yourself.' Oh yes indeed. Nothing is more important that your happiness, is it Christine?

However, the bad news continues for Daybreak elsewhere. Not only is it continuing to get a daily trousers-down spanking in the ratings from BBC's Breakfast (figures for yesterday were broadly the same at the day before; nine hundred thousand for Daybreak, 1.5m for Breakfast) but the audience Appreciation Index scores for the first two episodes of the Chiles-and-Bleakley vehicle make pretty grim reading for all concerned. Remember, AI scores are based on viewers scoring shows out of ten. Consolidated scores around the mid seventies are considered to be average, anything above and you're doing pretty well, anything below and you're not. Anything below sixty and you're really not. On Monday, Daybreak achieved a score of fifty five. On Tuesday it, marginally, improved. To fifty eight. Jeez, even Big Top did better than that. So did The Ludicrous Ms Dahl for that matter. Fifty five in AI terms is about as bad as it gets for a non-Party Political Broadcast. The general consensus about Daybreak from industry people that I've spoken to over the last couple of days is that, so far anyway, it's a classic example of style-over-substance and, yet another case of people moving from the BBC to ITV and finding that the grass isn't, always, greener on the other side. Chiles and Bleakley - the Morecambe and Wise of the Twenty First Century. And, not in a remotely good way either.

Eamonn Holmes, meanwhile, has criticised the reporting of a series of comments which he made about Christine Bleakley, claiming that the press are attempting to cause trouble between the pair. Holmes, someone who seems to just love the sound of his own voice at the best of times, told Bang Showbiz that the Daybreak host was 'in the stratosphere now.' He did this, you may remember dear blog reader, in the same interview in which he claimed that he had been Daybreak's first choice as anchor. But, he continued, he had turned them down. He added that he was 'really pleased' for his fellow Northern Irish presenter, Bleakley, but hoped that she remembered 'all the small people on the way up.' Today, he resurrected the already half-dead story on Twitter noting: 'Some papers trying to make mischief re me and Christine Bleakley deliberately not choosing to see my remarks as humorous or self deprecating.' This, ladies and gentleman, from a man who reportedly threatened the BBC with legal action when an impressionists did an unflattering portrayal of him. 'Self deprecating'? You don't know the meaning of the words, Mr Holmes. As, indeed, your comment proves. You saying stuff about Christine Bleakley, whether what you've said was nicely meant or otherwise cannot, by definition, be 'self-deprecating.' Look it up in the dictionary if you don't believe me. 'Whatever,' he continued, doing his own - excellent - impression of a huffy teenager. 'It gives them their fun but they fail to add how long we have known each other and my personal and professional view that she will be Britain's biggest female telly presenter for the next three years. No-one is more thrilled for her success than me. I said she is STRATOSPHERIC - well she is and at the moment everyone else is just remotely trotting behind in terms of publicity.' Holmes added that the breakfast TV competition is 'good' and asked people to 'enjoy the fight for viewers. PS: However much I rate Christine, and few have helped or advised her more, I still think that Sky News Sunrise is the best breakfast show.' Which, it isn't, incidentally. Just a minor side-point.

He has long been compared with Eric Morecambe – particularly in the spectacles department – so it seems fitting that Jim Moir, better known as Vic Reeves, has been cast in the BBC's new drama about Morecambe and Wise. But Vic will not be playing Morecambe in the feature-length BBC2 drama, instead he takes the role of Eric's father George, whilst Victoria Wood – who remains about as funny as punch in the face with a wet haddock – appears as Eric's formidable mother, Sadie. Morecambe & Wise (still a working title, apparently) will chart the pair's rise from teenage variety performers to much-loved television stars, with the story starting in 1930 and running until 1954 – the year of Running Wild, the pair's first, less than successful, television series. 'We may think of Morecambe and Wise as that brilliant and much-loved double act, but I've always thought that a film about their days as child performers in variety and their struggles to establish themselves would make a fantastic story,' said Wood, the producer of the project. The drama, which is written Peter Bowker – who also wrote Occupation and Blackpool – will show viewers three different versions of Eric and Ernie. 'We toyed with the idea of using puppets to play the young Eric and Ernie,' said Wood. 'But in the end sanity prevailed and we have our three Erics and three Ernies of different ages. We could only run to one Sadie, however, so I am hoping to show the passage of time by smiling a lot when Sadie is young, then wearing a different coat.' The cast also includes Bryan Dick as Ernie Wise, Daniel Rigby as Eric Morecambe, Reece Shearsmith as Ernie's Dad, Harry, and Eastenders' Emer Kenny as Eric's wife. Both the Morecambe and Wise's families are involved with and supportive of the drama.

Katie Silverton has not trampolined for twenty years, she claims. So, returning to the sport on live television may not have been the brightest idea she ever had. While trying to promote an item on BBC Breakfast this week, she nearly fell off and ended up flat on her arse. It's totally hilarious, trust me.

Andrew Scott has said that the character of Moriarty in Sherlock is an ambiguous one. The actor played the detective's nemesis in Steven Moffat's recent BBC adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Of being a relative unknown in the role, Scott told Metro: 'Someone like Moriarty is open to interpretation - he can be lots of different things. Which is why it's good that someone like me can play a part like that. People shouldn't know too much about you.' Talking about choosing roles, he added: 'I can totally understand why people say, "I'm going to do this TV series so that I can buy a flat." But you've got to see what's of value to you as an actor. I knew people would be interested in Moriarty but you've just got to be careful. If you don't respond to what you’re doing, you're probably doing it for the wrong reasons.'

The great Hal Holbrook will appear in a recurring role on upcoming NBC drama The Event. Entertainment Weekly reports that the actor will play a mysterious character named Dempsey in multiple episodes. Best known as Deep Throat in All The President's Men and the villainous Lt Briggs in Magnum Force, Holbrook has won two Emmy awards and starred in episodes of ER, The West Wing and The Sopranos. His most recent role was as Nate Madock, the father of Gemma (Katey Segal), on FX biker drama Sons of Anarchy.

TNT has announced that it has commissioned four new series pilots, including a reboot of CBS drama Dallas. Deadline reports that the new Dallas update will focus on the offspring of rival brothers JR (Larry Hagman) and Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) who clash over the future of the Ewing dynasty while the fate of their family home Southfork hangs in the balance. The pilot will be written by Cane creator Cynthia Cidre and will be produced by Warner Horizon Television. The network has also entered production on Perception, a new crime drama that follows Dr Geoffrey Pierce, 'an eccentric neuroscientist who uses his unique outlook to help the federal government solve complex cases.' The pilot will be produced by ABC Studios. Allan Loeb, writer of the upcoming Wall Street sequel, will also adapt the Marshall Karp novel The Rabbit Factory. The currently untitled pilot will revolve around widowed police Detective Mike Lomax and his newly married partner Terry Biggs as they 'delve into a world of mystery, intrigue and occasional hijinks. These pilots reflect our enthusiasm for relatable and complex everyman heroes, showcased in exciting storytelling environments,' said TNT executive Michael Wright.Is 'relatable' even a proper word? 'The writers of these projects bring great intelligence, heart and humour to their work. We are confident each of these projects would be a terrific addition to our original series line-up.'

Katee Sackhoff has reportedly landed a possible recurring role on CSI. According to Entertainment Weekly, the Battlestar Galactica actress will join the show this season as Detective Reed, described as 'a tough investigator with a lack of sensitivity.' Sackhoff is to make her debut appearance on the CBS series in November. She almost landed the role of Riley Adams on the show three years ago. The part eventually went to Lauren Lee Smith.

Catherine Dent will make a guest appearance on new NBC crime drama Law & Order: Los Angeles. Fancast reports that the actress will appear in an early episode as defence attorney Sarah Widmer. The character is expected to clash with Rex Winters (Skeet Ulrich) during a criminal investigation. Dent is known for her outstanding role as Danny Sofer on FX police drama The Shield and has recently appeared in episodes of The Closer and Lie To Me.

JJ Abrams has reportedly started working with writer Jonah Nolan to develop a new television crime drama. Entertainment Weekly claims that one particular network is showing great interest in picking up the currently untitled pilot. Nolan, the brother of Inception director Christopher, previously co-wrote The Dark Knight and The Prestige. This new series will be his first television project. Abrams co-created both Lost and Fringe. His latest project is the upcoming NBC spy drama Undercovers. The producer is also developing a new series based around the famous San Francisco prison island of Alcatraz.

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons has called on the government to spend more money rather than less on the corporation's World Service. This week it emerged that the upcoming public sector cuts could result in the BBC's World Service broadcasts in Myanmar and several other countries being either scrapped or several cut back. Speaking to MPs on the culture, media and sport committee, Lyons said that the corporation is engaged in 'robust' talks with the Foreign Office over plans for a reduction in the service's two hundred and seventy two million pounds annual grant. Lyons also stressed that World Service is 'amongst the most valued parts of the BBC's output both in terms of its standing in this country but certainly across the world. We're talking about an audience of one hundred and eighty million in the last year so a very modest expenditure for the BBC and Britain to have its voice heard by that larger audience,' he said. 'The BBC is inhibited from using licence fee payers' money for the World Service so any cut that is imposed here actually will be a cut in service - there is no way to avoid that.' At the same meeting, BBC director general Mark Thompson told MPs that the World Service grant-in-aid was 'absolutely in scope for the comprehensive spending review.' However, he added: 'Manifestly, these are some of the most cost-effective and leanly-run parts of the BBC and significant cuts in grant-in-aid would have a very significant and deep effect on services.' Earlier in the day, culture secretary the oily Jeremy Hunt had said that the coalition government was 'absolutely committed to the global reach of the World Service and the very important job it does as a beacon for democracy around the globe.' He also stressed, however, the importance of reviewing public sector budgets to see if better value could be achieved for taxpayers.

Susan Boyle has reportedly walked off of the America's Got Talent set. According to TMZ, the singer became upset after former Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed refused to allow her to sing his song 'Perfect Day' on the NBC talent show. Boyle is said to have 'dissolved into tears' after learning of the decision and immediately left the Los Angeles studio from where the programme is broadcast. She is believed to have left the US and headed back to London. Rumours that Lou is now to be knighted for 'services to music' cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.

A woman in China is suing a cinema and the distributors of the movie Aftershock for wasting her time with adverts. According to the Xinhua news agency, Chen Xiaomei claims the Polybona International Cinema and film distributors Huayi Brothers Media Corporation should have told her of the length of the pre-movie commercials. Chen, a lawyer, accused the Xian-based picturehouse and the distributors of violating her freedom of choice and wasting her time, AFP reports. The claimant is seeking a full apology, a refund for her thirty five yuan ticket, another thirty five yaun in compensation plus one yuan for 'emotional damages.' In the case, which has been accepted by the People's Court in Xian, Chen has also called on commercials to be reduced to five minutes or less and for cinemas to publish the lengths of adverts on its website, cinema foyers or via a customer hotline.