Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little Fish, Big Fish Swimmin' In The Water

It's been something of an odd week on US TV with new - and in the case of the first two, curiously underwhelming - episodes of House, Lie To Me and Hawaii Five-0 being broadcast on Monday. The good bits of the House episode (Massage Therapy) were entirely down to the Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein scenes with the episode's disease of the week story being a weak and uninvolving one. On Lie To Me, Cal Lightman found himself acting, frankly, much more bonkers than usual in a rather nasty little story (The Royal We) about the shenanigans at teenage beauty pageant that stretched both credulity and patience. Even 5-0's impressive start was briefly checked by an adequate-but-hardly-earth-shattering episode (Lanakila) about an escaped convict. Good helicopter crash stunt, mind. Meanwhile, yer actual Keith Topping Topping also caught up on the opening episode of Whitechapel's long-awaited second series. Only to find that was oddly unsatisfactory too, despite a trademark great performance by Phil Davis. The Kray Twins stuff is watchable enough, I suppose although the increasingly desperate ways of involving Steve Pemberton's character in the plot was unsatisfying and the descriptions of the toppings of Jack The Hat, Frankie The Mad Axeman and co as 'iconic murders' was, frankly, more than a bit offensive. Plus, the rather stage-y violence of the piece suggested that it had been directed by someone - with considerable ability - but who'd watched Performance, once, and not really understood it. We've been courteous. And, I'd forgotten just how twitchy and monosyllabic Rupert Penry-Jones played Joe Chandler in this show as it's been so long since I watched the first three-parter. It sounds from the above like I'm giving it a slagging but it wasn't bad, dear blog reader. Not even close. Indeed, with the talent involved in this it would have to be a spectacularly bad script for that to happen. But, to be honest, I'm glad I stuck to watching [spooks] and recorded Mark Gatiss' History of Horror on Monday night. When all was said and done, both felt more honest shows. Always go with your first instincts, that's yer Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tip of the day.

Coverage of the rescue of those thirty three Chilean miners - a heroic story of genuine human bravery and magnificence both from the rescuers and the miners themselves - led to some bumper audiences for both the BBC News channel and Sky News yesterday. BBC News averaged over half-a-million viewers from early morning right through to late afternoon with peaks of above six hundred thousand around noon and, later, at 5pm and 7pm. Sky News had a steady audience of between two and three hundred thousand for most of the day, rising to just over four hundred thousand at 5pm. On terrestrial TV BBC's Breakfast, One O'Clock News and Six O'Clock News programmes all enjoyed above-average audiences of 1.8m, 1.9m and 4.4m respectively. Breakfast's peak was a whopping 2.4m around 8am. Once again, the BBC's Ten O'Clock News mullered its ITV opposition, News At Ten by over two-to-one (a smidgen under five million viewers, versus two million two hundred thousand on ITV). Oddly, however, despite most TV news programmes on all channels gaining an increase in viewers - even Channel Five News got a few more than normal with seven hundred and twenty thousand viewers - ITV's Daybreak saw its audience remain anchored at a pathetically poor average of six hundred and eighty thousand across its two and half hours from 6am. It seems that not even the Chilean effect could overcome the Chilesean effect. It fair makes one wonder who's going to come to the rescue and get Adrian out of the deep, dark hole he's found himself a-trapped in.

Karren Brady has criticised the female Apprentice candidates for badly representing women. Lord Sugar's new assistant on the reality show gave a dressing down to the girls in Team Apollo on this week's episode of the BBC1 series. After watching the girls participate in a slanging match over who was responsible for their failure in a beach accessory task, Brady stepped in to voice her concerns about their behaviour in the boardroom. 'Can I just say something? You are representing businesswomen today and I have to say that it is outrageous the way that you are behaving,' said the forty one-year-old. 'Seventy per cent of my management team are women and I've never come across anything like this. I think you have to remember who you are representing in this process, young women out there who want to have an opportunity like this. You should set an example.' Sugar backed up his co-star, commenting: 'Some people get confused and think this is all about who can shout loudest and that is not what I'm looking for. All I'm hearing is a group of ladies in turmoil.' He added: 'Listen to Karren's words. I think that's the most sensible thing said here today.'

The Apprentice home was engulfed by 'bitching' and 'eavesdropping' and awash with 'strategic tears,' said his latest reject from the show, Joy Stefanicki. The Birmingham-based marketing director was sent packing in the latest show after the girls' Apollo team failed to sell any of their beach book stands. Fired up after her dismissal, the thirty one-year-old blamed the plotting women who lived together in the top floor of the house. 'There's a massive amount of bitching – non-stop,' she said. 'They were at it at the house. Lots of cliquing and strategic stuff and politics and I wouldn't play that game. When we weren't working, the boys were very good at getting home and letting go of it. The girls never let it go. They were never "off."' She also said that she 'caught Sandeesh standing by a bedroom door listening in' on two other contestants, adding: 'There were people trying to find weaknesses in people and others crying and people saying that was tactical tears. I wanted to go over to the boys' team. I was desperate to get away from those girls.'

Hammer Film has confirmed plans to return to television. The famed horror production company was recently revived following a twenty five million pound investment from Endemol founder John de Mol. It has since backed Let Me In, the English language remake of 2008's best movie made-by-anyone, Låt Den Rätte Komma In. Chief executive Simon Oakes told BBC News: 'I think it's possible to do this anthology series where Hammer House of Horror has a one hour event story every week. Television is very different - you have to be very cognisant of what the controllers want - and they are looking a year, two years in advance. We're taking baby steps in television but we're very keen to build a television business.' He added: 'Television is incredibly important. I like the idea of going against conventional wisdom. People tell me that anthology doesn't work any more. So that makes me think let's try and make it work.' Of other planned projects, Oakes said: 'We are creating a Hammer Theatre of Horror. I believe that the best brands can exist in multimedia and I think there's no better storytelling platform than the theatre. It's also a chance to have that repertory feel to it that Hammer had in its film days.' Hammer's last horror movie was 1976's To the Devil a Daughter, starring Christopher Lee and Nastassja Kinski. Lee returns to Hammer with the release next year of thriller The Resident, with Hilary Swank in the lead role. The studio is also filming a new adaptation of supernatural novel The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe. The Hammer company was founded in the 1930s but it was not until the 1950s that its name became synonymous with the horror genre. The company also produced comedies, thrillers and science fiction. Its run of Gothic monster movies included Dracula and The Curse Of Frankenstein and it made stars of British actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. After being dormant since the 1980s, the company and its back catalogue was bought in 2007 by a consortium, with Simon Oakes as CEO. Hammer's initial return to horror was an interactive web serial Beyond The Rave, which was broadcast via MySpace in 2008. Meanwhile, Let Me In is due to have its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival this week. The film goes on general release on 5 November. And, yer Keith Telly Topping is very much looking forward to it, even if it can't possibly be as good as the Swedish original! But, it means a lot to this blogger, does Hammer. I spent much of my childhood - in common with many members of my generation, some of them now very famous - being thrilled and terrified in just about equal measure by its output. I wrote a book celebrating my love of many of the studio's best movies (and those of other British companies working in the same field) and I have longed for the day when we'd see its blood-red logo returned, proudly, on our screens. It's really great to have it back.

Michael Jackson's brother Randy has said that he is angry with his parents for agreeing to be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. Randy took to his Twitter account on Tuesday to express his displeasure that the talk show host was given access to the Jackson family 'compound' in Encino. The singer asserted that Winfrey had a vendetta against Michael and tried to put him behind bars by airing a special on paedophilia during the musician's notorious molestation trial. 'I can never forget when she had the show on pedophilia [sic] during the jury deliberation process in my brother's Santa Maria case. That was no coincidence,' he wrote. Randy remarked that Winfrey is not the kind of person that Michael would have wanted around his children. He concluded: 'I know how Oprah feels about my brother and family. I also know that he would not have wanted this. She is the last person on earth he would want around his children.' Jackson further insisted that if he had been notified about the interview beforehand, he would have advised his parents Katherine and Joe against going forward with it.

Griff Rhys Jones is to host a new four-part documentary series on the life and adventures of Captain James Cook for ITV.

Glee could pick up a few more male viewers when the next season airs in the UK, after details emerged about a lesbian kiss between two of the show's cheerleader characters. The programme is not known for shying away from controversy, having dealt with the tricky issue of teenage pregnancy during the first series, but now it has pushed the boundaries even further. In a scene aired in the US this week, cheerleaders Brittany and Santana get a bit of girl-on-girl action going. As has been noted previously, dear blog reader, there - genuinely - are very few things in this world that cannot be improved by lezzing it up. Brittany reportedly says 'oh sweet lady kisses,' after her fellow Glee-clubber kisses her neck, to which Santana replies 'it's a nice break from all that scissoring.' Saucy. However, the liaison is cut short when Brittany suggests that the pair sing a duet of Melissa Etheridge's lesbian anthem 'Come To My Window,' the Daily Scum Mail reports with wax quite literally exploding from its ears. Which, let's face it, is always something worth seeing.

Alan Davies' new kitchen comedy Whites has lost nearly a million viewers – more than a third of its audience – in two weeks. The sitcom, set in a country house hotel, was seen by 1.45m viewers on BBC2 this week. That's down nine hundred and twenty thousand viewers on its strong opening audience of 2.37m two weeks ago, according to overnight figures. It has also slumped below the channel's average audience in the 9pm time slot of 1.87m.

The Watch channel has picked up the exclusive UK rights to the third season of Sanctuary. The show, which stars the Goddess-like Amanda Tapping, focuses on a group of people trying to protect unusual beings who hide among humans. Watch's channel head Paul Moreton said: 'Watch is delighted to have gained the exclusive rights to the next series of this compelling drama. Sanctuary will help consolidate the success we are enjoying with our other slate of popular entertainment dramas - Doctor Who, Torchwood and Primeval.'

Taking over from Jonathan Ross on Film 2010 was bound to be a terrifying prospect for yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite Springfield-panda love-child, Claudia Winkleman. After all, she classes herself as a movie fan rather than a film expert and Ross is going to be a tough act to follow. Claudia, in fact, goes as far as to say that she nearly turned her dream job down fearing that she would be seen as a poor imitation of Ross, and of his predecessor, Barry Norman. 'Terrified is too small a word for how I feel at the moment. I'm horrified,' she notes. 'I'm so terrified that when they asked me, I was tempted to say "No," then I said I couldn't do it by myself.' The Gruniad Morning Star's film critic Danny Leigh was suggested, and one screen test and one furious argument later, Winkleman had found a co-presenter. 'We had a stand-up row about our favourite films. He said his favourite was David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, and my favourite film is more lowbrow and moronic – it's ET. So we shouted about that and I said, "It's got to be Danny."' Leigh adds that the pair's diverse taste in movies will be reflected in the programme, which will cater just as much for the Odeon-goers as for the arthouse cinema crowd. 'We're going to be talking about the three most interesting films of the week, which will come from all corners of movie culture,' he says. 'We could spend hours talking about the nuances of each film, but at the end of the day, the viewer wants to know whether he or she should spend a tenner on seeing the film. Should they get a babysitter in and go out? Because it's expensive to go to the cinema these days. That's one of the points of the show, to help people make that decision.' The new series is going out live instead of being pre-recorded as previously. One would think this would make it even more of a challenge for the presenters, but Winkleman says that she is happy about the change – in fact, it was she who suggested it. 'I know it's madness but I asked if we could go live because I don't have much else to offer. Other than the fact I make a good roast chicken,' she adds, helpfully. She is certainly used to going live, presenting Strictly – It Takes Two every weekday, as well as her own arts show on Radio2. 'I think it's more – and I hate this word – but it's more honest. We won't be so measured and careful, so if I say, "That film's rubbish," nobody's going to say, "Halt! Can you go again and say there might be something in it for somebody?"' Whilst some critics might doubt her film knowledge, Winkleman says she can 'talk to you about Sandra Bullock until your ears bleed' and names Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman and the director David Fincher as some of her movie heroes. Both presenters are passionate about going to the cinema. Winkleman recalls her first date with her film producer husband Kris Thykier, when, in a rather flash manner, he offered to book a table at a swanky restaurant. On Winkleman's request, however, they ended up at the cinema watching Armageddon. 'Sometimes we do it on Boxing Day!' Yer Keith Telly Topping really likes Claudia Whatsherface - class act. Even if she looks, increasingly, like a bastard-love-child of Dusty Springfiend and a panda.

The BBC spent so heavily on its coverage of the Chilean miners rescue that it may be forced to reduce its coverage of other major events, including next month's G20 summit in Seoul and the Oscars according to a quite sickeningly triumphalist report in the Gruniad Morning Star. A memo written by the BBC's world news editor, Jon Williams, and sent to fellow executives, which the newspaper boasts this it has 'seen' says the cost of reporting the rescue will exceed one hundred thousand pounds. It will also result in cuts to coverage of the Cancún climate summit, which begins in November, the Nato summit in Lisbon, and the Davos World Economic Forum. All of which, to be fair are important events but are unlikely to see the kinds of audience for rolling news coverage that yesterday's events in Chile pulled in (see above). So, from a purely television point of view - you know, the business that the BBC is a part of - one could easily suggest that such an allocation of resources is more than justified. Not that the agenda-driven Gruniad scum said that, of course. Oh, no. Too busy congratulating themselves of their ability to procure an internal BBC memo, so they were. So pleased with themselves were they, in fact, that yer Keith Telly Topping is willing to speculate they all ended the night by giving their own reflections a damned good tonguing. BBC News sent a crew of twenty six to cover the final dramatic rescue of the San José miners, pushing its annual budget beyond agreed limits. 'The financial situation is serious,' Williams warns. 'We are currently sixty seven thousand pounds beyond our agreed overspend.' In the memo, Williams also outlines the 'consequences for other events in the coming months.' They include sending either the BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, or business editor, Robert Peston, to the G20, but not both. 'We will scale back editor deployments to the G20 – so either Robert or Nick, not both,' Williams wrote. The memo was sent last week and it is not clear whether a decision has been made on whom to send, but both Robinson and Peston would normally expect to report on the G20. The BBC will also send just one correspondent to cover the Cancún climate summit, in November and December.

Three of the executive producers behind Lost are rumoured to be working on a new 'fairytale drama series' for American television's next autumn season, according to EW. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are preparing to pitch the project to ABC Studios for consideration for its 2011-12 slate. Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof is also attached to the project in a consultancy role. Little else is known about the series, although it is thought to feature a female lead.

The Met Office has confirmed that they are reorganising the roles and structure of the BBC weather centre, after press reports claim that three of its most high-profile presenters will be moved to 'back office' roles. The Met Office secured a five-year contract this July to continue the provision of weather services to the BBC. A spokesperson said the new contract required them to work 'within revised affordability levels.' A statement outlined that, 'To achieve this, we have employed a fair and open process to change Met Office staff roles and structure within the BBC weather centre.' The BBC weather centre currently employs twenty three Met Office staff. The Daily Scum Mail reported yesterday that some posts would be lost and three weather presenters - Rob McElwee, Tomasz Schafernaker and Philip Avery - would move to off-screen roles next month. A Met Office spokeswoman told Ariel that reshuffle plans have yet to be finalised and the details of any moves have not been confirmed. She added that, although there would be fewer posts at the BBC weather centre, there would be no redundancies as employees would be moved to other areas within the Met Office.

Dannii Minogue has revealed that she notices a resemblance between Simon Cowell and the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Minogue said that she would like to personally give her fellow X Factor judge a makeover. Please let it be with a hammer. Speaking to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV's This Morning, the least famous of the Minogue sisters said: 'I want to change that hairdo. Sometimes it gets really flat like the SpongeBob SquarePants character and I can't cope with that.' How do you think viewers feel, Dan?

Gamu Nhengu has revealed that she has received no phone calls from either Cheryl Cole or Simon Cowell since her X Factor exit. Nhengu, whose axing from the series spread mucho controversy over a week ago, also told Star magazine that she feels her experience on The X Factor hasn't been worthwhile. She said: 'I have had no calls from Cheryl or from Simon. I haven't spoken to any of the big producers either.' Merely, the small ones, it would seem. The former talent show contestant added: 'I had so much hope but because I did it, my mum's been painted as this benefit cheat. It wasn't worth it.' Well, it would appear that any chance of Simon Cowell's lawyers helping with Gamu's immigration problems have just taken a turn for the 'non-existant' after that little outburst.

Graffiti artist Banksy's opening sequence to The Simpsons was originally even sadder, according to the show's executive producer. The two-minute title sequence, broadcast in the US last weekend, depicted Simpsons merchandise being created in an Asian sweatshop. The scenes included kittens being used as stuffing for Bart dolls, while a unicorn's horn was exploited to pierce DVDs. Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly: 'There were some small things we went through with Broadcast Standards for taste, but I was impressed — for an American TV show we did this really satiric thing, and it was ninety five percent of what he wanted.' Asked what had been cut, he replied: 'I wouldn’t go into them, but it was just a little sadder. I don't know if the unicorn made it in the original draft.' Jean added that the scenes were 'fanciful' and denied any connection with the reality of producing Simpsons merchandise. Although, if you're a cat lover, it might be an idea to check what your Bart Simpson doll is stuffed with, just to be on the safe side.

Danny Dyer has revealed that he has 'always taken drugs' and 'probably always will.' Defending his comments, the alleged actor and - according to his Wikipeida profile - 'media personality' said that he does not feel the need to draw a line under the issue, adding: 'It's not like I'm a Blue Peter presenter, is it?' No, chuck. They wouldn't have the likes of you on that. According to the Daily Scum Mail, Dyer said: 'You can't brush it under the carpet and try and pretend it doesn't happen, because it does happen. It happens all over the world every night - millions and millions of people.' Yes, mate. Millions and millions of people who are, almost without exceptions, morons. Get a new brain, pal, the one you have is narrow and full of shit.

Jodie Marsh has joked that Katie Price would 'sell her own grandmother' for publicity. The former glamour model said that she does not like being compared to Price, claiming that she is happy to have moved out of the limelight for a career as a tattoo artist. 'Does anyone care about her anymore? I don't,' Marsh told the Daily Lies. 'Look, Kate would sell her own grandmother to a magazine if she could - I wouldn't. Good luck to her but I wouldn't do it. That's why I'm tattooing now. I'm keeping it real. I don't envy her life.' The Celebrity Big Brother contestant also took a swipe at new ITV2 show The Only Way Is Essex, claiming that the reality series is a poor portrayal of her county. 'It's embarrassing for Essex people and shows the worst side of them,' she said. 'It makes me feel sick. They all love themselves, they're obsessed with designer labels, all they care about is what they look like. Real Essex locals are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people. This show is all people whingeing about their love lives and showing off all their money. There's so much more to me than that.'

Meanwhile, Price herself has claimed that ITV2 is, or are, refusing to promote the final series of her reality show. Earlier this year, the former glamour model signed an exclusive two-year deal with Virgin Media Television, which will see her star on Living when her ITV2 deal ends next month. Price has now 'hit out' at the network for not promoting the remaining episodes of What Katie Did Next. What's in it for them, Katie? You did the dirty and still expect them to play fair? Oh, you naive child. 'Don't forgot my show on tonight 9pm itv2,' she wrote on Twitter. 'I'm telling you as itv2 don't advertise it [sic].' Last month, Price criticised the decision when replying to a fan's question. 'ITV2 WON'T advertise as my last show with them not good on their side very un pro,' she said. [Sic]. On several levels.