Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cold Logic

BBC2 will broadcast a special edition of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe at the end of this year. Charlie Brooker's 2010 Wipe will examine the year in news, television, games and films. Brooker will be joined by guests including Grace Dent, who will look at the year's soaps. Investigative journalist Nick Davies will discuss the alleged News of the World phone hacking, while comedian Doug Stanhope will be doing a piece on the BP oil disaster. Other topics expected to be explored include the rescue of the Chilean miners, the general elections and the Pope's visit to the UK. Brooker's regular guest Tim Key will also make an appearance. Brooker said: 'For those who don't have the patience to relive the entire year in real time, 2010 Wipe will condense the whole of 2010 into one compact, easily-digestible package. Think of it as a souvenir, if that helps. We'll be looking back at the year before it's even finished and pointing and laughing at various bits of it like the repugnant animals we are.' Skill.

Britain's current most hated woman, Gillian McKeith, has finally be voted off I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want! Which will, presumably, mean that the show will now revert from being a ludicrously entertaining guilty pleasure - for entirely the wrong reasons, of course - to what it always has been in the past, boring.

Eve Myles has revealed that she plans to move to Los Angeles when Torchwood: The New World begins filming in the US in January. Because, let's face it, if she hadn't the commute would've been a bitch. The actress, who plays Gwen Cooper on the SF series, told Wales On Sunday that she and her partner, Bradley Freegard, have recently purchased a house near a famous LA landmark. 'We are going to be living in the Hollywood Hills, literally underneath the Hollywood sign. It looks like something out of Austin Powers,' she said. Make sure one of the letters doesn't fall on you, Eve. I hate to have to write a headline on this blog one day which suggests H Kills Eve Myles. She continued: 'It's a step back in time to Hollywood in the 1960s. It's really, really retro. It's had one owner and it's been kept exactly as it was.' The 2007 BAFTA Cymru Best Actress winner admitted that the idea of moving to Hollywood is something which she hadn't prepared for until fairly recently. She explained: 'I always said I didn't think Hollywood was for me but it just happened. I'm not the sort of person to go out there and do networking. I would rather work for the RSC or the National Theatre. I've not ticked off a quarter of the boxes I want to fill over here yet. But to be out there for this project is just wonderful. What a brilliant little start in life for my one-year-old daughter, Matilda.'

Peter Capaldi has suggested that some people confuse him with his The Thick Of It character Malcolm Tucker. In an interview with the Daily Record, Capaldi explained that he 'never felt typecast' by Malcolm but confessed that he tries to keep the role separate from the rest of his life. 'I've lost count of the times I've been asked to "be" Malcolm Tucker, to go on a political programme on television, presumably in order to be the character and give opinions as him,' he said. 'I've run a mile from doing so in the past and will continue to do so. It's not that I don't like the guy or didn't enjoy playing him - I loved it. But I'm Peter Capaldi. He's a TV character for whom a team of people write scripts. And to imagine we are one and the same person is dangerous and wrong. So that's why I was annoyed when somebody put me on the same table as Alastair Campbell at a Channel Four political awards ceremony a while back, but I was interested, too, to observe him.' Capaldi also hinted that Tucker may not return to The Thick Of It now that New Labour are no longer in power. 'There will be a new series of The Thick Of It but I'm not sure Malcolm will be involved,' he said. 'I'd hate to just be standing around, this character from the political past. Malcolm deserves to be centre stage, not peripheral. He wouldn't want it any other way, and nor would I.'

Mathew Horne has alleged that he would love to work with James Corden again. The rest of the country, however, would really rather prefer it if they didn't. At least, not on TV, anyway. Couldn't you do one big show for all of your fans, instead? In a phone box.

Jonathan Ross has signed up to host a magic competition on ITV, it has been revealed, just a few days after the BBC announced that the equally unfunny Lenny Henry was doing a similar show for them. Ross will front Penn & Teller: Fool Us, which sees a variety of magicians attempting to fool famous illusionists Penn Jillette and Teller. Acts who successfully trick the duo will win a trip to Las Vegas to open for them at their Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino show, reports the Sun. 'Nothing would delight us more than to give those Vegas tickets to anyone who can baffle us with their brilliance,' Jillette said. Teller didn't say anything. As usual. Executive producer Peter Davey added: 'It's a real pleasure to work with the undisputed governors of magic and their friend Jonathan.'

Arlene Phillips has said that she believes Strictly Come Dancing has 'gone flat.' And yet, ironically, it's getting far greater ratings now than it ever received in the past when the embittered old bag herself was on the judging panel. Go figure. The sacked former judge admitted that she felt last Saturday's show was 'not as exciting or as impressive' as previous editions this series. as if anybody actually cares about what the hell she thinks. Phillips told the Sun: 'Altogether it was a slightly dull and lacklustre show. I felt it had lost its fire. It fell quite flat. The standard of dancing most certainly dropped. I think the show for some reason, and I may be out of step, had slipped. I could have easily given up watching it quite frankly, and you shouldn't feel like that.' The sixty seven-year-old again found the judges' marking to be uneven - singling out Scott Maslen for being scored too generously and Matt Baker for being marked too harshly. 'I thought Matt was right ahead of the pack,' she said. 'The judges scoring him lower than Scott was beyond belief. What was I missing? I sometimes worry that watching this at home you're actually seeing something as a viewer or not seeing something as a viewer that they are seeing on the floor. I am now feeling Strictly out of step with the marks.' This, ladies and gentlemen, from Arlene Phillips. Remember her? A few weeks ago she was claiming that 'Strictly's the last thing on my mind. It doesn't feel like it is a part of me any more. It's so tiresome. I'm bigger than Strictly.' My italics. Which presumably explains why every single week she's in the newspapers giving her thoughts on Strictly. Also my italics.

Andy Hamilton has revealed that the BBC was initially reluctant to commission Outnumbered. Hamilton, who created the partially-improvised comedy with his writing partner Guy Jenkin, explained that the broadcaster was unsure about the show because of the failure of Ben Elton's sitcom Blessed. According to Chortle, Hamilton told an audience at The Comedy School: 'The BBC had just commissioned a thing from Ben Elton about a family with a new baby which died on its arse for all sorts of reasons. One is that it's actually a really boring subject - babies are just robots - but when you get young children who ask you questions all the time, that's more interesting.' Hamilton explained that the production company Hat Trick eventually won enough money to make a fifteen-minute sample of Outnumbered but admitted that the budget was so small they filmed it at his own house. He added: 'To be fair to the BBC, the moment they saw the sample they got it.' Three series of Outnumbered have been broadcast in the UK and an American remake starring Ugly Betty's Ana Ortiz is currently in the works.

Simon Cowell has claimed that Wagner Carrilho's continuing presence on The X Factor was turning the programme into a joke. Turning the programme in a joke? I recognise the words, but ... The full-of-his-own-importance judge said that he was pleased the Brazilian singer left on Sunday night, claiming that it would have been to the detriment of the programme if he had reached the final stages. During the live show, Cowell referred to Internet campaigners, who had managed to help Carrilho progress to sixth spot in the series. Cowell said that the supporters of the fifty four-year-old Dudley singer were not voting for the right reasons. There are right reasons? Baffling. Speaking to Dermot O'Dreary, Cowell said: 'Why I am happy is because there were people out there trying to derail this show for different reasons. What has happened tonight is that we've put this show back in the hands of the public.' Later on The Xtra Factor, he added: 'It's right that people like Wagner are in the competition. But it can't end up at the latter stages of the show as a joke. At the end of the day, these contestants, who have reached the finale stages, entered this competition because they needed a break. It's not about us, it's about them.'

Wagner, meanwhile, has taken a swipe at the tabloids for their constant negative stories about him. The singer claimed that the press had attached labels on him to ridicule his performances and described their stories as 'rubbish.' As, indeed, have you yourself been, Señor Wagner. Funny, admittedly, but still pretty rubbish.

Paul Abbott has revealed that he would love longer series of his show Shameless. The Channel Four drama will return for a new series in January with twenty two episodes instead of sixteen. The first five episode will be broadcast on consecutive nights. 'I was insistent that we didn't corrupt the Shameless format just for the sake of presenting a five-day spectacle,' Abbott told the Gruniad Morning Star. 'It has to just be Shameless.' However, he revealed that he campaigned for longer series, saying: 'I suggested forty per year, so that it mimics the rhythm of soap in the audience's expectation of it being there. Except it's the opposite of a soap because we have finite story concepts and a soap, by definition, is circular. I knew that it had to fake the scent of a soap, even though it's a high quality drama written by writers who don't write soaps.' He continued: 'Audiences should be presented with material that they can trust to be there year after year on longer order because shows build with familiarity. I'm not critical of the drama we've got. The point is, we should be more proud of British drama and learn how to dare to put a long order series in front of the audience that isn't Holby.' Abbott also joked that he isn't worried about running out of ideas for the programme. 'There are thousands of episodes left,' he said. 'I've never once felt short of stories to fill a series. Not once.'

CBBC show Horrible Histories won three awards at the Children's BAFTAs, where former Play School presenter Brian Cant picked up a special award. The light-hearted history show won best comedy and best writing, with presenter Jim Howick winning best performer. Gary Barlow presented CBeebies with the best channel prize. Yet it was seventy seven-year-old Cant who was the most popular winner on Sunday, earning two standing ovations from the audience at the Park Lane Hilton in London. 'When I became a man I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child and they paid me for it,' he said as he accepted his prize. Best known for Play School, Cant also voiced characters on such shows as Trumpton and Camberwick Green. CBeebies also took home prizes for ZingZillas, in the interactive category, and Timmy Time, for best pre-school animation. CBeebies' Justin Fletcher, meanwhile, won best presenter for sketch show Something Special. Fletcher beat last year's winner Richard Hammond - nominated for CBBC's Blast Lab - to the prize. Yet CBBC did win best drama for Tracy Beaker Returns, best entertainment for Relic: Guardians of the Museum and best animation for Shaun the Sheep. CBBC's Newsround special Living with Alcohol also won in the best factual programme category.

Merlin producer Julian Murphy has revealed that discussions are underway regarding a fifth series of the show. It was announced last month that the fantasy drama would be returning for a ten-part fourth series in 2011. Speaking to SFX about the reduced episode count, Murphy said: 'It was, brutally, about money. Merlin is an expensive show and what we are not prepared to do is cut its budget or production values. The BBC has had a really tough [financial] hit.' However, he added: 'We are now discussing the fifth series with the BBC. There is talk of specials ways we can fill in the gap, but these are tough times for British broadcasters.' The showrunner also hinted that the final episode of the show's third series would contain 'three or four absolutely iconic moments. The last two are very special episodes because probably there are more crucial moments from the legend in them than in any other,' he teased. 'The changes that happen in episodes twelve and thirteen set up the direction that series four is going in. You get a good glimpse of the future.'

Meanwhile, as if all the cold weather, travel chaos and the bad news about the recession and the credit crunch aren't bad enough, there comes news that the BBC has ordered a third series of Life Of Riley. There is no God.

NCIS actor Michael Weatherly is to make his directorial debut on a forthcoming episode of the CBS series. The actor has played special agent Tony DiNozzo since the crime drama began in 2003. TV Guide reports that the former Dark Angel star will direct an episode expected to film in January. 'I love all aspects of production, and I have a great deal of respect for the whole craft,' he explained. 'I'm really excited about directing. It's an extension of my curiosity about film and TV.' Weatherly also claimed that his episode of the show would be 'a little bit different' to the norm. 'I've got a lot of ideas about my version of NCIS,' he said. 'It's daunting to imagine that I am going to be running around in charge.' Weatherly's experiences as a first-time director are also expected to be documented by a camera crew in preparation for the DVD release of the show's eighth season.

A local council officer in Wellingborough, has claimed that EastEnders favourite Dot Branning should be issued with a fixed penalty notice for littering. Wendy Mills recently made a complaint to the BBC after spotting that Dot - played by eighty three-year-old June Brown - continues to throw her cigarette ends on the ground without punishment. Speaking to the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, Mills explained that she feels strongly about the issue as she is currently leading a 'No Excuses' anti-litter campaign as part of her council role. Although, apparently, it takes up so little of her, no doubt valuable, time that she can still find the opportunity to watch soap operas and then sense nuisance letters to broadcasters about their -fictional contents. If I was a rate-payer in Northampton, I might well be, frankly, a bit dischuffed at the staggering waste of my local authority taxes. Mills commented: 'I think the show has a responsibility to set a good example. We are hugely influenced by this soap. Dot is a main character and she's old enough to know better.' And, then she let the newspaper know what she had 'commented' like a proper school sneak. Mills's letter to the corporation received a response from a BBC Complaints representative, who wrote: 'Good drama rarely involves the portrayal of the normal, the well-adjusted or the well-run. Writers of compelling drama scripts are, by the very nature of the medium, more likely to focus on the dubious than on people who are quietly going about their daily lives in a responsible manner, taking part in all sorts of activities, professions or sharing a particular belief. As littering is a problem within society, the EastEnders team are simply reflecting what happens in day-to-day life. I appreciate that you feel that Dot should maybe be apprehended by the council for these actions. We're guided by the feedback that we receive and to that end I'd like to assure you that I've registered your complaint on our audience log.' They, sadly, resisted the urge to add 'by the way, don't you have anything more important to do with your time, like your job, whatever that is? Now, grow up and get a life,' it would appear. Which is very sad.

Saint Bob Geldof has admitted that he thinks 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' is 'one of the worst songs in history.' Geldof, who co-wrote the Band Aid charity single with faded old glam queen Midge Ure, said that he is sick of hearing the festive song everywhere he goes during December. And, he's not the only one either. Albeit, it's still marginally better than 'Mistletoe and Wine.'

Three senior FIFA officials who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids on Thursday took bribes in the 1990s, according to the BBC's Panorama. Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira took the money from a sport marketing firm awarded lucrative World Cup rights, the programme alleges. The alleged bribes are included in a confidential document listing one hundred and seventy five payments totalling about one hundred million dollars. The three men did not respond to Panorama's allegations. Not even to say they were untrue, which seems a bit strange. FIFA, world football's governing body, also declined interview requests to address the allegations. Panorama also reportED on evidence of a fourth senior Fifa executive - Jack Warner- and his alleged continued involvement in the resale of World Cup tickets to touts. The BBC had received much criticism over the timing of the programme, which comes ahead of this week's vote by FIFA's executive committee on who will host the next two World Cup finals. England is competing with Russia, Spain and Portugal and the Netherlands and Belgium to host the 2018 tournament. The BBC has defended the timing of Panorama, saying the programme is in the public interest. Andy Anson, the head of England's 2018 bid, told the BBC he was 'disappointed with the timing' of the programme. 'It is certainly not going to win us any votes so we just have to see what happens tonight and move on,' he said. He added that members of the FIFA executive committee worked closely with each other 'and of course if one of them gets hurt the others feel it. That's just life.' Which is a very curious statement for someone to make about alleged corrupt and illegal activity. Does that also work for bank robbery as well, one wonders? The alleged bribes to the three members of FIFA's executive committee were paid by sports marketing company International Sport and Leisure and date from 1989 to 1999, Panorama reported. The company collapsed in 2001. FIFA granted ISL exclusive rights to market World Cup tournaments to some of the world's biggest brands and ISL received millions more from negotiating television broadcast rights. A former account manager at ISL, Roland Buechel, now a Swiss politician, said that staff had long suspected bribes were being paid for the lucrative FFIA contracts. 'It is huge money, billions, that can be earned and all the sports marketing companies they fight, they want it,' Buechel said. Some details of the alleged bribes emerged in 2008, when six ISL managers were accused of misusing company money. One FIFA official - Nicolas Leoz, of Paraguay, the head of South America's football confederation - was named in court papers in connection with payments totalling one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. But Panorama has obtained a confidential ISL document which, they say, lists one hundred and seventy five secret payments. It shows Mr Leoz was paid a further six hundred thousand dollars in three instalments. The second FIFA official named by the programme, Ricardo Teixeira, is head of the Brazilian Football Confederation which is responsible for staging the 2014 World Cup. The ISL list shows a front company in Liechtenstein called Sanud received twenty one payments totalling nine and a half million dollars. Teixeira was closely linked to Sanud by an inquiry of the Brazilian senate in 2001. It found that funds from Sanud had been secretly channelled to Teixeira through one of his companies. The list obtained by Panorama also includes details of one hundred thousand French Francs paid to Issa Hayatou, the FIFA vice-president representing football in African nations. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a statement that the 2008 court case had largely exonerated the former ISL officials. He said: 'It is important to stress that no FIFA officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings.' At the time when ISL are alleged to have been paying the money out, it was not a criminal offence. The recipients of most of the money paid by ISL into accounts in Liechtenstein cannot be traced. These latest allegations of wrongdoing by FIFA executive members come after two of the twenty four committee members were banned last month from voting in Thursday's ballot. The bans came after the Sunday Times accused Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii of being willing to sell their World Cup votes. The fourth FIFA executive named in the Panorama programme is Trinidad and Tobago's Jack Warner, one of the organisation's vice-presidents, and a seemingly odious individual seen in footgae from 2006 telling reporter Andrew Jennings that he would like to 'spit' on the BBC man. Panorama says that it has seen e-mails and an invoice which show Warner was involved in the procurement of eight four thousand dollars worth of 2010 World Cup tickets. The e-mail trail suggests the tickets were destined for the black market but the planned deal - including thirty eight tickets for the final in Johannesburg - collapsed because the touts were not prepared to pay the asking price. In 2006, Panorama revealed that Warner had sold tickets on the black market for that year's World Cup tournament in Germany. FIFA subsequently ordered Warner's family business, Simpaul Travel, to make a one million dollar donation to charity to 'compensate for the profits it had made through resale of 2006 FIFA World Cup tickets.' At a recent press conference, Blatter was asked about the fresh allegations against Warner by a Norwegian journalist who first broke the story of the e-mails. Blatter replied: 'Should it be knowledgeable to us, by official means, or by official channels, then naturally we would have to look at that.' FIFA's media office, when asked by the Norwegian journalist what Blatter had meant by 'official channels,' reportedly replied: 'We have no idea.'

Sky News has announced plans for its first foreign language service in a move that will see it broadcast in Arabic across the Middle East and North Africa. The free-to-watch channel will be run as a joint-venture between satellite broadcaster BSkyB and Abu Dhabi Media Investment, owned by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is best known in the UK for buying Manchester Sheikh Yer Moneymaker FC. Sky News' Arabic service will start broadcasting from 2012 and will employ one hundred and eighty journalists providing round-the-clock news that can be viewed via a television channel, its website and mobile phones. The service will be based in Abu Dhabi but will have offices in London and Washington DC, and will make use of Sky News' network of reporters across the globe. BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: 'Sky News is already one of the world's leading news services and now we're looking forward to bringing a new voice to Arabic audiences. The Middle East and North Africa is undergoing rapid development and we are able to enter this dynamic marketplace with the support and expertise of a strong local partner.' The service will be set up under the guidance of Sky News' former head of international news Adrian Wells before a permanent director of news is appointed. Sky News became Europe's first twenty four-hour rolling news channel when it launched in 1989 and now broadcasts to one hundred and forty five million people in thirty six countries in Europe, and is also watched in Asia and Africa. Its latest move, which it described as 'a significant step' in its development, will see it compete head-to-head with Arabic stations including Al Jazeera. The Doha-based company's English language service launched in the UK on Sky's paid-for TV service in 2006. It went free-to-air on the Freesat digital satellite service in 2008 and started broadcasting on Freeview in July, doubling its availability in the UK.

American film director Irvin Kershner has died at the age of eighty seven. Kershner was best known as the director of second Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back. According to Yahoo News, Kershner's goddaughter Adriana Santini confirmed his death on Monday following his long illness. Kershner also directed Robocop 2, Eyes of Laura Mars and the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again along with the award winning TV movie Raid on Entebbe. Despite his advanced years, Kershner was still working on a number of film projects at the time of his death.

The veteran actor Leslie Nielsen - the star of Airplane! and The Naked Gun - has died at the age of eighty four. He died in hospital in Fort Lauderdale, where he was being treated for pneumonia, his agent John Kelly said. Canadian-born Nielsen started out as a serious actor but in 1980, his role as a hapless, deadpan doctor in the disaster-movie spoof Airplane! made him into a comic star for a new generation. In all, he appeared in more than one hundred movies and over a thousand TV dramas and had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1926 Nielsen enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as disc jockey before receiving a scholarship to New York's Neighbourhood Playhouse after the war. His brother, Eric Nielsen, subsequently became a well known politician as leader of the Yukon Territory before becoming the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. Leslie himself initially wanted to follow their father's career as a mountie but, in the end, it was his uncle, the movie actor Jean Hersholt, who was to be the biggest influence on Leslie's career. Beginning with a number of minor television roles from 1948, Nielsen's distinctive voice narrated numerous documentaries and commercials, but, with a handful of exceptions, his early work as an actor was relatively uneventful. Moving to Hollywood in the mid-1950s, he initially carved out a film career as a leading man in B-list studio product, capitalising on his craggy good looks and six foot two inch height. Nielsen's lead roles in the SF classic Forbidden Planet and, a decade later, the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure garnered him positive reviews. It was not until 1956 that he made his feature film debut in the Michael Curtiz-directed musical film The Vagabond King. In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Nielsen remembered the Casablanca director as 'a sadist. A charming sadist, but a sadist.' Though the film was not a box office success, Nielsen caught the eye of producer Nicholas Nayfack who offered him an audition for the lead role of JJ Adams in Forbidden Planet, following which Nielsen was signed to a long-term contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer. Parts in other MGM films such as Ransom! (1956), The Opposite Sex (1956) and Hot Summer Night (1957) followed. In 1957 he got the lead role opposite to Debbie Reynolds in the romantic comedy Tammy & The Bachelor, which, as a Chicago Tribune critic wrote, made people consider Nielsen as both a dramatic actor and a handsome romantic lead. However, he was dissatisfied with the quality of the films he was offered, calling the studios 'a Tiffany, which had forgotten how to make silver,' Nielsen left MGM and, although he auditioned for the role of Messala in Ben-Hur he lost out to Stephen Boyd and wouldn't make another film for seven years. After leaving the studios Nielsen worked for Disney on the TV miniseries The Swamp Fox, as American Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion. In a 1988 interview, he reflected on the series, stating: 'That was a great experience, because the Disney people didn't do their shows like everyone else, knocking out an episode a week. We only had to do an episode a month and the budgets were extremely high for TV at that time. So we had location shooting rather than cheap studio backdrops and very authentic costumes.' Eight episodes were produced and broadcast between 1959 and 1961. Among his television appearances during this period were Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Rawhide, Naked City, Route 66, Peyton Place, The Fugative, Dr Kildare, The Virginian, Ironside, Kung Fu, Kojak, M*A*S*H and The Wild Wild West. In 1961, he was the lead in a taut Los Angeles police drama called The New Breed. In 1968, Leslie had a major role in the pilot for the popular series Hawaii Five-O - he later appeared in one of the episodes in the show's seventh season - and well as appearances in two episodes of Columbo (including Patrick McGoohan's memorable 1975 episode Identity Crisis). In 1969, he had the leading role as a police officer in The Bold Ones: The Protectors. Nielsen also starred in the William Girdler-directed 1977 action film Project: Kill along with movies like The Reluctant Astronaut and Day Of The Animals. His last part before portraying mainly comedy roles was in the Canadian disaster film City On Fire (1979) in which he played a corrupt mayor. In 1980, he guest starred as Sinclair on the CBS miniseries The Chisholms. But, it was also in 1980, that his deadpan delivery in the spoof disaster movie Airplane! revealed him to be a truly gifted comedy actor. It was in this role - Doctor Rumack - that he became known for some of the most famous comic lines in movie history. As his character, on-board a plane in which the pilots and some of the passengers have become violently ill, Nielsen says they must get to the patients to a hospital immediately. 'A hospital? What is it?' a flight attendant asks, inquiring about the nature of the illness. 'It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now,' Nielsen says, completely straight-faced. 'Surely you can't be serious?' he is subsequently asked by another character. 'I am serious,' he replies. 'And, don't call me Shriley!' The success of Airplane! - and its sequel - led to another, similar, TV role in the spoof crime show Police Squad, where Leslie first played the accident-prone detective Frank Drebin. Although the series only ran for a handful of episodes, the character was popular enough to spawn a series of movie spin-offs a decade later. He went on to make three films as the character in the Naked Gun series, starring opposite Priscilla Presley (and her 'nice beaver') and OJ Simpson. His later movies included All I Want For Christmas, Dracula: Dead & Loving It, Mr Magoo, Scary Movie 3 and Spy Hard. Between movies Leslie often displayed a more serious side to his world, touring with his one-man show on the life of the great defence lawyer Clarence Darrow. Two weeks before his death, Leslie was taken into hospital in Florida where he had been living, suffering from pneumonia. His condition worsened over the last two days and relatives said he died peacefully. 'With his friends and his wife by his side, he just fell asleep and passed away,' his nephew Doug Nielsen told the AFP news agency. Four times married, Leslie is survived by his two daughters, Maura and Thea.

Finally, we've got Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, if you're worried about what the hell that dreadful racket is all about, don't be. It ain't nothin' but a house party. Northern soul, baby!